THE WITZELSUCHT MEMORANDUM
"Where Top-Hat, Red-Carpet Service is Practically A Motto"
ISSUE 21: Mid-May, Special Rock Groupie Issue!!
SPECIAL!!! WIT MEMO goes on tour with a COOL ROCK BAND! Three days later, THE BAND BREAKS UP!! Here's the UNTOLD STORY of KISMET'S last stand!
(Read this in the WASHINGTON CITYPAPER.COM TOUR DIARY. Below is the original WIT MEMO version)
IT'S OK, I'M WITH THE BAND!
WIT MEMO got hooked on KISMET at their City Paper.com Pop Quiz Prom set at Galaxy Hut, courtesy of CP webmeister/B-movie-drumming arcana master/Travesty humor legend (he wrote for BOB AND RAY) & all around gentleman DAVE NUTTYCOMBE. KISMET'S tunes stuck in my head after just one show, no mean feat. KISMET really had it going on: slyly crafted rock with a hard psychedelic edge (CP.com calls them "flower punk") that never strayed far from pop, chock-a-block full o' hooks, riffs, and catchy refrains, sharp lyrics you can use, an intrinsic understanding of what rock is supposed to be about. KISMET showcased GINA S.F. PRECIOUS' whisper-to-a-scream lead vocals and arresting stage presence, MIA MEOW's icily cool rhythm guitar, the launching pad for BLACK MARK's referentially tasty solos that make you think of stuff you've loved all your life and leave a warm feeling inside, RECECCA ICING's funky poppin' bass and look of bliss when she chimes in on the harmonies, and SPARKY D's strong strong drumming, the anchor every band needs, she serves KISMET like TOM ARDOLINO serves NRBQ (drums are everything, just ask Dave N, why d'ya think it fell to CHARLIE WATTS to select the STONES' new bass player?) Bottom line, WIT MEMO was hooked and hung around and shot the shit with the band after the show, and found them nice, funny people. They trade SIMPSONS references with fluent ease, and when BLACK MARK and I slipped effortlessly into the lingua franca of BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD, I knew I'd found a kindred spirit. We kept in touch via email, saw a coupla more shows, and, when the offer went out for fans to ride in the KISMET van to their first-ever NEW YORK CITY show, WIT MEMO was on that like a duck on a June bug.
And, it shouldn't matter, but you can't get away from the fact that four out of five KISMET members are GORGEOUS WOMEN (Black Mark is not a gorgeous woman). Which raises a question: Could WIT MEMO love KISMET for all the wrong reasons? This possibility is bluntly brought up during my twice-weekly sessions with that holier-than-thou therapist who thinks she can lord it over me because of all her fancy degrees and that court order. You're fooling yourself, she tells me, you've got no business going on that New York trip, you'll only make everyone uncomfortable. "Reality therapy," she calls it.
Nonsense, I tell her, they're delighted to have me along on the trip, and, sure enough, when I talk to the band the next night after their Metro Cafe show they can barely contain their excitement. They're practically giddy, treating me like a king, and then I think I hear Sparky say something about how great it is someone from the WASHINGTON POST wants to go on the tour and then Rebecca introduces me to someone as "that Washington Post guy" and I say what do you mean Washington Post guy I'm not any Washington Post guy I am beholden to no corporate Moloch, I'm the WITZELSUCHT MEMORANDUM guy, the WIT MEMO guy, it's the WIT MEMO not the Washington Post and Rebecca says but you said the Washington Post and I say no that can't be I don't know where got that idea and she shoots right back, we got that idea from you, from your email, you said that you're quote-unquote "that Washington Post guy" and I laugh and tell her she's just plain wrong and that's all there is to it. Later, I go back and check my "out" mailbox and well blow me down, turns out I DID say "that Washington Post guy," an unfortunate accident doubtless caused by hitting the wrong macro, one of the hazards of living in this new global economy.
THE TOUR: They'd told me to be at Union Station at 10 but rock musicians are notoriously bad about time and they must have forgotten about setting the clocks ahead two weeks earlier and gotten it backwards because when I show up at 8 am, just to be on the safe side, the "KISMET Van of Bliss" is already taking off. That windshield must have been dirty because they didn't seem to see me even though I jumped right in their path and waved my arms frantically, the van even sped up and somehow I managed to grab onto a door handle and wedge my way in when the van stalled because Black Mark apparently forgot the instructions that came with the van that warned against depressing the accelerator while the radio is on because the electrical system is a little funny.
We stop for gas, snacks, a stretch and a pee just inside Delaware, where, peering out through the tinted mini-mart window sits a box bearing the brilliantly colored image of a plastic, battery powered CROWING ROOSTER that looks like it's been sitting there for years just waiting for WIT MEMO to come along. I rush into the store, snatch the box off the shelf, yank out the CROWING ROOSTER with excited, nervous fingers, turn it over, there's the switch, and bingo!! Out pours a warmly discordant cry evocative of a castrato Godzilla or perhaps a higher primate being slaughtered. Batteries included!! The crowing rooster becomes the WIT MEMO contribution to the KISMET NY trip, and it was truly touching when Black Mark got hold of the thing and made it crow over and over, demonstrating thereby his keen grasp of a subtle form of humor little appreciated outside of the WIT MEMO, the art of taking something that's sort of funny once and making it much more funny by running it into the ground, driving the wheels off it.
We all felt like a real bunch of rubes gazing in slack-jawed wonder when we first spotted the city's skyscrapers from the New Jersey Turnpike ("118 Mile of Effortless Driving"). The Holland Tunnel looked closer on the map, but "Lincoln" sounded so much more familiar and authoritative to DC folk that we took that tunnel even though it put us in the wrong part of the city forty blocks from our destination and in the middle of a traffic jam. Our first move upon coming up out of that tunnel and into the sunlight of NYC proper was to take a wrong turn and the KISMET Van of Bliss ended up on a brief jaunt through the Port Authority bus terminal garage.
By virtue of having visited Greenwich Village 22 years ago and owning a copy of "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon" (1943), the KISMET crew looked to WIT MEMO as some sort of Gotham City expert; we managed to guide the van to cool, hip club THE ACME despite the streets being FULL of scofflaw drivers: on several one-way streets everyone else but us was going the wrong way. After lending a hand hauling the band's gear into the club (those tube-equipped amp heads with giant transformers to supply that plate voltage are HEAVY), we caught our breath for a few minutes, and everyone at the club gave the whole KISMET crew one of those classic, warm New York welcomes, the kind that says, we're glad you're here and have a good time, stick around for a bit, boychick, but then get back right back in your car or plane or other conveyance you took to get here and scuttle back to whatever godforsaken, no-culture, two-bit, one-horse, roll-up-the-streets-at-night, all-women-wearin' -the-same-skirt-suit-and-running -shoes tank town you come from, 'cause here, baby, we eat punks like you for breakfast. WIT MEMO was going to hang out and soak up the coolness of it all but just then the club manager pumped my hand excitedly and said you must be that Washington Post guy we've been hearing about. WIT MEMO decided it was time for a stroll around the block, during which we managed to glimpse WOODY ALLEN, UN GENERAL SECRETARY KOFI ANNAN, MICK JAGGER, PATRICK EWING, BILLY JOEL, LOU REED, SPIKE LEE and JACK PAAR coming out of the subway.
ANYWAY . . . The club was cool and the show was ggrrrreat, the band was COOKIN', they really had it going on and were very well received by the reputedly tough New York crowd. KISMET was so hot and so cool that nobody ever would have guessed that they're from DC! And almost as good as the show was after the show, when WIT MEMO, full to the brim with BROOKLYN BROWN ALE, hung out in the band room with the hipster rock crowd, packed with all sorts of glamorous-looking rockerati swirling about, just like we belonged. WIT MEMO got all excited when Mia mentioned that folk from LUNACHICK and LUSCIOUS JACKSON were among that crowd in the band room, but it turned out to be a bit of a let down: WIT MEMO doesn't really know Lunachick and didn't see LUSCIOUS JACKSON even though we looked all over for him which was a shame because we wanted to tell him how we have all his albums and have been following his career since he was a little kid. Not long after, we got word that DEBBIE HARRY was upstairs in the club and had caught the end of KISMET's set! WIT MEMO rushed upstairs to see if it was her and it was her alright and she did look good if a bit older than we'd expected. Rebecca gave her a copy of KISMET's tape with the now-immortal words, "long time listener, first time caller" and WIT MEMO was dying to tell her what a big fan we are and how even after all these years we're still wearin' the grooves out of "ELECTRIC YOUTH" but before we could get a word out she came RIGHT up like an old friend and said "aren't you that guy from the Washington Post?"
WIT MEMO wanted to keep that rock-and-roll roadie feeling going and the band kindly obliged by letting me carry the equipment back out to the van. This would have been an arduous task if not for the fortuitous appearance of some large young men who offered to take the equipment off my hands; when I balked, they explained that they were some of NYC's "Official Band Assistants," hired by the parks department to rove around the city and help bands move their heavy equipment, part of Mayor Giuliani's plan to improve the quality of life in NYC by making it a friendlier place for musicians and clubgoers and didn't I know that we couldn't park the van there anyway? Well thank god for you guys, I said as I handed over the keys before running back into the club to rejoin the band and the party in progress, I don't know how I coulda done it without you.
When we finally piled out of the club around 3 the band got all alarmed when they saw that the van wasn't where they'd parked it, just the plastic crowing rooster sitting in the street where the van used to be, and I got a good chuckle because they don't know about Official Band Assistants and were all like, omigod, where's the van? I explained to them about the Official Band Assistants and how helpful they were and how the van's probably just around the corner in a safe legal spot and if we just wait here a bit they'll be back and we can thank them properly, but I don't think they believed me because they just got more and more upset and nothing I could say made any difference. Which is what happens when you travel to New York with a bunch of hicks from the sticks who don't have a clue about what life in the Big City is really like.
POSTSCRIPT: To my great and very real chagrin, KISMET broke up the following week. I've got their tape, and it rocks. For cool pix of the final tour and unsmell-checked WIT MEMO notes, check out Kismet's Last Stand. And look for the tale of the KISMET NYC trip coming soon on City Paper website Tour Diary, www.washcp.com.
BRUSH WITH BIG-TIME JOURNALISM -or- PASS THAT DICTIONARY
Congrats and a tip o'the hat-rack to WASHINGTON POST style section reporter and RHEA PERLMAN doppleganger PAULA SPAN, for sitting up and taking notice of WIT MEMO's evisceration of the DC Jewish singles scene in PLOTZ #9 (WIT MEMO 19), in her profile of the zine in the April 25 Post. Still, her description of WIT MEMO as writing "lugubriously" sent us leaping for Webster's Second AND Third and promising to mend our ways in the future. We may lucubrate every night, but we're NEVER lugubrious about it!
IN OTHER NEWS . . .
WIT MEMO would like to take time out to recognize ISRAEL's 50th birthday! Congratulations, Israel, you don't look a day over 45!!!
COMING SOON: The real-life ravings of a madman, and WIT MEMO sure-fire, never fail SEX TIPS!!!
Compliment? Complaint? Lemme Know!!
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