Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hump Day!

Brian Purcell switching from bass to violin at his last All-Star performance on August 13, 2005

So, it's hump day, and of course not to consistently rub it in, but having left the work force, that means nothing to me anymore. All the days are pleasantly rolling into one. Eric is already gone for the day; he's off to practice with Shannon Penn for most of today.

Last night, after several hours of Shannon Penn rehearsal, he got a call from Yanni (I guess that's how you spell it), drum teacher at Rock School, asking Eric if he could sit in for him at a jazz gig at 4708 Baltimore Avenue at Dahlak, an Ethiopian restaurant/bar. Eric showed up there at 10:00 p.m. and played drums in a two and a half hour set of standard jazz classics. He took a cab home around 1:00 a.m., then woke up at 8:00 a.m. today and hopped a train to Ardmore for the all day practice mentioned above. So he's living the life of a musician for sure right now which was the grand plan when with my heart in my mouth I agreed to him deferring his sophomore year at college. This is very cool and I hope it works out for him; I'd love to see him tour all over the universe this year -- maybe even get to Europe, etc. Hey, it just might happen. Julie news, I have to go to Drexel University later today and get on my hands and knees and beg for more financial aid, but maybe since I'm not working anymore they will reconsider her position and give her more money. I'm going armed this time...bringing the Rock School soundtrack and all the press and the pics with her and Eddie Vedder, Jon Anderson, etc.

They'll probably look at me like I'm crazy, but I'm used to that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

More Odds and Sods

Keyboard wizard Larry Allen at final Pink Floyd All-Star show August 13, 2005 with Fil Smith and Lauren Pollock in the background.

Happy Tuesday! Of course every day is happy for me now that I no longer have to be at the law office and am happily unemployed, but oh well, Happy Tuesday to everyone anyway.

So I actually get some quality writing time this week - Eric has rehearsals today, Wednesday, and Friday during the day for his two gigs with Shannon Penn this weekend; Julie continues to work ninety-seven jobs and is spending the night at Matt's house tonight because he leaves for a week long trip to Colorado the following day, and well, I'm just too damned relaxed for words. Plus, my new furniture will be here one week from today, and as middle class and boring as it is to admit it, I am really, really psyched about that.

Anyway, just also got word that Eric will be playing the Dewey Beach Music Fest with Shannon Penn on September 30:

9/30/2005 7:30 PM Dewey Beach Music Conference

Dewey Beach, Delaware

I'll of course supply more details as soon as they are available.

So speaking of Julie, I did show up at her restaurant for lunch yesterday and she did wait on me and it was awesome! She even gave me the best bread -- house baked foccacia -- and while I didn't get butter (ha), I did get a wonderful extra virgin olive oil with a touch of balsamic vinegar in which to dip it. The chef comped me at the end with creme brulee surrounded with fresh cut pineapple and lime sugar cookies. Mmm...

I had a blast and it was a lot of fun seeing Julie in action. There were 4 fifty year old businessmen at the table to my left and one says to the other "Is it just me or is our waitress like the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my life?" I coughed loudly (sheesh, couldn't they see the resemblance? Hahahahahaha) but in any event, they didn't say a word when Julie brought their food and after that, they stayed busy eating. Anyway, Julie brings my lunch (shrimp Caesar salad) and says "God, those people at table six keep telling me how gorgeous I am; it's so embarrassing" and I replied "I know, I heard them" and she said "How could you hear them? They are all the way behind you!"

I turned around and saw a table of five women. Ha ha. So she had two tables in love with her. Luckily these were a bunch of females. I might have been able to defend her against the one table of men but two tables of

She has no idea how pretty she is, which of course is very cool and keeps her humble.

Anyway, in other news, I just spent this morning writing a blurb for the back cover of my friend Leslie Van Newkirk's new novel, Crush Dot Com. I don't want to give away the plot, but the New York City singles' scene is the book's backdrop so what a fun read that was! Only I could spend two hours writing one long sentence, but I wanted to get it right, especially since it's my first blurb and Leslie is a really terrific writer and person. As soon as her book is published, I'll put the link here.

Hmmm...seems I have more news but I've gone blank. I'll be back when I remember. If I remember, that is.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Odds and Sods - Part 829

Fil Smith getting his graduation Thom Lessner portrait from Paul Green with Eric Slick in the background

So this looks to be a crazy couple of days before I crash at the beach house for most of September. Eric has two interesting gigs with Shannon Penn as follows:

Saturday, September 3, 2005 at 8:00:00 PM
Independent Music Conference Showcase
Cavanaughs River Deck
417 Columbus Ave
Join Shannon and 4 other independent artists from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Sunday, September 4, 2005 at 9:00:00 PM to whenever
Independent Music Conference
Closing night party
Open to the public!
Sheraton Society Hill
1 Dock Street
Philadelphia, PA

Yeah, this definitely looks cool so please come out and support Eric and independent music!

Julie's left her job at Rock School (sob -- officially the end of an era now) in order to devote all of her time to her gigs serving/hostessing at Rembrandt's Restaurant, interning with Phil Nicolo at Studio 4, her junior year at Drexel University, and doing a lot of other music stuff. Now you know there's no way I'm not going to pop into the restaurant a couple of times and have her wait on me for a change. I may start with lunch today. Knowing me, I'll leave her a $50 tip, but hey, she's a good source from whom to borrow money when I'm down and out after living too much of the good life while unemployed.

Back later with a full report. Like: Will she spill anything on me? Will she refuse me butter with my bread because she worries about my health and somehow over the course of the past year or two she's become the mother and I've become the child? Will she finally encourage me to have lots of wine instead of wrinkling her nose like I'm a lush?

Kidding, kidding.

Maybe. (But oh how I love the little wench)
P.S. My heart goes out to those in Katrina's path right now. In my links section on the right you'll see the name of Pia Z. Ehrhardt, one of the most brilliant authors around and a friend of mine from Zoetrope. She lives in New Orleans and holy crap, Pia, I hope you're okay.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Some crazy photos of the Rock School All Stars at Zappanale in Germany courtesy of Joanne Malandro

Hahaha - these photos speak for themselves.

Eric, Joey, and Dom - I guess pre-performance?

And, as Joanne wrote to me as a caption when she emailed the photos....ARE WE NOT MEN?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Rock School Saved My Life (In today's Guardian UK)

'Rock school saved my life'

A maverick teacher swears at the kids, orders them to worship Satan and idolises Zappa. Sound familiar? But Paul Green's School of Rock is a real-life institution, and the new documentary about it is even more outrageous than the Hollywood film. Will Hodgkinson goes behind the scenes

Friday August 26, 2005
The Guardian

Bad Doberan is a small and pretty town in eastern Germany. It has an old-fashioned steam train, high unemployment and, for the first weekend of every August, a large number of middle-aged men with long hair and very large moustaches. Bad Doberan plays host to Zappanale, an annual festival dedicated to the late jazz-rock iconoclast Frank Zappa. For the 1970s and 1980s, Zappa's complex, far-reaching music provided a soundtrack to the hippy underground of eastern Europe, and for many of his fans at Zappanale he was more than an accomplished musician with a lustrous facial hair arrangement: he was freedom.

It isn't the Zappa fans that look out of place in Bad Doberan, a resort town that has been struggling with the shift into capitalism ever since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, but the 29 fresh-faced American schoolchildren that flew over the night before to headline at the festival. They are attendants at the School of Rock, an after-school programme in Philadelphia that was set up by Paul Green to provide a comprehensive education in a subject generally left off the school syllabus: classic rock. And there is no classic rock that is harder to play than Frank Zappa, so having his kids play the festival is Green's equivalent of setting them an end-of year final.

Green's efforts would probably have remained a local phenomenon had it not been for Don Argott's uproarious documentary Rock School, which captures him shouting abuse at his students, ordering them to worship Satan, and somehow managing to teach them how to play styles that are far, far beyond the reach of the average modern-day rock musician. As Green screams "I'm not your fucking roadie!" to a quivering 12-year-old before going on to mock a fragile-looking Quaker girl's religion in front of the rest of the class, it's pretty obvious his teaching methods wouldn't stand up to an Ofsted inspection. But then you hear the fruits of his labours - such as 12-year-old CJ Tywoniak playing Hendrix solos on a guitar his arms can barely hold - and you realise that Green must be doing something right.

Filmed verité-style over nine months in 2003, the film features profiles of a self-pitying 16-year-old called Will O'Connor who Green writes off as "a piss-poor musician"; the charming, quietly incredible CJ; and anarchic nine-year-old twins called Asa and Tucker Collins, who have been groomed for heavy-metal glory by their rebellious mum. In true rockumentary fashion, the film ends with a triumphant gig - at Zappanale, making this the second time the Paul Green School of Rock will have appeared at the festival. O'Connor gave up soon after Rock School was completed and the Collins twins aren't skilled enough to play Zappa, but CJ is in Bad Doberan once more, two years older and with longer hair, as are many of the other kids that appear briefly in the film.

If the story sounds uncannily similar to that of the Hollywood comedy School of Rock, starring Jack Black as a failed guitarist-turned-teacher who educates his students in the rules of rock from AC/DC to Zeppelin, that's not a coincidence. "They ripped me off," snaps Green at the mention of Richard Linklater's film. "In 2002 VH1 sent a crew to my school to make a reality show. It got shelved, and a few months later I hear that Paramount is in production with School of Rock. VH1 and Paramount are part of the same company. The director said he'd never heard of me, but we had been featured on CNN and in Spin magazine, so if he's telling the truth he had the laziest interns ever working on a movie."

With his high forehead, ever-present chewing gum and adolescent dress sense, Paul Green looks like either one of the American cartoon characters Beavis and Butt-Head. He makes jokes with the kids as much as he shouts at them, and they're all fond of him. In the catering marquee are Stevie Roberts, Lauren Pollack and Grace Hollander, pretty 16-year-old girls who appear to treat the Rock School, and even coming to Germany to play Frank Zappa songs in front of 1,000 middle-aged hippies, as one big social group. "It's the most fun ever," says Roberts, who plays keyboards and sings, and has the blonde, wholesome looks of a Miss America. "It's a really good after-school programme because you get to travel to interesting places and meet great people and make new friends. We hang out with each other, like, all the time and do everything together."

What about Paul Green's unorthodox teaching methods? Surely it can't be nice to be shouted at?

"You learn to live with it," says Hollander with a shrug. "What the movie doesn't show is the way in which he only shouts at you because he cares so much about making you achieve your potential. You can't take it personally, although he does go too far sometimes. He's made me cry."

"He's made all of us cry," says Pollack. "We have three-hour rehearsals during which he'll yell at you if he catches you chatting for even a minute. And if you screw up on stage, he'll get up there and humiliate you in front of everyone."

"Or stop the song and say to the audience: 'That was her fault'," adds Roberts. "We're beginning to get used to his tricks but the problem is that he keeps coming up with new ones. Recently he's been threatening to take his shirt off if we don't play well."

All three agree that Green is more of a kid than they are, and one that wants to be the centre of attention. But they speak about their rock school with evangelistic fervour. Their musical tastes have changed since attending - all are well versed in the music of such long-derided, cape-wearing 1970s progressive rock acts as Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer - and they credit Green with making musicians out of them. "There's nothing scary about him," concludes Hollander, "but there's something about him that makes you want to do what he wants. I don't know how he does that."

The Paul Green School of Rock began in 1998 when Green, who had played guitar in various bands and paid for his college education by giving guitar lessons, decided that he got more of a thrill from teaching than he did from being up on stage. He had also realised that the standard format of one-on-one guitar tutorage only went so far. "I realised that education goes deeper than just lessons," says Green. "So I had a bunch of students come down and jam at my band's rehearsal space, and they sounded like shit. For the next few Saturdays I made them all come down and rehearse together for a show at an art opening, and that hands-on approach made all the difference. They needed to play together, and they needed the goal to work towards. That's when I realised that I had hit on something."

Green set up the School of Rock on a $7,000 loan the following year. He resolved to teach his students to play only what he considered to be the classic rock canon: Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and, of course, Frank Zappa. I ask him why he doesn't want to teach the kids the kind of music that has been made in their own lifetime, The White Stripes, for example, or even Nirvana. "What did you study at college? Anthropology? Did you learn from the new anthropologists? No, you studied the masters. Say what you will about Kurt Cobain, but his talent would fit in Hendrix's pinkie. The White Stripes are not the Rolling Stones and, despite what Jack White may say to the contrary, virtuosity is important."

I roll out the much-repeated truism that you only have to learn three chords to form a band. "Yes, except that's a myth. A good punk band like the Ramones are far better musicians than you might think, and the Beatles cut their teeth playing R&B covers in clubs in Hamburg before they released their first single. Rock'n'roll is a visceral art, but it's technical too - Rock Around the Clock has a jazz solo in the middle of it and Elvis Presley always had the best band working. Genius will only take you so far. You also have to learn how to play."

Green's great mission in life is to get his kids to practise. His biggest problem is with pretty and popular girls such as Stevie, Grace and Lauren. "I could do a whole dissertation on the gender dynamics of rock education," he says with a sigh. "With the boys there is an element of the pissing contest - they have a natural competitive fire and they try to outdo each other. But the girls have a support system, so if I make one of them cry, the others will console her and tell her it's OK. They should be saying: 'It's not OK. You fucked up your fucking song. Now go home and practise, bitch!'"

Green has no problem with "the nerdy girls. You know what the nerds were doing while the cool girls were out here talking to you? Practising. I just don't want to be a chauvinist asshole, and I don't see why the girls can't be as good as the boys."

Asked about the types of kids that attend the School of Rock, Green replies: "Nerds, freaks and losers, although now we get a few cheerleader types too. But they tend to be more like Joe Randazzo."

Randazzo, wandering around backstage, stands out in particular from the 29-strong crowd. He is a 16-year-old drummer with long curly hair, oversized glasses, a bright yellow tracksuit and a maniacal grin. Randazzo is a wild card - he had to be dragged out of a local bar the night before. The girls have already told me that I have to speak to him, so just after he has performed an impromptu rap for the benefit of a gang of drunken European Zappa fans, I pull him to one side.

"Rock School saved my life!" he booms. "It made me who I am, and I like who I am because of it. I don't even want to think about where I might have ended up without it. Paul Green introduced me to Frank Zappa, who is so complex that there is always more to learn, and that's given me a positive focus. Now I can't see myself doing anything outside of music."

The trip marks his first time outside of the US, as it does for most of the children from Rock School. Randazzo is having the time of his life, but the rigours of being on the road in a rock'n'roll band are proving hard for others. The neatly turned-out 18-year-old keyboard player Larry Allen is missing his bed and his routine, and he is finding Paul Green's approach to organisation trying.

"I like him, but he drives me crazy," says the eminently sensible Allen. "He'll give us an itinerary that will say: 'Thursday: go to the festival in Germany.' He won't tell us how to get there or anything. But I'm getting used to this kind of behaviour. Sometimes he calls us in for an emergency rehearsal and spends the first hour telling us how he lost his virginity."

There is only an hour to go before the show. Throughout the backstage area teenagers are frantically practising guitar scales. Green's top player, Tywoniak, is sitting outside the marquee with his electric guitar. The only kid to have attended the Zappanale with the School of Rock on both visits, Tywoniak is an old hand. Having already conquered Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa and Santana, he has moved on to emulating the "super-virtuosos" whose names are mentioned in hushed tones in guitar shops worldwide: Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen and Joe Satriani.

"I would like to be a rock star," says Tywoniak, who still looks like a young boy under his curtain of hair, "but I have now realised that that sort of thing only comes with a stroke of luck. I've decided that as long as I have a career as a professional musician, fame doesn't really matter."

There isn't much time before the kids are due on stage. Green arranges an impromptu sumo-wrestling session to help steady their nerves. Then they're on, with proud moms taking photographs at the front of the crowd in the heavy rain. Not only do the kids play some of Frank Zappa's most difficult songs with apparent ease; they put on a show. Junior Robert Plant makes love to his guitar, Joe Randazzo emerges from his drumkit to leap about the stage, and Tywoniak drives the crowd wild with his impossibly complex guitar solos. As each student gets their turn to go on stage and prove themselves, it's clear that Paul Green's unorthodox teaching methods work - even on the popular girls.

After the show, everyone is on a high. One of the mums organises an early trip back to the hostel. ("I'm only taking the nerds back because they're getting tired," she tells Green.) Randazzo has attracted the attentions of an amorous local girl, who has offered him a cigarette and the promise of an alternative bed. "No cigarettes for Joe!" says Green, grabbing Randazzo and dragging him away from the girl before guardianship issues have to be raised. The pretty girls are attracting the attention of two drunk Czech hippies. It looks like time to get everyone back to the hostel. Before he goes, I ask Green if he's living his rock star fantasies through the kids.

"My fantasies involve two women and a bed," he replies. "My goal is for the kids to be capable of magnificent things, to get over their own fear and laziness, and not sell themselves short. Basically, I just want them to practise."

Of course there are mistakes in this article. Ages of kids wrong, and there were other kids making a return visit to Zappanale. Also in Germany performing for a second time were Jeremy Blessing, Eric Slick, Lauren Pollock, Max DiMezza, Fil Smith, Andrew Haff, Matt Manser, and Dom Malandro.

Sheesh. Whatever happened to journalists doing fact checking?

But very enjoyable article nonetheless.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Paul Green School of Rock Music in the London Times!

Photo of Liam McGlynn at the Rock School All-Star Pink Floyd Show, World Cafe, 8-13-05 (also Sara Neidorf on drums and Will Wright on bass)

So a friend of mine from the UK just forwarded me an article about Rock School which appeared in yesterday's London Times!

(And it's really nice to see some other kids mentioned this time, like Grace, who I think is an incredible musician, and Maureen, who gets a very flattering comparison in this article and also killed at the Pink Floyd show)


August 24, 2005


Class acts: The school That Rocks
Joanna Walters

Paul Green's unique college teaches rock' n' roll. But sex and drugs are off the curriculum.

IT WAS not what Grace Hollaender had hoped for when her teenage daughter, who had been playing classical violin since she was 4, started playing lead guitar in a rock group. Visions of a rock’n’roll lifestyle, of drug-fuelled revelry and dodgy boyfriends abounded when Led Zeppelin overtook Sibelius as the music of choice.

But far from being a tattoo-smattered rebel, Grace Jr is politely spoken and does her homework. And she did not learn her riffs and chords leaping about in a garage smelling of grease and stale beer, but in “rock school”. In fact, Mrs Hollaender is about to accompany her 17-year-old daughter on a tour of Germany with Paul Green, the man turning her into a budding band guitarist.

Green, a “failed” rock star, runs the Paul Green School of Rock night-school in Philadelphia. Mrs Hollaender, a lawyer, says: “I was apprehensive when Grace joined. She was trained as a classical violinist and it seemed like second nature to her.” Her neatly dressed daughter says: “My parents did not like it when I started playing metal. I think they at least thought it would be all about the Beatles. Now I’m going to play lead guitar in Germany on Wish You Were Here, Run Like Hell and Brain Damage in a Pink Floyd tribute.”

Behind scruffy doors in a condemned building, Grace and other teens are blasting guitars, whacking drums and belting out lyrics with skill. In between the high-decibel sessions there is banter about sex and hangovers and marijuana. They sit on lumpy sofas under posters of Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa and Led Zeppelin. “The original American performance-based school of rock music,” as Green describes it, is helping them to hone new skills. It is now a fast-expanding business, helped by School of Rock, the 2003 hit film in which the actor Jack Black plays a frustrated rock star who poses as a teacher to turn his class into a band. Then there was Rock School, a documentary about the school, which is released in the UK next month.

The Philadelphia school is the largest, with 180 students registered since it opened in 1998, but in the past three years Green has franchised two branches in Pennsylvania, one in New York City, three in New Jersey and schools in Salt Lake City and San Francisco, with more than 300 additional students in total.

Green helps youngsters aged 8 to 18 to master rock numbers, compose their own music and play gigs. Lessons comprise one-to-one sessions with music teachers and plentiful jamming sessions with their peers. Performances can be anything from a mini-concert at an art gallery, a street fair or club, to tours such as this month’s to Hamburg in Germany.

So do the traditional vices of the rock lifestyle creep in? “We do rock’n’roll, but the sex and drugs — well, that’s what kids do anyway, isn’t it? But when they come here they are not doing that,” Green says. He has thrown kids out of the school for rolling joints or turning up drunk.

What also tempers the nervousness of parents is the amount of homework and the commitment he expects. After a two-hour rehearsal on a muggy Tuesday, Chris Lampson collects his stepson CJ Tywoniak, a talented guitarist.

CJ has already played a gig at CBGB’s, the once-notorious nightclub in New York that formed the cradle of punk in the Seventies — a venue that launched the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie and others. “The first time I walked in here I thought I had come to the wrong place,” says Lampson. “But I’ve seen these kids perform and they are unbelievably good. I don’t think they could teach CJ anything bad that he would not find on the streets.”

CJ has his sights set on Boston’s Berklee contemporary music school. Other students want to sing in Broadway musicals, become music journalists or just enjoy their cool hobby.

Green’s students range from troubled kids who use the school to escape violent, broken homes, to geeky swots with shy grins. Many are straight-A students and accomplished in several instruments. The neatly-turned out Doug Moore says that not all great rock’n’rollers are bums, adding: “Instead of sitting in a cloud of weed, like some people I know, I produce something.”

Green works them unstintingly. “I’m going to get really angry next week — is that fair?” he asks one rehearsal group, after he has stomped out of the room, accusing them of not practising enough. “Early success and then constant abuse, that’s my motto,” he chortles. He allows the rehearsal to resume, but keeps stopping and starting, while complaining that the bass player and lead singer Maureen Hayes is not doing it right. Maureen, 17, looking stressed under her fuchsia pink hair, produces a soulful voice evocative of Alison Moyet. “Do you take drugs?” Green asks. When Maureen offers a tremulous “no”, Green says: “Uh, OK. Have you ever laid in bed with a cold and felt like you are floating? Well, that’s what I want you to sing like. Move me!”

The session ends in a screech of guitars in mid-twang and drums in mid-roll. Maureen is crying discreetly. She had earlier said Green’s methods brought her out of her shell and given her ambition to be a great bass player.

Green admits that his motivation and workaholism borders on the obsessive. His father died when he was very young and his mother was mentally unstable — requiring more care from him than he got from her, he recalls. He left home at 15 and went to live with his band, spending almost ten years working on his dream to be a rock star. But before he even got to a record deal, he had become disenchanted with “the whole music career thing”. He had already married when he was 17 — and is still a happy husband and father who admits that he was eager to create the stable family he had never had.

In his twenties, he studied philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, giving guitar lessons to fund his course. When word about his “applied rock” method spread, he made a career out of teaching, and in 1998 he founded the School of Rock.

It seems strange that anyone would need a school to become a rock star. Green points out that just a tiny number are likely to end up as rock stars and that his lessons turn out competent young musicians. He also believes his school is giving “the few” a preparation for the ruthlessness of the music industry.

“I let them find their voice. In the Seventies, artists got a chance to explore; now a lot of the creativity and ingenuity has gone. Jimi Hendrix hit his stride by going on tour with Little Richard. Today, I don’t think they would let an album like Dark Side of the Moon get made — it’s all pop dressed in rock clothes, like Coldplay or Nickelback,” he says.

Parents may dread or dream of a future in “contemporary” music, but Green admits that his influence has its limits. “Whether a kid like CJ becomes a rock star is up to a lot of things — but whether he can play guitar like a mother******? I can help him with that,” he grins.

# Rock School is released on September 9

Hey, Canadians love the Rock School soundtrack

In yesterday's Calgary Sun:

Teach us
Darryl Sterdan
Sun Media
August 24, 2005

No, this is not the soundtrack to the Jack Black comedy School of Rock.

Instead, it's the soundtrack to a documentary about a real-life music academy which pairs budding rockers with stars like Alice Cooper, Dave Mustaine, Billy Idol, Ian Gillan and Ann Wilson.

All of whom appear here, recreating their hits with a crew of youthful proteges.

Most versions — from the Latino rock of Gregg Rolie's Black Magic Woman to the power-chord punk of Marky Ramone's I Wanna be Sedated — are strikingly proficient, but none more so than the precise recreation of Yes's prog epic Heart of the Sunrise.

And none is more fun than the air-punching cover of Rebel Yell. More, more, more.

Track Listing:

• 1. "Black Magic Woman" - Gregg Rolie
• 2. "I Wanna Be Sedated" - Marky Ramone/Tyson Ritter of the All-American Rejects
• 3. "School's Out" - Alice Cooper
• 4. "Barracuda" - Ann Wilson
• 5. "Highway Star" - Ian Gillan
• 6. "L.A. Woman" - The Paul Green School of Rock Music
• 7. "Heart Of The Sunrise" - Jon Anderson
• 8. "Rebel Yell" - Billy Idol
• 9. "Don't Stand So Close To Me" - Stewart Copeland
• 10. "Iron Man" - The Paul Green School of Rock Music
• 11. "Peace Sells" - Dave Mustaine
• 12. "Hocus Pocus" - The Paul Green School of Rock Music
Since Julie and Eric are the rhythm section in Heart of the Sunrise and Eric is on drums in Rebel Yell, I'm having an extreme proud mother moment here, and yes, yes, once again wishing Julie and Eric will reform another band sooner rather than later as they've discussed because they have a certain magic when they play together and every single person who has heard them perform says the same -- most importantly, professional musicians and critics.
In other news, Eric did a practice session with his new project, Shannon Penn and her band on Tuesday and these guys are all heavy hitters in the music industry and they are thrilled to have Eric as their drummer so good on him! This is his year to explore every option available and he's taking advantage of it. He's got a few other things up his sleeve as well. Julie is my little workaholic; she's just set the world record for getting a promotion at work. Having been hired to be a hostess at Rembrandt's Restaurant two weeks ago, she graduated to server yesterday and today will be training her replacement hostess. She's going to double shift for a while; hostessing, waitressing...she also works ten hours a week at Rock School, a few evenings a week with Phil Nicolo at Studio 4, is recording two bands and is working on other projects where she's playing bass with singer/songwriter Matt Duke as previously mentioned here.

I continue to plug away at my novels and am enjoying some free time as well. Yesterday before she had to be at work, Julie and I walked to the Italian Market and had breakfast at our beloved Fitzwater Cafe. This time I had the lemon muffin. It was to die for -- every bite brought the taste of fresh lemons; not some weak lemon extract flavor. I also nominate them for the best home fries, though it's a tie between them, 10th Street Pour House, and Jack's in the Reading Terminal Market. I'm such a potato freak; I'm forever on a search for the best home fries and hand cut french fries. I still stand by Loie as the best french fries because of the awesome dipping sauces which accompany them but Brasserie Perrier is pretty good as well...same reason...wasabi mayo dipping sauce, etc. Julie bought fresh made, not frozen, cheese ravioli from the Fitzwater Cafe (they are owned by the same people who own the Saloon, a pricey restaurant down the street, and the Cafe was originally set up to be their bakery since they make all of their pasta, desserts, and bread in house, but then they opened this wonderful, inexpensive restaurant on the premises and you can even get lunch and dinner there now for under $10). Julie also bought a baguette from Sarcone's Bakery, which, if you don't already know, has the best Italian bread in the City of Philadelphia. Oh my god, it was hot out of the oven and we both had to restrain ourselves from breaking pieces off on the way home. Next time, we'll buy two loaves so we can do just that. Anyway, Julie went up to Matt's last night to make him a special dinner - the ravioli in a sauce she planned to make with two pounds of fresh tomatoes, heavy cream, home grown basil and parmesan cheese. I'm so jealous! I can't wait to hear how it turned out. Matt is housesitting for his father so they had the place to themselves and his dad has a deck. It was so freaking gorgeous out yesterday that she planned dinner outside...oh, and for dessert she's serving toasted coconut layer cake.

Yep, I'm really enjoying this summer. Julie will be home early this morning and then she's off to work; Eric is spending the day/evening with his girlfriend, the lovely Carolyn, and I'm going to write, write, write.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Apocalpyse Lounge, etc.

So I got this e-mail from a fellow writer in New York City yesterday: "Robin, would you be interested in headlining at the Apocalypse Lounge on November 14th?"

Uh...headlining? Would I be interested? You think? Hahahaha - I'm already planning the outfit and stand-up routine. So that's pretty cool, huh. Make sure you put it on your calendars. Robin Slick, headlining at the Apocalpyse Lounge on November 14. If you've never heard me're lucky. No, seriously, please come out for what will surely be an insane event and of course I will remind you all non-stop for the next three months.

If you click on the link, you'll see the Apocalpyse is a very cool venue, home to all kinds of artists. This naturally got me thinking about David Sedaris, because I'm re-reading Me Talk Pretty One Day, and if you've had the pleasure of reading that awesome book, you'll remember David did a stint as a performance artist which he writes about in his inimitable, hilarious way. This line of thinking took me down another path as I starting giggling uncontrollably over the infamous essay included in Me Talk Pretty, "Big Boy", which I am reprinting here courtesy of our friends on the internet, who make just about everything available. This is not for those with weak stomachs or those without a warped sense of humor, so if you do not qualify, you can stop reading now...but if you want to, um, laugh your ass off, here goes:

“Big Boy” by David Sedaris
(from his collection Me Talk Pretty One Day)

It was Easter Sunday in Chicago, and my sister Amy and I were attending an afternoon dinner at the home of our friend John. The weather was nice, and he’d set up a table in the backyard so that we might sit in the sun. Everyone had taken their places, when I excused myself to visit the bathroom, and there, in the toilet, was the absolute biggest turd I have ever seen in my life — no toilet paper or anything, just this long and coiled specimen, as thick as a burrito.

I flushed the toilet, and the big turd trembled. It shifted position, but that was it. This thing wasn’t going anywhere. I thought briefly of leaving it behind for someone else to take care of; but it was too late for that. Too late, because before getting up from the table, I’d stupidly told everyone where I was going.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” I’d said. “I’m just going to run to the bathroom.” My whereabouts were public knowledge. I should have said I was going to make a phone call. I’d planned to urinate and maybe run a little water over my face, but now I had this to deal with.

The tank refilled, and I made a silent promise. The deal was that if this thing would go away, I’d repay the world by performing some unexpected act of kindness. I flushed the toilet a second time, and the big turd spun a lazy circle.

“Go on,” I whispered. “Scoot! Shoo!” I turned away, ready to perform my good deed, but when I looked back down, there it was, bobbing to the surface in a fresh pool of water.

Just then someone knocked on the door, and I started to panic.

“Just a minute.”

At an early age my mother sat me down and explained that everyone has bowel movements. “Everyone,” she’d said. ‘Even the president and his wife.” She’d mentioned our neighbors, the priest, and several of the actors we saw each week on television. I’d gotten the overall picture, but natural or not, there was no way I was going to take responsibility for this one.

“Just a minute”

I seriously considered lifting this turd out of the toilet and tossing it out the window. It honestly crossed my mind, but John lived on the ground floor and a dozen people were seated at a picnic table ten feet away. They’d see the window open and notice something dropping to the ground. And these were people who would surely gather round and investigate. Then there I’d be with my unspeakably filthy hands, trying to explain that it wasn’t mine. But why bother throwing it out the window if it wasn’t mine? No one would have believed me except the person who had left it in the first place, and chances were pretty slim that the freak in question would suddenly step forward and own up to it. I was trapped.

“I’ll be out in a second!”

I scrambled for a plunger and used the handle to break the turd into manageable pieces, all the while thinking that it wasn’t fair; that this was technically not my job. Another flush and it still didn’t go down. Come on, pal. Let’s move it. While waiting for the tank to refill, I thought maybe I should wash my hair. It wasn’t dirty; but I needed some excuse to cover the amount of time I was spending in the bathroom. Quick, I thought. Do something. By now the other guests were probably thinking I was the type of person who uses dinner parties as an opportunity to defecate and catch up on my reading.

“Here I come. I’m just washing up.”

One more flush and it was all over. The thing was gone and out of my life. I opened the door, to find my friend Janet, who said, “Well, it’s about time.” And I was left thinking that the person who’d abandoned the huge turd had no problem with it, so why did I? Why the big deal? Had it been left there to teach me a lesson? Had a lesson been learned? Did it have anything to do with Easter? I resolved to put it all behind me, and then I stepped outside to begin examining the suspects.

Oh god, I die laughing everytime I read that. Yes, I know. I'm very, very sick.

Okay, I'm off to the showers for an early start; my first one since I've entered unemployment world. My son has rehearsal with his new band all day so I'm walking him to the train in order that I can go to the bank and, excuse the expression in light of the above, make a deposit.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Steve Almond, Stuart Dybek, and...Robin Slick?!

Ha ha, if you're a writer or a short story fan, I knew the heading of this post would get your attention.

But yeah, it's true, one of my short stories is in the Smokelong Annual Anthology 2004-2005 along with short stories by famous and respected authors Steve Almond and Stuart Dybek. Actually, here's the complete list of all writers included, and while some may not be household names, trust me on this, they are all incredible:

SmokeLong Annual 2004-2005 Authors: Steve Almond, Bob Arter, Stephen Ausherman, Grant Bailie, Rusty Barnes, Christian Bell, Andrew Bomback, Randall Brown, Lisa K. Buchanan, Daphne Buter, Gary Cadwallader, Kim Chinquee, Jai Clare, Myfanwy Collins, Terry DeHart, Anglea Delarmente, James Devitt, Katrina Denza, Spencer Dew, Steve Dunn, Stuart Dybek, Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Michelle Garren Flye, Scott Ford, Alexandra Fox, Avital Gad-Cykman, Donna Gagnon, Alicia Gifford, Elspeth Graty, Steven Gullion, Frank Haberle, Judd Hampton, Susan Henderson, Tiff Holland, David H. S. Hubert , Richard Hulse, Beverly Jackson, Tom Jackson, Robert S. Jersak, Liesl Jobson, Roy Kesey, Ian Kita, Miriam N. Kotzin, Roderick Leyland, Pasha Malla, John McCaffrey, Saundra Mitchell, Karen Simpson Nikakis, Carol Novack, Bea Pantoja, Cami Park, Ellen Parker, Patricia Parkinson, Henry Presente, Peggy M. Price, M. Lynx Qualey, Brian Reynolds, Ellen M. Rhudy, Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Max Ruback, Astrid Schott, Kay Sexton, Tomi Shaw, Maggie Shearon, Robin Slick, Claudia Smith, Ira Socol, Henry Stanton, Bob Thurber, Andrew Tibbetts, Paul A. Toth, Sam Vaknin, Peter Vaudry-Brown, Ann Walters, Lesley C. Weston, Jensen Whelan, Joseph Young, Mike Young.

Anyway, for a really good read and to support your the literary community in general, you can order this book for a paltry sum right here.
In other news, sorry for the lack of posting but you know, the Rock School days are basically over; I quit my job to write full's what I've been up to. Or trying. At least that's the theory. First up is finishing (finally!) the sequel to Three Days in New York City...all I have to do is run through some edits and make a few tweaks and pray my publisher is happy; then it's back to my continuing saga, a total rework of my mid life crisis memoir.

But...I do have music info as concerns new, separate projects for both Julie and Eric and it's kind of exciting. Julie has been working with singer/songwriter Matt Duke, who has a CD in rotation at WXPN and also appeared at their recent singer/songwriter festival, and Eric will be performing at the Indie Music Conference here in Philadelphia in a couple of weeks with Shannon Penn and he's now the drummer in her band. When I get the word, I'll spill more details about future tours and shows for both Julie and Eric so watch this space.

Meanwhile, I hope some of you have caught the kids on Queer Eye. It's really fun and I know for sure it will be rerun one final time this week, at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow evening. It may very well also be shown sometime today or earlier tomorrow as well...check the schedule at Actually, I just found out it's on 11:00 a.m. this morning.

Oh yeah, one other thing...I was kind of bummed to miss the Opium reading this Saturday night. I heard it was amazing. But I've been to New York so many times this year and get this: I had a chance to buy new furniture so I passed it up and stayed in Philly so I could take care of that. Oh my god, does this mean I'm an adult? Nah, I bought lipstick red suede sofas, a coffee table made of green, black, and clear glass discs, and a dining room set which looks like it belongs in a futuristic bar, so at least I'm still a little cool.

Okay, I'm not cool, I'm a fucking yuppie who passed up a hip reading in NYC featuring a lot of my friends and some pretty brilliant authors to buy sofas. Kill me now, please.

Oh, but they're so pretty and comfy...and the dining room set has suede seats, too.

Yikes. Where's that gun?

Finally, have I mentioned how much I love being out of the 9-5 work force? Oh my god, I'm drunk with freedom. Nah, not that drunk. In fact, right now I'm off to do laundry and then knock out a few chapters.

Life is good. (And my new furniture will be here next week. Ha!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Happy Birthday to me (and Robert DeNiro, Sean Penn, Mae West, and Tom Saunders) and a treat from Chris Opperman

This is a piece of artwork created by keyboard wizard Chris Opperman, called Yes "Star Day" which I thought would be a perfect virtual birthday card. You can take a look at some more of Chris' artwork, even purchase some, listen to his awesome music, etc. at his website right here!

Speaking of Chris, I'm on his mailing list and yesterday I received the world's best birthday gift -- he sent out two links to film clips of the New York show in which Eric was his drummer and which are posted on his site, but I will make it easy for you and post the links here. They are so, so awesome...and of course so is my son!

Link One

Link Two
These are incredibly enjoyable and it's pretty obvious Eric is ready to move beyond Rock School now.

Speaking of Rock School, hopefully a lot of people got to watch Queer Eye last night and saw Eric, Julie, Madison, Stevie, CJ, and Teddi. They only showed a few seconds of them actually on stage, but I got to see glimpses of them throughout the entire second half of the show. It was bizarre. Seeing them in the documentary was crazy enough, but seeing them on TV in that situation was insane!

The most surreal part? Hearing Eric utter four words beforehand I would never expect to experience in my life. At 10:00 p.m., just as the show was about to air, he called his father.


Hahahahaha - if you know or have ever seen Gary, this is one hell of a macho guy and I laughed for the first fifteen minutes of the show.

Anyway, I know I'm prejudiced, but the camera loves my daughter. I don't know where she got that gorgeous smile (not from miserable me, that's for sure) but it seemed to linger on her more than just a few times. Eric, too. The funniest part, and I think I may have mentioned it here before, was that after the taping of the show in June, the producer of the show came up to Eric, handed him her business card, and wanted him to be a contestant (is that what you call them? A makeover, maybe?) on the show. Like Eric would do that...he was embarrassed enough watching last night as it is. This is a serious musician who worships Zappa and Miles Davis!

Ah well, it was a nice send off. Friday's smashing of guitars at Times Square, Saturday night's final All Star show at the World Cafe (for this group of All Stars, anyway), and then watching Queer Eye last night and laughing my ass off. As I said, the end of an era for sure.

Queer Eye reruns all week and last night's episode will be shown again this morning at 11:00 a.m., tonight at 5:00 p.m., and well, check with for the rest of the schedule. Oh, what was also great was that the Queer Eye fellows remarked several times on screen how fantastic and unbelievably talented the Rock School kids are and Madison even got to promote the New York Rock School! Way to go, Madison!

Speaking of my birthday, this time last year I was getting off the Rock School tour bus in Wyoming, en route to Fort Collins, Colorado, about to have breakfast at a gas station cafe loved by truckers because they serve fried chicken and congealed creamed chipped beef for breakfast. Yes. A gas station cafe. I remember being so, so stressed and sleepy; dirty and in need of a shower, and feeling very sad that I didn't have cards or a birthday cake. My son went to the gas station gift shop and presented me with a keychain that said "Robin" on a Wyoming license plate (which I use and stare at all melancholy every day) as well as some cassette tapes of 80s music (har har). My daughter gave me a folded up piece of notebook paper on which she had written "Good for one trip anywhere in the world".

At the time, I almost threw it at her; I was so homesick and so overtired. Heh. Wait until dinner tonight. I'm gonna tell her I'm cashing it in and want to go to Paris.

Anyway, you will note that I also wished Happy Birthday to my fellow Leos Robert DeNiro and Sean Penn (poor ex-wife Madonna...heh...did you see how she spent her birthday yesterday? She's so busy trying to be an aristocratic English country woman she rode a "new horse" (they are all "new" to her, laughed the Brits in various newspapers in the UK) and was thrown, breaking a whole bunch of bones and wounding her ego for sure). You may not be familiar with the other name I mentioned -- Tom Saunders. Tom is a writer friend of mine from the UK and he is brilliant. He has a collection of short stories you can purchase here and a very, very cool blog which you can read here.

When I first met Tom, we became instant friends because of our mutual taste in music (Tom remarked that John Lennon is the closest thing he has to a hero which of course echoed my sentiments exactly) and our mutual birthday of August 17. So Happy Birthday, Tom!

Okay, then. I think that covers everything for today. I'm off to celebrate!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Rock School on Queer Eye tonight...and the end of an era much to write about and so little time.

Okay, first things first. Tonight, on Bravo TV, at 10:00 p.m. please watch Queer Eye! Rock School All-Stars/Hall of Famers Julie Slick, Eric Slick, Teddi Tarnoff, C.J. Tywoniak, Madison Flego, and Stevie Roberts were part of the taping of the show and performed two songs at the end. Here's the details and when you read them, you'll understand why Rock School was chosen to be a part of the program:

Name: Danny K.
Age: 39
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 190 lbs
Status: Single
Occupation: Business Owner
Category: Apprentice Castaway Straight Guy
Location: Chelsea, New York
Event: Cocktail Gala Charity Event

Danny was thrust into the national limelight as a candidate for The Apprentice. Though, lasting only for three tasks, you may remember him as the guitar playing, polyster suit wearing, on-the-spot singing entrepreneur. You would think the criticisms he received from "The Donald" and others would be enough for him to change his look, it wasn't because he's the same disheveled, hapless self.

Even though the mainstream corporate world may not be ready for Danny, he's certainly ready for the corporate world as he is the founder and owner of two successful businesses. Not only that, he's trying to get funding for a charity he's started, "School Bus Rocks," a subsidiary of the Big brother/Big sister program aimed at finding adult mentors that are musicians who can bring the joy of music to children/inner-city schools. The Fab Five's mission: Give Danny a look that will "wow" the donors as well as Donald Trump.


If for some reason you can't stay up that late tonight, check the schedule at because it will rerun all week.


Anyway, I've been sort of putting off writing about Saturday night's final show for this current batch of All-Stars because it's been difficult for me to do without getting all teary eyed. First of all, what a send off! I know last year's All-Stars got to end their Rock School tenure by jumping into a pool at a condemned trucker's hotel in Las Vegas and it's pretty hard to beat that, but the music this year at the World Cafe made it a tie for sure. Everyone was at the very top of their game for both the 7:00 p.m. and the 10:00 p.m. shows; there were no glitches, no awkward was about as perfect a concert Rock School has ever performed. I seriously wondered how the All-Star program was going to get on without Eric Slick, Brian Purcell, Jeremy Blessing, Max DiMezza, Dan Nitz, Fil Smith, Larry Allen, Lauren Pollock, Madison Flego, Liam McGlynn, and Chris Gargano and the impending departures of Andrew Haff, Julia Ranier, Matt Manser, Joe Randazzo, and Dom Malandro but I saw first hand Saturday night that the batons are being passed to some very capable hands. Dave Maruzella on drums blew me away and he's like, what, 14? Sarah Zimmerman is freaking amazing on slide guitar...she's a young Bonnie Raitt...Kenny Luu and Bosco...I may have to come to future shows anyway, even though my son is retired...the music is that mind blowing.

I watched the kids on stage with such pride Saturday night. Besides the incredible musical talent Paul has nurtured, it was amazing to see how far these kids have come confidence wise; style wise (oh my god, they look so freaking good up on that stage as you will see in a moment...I'm only posting some pics because grrr...I still need help uploading and Julie and Eric only did a few photos for me but I swear to God, I am pinning them down this week and making them show me how to do it myself once and for all so I don't have to keep asking them and getting their empty promises!) and as I always stress, the unique comradery this group of kids has courtesy of their years with Mr. Green. Ten years from now some of these kids will meet up at rock festivals where they'll be performing with their own bands in like, the UK or Italy...they'll be megastars and they'll sit backstage with each other, talking old times...Rolling Stone will come interview them and they'll talk about the old days and how they came to meet and Paul's name will come up and...

Okay. I'll stop.

But I really don't know how to thank Paul. When I think of the past seven years and the effect he's had on both Julie and Eric I can barely get my thoughts together. Those kids have been featured in Spin Magazine, the New York Times, the London Observer....gah...I can't even name all the pubs. They've played on stage with Eddie Vedder, Stewart Copeland, Ann Wilson, Jon Anderson, Marky Ramone, Carlos Alomar, Chris Opperman, Alice Cooper, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Ike Willis, Mike mind is still boggled. Both Julie and Eric are well on their way to some pretty thrilling careers in music...both have a few secrets up their sleeves right now which I will reveal when the time is right, but for now, it's not goodbye, they are both still active at Rock School -- Eric teaches drums and is assisting in the production of future shows like Devo and Jethro Tull; Julie does recording and administrative work; even their dad is helping out with the Rockabilly show, but yep, it's true, their RS performing days are over because they are adults now. (choke, gasp, sob...)

I wouldn't have traded the past seven years for anything in the world. What an amazing time it's been for our entire family. Life changing for sure.

If I had one wish, it would be to have last summer back, so that I could go on that 17 day Rock School All-Star bus tour across America with a different attitude. Because of course now when I think of it, I remember only the good stuff, the music, the kids, and what a great time it really was. I guess there should be a rule, though, that no one over 25 should have to sleep on a bus and not take showers and eat at McDonalds because it does tend to make a person of that age or over cranky...but hey, it was an experience I will never, ever forget and I think even I learned a lot from it and have made adjustments in my own character...i.e., I'm still working out some pretty awful flaws like negativity and always expecting doom and gloom when I should be looking at the cliched half full glass instead.

And as I've said here on a few occasions, the mini-tour of Hollywood and Seattle in May and June of this year in which I accompanied Julie, Eric and other Rock School All-Stars for the premier of the movie still leaves me speechless and I will never, ever be able to thank Paul enough for that, either. Oh, and Zappanale...the trips to Germany...both Gary and I, though we went separately, me to Zappanale 14 in 2003, Gary to Zappanale 16 in 2005, were probably the highlight of our lives. I just remarked to Gary yesterday: "Who the hell would ever think you and I would have passports?" (Gary was adamant he would never, ever get on a plane in his lifetime; I just never thought I'd have the time or a reason to leave the U.S. but of course now I not only want to leave, I want to leave permanently with Commander Half a Brain in charge)

Anyway, without further ado, here are some pics from Saturday night. I think once I get the kids to upload all of my pics to my photobucket site, I will make the site available to all of you because I have hundreds of pics from all of the shows in there and obviously I haven't been able to post them all here.

Mr. Jeremy Blessing:

Ms. Madison Flego getting a goodbye hug from Paul Green:

Mr. Max DiMezza singing Young Lust, with Matt Manser and Julia Rainer:

Eric Slick standing with his official and amazing Thom Lessner portrait, which will be autographed and placed on the Rock School Hall of Fame Wall:

One of my favorite moments of the show, Joe "Reno" Randazzo, saying his own special goodbye to fellow drummer Eric Slick:

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The final Rock School Show for Eric Slick: Tonight at the World Cafe, the All-Stars perform the music of Pink Floyd

So tonight is very bittersweet for me. My son Eric will be on drums for his final Rock School show ever when the All-Stars perform the music of Pink Floyd at the World Cafe. There are two shows, one at 7:00 p.m. and one at 10:00 p.m. and they are two distinct sets. You can purchase tickets at the door or order them online here.

A couple of things. First of all, Paul could not have said it better when he posted the following on the Rock School forum board:

"I am already getting a little sad about Saturday. This group has meant the world to me, and to see you go is very difficult. The only thing that tempers it is the knowledge that great things lay ahead for each of you. So to Slick, J-Bless, Gargano, Madison, Lauren Polley, Liam, Max DiMezza, Fil, Nitz, and Larry Allen...THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING."

For those who don't know, the above eight kids are now over 18 years of age and tonight marks "graduation"...99% of them have their own bands now; my son Eric is involved in four different projects and will be touring very shortly -- his drumming with other established bands may take him all over the world this year but I'm sure he's going to have tears in his eyes tonight when the last song is played. Unlike other Rock School All-Stars who have "retired" in the past only to come back and perform at special events on Paul's behalf, Eric is steadfast that tonight is his last show; he is moving on.

Jeremy Blessing

I've witnessed incredible changes in a lot of these kids. Jeremy Blessing I remember as a young 14 year old with short hair and braces...but you could see he was a rising star even back then. Yesterday in New York City at the Hard Rock Cafe opening, people were staring at him, like, WHO IS THAT? And the infamous Naked Cowboy, there himself for the guitar smash, brought along his teenaged daughter who shyly came up behind Dad when he tapped Jeremy on the shoulder and said "My daughter thinks you are cute and would love to have her picture taken with you."

And she hasn't heard him play! Remember his name. He's going to be a superstar.

Lauren Pollock with Jeremy, Chris Gargano, and Fil Smith in the background

Lauren Pollock. I first heard her sing about three years ago and I was like Holy shit, this girl is 15? She has such soul in her voice, such incredible range...there is no way she isn't going to be major league famous. The fact that she is drop dead gorgeous won't hurt her cause, either, and she's one of the sweetest girls you'll ever meet.

Madison Flego

Madison Flego. I don't think even I was aware of the vastness of her guitar playing talent until I heard the opening solo in Shine On You Crazy Diamond in Germany last weekend. I had goosebumps just from watching the webcast and from what I hear from those in the audience live, 5,000 people were brought to their knees. I cannot wait to own the DVD of this show (should be ready in about 3 weeks I hear). I was always aware that this chick could sing. Again, her vocals in "Summertime" give me the shivers.

Max DiMezza, Fil Smith, and Eric Slick

Max DiMezza - I literally watched him grow up before my eyes. He is one of the best bass players (well, besides my daughter Julie and her boyfriend Matt) to ever come out of Rock School. He's got a unique jazzy talent; you can tell he's in love with the blues and has awesome taste because he brings a certain class to his playing which distinquishes him from everyone else. I'm not sure if Max plans a career in music or will end up a brain surgeon, but whatever he does, he's going to rule.

Fil Smith has always been a favorite of mine. I think he's got an amazing singing voice; he's probably Rock School's best rhythm and acoustic guitarist ever, and I think he brings a quiet dignity to his leads as well. He's off to Oberlin College and he's another kid who is going to be a success in whatever field he ultimately decides to pursue.

Larry Allen in the forefront

Larry Allen is a fucking awesome keyboard player. I know Larry is going away to college and it's my guess he's going to end up an attorney, but this kid could play the keys with any major rock or jazz band, he's that good. And he's smart and nice, too, and though I've known him only a couple of years, I've really enjoyed any interaction I've had with him. Last year on the bus tour he remained good natured and stoic even when a lot of us were losing our minds.

Nitz I'm pissed at because he is playing bass in my son's band, Flamingo, instead of my daughter, when bass is not his instrument. Hahahahaha - but what can you do, there's a whole story there but I still say he's a nice kid and a great, great guitarist. Nah, really, I'm cool...just can't find his photo anywhere but I will continue to look. He recently brought out his trumpet on a couple of songs and really impressed me.

Liam and Chris Gargano I really never got a chance to know because they were just added as All-Stars this year but I've enjoyed watching and listening to them and they were great additions to the program.

So that's all for now -- please try and make it to the show tonight and I'll be back tomorrow with a review of the show and a formal goodbye and thank you to Paul.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Eric Slick and Rock School All-Stars Smash Guitars at Grand Opening of Hard Rock Cafe, Times Square

So yeah, today my son, Eric, featured front and back above, along with Paul Green and a small group of All-Stars -- Madison Flego, Lauren Pollock, C.J. Tywoniak, Jeremy Blessing, Joe Randazzo, and Sarah Zimmerman were part of group of 100 celebrities smashing guitars to celebrate the grand opening of the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. They got to smash axes with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Little Steven of Bruce Springsteen/Soprano's fame.

Brian Wilson

Little Steven

Brian Wilson and Little Steven

Group shot

Here's a portion of the press release:

Hard Rock Cafe Opens at Historic 1501 Broadway Building

Opening Day August 12 to Be Celebrated with the World's Largest Guitar Smash

New York, NY, August 11, 2005 - New York City will be rocking on August 12 when Hard Rock International opens its flagship cafe in the center of Times Square. Hard Rock International will be moving from its original location on 57th Street to occupy the former site of the historic Paramount Theater. As part of the move, Hard Rock will be transferring music memorabilia from its unparalleled collection, including priceless pieces from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Billy Joel, The Ramones and Elvis Presley.

The new Hard Rock Cafe New York will officially open at its new location at 1501 Broadway upon the smashing of more than 100 Gibson guitars, branding the moment as the World's Largest Guitar Smash. The historic guitar smash and opening of the Times Square cafe will kick off a month-long celebration, which will include rockin' concerts and special events, as well as a grand opening party, featuring a live performance by super group Velvet Revolver. The grand opening celebration will benefit Peace Games, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the trend of violence in the U.S. by teaching children to become peacemakers in their schools and communities...

The memorabilia being featured in the new Hard Rock Cafe New York includes some of the most valued and treasured pieces of rock history," adds Dodds. "The doors to the Beatles' Abbey Road Studios, Elvis' tuxedo, hand-written lyrics by Jimi Hendrix, guitars cherished by legends, including Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, and more contemporary items, including stage costumes worn by Madonna and Gwen Stefani -- the rock artifacts that can be seen in this space are truly breathtaking for music fans.

Even Pete Townshend Will Be Impressed by This Guitar Smash! Traditionally, Hard Rock executives smash a guitar or two at the opening of a cafe. However, Hard Rock has decided to make its grand entrance by smashing 100 guitars, creating the World's Largest Guitar Smash on the world's greatest stage Times Square.

On Friday, August 12, more than 100 Gibson guitars will be smashed simultaneously outside the new home of Hard Rock Cafe New York, signaling its official opening. Members of the Hard Rock family will be joined by several New York notables and celebrities, including Steven Van Zandt and Brian Wilson, for the guitar smash, a moment that will go down in rock history. For each guitar smashed, Hard Rock will donate a new guitar to Peace Games, extending the influence of music to the masses. Rita Gilligan, one of the original servers from the 1971 opening of the first Hard Rock Cafe in London, will be leading this historic smash.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I'm in Opium! (no, no, not what you are thinking...though I suppose at one time....)

So how cool is this, I have a story published today in one of my all time favorite magazines, Opium. Check it out!.

Also, a bunch of insane writers from Zoetrope are planning a meet-up in honor of Opium's first print issue...please e-mail me if you are interested in joining us for drinks, dinner, and drinks beforehand. Here's the details of the Opium event itself, where we will, of course, eventually end up:

Opium Magazine Presents . . .
The OpiumMagazine.print #1 Launch Party!

When: August 20 , 2005, 7:00 p.m. (Saturday)
Where: New York, NY
Happy Ending (212) 334-9676
302 Broome St. (@ Forsyth)
B,D to Grand Street
F, J, M, Z to Delancey
How Much : Free!

After four years of unrivaled online publishing, Opium Magazine is ecstatic to present the debut of their first tangible venture: OpiumMagazine.print #1, A Whopping Collection of Fanatical Literary Brilliance. This first-ever print issue features original works of fiction, poetry, cartoons, art and interviews (53 contributors in all!).

To celebrate, Opium will host contributors from around the world on August 20, 2005 (at 7:00 p.m.), for a one-night only extravaganza at NYC’s Happy Ending ( 302 Broome St). There will be readings (by actors), two-question Q&A’s (with contributors) and a story read all the way from China (in English), via-satellite! There will be giveaways (an Opium-branded toaster, for one), and a cartoon auction, followed by a party that will deliriously captivate, and potentially drunken. Plus, everyone who attends will receive an OpiumMagazine.button for the lapel of their choice!

You’ll laugh aloud, we’ll cry silently, and throughout the night we will gladly trade one of our copies of Opium’s .print for a discounted cash fee.

Join Opiates . . . Todd Zuniga, Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Will Layman, Heather Kelley, Jim Ruland, Nick Antosca, Larry Gaffney, Susan Henderson, Tao Lin, Rose Gowen, Tom Fugalli, C.J. Kershner, James J. Williams III, Diana Grove, C. Allen Rearick, David Barringer, Ryan Bird, Angela Lovell, Kim Chinquee, Anthony Tognazzini, Thomas O’Donnell, C.M. Evans, Vince LiCata and many more!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ike and Reno

Ike Willis and Joe Randazzo in Germany last week. Perfect, eh?

This isn't one of Gary's photos, this is one I found on line which for some reason cracked me the hell up.

More later...lots of family stuff to deal with right now for a change.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Oh my god...

The Rock School set list from Zappanale 14

Can't do a proper post now but two things:

Rock School All Stars - start saving your money as I will soon be blackmailing you all -- Gary told me EVERYTHING! HAHAHAHAHAHA - Oh my god, I so wish I'd gone. YOU GUYS ARE HILARIOUS!

Seriously, and more importantly:

Olaf of the Arf Society slipped Gary a DVD of nothing but Rock School's Friday night Zappa performance and I've never, ever, ever seen or heard anything so great in my life. And in a teary eyed mother moment for sure, the back of the 2005 Zappanale DVD talks about the history of Rock School - the title says 'THE KIDS ARE BACK", there's an awesome photo from 2003, and right on the cover it talks about my daughter Julie and says that she's so great even John Entwistle would have gone crazy. It also gives a nod to Ms. Lauren Pollock and Dom Malandro.

Eric and Gary also came home with rare Zappa imports - DVDs and CDS, a Pink Floyd bootleg CD with a live version of Echoes and a stripped down version of Great Gig without the female singers; a bootleg of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles playing together (oh my god, I almost fainted when I heard Dandelion), and the Stones with Muddy Waters.

I am one happy woman today.

More...much, much more...later. They used a 35 mm camera so I need to take 16 (yep) rolls of film to get developed and made into a CD so that I can post them...Gary said he took pics of every All-Star and a lot of...moments...which is why you All Stars had better start saving your money. (Kidding, kidding)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Just heard from Germany!

(Julie and me at Zappanale 14 - photo courtesy of Janine Pollock. I'm the one with the beer har har)

Okay, hooray for Joanne Milandro who has an international cell phone. Gary just called me. It's well after 3:00 a.m. in Germany now and he said it was insane -- the crowd would not let the kids off the stage and he's so excited he can't sleep (they just got back to the hostel!) He said the audience kept screaming for the kids to play more; over 5,000 people were in fucking awe and the Paul Green School of Rock Music stole the entire Zappanale 16. He said he's never experienced anything like it EVER (and Gary saw not only the Beatles play at JFK Stadium but Jimi Hendrix as well); that the kids -- every one of them -- played the best music of their lives; that they are all superstars and are being treated as such by every adult fellow musician in attendance from all over the world, many of whom played with Frank Zappa at some point in their careers; and that the only low of the trip is that it's 44 degrees and hailing! Gary said it's so cold smoke is coming out of their mouths when they talk, but that the folks running the festival handed out free sweatshirts (very cool Zappanale 16 ones) to all of them. Wow. When I was there with the kids two years ago at Zappanale 14 it was so hot we wore tank tops or t-shirts and shorts. But oh my god, they played for three and a half hours tonight. That's like...unreal.

Anyway, most importantly, I instructed Gary to bring home many DVDs so that all the parents can have one and Linda, Joey is doing fine; the kids are all eating more than fact, they are getting their faces stuffed by everyone everywhere -- Gary said the food at the festival is incredible and the kids don't have to pay for anything. Gary is sharing a room with 10 kids - Jeremy, Dom, Haffy, Matt, Bosco, Cameron, Joey, Mike, Dan, and Chris. He said he's taking care of all of them and they told him he's the coolest dad ever (hahaha - unlike me on tour, who probably scared the hell out of all of them because I'm so fucking neurotic).

Carolyn, Gary also told me he took Eric shopping for something special for you, so, err..act surprised.

Anyway, he sounded so wired on the phone now he has me all wired and I can't sleep either...and we have to all wake up at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow because yep, that's when the finale begins in Germany, only it will be 11:00 a.m. there.

Night night.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Beginning in just a half hour, at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time, the Zappanale Festival begins broadcasting right here!. While my son, Eric, and the rest of the Paul Green School of Rock Music All-Stars will not take the stage until after 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, the kids will be standing in front or by the side of the stage throughout the whole concert watching the other bands until it's time for their performance and who knows, the camera may very well pan the audience.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

While Eric Slick and the Paul Green School of Rock Stars are in Germany performing at Zappanale 16...Robin Slick unemployed, days 3 and 4 Part I

Asparagus appetizer at Chloe Restaurant

Hi, there.

Well, I haven't posted in my blog for a few days because I've been too busy eating. This is sad but true. No, actually, it's not sad, it's fantastic. Eric and his daddy left for Germany yesterday at 12:30 p.m. and Julie and I immediately embarked on our latest culinary tour of Philadelphia.

We had dinner at Chloe at 2nd and Arch Street. Chloe may now be my all time favorite restaurant. Okay, okay, I know I say that about every cool place I visit, but my God, this is as good as it gets, and it's BYOB...people were showing up with a bottle o'red and a bottle o'white and drinking them all down with each course. Next time, I will do the same; this time, because I was with a 19 year old and it was 100 degrees out and she is making me walk everywhere (there and back...mapquested it...6 miles roundtrip) I decided to stick with water.

First up: A warm bread basket with complimentary homemade hummus. Hummus like I've never tasted. Not merely rank cloves of garlic and mashed chick peas, but a puree of chick peas, corn (yep, corn) and chipotle, rimmed with a circle of high quality olive oil. Julie and I started eating it with a spoon; they give you so much it was like eating the world's best mashed potatoes with half the calories.

Okay. Appetizers next.

Julie elected to have the daily special, which was a chilled peach soup with champagne. (Oh sure, she got to drink...I tasted it and there was like half a bottle poured in there so I helped her finish it bigtime). It was topped with an adorable miniature almond taco. It was tart, refreshing, and maybe the best cold soup ever.

My appetizer ended my search (at last!) for the best freaking mussels I ever ate in my life. These were from New Zealand, and each mussel was the size of my fist. There were at least a dozen of them, floating in a sauce made of white wine, tarragon butter, leeks, and dijon mustard. Came with grilled bread. When I was finished the mussels, I used an empty shell as a tablespoon to eat all the "soup" once I'd killed the bread. I will dream about these mussels for weeks to come; in fact, my birthday is in two weeks and this is what I will be having.

Pictured above was the appetizer I almost got and will certainly try on another occasion -- grilled asparagus wrapped with apple wood smoked bacon and boursin cheese, served with spicy tomatoes and reduced balsamic vinegar.

For entrees, Julie chose sushi grade tuna seared rare in banana ginger soy broth with jasmine rice, seaweed salad and crispy wonton chips. I don't even like tuna that much but went nuts over the forkful she reluctantly, well, forked over.

But mine was the real winner. Pan seared sea scallops served atop a crispy potato pancake with spicy watercress and red onion salad and smoked chile and sour cream drizzle. Oh my god, I never wanted that dinner to end.

Dessert? Oh yeah, we had room. I don't know how we had room, because the portions were so big they were falling off the plate, but we made ourselves have room because the desserts, which are daily specials and change every day (duh), were so spectacular. We did decide to share, though, which was smart, because that too was HUGE.

Hot banana bread pudding sitting in a pool of half caramel, half raspberry, topped with home made toasted coconut ice cream.


More later. I just realized how much I miss Eric and now I need to go upstairs and listen to the Rock School soundtrack so I can hear him play drums.

By the way, please buy the CD. You can find it at or, etc.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Some important info for Rock School All-Stars going to Germany (and Robin Slick unemployed, Day 2)

That's a photo of Zappanale 14 two years ago in Bad Doberan, East Germany, and yeah, yeah, that's me in front on the left with the long blonde hair. Wtf, I'm always posting pics of the kids...

Okay, as I enter day two of my retirement, I obviously have way too much time on my hands because I've been playing with the German to American translation book Eric went out and bought last night.

But first things first. I got an e-mail from Paul, who gives an educated guess that the kids will be seen on the webcast 2:00 p.m. on Friday and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and probably around 2:00 p.m. Sunday for the finale. This is all eastern standard time. Seriously, just in case, I'd tune in sooner and like I said yesterday, you'll get to hear some great music and see some incredible sights so you've got nothing to lose.

Here is the link for the webcast: Fab Channel Zappa!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for -- important phrases you must memorize for hourly/daily use in Bad Doberan:

Nr., tue ich nicht Drogen

(No, I do not use drugs)

Wo ist das Badezimmer?

(Where is the bathroom?)

Nr., tue ich nicht Drogen

(No, I do not use drugs)

Ich bin zu jung zu trinken.

(I am too young to drink.)

Nr., tue ich nicht Drogen

(No, I do not use drugs)

Was ist gut, hier zu essen?

(What is good to eat here?)

Nr., esse ich nicht Schweinschnauze noch Schweinknöchel!

(No, I do not eat pig snout nor pig knuckles!)

Ja stimme ich, Präsident Bush bin ein dummes moron zu

(Yes, I agree, President Bush is a stupid moron)

Nr., tue ich nicht Drogen

(No, I do not use drugs)

Ich bin zu jung zu trinken.

(I am too young to drink.)

Ja stimme ich, Präsident Bush bin ein dummes moron zu

(Yes, I agree, President Bush is a stupid moron)

Wo ist das Badezimmer?

(Where is the bathroom?)
Have fun, guys! I'm so, so jealous I'm not coming along this time but someone has to be victim of Julie the Social Director!

One major tip: The CD tent on the festival grounds is fucking awesome. I brought home Beatle and solo Beatle CDs that caused even the world's biggest Beatle historian to drop his jaw. The imports and bootlegs in that tent are a collector's dream, and the prices are incredibly cheap. Obviously the emphasis is on Zappa but you can find stuff you never knew existed and you're all gonna freak. Also, you will want to go to the "dollar store" on the main drag and stock up on Ritter Sport Bars, preferrably with coconut or hazlenuts. This is the best fucking chocolate bar you will ever eat and it's only one Euro and it's king sized. Bring some home for your poor parents!

And one more time, all together now:

Ja stimme ich, Präsident Bush bin ein dummes moron zu

Monday, August 01, 2005

Day 1 - Robin Slick, unemployed

Last night I dreamt about work and I was running around, because it kept getting later and later and I couldn't find my shoes; I couldn't find my keys, etc.

I woke up all freaked out and then I remembered: I DON'T HAVE TO GO TO FUCKING WORK EVER AGAIN! (Well, at least not in the law office! And more on that in another post...let's just say my last day did not include a gold watch...not that I'd be caught dead in a gold watch)

And so in celebration, my daughter and I are going to breakfast in the Italian Market to have the above mentioned world's best chocolate chip muffin at the Fitzwater Cafe.

Here's a quote about Fitzwater Cafe from a fellow food lover and writer: "What I went for is the muffins. Philadelphia Weekly food writer, Lauren McCutcheon, wrote that she would travel miles for their Chocolate Chip Muffin. Even if she tends to be hyperbolic, the opportunity to have a really great muffin was far to promising to let pass. Despite some skepticism, when I saw the uniquely saucer-topped muffin (pictured) I was sure it would be damn tasty. Sure enough, the muffin had a great browned outside with a dense interior that was milky and studded with tasty semi-melted chocolate morsels. I was suprised that the dense crumb was not dry at all, maybe because it wasn't overly sugared. A nice sweetness was provided by the sugar crystal-encrusted top".

Mmmmm. It's at least a three mile walk which we will do round trip to offset the calories of said muffin, but then we are continuing on for a shopping spree in the Italian Market where we will buy fresh baked bread, homemade mozzarella cheese, jersey tomatoes...oh man, we're going to have a simple, peasant dinner tonight with lots of wine for me. Eric and his dad will be leaving for the Zappa festival in Germany on Wednesday so Julie and I are considering this week and next our official vacation from the world weeks - the recording studio where she works is closed for two weeks as well while the owner vacations in New Hampshire, and other than some projects she's got going with some fellow musicians, she's MINE ALL MINE. We're going to be taking some day trips to New Hope, PA, New York, the beach...and then it's back to work for her and serious writing for me.

By the way, I don't know if Rock School parents know this, but the kids will be simulcast on the web during Friday and Saturday nights' performance and I will of course provide the exact link starting Thursday. Taking into consideration the six hour time difference between here and Germany, I'm thinking we should start huddling around our computers around 1:00 p.m. but in reality, they probably won't go on until at least 3:00 p.m. our time. I've searched the Zappanale website everywhere for times but all it will give me is schedules and dates. Rock School is headlining and I'm trying to remember when the headliner played in Germany when I was there two years ago at Zappanale 14...I'm thinking it was 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. there but I'm not sure...but wtf, most of you are at your computers anyway. I know the truth!

Don't worry -- I will research this and I will find out one way or the other; if not, the very worst that will happen is that you'll get to see some great music for a few hours before our kids go on.'s totally free! And not only that, after the shows, the kids will be given an immediate DVD of the performance. Well, not sure if each kid gets a free DVD or just Paul...but still, I know they're available for sale so make sure your kiddies have a few extra Euros.

Oh, and the finale is on Sunday! Don't know what time, but all I can tell you is, last year our kids, in my opinion anyway, stole the show. So you don't want to miss that, either, and I have a feeling as the festival progresses we'll be getting more info either via cell phone calls from the kids or the webcast itself.

I do know the kids have to be at the airport at 3:00 p.m. and if you cannot provide a ride, BK and Dave will be leaving from Rock School so you can get in touch with them or the school. I also have the info for the return trip home as well as some other tips for the trip since I am a Bad Doberan vet so you can also feel free to email me with any questions. Like, pack sunscreen, change money into Euros at the airport, a little pocket translation book is a must because absolutely no one, and I mean no one, in the shops of Bad Doberan speak any English at all and that includes all of the restaurants as well; bring a towel because the hostel does not provide them and you're gonna be pretty miserable taking a shower without one and that goes for soap, know what, maybe if people have questions I will type a comprehensive list here for everyone.

(See? Already I'm working again and this time without pay!)

Anyway, more later...that muffin is calling out my name!