punk haiku 2- Andy meets Ken

      Unheard stories and sounds from the proto-punk years featuring Toronto's The Scenics

JULY 1976, Toronto

         

All of the songs  from Punk Haiku 1-5 are collected and available on the free/by donation album "Proto-Spunk" at  Dream Tower Records.

 

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SEE EMILY PLAY

This song from Syd's Pink Floyd was one of the few pieces of common ground that Ken and I could 'cover' on day one... you see, i knew the David Bowie version. From mid October, 1976, when we had a 'drummer for a day'.

 

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Scenic Caves

We spent a lot of time with this one, finding out where we would go when we didn't know where we were going... this version is from the first tape we ever made, Oct 15 1976. My high school buddy Dave Moore on second guitar.

 

      Ken Badger was working at L&M as an amp repairman, getting through the day on a diet of tylenols and coffee. Ken called me because Patti’s name was on the sign, and as he later said “that was something you just didn’t see  in those days.” 

Our first conversation was cryptic. Ken wasn’t much for giving away any but the simplest information, and I did not have the most practical ears. I do remember him saying “No, I think we should definitely get together.” Ken was the only person who phoned me.   

Then something happened which almost changed everything.  I put Ken Badger’s number under Ken in my phone book. However, a week later when I went to call him, I opened my book and pulled out Ken Walker’s number (a guitarist I met at a jam at Mark Perkell’s house four months earlier).

  That number was no longer in service. Hmm. I Didn’t really care.

 

    A couple of weeks passed, me wondering if he would call back, (by now, close to thirty years later, we have established that Ken is probably not going to be the guy who phones). Me waiting for a call from anyone as I daily took the bus down to work at David Young’s studio office at Bay and Bloor, listening to the silence.

  And then, flipping through my phone book, Ken’s name and number jumped out,  I realized what had happened,  I phoned him, and we made plans to meet.

 

 

   He gave me his address. He lived on Palmerston, a street that, unusually enough, inscribed a large square around a major midtown crossroads, an area of large townhouses taken over by college students and the displaced youth- cafe society. His house was in the south west quadrant of this street.

 

   As I got off the Subway, carrying the summer heat out of the car and up the stairs, as it intensified, as I turned west down the main road lankly slinging my heavy guitar through the crowds, my entire body wet with sweat, my poor dyslexic brain rose to the fore, and, champion that it is, I headed due north, the innappropriate direction on the appropriate road. 

                 

   I could not understand it. His house should have been near to the corner, but the numbers were all wrong. I grew surly in the heat as my guitar stretched my arms and hung nearer to the cement  sidewalks. I walked all the way around the square, through five ethnic neighbourhoods, black, portuguese with brightly painted houses, a small conclave of orthodox jew, past the palmerston library, which regularly showed silent movies and early talkies, which I had often heard of but never been to, past corner groceries with watchful proprioters, pool hall coffee houses with real italian espresso, with dodge galaxies pulled up two wheels on the sidewalk and admired.

 

I turned south across the main road, and after an hour, the street became a tree lined boulevard, bordered by rounded porches with fat pillars. Finally, surprisingly, a house with his number on it, shimmering,  like a purring cat in the sun which looks up and says, “I don’t know why you’ve had such a hard time. I’ve been sitting right here all along.”

 

   I walked up the porch stairs, and, finally, mercifully, set my guitar down in the shade. I ran my hands through my hair and read the names by the door. There. Ken Badger and Sue Near.

 

   I rang the bell twice with no answer, so I picked up my guitar and opened the door. I heard music. At the second story, The dryness in my throat spread down to my knees. I leaned against the wall. The music got loud. I reached the door to his flat, and the music came out like a party,  “Itchykoo Park” by the Small Faces. I knocked on the door and heard a “Yeah” from inside.

 

 

 

 

   I pushed the door open with the head of the guitar case. The short hall in front of me opened into a room. A man stood framed by the doorway. He faced me at a three quarter angle. His blue corduroy pants hung low around his waist under late twenties baby fat. He was slouched over but his stance was tensed, wary, a cigarette trailed out of his hand.

 

   The first day that I met him, he laughed a lot, a nervous laugh, between a guffaw and a chortle, choked, affected, his face turning away from me. We sat and talked and smoked some hash. He seemed as eager to talk as play. He seemed no more eager to play than talk. He told me about some new records he had gotten and played me the new Modern Lovers album. I had read about it in the random notes column in Rolling Stone. It was very different, and as was more often the case then than now, I didn’t know what I thought of it, but it was great, a simple throbbing beat like the city’s july heat, the first song only had two chords, but it felt pretty easy to slip into, like a drug. Like an attitude.

  We finally broke out the guitars when we had found some common ground, songs David Bowie had redone in colour on his “Pin-ups” record that Ken knew in black and white from the Pink Floyd, Kinks originals. He let me sing them, I don’t remember if he played bass or guitar, we both played through his amp, and I’d say we had something happening right off, because there didn’t feel like there was anything interfering, I didn’t know what I thought -he seemed to like it.

 

    When we met, I was 18, he was 6 or 7 years my senior, a syd barret/ velvets/ 13th floor elevators/stooges/early Fairport etc afficianado, not too into the Beatles, more into places where things did not quite add up.

     When I had arrived I had asked him if Small Faces were one of his favorite bands, and he said no, his eyes looked a bit wild, I think he had picked something that I would have heard but was still somewhat obscure, something representational that would point what direction from the mainstream he was hiding out in.

 

 

   He told me he had called me because of Patti Smith, and then asked me, had I ever heard of,  eyebrows narrowing, the Velvet Underground? I said I had read about them a million times lately and had taken a good hard look at one of their albums with cash in hand at Sam’s but then I found a 1965 Bob Dylan/The Band bootleg at the shop next door and that had taken pride of place and he said “Oh, too bad”,and chortled like a lawnmower starting and then rising up into the air.

 

I said how can you say too bad to that, and he played me side one of Loaded with Sweet Jane, Who Loves the Sun,  and Rock and Roll, very loud, he listened to music really loud. He played me Television’s Little Johnny Jewel single and I heard some guitar playing and lyrics -notes appearing like events looming up out of the fog over a saucy latin rythm played by British sailors.  On one hand I didn’t know what to think of it, and on the other hand I immediately began assimilating it.

 

       We began to play some of his songs, “Oh Charlotte”, maybe “In the Summer”, songs about lust, being on the prowl, and laughing, seeing it from a few steps back from popular. He later told me he had always been into drugs. As Lou says in “Heroin”, “All you girls can just go take a walk.” We played some of my songs too, songs I soon deleted, but he was respectful of them, tried to get all he could out of them, and we kept them in the repretoire as long as I wanted.

 

   I left that day appropriately wary of stating any commitment or even any enthusiastic appreciation of what had gone down. Just nods of head, eyes down, and yeah, I’ll give you a call.

 

  I went back to the suburbs, to my parent’s house, and called Carol and said that it was OK, Ken was OK, I had learned all the songs from Patti’s record and we hadn’t played any of them. What had happened was not what I expected, I didn’t know what I had expected.  Ken was quite a different animal from the 17 year old yahoos I was used to playing with.  His reticence to throw everything on the plate at once, combined with his laying it all on the line, was new to me. 

 

And whatever it was, it drew me back.

 

 

 

PUNK HAIKU CHAPTER 3: "FANZINES, THAI STICKS,  D TO G."

 

PUNK HAIKU 2 CREDITS

 

See Emily Play (Sid Barrett, TRO_Essex Music)

guitar/vocals Andy Meyers.  bass Ken Badger.  guitar Dave Moore. drums Mike Brown.

 

Scenic Caves  (Ken Badger, Timmy's Music)  in Andy Meyers' basement, Don Mills. October 15, 1976. guitar/vocals Ken Badger.  bass/vocals Andy Meyers.  guitar Dave Moore.

Recorded October 17, 1976 (the day before Andy's 19th birthday) In Andy's basement.

 

 

 

drawing by Gareth Gaudin, MAGIC TEETH COMICS

 

©2010 Dream Tower Productions. All Rights Reserved.

PUNK HAIKU written by and audio produced by Andy Meyers.