Music News

Valley of the Spun

Here's my variation on Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck if . . ." routine. Call it "You might live in the Valley if . . ." The kickoff item: "You might live in the Valley if . . . you go to a yard sale where people are buying furniture with crystal meth instead of cash."

This happened to me a couple weekends back, and sent me a shiver. I mean, what the hell--tweak is currency here now, like casino chips in Vegas?

"Hi, welcome to Taco Bell. May I take your order?"
"Yeah, I'd like a seven-layer, two taco supremes and a large orange Slice."
"That'll be $5.36 or a tenth gram of methamphetamine at the second window please."

Yeah, I know how much the shit costs. My job takes me into the bars about three nights a week. Sometimes when I get bored between sets, I stand in a corner, scan the crowd and play "Spot the Tweaker." Try it with your friends; same rules as "Slug Bug."

"The chick at the pool table wringing her cue like it's a dishrag."
"Ow. Okay, um . . . the two guys in the band chewing gum at warp seven, just to the left of the sound board. Check 'em out. They're chattering like jaybirds. And look at that drummer's eyes--you could spill a beer in those saucers."

Dilated pupils are always good indicators, but the jaw muscles are the dead giveaway, flickering beneath their cheeks like twin, tiny hearts. Also, if you get close, you can whiff crystal in a tweaker's sweat. It has a sickly sweet, thoroughly chemical smell. Call it eau de burning plastic.

You tell me--am I paranoid? Does it seem to anyone else that this area is absolutely infested with speed freaks? Look, I am the last guy to parrot the rhetoric of Partnership for a Drug-Free America, but I have no qualms with these statements: Tweak is evil. It is insidious. It comes in hues of red and purple that do not exist in nature.

So does candy, sure, but one line of candy doesn't make you act for seven or eight hours like someone jacked a live wire up your ass, and then shuffle around for the next ten or 12 like they sucked out your brain with a straw. To hell with that. I've seen too many bands go down in the past year, watched too many sound men needlessly tinker with the levels and fuck up a show, and met one too many musicians from a Valley band that made it big whose full-time gig now is crisping their brains with crystal to think tweak even has redeeming quality number one. It's purely poison, and you're a fool if you do it.

Tee-Shirt Copyright
Speaking of smelly, puking habits--some of you may have caught the bite-size news item in the August 8 Arizona Republic about Simpleton's owner Dan Kinnard's creative protest against the recently passed Proposition 200 (which bans smoking in Mesa bars, restaurants, and most other public places). Last week, Kinnard started selling tee shirts that read "Prop. 200. Problem causing, debt raising, stinking, smelling, puking law," a pun on the state Department of Health Services' ongoing antitobacco TV-commercial campaign, which features the slogan "Tobacco. Tumor causing, teeth staining, smelly, puking habit."

More of you probably saw the front-page article in the Republic the next day, which reported that Riester Corp., the ad agency that produced the spots for the state, is threatening to sue Kinnard's ass for copyright infringement. (Kinnard says he'll keep selling the shirts.)

But what you probably don't know is that Zia Record Exchange chain founder and owner Brad Singer recently received his own cease-and-desist letter from Riester's attorney David G. Bray, who threatened immediate legal action if Zia did not immediately remove from its shelves a new line of self-promotional tee shirts that say "Zia. Tumor causing, teeth staining, smelly, puking record exchange." Singer complied (wuss), and Zia now has new shirts--"Zia. Copyright infringing, trademark violating, disrespecting, plagiarizing record exchange."

--David Holthouse

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David Holthouse
Contact: David Holthouse