The Austin Chronicle


By Christopher Gray, January 10, 2003, Music

The New Guy

First things first. I feel a little like Colin Quinn taking over "Weekend Update" from Norm Macdonald on Saturday Night Live a few years back. On the Remote Control alumnus' first night behind the desk, he opened with, "You know how you go to your favorite bar for years, and the same guy always pours your drinks; then one day you go in, and there's a new guy behind the bar? ..." Ken Lieck certainly left me some big shoes to fill (when he wore shoes), but if I can squeeze in enough Tenacious D, Mike Nesmith, and Cartoon Network references, the transition ought to be smooth enough. By the way, Ken, some kind soul in Houston sent you a holiday bottle of Absolut. I can't guarantee how long it'll stay untouched, so you better come claim it. This column writin' sure is thirsty work!

Who Am I (What's My Name)?

Actually, writing this column promises to be a breeze compared with naming the blasted thing. The last time I had to name a column was for the Clear Brook Connection back in high school, so "Shades of Gray" was immediately disqualified. Pillaging song titles from my favorite bands didn't help much either, although U2's "Even Better Than the Real Thing," Run-DMC's "It's Like That," and Radiohead's "No Surprises" might have won out under different circumstances. Eventually, the matter was settled over pints and way too much fried food at the Dog & Duck. The hands-down best suggestion, which Michael Chamy and I loved, was the Smiths' "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before," but it was shot down by Morrissey-haters Raoul Hernandez and Margaret Moser (who can be seen this Friday, 10pm, on the VH1 special named after her and Bill Crawford's book, Rock Stars Do the Dumbest Things). An early leader was the borderline blasphemous "Jesus Wrote My Column," and "I'm on the Guest List" was rejected straightaway for fear of sending the wrong message. We thought we had a pair of Eighties winners in "Jumping Someone Else's Train" and "Bring on the Dancing Horses," but we knew it was time to quit when someone suggested "Some People Call Me Maurice" -- and we considered it. Ultimately, we went with Raoul's first suggestion, "TCB," because we love Elvis, lightning bolts are cool, and the initials can stand for just about anything: Texas Cattle Bloaters, Travis County Beekeepers, Trailer Court Bulletins, Texas Cleavage Boosters, Tax Cuts Blow, and the very meta This Column By. Also, knowing it could soon become "That Chris Bastard" helps me forget that "Taking Care of Business" remains best-known as a classic-rock staple by a bunch of frickin' Canadians.

A Good Year for the Roses

For those who are interested, here's how I spent the past 12 months; everyone else can just skip ahead. Basically, I moved in with my parents and played a lot of Grand Theft Auto III, occasionally venturing into Houston to see the Damnations, the Strokes, and an especially memorable Brian Jonestown Massacre/Westbury Squares show. Then I headed to Brooklyn, where I lived at a construction site, investigated the janitorial and food-delivery professions, and drank a lot of Lone Star at Doc Holliday's on Avenue A in the East Village. Homesick and nearly broke, I applied for a job at the Jasper Newsboy deep in the East Texas Piney Woods. Living with my grandmother, I watched a sleepy little town learn that fishing tournaments and tax incentives for big-time retailers like Lowe's can't quite replace a moribund timber industry. On a happier note, the high school football Bulldogs, who reached the Class 3A Division I state semifinals this season, helped restore some civic pride and self-esteem to a place still healing from the horrible 1998 James Byrd Jr. dragging death. Weary of photographing freshly slaughtered deer, I was only too happy to head back to the home of my beloved Horns, though the main reason I'm back so soon is a certain former member of Galveston/Austin New Wave rockers the Shiverz. She knows who she is.

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