Hope your Fourth of July wasn't quite as notable as mine. I came home late that night to find my front yard destroyed. The doghouse was leveled, trees were bent over, and what was once my chain-link fence was now just twisted metal on the grass. My house too showed signs of entry. I was so perplexed that I did something very out of character: I called the cops. "I bet you're wondering what happened here," the responding officer cracked. According to him, a 14-year-old had borrowed the family SUV and went joyriding with a friend, who evidently wasn't that good of a friend because he held a gun to the kid's head and told him to drive him Downtown. In a panic, the driver U-turned into my lawn, coming to rest inches from my living room. After the assailant fled, the kid panicked again and drove into another fence. The police intervened, making an arrest and towing the vehicle out of my yard well before I returned. To make matters worse, some "good" Samaritan told police that an elderly man lived in the house and, fearing he had a heart attack from all the commotion, they entered, saw the Marshall half stack and glass bong and turned around. "We looked around and realized that this was not an old man's house," the officer recalled. I asked him if someone was going to come fix the fence. He said the vehicle was uninsured. America. Land of the free.
Austin's an inspirational place for Kengo Hioki. Better known as Peelander-Yellow, ringleader of Japanese comic punk color-wheel Peelander-Z, Kengo first came here in 2002 during South by Southwest and itched for a spot in the madness. A year later, he brought his crew of "alien" bandmates (and now New Yorkers) to Austin and they now play here several times a year. The local art scene's also had an illuminating effect on Kengo, once a student in Osaka studying fine arts and printmaking. New York's art scene was disillusioning, so stuffy and exclusive that he lost hope. Here, he saw the work of the Big Boys' Tim Kerr, who paints bright portraits on recycled materials (see "Your Name Here: Tim Kerr's Revolution," Feb. 25, 2011). "Austin wake me up, my third-eye open again," Kengo exclaims. "It made me scream, 'I want to do something!'" He did. Beginning this Friday the 13th, his art is featured at the Guzu Gallery on Lamar next to Austin Books & Comics. (Friday's opening reception, starting at 8pm, will feature an acoustic performance.) Kengo's prints are made using hand-carved stamps depicting surreal creatures with his signature "happee" affectations. One day Kengo hopes to design a print for the SXSW tote bags. Meanwhile, Peelander-Z's been in town recording at Ohm Recording Facility, with another album slated for local imprint Chicken Ranch Records next year. The theme of the LP is top secret, beyond the fact that Electric Eel Shock axe-man Aki Morimoto flew in from Japan to contribute tracks, but Kengo assures that it's very different from past discs. Expect a new song or two at PZ's Red 7 show Saturday.
"After 40 years in rock & roll, nothing shocks you too much," Tim O'Connor mused. The Backyard owner recently found out he has cancer. "I have a non-Hodgkin's high-degree lymphoma," he revealed. "At this point, it's in and around my abdomen." This is O'Connor's second bout with the disease. The first time, he won. "I've beat it before and I'll beat it again. I know how bad chemo kicks your ass and knowing that makes it easier to get through again," he explained. O'Connor isn't the type to lay around a hospital feeling bad for himself. He recently checked himself out of Seton Medical Center against doctor's advice and plans to maintain working as a key decision maker for the Backyard while his associate Greg Henry handles the venue's day-to-day operations. O'Connor, who made news this spring when his Austin Music Hall was repo'd by a Houston bank, has been a polarizing figure locally for many decades. Like him or not, his concerts helped make Austin. The South Austin Popular Culture Center is currently hosting an exhibit on the Austin Opera House, an event space he owned with Willie Nelson beginning in the Seventies. The installation's free, with the center open Thursday-Sunday, 1-6pm, or by appointment and chance.
"I'd say 90 percent of the crowd liked us a lot and 10 percent were like: 'This is bullshit – I didn't want to see a punk band open up for the Hives,'" related Flesh Lights guitarist Max Vandever. The local trio just returned from playing their biggest shows yet with Sweden's best-known garage rock exports. Playing on massive stages took adjusting: "There's so much room that you want to run, but then I'd realize I'm supposed to sing and I'm 10 feet away from the mic," chuckled bassist Jeremy Steen. For Vandever, the audiences made the difference. "Every night people would start screaming who didn't know us. I've never played shows where I could hear people screaming over us when we played solos." At one Canadian gig, Steen's amp was making a noise he described as "what it would sound like if broken glass could fart," so he kicked it silent. The audience roared even louder. Their Swedish hosts were benevolent, allowing the Flesh Lights to raid their green room for food and booze, fixing Steen's amplifier and, at tour's end, leaving them a bottle of Champagne with this touching love note (pictured). The Flesh Lights just released a powerful new EP, Too Big to Fail, and will commemorate it with a show at Red 7 tonight, Thursday, with John Wesley Coleman supporting.
Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels are digging their Adidas and dookie rope chains out of the closet for a long-awaited reunion. Run-DMC has been announced as a main stage headliner for this year's Fun Fun Fun Fest. The legendary rap trio, which changed the genre's commercial viability with 1986's Raising Hell, disbanded in 2002, after DJ Jam Master Jay was murdered, and hasn't performed since. DMC will also perform a separate set with a live band. Here's highlights from the schedule (see "Fun Fun Fun Fest Full Lineup," earache! Music blog, July 12, for full schedule lineup): Converge, Cult of Youth, the Dwarves, Earth, Fucked Up, Napalm Death, OFF!, Refused, Seaweed, Bun B, Kreayshawn, Class Actress, De La Soul, Twin Sister, Dum Dum Girls, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Explosions in the Sky, the Octopus Project, Riverboat Gamblers, the Head and the Heart, Japandroids, Public Image Ltd, Real Estate, Santigold, Sharon Van Etten, David Cross, Eugene Mirman, Superchunk, Surfer Blood, and Titus Andronicus.
Jovita's boss Amado "Mayo" Pardo was denied bond in a federal hearing on Tuesday. The defendant, awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute heroin, appeared in court in a wheelchair, hunched over and frail. Along with pointing out that no guns or drug-related evidence was seized from Mayo's properties during the raids of June 21, the defense provided witnesses to attest to his impressive community service and high moral character and asked that the defendant's health be considered. Pardo is said to have cirrhosis and liver cancer and needs a specific diet that's unavailable in jail. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Lane denied bond, citing Pardo's past criminal record and the weight of evidence that tilts against him. In response to FBI Agent Steve Hause alleging that Pardo used "TV's" as code for heroin, defense lawyer Ben Florey countered that Pardo had purchased several televisions because he planned to turn Jovita's into a sports bar.
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