WIPE OUT

It is Sunday as I write this, and when I stepped out of my house at the crack of noon, I found more than just the Arizona Republic waiting for me. There was a roll of toilet paper in a plastic bag hanging from my doorknob. (Wickeder wags than me might argue that it's hard to tell the difference between the Republic and a roll of T.P.; I'd never take a swipe at a crack like that.)

So I'm standing there looking at this thing dangling in front of my home for the world to see. I was concerned. Were the neighbors trying to tell me something? Were they passing the word that the man in the yellow house had some sort of hygiene problem? Or maybe they'd think I was a member of a sect that worshiped the great Porcelain God, and--observing the ritual Flushover festival--that I'd placed the roll on my door to prevent evil spirits from rending constipation unto my first-born male.

I grabbed it and slammed the door. Turned out the mystery roll was a promotion for new Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper. "Feeling Is Believing" was the slogan on a pamphlet stuck in the bag, and, boy, oh, boy, the tender caress of Ultra Soft converted me but quick. And you can read that sentence with a Scottish brogue and it still makes sense.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "How can this ridiculous toilet-paper setup actually lead into anything remotely having to do with music? Is he deliberately wasting our time again?" Don't worry, folks, I'm a professional journalist and can easily guide you back into the realm of pertinent, cutting-edge reporting. Merely read the next sentence, and we'll be on our way.

I just wish they'd had some of that Ultra Soft in the men's room at Boston's last Saturday night instead of those coarse paper towels, but that hardly spoiled the swell time I had. See? That wasn't so bad, was it?

I was there to check out a band named Scratch-N-Sniff, among others, but when I got there, Tea & Sympathy was onstage doing a strong if somewhat derivative set of Faces-cum-Cult-cum-Black Crowes-type stuff. I sat at the bar with Beat Angel Keith and watched him dip his cherry Tootsie Pop into the head of his Miller Genuine Draft, then thrust the thing into his mouth. He was to repeat this action many times--well into the set by the next band, Joe Rush--though at one point, we were joined by a girl named Chandra, who was wearing what can only be described as a finely tailored, visually stunning pair of white pants. They were held together by a thin, black lacing that went from ankle to hip. But we all know that life is filled with sacrifices, and these pants were something of a metaphor for that truism, she told me. "They look good, but it's a pain in the ass to go to the bathroom," was her exact quote, I believe. Anyway. Joe Rush is a Tucson trio, oddly featuring a guy named Joe Rush. Rush was tight and punchy in a Romantics kind of way, but dull to watch.

The evening's payoff came when Scratch finally got up there, and this is one band that's got an act. The first tune featured someone beating on the singer's chest while he bellowed into the mike as general chaos reigned; it seemed like there were about ten people onstage at all times.

Musically, the group stood firmly between midperiod Zappa and late-period Zappa, which I admit is not my personal cup of tea. But S-N-S is made up of real players; the band was tighter than Chandra's pants. And talk about a show. There was a rather Rubenesque woman singer wearing antennae, a guy in full Gacyesque clown regalia who danced around and a crack horn section made up of freaks and mutants. Whether a band works through its set in tee shirts and sweat or--as in the case of Scratch--with trunkloads of costumes, it's great to see people going all out. Go see these guys.

After that, the Beat Angels were up. The Angels played great, but if I write any more good stuff about them, people are gonna think I'm getting paid off. So home I went, but on the way, ran into New Times' own investigative superstar John Dougherty--who was apparently feeling little or no pain--and we wound up in someone's basement watching eight people dance to old Cure videos. I made it back to the yellow house, slept, got up at noon and found a roll of toilet paper hanging on my front door. But you already know about that.

Congrats to the Refreshments, who got a free trip to Seattle on the nickel of Ticketmaster. The band was one of five selected from the Western region of the Ticketmaster showcase gigs to perform in the great Pacific Northwest on October 15, providing exposure and the chance for free recording time. The Name Has Been Changed to Protect the Copyright: Hold on to your seats. At 6 p.m. on October 1, Tao Overstreet became Idols of Perversity. Apparently, a group of miffed monks from India had legal claim to the name, and put the stones to the Tempe quintet to find a new moniker or else. Though "Idols of Perversity" may seem a rather drastic jump from the restrained poetry of "Tao Overstreet," the band's press release says "the name change will avoid all legal problems they may have encountered with their friends in spirit, as well, coincidentally, it reflects more appropriately the direction of the band and their music." I can hardly wait! Express Your Ragged Self, courtesy of the new ragtime branch of the Arizona Classic Jazz Society. It's holding a "ragtime playing seminar" on Monday at the Sunburst Resort lounge at 7 p.m. Bring your own instrument, and experience is not necessary. I'm not kidding! Call 945-7252.

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