Local Wire

Going Ballistic

Can we talk?

I'm almost a year into my tenure as music editor, and I feel a long-overdue clarification session is in order. The inspiration for this little heart-to-heart is the overwhelming response to my most recent column. Only a few hours after last week's issue hit the streets, my voice mail was deluged with calls about "Bash & Pop," and the lead item regarding the Surf Ballistics' new CD, Dichromatic, which I characterized as a "mindless, sound-alike funk-rap-metal hybrid."

Save for a message from my aromatherapist confirming my weekly appointment, my mailbox was full of angry and, in some cases, disturbing messages from fans, band members and others in the Surf Ballistics "camp." A sampling of the wit and wisdom found in just a few of them:

8:52 p.m. -- Anonymous caller: "So, motherfucker, you think you're a real smartass saying shit about the Surf Ballistics? Huh, motherfucker? Well, you're a dead man now, motherfucker. You understand me? Your motherfucking ass better get a bullet-proof vest 'cause you're gonna get a bullet in the motherfucking head, motherfucker."

8:56 p.m. -- Anonymous caller: "You think I'm fucking kidding, motherfucker? You say a buncha bullshit about the Surf Ballistics. You think you're gonna fucking live after that shit? Your ass is not going nowhere, motherfucker."

9:01 p.m. -- Anonymous caller: "All day, all night, every day 'til I get an apology, motherfucker. Or you get some shots in the fucking head. Better get yourself a bullet-proof vest, 'cause you're dead."

What can we glean from all this? Well, aside from the caller's mastery of the English language and low view of me and my mother, I think we can safely assume that this series of messages was designed to intimidate me, evoke some sort of retraction. Unfortunately, threats of violence are nothing new to our paper, especially to those of us here in the ol' music section.

Hell, one of my predecessors actually had to go into hiding after making enemies out of a local rap outfit. Yet another one of our scribes has been unable to get anywhere near a health-food co-op since he wrote a piece suggesting Barney the dinosaur as an ideal replacement for the very frumpish and very dead Jerry Garcia.

No, no, threatening my life will get you nowhere. Because, dear reader, despite the bluster and decibel level of that particularly irate Surf Ballistics fan, his threats pretty much pale in comparison to the ones I've received from disgruntled local musicians in the past.

After authoring a cover story on the Gas Giants last year, the group's lead singer Robin Wilson threatened to "get medieval" on my ass if I ever wrote another word making fun of his "bawdy striped pants."

Of course, that wasn't as harrowing an experience as my life-threatening brush with former Refreshments singer and current Peacemaker front man Roger Clyne. After running a record review that was mildly critical of his vocals, Clyne vowed that I would "rue the day I ever crossed him," promising to use his "overwhelming power to unleash a whole army" of his worshipful minions against me, who, he threatened, would poke me to death with their frat pins.

I faced an equally horrific fate at the hands of Clyne's fellow Peacemaker, Steve Larson. Larson recently told me he would put on his roughest pair of boots and "stomp you like a narc at a biker rally" if I didn't make favorable comments about his guest guitar work on the new Ghetto Cowgirl album. Suffice it to say, Larson's contributions to that record were, as always, impeccable.

Yet none of those episodes were nearly as frightening as the time I mocked former Satellite singer-songwriter Stephen Ashbrook's "blue-tinted eyeglasses" and "pedestrian" lyrics. Cornering me at a bar one night, Ashbrook menacingly told me that he would take said glasses and stab them through my heart if I ever "stepped" to him in print again. Then, flashing a 9mm pistol, he added that our entire music staff was "a buncha mark-ass bitches" and that if Brian Smith, Serene Dominic and I weren't careful, he'd put caps in all our asses, throw us in an oven and "bake me up some three-bitch pie."

(For those unfamiliar with the concepts of humor and sarcasm, the preceding paragraphs were an example of both. Astute readers will no doubt have recognized the above claims as fictional because, a) Everybody knows Stephen Ashbrook really isn't a tough-talking gangsta, but rather the whitest man in America; b) Roger Clyne is too big a star to speak to a lowly local reporter; and c) Please. As if Robin Wilson could really "get medieval" on my or anybody else's ass. The bit about Steve Larson was also made up, except that he is kind of scary and I'm genuinely afraid he might actually stomp me like a narc someday.)

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Bob Mehr
Contact: Bob Mehr