Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The End Of The Road

Well, we've reached the 'end of the road' for this Memoirs Blog project.

First of all - have no fear, I have continued my blogging - a new chapter now resides as part of my own website, http://DJRobertDrake.com.

Feel free to visit and join me on my never-ending story. I am leaving this blog up, since it continues to get hits from various Google searches - and also because... as I said at the start, this blog continues to help me remember, before i forget.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sex Dwarf Playlist - June

DJ Robert Drake 9:00 - 10:30pm

Karen Finley / Tales Of Taboo
Sugarcubes / Birthday
Lizzy Mercier Descloux / Wawa
New Order / Shell Shock
Shriekback / Hand On My Heart
Pete Shelly / Never A Time 12"
Human League / The Things Dreams Are Made Of 12"
Simple Minds / New Gold Dream 12"
Animotion / Obsession 12"
Book Of Love / Modigliani
Gang Of Four / I Love A Man In A Uniform
DEVO / Satisfaction
English Beat / Tears Of A Clown
Siouxsie & The Banshees / Hong Kong Garden
Duran Duran / Hungry Like The Wolf 12"
Romeo Void / Never Say Never
Spandau Ballet / Glow 12"
Delta 5 / Mind Your Own Business
The Cars / Dangerous Type
Depeche Mode / Dreaming Of Me
OMD / Electricity
The Cure / Plastic Passion

DJ Marilyn Thomas 10:30 - 11:30pm

Ministry / Revenge
China Crisis / Working With Fire & Steel
Red Rockers / China
Alphaville / Big In Japan 12"
Big Country / In A Big Country
Oingo Boingo / Weird Science
Adam Ant / Goody Two Shoes
DEVO / Girl U Want
David Bowie / China Girl
Murray Head / One Night In Bankok
Anything Box / Living In Oblivion 12"
a-ha / The Sun Always Shines On TV
Depeche Mode / Strangelove
Yazoo / Don't Go

DJ Robert Drake 11:30pm - 12:15am

David Bowie / Modern Love
Sparks / Angst In My Pants
Naked Eyes / Always Something There To Remind Me 12"
New Order / The Beach
Communards / Don't Leave Me This Way
The Vapors / Turning Japanese
Bow Wow Wow / Do You Wanna Hold Me
George Kranz / Din Daa Daa
Human League / Sound Of The Crowd
Kon Kan / I Beg Your Pardon

DJ Marilyn Thomas 12:15 - 1:00am

Bronski Beat / Why?
The Cure / The Walk
Duran Duran / Planet Earth
Naked Eyes / Promises Promises
Tears For Fears / Pale Shelter
Spandau Ballet / The Freeze
English Beat / Mirror In The Bathroom
Talking Heads / Once In A Lifetime
Book Of Love / Boy
The Smiths / Sheila Take A Bow
Echo & The Bunnymen / Lips Like Sugar
Alphaville / Big In Japan (Culture Mix)
A Flock Of Seagulls / Space Age Love Song

DJ Robert Drake 1:00 - 2:00am

Fad Gadget / Collapsing New People
Japan / Quiet Life 12"
Q Lazarus / Goodbye Horses
Yazoo / Situation 12"
Man Parrish / Hip Hop Be Bop
Yello / Bostich
Depeche Mode / Everything Counts 12"
New Order / Fine Time 12"
Kraftwerk / Home Computer
Human League / Fascination 12"
Violent Femmes / Blister In The Sun
Malcolm McClaren / Madame Butterfly

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sex Dwarf Playlist - May

Sex Dwarf Playlist
Friday, May 1
- Prom Night

DJ Robert Drake 9:00 - 10:30pm

Heaven 17 / Let Me Go
Madness / Cardiac Arrest
Men At Work / Who Can It Be Now
The Go-Go's / Automatic
Culture Club / Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
Spandau Ballet / Muscle Bound
New Order / Sub-Culture
The B-52s / Dirty Back Road
Thompson Twins / Doctor Doctor
Flying Lizards / Money
English Beat / Hands Off She's Mine
The Jam / Town Called Malice
Talk Talk / Talk Talk
Big Country / In A Big Country
The Cure / A Forrest
Felony / The Fanatic
Heaven 17 / Penthouse And Pavement 12"
Our Daughter's Wedding / Nightlife
Wall Of Voodoo / Mexican Radio
Haircut 100 / Favourite Shirt (Boy Meets Girl) 12"
Pat Benatar / Love Is A Battlefield
Selecter / Too Much Pressure

DJ Marilyn Thomas 10:30 - 11:30pm

David Bowie / Modern Love
A Flock Of Seagulls / I Ran
Real Life / Send Me An Angel
Falco / Rock Me Amadeus
Naked Eyes / Promises Promises
Belouis Some / Imagination
Plimsouls / Million Miles Away
General Public / Tenderness
Psychedelic Furs / Pretty In Pink
Duran Duran / Planet Earth
New Order / Perfect Kiss
Depeche Mode / Just Can't Get Enough
Yaz / State Farm
Men Without Hats / Safety Dance
Eurythmics / Would I Lie To You
The Cure / Why Can't I Be You

DJ Robert Drake 11:30pm - 12:15am

The Normal / Warm Leatherette
The Vels / Look My Way
Public Image Limited / This Is Not A Love Song
The B-52s / Legal Tender
The Cars / Just What I Needed
Belinda Carlisle / Heaven Is A Place On Earth
Erasure / Little Respect
Pretty Poison / Catch Me I'm Falling
ABC / Poison Arrow
Kim Wilde / Kids In America
Wham! / Young Guns 12"

DJ Marilyn Thomas 12:15 - 1:00am

Figures On A Beach / No Stars
Our Daughter's Wedding / Lawnchairs
Human League / Sound Of The Crowd
Pete Shelley / Homosapien
Soft Cell / Sex Dwarf
Baltimora / Tarzan Boy
Modern English / I Melt With You
The Clash / Rock The Casbah
The Smiths / This Charming Man
Adam And The Ants / Antmusic
Siouxsie & The Banshees / The Killing Jar
Talk Talk / It's My Life

DJ Robert Drake 1:00 - 2:00am

Lene Lovich / New Toy
The Bangles / Walk Like An Egyptian 12"
Ultravox / Love's Great Adventure
Prince / Dirty Mind
Laid Back / White Horse 12"
When In Rome / The Promise 12"
Tears For Fears / Everybody Wants To Rule The World
T. Rex / Jeepster
Tom Tom Club / Genius Of Love
Cock Robin / When Your Heart Is Weak
Berlin / Take My Breath Away
Spandau Ballet / True

Thursday, April 30, 2009


So, for all intents and purposes, I have officially closed the chapter of Gaskill Street.

Yesterday, with the help of Jay and Jamie, I was able to bag up the remaining trash, box up the remaining items to be kept and clear out all of the furniture in the room. All that remains is one dusty space, to which I will do my best to spruce up over the weekend.

As I stood in my empty room, and looked at the dust bunnies that had gathered behind furniture that hadn't been moved in well over a decade, as well as the shadows on the faded walls, that traced the memories that once hung there - I flashed back to that fateful day when I first moved in.

June 1993. I had spent several years living in a small one-bedroom apartment in NE Philly on Roosevelt Blvd (US 1 for those not from here). It was a crazy busy street but my little corner of the world was my sanctuary.

I had moved there to escape a world that had grown dark - and I loved being away from everything. That is until I saw Gaskill Street.

In 1992 a good friend of mine managed the classified section of the Philadelphia City Paper. One day she called to say that someone had submitted an ad for a house rental and she was going to check it out before printing the ad, since she was in the market. By the end of that week, she was committed and soon had moved in, along with two of her friends, to this beautiful three-bedroom home in Society Hill.

A year went by and one of the roommates decided to move out and into a space with her boyfriend - so I was asked if I was interested in seeing the room.

At first I wasn't sure; since I treasured my freedom away from the Center City world - but I realized that the time had come. After 7 years of a self-imposed exile, I would return to the heart of the city that I love and start a new chapter. Chapter Three.

The first chapter was from 1981-1986 when I lived in the epicenter of all things gay in Philly; not only geographically but spiritually; since I was the co-founder and General Manager of Au Courant Newsmagazine - Philly's gay arts weekly newspaper.

From 1986-1993 I lived a simple life, complete with your 'spiral out of control' moments in NE Philly, in the above said apartment.

And now, in 1993, I would return to Center City with my head held high and carve out a new world for me.

In those 16 years at Gaskill I did pretty well. I entered the home in my final fleeting minutes of my 20s and left it just weeks shy of turning 46. I made a new network of friends; both professionally and personally. I created a new public persona and went on to produce some pretty sweet nightlife events. I put myself out there - but relished being home alone, in my room, when all was done.

Fact is - I was such a public persona during the past dozen years or so, partly to hide the frustration of being so alone inside. I figured (at the time) that it was easier to toss on a new coat of paint versus rip out the plumbing.

But, as with any old house, sooner or later, you have to deal with the inners. Thankfully, I did just that and soon after that project began I met John. Together we have both helped each other grow, balance and love ourselves.

Last May John took on the rental of a house he once shared - to assist, I agreed to sign on the lease and cover utilities; since I was there often. Turns out I would be there nightly for the last year (haha!). John and I connect so comfortably together that we never truly tire of the other. Just as we were a great couple, it seemed that we were great housemates as well.

So - the revelation struck over winter; the time had come. The house on Gaskill had served me well, but my home was with John at our new place. Sure the dollars saved by consolidating my overhead would be quite welcome, but I knew that emotionally and spiritually, this was the time to move on with my life.

So, as I stood in my old worn-out empty room yesterday, I realized that this was not the end of a chapter, but the beginning of a brand new one.

And I couldn't be happier! :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu - Redux

Well, the world woke today to MSM hyperventilating over the possibilities of a Pandemic on our horizons. Swine flu had reared its snout once again ... yes, once again.

Grant it, this is a 'new strain', but all this talk of Swine flu brought back a flood of memories from fall of 1976 when, at the ripe young age of 13, I stood in a line that went around the block just to get my inoculation against the dreaded Swine Flu.

Check out these 'Swine Flu Propaganda' public service announcements produced to help scare everyone into quickly lining up for their shot:

Although many might remember the Swine Flu scare of '76, few know the back story to this campaign for mass inoculation of America. Paul Mickle of The Trentonian wrote a detailed account of this moment in history - totally worth the click and read (especially as we watch America face to face with a possible repeat scenario) ... but here's some highlights from his article:
On the cold afternoon of February 5, 1976, an Army recruit told his drill instructor at Fort Dix that he felt tired and weak but not sick enough to see military medics or skip a big training hike.

Within 24 hours, 19-year-old Pvt. David Lewis of Ashley Falls, Mass., was dead, killed by an influenza not seen since the plague of 1918-19, which took 500,000 American lives and 20 million worldwide.

Two weeks after the recruit's death, health officials disclosed to America that something called "swine flu" had killed Lewis and hospitalized four of his fellow soldiers at the Army base in Burlington County.

Thus was born what would become known to some medical historians as a fiasco and to others as perhaps the finest hour of America's public health bureaucracy.

Only young Lewis died from the swine flu itself in 1976. But as the critics are quick to point out, hundreds of Americans were killed or seriously injured by the inoculation the government gave them to stave off the virus.

By mid-March '76, CDC Director Dr. David J. Sencer had lined up most of the medical establishment behind his plan to call on Ford to support a $135 million program of mass inoculation.

By Oct. 1, the makers had the serums ready and America's public health bureaucracy had lined up thousands of doctors, nurses and paramedics to give out the shots at medical centers, schools and firehouses across the nation.

Jim Florio, then an ambitious rookie Democratic congressman supporting Jimmy Carter for president, didn't use the situation to take a shot at Ford. He lined up and was the first Jersey resident to take the inoculation.

Within days, however, several people who had taken the shot fell seriously ill. On Oct. 12, three elderly people in the Pittsburgh area suffered heart attacks and died within hours of getting the shot, which led to suspension of the program in Pennsylvania.

As of this writing we have 40 cases of Swine Flu - with no US fatalities - and the Obama administration announced that it was responding aggressively as if the outbreak would spread into a full pandemic. That is the smart way to handle this and I am grateful that we have an administration in place that is taking this issue seriously.

While watching the morning coverage today, besides traveling back to my youth I also felt a wave of anger. Anger over media's use of words like 'pandemic' and the front & center coverage of this story.

Flashback 25 years ago to a time when a major health crisis was affecting America; over 4,200 citizens had died of AIDS but you could barely get a friggin' late-night mention on cable access from the media, since it was a 'gay plague'. I suppose my anger comes from remembering that time in history when we did not have such a luxury, and had to swim (or sink) on our own.

Me And Bea

Sad news about the passing of the legendary actress Bea Arthur.

Not only was Ms. Arthur one of my favorite actresses ever, she was a true inspiration to me - in every chapter of growing up.

When I was feeling alone as an only child during those years when I had a new world thrust on me; complete with a step-dad and disruption; she was my Mother. Reliable and constant.

In the 80s, when I was spinning out of control amidst a sea of empty nightlife promises and gone-too-soon friendships, she was there. Reliable and constant.

In the late 1980s I had a chance to attend a PETA Rock Against Fur event at NYC's Palladium nightclub. The evening featured performances from The B-52s, Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich, Sugercubes and more - and was guest hosted by (among others) Bea Arthur and Betty White.

While backstage in this massive VIP lounge; I got into line for the evening's buffet dinner. After a moment, I realized that BEA FRIGGIN ARTHUR was right behind me, with friends. Naturally it was her voice that gave it away.

I was speechless with glee. I turned to her and proceeded to verbally vomit some praise like any good star-struck fan. She listened and held my hand and said that the pleasure was all hers.

Swept away is an understatement!

The line moved slowly and as we reached for plates I was truly beside myself, so we started to fill it with veggies and such and came across three large bowls - each with some colorful form of paste (this was my introduction to the Vegan world!)

So there we are, me and Bea - scooping polite ladles of colorful slop onto our bowls - me wondering just what the fuck this shit was - and Bea trying hard to keep her composure ... when she leans into me and whispers; in the classic baritone voice....

"I'm all for animal rights, but I could just die for some chicken!"

I let out the biggest guffaw and from that point on I felt as if I truly connected with Ms. Arthur.

So thanks Bea - for not only "being a friend" - but for being.

You'll be missed.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Land of the Lost - April

Land of the Lost Playlist
Friday, April 24

** 7pm **

The B-52's - Planet Claire
Adam Ant - Desperate But Not Serious
Human League - Hard Times 12"
New Musik - Straight Line
Spandau Ballet - Glow 12"
Information Society - Running 12"
Pet Shop Boys - Suburbia
Medium Medium - So Hungry, So Angry
Klark Kent - Away From Home
Kraftwerk - House Phone

** 8pm **

The Sound - Coldbeat
Joe Jackson - Friday
Level 42 - The Chinese Way
Shriekback - Accretions
Lene Lovich - Maria
Figures On A Beach - No Stars
Berlin - No More Words 12"
Rough Trade - Shaking The Foundation
Joy Division - Transmission
Thomas Dolby - Airhead 12"
Comateens - TCV15

** 9pm **

The Blasters - I'm Shaken
The Hit List - Into The Fire
Blancmange - Don't Tell Me
- live concert recording; November 1978
DEVO - Wiggly World
DEVO - Pink Pussycat
DEVO - Satisfaction
DEVO - Jocko Homo
The B-52's - Summer of Love
The Clash - Clampdown
Kleenex - Ain't You
Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice 12"
Quando Quango - Tingle

** 10pm **

Ministry - She's Got A Cause
Fine Young Cannibals - Ever Fallen In Love
Yaz - Nobody's Diary
The Cars - Dangerous Type
Sinead O'Connor - Put Your Hands On Me
Eurythmics - Take Me To Your Heart
Japan - Quiet Life 12"
- LOTL Spotlight Artist
Classix Nouveaux - Old World For Sale
Classix Nouveaux - The Robots Dance
Classix Nouveaux - 627
Red Flag - If I Ever
The Psychedelic Furs - India
Teardrop Explodes - Second Head
Wake - Testament

NOTE: Next month's trip into the LAND OF THE LOST is a week earlier than usual, as I will once again kick off the Memorial Day Weekend with an extended edition of LOTL ... 5 nonstop hours of the Rock of the 80s!

Friday, May 22
7pm to Midnight

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm Doin' Fine in 2009

Well, along with the proverbial road, this blog is lined with good intentions.

I started this year with a hope to really roll up my sleeves and utilize this blog more often; but as I sit here on a true spring morning (where temperatures are to finally rise to the mid-70s), I realize that instead of writing about my world these past few months; I have been living it.

Three major things happened since I made that broken new year's resolution - and each has been life-changing. Equally, they have not only changed my behavior, but have allowed me to create a new set of inner priorities for living.

First came Nomi. Nomi (named after Klaus Nomi) is the new addition to our little corner of the world. She is an almost 9-month old Rat Terrier / Beagle mutt who is easily the most well-behaved dog I've seen in some time. She rarely barks and instead will cover you with kisses and snuggles. She is housebroken and simply loves to be nearby.

The last pet I owned was when I was 12 ... having a dog in my life has really put things into perspective. She has shown me what is important in life; it's all about the simple things.

Of course - I say 'first came Nomi', but really, first came John.

John and I are inching close to starting off year number three! In fact (to bring it back to Nomi!), her paperwork shows that she was born on July 27 ... which happens to also be our anniversary date!


Things with John and I have been great - what many might not have known was that since last May, for all intensive purposes, we've been living in a house that we rent together. The deal was that, once John's former roommate moved out, I'd sign a new lease with him just in case there was any credit issues. Turns out there wasn't, since the realtor has turned out to be a notch above slumlord (haha).

Since May, John has paid the rent and I have paid utilities. But I continued to pay my third of my house as well - after this winter's obnoxious gas bills, I realized that the time had come.

So, after 16 years, I am leaving the house that has been my home in order to officially call what has been my home for the past year ... MY HOME!

The only anxiety I have over this entire transition is cleaning out my room of 16 years of crap. Since I've lived with John for the past year, I already know just how good we are together and just how much I love our house and our world, complete with our pup.

The Purge Project starts today - hope is to have my room empty by May 3, so my landlord can bring the room into the 21st century (it hasn't been painted or such in 20 years). My goal is to get rid of most of my life's clutter and start fresh; I love this feeling and I've done it a few times before (as those longtime readers know) ... being able to whittle down my life's belongings to just what I truly need/want is going to be a good thing.

The process might be exhausting - but the results will be rewarding for sure.

Along with my move and the addition of Nomi - the final change has been within.

A year ago, John and I both realized it was time to take a break from drinking. We had both used alcohol as a tool to socialize and as a crutch to get over our awkwardness. But with each other, we slowly realized that, together we each grew stronger independently. So we decided to take a year off from drinking and clean ourselves out; both physically and mentally.

Last month marked one year without a drink ... a big deal for someone who actually HAD a drink named after him!


This isn't to say I won't have a drink ever again - I enjoyed a good beer. But this was something that we both wanted to do for ourselves. To get our lives back in control so to speak. Not only do I sleep better, but my wallet is just a tad heavier these days as well! :)

So - that has been this year; a celebration of my new world; clear-headed, very much in love. A new chapter begins, complete with a pup named Nomi.

Spring really has sprung!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

SexDwarf Playlist

Sex Dwarf Playlist
Friday, April 3
- a spotlight on Human League

DJ Robert Drake 9:00 - 10:30pm

Human League / Louise
Marshall Crenshaw / Someday, Someway
Golden Earring / Twilight Zone
Robert Hazard / Escalator Of Life
Martha & The Muffins / Echo Beach
The Flirts / (Don't Put Another Dime In) The Jukebox
Human League / Rock Me Again and Again (six times)
Kajagoogoo / Too Shy
Human League / The Lebanon
Trio / Da Da Da
Human League / Hard Times (inst)
Gary Numan / Cars 12"
Psychedelic Furs / Love My Way
Depeche Mode / Master & Servent - Set Me Free
Ultravox / The Thin Wall
DEVO / Jerkin Back N Forth
The B-52s / 52 Girls
Yaz / State Farm
Yello / Bostich
Gang Of Four / I Love A Man In A Uniform

DJ Marilyn Thomas 10:30 - 11:30pm

Human League / The Sound of the Crowd
Simple Minds / Promised You A Miracle
Spandau Ballet / The Freeze
Heaven 17 / Keep Feelin (Fascination)
A Flock Of Seagulls / Space Age Love Song
Naked Eyes / Always Something There To Remind Me
Duran Duran / Careless Memories
The Cure / In Between Days
The Smiths / Ask
Human League / Love Action (I Believe In You)
OMD / Tesla Girls
New Order / Temptation
XTC / Life Begins At The Hop
Human League / Mirror Man

DJ Robert Drake 11:30pm - 12:15am

Philip Oakey / Together In Electric Dreams 12"
Prince / Dirty Mind
Naked Eyes / Promises Promises 12"
Human League / Don't You Want Me 12"
Baltimora / Tarzan Boy 12"
Taffy / I Love My Radio 12"
Madness / Our House 12"
After The Fire / Der Kommissar 12"
David Bowie / Let's Dance 12"

DJ Marilyn Thomas 12:15 - 1:00am

Human League / All I Ever Wanted
Yaz / Don't Go
Human League / Empire State Human
Depeche Mode / Personal Jesus
Echo & The Bunnymen / The Cutter
General Public / Tenderness
Selecter / Too Much Pressure
The Clash / Magnificent Seven
The Ramones / Rock N Roll High School
Billy Idol / Rebel Yell
Soft Cell / Sex Dwarf
Talk Talk / It's My Life

DJ Robert Drake 1:00 - 2:00am

Strafe / Set It Off 12"
Book Of Love / Boy
New Order / Confusion
The Vels / Look My Way
David Bowie / Dancing With The Big Boys
Talking Heads / Crosseyed And Painless
Duran Duran / Girls On Film 12"
Quando Quango / Love Tempo 12"
Joy Division / She's Lost Control
Pylon / Crazy
OMD / Her Body In My Soul
Siouxsie & The Banshees / Dear Prudence
Human League / Human12" - closing song

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Land of the Lost Playlist - March

Land of the Lost Playlist
March 27

7:00 pm

The B-52s - Planet Claire
Joe 'King' Carrasco & The Crowns - Person to Person
The db's - A Spy In The House Of Love
Fischer Z - So Long
The Call - The Walls Came Down
Scars - All About You
Red Rockers - China
Comateens - Ghosts
The Specials - Ghost Town
Hazel O'Connor - Who Needs It
Robert Hazard - Escalator Of Life
The Buggles - Blue Nylon
A Certain Ratio - Nostromo A Go Go


Spandau Ballet - The Freeze 12"
Flash And The Pan - Media Man
The Nits - Bobby Solo
Sparks - Beat The Clock
Bow Wow Wow - C-30, C-60, C-90 GO!
Man Parrish - Six Simple Synthesizers
Klaus Nomi - After The Fall
Elton Motello - Pocket Calculator
Romeo Void - Out On My Own
Sisters Of Mercy - Alice
Duran Duran - Careless Memories


Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians - The Man With The Lightbulb Head
The Psychedelic Furs - recorded live 1981 @ Emerald City
Into You Like A Train
Mr. Jones
Dumb Waiters
Pretty In Pink
Polyrock - Changing Hearts
The B-52s - Channel Z
Kim Wilde - Cambodia
DEVO - Gates Of Steel
Bush Tetras - You Can't Be Funky
KissingThe Pink - Certain Things Are Likely
Underworld - Thrash
Plastics - Robot
Cult Hero - I'm A Cult Hero


New Order - Your Silent Face
Marc Almond - Only The Moment
Tuxedomoon - No Tears
XTC - Scissor Man
Our Daughter's Wedding - Nightlife
Our Daughter's Wedding - Lawnchairs
Our Daughter's Wedding - Target For Life
Yaz - Nobody's Diary
Gary Numan - Down In The Park
Ultravox - Vienna
Eurythmics - Jennifer

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sex Dwarf Playlist

Sex Dwarf Playlist
- spotlight on A Flock Of Seagulls

DJ Robert Drake 9:00 - 10:30pm

Jeff & Jane Hudson / Los Alamos
Peter Murphy / Cuts You Up
Love & Rockets / Ball Of Confusion
Ultravox / Reap The Wild Wind
OMD / If You Leave
A Flock Of Seagulls / Wishing ( I Had A Photograph Of You) 12"
The Cure / LoveSong
Selecter / On My Radio
Depeche Mode / Photographic
Real Life / Send Me An Angel
Talking Heads / Once In A Lifetime
XTC / Life Begins At The Hop
Duran Duran / Planet Earth
The B-52s / Summer Of Love
Naked Eyes / Promises Promises 12"
A Flock Of Seagulls / The More You Live, The More You Love

DJ Marilyn Thomas 10:30 - 11:30pm

Big Country / In A Big Country
Figures On A Beach / No Stars
New Order / Round & Round
Icicle Works / Birds Fly (From A Whisper To A Scream)
A Flock Of Seagulls / It's Not Me (Talking)
Aztec Camera / Oblivious
Yaz / State Farm
Wall Of Voodoo / Mexican Radio
Tin Tin / Kiss Me
A Flock Of Seagulls / I Ran (So Far Away)
a-ha / Take On Me
Thomas Dolby / Europa & The Pirate Twins
Animotion / Obsession
Trans-X / Living On Video

DJ Robert Drake 11:30pm - 12:15am

Visage / The Anvil
Book Of Love / Tubular Bells - Pretty Boys And Pretty Girls
Secession / Touch 12"
The Communards / Don't Leave Me This Way
A Flock Of Seagulls / Space Age Love Song
The Clash / Clampdown
The B-52s / Funplex

DJ Marilyn Thomas 12:15 - 1:00am

Billy Idol / Mony Mony
Men Without Hats / Safety Dance
Boys Don't Cry / I Wanna Be A Cowboy
Bronski Beat / Smalltown Boy
Our Daughter's Wedding / Lawnchairs Are Everywhere
Robert Hazard / Escalator Of Life
Berlin / Sex (I'm A)
Siouxsie & The Banshees / Peek-A-Boo
The Cure / Boys Don't Cry
The Smiths / Stop Me If You Heard This One Before
Hipsway / Honeythief
Echo & The Bunnymen / The Cutter

DJ Robert Drake 1:00 - 2:00am

Prince / Kiss 12"
David Bowie / Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Yoko Ono / Walking On Thin Ice 12"
Shriekback / All Lined Up 12"
A Flock Of Seagulls / Tanglimora
A Flock Of Seagulls / Telecommunication
A Flock Of Seagulls / Story Of A Young Heart
Tears For Fears / Pale Shelter 12"
The Mumps / Crocodile Tears
New Order / Love Vigilantes
Kraftwerk / Numbers - Computer World
Dominatrix / The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight
Klaus Nomi / The Nomi Song - closing song

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Land of the Lost Playlist - February

Land of the Lost
February 27


The B-52s - Planet Claire
X - Nausea
Husker Du - Something I Learned Today
Alternative TV - Action Time Vision
Lene Lovich - Shadow Walk
Comateens - Resist Her
Sinead O'Conner - Mandika 12"
999 - Homicide
Re-Flex - Hurt
Teardrop Explodes - Treason
Tik & Tok - Screen Me, I'm Yours
Reesa & The Rooters - Melt The Iceman
Beru Revue - Casio Selector


Dead Milkmen
- Instant Club Hit
Front 242 - No Shuffle
Pete Shelley - Homosapien 12"
The Buzzcocks - What Do I Get
OMD - Messages
OMD - The Misunderstanding
OMD - Georgia
Gary Numan - Me! I Disconnect From You
XTC - Respectable Street
The New York Dolls - Trash
The Dead Kennedys - Holiday In Cambodia
The Cramps - Tear It Up
The Selecter - The Selecter


Killing Joke - Eighties
Shriekback - Lined Up
Maximum Joy - Stretch
Pulsallama - The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body
Suzi Quatro - Rock Hard
Wall Of Voodoo - Call Box
Wall Of Voodoo - Ring Of Fire
Iggy Pop - Little Miss Emperor
Yello - Daily Disco
Figures On A Beach - Accidently 4th Street


Ultravox concert recording from
The Hot Club, Philadelphia - Feb 23 1979
Klaus Nomi - Total Eclipse
Heaven 17 - Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry
Wire - It's A Boy
Pylon - Driving School
Pylon - Crazy
Pylon - Stop It
New Order - Temptation
Talking Heads - Crosseyed & Painless

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thank You, Kung Fu

So, as I mentioned in a previous post - in the midst of the XPN fund drive, I did get time to catch a live show - sort of.

After a few hours of 'beggin for bux' on XPN on a Sunday night, I took the El to Girard Avenue and walked a block or so under the tracks to a new spot in town - Kung Fu Necktie.

First, some history: Flashback twenty years and you would have had to pay me to 'walk under the tracks' on Front Street at Girard Avenue. The area was sca-ree at best; especially at night.

I remember when Au Courant Newsmagazine - the gay & lesbian weekly that I helped launch back in 1982 - first started. We had no overhead, so we rented out a corner of the second floor of Publiset Inc. - which was a old-school publishing house at the corner of 3rd & Girard.

Publiset was home to the Star papers: Port Richmond Star, Fishtown Star and also the South Street Star. Weekly free rags that competed with the Welcomat for territory. Au Courant fit right in with that scrappy mentality.

I remember getting off the El at Front/Girard and walking three blocks to work each morning; through the thick haze of the smell of yeast; a scent that could truly make your nose hairs curl! The scent was courtesy of Schmidt's Beer - whose brewery was located on the 200 block of Girard.

Schmidt's was Philadelphia's last independent brewery. As the Christian Schmidt Brewing Co., it was founded in Philadelphia in 1860 and at its peak, the company was the nation's ninth-largest brewer and employed 1,400 people.

Back then, the neighborhood had all the workings of a community that surrounds a beer plant; greasy spoon diner, a cheap and dirty corner store, a tattoo shop and a few shot & a beer bars; including one incredibly grimy go-go bar!

The neighborhood wasn't dangerous, just desolate. The plant was just a few years away from closure and the bleak future hung in the air, just as think as the yeast scent. However, if you stayed clear of the El tracks, you were okay. But, once you entered that permanently-darkened strip under the El, it was like someone turned the 'creepy dial' up two degrees.

Within that dangerous spot under the El tracks was the ultimate dive bar, which lived its final years as The Penelty Box.

Well - times have changed. The neighborhood, although still quite gritty, has been given an overhaul of sorts - thanks to the influx of 20-something hipsters (sorry) who have taken over the empty rowhomes and warehouses. Nightlife has begun to flourish and there's always a safe and interesting destination at night - no matter which night it is.

The Penelty Box closed and was transformed into Kung Fu Necktie - a sweet little watering hole - complete with classic wood features, booths for group sitting (complete with tables topped with wood from bowling alley lanes!), and a back room that hosts live music throughout the week.

The one block walk from the Girard Avenue El stop to the bar is well-lit (and quite empty, with the exception of skinny jeans trudging to the bar along with you).

The band we saw was "The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart" - a quirky, cute indie band -- which I'm sure I'll probably forget in a year. However, the venue... seeing the work done in the space and realizing just how much transformation has occured on some of my old stomping grounds from back in the 80s - that will stay with me for quite some time.


Yes, Indeedy. Rest In Peace Harrison.

News hit yesterday that local radio legend, and fellow public radio voice, Harrison Ridley Jr. of WRTI-FM passed away from complications due to a major stroke. He was 70.

Harrison Ridley, Jr. hosted The Historical Approach to the Positive Music, heard Sunday nights for almost a quarter-century. He described himself as a musicologist, historian, collector, and communicator. In addition to his 23+ years at WRTI, he's been an instructor at Temple University for more than two decades and has given lectures and workshops at over 30 universities. Harrison has taught classes about the histories of jazz, African-American music, and big bop, as well as courses focusing on jazz figures such as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.

Harrison is known by many as a walking encyclopedia of jazz. He has made guest appearances on many radio and television shows - including my show Kids Corner back in the day - and has also worked as a consultant for the Library of Congress and as an archivist for the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and the Performing Arts.

Harrison was one of Philadelphia's best known jazz specialists, although he himself did not use the term "jazz," opting instead for phrases such as "this music referred to as jazz," or simply, "the positive music."

The title of Harrison's program - specifically the "historical approach" referred to his technique of producing his weekly show - he would focus in particular on one artist, and use his entire four-hour program to give the listener a sense of that artist's contribution to the tradition. Often he would focus on a specific period in an artist's career, such as early (1920s-1940s) Duke Ellington or Miles Davis recordings from the 1960s.

According to sources, Ridley (an avid record collector and archivist) had amassed over 8,500 LPs, 3,000 78s, 200 45s, 300 CDs, and 6,000 books on African American history and music. He specialized in Duke Ellington albums (of which he had more than 600), and was also an expert on Benny Carter (he had 200 Benny Carter albums).

On a personal note - for me, listening to Harrison's show in the dark of a Sunday night - headphones in place - was like going to school. I always came away with more knowledge, appreciation and understanding of music than I had before the show started.

One moment from his show that has stayed with me decades later, was when Harrison quoted a line from poet Langston Hughes (who Harrison admired) - the line was:

'As we live and learn, dig and be dug in return.'

Harrison - you rocked.

Yes Indeedy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Week In Review 02.16

Well, it's time for another week in review - this is a tad extended, since I haven't much to review thanks to the WXPN winter Fund Drive.

From February 3 until the lucky date of Friday, February 13, WXPN put aside its normal business in order to raise money to stay solvent. This is the bane of public broadcasting - to be supported by the public. The public that has been trained to believe that all television and radio programs are free for the taking; for TV all one needs is electricity and a television set. For radio, a pair of AA batteries and a transistor radio is all it takes to get the service into your ears.

What many people sorta know, but perhaps don't quite truly appreciate, is that in commercial radio the sacrifice for that 'free' entertainment service is that you are bombarded with commercials - up to 20 minutes of ads per hour on some stations! Even the king of Philly radio (KYW 1060) now tells you the time by saying "it's 7:30am, time to get a cup of coffee and danish at Dunkin Donuts". Everything is for sale at a commercial station - that's the nature of the beast.

At a public radio station - we rely on the support of those that listen. Statistically, only one in 10 actually give something to a public radio station. Basically, what that means is that almost 90% of those listening, don't support. Grant it - some simply cannot. I get that. But, after 20 years of working in public broadcasting, I am baffled by how many people listen daily - but never even THINK of giving.

A year membership to WXPN is $50, less than a buck a week. For some reason it just doesn't sink in how important that gift is to the lifeblood of the station they listen to daily. If everyone listening pledged just that one gift, we wouldn't even need to be begging for dollars all the time - the support would be constant.

Now some don't give for personal reasons; be they political or programming or perhaps old grudges around past formats. I respect that to a degree - but chances are those that are 'pissed' at the station, probably aren't listening to it. However I think the majority of those that don't give, feel that their gift - no matter the amount - just isn't important.

I believe that because the fund drive shows it.

The drive is quite encompassing of a production; not only on a technical basis, but an emotional one as well. You have hosts talking for days on end - basically repeating the same message over and over and over and you have the staff and production that it takes to produce a drive. The army of volunteers to take the pledges, the network of restaurants that donate food to feed said army and the team of production that has to staff the control boards, so that the hosts can be in the phone room pitching for support.

The station basically interrupts its normal format to beg for dollars - and slowly; one call at a time; people call in to support. What is that process? What makes someone finally pick up the phone and call? There were hours when the phones were far quieter than we would have liked - and then a host would say something and BAM! The phones would light up!

What did they say? They said the same thing that they have been saying since the start. That unique process to get into people's mind and make them understand that their 'simple' gift to XPN is vital to our survival is a process that - even after 20 years of fund drives - I still don't quite get. It's a technique that is draining for all parties and one I wish we could avoid.

I've talked to personal friends that go on-and-on about how much they 'love' XPN, and love my program etc - but yet, when asked, they sheepishly admit that they are not a member of the station; figuring (wrongly) that it was either too expensive or that their donation wasn't really needed.

Have you ever been one of those listeners - one that hadn't given but all of the sudden did? I'm curious to know that process that led you to call your station and support it.

I suppose I wish that there was a simple way to reach out to those listeners of XPN that aren't members and explain to them - just one time - that, now more than ever, their membership gift is vital to our mission.

Anyway - that was the brunt of my week+ in review ... I did get a chance to see a show - which I will post about seperately.

Happy President's Day!

(BTW - if interested, to support WXPN, follow this secure link)


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sex Dwarf Playlist 02.06.09

"Lovich In The Air"
- a spotlight on Lene Lovich as we ll as songs of love

DJ Robert Drake 9:00 - 10:30pm

Lene Lovich / Sleeping Beauty
Tom Tom Club / Loralie
Lene Lovich / Wonderful One
Lene Lovich / Monkey Talk
Lene Lovich / I Think We're Alone Now
Adam Ant / Kick
Elvis Costello / Strict Time
SSQ / Playback
Cult Hero / I'm A Cult Hero
Quando Quango / Love Tempo
The B-52s / Summer Of Love
Lene Lovich / Blue
Book Of Love / Witchcraft
Lene Lovich / Cats Away
Lene Lovich / Birdsong
New Order / Procession
Figures On A Beach / No Stars
Psychedelic Furs / Heartbreak Beat 12"
Kissing The Pink / Certain Things Are Likely
Our Daughter's Wedding / Lawnchairs Are Everywhere

DJ Marilyn Thomas 10:30pm - 11:30pm

Leisure Process / Love Cascade 12"
Human League / Love Action (I Believe)
OMD / So In Love
Haircut 100 / Love Plus One 12"
Lene Lovich / It's You, Only You
Siouxsie & The Banshees / The Passenger
ABC / Look Of Love
The Cure / Love Cats
David Bowie / Modern Love
Depeche Mode / Strangelove
Eurythmics / Love Is A Stranger
Erasure / Oh La'Mour
Tears For Fears / Shout
Spandau Ballet / To Cut A Long Story Short
English Beat / Hands Off, She's Mine
Pigbag / Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag

DJ Robert Drake 11:30pm - 12:15am

Blue Rondo a la Turk / Me & Mr. Sanchaz
OMD / Enola Gay
OMD / Red Frame, White Light
Martha & The Muffins / Echo Beach
Lene Lovich / Blue Hotel
Peter Schilling / Major Tom
Lene Lovich / Home
Bronski Beat / I Feel Love - Johnny
Real Life / Send Me An Angel
PIL / This Is Not A Love Song
Thompson Twins / Love On Your Side

DJ Marilyn Thomas 12:15 - 1:00am

A Flock Of Seagulls / Space Age Love Song
King / Love & Pride
Yaz / Don't Go!
Fad Gadget / Love Parasite
Lene Lovich / Lucky Number 12"
Marc Almond / Tears Run Rings
The Smiths / Sheila Take A Bow
The Cure / Friday I'm In Love
Ministry / Work For Love
Joy Division / Love Will Tear Us Apart
Psychedelic Furs / Love My Way
Billy Idol / White Wedding
Modern English / I Melt With You

DJ Robert Drake 1:00 - 2:00am

The Go-Go's / Lust For Love
DEVO / Love Without Anger
The B-52s / Dance This Mess Around - 52 Girls 12"
Delta 5 / Try
Bunnydrums / Little Room
Joy Division / Digital
Lene Lovich / Angels
Split Enz / I Got You
Visage / Love Glove
Depeche Mode / Just Can't Get Enough
Culture Club / Love Is Cold
Talking Heads / Crosseyed & Painless
Yello / I Love You
Pet Shop Boys / Love Comes Quickly
When In Rome / The Promise - closing song

Next month (MARCH 6) Sex Dwarf is 'For The Birds' as we spotlight A Flock Of Seagulls - feathers are the theme and we'll be screening Hitchcock's The Birds through the night on the Big Wall! :)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Antony, Buster & Dave

As I mentioned in my recent Week In Review post - John and I traveled to the Keswick Theatre to see Antony & The Johnsons this past Monday. The following night, I had the pleasure of, once again, hosting The English Beat in Philadelphia; this time back at World Cafe Live and opening for them was legendary 2nd wave ska band, Bad Manners.

First up, my thoughts on the Antony show. I first discovered Antony way back in the mid-1990s, just a handful of years after he moved to NYC. He was selected to be part of a compilation CD that was issued to celebrate the downtown drag and performance art scene. The title of the disc was "God Shave The Queen" and I did interviews with several of the artists featured, for broadcast on Q'zine (the weekly queer arts & culture show I host on WXPN).

I chatted with Joey Arias, Lady Bunny and Antony and previewed all the tracks on the show throughout the launch month. Even then, I thought that Antony stood out above the rest - not because he was better, but because he was different. There was a softness in his voice that worked as a salve to help sooth the sadness that lied underneath.

Over years I must admit I lost focus on Antony - so I was pleasantly surprised to re-discover him a few years ago, re-packaged with his band and playing Philadelphia (World Cafe Live in 2005). I went to the show and walked away truly mesmerized.

The way he constructs a song; from the lyrics to the use of specific instruments and notes - it's all you can do not to sit there dumbstruck while he performs. When I heard he was touring on his new CD, I was excited to have the chance to see him again!

The concert was powerful! Even with a nondescript wardrobe and simple lighting that kept him in the shadows most of the night, Antony held the reigns to the 600+ in attendance. There were many moments where you could truly hear a pin drop during the evening; it was THAT good!

The following night was also a joy! I was once again asked to MC the return of The English Beat to World Cafe Live. Dave Wakeling is a touring powerhouse of late; traveling the country and performing to full houses night after night! This evening was no different; even while the city was being covered with a blanket of fresh snow, the heat inside the main hall was off the hook!

In the past I've seen Dave and the band perform with peers and with newcomers as opening/support acts. This time Bad Manners joined them - and, as Dave told me earlier in an interview I did with him, he had his work cut out for him with Bad Manners and Buster Blood Vessel taking the stage as opening act.

Bad Manners ROCKED the house into a sweaty skank-induced pulp! They performed for almost one hour nonstop - pausing for (at most) 20 seconds between songs - Buster looks better than ever following his life-saving surgery and recovery and the horn section he had on stage made the band sound like part ska/part mariachi band -- amazing!

The Beat didn't disappoint - they never do. Dave and company performed a wide selection of hits; from both the Beat and General Public eras. I am always impressed with Dave's stage presence - he is warm, grateful and loves his fans - almost as much as they love him.

The room was warm and filled with love - a perfect solution to the cold, wintry mix happening outside that evening.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Lux Interior R.I.P.

The legendary frontman from The Cramps has passed away at the age of 60, due to heart problems.

Lux Interior was the ultimate showman - I was fortunate to see The Cramps perform live at Philly's Grendel's Lair on South Street - one of my fondest memories from 'back in the day' - and that is certainly saying something.

Enjoy the performance - Rest In Peace Lux.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Week In Review 02.02

Well, it's been quite the week and now comes the reflective time!

In my last Week In Review post, I left off at Saturday, Jan 25 - where I was hosting the First Person Arts Story Slam event at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. And, with the *possible* exception of the 2008 Grand Slam (which I also hosted), Saturday night’s crowd in the Commonwealth Plaza at the Kimmel Center may have been the largest EVER gathered for a First Person Arts storyslam! I'll get to the winner, but first a bit about First Person Arts.

First Person Arts was founded in 2000 as Blue Sky by Vicki Solot, in response to the burgeoning interest in memoir and documentary art forms. Solot appreciated the resonance of real stories and recognized their value as a means of bridging cultural ethnic divides. With the involvement of a visionary board, First Person Arts set out to support the development of new memoir and documentary work and to create opportunities for it to be seen and appreciated by many. In just four years, First Person Arts has showcased the work of more than 100 artists nationwide; They have reached across cultures and communities to attract a broad and diverse audience; and have played an important role in exploring and celebrating the richness of the mixed heritage and shared history of everyday Americans.

Their monthly Story Slam events are legendary; both in its use of improv and audience interaction.

The way it works is simple: each event has a theme (for example, this particular event's theme was "broke"). If you are interested in telling a story around this theme - on stage within the guidelines of the event - you simply drop your name into a bucket.

The host picks names one at a time and calls you up on stage - you have 5 minutes and cannot use any notes to tell your story. The story is judged by several audience members (also chosen at random from those interested in judging); they judge each story on content and presentation - giving each a 1-10 score.

The highest score of the evening moves to the Grand Slam; held in November where the past 12 winners compete against each other for the chance to be Storyteller of the Year from First Person Arts.

This evening's crowd was extra special, since the event was held in advance of a performance from Ira Glass (This American Life). Although there were no official sightings of Ira during this pre-game, something tells me he wasn't too far off; listening to the words of everyday people.

The theme "broke" ran the gamut; from stories of broken limbs to broken dreams - but the winner (the OTHER Ira) was a story simply about being broke.

Ira A - a longtime staple in Philadelphia's underground scene - shared his story of past woe, and man was it a doozy! His was a tale of living in poverty in NYC in the late 1970s as a member of the punk underground. Having offered his squat of a flat to the members of Tuxedomoon as a crash pad, it was Christmas Eve and those members that didn't travel back to family were left with Ira and friends to fend for themselves to find a celebration.

The weeks prior, Ira and company spent their time attending the art gallery openings in the Soho district - primarily to fill pouches that lined the insides of their coats with various cubes of cheese, crackers and even wine. Shopping day for the art-punks!

At his flat, Ira had the gallery haul of cheese and crackers, a box of noodles and enough change to purchase two Big Macs - which they did and then proceeded to create an extraordinary casserole that could only have been assembled under the most impoverished of circumstances.

It was a heartfelt and humorous look at being 'broke' and it wowed the judges and the audience as well. Ira will return in the fall as January's winner, to compete in the Grand Slam.

BTW, for those in the region - I'll be hosting the March Story Slam, which will be held at World Cafe Live - click here for details.

The rest of my week was fairly low-key. January finds myself (and many) falling into a routine - one where the sun is rarely appreciated, except through the windows of my office. I leave for work in the dark and I arrive home in the dark.

I rang in February with a dose of PUPPY BOWL on Animal Planet - man, 2 hours of cute puppies romping around! YAY! On Monday, John and I went to the Keswick Theatre to see Antony & The Johnsons - and last night I hosted The English Beat concert, with Bad Manners opening. I'll review those concerts in a separate post coming tomorrow.

Oh, and last night Philly FINALLY got its first true snowfall of the winter season - about 6-7 inches fell overnight and the city has no clue what to do (as usual) - schools were closed today which made me crave for the time when I could wake up early, turn on the radio and listen intently for my school number to be announced as CLOSED!

Sadly, they no longer read off the school numbers - instead they drive listeners to visit their website. And, just as sadly, I no longer lay in bed listening intently to the radio on a snowy morning for that wonderful wish of personal freedom. Instead I get up and GO to the radio station, knowing that my job NEVER closes.

The joy of being 'essential personnel'- - alas.

Monday, February 02, 2009

TOO FUNNY - as silly as it is, I love this series of commercials!

E-Trade: Babies

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Land of the Lost Playlist - January

January 30


The B-52's - Planet Claire
Iggy Pop - I'm Bored
U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday
Joe Jackson - Jumpin With Symphony Sid
Telekin - Imagination
OMD - Red Frame White Light
China Crisis - Orange Mutt Mutt Dance
Men Without Hats - Antarctica
Eurythmics - Doubleplusgood
Psychedelic Furs - Heartbreak Beat 12"
Bad Manners - Lip Up Fatty
General Public - Tenderness


Soft Cell - Memorabilia
Morrissey - Lucky Lisp
Echo & The Bunnymen - Angels & Devils
Experimental Products - Feeling Left Out
Altered Images - Bring Me Closer
New Order - Procession
Minny Pops - Goddess
Boys Don't Cry - I Want To Be A Cowboy
Depeche Mode - Photographic
Bush Tetras - You Can't Be Funky
Seona Dancing - More To Lose
The dbs - Black And White


Pretty Poison - Seal It With A Kiss
Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Strict Time
Young Marble Giants - Final Day
Pylon - Crazy
English Beat - Best Friend
- chat with Dave Wakeling
English Beat - I Am Your Flag
Bad Manners - What The Papers Say
The Mo-Dettes - The Story So Far
WIRE - Ahead
Killing Joke - Adorations


Kleenex - Ain't You
Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice 12"
Blue Rondo a la Turk - Me & Mr Sanchez
Pigbag - Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag
Specimen - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The Smiths - Sweet & Tender Hooligan
The Untouchables - Freak In The Streets
The Rock Steady Crew - Hey You The Rock
Kraftwerk - Pocket Calculator
Our Daughter's Wedding - Lawnchairs Are Everywhere
Common Sense - Voices Inside My Head

See you next time (Final Friday in February) as we enter the Land of the Lost and celebrate the artists that performed in the URGH! A MUSIC WAR documentary. Don't forget, I'll be hosting a screening of this historic concert flick at International House on Tuesday, March 4!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Roots Of My Music

So, it’s 3am on a Tuesday morning and, after sleeping soundly for three hours – here I am, wide awake. Hope is I’ll squeeze in a nap before having to get up at 5:30am and start my morning – but for now, I write.

In my last post I mentioned my love of disco – and how it was second only to my love for new wave. That got me thinking back to just when that wonderful genre first really infiltrated my world.

I remember in the late 70s, the music scene in my neighborhood was divided into two camps: those boys that listened to pop/disco and those boys that listened to rock music.

Those boys that listened to rock music were teenagers that wore Army jackets, complete with those small brown burn holes that are made when the ash from a joint that you’re smoking behind the strip mall blows back and lands on your coat. Those boys that listened to rock music usually found themselves surrounded by muscle cars of the day; Camaro, Trans-Am and Corvettes; they either drove or rode in one every Friday night.

Those boys that listened to rock music wore their hair long and parted in the middle; giving off the impression of a sad stoned dog with big floppy ears. Additionally, those boys that listened to rock music wore nothing but corduroy jeans – tight corduroy jeans.

Those boys that listened to rock music had a fixation for silver jewelry; a skull ring or necklace was the norm; and somewhere in their collection was at least ONE cloth patch of the famous Rolling Stones lips.

I wasn’t one of those boys that listened to rock music.

I was one of those boys that listened to pop and disco.

Generally speaking, those boys that listened to pop and disco embraced the denim jean phenomenon. I recall purchasing my first pair of Sergio Valente jeans – complete with the white stitching down the sides and obnoxiously all over the back pockets. Those boys that listened to pop and disco shopped at Just Shirts – embraced man-made fabrics and had a slew of poly-cotton button downs.

The problem was that I wasn’t really one of THOSE boys either – although I seemed more welcome into that fold, for reasons that – at the time – were mysterious. Of course, looking back it makes sense – THOSE boys did more than wear the same clothes – THOSE boys were entwined by the same rainbow-hued thread that made us stick together, even though we were so alone.

I remember how music was my salvation. As an only child – by the time I hit my teens, I was on my own. My parents had become immersed in their own survival and the arrival of a new baby boy. I took that as a cue to explore the world around me. By 1978, my junior year in high school (I was 15 then), I met a boy who dressed in the most unique fashion.

He wasn’t wearing refer-stank jackets, nor was he poured into tight jeans. He was dressed in a mixture of 1960s businessman topped with an amazing pile of hair, combed into a full DA. He was just 18 and I was intrigued.

We began a friendship that led me into Center City Philadelphia for the first time (without family supervision). We walked the dirty streets and he showed me the underbelly of the city. I met some far-out artists, musicians and other creatures of the night. He also fed me a steady supply of mixed tapes – that introduced me to a world of new sounds! I was experiencing an awakening courtesy of The Ramones, Patti Smith, Television and more.

From 1978 through 1980, I absorbed that new sound- I realized there were few peers around me that appreciated what I loved; so I would head into Center City Philly as often as possible; dressed in a mixture of skinny ties and 60s slacks. I loved NOT fitting into one of the groups – and I treasured my independence; both in musical tastes and in life.

That was the root of my passion and love for the New Wave genre. The music represented the key that unlocked my cell and allowed me to escape and be free and to grow into who I am today.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Week in Review

Greetings all -

I proudly hold the record for breaking a New Year's Resolution in record time!

I had made a resolution to myself to have at least one entry per week in my blog - sort of a week in review. If nothing else the hope is it would force me to keep this creative avenue open throughout the year.

The fact is, I enjoy writing. I enjoy the use of language and every time I post, I feel refreshed afterwards. Sadly, the past four weeks were just a whirlwind of work, side gigs and life and I kept getting distracted.

So - with this entry, I make my private resolution, public. This first entry will bring us up to date; from this point I will post my Week in Review every weekend. The Week in Review entries will be as diverse as me! They might focus on activities - or perhaps deeper thoughts that came to the surface during the past seven days.

Naturally, my real hope is to post MORE than once a week - but this is a good guide to get me back in the habit. With that, here is the extended edition of my Week in Review 1.1-1.23


New Year's 2009 was probably the best entrance into a new year that I have ever had! Having rung in years at swank events or neighborhood bars - or with friends at intimate house parties - the one experience missing was to ring in a new year with the one you love, peacefully and intimately, at home.

Back when I was in my 20s, I thought those couples that stayed home on New Year's Eve were lame - look at all the fun they were missing. But now I see life through very different eyes. My ever-growing relationship with John has taken me to new levels of understanding; both about myself and about human interactions in general.

So, on that cold December 31, we stayed put at his place; complete with a backlog of DVDs, some great food and blankets. John has the "pleasure" of living inches away from the Philadelphia Mummers Museum on Two Street, so at midnight - we layed in bed - muted the audio around us and listened to the city celebrate a new beginning. Fireworks were booming overhead, the mummers and their families were pouring out from clubhouses and rowhomes to scream, yell and bang pots together to loudly proclaim "Damn it, we made it! No matter what economic, war-weary, budget-crunching drama you want to toss our way - we're here to start the new year!"

There was a certain sense of hope in the air - drawn from the end of one administration and the beginning of another only days away; as well as the fact that (especially for those outside the window) the annual ritual had survived.

For those unaware, the Mummers Parade has been around for over a century - sadly, due to budget cuts all around the city, the Mummers found out that they were going to have to march for no prize money this year as well as keep the entire celebration under a time limit.

Truth be told, the Mummers don't compete for the prize money - costumes alone cost more than the top cash prize. However, the money does help offset the production of this elaborate community event.

So, the fact that the parade was ON and only hours away - gave this scrappy neighborhood something else to celebrate during those first minutes of 2009.

New Year's was too cold to bother for us - and for many. We camped indoors and made the best of a great situation. The following day was the First Friday of the month, which means only one thing: Sex Dwarf.

My monthly nonstop new wave dance party has been going on for 6 years and continues to be an ever-evolving event of quality dedicated new wave music fans of all ages! Marilyn Thomas - my partner DJ - and I were anxious that our January party would be light; being the day after New Years, etc.

Farthest thing from the fact! Our January 2 party broke all records for attendance and was truly 'off-the-hook'. The energy and the people really took me back to those dance parties underground in Philly back in the day. The gig inspired me to keep on, keepin' on - in regards to my passion and love for that era of time. Soon, I will post separately about my fascination for the 80s - - I think there's a story there.

January became a mix of heavy workload at WXPN, as well as a series of side-gig events that I was booked at - coincidentally all on Fridays.

Friday the 9th, I came out of my Disco Closet and showed the public just how much I love disco - I've always been a fan of 70s dance music and feel that the genre as a whole got a bum rap (much like 80s new wave did for a while). Sure, there is TONS of schlock in disco, but there are some truly incredible productions; back when computer technology was primitive at best. Real instruments played by real people. Music designed to not just move a person but control a crowd. Epic orchestrations performed by talented musicians.

Anyway – I was hired to spin disco at the 150th anniversary of the Mutter Museum. Words cannot do the Mutter justice, so just visit their site above. The party was a grand event – complete with an LED dance floor and a rig of lights! I wore some patriotic platform shoes which became a weapon of torture by night’s end! Man, did my feet and legs kill me the following day!

The following Friday, I spun at the Tritone Bar on South Street – I really love that space and I only wish that it would develop a personality. The bar hosts live bands, but rarely has a ‘vibe’ when there isn’t a band on tap. It’s a neat spot and reminds me of the lounge clubs from the early 80s in Philly. I spun as the opening for a trio of bands including Witchtrialz, Certain General and Void Vision.

Void Vision has become my new obsession! Directed by my friend Shari, this band embraces all the good from early 80s electro and mixes it with a multi-media on stage production! Computer graphics, live dancers dressed in mouse masks and neon spandex, honestly – I can’t begin to explain this band – just know that, if you stick with me, you’re going to run into them sooner or later!

After that weekend – we found ourselves immersed in a sea of Change on Inauguration Day. This day alone needs its own post, since it has its own story. That will also come during this week.

Finally, we get to last night – for my next Friday gig, I was spinning at Digital Ferret – the music store located on South 4th street – a few blocks below South. I did the gig as a favor to Shari, whose Void Vision was slated to perform live in the store – they did not disappoint! As for my set, thanks to the incredible sleuth techniques of my partner John (who is a music maven), I’ve been filling up my collection with more and more forgotten tracks from forgotten bands from the late 70s and early 80s. Last night gave me a chance to spin everything from Minny Pops to Section 25 to Tunnelvision. A fun night indeed.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sex Dwarf Playlist 01.02.09

- a spotlight on Blondie

DJ Robert Drake 9:00 - 10:30pm

John Foxx / No One Driving
Midge Ure / Man Who Sold The World
Tom Tom Club / Bamboo Town
Blondie / Dragonfly
Heaven 17 / Let Me Go 12"
Scritti Politti / Wood Beez 12"
Kid Creole & The Coconuts / Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy
Visage / Fade To Grey 12"
The Clash / Magnificent Seven
Book Of Love / Boy
Human League / Love Action 12"
Re-Flex / The Politics Of Dancing 12"
Talk Talk / It's My Life 12"
Blondie / Picture This
Wall Of Voodoo / Mexican Radio
Sparks / Upstairs
Pat Benatar / Love Is A Battlefield
General Public / Tenderness 12"
Transvision Vamp / Tell That Girl To Shut Up
Blondie / Hanging On The Telephone

DJ Marilyn Thomas 10:30 - 11:30pm

Blondie / Heart Of Glass
Blondie / Call Me
Berlin / No More Words
Bananarama / Venus
The Bangles / Walk Like An Egyptian
The Go-Go's / Vacation
Blondie / I Know But I Don't Know
Blondie / 11:59
The Ramones / Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
Gang Of Four / Damaged Goods
English Beat / Mirror In The Bathroom
XTC / Life Begins At The Hop
The Smiths / This Charming Man
Echo & The Bunnymen / The Cutter
New Order / Perfect Kiss
Duran Duran / Girls On Film
Blondie / One Way Or Another
Blondie / The Tide Is High
Blondie / Sunday Girl

DJ Robert Drake 11:30pm - 12:15am

Haircut One Hundred / Boy Meets Girl
Human League / The Sound Of The Crowd 12"
Blondie / Rapture
Tom Tom Club / Genius Of Love
Prince / Kiss 12"
Raf / Self Control
Blondie / Atomic
The Cure / Boys Don't Cry 12"
Modern English / I Melt With You 12"

DJ Marilyn Thomas 12:15 - 1:00am

Dexy's Midnight Runners / Come On Eileen
Billy Idol / Dancin With Myself
The B-52s / Rock Lobster
Haysi Fantaysee / Shiny Shiny
Blondie / X Offender
Blondie / Pretty Baby
Romeo Void / Never Say Never
Yaz / Don't Go
Erasure / A Little Respect
Bronski Beat / Smalltown Boy
Joy Division / Love Will Tear Us Apart

DJ Robert Drake 1:00 - 2:00am

Killing Joke / Change
aha / Take On Me 12"
Buzzcocks / Fallen In Love With Someone
Blondie / Dreaming
Depeche Mode / Strangelove
Kim Wilde / Kids In America
Josie Cotton / Johnny Are You Queer?
Red Rockets / China
The Knack / My Sharona
Toni Basil / Mickey
Bow Wow Wow / Aphrodisiac
The Damned / Jet Boy Jet Girl
Tears For Fears / Shout 12"
Blondie / Fade Away And Radiate - closing song

(see you all February 6 @ the next Sex Dwarf!)