Tag Archives: music

Latch Key Kids Playlist

Before I can write a book, I have to create a playlist. It’s part of my process.

When I was a youngster in Sarasota, Florida (former Spring Training home for the Chicago White Sox), before I developed my current musical taste, I obsessively listened to WKXY, the local top 40 AM station that played the same ten hits every hour.

Latch Key Kids, one of two planned prequels to my only semi-successful novel (Small Town Punk), takes place in the mid-1970’s. It features proto-punk Buzz Pepper and his prematurely world-weary sister Sissy Pepper. These two characters are based on me and my sister. Most of what happens in the book happened, in one form or another, in real life.

Why write a novel then? Why not write a memoir? Because, as we’ve all learned in 2020, real life makes zero narrative sense.

Most of the secondary characters in Latch Key Kids are composites of real life people. Most of the events in Latch Key Kids happened in real life. But they’re all rearranged and compressed into a coherent narrative.

Here’s my playlist for Latch Key Kids.

23 Must Listen Songs from Escape from Mondo Tiki Island


Have you picked up a copy of Escape from Mondo Tiki Island, the latest release from Paragraph Line Books? If so, we have a playlist for you from the author himself.

  1. “Hawaiian War Chant,” by Martin Denny
  2. “I Like Girls,” by Porter Wagoner
  3. “Ruby Baby,” by Dion
  4. “Non Stop Flight,” by Artie Shaw and his Orchestra
  5. “Blue Yodel Number 9,” by Jimmie Rodgers
  6. “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” by Hank Williams
  7. “Barquita,” by Les Baxter
  8. “Attack El Robot! Attack!” by Calexico
  9. “Taboo,” by Arthur Lyman
  10. “Greenback Dollar,” by Nancy Whiskey
  11. “Game of Pricks,” by Guided by Voices
  12. “Wildwood Flower,” by the Carter Family
  13. “Dang Me,” by Roger Miller
  14. “Right or Wrong,” by Wanda Jackson
  15. “American Patrol,” by Glenn Miller
  16. “Harbor Lights,” by Dinah Washington
  17. “Boogie in Chicago,” by Louis Prima
  18. “I Ain’t Got No Home in this World Anymore,” by Woody Guthrie
  19. “Wreck on the Highway,” by Roy Acuff
  20. “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” by The Pogues
  21. “Mission,” by the Phenomenauts
  22. “Coronation,” by Martin Denny
  23. “Statement of Vindication,” by Bikini Kill

When Alice met Kurt

Is that you, Kurt? It's me, Alice!

Let’s say you’ve got out your “Heroes of the 1970’s” action figurines and you’re playing with them atop your desk at work. How often would you team up Kurt Vonnegut and Alice Cooper… you know, to have them duke it out with Nixon and Ehrlichman?

Over at Dangerous Minds, we get to imagine Alice Cooper and Kurt Vonnegut meeting for reals, cuz it really did happen. Holy shit!

Henry and Charlie… the musical

Here at Paragraph Line, we’re big fans of Dangerous Minds. It’s tempting to just repost everything they post, but we’re not going to do that. As an example of how wonderful some of their content is, here’s their post about Henry Rollins producing an unreleased Charles Manson album after a correspondence with the famed cult leader/killer, who’d seen Henry on MTV and thought he was cool.

The best line?

“His letters would always have swastikas on them so they were easy to spot.”

More at Dangerous Minds.

Your shitty movie of the week… this week Help! …

Don't smoke dope, kids.
I have two words to say to anyone who doesn’t like the Beatles: Fuck you.

That said, this movie is… wow, awful. And yet hilarious. And awful. It’s like a long episode of the 1960’s version of Batman, without Adam West, or a script that makes any sense. At least we get to watch the Beatles caper around on vacation in the Alps and in the Bahamas. And there’s the incredible music.

There’s a plot, I suppose. It has to do with an eastern cult who sacrifice people who wear a ring with a red glass golf ball on it to the goddess Kaili. Someone sent Ringo the ring, he can’t get it off, therefore he must be sacrificed.

So the Kaili cult chases the Bee-AT-Tills around, led by Leo “Number 2/Rumpole” McKern, a rotund, bug-eyed Australian putting on a south Asian accent.

Also chasing them is Victor Spinetti, a scientist whose British-made contraptions keep breaking down, and his henchman, Roy Kinnear. Eagle-eyed viewers will remember Spinetti from the first Beatles movie, A Hard Day’s Night. You know: the good Beatles movie.

There are a few nice moments in this one though, to be fair.

Two old ladies are watching the Beatles enter their attached-on-the-inside homes. One old lady has to encourage the other to wave at them because they’re such nice boys. “Fame hasn’t changed them.” Inside, the Beatles’ home is one long bizarre flat filled with gewgaws, vending machines, a grass lawn that is being tended by a man using chattering false teeth, rotating book shelves, and so on. It’s delightful to look at.

John and Ringo are in an elevator:
Ringo: What was it that first attracted you to me?
John: Well, you’re very polite, aren’t you?

The Beatles are having a two lagers and lime plus two lagers and lime in a pub:
George: I’m always getting winked at these days. It used to be you didn’t it Paul?

The Beatles were all (infamously) stoned during the making of the movie, and Richard Lester, the director, didn’t bother to tell them what the damn thing was about either, so all their performances were… what’s lazier than “mailed in”?

The Monkees TV show was based on this nonsense. So there’s another entertainment vehicle with incredible music, and shitty everything else.

With my sluggish Internet connection, it took me two hours, and several restarts, to download this movie. (It’s 1.3 gigs.) And I didn’t even bother to get it in HD. It was 12 bucks from iTunes. Was it worth it? Sure, I’ll  fast forward to all the music videos next time I watch it. They may have been bad vaudevillians, but the Beatles made some of the greatest music ever.


Your shitty movie of the week… this week A Band Called Death

The visionary. And the two other guys.
A Band Called Death is a documentary about the three Hackney brothers who form a punk band in Detroit in the 1970’s. One of them, David, is a visionary. A genius. The other two are competent musicians who are along for the ride, and don’t understand David’s vision. Long story short: David wills them into a legendary recording studio, makes a brilliant album which is then shunned by everyone in the recording industry because they don’t like the name of the band: Death. David does not fold. Twenty years later, before he dies, he hands off the master tapes to one of his brothers and tells him that people will demand to hear the record, but only after his death. He was right.

A Band Called Death was fine while it talked about the brother who had the vision. But once it was down to the two surviving dullard-Jesus-loving brothers, and the kids, it got to be a drag. By the end, while the hipsters were doing their “I was into them before you” dance, I just wanted to stick a gun in my mouth.

The main thing I got out of this documentary (in the last third) was that fame starts with one well-connected hipster (a sort of Patient Zero) who has decided that your work is so rare that you are worthy of his hipster attention. The hipster gushes on a blog over how rare it is and how only he appreciates it, and puts your work up on E-Bay for some ridiculous amount of money, which will make other douchey hipsters stand up and take notice. The fame then spreads like a plague until you have Kid Rock on camera squawking about you. The only thing you can do on your end is have an “unwavering faith” as one of the surviving Hackney brothers said of his brother “in what you are doing.”

No matter how much Indian food I eat, or post-rock I listen to, or foreign films I enjoy, I’ll never be a part of the ruling elite. Is there a better word than “hipster” for a rich-kid parasite/dilettante? I don’t know. They don’t create… they latch on to people who do, and then claim them like they own them. That’s what made my teeth grind in the last third of A Band Called Death. David Hackney was a fucking genius. But first he needed to be validated by the ruling class before anyone could deign to take him seriously, and it helped that he died first. Helps with the exclusivity part of it that Hackney, by being dead, has a limited output of art, and therefore his work is essentially rare. Ah, fuck it.

One other irritating thing about this movie: The same still photos were used over and over and over, with the same bullshit special effect of pulling one of the people out of the picture and zooming him away from the others. Is this something taught in MFA in Documentary Making programs? I don’t know. I guess that a still photo is not enough visual stimulation for our current crop of Young Adults. Whatever.

[Aside from your trusty editor JK: blame Ken fucking Burns for that photo shit.]

But now that Death is famous, the rich kid parasites can move on to their next rare gem “discovery.” We await your next ruling breathlessly, overlords!