So if you’re new to the blog world, you might look down the right column of my page and see the header “Blogroll” and a bunch of sites listed beneath.
So who are these people and why are they there?
Well, Blogroll, of course, is wordplay off of “log roll,” one of the basic fundamentals of politics — as in “I’ll roll your log if you’ll roll mine.” Except there’s nothing political about my Blogroll. These people mostly friends who have pretty cool blogs, too, and you really should give them a read sometime.
So here’s the roster, in alphabetical order:
Black 47 Blog: Larry Kirwan, who emigrated from Wexford to New York in the mid-’70s, is the longtime singer/guitarist/songwriter for one of my favorite bands, the Irish-American rockers Black 47. I met him in ’93, in my early days as the New Haven Register’s entertainment editor/pop music writer, and he became a good friend. He’s been more than supportive of my wild personal trip the past two years.
As if I expected anything less than eloquent from his blog … He stretches out about Irish politics and history and literature (some of it his own) in a way that he can’t in the context of a 3-to-5-minute song. Lots of interesting information from a man whose professorial looks sometimes belie the huge passion burning beneath.
Blake Jones Music: I’ve expounded at length about Blake (and reviewed his latest album with The Trike Shop, “The Underground Garden”). One of the first two non-Bee people I met in Fresno in 2004, he maintains a blog about his musical meanderings — the latest, at the time of this writing, being The Trike Shop’s gig at the International Pop Overthrow in L.A. A wonderful person who makes wonderful music … and someone whose pop music should have an international following.
Busybuddy: My favorite band the past 26 years has been the Masters of Super Rock, the Uncrowned Kings of Pop and Soul, The Fleshtones (who are based in Greenpoint, the section of Brooklyn where I lived the first 4 1/2 years of my life). Their singer, Peter Zaremba — rock’n’roll renaissance man, occasional dining writer for the New York Daily News and freelance travel writer — keeps a blog that’s one part travelogue, one part dining/lodging guide, one part band diary. His posts are all too infrequent but long and rich in detail and personality. A life of excitement, indeed, as the blog’s subtitle says.
Coach Class: Jeanne Leblanc is an old friend who found me out in the ether this year, for which I’m most grateful. We worked at the same paper in our younger years (my first paper, the most evil Waterbury Republican-American). Jeanne, who was later the online editor for The Hartford Courant, has an informative and very opinionated blog about the ups and downs of traveling on a budget. Give her a read to find out the latest screwings that airlines are foisting on customers travel news.
Destination: AWESOME: Nate and Veronica, a happily married couple, are two recent visitors to my life; I met them through two equally cool newish friends in my life, Billy and Corie. (And they’re currently here in Fresno on an extended stay as they help nurse Billy back to health after he and Corie were injured in a car crash in early June.)
Anyway, Nate and Vernie are two of the nicest, most giving people in the universe; they’ve also been incredibly supportive of the new girl in their midst. And last year, when they lost their jobs, they left Santa Cruz and decided to just travel to places around the country where they hadn’t been. Their odyssey took them through a pretty wide swath of the country. You can read about it all here. I’m of the mind that they’re just in travelus interruptus at the moment, and that they’ll eventually get back on the road …
Kicksville 66: Miriam Linna has had one of the coolest rock’n’roll lives anyone can imagine. An unabashed fangirl from Akron by way of Sudbury, Ontario, she was the first drummer for The Cramps, came to New York with them in the early punk days, left the band after a year, and later played for Nervus Rex, The Zantees and The A-Bones.
She and her soulmate/future hubby, Billy Miller, started a fanzine out of Brooklyn in the early ’80s called Kicks; it was the lost history of rock’n’roll brought to life — perfomers who many music fans had long forgotten, such as Esquerita (the man who made Little Richard Little Richard), rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, one-man band/West Virginia wildman Hasil Adkins, The Phantom of “Love Me” fame, The Trashmen of “Surfin’ Bird” fame, and Bobby Fuller of “I Fought the Law” and a mysterious early demise. (Big Audio Dynamite’s lame-ass song “Esquerita” was based on a story that ran in Kicks.)
And when Billy and Miriam put out a collection of Hasil’s singles, “Out to Hunch,” in 1986, it was the start of one of the finest archival labels in the recording business, Norton Records.
Miriam began this blog last year as a response to all the fans who asked her about The Cramps after Lux Interior’s death. The blog is rich in details (and a pack-rat’s lair full of memorabilia and letters) about her year with The Cramps. But it also goes into some of her other experiences in the early New York punk/new wave scene, as well as some other fangirl reminiscences. She hasn’t posted in a little while, since she’s hard at work finally trying to finish her oh-my-God-I-can’t-wait-to-read-it biography of Fuller (which I hope solves his murder once and for all). But Miriam’s blog reads like every bit the secret history of rock’n’roll that it is.
Pamdemonium: Pam Coyle is one of my dearest friends, and I’m so happy we’ve reconnected after a few years of our respective personal hells.
I met Pam (a native of Hibbing, Minn., the hometown of Bobby Zimmerman and Kevin McHale) at the Grotto in New Haven in 1987, about a week or two after she started as a city reporter for the Register. (She was gone before I went to work there.) She has had quite the illustrious journalistic path: the Register; a journalism law fellowship to Yale Law School, where she got her master’s; writer and eventually assistant city editor at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans … and then Katrina. She was one of the people who put out the electronic version of the paper for weeks from Houma, gathering the horrific dispatches from the flood, and helped the paper win a Pulitzer.
She and hubby Shaun Washburn (once the drummer for New Haven college-rock darlings Bleached Black) left NOLa a few months after the storm, and after a short spell as assistant city editor at The Tennessean, she and Shaun decided to stay in Nashville and she plunged into life as a freelance writer. (Among the places she writes is Sunpluggers; keep reading.) But when she has time, which isn’t as often as she’d like, she posts some observations about life — some fun, some hard-fought — on her own “blog about everything.” As you’d suspect, it’s excellently written.
Sunpluggers: Jeanne Leblanc isn’t the only old Waterbury friend who found me this year. Michael Balchunas left the most evil Republican-American in the mid-to-late ’80s to become a copy editor at The Hartford Courant. He and wife Lorraine Wang eventually left for the copy desk at the Los Angeles Times (which was then the flagship of the Courant’s old parent company).
Mike left the Times to start Sunpluggers, a news blog about the solar energy industry (which is growing exponentially in California, as you can imagine). The site also covers the fledgling steps of the electric auto industry, and my lovely, talented aforementioned friend Pam Coyle does an electric car column for Mike’s blog. I’m hoping his well-done site takes off the way electric cars should …
The Beat Patrol: Jay Mucci is the one person on the Blogroll I haven’t met personally. He lives in Waterbury and found me online a couple years ago while I was still at The Fresno Bee. Turns out he was a fan of my music writing from my days at the most heinous Republican-American and wanted to know if I minded whether he put up some of my old stories and reviews on his site. So there are stories and reviews here from both my Waterbury and New Haven days that aren’t available electronically anywhere else.
I had no idea anyone remembered me in Waterbury, except Walter at Brass City Records and maybe a stray high school classmate I haven’t seen in decades. But my M.O., in writing and in life, has always been to throw everything you have against the wall and see what sticks, and sometimes life will surprise you. And Jay surprised me, that’s for sure.
He’s not a writer, but he’s a fan, and he’s passionate about a lot of things. And I’m far, far from the only person on this aggregate site. His blog’s most recent posts include an essay on Kerouac, a 1957 article on the Beat Generation by Kenneth Rexroth, video interviews with William S. Burroughs, and Barack Obama’s weekly media address (a regular feature here).
And there are also writings of varying vintage by other, more renowned music scribes: Greg Shaw, David Fricke, Dave Marsh, Bob Christgau, Greil Marcus, Lester Bangs, Ira Robbins, etc. …
The posts are fast, furious and prolific (at the risk of being redundant). Give yourself time to jump in and wade through, but this is definitely one of the positive attributes of the Internet: a fan devoting his time and life to sharing his passion and disseminating information.
Travelers to the Grave: Above, I mentioned Nate and Vernie of Destination: AWESOME and how they’re helping along our friend Billy after his accident. This is the Billy of whom I wrote.
William Delara is another of the sweetest humans you’ll ever meet, and he and his wonderful wife, Corie James, have made me feel most welcome here. He’s had an interesting life of joy and pain over his first three decades: a punk’s life in San Francisco, a tour of Iraq with the Army, plus, in the past four months, their marriage and their June car wreck. (And they have many friends who truly love them; a benefit show for them this past Friday, July 23, at Audie’s was the biggest social event in Fresno since V-J Day. I only slightly exaggerate.) And then there’s his constant thrill of victory/agony of defeat that is the everyday life of a San Francisco Giants fan.
Anyway, he has also promoted punk shows in Fresno (I met him a little over a year ago when he brought The Queers to Audie’s Olympic) and put out a short-lived literary mag called Travelers to the Grave. And that’s also the name of his new blog, which he started a week ago. Not many entries yet, but that’s bound to change. So far, it includes a couple of injury updates, a couple of dark poems and a tribute to Harvey Pekar. I have a feeling there will never be a dull moment in his blog.
So anyway, this is the Blogroll over my first four months of being up and truly running. I hope to be able to share some more interesting blogs with you four months from now …