Sunday, September 20, 2009

Billy Rubin wraps-up the Dan O spoken word

Poster for the Dan O spoken word, Photo: Bill Case

When I heard that Dan O’Mahoney was doing a spoken word performance in 2009 my first thought was…Why? As I pondered that question I found myself questioning my own motives for questioning the event. Who am I to judge someone’s motives that has the balls to get up on stage and do anything? In my eyes I have to ask “What the fuck have you done?”

The real question that I came to ask…Is it going to be any good? I’m not an authority on spoken word, poetry or even performance art so if I am going to be as critical of myself as I could be of Dan, Popeye and Evan, then I have to admit that all I really know about spoken word is Rollins. I could rant on and on about how the Rollins’ material from Family Man was cutting edge, intimidating, etc., but I won’t. I listened to it again recently and…Well, I have probably become even more cynical and certainly more conservative over the last 20 years. I realize I am rambling now so the point of all this is to give you an idea of my point of view regarding the event at the Ugly Mug on September 17th, 2009. If you are expecting to read a review of an earth shattering, ground breaking event then you can stop now.

The Ugly Mug, Photo: Bill Case

On Thursday, September 17th I caught an afternoon flight into John Wayne airport specifically to see my old friend (Dan) perform a spoken word performance. I had made a deal with another old friend, Bill Case, that if he picked me up from my hotel, drove me to (and from) the show, I’d buy him dinner and pay for his ticket. Bill has previous experience carting me around. Back in the mid 80’s he drove me (and 1000 Crippled Youth 7” records) to Davis California. In the lead up to this event many friends and I speculated that there were two possible outcomes:

One, the performances would be embarrassing and therefore be pure entertainment.

Two, that we’d actually be impressed.

The one thing that was certain is that the people that planned on attending made the event worth going to. Old friends ranging from Doc Robinson to Pat Longrie to Ron Martinez made this a must. That also meant that whoever was performing that night had a really tough crowd. Seriously…Would you want to get up and do a spoken word in front of a bunch of old punk rock has-beens (myself included)? “To risk we must (not), because the Dan who risks nothing has a successful legacy as a front man in many good bands.”

The event was held at a coffee shop called the Ugly Mug. The Ugly Mug is an old 2 story California Bungalow run by a cranky guy who lives upstairs. My guess is the main draw to the place is the seemingly endless parade of cute college girls that walk past the place all day. Inside there is some beat up furniture, very little lighting, dusty old ceiling fans and no AC. For the event they had set up folding chairs and it looked like it could hold about 50 people. Good thing because it sold out at $5 a pop.

Dan's books, Photo: Bill Case

The MC of the event was Andrew “Jake” Jacobs who was obviously a bit nervous but did a hell of a job all the same. Andrew first introduced his brother Evan. If you’ve met Evan before then there is nothing I can tell you that you don’t already know. Evan is some kind of savant. I’m not sure what planet he is from, but it must be a great place to visit. Evan is a filmmaker whose releases include things like "An Apology From Hitler." This evening he was showing a cut from a near completed film called Hardcore Scenester that documented Evan’s baptism into the Orange County hardcore scene from 1990 to 1997. I was shocked that there was a scene between 1990 and 1997 but found myself laughing at Evan’s crazy antics interlaced with sound bites from Zack, Dan and Big Frank with an occasional Joe Nelson ala Beastie Boys “Sabotage-ish” slice of homemade footage. For me, the highlight of the film was an animated fight between Dan and Big Frank. In fact, Evan if you read this please donate that clip to DCXX for a future post.

After Evan and another small dose of Andrew Jacobs came Popeye. I really don’t know Popeye at all and I don’t know if I ever saw Farside so I was very curious what his performance was going to be. Popeye came on stage sporting a spiffy tie and an acoustic guitar. His performance consisted of a handful of songs that he introduced with a bit of commentary to set the stage. The running theme was that Popeye is now divorced after getting caught cheating on his (then) wife. I suspect there is still a lot of pain there which was not really part of this show. It was much more lighthearted. Popeye obviously has talent as both a singer and a guitar player and I’ll bet that if he were to do this again he’d do it even better than he did that night. I can’t even imagine myself giving a solo performance about a serious topic in front of an intimate crowd of my peers. That’s what Popeye did.

Popeye doing his thing, Photo: Bill Case

The headliner of the event was Dan O’Mahoney. Dan’s spoken word delivery was kind of like when he sang live. He held the mike the same way. The cord wrapped a few times around. He paced uncomfortably across the stage. Because Dan mentioned me in his performance (comparing me to the “Jar Jar Binks of the hardcore scene”) I feel entitled to pick on Dan a bit. My fear of Dan’s performance is that his ego would eclipse the intellect I’ve recognized since 1984. I was pleasantly surprised. Dan demonstrated a level of humility that obviously comes from learning things the absolute hardest way. He mixed up his set to include old material and new. Some of the highlights that stood out included a story about losing a fight with his friend and band member on a No For An Answer tour in Europe. Dan also talked about some old hardcore icons including Pat Dubar and Pat Longrie. The Pat Longrie story was great because ½ hour later Longrie subconsciously did (to me) the exact thing Dan mentioned in his performance! By the way, great to see you PatRICK!

Dan O speaks, Photo: Bill Case

The story that got me the most is one where Dan talked about his interaction with his alcoholic, addict father. The basis of the story was Dan wondering how his dad was not able to notice that Dan was having the same life problems as his father. Drinking, brawling, making bad choices and then hiding from the consequences and avoiding being honest with his own father. Maybe even hoping his father would notice what Dan was hiding. Hoping his father would save him from himself. I’ve been to many hardcore shows and I’ve never heard that kind of honesty about something so personal, devoid of ego. Dan proved that after all these years he still has the ability to keep me listening.

After the performances everyone went outside and hung out for about a half hour. Good times were had by all. One by one people left but a handful of people went to a bar afterward to have diet Cokes. I think that’s what straight edge adults drink. Hell, I dunno. My ride back to my hotel was turning into a pumpkin so I didn’t make it to the bar. Back at my hotel I pondered the event and have to say that overall it was a great evening. There was nothing life changing. No one is quitting their day jobs just yet. The next morning I caught a flight home and reclaimed my life. It’s good to know that after 20 years we can come together and have a good time.

John Mastropolo, Pat Longrie and Billy Rubin catching up, Photo: Bill Case


Jake Jacobs said...

Another excellent post. Kudos to Billy, Bill Case and DCXX.

Pat Longrie said...

William, as always, a thought provoking insight. I had a great time watching very talented performers. Dan was especially inspiring in his no nonsense approach to life...the word "genuine" sums up my evening.

Isaac Golub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isaac Golub said...

It was great seeing me there. It's always great when I show up to these sort of things. Thanks for my support.

Seriously though it was a great night. Popeye had to pay my way into his own shindig.... I owe ya 3 bucks buddy.

The guy running the place was a dick.

I'm doing a spoken word too, no one should come it will be lame.

D. Sine said...

I wish I could've made it out for this event. Thanks for the nice write up Mr. Rubin.

Jake Jacobs said...

Yes, Mr. Mug is not a happy man. Of course with all the corporate coffeehouses on every street corner in the OC and the economy still in the toilet, I can't say I blame him.

Brian said...

Great synopsis of the evening Billy; although you could've used my name in the fight story! It was great to finally meet you after so many years of knowing about you. I was really happy to see everybody and am still very sorry Andrew...

frank said...

just so we are clear there was no fight between me and dan and we actually played the show after we argued. wish i could have seen longrie and ron and everyone else for that matter.

Jake Jacobs said...

It's all good, Brian. And anyway, I'm not about to hold ANY type of a grudge towards the man who levelled Dan O'Mahony with one punch. ;)

jav said...

yes, there was a hardcore scene in orange county from 1990-1997, and there is still one today.