In an incredible last minute surprise announcement AMT have added an Austin club show as an afterparty for the Austin Psych Fest and we are opening. We start at 11.15 after the fest ends. This of course is a prelude to the last half of the tour proper, which we’ll be doing as well:
After we all decided to quit Chouquette St., I knew I had nowhere to go, really, and it seemed like I’d be up against the wall for a while. So, as I mentioned in the last post, I arranged with my good buddy/part-time paramour Lisa Yates to house most of my belongings in her garage apartment storage space there at 47th and G, (pics last blog entry) and began to hunt around for somewhere to live. Unfortunately, I soon managed to lose my job at the Diamond Shamrock at 38th and Guadalupe because the owner was so bored he would spend entire evenings spying via binoculars on his employees from the convenience store parking lot across the street and one night observed me lifting some Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers from the fridge and drinking them (gasp!) ON THE JOB. So, the next time I showed up to work 15 minutes late…he brought that inconvenient fact up and fired me. Oh, the ignominy!
Leaning on my good friend, former roommate, former (and now current) bandmate Bob Bechtol, I somehow managed to not only cajole him into hiring me at the Subway shop he was then managing on Burnet Rd., but to let me crash on his couch for a month or two until I got my shit together.
I am so eternally grateful to Bob, because, now, (July 2022) at the ripe old age of 60 and gazing back upon my earthly existence, I regard this as the lowest point in my life. Broken up with Betti, my belongings in storage, no job, no car (I believe this is around the time that my white 77 Pontiac Impala that I got from my parents’ transmission finally quit) he took me in, employed me, and gave me, in the immortal words of the Fall, room to live.
In fact, I was almost homeless at this point, and, one night, in a slightly inebriated state, wrote one of my better solo songs “Stone’s Throw from the Street” on Bob’s porch on his acoustic guitar. I soon recorded this song on Jon Torn’s (more about him soon) 4-track and put it on my first solo cassette (later CDR) “The Moray Eels”. Oh look! Here it is, still available on Bandcamp:
Very Nikki Sudden/Swell Maps influenced, I still like this song a lot, and as I am even now reading Jowe Head’s remarkable Swell Maps memoir, still pretty durn relevant.
At any rate, so, even though I only lived at Bob’s place on Payne St. 60 days at the most, I still regard this as a pivotal moment in my life.
Jeesh, this is turning autobiographical.
So the key memory is the porch. I remember deeply that it was elevated above the surrounding landscape, had a railing on it, and may have even had some kind of hanging porch swing on it.
But, for the life of us, neither Bob nor I can remember the exact address of the house! At first I was sure it was 505, 509 or 905 Payne Ave. So when I got on the bike, and programmed the address into my phone, that’s what I entered. WRONG! Payne Ave. only encompasses addresses from 900 to 2108, and 905 definitely was not it.
Because, you see, I had many distinct memories of my walk home from the Subway on Burnet that Bob managed to his house, and I knew that it was not that close to 905 which is almost butt up against Lamar.
Ironically, Bob’s boss, the owner of this Subway, a man called M.D. Fix, had similar surveillance habits to my former boss at the Diamond Shamrock. What is it with these guys that have nothing better to do than spy on their employees?
Anyway, Mr. Fix kept asking Bob why I needed to have my backpack with me at work. He may have even asked me personally at one point, I foget. At any rate, being on the verge of homelessness, my entire life was in that backpack! My notebook, the books I was reading, mty Walkman, whatever I was listening to at the time, my belongings, etc etc…
Mr. Fix was convinced that I was stealing whole sides of pastrami and stashing them in my backpack to eat later.
As a result of this completely erroneous belief, several times when I was walking home late at night (I think we closed at 11?), MD Fix found it necessary to buzz close by me in his car, shining his headlights on me, I guess to discern the telltale hints of the bulge of a whole side of pastrami sticking out of my backpack. Oh dear. Unlike the Bartles and Jaymes incident, I actually never took anything from the Subway – Bob was the manager, after all!
That Subway is no longer there. It has been replaced by a juice bar, good riddance. This neighborhood was much less recognizable than the northern Hyde Park area where Betti and I had spent so much time. The bike ride went off without a hitch, but it was so hot I needed to pit stop at the Crown AND the Corner Bar on Lamar by my house. Whew!
Stop #8, June 2022, 47th and Ave. G, Austin TX 78751
So, to be fair (to be faiiirrr….) this shouldn’t be a stop at all, as my name was never on the lease or anything, but my name was never on the lease in our next stop, #9, on Payne Ave. (Ha! How prophetic) either, so there. Nonetheless, rrrreeeallly, this should have been inserted earlier, as, during most of my time on Jefferson St. and on Chouquette Ave. (as covered in the last two blog entries), I was actually spending most of my time here, at 47th and G, in my then girlfriend Betti Powell’s house.
Funnily enough, as soon as I got here and started taking pics last week, a dude came out of the house and asked me if he could help me. I giggled and shrugged. “Nah, I used to live here. I’m just on a ridiculous quest to document all the places I used to live in this town. That seemed to satisfy him, and he left me alone.
So neither Jefferson nor Chouquette were bad places to live, really (except for Leigh and his ever-flooding bedroom on Jefferson, but when I had the incredible attraction of Betti, my super hot and ultra hip gf at the time….how could I refuse? I spent as little time at Jeff and Chouq as I could, preferring to chill with Betti, who was truly fabulous.
Across the street were our landlords, an old white couple that tried to ignore us for the most part and did so pretty well until Betti made me bother them at 2 in the morning for various semi-imaginary issues…
During much of this time I was working at Sound Warehouse Records and Video at the corner of 49th and Burnet, which now looks like this:
One of my coworkers here, briefly, was Alejandro Escovedo, but he was quickly moved to the new store at 10th and Lamar (Pretty sure REI is there now) and then got a job at Waterloo. I actually liked my manager there, Pete Salinas, pretty well, but Pete finally fired me for “poor personal hygiene” because I kept showing up late to work dressed in Betti’s clothes, which of course did not fit me, having not had time to go home to Jefferson or Chouquette to get some of my actual clothes. LOL.
Funnily enough, very recently I just ran into someone I hadn’t seen since these days (we’re talking 1986 here – I can always remember that we all watched the Challenger disaster on live TV (about 15 of them) in the Sound Warehouse video department. I still have a bunch of cassettes I made there by taking LPs out of the record store and bringing them back to the video store, where I could tape them on one of the display stereos. Much easier and less risky than shoplifting records. Har.
Anyway, I just saw our duplex neighbor in the back of the house, Abbe Wenger, out at a show and we chatted awhile and reminisced. Unlike me, she is still with her girlfriend from that time, Claudia, but they don’t live there anymore. Here’s the back duplex:
Betti and I socialized with Abbe and Claudia some, but we spent a lot of time with the garage apartment dweller and one of Betti’s best friends Lisa Yates, who now runs a smoke shop in the Houston area. Here’s the garage apt:
More importantly, the stairs up to the garage apartment:
Pretty hard to see, eh? So much foliage! Anyway, one evening, Lisa tried to seduce me on these stairs, so I shall never forget them. I was a good lad and remained faithful to Betti, though I was sorely tempted…that’s another story…
Believe it or not, this is all leading up to a point, which is here:
See that door with the padlock on it? Well, I guess the downstairs of the garage apartment used to be an actual garage, but it has long since deteriorated into an unairconditioned, unheated storage space with a dirt floor for the garage apartment denizens. Lisa (who I did manage to get together with briefly after Betti and I eventually broke up) allowed me to store basically all of my possessions down here for several months while I lived with Bob Bechtol on Payne Ave. (oh, the name is so apropos!)
Bob saved my ass after I lost the Sound Warehouse job and broke up with Betti by getting me a job at the Subway shop he managed and let me live with him for a coupla months while I got my shit together. We had to move out of Chouquette because Leigh wanted to move out, Ray went off somewhere, hell, I can’t really remember, it was 36 years ago…we couldn’t live there anymore.
So, onward to Payne. Ha. I was amazed at how 47th and G and the area around it looked almost exactly the same as when Betti and I lived there, in vivid contrast to the virtually unrecognizable area around Payne Ave, coming up next.
Really pleased to announce that the bass player has finally come up with a decent arrangement for “Concentration City”, the final piece in the “Ballardesque” puzzle. It has probably been influenced by our attempt to cover “Bombing Nightclubs” by Nikki Texas and Erika Thrasher, aka Indian Jewelry aka Studded Left aka Pleasure 2 (Favorite bands, absolutely essential):
That, and the simple fact that Wendy and I have played “Suffragette City” about a thousand times –
to rehearse for this David Bowie/Elvis Presley hoot night that Jason Morris/Hotel Vegas did during Free Week on Jan. 8. We also played Rebel Rebel, Moonage Daydream…and…wait for it…the song I was by far the most enthused about playing, one of my favorite Bowie songs ever as well as Robert Smith’s, all the way from 1971’s “Hunky Dory”…”Quicksand”. Yes, Virginia, there are other songs that namecheck Crowley, Churchill and Himmler, albeit separately, but none reach the heights of this sublimely depressing yet somehow uplifting 12-string goth fest. When you consider that basically the only even slightly positive statement in the lyric is “Knowledge comes with death’s relief”, it casts a new light on David’s immortal question “Should I kiss the viper’s fang, or herald loud the death of man…?”
I dunno about you, but kissing the viper’s fang seems like a pretty bad idea to me. Wendy and I (um, the bass player) wish to express our supreme adoration for our compadres Taylor, Aric, Jesse and Michael for helping us to rock out and whip the crowd into a reasonable facsimile of a frenzy. Even if you didn’t write ’em, there is nothing quite like seeing the crowd all singing along with the words of the song you are playing. There was even some above-the-head hype-person type hand-clapping from Wen and I during Rebel Rebel, a wonderful song which enabled us to do this type of difficult crowd-encouraging audience participation by the simple virtue of basically consisting of only two notes, D and E.
You wanna hear the demo of EITHER Concentration City or our one and only attempt to record “Bombing Nightclubs? Respond to this post and ask, and I’ll post them somewhere.
Oh! And almost everything is back in stock in the store, and we have a show at Yeast By Sweet Beast on March 12th. Hopefully things will be a little bit more “normal” then.
Justin Waters, aka God, at the AMT US online Shopzone has also started carrying some ST 37 and My Education and other ATX related materials at the official US Acid Mothers Temple mail order website in preparation for the 2023 tour, which will feature ST 37 and My Education splitting opening duties for AMT at different cities on the tour. We are thinking and hoping that Detroit could be the city where all 3 bands will play together for one night only. Look out Motor City!!!! Please buy some stuff here so we can go to camp: https://www.acidmotherstemple.com/
Then again, 2023 sure is a long way off, eh? There may be a fish in the percolator, and we all know the owls are not what they seen. It could occur. Stranger things have happened. We’ll see you in the sycamore trees.
Stop #7, December 2021, 1313 Chouquette, ATX 78757
So, yeah, wow, longest hiatus on this project yet, cuz it was just so daunting to bike this far north. Actually started to do it a coupla months back, but turned back after UT for fear of darkness. I have not yet bought a headlamp for the bike. Finally got an early start, tried to get on to the Shoal Creek hike n bike trail. Had no problems whatsoever getting on this trail on the last ride up to Jefferson, but for some reason could not manage it this time. Memory faults, poor signage, corn-fusion etc…lol. Eventually (finally) got going… did pretty well all the way up into the wilds of NW Austin. This is definitely the furthest north for these rides so far and may be the longest til the finale at Vanderbilt.
Crossing Lamar on the way to the pedestrian bridge, I did see this highly interesting Austin sight…
I didn’t live at 1313 Chouquette very long and to tell you the truth I don’t really remember that much about it, as I was still spending most of my time at my then girlfriend Betti Powell’s house down in Hyde Park.
However, the magnificent carport lined with Astroturf was a distinguishing attribute.
I do have semi-vivid memories of an after party we (I believe the room-mate lineup was still myself, Leigh Newsom and Ray Kordsiemon at this point) had for some show or another, at which we were graced by the presence of none other than David Wm. Sims of Scratch Acid etc. fame and his then g/f Kristi Sanders, who was a magnificent and beautiful Cinderella Goth wonder woman. She played violin on “Owner’s Lament”, hellz yasssss.. I distinctly recall Sims and I having a debate about the Stranglers, in which he insisted that Feline was the moment it all went bad (I disagreed, and I just bought “Norfolk Coast” last week, and I continue to be suitably chagrinned despite their earlier transgressions), and his insistence on playing Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”, which, he assured me, was one of the better LPs I had in my collection.
Once again I was stymied by the hike n’ bike trail’s closure along Shoal Creek before 29th. Sad. This would really be a pretty great route altogether but…well…yeah….north of 29th for a while there it really does get too hairy for bikes…too little headroom and no room to share the trail. Got it all under control and then it was just a marathon heading up Woodrow. On the way up Woodrow I spotted a street that spells bad news for complaining white women asking for managers…
Had a little bit easier time getting back to the hike n bike trail on the way home, paused to snap this shot, birds issuing compositions for the moon…
After this period, I broke up with Betti and my life really went to shit for a while. I was pretty much at my lowest ebb, but luckily I had friends to rescue me…
Friday May 14th. Stop # 6. 4000 Jefferson St. ATX 78731
Since Jefferson is on the west side, Google routed me almost all the way there using the hike and bike trail. Today was definitely the most usage I’ve ever made of Austin’s hiking bike trails during my entire career here (since 1980, yo) in tha ATX. Been a while since my last serious ride so I had to fill up the tires at the gas station at Kinney and Barton Springs on my way out of the neighborhood. It was really hard to find the actual entrance to the trail. Google said it was between Ski Shores and Juliet’s off Barton Springs, but you gotta go way back to find it. It was fascinating spending so much time on the trail, all the way from Barton Springs all the way up to almost 38th St. So many bridges to go under, each with some form of homeless encampment…one of them, it was almost like I was riding through this guy’s living room…he had the stereo on, I could see his sink and dishes…We have space for everyone. No one should have to be unhoused. Can you say social safety net? I knew you could.
I’m pretty out of shape right now, not having ridden in a while…had to walk the bike up the steep trail in Pease Park…then suddenly…well, this is great! The trail is closed at 26th and Lamar in the middle of the park and now I don’t know where to go! Finally had to portage the bike across the stream there at a shallow water rock strewn crossing.
Jefferson Street. OMG. Seems like a lifetime away, and I guess it kinda is. I was pretty deep at this point into my second really serious relationship. This one was with Betti Powell, such a sweet girl and remarkable bisexual speedfreeak woman…oh dear, my sweet Betti. After our household on 30th St. had kinda broken up, for reasons I forget, I decided it would be a good idea to move in with my very good buddy Leigh Newsom and his friend Ray Kordsiemon at this house they were gonna rent at 4000 Jefferson. Weirdest thing about the neighborhood is that right across Jefferson from us, there HAD been a whole street full of houses right on Shoal Creek, but they had all been washed away by the floods back in the early 80s. A few ghostly foundational remnants could still be seen back when we lived here – I couldn’t spot any today. There was, however, a lovely picnic table where I was able to rest and read for a while, and a chimney swift nesting structure.
I note that they still have the same original crank-style dormer windows the house had when we were there in the 80s. I wonder if the bedroom where Leigh slept still floods every time it rains? Some things never change! It was NOT painted light purple when we were there, it was whitish, a bit stucco-y:
I spent so much time at Betti’s during this period that I was tempted to list her house at 43rd and Ave. G as one of my residences, but I was never on the lease or anything soooo…….
Got fired for showing up at my job during this period at Sound Warehouse at 49th and Burnet wearing her clothes too often, as I’d spend the night at her house and go straight to work, having failed to bring a change of clothes….
Working there will be forever imprinted on my mind as we all watched the Challenger disaster on, like, 50 different TVs back in the hardware department of Sound Warehouse live as it happened on 1/28/1986…
The ride home was trouble free. Directly off the trail I got an interesting view of the so called Jenga Tower (otherwise known as The Independent condos):
This was really a great place to live in 1985-1986. The Beach (now the Crown and Anchor pub) club was in full swing, and not only did my band at the time the Elegant Doormats get to play shows there, but there was a steady stream of amazing music being booked there constantly. I wish I had kept some kinda list, but of the shows I remember seeing…Scratch Acid. Hickoids, Texas Instruments, Butthole Surfers, Criminal Crew (who made fun of us because we had keyboards), Zeitgeist, Glass Eye, Daniel Johnston…ad infinitum. You could literally crawl to my house from there. My roomies Tom Goodwin and Steve Chiles were pretty cool, both contributed to Doormat recordings, and we even did some live stuff in semi-trenchcoat disgiiuse as The Men In Coats. One of the more remarkable things going on there was that we were Shock-Headed Peter’s practice space. Tom played synth and vox in this short lived band that included David Sims on bass, Bill Anderson on guitar, Cindy Brodt on vocals….and who was it on drums? I forget. Rich Malley? I was in awe of Scratch Acid, so having Sims playing in my living room…whoa. I was both afraid of and had a crush on Cindy at the same time, and Bill played in Poison 13, kinda the lords of the scene around then. I think they have a track on a compilation…oh yeah, they changed their name to Shockhead and their track is on the “Bands On The Block” comp.
Incongruously, I was working at a rattan furniture outlet delivering the goods during this time. Having failed to find a job in journalism in Austin and not wanting to leave…whatcha gonna do? I wrote for Cretin Bull, I wrote a bit for the Chron and the Texan, co-founded a literary magazine called Fatalist Monthly….tried to keep my hand in it, ya know… It was a pretty shitty job, and I was pretty bad at it, so my coworker/van driver Joe Wilwerding referred to me as “Worthless”, which is such a great nickmane that Wendy and I have started using it for Malcom Reed on “Star Trek: Enterprise” ‘cuz he can’t seem to do anything right. Regardless, I was Joe’s weed connection, so he was forced to keep me on. We took many long detours to various destinations, always using Loop 360 because there were never any cops on it and we could smog out to our hearts’ content. Our boss Donnie always wondered what took us so long.
The house looks surprisingly similar to when we lived there, though you can tell it’s been gutted and remodelled, and it now has a separate door to what was my room…damn, that woulda come in handy.
This was the most eventful bike ride yet. Of course I had to stop at the Crown and Anchor for a beer on the way back, and then riding through UT campus down what used to be Speedway I hear someone calling my name! Holy cow, it’s Reed Caylor, who I’ve known since…oh wow, the house on Jeffersom right after this one, 86-87!! He had been swimming at the UT swim center and was on his way home to his domicile ooff of 35th. It was nice to chat…how many years has it been since I ran into someone randomly, both of us on bikes? God knows. Then, right after I crossed the river, I stopped at the bathrooms on Auditoriun Shores to pee, and I made the supreme mistake of attempting to adjust the bike seat’s height cuz it was riding too low. Holy fuck, the whole thing basically fell apart in my hands, and the bike seat was now so low that trying to ride it was comical. I was so low on the bike it was like I was a circus clown, my knees practically brushing my chin. Needless to say I had to walk the bike a considerable part of the way home. Luckily Mellow Johnny’s was able to put a new post on the seat for a very low price while I waited, but of course it took lazy me weeks to get this simple task accomplished, putting the kibosh on the bike riding for a while.
After I graduated from UT Austin, the last place I wanted to go was back to Houston. As Carlton Crutcher has put it, Austin was “Shangri-La On the Colorado”, and I had no desire to leave. I had gone back to HTX briefly in the summer of my freshman and junior years, but finally I decided to stay in ATX. So for the glorious summer of 1984, I inhabited this wonderful two story apartment next to the post office at 43rd and Speedway. I think it was called Act 5 or something when I lived there – it has a different name now.
I loved the apartment. Living room and kitchen downstairs, bedrroom and bathroom upstairs. I had amorous dalliances with several amazing women that summer, and enjoyed myself very thoroughly. I hated to leave, but somebody else had already reserved the place for the fall, so I accepted an offer from my friends Tom Goodwin and Steve Chiles to move in with them at their house on 30th St. behind the Beach club in the fall of 85.
Cheated a little on this one as I had a package to mail, so it was a purposeful ride. Lovely weather for a January in Austin, especially considering what was to come in February, but that’s another story. These apartments were painted red when I lived there and were not as nice-looking as they are now. I was in one of the two apartments pictured behine me. Not sure which one. I was only there for three months, so it’s hard to remember. It was a good ride and the bike performed well.
Stop Three. 302 W. 38th St. #117, ATX 78705. Monday 1/4/2021.
Used to be called the Le Marquee Apartments when I lived here. They’re called something else now, es non importante. Still as unsecured as when I left, so was able to walk right up to my old front door, which is a first. There’s all the mailboxes behind me – was always a bit of a pain to have the mail traffic, squeaking and noises right outside the breakfast nook/kitchen area, but not too bad.
Managed to stay there two years, another first. Junior year at UT with roomie Bob Bechtol, senior year with roomie John Svatek, god rest his crazy Czech soul. Liked it pretty well, close to the Speedway buses, calm but OK with my stereo – etc. Many formative events of my life occurred here. I could go on for hours. But I won’t.
However, in this entry, I’d like to stress how pretty much everybody in the world except you, dear reader, is kinda a douche. Once again, the bike did pretty well on this trip but no fewer than 3 different cars decided they had to fuck with me on this ride. One CARAMEL FILLED JACKMOUTH in a PICKUP TRUCK DECIDED he needed to YELL “SIDEWALKS”! at me, even though…yeah, you know it, go ahead and say it…bikes aren’t supposed to ride on the sidewalk. Some other fucker on Oltorf decided they HAD to honk at me three times, and then somewhere downtown somebody decided that in the great scheme of things, they really needed to call me “STUPID!”. Now, granted, I may not be the best biker rider in the world, but is all this really necessary? I realize I was doing a LOT of harm by bicycling, like, a whole real lot of harm. A lot.