Monday, September 14, 2015

Back in the ’90s: The Charlotte music scene

by Daniel Coston

The way that many people viewed the Charlotte music scene was put in motion on September 18th of 1990, when GWAR performed at the 4808 Club. Local police arrested band frontman Dave Brockie and club owner Michael Plumides on obscenity charges. In statements given to the media after the arrests, the arresting officers made themselves and the city look like the prudish, backwards southern city that Charlotte was struggling to emerge from. There was also more to the arrest than just that night’s entertainment. It has since been suggested that the arrest was motivated by another club owner to remove his competition, and for the police to remove another music venue that they saw as a noisy nuisance. This event, along with other factors, kept many new and emerging artists from making stops in Charlotte. Despite this, the local music scene continued to thrive and find outlets as the decade pushed on.

Rock & Roll bands from Charlotte were already known to many as the decade began. Fetchin’ Bones, led by Hope Nicholls, had recorded three albums for Capitol Records before they broke up in 1990. The Spongetones saw their Beatlesque pop distributed by Sony Records in Japan. ANTiSEEN would carry their southern punk message throughout the world during the 1990s. Animal Bag would record two albums for Mercury Records and tour throughout the Southeast. Other bands that emerged from the Charlotte area during the first part of the decade included Thurn & Taxis, Hardsoul Poets, Blind Dates, Neglected Sheep, Kudzu Ganja, and many others.

Music venues in Charlotte kept changing throughout the decade. Local bands played at mainstays like the Double Door Inn and the Milestone Club. Many of the emerging Rock & Roll bands in town played places like the 4808 Club, the Pterodactyl Club, Jeremiah’s, and Amos’ (in its original location). Other smaller venues, such as Fat City, the Moon Room, and Jack Straw’s would also cater to local musicians. Larger venues, such as what was then the new Charlotte Coliseum, the old Coliseum (now known as Bojangles Coliseum), Ovens Auditorium, and Blockbuster Pavilion continued to draw national acts, but rarely featured local acts. There were also no music venues in the downtown area with the exception of Spirit Square. The venue featured touring theater and musical acts, such as Johnny Cash in 1994, and occasionally featured local musicians. The loss of festivals such as Springfest and Charlotte Jazzfest gave way to more regionalized festivals such as Center Cityfest.

During the 1990s, North Carolina’s music scene began to get more national notice. The rise of Chapel Hill’s alternative rock scene, and the emergence of record labels such as Merge Records and Mammoth Records, drew a lot of attention to the Triangle area of the state. By the mid-1990s, a number of Chapel Hill-based bands had songs on the radio. Ben Folds Five, Southern Culture On The Skids, Squirrel Nut Zippers and others showed one could be based out of North Carolina and hit the national charts. With that backdrop, a number of record labels came calling to Charlotte.

Sire Records alone signed three Charlotte bands during this time. This included Sugarsmack, led by former Fetchin’ Bones frontwoman Hope Nicholls, as well as Muscadine, which spawned future solo stars Jonathan Wilson and Benji Hughes. Jolene, which had emerged from Hardsoul Poets, also released one album on Sire, with their single “Pensacola” getting a good amount of national airplay. Also releasing major label albums during this time was Lustre, who formerly known as Shiner. Other groups such as Sound Of Mine, Spite, Come On Thunderchild, Sunny Ledford, Lou Ford, and Laburnum also received nationwide distribution through various record labels. The Charlotte music scene was especially strong during the mid-1990s, with bands such as Doubting Thomas, 2nd Skin (later known as Violet Strange), It Could Be Nothing, My So-Called Band, Peralta, X-Periment, Five Times Down, Poprocket, Major Nelson, Mercury Dime, David Childers, Gideon Smith, Draggin’ Flowers, Ublisch and others vying for listeners eager to hear the next new sound.

Despite the endless stream of bands in the Charlotte area during this time, it took longer for the city to provide the amount of venues necessary to support all of this music. Like many other music scenes, there was not always a lot of crossover with bands, and their various genres. Bands like ANTiSEEN and Spite might attract punk and metal fans to Tabloids, while rock and Americana fans might see their favorite bands at the Double Door Inn. If these bands played the same venues, such at Fat City or Tremont Music Hall, they rarely played together. For multi-genre acts such as X-Periment and Peralta, building up an audience took time. Much like the city itself, Charlotte’s music scene was just beginning to expand its views on where to go, and what was available to them. In time, the venues and audiences began to catch up to that need.

Clubs like the Pterodactyl gave way to venues such as the Baha Club and more underground venues like the Septic Tank. Some venues, like Tabloids, Cafe Dada, the Capri Theater, Atlantic Beer & Ice and others, came and went in a matter of a couple of years. New and larger venues for Rock & Roll music began to emerge, such as Tremont Music Hall when it opened in 1995. The Neighborhood Theater opened in 1997, utilizing a former movie theater that had originally opened in 1945. In another part of town the Visulite Theater, which had originally opened in 1939, opened as a music venue in 1999.

Looking back, the music scene in Charlotte during the 1990s had a lot to offer, and the quality of that music still holds up with any music scene during that time. The 1990s brought a lot of change and eventual growth to Charlotte, and the music reflected those times. With bands such as Hardsoul Poets and Fetchin Bones holding sellout reunion shows in recent years, the proof is there that people were listening to what was being created, and still care about it, all these years on.

Dickie Typoe's Cover Story, 20th Anniversary Issue, September 2015

What the heck happened to you, Charlotte?

by Dickie Typoe

When I left this wasteland of Moon Pies and Sun Drop in 1998, the cultural growth was lagging far behind the population explosion. We were trying to find our footing again after the whole County Five fiasco that saw the entire arts budget dropped because of the performance of one play, Angels In America. (Yes, newbies, that really happened. It sucked.) Like many southern cities at the time, Charlotte was caught between the city it had been, and unsure about what it wanted to be. The world’s largest small town? A gaping downtown area that rolled up its sidewalks at 5pm? Anything but Atlanta? Yeah, Charlotte was all that, more or less.

In the summer of 1998, the era of Tangents Magazine in Charlotte was coming to a close. With my wad of cash from my topless dinner theaters in Europe, I had built Tangents into a juggernaut of underground media. We were hip (kind of). We were goofy (in spades), and had the guts to share it with the whole city. And people took notice. Radio stations paid us to do their programs. We got banned from 14 locations! This included the Main Library of Charlotte, albeit for a brief time. By the way, you can find now original issues of Tangents as part of the permanent collection in the Carolina Room. Which did make me smile a bit. Okay, I’ll admit it, I laughed like hell. But by the summer of 1998, Tangents was starting to fade from Charlotte’s “hip factor,” and changes had to be made.

Hello, Dubai.

Over the next 17 years, I built Tangents Magazine up into the biggest ’zine in the Islamic-speaking world. Petulant teens and misguided adults across the Eastern world look to Tangents for their monthly fix of Western hemisphere weirdness. And I became the mogul I always wanted to be. But, I had to keep it under wraps so I didn’t lose my “indie cred”. You know that largest building in the world, that’s in Dubai? That’s really the Tangents office. We had to come up with a front for it so that kids in Bahrain that still wear Keds and listen to Pavement wouldn’t think that we had sold out. With that delicate balance now in place (and don’t go blowing our cover for us on Facebook, okay), there was one more place left to conquer, one more time.

Ah, Charlotte. What happened while we were gone? Thanks to a lot of people, Charlotte actually became the World Class City that we used to joke about. Musicians actually come to Charlotte to play a show, as opposed to passing though on their way to Chapel Hill, or Atlanta. The politicians that darkened the Queen City’s towels moved away from Charlotte, and instead moved into the North Carolina House and Senate. Pat McCrory went from being a goofy Mayor of Charlotte, to being a really goofy Governor. Suddenly, it’s the rest of North Carolina that’s trying to catch up to Charlotte. As I said before, what the heck happened?

Are there still problems with Charlotte? Yes. The venues where independent artists used to work, live and exhibit have all been turned into sports bars. And bland sports bars, at that. But the city as a whole has come so far. The point of Tangents, when it first hit the newsstands 20 years ago this month, was to talk about what we liked, what we didn’t like, and to shine a light on things that would push the conversation forward. Every month, Tangents reflected the voices of many people, wanting to make the city better. And that happened, and continued, even after Tangents went away to conquer the rest of the world. Some things never change. Charlotte is still impossible to figure out without a map or GPS. Creative Loafing still sucks. But for a brief moment in time, Tangents Magazine was proud to change the minds of our readers, and of the city we lived in. And along the way, perhaps change the people that created the magazine, as well.

So, what of this return, you ask? Like many creative endeavors, it is only a passing moment. One more chance to talk about the things around us, and to say hello, and goodbye. But it is with love, and a proverbial finger up the nose that endeared us to some, and caused others to cringe. But that was us, and we were, and still are proud of that. Wherever this ride takes us from here, we hope you enjoy our “20th Anniversary/Welcome Back Charlotte/Farewell Charlotte/Kiss Off Charlotte” issue, and hold on to those ideals that have driven all of us for the last 20 years. Life is short, so be brash, be proud, and tell the world what you think.

Thank you, Goodnight, and bite me.

Tangents Poetry, September 2015 Issue

The Rogue’s Voice

A boy out in the wild,
with pieces of other stories
that your father 
told you in haste.
You grew too fast,
the pieces no longer fit,
so you left that story
and created your own.

She believed in you
in ways that made you 
believe in yourself,
and another dream.
You returned to the land,
just enough distance from the past,
You spent time and thought,
wanting to believe.

They did not say
why you went away,
what changed in you
and why that story ended.
Like the change you made 
so many years before,
the story all got changed, 
broken when you were gone.

Your legacy is different
than what you’ve said to me.
I will never know you,
but I know the way you felt.
You just wanted to dream,
and I know that voice,
like a rogue’s song 
with constant changes, 
yet always returning
to the chord that is searching
for another way to sing,
and for another home.
-Daniel Coston

State of the city: Arts & culture

by J.F. Keaton

Twenty years. Dang. Charlotte has changed a lot in the twenty years since Tangents first hit the streets. And yet, the struggle for arts and culture is often the same. Back then, one hoped that there would be enough interested people to attend your event. Now, one has to struggle to let me know that your event is taking place, and fight against the many other options that patrons now have in the Queen City. Many in Charlotte have been trying to do just that for 20 years or longer. As we look at the state of Charlotte, where arts and culture are now, we turned to some of these artists and asked them to tell us where Charlotte stands and what comes next.

Jay Garrigan is a veteran of numerous Charlotte bands and currently plays with Temperance League while leading his own band the Eyebrows. Ruth Ava Lyons co-owned Center of the Earth gallery for many years. John Love is a widely recognized writer, actor and artist. Mitchell Kearney is one of the best-known photographers in  the Charlotte area. Derrick Hines is a veteran of Charlotte bands X-Periment and Baleen and is currently half of Bless These Sounds Under the City.

Tangents: How has Charlotte changed in 20 years?

Jay Garrigan: I think Charlotte has become a lot more daring, but growth has also made it disconnected. I think Charlotte had a lot more depth 20 years ago, but at the same time, it has some very creative pockets. These smaller scenes have made our city more interesting, and I hope this trend continues.

Derrick Hines: Charlotte has grown quite a bit in 20 years. There are more 20- to 35-year-olds here than ever before and they spend more money on drinks and entertainment. The wide variety of companies coming here have brought a bigger appetite for film, food, and night life. Unfortunately, most of that appetite is for the more corporate/mainstream variety. Hopefully that acts as a gateway into the ever evolving Charlotte underground.

John W. Love: Her promises then were like that of an earnest 14-year-old girl. Now they are more in line with that girl’s savvy but conflicted 27-year-old sister.

Tangents: How has the art scene changed in 20 years?

Derrick Hines: 20 years has marked a few improvements in Charlotte’s art scene. Although there seem to be a few less art galleries, the ones that are left appear to be more successful than before. While the more classical forms of dance are still appreciated, I’ve noticed a significant increase in roots dance performances and attendance. There was never a significant underground dance scene (outside of raves) in Charlotte. There is now and it’s growing fast. Bigger theatre (of the Broadway variety) is experiencing a boom, but community theatre is suffering. Having said that,  the theatre community is growing slowly. The talent pool of actors, dancers, and musicians is larger than I ever remember and we’re all a bit more connected. There are more performing musicians here than I ever thought was possible in a mostly banking town. We still don’t make much money performing original music but we’re here in larger numbers and, somehow, that will help.

Jay Garrigan: I wasn’t really a part of the visual art scene, but like music, you have a lot more to chose from, both good art and art that has … more potential.

Mitchell Kearney: I would say Charlotte is bigger, stronger and just as nimble as it was 20 years ago!

John W. Love: It hasn’t. The names and faces have aged, weathered, changed, and emerged anew but the clamor to bloom in the waters of the bountiful rings with the same dissonant keen.

Tangents: How has theater changed in Charlotte?

Mitchell Kearney: Like the music and visual art scene, theater in Charlotte has experienced ebbs and flows given the venues offering quality productions. Given the state of the renewed economy, I feel the productions will continue to improve to a growing want for high quality theater.

Tangents: How have the venues/galleries for art and music in Charlotte changed?

Jay Garrigan: I’ve noticed recently that several venues have upped their sound systems. Hearing your own lyrics live in Charlotte is a new thing. I never understood why Charlotte had a collection of the worst-sounding clubs on the East Coast. Then again, it’s taken time for bands to learn the value of sounding good vs. being louder than balls. Intelligibility helps the experience in my opinion, although if you’ve seen the number of amps I like to play through live, you’d probably call me a hypocrite, and I’m OK with that too.

Derrick Hines:  So many more places to play in town; places with actual sound systems. And people to run sound. This was not the case 20 years ago. Nope. The galleries seem to be leaning more towards being artist-owned. Also, the art itself has increased in quality and worth, I think.

Mitchell Kearney: Charlotte is a destination for many more bands, given the surge in our population with an appetite for live music!

Tangents: Is Charlotte more prepared, or more welcoming for art and music than they were 20 years ago?

Jay Garrigan: I think there is a greater number of music lovers with good taste now, and you can’t ask for better than that. I hope technology changes the revenue models for songwriters soon. It’s such a shame people much more talented than me in Charlotte can’t make a living writing their own music, and the more talented players are forced to do cover gigs and endless music lessons. So in a way, it’s more demeaning because Charlotte audiences for some reason enjoy cover bands. It perplexes me because it’s not like this in other cities.

Derrick Hines: Charlotte has a long way to go to be considered to have a thriving arts scene but it is so much more ready for it than 20 years ago. There’s a palpable thirst: a hunger for something different. It’s stronger than before. Used to be that it was only a handful of artists that were pushing to push the boundaries and stretch out in Charlotte. It really feels like there are a lot more non-artists seeking out stuff on the outskirts of the mainstream. It’s still a slow process but it’s further along.

Tangents: How has the music scene in Charlotte changed?

Jay Garrigan: It used to be very competitive in the ‘90s as major labels were regularly courting Charlotte bands. Because technology has decimated the ability for songwriters and bands to make a sustainable living, bands are now more communal. It’s freaking stupid to see other musicians as competition these days. Often, we are each other’s biggest fans promoting each other’s events, even when we have shows in different clubs on the same night. I do credit Bruce Hazel and his annual Fool’s Brigade benefits for bringing a lot of my generation together and breaking down a lot of separation and dysfunction the ‘90s brought to our music scene.

Derrick Hines: So many more musicians. The quality of music here has always had pockets of stellar entities: it looks like those pockets are a little bigger now. It’s not hard to find something really good in any of the genres represented in Charlotte music now. This is happening faster and faster. More musicians: better musicians.

Mitchell Kearney: It is more diverse, and better attended by a wider range of ages and interested fans.

Tangents: What moves you to create now, as opposed to 20 years ago?

Ruth Ava Lyons: What moves me to create as opposed to 20 years ago? In the past, my work had always been self reflective and symbolic of my struggles as an individual. For the past 10 years my work has become more focused on the planet, with observations of environmental issues caused by global warming and man’s degradation of our environment. The challenge in the work is to balance the negatives with the hope of renewal for the future. Calling attention to our evolving relationship to the natural world allows me to explore who I am as well as have a dialogue in a larger context that I feel is educational and more meaningful.

Jay Garrigan: I don’t think much has changed for me. I just hear or feel something, and I feel compelled to create and express it. I don’t have as much time to explore and create anymore because I got tired of starving and decided to earn a living doing something semi-creative. I often feel conflicted and torn about that, but I refuse to put any friend or anyone I love through touring musician poverty. Growing up sucks. I’m lucky I have rock-n-roll bands and friends to bring me back to what I love.

Derrick Hines: As a kid, music (rhythm) was just another toy in the box, something fun to play with. I never thought to train in it. I never had a desire to be good at it. Maybe because it was more fun to discover things. By the time I was a teenager, it had become a habit: the playing and discovering. Ever since then, I’ve been a creative spirit but more so because of the immense pain caused by not doing it. I continue to create now because it hurts too much not to.

John W. Love: The same things move me. The irony is that the inevitable consequences don’t deter me.

Mitchell Kearney: We live in the present moment, it’s the only time we have to respond to the ever-expanding universe.

Tangents: What does the future hold for art, music and theater in Charlotte?

Mitchell Kearney: A bigger and more sophisticated artistic community than ever before creating works for a larger and more demanding audience!

Derrick Hines: I don’t know what the future holds for art here. I sincerely hope that Charlotte, as a city, realizes what a valuable natural reserve of artists it has. The most frustrating thing about this region is it is a place people who become famous for their crafts are from but only after they move away. There are ways to make this city a better springboard while promoting the area at the same time. Right now there aren’t enough people asking how, and the ones that are asking are asking the wrong people.

John W. Love: You know how Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons started tripping as they became adolescents? Eventually this growing, sprawling, muscular and restless cultural beast known as Charlotte will demand to be fed something of substance. After carelessly leaving its succulent seedlings to spoil and devouring the bloated yet anemic and less-than-rich fare as if it were a culinary masterpiece, it will either burn the city or abandon it in a search for something more. If the Queen City doesn’t develop an appetite and sense adventure for cultivating its own exquisite gardens, the only thing left to eat will be flown- and trucked-in prefab cultural nourishment made and packaged elsewhere.

Jay Garrigan: While I’ve lived here since 1988, my music goals were never really aligned to Charlotte sustaining my art. Some musicians work really hard to make a name for themselves in Charlotte, and that’s great. It enhances our community and friendships. When I was in my early 20s, I had the luxury of playing arenas and coliseums, opening for legends and recording with golden gods. Brushing with your dreams leaves a distinct taste in your mouth, and a dreamy longing for something bigger than what is in your back yard. But, I will say that I’m proud to be from Charlotte, and every time I come back home, the skyline gives me a sense of relief after a weekend warrior string of shows. I hope Charlotte holds that true for all artists.

The Charlotte music scene: What’s goin’ ahn

by J.F. Keaton

The Charlotte music scene has always had a lot to offer, and still does. Lots of different sounds, genres, looks and scenes. It’s all there. Rather than debate who the best in the scene are, and who deserves to be mentioned, we decided to let the people that go see and hear the music tell us. For one day, we asked one question on a social media site. “If you tell someone that is new to Charlotte about one artist or band, who or what would you tell them about?” The responses are listed below. If your favorite artist is not on this list, let us know or create your own social experiment. Let the discussions begin …

Chris Garges: Depends on what they’re into. There’s a lot of different stuff going on around town.

Danny Burazer: Tons of awesome bands in town, but I would go with the Childers, David or Robert. I really like the Paint Fumes and Modern Primitives too.

Hope Franklin: Randy Franklin.

Jonathan Murray: I really liked Jesse Clasen when I saw him!

Bee Finn: Federal Brothers. Michael with Part Time Blues Band or The Lenny Federal Band or FBRR.

Debby Scheppegrell Johnson: Gotta plug Chuck Chuck Johnson and Charlyhorse!

Jeffrey D Larish: Anything the Edwards brothers are doing.

Scott Homewood: David Childers.

Bee Finn: Truthfully, it is a hard question. Good answer would be all of them.

Tammy Brackett: David Childers

Rick Spreitzer: David Childers, Mike Strauss, The Loudermilks, Chuck Johnson.

David Alan Goldberg: David Childers, Chad R Edwards (The Loudermilks), Amber Comber Smith (Consumption Casualties).

Stephen H. Kaplan: Anything Kevin Gil is playing in.

Bill Kopp: Spongetones, full stop.

Scott Homewood: Beth Chorneau.

Sharon Coon Reed: If you’re in the LKN area and love good singer-songwriter acoustic, Billy Jones is always a fav!

Phil Black: Bill Hanna.

Kevin Marshall: I would first ask what do you like? And then I would point in a direction. For instance, if they were into songwriters, I would point them to OSN held at Freeman’s Pub bi-monthly.
Stefan Huebner: ANTiSEEN.

Jack Magick: Come On Thunderchild. (Do past bands count?)

Guerry Harvell: LYRICS from Greenville/Spartanburg/Piedmont. LYRICS plays ’70s to current both classic rock and blues.

Corinna Arlington: Greevus and Temperance League. I’d take them to Snug Harbor. I like most local groups I see there.

Michele Ruge: If I had to choose only one, it would be Temperance League. No matter what venue, big or small, it is always a good time. But Daniel, I have to agree with the other commenters, it depends on what they are into.

Sarah Pollock: Hectorina.

Dylan Gilbert: Phil Pucci (Various Projects), Andy Doorbum Fenstermaker, Wyley Buck Boswell (Various Projects), aggrocragg, Ghost Trees, Eli Parker, Bless These Sounds Under the City, Swell Friends, Bo White (and his various projects), Sinners & Saints!

Sarah Pollock: Dylan, he said to pick just one!

Dylan Gilbert: I can’t. I just can’t!

Matt Bolick: Early Ray.

John Harrison: Hectorina.

Amber Donoghue: Serfs.

Albert Strawn: These are some of my favorites: Hectorina is arguably one of the best live bands in Charlotte. They are math and blues rock with big hints of influence from the ’50s and ’60s and they are high energy. Sinners & Saints are always a great live show that will put a smile on your face and the banter is normally honest and funny, high-energy folk rock duo. Dollar Signs are comical and serious and great live if you want to catch an acoustic, anti-folk, high-energy, sarcastically truthful and fun show. The Dinner Rabbits are a mix between The Beatles, Deerhoof and Grizzly Bear and have beautiful harmonies and song structure and are all crazy talented.

Fat Face Band is a 3-piece, New Orleans style, extremely talented instrumental band. Tuba, trumpet and probably the best guitarist in Charlotte: Troy Conn.

Sam The Lion is a mix between Portishead and Sigur Ros with sexy vocals, and one of the most polished, tight and professional bands in Charlotte. Big elegant chill sounds. Bless These Sounds Under the City is the duo I’m in. I will mention it just because my friends would be upset at me if I didn’t. We are a good show to catch.

That’s where I would start and normally what I do tell someone who is new to the area. I also tell them to get to the show early because that’s how you find out about new artists that you may end up loving.

David Alan Goldberg: Andy Doorbum Fenstermaker.

D.j. Bost: The Spongetones.

Beth Eakes: Tom Brill, Jim Brock and Lenny Federal.

Blaine DeBoo: Hectorina, Dollar Signs, Bless These Sounds Under the City, Blaine DeBoo B&, Funky Geezer, DSR, Turd/cutter.

Dana Koster: Bad Karol!!

TamTam Massey: Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers.

Nathan Leslie: Josh Daniel and all his projects.

Blaine DeBoo: Can’t forget Sinners and Saints and The Business People.

David Akins: Anything that The Spongetones or their individual members are involved in would be worthwhile. Also Jim Brock and Beth Chorneau.

Zan McLeod: Patrick Walters, Rob Thorne, Bobby Donaldson, Lenny Federal.

Joe Sweeney: Melt, Serfs, Shell, Hectorina, Miami Dice, Luciferian Agenda. Charlotte has so many good bands to offer of every genre. We are really lucky.

Mary Cele Bain: Lenny Federal, 
Chuck Johnson and Charlyhorse and 
Silver Wings!

Mary Fagan: For jazz I send them to see Jim Stack and the guys at The Cajun Queen Sunday and Monday nights.

Mark Campbell: Monday Night Allstars at the Double Door Inn.

Wyley Buck Boswell: Andy the DoorBum, Hectorina, David Childers, The Fat Face Band, Viajando, Dollar Signs, Parodi Kings, Sext Message, South Side Punx.

Debbi Grosch: Spongetones, Donna Duncan Band, Shana Blake, Lenny Federal, Tosco Open Mic night at Evening Muse, Chuck Johnson and Charleyhorse, Red Rocking Chair (at Comet Grill Tues).

Sarrah Kelly: EagleSpeak Coffee House! … Live … local … original music … Wednesday through Saturday.

Sonny Skyyz: Half of these bands I’ve never heard of. And of the ones I have heard are one-genre bands. Depends on what you want to hear. Too much talent in Charlotte and the surrounding area for me to pick one. Each band or performer is good at what they do.

Amber Allison: Grown Up Avenger Stuff.

Greg Clayton: ANTiSEEN, Benji Hughes, Temperance League.
David Alan Goldberg: Oh crap!!! Gideon Smith and the Dixie Damned!!! Otis Hughes and Husky!!!

Sharon Dowell: Sinners & Saints, 
Benji Hughes, Miami Dice, Dirty Art Club.

Tiff Tantrum: YARBS, Chalkies and The Seduction. I’m only listing a few, and of course, all of mine will be in-your-face kind of bands. I could never list all the bands I love here! There are too many.

Sally Nehrenberg: Bubonic Funk!

Sara Woodmansee: Bless These Sounds Under the City, Hectorina, Sinners & Saints, Dirty Art Club, Dinner Rabbits and Ghost Trees. I know I am forgetting someone … So much talent in this here city!

Nick Grier: I guess it would depend on what they were into, but I would mention The Temperance League, Bo White, Amigo and ANTiSEEN.

Jan Jenson: Stolen Hearts - Pam Taylor and Robert Johnson!!! Kevin Marshall, Wink Keziah, Game Face, Michael Ingmire and all the bands that frequent the blues jams all over town!

David Beard: Not a group … a place: The Double Door Inn.

Tracie Nasta: The Loudermilks, Pullman Strike, Sinners and Saints, Miami Dice, Treehouse, Sundried Vibes, The Business People and Alternative Champs … That’s a little bit across the board, but that’s what I like, a little bit of everything.

Joseph Kelly: Grownup Avenger Stuff and Ish.

Don Koster: Funky Geezer!

Xavier G Neuro: Hashbrown Belly Boys!

Mary Shumway: I would say to join the Charlotte Folk Society. A great way to learn about regional music.

Chris Michael: Spongetones and ANTiSEEN!

Bobby Freedom: Andy the Doorbum, Stephen Warwick, Temperance League, David Childers.

Jennifer Stanton: All of the above plus Glen Alexander in any band with anybody.

Marie Reid Wiegleb: Thistle down Tinkers, Dave Holtzclaw, Shana Blake, Reeve Coobs, Nicci Canada and the Symphony, Brad Bailey, Randall Sprinkle.

Chris Michael: If you could time travel … Arthur Smith.

Rob McHale: You really can’t go wrong in this area. It is very rich with talent.

Michael Raper: Always a good time.

For David Pasquale

I first met David Pasquale in the second or third grade. We met in bus 42, the school bus that handled our respective routes. We both lived a good distance from our schools in Seneca Falls, NY. We had the honor of living the furthest away from town than any other kids. David and I bonded over a wonderment of life, adventure, and what else was out there beyond our rural lives.

David’s family had moved to town a couple of years before. I remember that they lived a number of places before they had found their large old house just off of Route 96. David had started school a year before I did, but one of his previous schools had held him back a year. By the third grade, David and I were both enrolled at Saint Patrick’s School in Seneca Falls.

We were best friends from the start. He was Huck Finn to my Tom Sawyer, or at least I thought so. Even then, I was dreaming of a world in, or near the spotlight. I wanted to be a filmmaker, a baseball player, broadcaster, musician. Anything and everything that interested me, I dreamed of it. My house was a mile or two away from David’s, looking directly out over Cayuga Lake. My backyard had been the scene of a massive battle between Indians and the colonial army in 1780. Only two other families around us lived there the entire year, with others coming in for the summer. It was rural, to say the least, but it gave me a lot of time and space to dream. And David and I dreamed big, like children do.

David’s experiences seemed more worldly than mine, even at that young age. He knew dirty jokes (at least to an eight-year-old) that I had never heard before. To this day, I can still recite most of them. David’s house, which he shared with his parents and his older brother Chip, also shared in that alternate view of the world. It was a rustic place, with lots of acreage. There had originally been a wood stove in the kitchen with a pipe that had gone straight through the roof. By the time I started visiting the place, the stove was gone, but the large hole in the room above the kitchen, where David and Chip slept, was still there. To my young mind, that was wild! Between visits to each other’s houses, we shared our feelings about school, our families, and what we someday hoped to do.

For all my dreams of traveling the world, when my dad got a job in North Carolina in the fall of 1983, I really didn’t want to go. I’d had a really good life to that point, and I didn’t want it to change. And I didn’t want to leave friends like David. We promised to stay in touch, and see each other whenever I came back. Truth be told, the first couple of years in Charlotte, NC were pretty hard on me, and I spent a lot of time wishing that I was back by Cayuga Lake. With David, all of my friends, and the life I used to know. Slowly, life carried on.

David and I wrote each other often for a few years. My family and I made a couple of trips back to New York. We swung by my old school, only to discover that school had been closed for that day. That summer, we stopped by David’s house, but the family wasn’t there. Within a year or two, David’s family had moved to North Chili, NY, and we kept writing each other. In 1988, David wrote to say that his family was moving again to another town, yet he wasn’t sure where. I wrote to David, hoping to catch him and get his new address. My letter came back, stamped “moved to unknown place”. I still have that letter, still sealed by the 14-year-old version of myself.

In the following years, I slowly began to realize some version of my youthful dreams. Be on TV? My high school friends did our own shows for local TV. Movies? I worked on a few film sets, before I realized that the individual moments in the camera, such as a still photo, held more emotion than the moving image. The Beatles? Seen two of them, and met and photographed their collaborators, children, and fellow musicians. I even went to Abbey Road, that place featured on an album I first fell in love with when I was four years old. I’ve had my ups and downs, but all in all, I’ve been very lucky, and still yearn to seek out the experiences that David and I first imagined having.

For years, I tried searching for David. Once, I thought I’d found him in a phone directory, but it turned out to be someone else. I kept searching for him, wondering where he was, who he’d become. I named one of my cameras David. Sure, I usually only named my cameras for loved ones that I’d lost, but David just seemed right. And someday, I’d tell him all about it. All of the things that I’d gotten to do, and wishing that he’d been there with me.

In January of 2014, I was doing research for a book, and had gotten pretty good at locating long-lost bandmates for North Carolina groups during the 1960s. I had realized that if I typed in the person’s name and birth year, I had a much better chance to finding that person. One night, I decided to look up David. I immediately found some information. Along with his death certificate.

Soon after, I located his brother Chip, who told me what had happened. In January of 1993, David had just joined the Marines. He had just gotten a motorbike, something that he’d wanted for a long time. He and some fellow cadets went out with their bikes. When another person on a bike in front of David suddenly stopped, David could not stop in time. He crashed into a pole and died on the scene. One of the things that Chip wrote me was, “One of the reasons that I liked about you and David was that you both liked to have fun.” We did have a lot of fun. David loved to have fun. One never knows where the things you love to do can lead you.

Gone. In 1993. Over twenty years ago. The news is very hard to comprehend, even all these years later. Had I known all those years ago, even on some unconscious level? I don’t know. As a kid, you want and hope for the best in yourself, and all your friends. Yes, it might seem naive to think that those dreams were possible, but they were very real to me, and I have carried them with me my entire life. And, now I realize, I also have carried David with me. The hopes, the dreams, the fears, the possibilities. These were things that David and I both created, wishing for our lives to come. And in that respect, David never left me. In some ways, David has been with me all along.

Later this year, I hope to return to New York. I hope to visit David’s grave, and finally say hello, one more time. Chip Pasquale recently sent me his parents’ phone number. The adult in me says, “What do I say after all these years?” The hopeful, excitable child in me says, “Just say hello! Go ahead!” Soon, I will listen to that younger version of me, and do so. Where does this circle lead? I wish I knew. All I can do is continue to hope for the best, and press on. Just like David and I always wanted to do.

Hi David. You have been gone from this place longer than you were here. Yet your memory is still very real to me. Recently, I photographed an event with a number of TV stars from the shows we used to watch. I found myself thinking, “The nine-year-old version of me wouldn’t have believed this.” Yeah, David, we would not have believed it. You’re still the best friend I ever had. I originally thought about writing this in January, on the anniversary of your passing, but I realized that I knew you as you lived. That is what I choose to celebrate today, on what would have been your birthday, July 8th. I still see you in my mind, just as the dreams of children will continue to live on, be they in upstate New York, or anywhere. As long as there still are kids to dream big, and there are adults that still believe in their own childlike dreams.

Happy birthday, David. See you around, again, someday.
-Daniel Coston
July 8, 2015

A short history of Tangents Magazine

by Carl Fulmer

Tangents Magazine was born in the basement of the Cone Center in what were then the Student Media offices of UNC Charlotte. It was born out of the frustrated imaginations of Cindy Sites, Carl Fulmer, and Dann Dunn. The three students had had it with what they saw as an incredibly mundane school paper and lacking literary choices for Charlotte’s teens and twenty-somethings. They felt that with their experience and exuberance they could at least give it a good try. After a few months of planning and flyers posted in coffee shops, record stores, bars, and a hell of a lot of networking, they started to attract a group of young and very talented locals who wanted to help them get the publication started.

Greg Russell, Daniel Coston, Erin Hubbs, Cynammon Hoyle, E. Ross, Jessica Deltac, Michael “Chainsaw” Cooper, Melanie Calhoun, Charlotte Reeves and other creative souls joined them, meeting weekly in living rooms and coffee shops to write and plan the first and future issues. In a very communal process, the first issue came together in the Spring of 1995 and Greg did a mock-up to show to early advertisers. There were those more conservative business owners who were repulsed by some of the contents while others saw the possibilities. Some of the early advertisers included The Double Door, Fat City, 106.5 WEND, Reflections Sound Studios and Tremont Music Hall. Once that first issue came out, the team was already planning future issues.

After a campaign of flyers around town that stated, “Charlotte needs a good spanking. Tangents,” the first issue premiered in September of 1995. It was mix of fiction, art, music, poetry, and internet etiquette. They were quickly snatched up or returned. There were some business owners who did not appreciate the humor or points of view. After a few months and a running count of how many locations the ’zine had been kicked out of, they found which businesses embraced them.

The meetings could be wild and raucous with everyone making sure that their voices and opinions were heard. This led to people jockeying for space and respect and yet Tangents continued to come out every month for two and half years, peaking at a circulation of 10,000 in and around the Charlotte region. Articles, art, fiction, poetry, and comics were submitted by a large number of the region’s artists so every issue was 100% original and made up of never before seen material. Whether the reader liked everything that was in an issue of Tangents was beside the point. There was going to be something in every issue to light up their imagination.

Dann Dunn eventually moved on to focus on his career, as did several other important members of the staff. Tangents Magazine was a creative success but as with many regional ’zines of the era, it could not sustain itself financially over the long haul. After two and half years, the publication shut down. Staff member Chainsaw was once asked during a particularly loud staff meeting if he thought Tangents was run like a band, having been a member of the local punk band Black Plastic. He mused, “Yes we are. We just haven’t broken up yet.” This issue is our reunion show. Please enjoy it.

The following is a fairly accurate list of Tangents Magazine’s highlights and staff members which is reprinted here with permission from Little Shiva’s website,

Coston wrote lead stories, humor, reviews, interviews, took photos, sold ads, distributed and generally got things done. He always got what he wanted whether it was an interview with A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams, Jim Mallon and Kevin Murphy from Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Maureen Tucker and Doug Yule of Velvet Underground ... quite a coup for such a small magazine.

Cindy Sites was an excellent writer who was in touch with the gothic scene in Charlotte. She gave Tangents much of its dark ambiance. She also proofread almost every article that was published in the magazine.

Carl Fulmer attempted to run the staff meetings and fielded questions and concerns from advertisers. He also is the originator of the idea for the “Great State of Mecklenburg” issue.

Cynammon Hoyle gave the magazine its first fictional serial. It was published in the gate fold for the first few months.

Melanie Calhoun scored interviews with national musicians such as members of Marilyn Manson, Motley Crue and Orbital.

Michael “Chainsaw” Cooper was a kind-hearted, noble punk rocker who always offered a level-headed point of view, and his barbarian style of writing was fun to read. He was also an excellent cartoonist.

E. Ross’s fashion column was one of the most well-read sections of Tangents. Colorfully written and full of suggestive innuendoes, his stories always brightened up the sometimes dark and gloomy publication.

Jessica Deltac covered the most creative artists in the Charlotte area.

Benjamin Robinson, who often wrote under the pseudonym of Pithy, was acerbic, very politically incorrect and hilarious.

Erin Hubbs provided artistic photography and wrote features, including an early article on the generation that was going to become the Millenials.

Nancy Homs was a staff photographer.

Skeet provided the detailed pen and ink drawings that often featured his own dragon characters.
Jason Jenks reviewed movies.

Tremont Music Hall owner Penny Craver wrote a how-to column for bands, and record producer Rob Tavaglione wrote a column on recording.

Fulmer, Coston and Dunn also sold advertising while Russell rounded up contributors and materials.

After a month of preparation, Russell would spend two all-nighters putting the magazine together. Then the core members of the staff would gather the Sunday before the paper went to press to proof the pages. The paper would be printed by Wednesday, in time to be distributed before the weekend.

The press run peaked at 10,000 copies per month, and the magazine was distributed in the mountains of North Carolina, New York state and Georgia. Moe Tucker, a member of the Velvet Underground, distributed Tangents in Athens, GA!

In September 1997, the editors arranged to produce WEND FM’s program for their annual Weenie Roast outdoor, daylong concert and distribute it in that month’s edition of Tangents. The staff was also responsible for handing out programs at the event. WEND and the program design won a PICA award from The Printing Industry of the Carolinas Inc.

Tangents also won awards from the N.C. Press Club and the National Federation of Press Women.

Tangents Fiction, September 2015 Issue

Hunky Dory

by Cindy Sites-Wooley

Only candles on the coffee table and red Christmas lights along the walls lit the living room. Jordy had connected his iPod to the stereo and put on a vintage 4AD playlist for Petra. He always knew what helped.

Nick’s old roommate Steve was sloshed. He’d been drunk the last time Petra saw him, and all the other times that she could remember with the possible exception of the funeral. Everybody worried about Steve as much as they laughed at his antics. Usually he was a happy drunk who wanted everyone to join him in the bottom of a bottle, as long as they brought their own. Not this time.

“Forty isn’t the new thirty! No, forty is the new forty, you fuckers! Why can’t we get older without candy-coating it?”

Jordy rolled his eyes. “Steve, please stop shouting in my ear.”

Steve reached from his armchair to the couch, slung an arm around Jordy, and almost fell. Jordy’s wine glass narrowly avoided collision.

“Sorry, Jordy. I’m fucked up. Forty-one’s too young to die but it ain’t young. I’m sick of everybody acting like we’re not middle-aged. It’s just advertising. Like the fucking boner pill. What if I don’t want to fuck anymore when I’m sixty? Leave our dicks alone. I’ll have liver problems anyway.” He took another swig and looked at Petra. “I’m so sorry. Nick was my brother. I feel it right here.” Steve slapped his chest.

Petra tried on a facial expression, but it didn’t work. She concentrated on Jordy’s comforting warmth beside her. Good old Jordy, her puzzle piece. Her torso hadn’t stopped feeling hollow yet. She’d like to fill it with vodka, but alcohol gave her migraines and heartburn now. Steve was uncomfortably right about getting older.

Eddie sat on the love seat with his new boyfriend whose name Petra didn’t know. The boyfriend couldn’t have looked more ready to leave.

Angular little Winston watched the floor from his armchair. She’d rarely spoken to him without Nick around but inviting him had seemed like the right thing to do. Petra smelled pot smoke on him as thick as wool.

Sitting on Petra’s other side was Jane, her other best friend. “I’m so sorry, girl,” Jane said for the third time.

“I’m okay.” But what else could she say?

Petra and Nick met in tenth grade after Jane noticed Petra mooning over this quiet new boy who wore a black leather motorcycle jacket and cherry red Dr. Martens. She’d never seen anyone wear boots like that in person. He sketched skulls and punk band names on his book covers.

“You remember when you made me talk to Nick that first time?”

“How could I forget?” Jane started to smile. “I thought you could use a little push.”

“More like a shove. And you didn’t even know him.”

“You know Star Trek formed my life philosophy. ‘To boldly go where no one has gone before’ is the way to live. You needed to try or I’d never have heard the end of it.”

Petra really smiled for the first time in days. “One day when we were fifteen, this hussy dragged me to talk to a new guy I’d been crushing on for weeks,” she told the others. “I wanted to bolt.”

“But I had a hold on her so she wasn’t going anywhere without me.”

“After we introduced ourselves, you bailed with some lie about needing to be across campus.”

Jane laughed. “I got you talking to him. But damn, you guys took a long time to get it together.”

“He still had a girlfriend at West Charlotte. They fought a lot, so he bitched about her to me. I turned into a high school movie stereotype: the girl pining for her best guy friend. By the time they broke up I was dating somebody. We went to different colleges but I met him again at one of Jordy’s parties.”

Jordy pointed at Petra with his glass. “Oh right, I tried to introduce you.”

Petra chuckled. “Yeah. You both get credit. Nick and I wouldn’t have known each other without Jane but we wouldn’t have reunited without Jordy.”

Everybody went quiet. Maybe, like Petra, they were pondering the things that would be different if a friend didn’t make you be bold, or if you skipped a party. Maybe Nick would be alive if she hadn’t met him, but she wouldn’t have known the difference. Her smile drifted.

“Chaos theory,” Eddie said. “I mean it’s a grossly oversimplified example, like the butterfly effect. You’ve heard of that, right?”

Steve groaned. “You were talking about it last time. There was that movie, too.”

Eddie cut his eyes at Steve with a little tilt of his head. “Okay, queen, no need to be that way.”

“I’m just giving you shit, Eddie.” Steve leaned back in his seat. “Go ahead and talk. I’m drunk, don’t listen to me.”

“That’s always the answer, isn’t it. Get drunk and talk shit and none of it means anything. Aren’t we all ready to move past that?”

Steve lifted his head like a giant surprised otter.

“Guys, why fight now, of all times?” Jordy said.

Eddie sulked. Steve dropped back in his seat.

“Whatever you want,” Eddie said finally.

“Do you need to talk about things, Eddie?” Jane asked, ever the therapist. “I’m not saying to fight it out, but it’s bad to keep shit bottled up.”

“Who’s fighting what out?” Steve now looked more like a confused bear than a startled otter.

“We aren’t going to fight at the wake for our dead friend in my house,” Jordy said.

Eddie rolled his eyes. “I’m a drama queen, not a fighter. All I want is to be taken seriously.”

“Who’s not taking you seriously?” Steve asked. “Eddie, I swear I meant nothing by it. Don’t you know I only give people shit if I like them?”

Petra saw Eddie’s point. People generally regarded him as a flaky flamer who peppered his hilariously rambling monologues with impersonations of obscure ex-celebrities and bursts of song. It was like he had a pop culture-fixated case of ADHD. She wondered how many people never saw his intelligence, and it reminded Petra of the way people had treated her when they could only see how she dressed. Everybody here should understand.

“Just forget it,” Eddie said.

Petra looked around as if she might find a new topic. Everybody was studying their drinks or the floor.

“Y’know, not to be a downer, but I think this is what it’s going to be like for our generation from here on out,” Steve said.

“What, arguing at wakes?” Jordy asked.

Steve waved his hand. “Burying people too soon. Things have changed. We aren’t the kids now and it hurts, but that’s just the way it is.”

“Oh, thanks for the Hallmark card, Steve. I’ll throw it in the trash with the others,” Petra said.

“I’m sorry, Petra. I say so much depressing shit. Why do you people keep me around?”

“Normally you’re very entertaining,” Jordy said. “We’ve just never seen you under these circumstances.”

With each sip of red wine Eddie grew increasingly morose. “Really, he’s right. I should put my name on the list for the first mission to Mars, take the first flight off this fucking rock for good.” He took another drink and turned to his boyfriend. “Don’t worry, baby, you’re my plus one. Maybe Nick will meet us there. Maybe it’s not another plane where spirits go, but another planet. ‘Is there Life on Maaahaaahaaaarrrs?’” he sang. “Oh, Jordy, do you have Hunky Dory?”

Eddie’s boyfriend gave Eddie a sidelong, brow-furrowed glance. Petra imagined that it was too early in a relationship to be plunging into the deep end this way. This guy should learn to swim fast if he wanted to be with Eddie. She loved Eddie, but he had chased off dozens of guys through sheer weirdness and breathtaking mood swings. Petra still wasn’t sure of Eddie’s boyfriend’s name, but she didn’t expect him to be around long enough to have need of learning it.

Jordy stood. “Of course I have Hunky Dory.” He looked at Petra. “Is that okay with you?”

“I’d never deny the people their Bowie.”

“I hope it’s not mp3, girl,” Eddie said.

“What kind of Bowie fan do you take me for? I’ve had it on vinyl since I was sixteen.” Jordy pulled the record from the crate and held it up.

Eddie grinned and raised his glass. “To Bowie.”

Most of the party raised their drinks while Jordy lifted the record high. Then he eased the vinyl out of its sleeve onto the turntable, and flipped his receiver to the record player channel. The needle landed softly on the vinyl with that wonderful hiss.

Eddie sighed. “At the risk of sounding like an asshole, nothing sounds warmer and fuller than vinyl.”

“I remember buying this at the Record Exchange when it was on Wendover,” Jordy said, taking his seat. “This one guy who worked there was so gorgeous and cool. I made sure to go to the cash register while he was up there so he would see me buy this album.” Jordy grinned. “He said I had excellent taste and asked if I had any Bowie videos. I didn’t, so he told me to come back the next Saturday evening and he’d give me a VHS of his Bowie video collection. I came back and he gave me a lot more than a tape. He wanted me to meet him after closing. It turned out he was twenty-one, his roommate was out of town, and he was into twinks, so we smoked a joint at his apartment and fucked while listening to ‘Heroes’. I can’t think of a better way to lose your virginity.”

“So romantic,” Petra cooed.

“Bowie’s an aphrodisiac. I put him on every mix tape for my crushes and it usually turned out well. Praise Bowie.”Jordy raised a gospel hand. “Do you think today’s lovesick adolescents create a playlist for the object of their affection instead of a mix tape?” Most of the room laughed.

“Some hipsters are into tapes, I heard,” Steve said. “I guess they like fast forwarding to the good songs and keeping a pencil handy in case they have to fix the tape. I get the vinyl revival, but not that. We like a lot of bad shit just because it’s old.”

Jane narrowed her eyes as if peering at something out of focus. “I wonder how many people our age had their sexual awakening to Bowie.” Several people chuckled. “I was all about Jareth from Labyrinth, because hey, that bulge.”

“You were thirteen when that came out!” Petra said.


A subject like this never failed to pique Steve’s interest. “You had sex for the first time when you were thirteen?”

“No, I said sexual awakening. The first time you felt stirrings in the loin. Guess I saved myself for Bowie.”

Grinning, Jordy pointed to the framed Thin White Duke-era Bowie photo on the wall. Bowie looked like he was drawing back an invisible bowstring while holding a microphone at arm’s length. It was a stunning black and white image. “I have unabashed, enduring love for this man. I was ten when I saw the ‘China Girl’ video. He was beautiful anyway, but then! Then there was that bare-assed scene on the beach. I totally ignored the woman. That’s how I knew I was gay. But have you seen The Man Who Fell to Earth? Whew.” Jordy fanned himself. “Years ago there was this website called David Bowie’s Area. Yes, it was about his bulge and it was great. I miss it.”

“It wasn’t only Bowie for me,” Eddie said. “There was Billy Idol. ‘Flesh for Fantasy’ was so sexy. ‘Eyes Without a Face,’ too. Blonds really do it for me.” He winked at his boyfriend, whose hair was platinum. “Bowie’s the best, though.”

Jane nodded. “That’s what I’m saying. I wasn’t lucky enough to see ‘China Girl’ before they censored it, but that’s why the goddess made YouTube. That’s some fine Bowie ass.” She turned to Petra. “How about you?”

Petra’s cheeks flushed. She had hoped they’d take pity on the widow and not make her spill. “I never even told Nick.”

“Come on, we’ve said ours.” Jordy nudged her.

“Et tu, Jor-day?” Petra laughed nervously. “Really, you want to know?”

“Well, duh,” Jane drawled.

Looking down, Petra rubbed her hand around her glass of tea to collect the condensation. “Prince. ‘When Doves Cry’ was my first sighting of a man in a bathtub. The music just sounded like sex, and then he sang about her touching his trembling stomach. I felt kinda fluttery myself.”

Jane nodded sagely. “That and the crawling. I feel you, girl. Times like that, you know what Sheila E and Vanity saw in him.”

“And speaking of songs that make you perv out when you’re too young to understand, ‘Self Control’ by Laura Branigan was another pivotal song that year,” Petra said. Everybody but Winston fell out laughing.

“I’ll bet nobody has said that sentence in the history of the world,” Jordy said.

“Well, I know it’s cheesy when you look at the video now, but I was into that guy in the mask. I wanted him to take my self control.” She cringed against Jordy, who couldn’t stop giggling. “What a year, 1984.”

“You were just stewing in your hormones,” said Jane.

“I was totally at the mercy of MTV, waiting to be seduced.”

“And to think you didn’t want to tell us, your closest friends, any of this about yourself,” Steve said.

“We’ve all learned about you today, and we’ve learned about ourselves…” Jane intoned, voiceover style. Giggles overtook them all but Winston.

Steve took a swig of Maker’s Mark. “I remember getting my first boners to Buck Rogers because of Erin Gray, and Charlie’s Angels. Even Kate Jackson. People said she wasn’t the sexy one, but I dug her.” Petra always forgot that Steve was a little older than the rest of them. “That goes for me and the rest of the straight guys my age, probably.”

“Well, I’m sure a lot of this is lost on Adam,” Eddie said, grinning at his boyfriend. So that was his name.

“I’m not that young. I know who Charlie’s Angels are.”

“I don’t think you’ve told me your first crush,” Eddie said.

“You guys will laugh.”

Eddie rubbed Adam’s arm. “As your boyfriend I swear I won’t laugh at you.”

“Mm-hmm, I’ll take it out of your ass later if you do.”

Eddie leaned closer. “Promise?”

“Oh guys, I’d say get a room but I don’t want you getting ideas about what you can do in my house,” Jordy said.

Adam interlaced his fingers. “Okay. When I was ten, I had a thing for Trent Reznor because of the video for ‘Closer.’ No shirt, blindfold.” He raised his shoulders.

“Why would we laugh?” Jane asked. “I thought he was hot too.”

“Yeah, I can’t laugh at that, but I don’t know whether to be proud or horrified for robbing the cradle,” Eddie said. “I was twenty-one when that came out.”

“Be proud,” Jordy said. He gazed around the room. “What about you, Winston?”

Winston frowned and didn’t look up. “You people act like nobody died. I can’t believe you’re talking about who you first wanted to jack off to. You’re not taking this seriously.”

“Wait a minute.” Petra sat up. “Most of us knew Nick a hell of a lot longer than you did. You were just his fucking drug buddy. Where do you get off telling people how to mourn? For all I know you were there when he overdosed.” He winced. “Oh shit, were you?” Petra shot to her feet.

“No, no,” Winston stammered, “but he’d done a speedball before and he handled it. It wasn’t much, so he shouldn’t have OD’ed. I was working that night.”

Petra advanced on him. “Pot or acid, fine, whatever. If I’d known he ever mixed coke and smack I would’ve dumped his ass off with the cops myself.”

Winston cringed. “I know you’re mad, but I wasn’t … I didn’t …”

“I’m the one who found him already dead. You sat here judging us after I was nice enough to invite you even though we barely know you. You’re lucky you weren’t with him that night. Get the fuck out before I punch you. I never want to see you again.”

Winston slouched and looked at Jordy, who stood behind Petra.

“Don’t look at me. Petra’s right.”

The entire room seemed to hold its breath as Winston scrambled for the door. Petra needed to walk away, so she followed wherever her legs took her. She ended up in the kitchen. On the picture-plastered refrigerator there was a photo from a party two years ago. She and Nick and their friends grinned and laughed back at her. Nick was the handsome, sweet guy she loved so happily back then, pre-coke and healthy. Petra was laughing so hard her eyes were closed and her head was thrown back, abandoned to the joy of the moment. Jordy stood mid-tackle with his arms around her waist. Next to Jordy, Jane was pulling a face. On the left Steve towered over Nick, stony-faced but making bunny ears behind his head. Eddie was crouching in front of Petra and Jordy, ironically striking the stereotypical elbow-to-knee, hand-to-chin catalogue model pose. Off to the left you could see Winston in the background, accidentally captured on camera.

That’s when Petra felt Jordy embrace her from behind, melting some of her tension. “You okay?”

Petra shrugged. “I will be.”

“I should really cut him out of that photo.”

“Give me the scissors and let me do it,” Petra said.

A paper, a city and a few of its people 20 years later

Okay, so this is Charlotte. We live in one of the fastest growing metros in the country. Millennials are tripping all over each other to move here and take advantage of what our city has to offer. Our downtown and surrounding neighborhoods such as Plaza-Midwood, NoDa and SouthEnd have become evening destinations. Twenty years ago, who would have known?

Prior to 1995, Charlotte wanted to be a major city. It had dreams and ambitions. It had landed the NBA a few years earlier. The NFL was on the way. Banks were getting bigger and building towers. The thought was, if New York, or Boston, or Atlanta, heck if even Raleigh could do certain things, why not us? Unfortunately, there was still a certain small town insularity that still lingered over Charlotte and reared its ugly head when anyone tried to “rock the boat.” The safe, clean-cut, “family-friendly,” pressed shirt, lights out by 10:00 at night persona was the social norm here. Anyone who deviated from that was frowned upon. Sure, there were a couple rock clubs or galleries here or there and an occasional punk show would come through every now and then, but having a unified scene or district was very difficult due to the spread-out locations of places and small number of enthusiasts at the time. Things were beginning to change as Charlotte got bigger though. Also, as more companies came to town, and more people moved here from other places, they brought their culture and ideas with them.

At the same time, a few of us who had just graduated from college and with our own Generation X tendencies had a few opinions we wanted to get out there. Since social media was not invented yet and the World Wide Web was a year or two from breaking into the mainstream, publishing a newspaper seemed like a good idea. After spending a year gathering a core group of people, learning how to gather resources to assemble a paper and find someone to print the thing, Tangents was born in September, 1995.

The first issue was the mix of a literary magazine, alternative press, and a fanzine.  It had some fiction and poetry, reviews of local music, an article about the upcoming phenomenon called the internet and a few pictures of some carefully covered naked people just to add some spice. Five thousand copies were distributed all over Charlotte, and our content caused enough controversy to have some companies kindly (and not so kindly) ask us not to our paper off at their places anymore. Mission accomplished.

For the next three years, Tangents tried to push the envelope, covering topics in depth such as drug addiction, sadomasochism, teen pregnancy, censorship, homosexuality and other items from a Charlotte perspective that some locals would have rather kept under the rug. In addition, we interviewed musicians such as a member of Marilyn Manson, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Moe Tucker; and covered general interest subjects such as ghost stories, Charlotte Hornets foibles and local theatre. We weren’t afraid to make fun of a local county commissioner or state legislator every now and then if we thought the moment called for it.

Meanwhile, as Tangents evolved, so did Charlotte.  As the Carolina Panthers began playing downtown, people began realizing how much fun going back to the city could actually be. More bars and restaurants began opening on Tryon and College Streets, and people actually kept coming back, even on off nights. On a formally derelict mill village off North Davidson Street, artists had begun opening galleries and hosting monthly crawls on various Fridays. Those events became more frequent and some bars and clubs opened next door, creating the NoDa district we have today. Similar things happened in Plaza-Midwood and SouthEnd while Dilworth and Elizabeth matured in their own right.

The old conservative, provincial Charlotte was still rearing its ugly head every now and then. Angels in America, a play with strong gay themes and brief nudity, was presented by the Charlotte Rep in 1996. While well received in other cities, various religious leaders decided to cause a ruckus about it being performed here and tried to get it banned. After an injunction by a local judge let the show go on, multiple sell-outs followed, but a conservative County Commission cut funding for the Arts and Science Council in retaliation a year later. This caused national embarrassment for the city for years to come. There was still always the little bout of hysteria that would occur is a certain rock or rap band would come through town (i.e. GWAR, Marilyn Manson anybody) or god forbid a local club host an all-night rave dance party. Ooooooh … How would this affect the children? But the shows went on, the sky didn’t fall, and the city moved forward.

Tangents folded after three years in 1998. As Charlotte grew, so did many of its publishers. Lewd continued on to a successful career in journalism and layout at more mainstream publications. Daniel Coston takes pictures of bands and has had his work featured in Rolling Stone, Spin, and many albums and CD’s. He has also published a few books. I went on to a TV career doing broadcast operations for the likes of ESPN and FOX Sports. We have all bought houses, married, started families of our own, just like everyone else. I won’t say we’ve mellowed, but we’ve left it to the millennials and the next generation to make their mark on the city to do as they see fit.

Charlotte has continued to mature over the past few years. There are more entertainment choices here today than any time I can remember. The community seems a lot more tolerant of different things today than any time I can remember too. Is there still room for improvement? Yes. While we are much more gay-friendly as a community than we were 20 years ago, we still do not have an ordinance protecting people from discrimination. We are also listed as one of the most difficult cities for one to rise out of poverty if you live here. This is something worth working on. We also have a state legislature that is very rural and biased against cities in general which doesn’t help our cause in general. There is also the question of how gentrification affects Charlotte’s in-town neighborhoods. Will all the new high-rise apartments and houses displace and price out the people who rebuilt and made these places cool to begin with? Will we become sanitized again?

The remaining question is, will Charlotte ever catch up with the likes of New York, or Boston or Atlanta? Probably not, they will always be many steps ahead of us and that is OK. But look at how far we have come.

— Dann Dunn

Sometimes, You Can Go Home Again

Sometimes, it appears, you can go home again

Everybody in Charlotte knows that most of its residents are transplants, which makes those of us who were born here sometimes feel like we’re in a special club. There’s a clubhouse and a secret handshake and everything.

A lot of natives grew up waiting to get out, but I wasn’t one of them. Occasionally I’d daydream of moving to DC, San Francisco, or even Prague when I was feeling that twenty-something wanderlust, but I was happy here. Tangents was here, at least for a few years after college, and as one of the founders I stuck with it to the end. All of my friends were still here through most of the ‘90s. Just about anything I wanted to do, I could mostly do here or within a day’s road trip. The roads weren’t too crowded yet and that appealed to my nerves. I thought I might only leave if I could go live in some exciting foreign country. My twenty-eighth birthday had already passed before I ever had to think seriously about moving.

In December 2001 my then-husband’s employer made him relocate to Raleigh. We had only been married for a month. At least we’d still be in North Carolina, I told myself. It might as well have been a different country. I made a few friends, but nothing could patch up the cracks growing in me. I’d never exactly been the most stable of individuals, but life became a Tilt-a-Whirl for me in Raleigh. Reading my old journal entries from those years still gives me a sinking stomach and a tight throat. My crumbling personal life made me miserable, but Raleigh itself was also hard for me to take because the rivalry between Charlotte and Raleigh isn’t just a myth. Sometimes when I told people there that I was from Charlotte, they’d smugly congratulate me on moving to their town. Even the small group of friends and friendly acquaintances I made were dismissive of my hometown, which kind of made me feel like we were different species.

For nearly seven years I talked myself into believing Thomas Wolfe was right: “you can’t go home again.” As desperately as I wanted to be back in Charlotte, I was convinced that I had burned all my bridges for reasons I won’t go into. My longing to move back to Charlotte grew almost physically painful after making a trip back here to see the Police play a show in November 2007, and I decided it was time for new bridges to be built. One of my friends used to say that anybody who moved out of Charlotte would inevitably be back if they didn’t break 88 miles per hour on the way out of town, and I’d laugh, never thinking it was going to apply to me. After that 2007 visit home, I wanted to be one of those prodigal friends she would tease for not managing to leave and stay gone.

When my ex and I split up in early 2008, I took some time to get my shit together and move back home. In those months I made many weekend trips to Charlotte that felt like parties, even if all I did was hang out with one friend. The date of my move seemed to be at the end of a treadmill lit with sparkles and fireworks. Returning to Raleigh was harder every Sunday afternoon, but when I finally moved back to Charlotte in June 2008 it was a high that lasted. Even now I remember to appreciate how much happier I am.

My move back here happened just in time for a big construction boom to stall out thanks to the economy, but already my old Charlotte had many unrecognizable intersections, new shopping centers, and bigger downtown buildings. My visits leading up to my moving day had prepared me for these changes, so living with them was just part of the excitement of being home. A little thing like a population boom wasn’t going to take away my elation at being back where I knew I belonged.

I believe in mistakes as long as you learn from them, and I consider my first marriage and living in Raleigh the two biggest ones I ever made, but I’ve never had a stronger education. It took all of that to make me understand myself and truly love Charlotte.

When I see all the cranes building more expensive apartments I find unappealing, and when I lament the demise of old beloved places, I remind myself of all the above. Progress can look like destruction, and it can kill the things that made people want to move here, but without it we’d still be a big small town of 430,000 people with fewer fun things to do, like 25 years ago. It’s not the new things that are bad, it’s the way they shove aside or just wreck all the existing good stuff to make room. See, something else I believe in besides making mistakes is balance. Along with the pile of bad things like hellish traffic, demolition, and cranes, there’s a pile of good things like Trader Joe’s, more live music, the Mad Monster Party, and more interesting restaurants to enjoy. I only need to learn how to make room for all the new people and builders, just as they need to respect what was here first.

— Cindy Sites-Wooley

Home Recording Article, September 2015 Issue

The explosive evolution of home audio recording

Home Recording
by Rob Tavaglione

Last time we spoke in these pages it was the summer of 1998 … Bill Clinton was president, print media was alive and well and I wrote my “Home Recording” column for rebels, DIY-ers and musicians with a punk rock ethos. Today, I’m a writer/columnist for Pro Sound News/Pro Audio Review and my Tangents column would be simply called “Recording,” as home recording singles and EPs has become the norm and cutting full-length projects in proper studios has become the exception.

The entire recording and distribution concept has been turned upside down. “Home recording” has morphed into “self-recording” as legions of of iPhone, tablet and laptop toters are recording their art in all manner of places, under all manner of conditions. These recordings are sold worldwide as downloads and “rented” to the masses as streams, sometimes within minutes of completion. Record labels are scrambling as artists embrace new paradigms and reject sucker contracts. Halle-fucking-lujah! It’s about time that the criminally-asshole labels and their mysterious payment policies (if any at all) are getting nudged out of the picture.

You might think that the quality of self-produced music has plummeted, but that’s hardly the case. The technological gains have outpaced the tumultuous change … the gear grows more powerful and more affordable, musical styles change as new gear emerges (e.g. EDM) and artists find ways to adapt to the new landscape. Increasingly, artists do most all of their own recorded product, with only a little outside help from a pro.

Mastering (the final production step of audio sweetening, multiple file type creation and duplication-master creation) is still almost always jobbed-out and for good reason. Surprisingly, a  mastering-Jedi can radically improve upon even an average mix. Such mastery can turn rehearsal recordings into demos and live show board tapes into impressive product … as well as turn decent home mixes into truly competitive product.

Another common practice is recording everything at home, but getting the tracks professionally mixed. I do a lot of this kind of work myself, where I’m expected to correct timing issues, tune vocals, beef up drum sounds and inject character into the instruments before finally mixing. Many artists don’t go this route for fear of tracking bad drums, grabbing poor tones or overdubbing pitchy vocals. Fear not!

The name of the game today is “fix it like a boss” and software is the key. Poorly recorded drums are easily augmented with plug-ins (e.g. SPL’s Transient Designer), or completely replaced by drum triggering, in a process that is fast and easy. Instrument recording is generally quite doable, with only a couple of mics/channels needed for success… but we’ve got re-amping too. Record a DI from an instrument, edit it into perfection in your DAW (digital audio workstation) and re-amplify it to tonal perfection. Vocals?  … easy peezy. You’ve all heard Auto-tune blipping and burping in that cartoonish way, but we also use pitch correction to invisibly tune-up the tone deaf and create heavenly walls of backing vocals.

“For art’s sake” is enough reason to begin home recording, but don’t fear that it’s only a hobby. Legislation is before Congress right now that would revamp the royalty structure for American musicians, taking OUR rightful earnings from radio stations, record labels and online streamers and putting them back into OUR hands. The future is looking bright for the tech savvy musician!

For more information on Rob Tavaglione’s Catalyst Recording, which is North Carolina’s most affordable full-service recording studio (which was established in 1995), visit

Tangents Humor, September 2015 issue

Welcome to Tangent’s humor section

When Tangents Magazine originally unleashed our humor section, we really didn’t care if someone got offended. Were you ticked off? Good. We were young, full of piss and vinegar, and, well, just plain full of it. Back then, you also had to work pretty hard to tick someone off enough to have them complain, or make a fuss. You were the one person that contacted us to say that you didn’t like that article? Well, good to hear from you. What did you think of the rest of the magazine?

Nowadays, in our suddenly rougher and tougher society, everyone is more easily offended, and complains about it on social media. And to make matters worse, other people actually seem to give a toss about whether someone else was offended by something. Which makes people talk even more about the offending incident, and just makes more of headache for the people that did the supposed offending, to begin with.

With that in mind, we present the following disclaimer. The following articles (hopefully) contain elements of dark humor and satire. This work was created by people that did not get enough attention as children, and/or were taught the “Baseball Diarrhea” song at nine years old, and were never the same again. Some of you may like it, some of you may not. Kinda like life. Amy similarity to truth, or pointed commentary using humor as a platform for honest discussion is purely coincidental. So there.

— Dickie Typoe

A history of Charlotte via torn down buildings

In 1765, Mecklenburg County officially became a county, and immediately began tearing things down. Old buildings, new buildings, outhouses, whatever. This went on for the next ten years, after which they realized that they still belonged to England. So they drew up a document, and tore that down, too. We would liked to tell you more about the places that galvanized the early days of Charlotte, but they were all torn down. A few buildings from the era, such as Hezekiah Alexander house, do exist, but only because other similar homes were torn down during the 1940s, and a few people realized that they had to save something. Otherwise, it too would have been torn down.

This cycle continued through much of the 1800s, if only because that’s what they had always done. College Street was full of colleges, hence the name, so they were all torn down. Church Street earned its name for the multitudes of churches along that road. Nearly all of which were torn down, because God said so. 

By the early 1900s, Charlotte’s population began expanding. So whatever had been downtown, was torn down. Or moved to what was then the outskirts of Charlotte. Plaza Road, and other new suburbs. (But don’t tell too many people that these neighborhoods have houses that are over a hundred years old. Somebody might tear them down, too.) Other landmarks that began to emerge during that time were amusement parks in the Dilworth area (tore that down), and just north of downtown (tore that down, too). The widow of General Stonewall Jackson lived in downtown Charlotte for many years, and her home was featured in many postcards and maps of Charlotte during that time. And then they tore it down. Romare Bearden was born near downtown Charlotte, and they tore down his neighborhood, just so the city could honor what they had torn down a hundred years later.
By the 1920s, Charlotte was in full swing, building and demolishing in equal measure. Hot spots included the Hotel Charlotte (tore that down), Carnegie Library (tore that down), railway station (tore that down), Masonic Temple (tore that down), Wearn Field baseball stadium (tore that down), Federal Reserve Bank (tore that down), and numerous other restaurants and hotels that were all torn down. Demolition in Charlotte ceased during World War II, so that workers could go demolish other countries. When they returned home, the soldiers started families, and built many homes of varying architectural designs. Nearly all of which have now been torn down. 

A new boom hit Charlotte during the 1950s, with new popular places like Crockett Park (burned that down―nice one, snot nose teenagers), the old Charlotte Coliseum (thought about tearing that down), and eventually the new Charlotte Coliseum (tore that down). Other popular restaurants of the time included the Epicurean (tore that down), Athens Restaurant (torn down so that CPCC could have eight more parking spaces), and the Coffee Cup (Really!? We tore that down so that a developer could have another 300 square feet of NOTHING!?). Continuing the tradition of music that had been started in the 1930s by WBT Radio (original studios torn down), and recorded by Hotel Charlotte (once again, torn down), a number of music venues and recording studios welcomed people from all over the world. This included venues such as Park Elevator (burned that one down), Swing 1000 (tore that down), the Cellar (which is still there, and now called the Tavern. Again, mum’s the word, so it doesn’t get torn down), and the Double Door Inn (CPCC, don’t even think about tearing this down. Isn’t your president a historian, or something?) Reflection Studios (tore that down) saw many records recorded at their studio, while Arthur Smith welcomed many famous people to his recording studio (which is still there ― wow!), and his home (which was torn down. So close!).

Now, in 2015, after years of waiting through the recession to tear things up, developers are once again tearing things down. And what does Charlotte have to show for its history? A number of great buildings that somehow survived, yet don’t get any support from the city, and a lot of historical markers that end with the phrase “used to stand on this spot”. The lesson here is to love, support and fight for what you care about preserving. Because otherwise, well, you know.

— J.F. Keaton

Judge Boner wonders why people don’t take his legacy more seriously

Sitting on a rocking chair on his front porch, retired Judge Richard Boner is anxiously waiting for workers to arrive. “With my retirement, I decided to make some renovations to my house. So I called up this local reno company, and I said, ‘This is Judge Boner, and I want a big deck for entertaining.’ They should have been here days ago.”

After 27 years on the judicial bench, Judge Boner retired last December, and has been struggling with people not respecting his legacy. “It’s always, ‘Oh that Judge Dick Boner. He liked big, long, sentences.’ And then they giggle. What’s so funny about sentencing criminals to long jail terms? I can always say that I was always firm, but fair. Why shouldn’t I be proud of that?”

“Why shouldn’t I be proud of the family name?” adds Boner. “Boners have been around Charlotte for as long as there’s been a city. There’s been a lot of Boners here since the 1700s. In fact, there’s a family legend that my family helped to preserve the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Back then, it was treason to have a copy of that document, so the elder Boners would hide copies of the Declaration by wrapping them around their legs, and under their long socks. The Meck Dec might not have survived at all, if it had not been wrapped around a Boner.”

Many people first heard about the judge when he presided over the 1990 trial of GWAR lead singer Dave Brockie, when the frontman was arrested on an obscenity charge. “I saw in the paper the next day that he said that he was glad that I didn’t give him a stiff sentence,” says Boner. “I thought that he showed true remorse by saying that. I was glad to hear that he was concerned about spending significant time in jail. He seemed like a nice guy. Did he mean anything else by that?”

Boner also earned the ire of many in the Charlotte media for banning photographers from the courtroom, despite the fact that the issues had more to do with reporters, and miscommunication with public figures. “Well, yes, the security messed up by not leading everyone outside when people started to give interviews, and the clerks didn’t go a good job of telling people not to give interviews in the hallway. But they were my co-workers, and they could be downright snippy if I called them out. Hiding my robe in another closet, spitting in my shoes. The media, I didn’t have to see everyday. Especially after I had them banned from the courtroom. However, I don’t think that they would point to that as the lasting legacy of my career, or not acknowledge all of my other accomplishments because of that. Even though most of them only know me for that, or that was the only time that I dealt with them. That wouldn’t held that against me, would they?”

With his days on the bench now over, Judge Boner plans to spend more time with his two kids, Little Dicky and Rasa, and find ways of preserving his legacy. “I wanted a big shiny plaque that said JUDGE BONER in big letters. And the guy said, ‘Do you want the retractable version, or the big 10-inch?’ He was still laughing when he hung up the phone. I don’t know why a plaque would be so funny. I wonder how much more the retractable plaque costs?”

With Judge Boner now in retirement, one wonders if he chosen his successor. “Why yes,” he proudly says. “I have hand-picked my successor. He’s a judge from Italy, with a long family history in that country. I’ve heard that he has a very memorable speaking voice. His name is Biggus Dickus. I think that he’ll preserve the Boner legacy for a long time to come.”

— J.F. Keaton

Female NC Republican pushes for freedom from voting

Hot on the heels of a bill that restricted the options of women’s abortion rights in North Carolina, another female representative has written another bill that is racing through the North Carolina General Assembly. NC Bill 2018, written by NC Republican Representative Kathy Mellars, promises “freedom from voting” for all women in North Carolina, essentially giving voting rights exclusively to males. 

“This ensures the male’s legal authority to preserve the rights of the women,” says Mellars. “For too long, the American family has broken down because men did not work with women to form a complete relationship. With men now legally owning their wives, we can make sure that North Carolina will return to those old-fashioned values we hold so dear. Men are supposed to take care of us, and it’s time that they do so. This bill will relieve the women of having to make decisions about voting, and leave more time for shopping. And when you get down to it, that’s all women really want, anyway.”

“Usually, I wouldn’t consider a bill like this,” commented a fellow state congressman. “But she is a woman, so she must know what women really want. Come to think of it, she the one woman I know, apart from my wife. But she’s my wife, so she doesn’t count.”

“She’s kinda hot, too, especially when she wears a skirt,” said another state senator, his mouth quivering slightly like a junior high student. “I like girls.”

The bill states women will no longer allowed to own property and/or run for public office, which means that Mellars would not be allowed to be in office once the bill becomes law. “This does not bother me. When all of this is done, I will simply go back to the planet Republicant, where I was born. This is where all of the current Republican senators and congressmen have come from, in a plot to slowly take over the rest of the world. We cover up our otherworldly dialect by sounding like Yankees. Why else do you think that it sounds like that we’re all from New Jersey?”

“I look forward to the future of North Carolina,” adds Mellars. “With this bill, we have strengthened women into a silent majority that cannot be ignored. We may no longer have the right to speak in public, but when it comes to public, you will surely hear us roar. Trust me, I know. I’m a girl. And an alien.”

— J.F. Keaton

Great works of literature as dirty movies: The Pirates of Penzance
(Porn name: Pirates of My Pants)

Pirates (Hello, Sailors!) rarely see women at sea, which kind of explains the Village People quality of their outfits. Frederic is a young pirate that has a heart of gold, and has therefore never gotten lucky. Because of that, he thinks that the pirate’s maid, Ruth, is hot. Frederic’s fellow pirates have also gone out with Ruth at different times, so they no longer share Frederick’s enthusiasm, but they’re tired of hearing Frederic talking incessantly about this, so they tell him to take Ruth to the beach and get it over with.

Things with Frederic and Ruth don’t work out, and she leaves to go play with the other pirates. As if by magical plot coincidence, a few young nubile girls come bounding up the beach at this exact moment. The girls dream of, well, you know. But their high social standing doesn’t allow them to admit to such things, so they spend their time bounding up and down the beach (usually in slow motion), all the while singing “Climbing Over Rocky Mountain.”

Frederic, with his, um, pegleg beginning to show, pleads with the girls to save him (“Is there not one maiden breast?”) and help him take off his pirate outfit. Mabel, whom her friends thought was the prissy one of the group, decides that she kinda likes guys in pirate outfits, and she and Frederic proceed to go behind the dunes and explore the decks. Mabel’s friends decide to get all voyeuristic, watching from a distance, all the while pretending not to be watching by talking about the weather. (Filmmakers note: More would have happened with the other girls if this film had been a vampire movie from Hammer Studios.)

Soon after this, Mabel’s dad arrives from one of his, um, military conquests. This apparently hasn’t happened in a while, as everyone spends a lot of time announcing, “The Major General Has Come!” After announcing his strange fetishes (“animal, vegetable, mineral”), he announces that he will let the pirates go free, which really disappoints the girls.

The rest of the story is a merry romp, with a policeman (singing ”When The Foeman Bares His Steel”) deciding to put the pirates in chains. Surprisingly not into that sort of thing, this leads to the pirates doing a lot of looting and plundering, and running around in people’s houses (and bedrooms). Finally, the General asks the pirates to pledge allegiance to a queen (I mean, The Queen. Of England), and everyone joins together in happiness, and presumably other things that will lead to thank you notes.

Next time, we discuss the eclectic story of The Wizard of Oz (aka Wizard of Ahhhs), with its themes of a young woman and her coming-of-age explorations of drugs (poppies), gothic dominatrixes (Wicked Witch), bestiality (Cowardly Lion, Toto), large metal objects (Tin Man), and that whole weird thing with the flying monkeys.

— J.F. Keaton