Thanks for all your messages - our show at Wild At Heart in rrrockin' Kreuzberg is gonna kick ass! See y'all there. Peace, -Todd
Just another (true) road story ...
One time I was in Chicago for some really imp-ortant thing (that I've completely forgotten, actually) and had to get out to LA, for another really imp-ortant thing (that I've completely forgotten). I bought a car for 400 dollars, off the cuff, and decided to speed out to California, fast! Some would call that car a lemon, I call her a gem ...
For all you tinker-heads and car enthusiasts out there, I gotta say that even though it was a klunker, she was a classic Thunderbird, a real diamond in the rough. Rustic beauty. I bought it from a guy named Lenny who knew my sister. He'd painted it camouflage, and called it the Thunderchicken. (The car, not my sister.) The name had some kind of cosmic meaning that I've completely forgotten. It made kind a cluck-ing sound. "If you buy the 'chicken," he said, "you have to promise to be good to her." I did.
Practical Fact: the difference between a Thunderbird and a Thunderchicken is in the sqwalk.
I was 19, and when you're nineteen and you meet a free-wheelin' guy like Lenny, who was like 22 and could go to bars and fucked gorgeous women, well ... you think he's just the coolest guy in the world. Plus, he was a champion wrestler in college and had a million stories. He was some kinda John Belushi in my eyes. Gruff and tough. This guy was wild. He tried to fuck my sister. (Who is a babe.) I'm not saying he did fuck my sister or he didn't fuck my sister, I'm just saying he tried. Probably in the back seat of the 'chicken on those smoothe black leather seats. Everyone wants to fuck my sister. Even I'd probably want to (sorry, mom!) if she wasn't my sister ... But she is, and anyhow, that only works in Alabama and Arkansas. You get the picture. But let's get back to our story. Lenny was naturally sad to part ways with his beloved Thunderchicken, but he had to "pay some stuff." Works for me, I said, and the 400 dollar deal was done. I had the key and the Thunderchicken was all mine. Classy green and black! I hit the road. Head West, young man. Ready to rock. I drove long and hard and pretty fast for about 19 hours straight. Decided to take the southern route, instead of going through Colorado and the Rockies. Made that trip many, many times before. Passed all kinds of fancy places with names. Whizzed past Kansas City, crossed the top of texas in Amarillo, had a mean scramble there in my favourite truckstop. Hot black coffee (re-fillable!) and all-you-can-eat chicken fried steak. Hell, yeah. I've proven once again that I have nothin' against grease ...
There's that famous Cadillac desert - ever been there? Outside o' Amarillo. Hundreds of beat-up Cadillacs sticking out of the sand, losers in the battle of free travel. Some kind of omen? Naw ... keep goin'! Maes you stop and ponder (just for a second!) 'bout the fickle frivolity of the human condition.
Interlude, a Poem: The stakes rise, are quickly re-vised, don't need no tie, let the chicken fried steak be your guide! (The Thunder-chicken fried steak, I called it.)
Only a thousand miles to go! Back out on that endless pavement, so black, so true. Hours upon end, just me and my Thunderchicken. So much time to think. Hummin' songs. "I'm In Love With My Car!" Thunderchicken motor a-hummin', too. True love, forever and ever. Cruised through Albuquerque, blazed past Kingman and Truth Or Consequences, flew past Flagstaff. Just a few more hours, I mused, and I'd be sitting right on the sandy beach. Pacific Ocean, baby! (Kerouac, anyone?) It all becomes a blur, the mountains and forests and deserts. Somewhere around Barstow we hit a rut. A little roadbump. To be precise, the motor up and exploded. BOOM! What a sound ... Big cloud of blue smoke, poof! Oh, great. Dry as a bone out here. I called a tow truck, and a scraggley guy in a straw hat (I'm not making this up) who looked like one of the Waltons comes sauntering up. Hello, he goes, engine conk out? Yeah, how'd ya guess?
"You're out here in the desert, son." he said. "Did ya put oil in it? Oil is the most important thing, son." No, I didn't, actually. I was so completely focused on the other imp-ortant thing (that I've completely forgotten about) that I forgot to add oil. Faux pas! And now I'm stranded out here in the middle of the friggin' desert, I thought, standing here with this hick. Fuckin' fantastic. He grinned through charred/tarred teeth. Please don't spit your chewing tobacco so close to my Thunderchicken, I said. He drove me out to his little workshop/garage to take a look, with the 'chicken in tow. Can you fix it in the next few hours? I asked. 'Cuz, you see, I have a really imp-ortant thing to get to. He laughed out loud, a juicy sound emerged as he spat once more to the side. "Hell, no." he said. "You need a new motor. That's for sure. This one's fucked, seized right up ..." In that case, I offered, I'll find another way to LA (I'm resourceful) and come pick her up this weekend. All I could think about was getting out there to my Big Event and getting back asap to my beloved car and fixin' her up. "Whatever you do," he hissed, "DO NOT leave it out here to rust. Please come back and pick it up, I've got no more room in my back yard!" Then I looked out the window behind him and saw a huge graveyard of cars extending out in all directions. All of those beauties had met their broken-down destiny in the desert. Scorchin', hot, lonely. Junkyard wasteland. Thousands of battered souls, panting in the desert heat. "Of course not," I sputtered, and then I realized right then and there that that was EXACTLY what I was gonna do. Heh heh. Leave her out there rusting away with her cousins, never to see her again. (Sometimes with Love you have to walk away.) It wouldn't have even occured to me, honestly, unless he's opened up his big hick mouth.
Oh, my dear Thunderchicken, how I will miss you ...
Together across hot sands and pavement black,
under skies of blue ...
Like Greased Lightning and Evil Knievel
I'll defy the odds and beat the clock,
Put that mean machine into gear and think only of you ...
I bid John Boy and the Thunderchicken adieu, and called my band (at the time) in LA, to drive out and get me. That's about 4 hours away! one of my friends croaked. Yep, I said. "Wait, you want me to get in my truck right now, and drive four hours out there and four hours back?!" Um ... yes. (laughter) How about this, I said. Think of it, in a meer 8 hours we'll be eating pizza ON ME! (and drinking crappy american beer.) You got a deal, he said. And exactly 8 hours later, that's exactly what we did.
I'm happy to announce that Rob "The Bone" from the Far East Band will join us on trombone at our next show: Wild At Heart, Berlin on Sat June 7th - be there! Peace, -Todd
Talking to Norwood. (The mad bass player from one of my favourite bands, Fishbone!) I'm gonna record with him again ... rock fans PLEASE STAND BY. Where are you, I asked? "Oh," he said, "I'm in France ..." Of course! Then he asked me to give the official definition of a phrase he made up, "Clear-a-Thrill." OK, here's the main meaning to me, in a nutt-shell:
Yes, it's crystal clear. "Clear-a-thrill" quite clearly means that some people are blocked (in their heads) and so we encourage them to "clear the way" for creativity/thrills/thagoodstuff to come in. Literally. Furthermore ...
"Clear-a-thrill" also means, simultaneously, that we must lose the guilt of our past thrills - this means we forgive ourselves for any and all nasty/dirty/mildly illegally/funnysquishy things we've done in the past - LOOK FORWORD and once again open ourselves up for the new thrills to come. Peace, -Todd Calico