The Nitty Gritty

But more than all of those I am an entertainer. I carry around a ukulele with me for the same reason a gangster carries a gun; better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Stage or sidewalk, Your Pal Pete shows are just where they happen.
Currently, I'm working on a musical, RagnaPOP(or she's got the bomb), set to premiere at this year's Capital Fringe Festival. I'm also working on music, comedy, and musical comedy; for kids and/or adults.
The fruit of these projects will be available on this site, so check back regularly!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lovvers- Popagenda Fail

I went to see a band tonight, Lovvers, that play great songs and put on a great show. But I will never see them again and will never buy any of their music. Why? You may ask, since those are the very traits that send my heart a-flutter? Because the asshole lead singer violated the Popagenda. I went to Comet Ping Pong to catch them; I did the last time they played, but they went on too late for me to stay too long.

I should have been able to pick them out of a line-up:

Ironic T-shirts: Check

Ironic haircuts: Check

So skinny they run the risk of falling through their ass and hanging themselves (and the girl jeans aren't helping): Check

Ironic glasses that were last seen as "spare glasses" that kids used to dread wearing: Check

They have the markings of the North American Hipster Doofus, but they came from England. They might have tried to grow beards too, but I'd be surprised if they were able to grow pubic hair. The drummer carried a canvas tote bag that said in big letters "Fuck Your Blog". I thought what a negative and pointless statement, so very English.

I heard the lead singer grouse that playing was "Pointless" because only 8 people showed up. Then when they played, he complained that one one was getting right up front. But when he said before one song that he was playing in front of "Nobody", I lost it.
"We are not nobody!" I yelled, motioning to the other seven people, WHO WERE REALLY INTO THEM.
"Well, why are you hiding?" He replied to me.
"Who the fuck is hiding?" Comet is slightly larger than a classroom, there is no place to hide.
So I get the next song dedicated to me, accompanied by an middle finger. Clever boy, aping our obscene gestures along with our easy-to-mock affectations.

I was just going to leave, but I thought, fuck it. I stood in front, not aggressively,just trying to enjoy their music. Then I had to dodge, lest I be impaled by the singer's bony hips being thrown at me. Great, asshole, I do what you say and you start shit with me?

After the last song, people wanted to hear more and the lead douche snidely said,"We learned something from Fugazi about encores," and disappeared backstage.

I had a rant boiling up inside me, but the rantee wasn't available, so I took it out on my poor bartender. "Look you limey piece of shit, I know it sucks to play in front of 8 people, but don't fucking insult the people that bothered to show up, someday it might be nobody at all! I played for YEARS those kinds of shows and had to work my ass off to get even that kind of crowd, but I played my heart out anyway because it's a lot more fun to do that than piss off people that like you!"

I have a personal manifesto called "The Popagenda" and the second tenet is: honor every audience regardless of their size or interest. They could always be doing something better than watching your lame ass.

One of my most favorite memories playing with my old band the Milk-O-Matics was one show where we didn't think we were playing in front of ANYBODY, but still rocked out to the best of our abilities. After the show we were unloading and a couple of people came out of the club with one of our posters.
We were surprised, I didn't know where they were hiding.
"Thanks for showing up!" I called out to them.
"No, thank you, THANK YOU!" they replied. We may have only seen a hundred faces, but we rocked most of them.

The Ramones changed the world with 8 people in the audience, to name merely one example. Talk about Fugazi: If they were in your position they would have still delivered the goods without moping and insulting the crowd. Then they would have eight people telling their friends for years how amazing Fugazi was in front of eight people. That's the lesson you should have learned.

Signed, a guy that could have been a loyal fan.

P.S. The blog says, "Fuck you, too."

UPDATE:11/5/09 I actually ran into Fugazi Drummer Brendan Canty- he's a customer at the store and one of the nicest people you'll meet- told him this story and asked him about my guess about how his band would have handled that situation. He sheepishly admitted that he's never played that small a show but said if they had they would have most assuredly kicked out the jams (I paraphrase).
"That's what you're there for," he said. Exactly.
"And if those people wanted to hear more, we would have played more."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hey, you know who's still alive? Prince!

“Remember when we were kids and we’d fight about who was better: Michael Jackson or Prince? Prince won.”- Chris Rock

Hearing about Michael Jackson’s death didn’t really effect me all that much and I haven’t been sure why. Not that I would have thought I would have pounded my fist into the earth and scream “Why, God, why?!?!” but I thought I would have felt SOMETHING. When I did actually think about it I felt a sense of relief for him, he just seemed to be at war with himself.

The man lived a life that is about as unique as any person could possibly live. He went from being merely famous as a child to being the de-facto king of the world for a good chunk of the Eighties. This set quite the stage for the inevitable fall and with all the records he sold he had the money to fall anyway he saw fit.

But if Prince had died, forget it. I’d be right out there sobbing with the masses, in a bootleg T-shirt celebrating the other Jehovah’s Witness music superstar. I haven’t be listening to much Michael since his death, but I’ve been listening to tons of Prince recently.

This is partially because Spin just did an awesome story about the making of Purple Rain, the movie –and soundtrack -that made Prince’s career, complete with a downloadable Purple Rain tribute album. Did you know that it was basically recorded live? I kinda did, but I’m a music nerd. It wasn’t completely live, but compared to many other albums recorded in the 80’s, it might as well have been recorded on a boom box at practice.

Did you know that Vanity- according to Purple Rain director Albert Magnoli- dropped out of the movie at the last minute to appear in as Mary Magdalene in The Last Temptation of Christ? I wonder how that worked out for her?

Did you know that Wendy and Lisa were an actual, factual Lesbian couple? Thank God I didn’t know that in 1984, it would have been all too much. The fate of the chick that was all up on Wendy in the “1999” video was not disclosed.

Ah, the “1999” video, that was my introduction to Prince. My parents had separated and we moved in with my grandparents in South Florida and got my first real dose of what I had previously only seen when I was able to slip away at gatherings where the hosts had cable: MTV.

Prince was the one person making pop music in the 80’s that I actually liked from the beginning. Except for my metal-head friends, he was the only person we could all agree on; I wasn’t into Janet Jackson and they certainly weren’t feeling The Replacements.

Oddly, I didn’t buy much of his music until I got a bit older; I just didn’t want to explain to my dad why I wanted to buy an album that came with a poster of the artist in bikini bottoms or sang songs like “Jack U Off”. Jeez, I got embarrassed when my parents saw toy commercials. Luckily, I didn’t have to; he got a lot more radio time than most of my other favorites by a light-year.

And the man is still making ridiculous amounts of music- too much, a lot of writers say- and people still flock to his concerts. In short (sorry, Prince), he is still alive and worthy of celebration and that’s just what I intend to do.

In a music nerd side note –and this isn’t in the story- there is kind of this weird connection of Prince’s exes and Motley Crue; Vanity was engaged to Nikki Sixx before she became born-again and Tommy Lee was engaged to Prince’s ex-wife Mytae Garcia. I wonder if he ever came up in conversation.

In yet another music nerd aside- Prince and Larry Graham- bass player for Sly and The Family Stone- have gone door to door together for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Something tells me that they got a lot fewer doors slammed in their face than most missionaries.

Monday, February 23, 2009

How to have a hit song and not know it.

In 2007, a song I co-wrote, “I Still Burn” was recorded as the debut single of the winner of the German version of “Pop Idol”. It was a smash hit through out Europe, charting in many countries that I have yet to set foot in.

The problem is, I didn’t write that song; someone else named Pete Wright did. When I say I did, it isn’t like claiming responsibility for the achievements of my namesakes, otherwise I could say I played bass for the band Crass and was a former British secret service agent turned author. The difference is that two very important organizations seem to think I did.

First, I’ll start with the IRS, who recently sent me a two thousand dollar tax bill. Although I haven’t seen the bill myself, they said I didn’t claim $16,000 in royalties that I had made in 2007. I made $16,000 in 2007? I sure could have used it; I spent most of that year eating tuna and ramen as I finished my book and spent a few months as a kept man in Texas. I would have loved to take my wonderful then-girlfriend to Outback a couple of times to show my appreciation.

Then there’s ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Arrangers, and Publishers. This esteemed organization has been vigilantly protecting the rights and royalties of artists such as myself since 1917. Obviously they were much more zealous about my rights than necessary, since I was getting someone else’s money. Since I’m my own record company and get no radio airplay to speak of, I didn’t feel the need to burden ASCAP with the details of my travels over the last few years, so I didn’t give them a change of address. So to my old apartment, fat royalty checks were arriving completely unknown to me.

But between the night I found out about the royalty tax bill and the next day when I was able to investigate the matter, my mind swam with possibilities. To get that much money, the song in question would have to had some substantial sales and airplay. In this country, I’m almost completely obscure, I haven’t sold a physical CD in over 3 years and can’t get a arrested in this town. To think that there was some place on Earth where people were feeling the magic of Your Pal was a thrilling proposition. This hope was dashed quickly by a visit to the real Pete’s myspace page.

Hopefully some one at the IRS reads my blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Holy Crap! I'm one degree from Obama!

I've been a big fan of the soon-to-be President for quite a while. Even though he has yet to be inaugurated, he's already made more of an impact on my DC than 8 years of George Bush. Just last week he ate dinner at George Will's house; in the coverage of it, door was opened by his wife Mari, a longtime customer at my toy store and super-nice lady who've I've dealt with many times. It didn't hit me at the time, but this gives me one degree of separation from our new president (or two, I've never been a hundred percent how that works).

But this didn't excite me nearly as much as Obama's recent lunch with DC mayor Adrian Fenty(who's shopped at my store, too)at Ben's Chili Bowl. I have been there many times in various states of intoxication, in fact I even found God there once. Seeing Barack Obama at the same counter that I've ordered my favorite chili cheese fries gave me a thrill that I couldn't easily describe. But a couple of days ago, I figured it out: we often try to follow in the footsteps of greatness, but this time greatness walked in mine.