The Story Of The Fleshtones, America's Garage Band

Authored by Joe Bonomo

Continuum Books

By Geordie Pleathur
(SugarBuzz Nation)

SugarBuzz Magazine

PAINFULLY LONGWINDED BOOK REVIEW of "SWEAT: The Story Of The Fleshtones, America's Garage Band" by Joe Bonomo....(-Continuum Books)

"STAMINA! On Somehow, Still Surviving, The National Ban On Super Fun, And The Decline Of Democracy " or… (“Why EMBITTERED CURMUDGEON, MEDIA-AMATEUR, AND BLEEDING-HEART LIBERAL, Geordie Pleathur, Is So Grateful For Joe Bonomo's Noble Effort To Write The Beautiful Light, Of The Mighty FLESHTONES, Back Into The History books!”)

"I'm lookin' for that spark of recognition! I'm lookin' for that face at the edge of the crowd!" (-Electric Frankenstein)

"The sad and the lonely are the only ones with style!" (-Dogs D'Amour)

"I drink to you, we drink to each other...We talk about the good old flame, When the bottle's gone, we'll get another...Some things don't ever change...." (-N.Y. Dolls)

"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it." (-Noam Chomsky)

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress." (– Mark Twain)

"We have to show the American People that war is not patriotic." (-Justin Raimondo)

“Winning makes losers, of us all…” (-Blue Oyster Cult)

"Law and order's done it's job-the prison's filled, while the rich still rob..." (-Lords Of The New Church)

"We always did feel the same, we just saw it from a different point of view..." (-Bob Dylan)


Feelin' alone, isolated, hated, faded, defeated, despised, and pessimistic? Seemingly jinxed--cursed, poisoned, condemned? THE FLESHTONES can help.

As I walk through this wicked world, searching for light, in the darkness of insanity, it gets harder to find evidence of goodness, and truth, and soul, y'know? Now, Jim Carroll and Willy Deville are even gone. This book is about a fading lifestyle, soul music, and true bohemia, but more importantly, it's about the value of friendship, faith, resilience, and solidarity, and in staying true to your ideals, and really endeavoring to live by your convictions, to live fully, to live sincerely, even if your reality is never confirmed by the mass-media. Even if you don't make loads of moolah. To be a light in the darkness. To bring people together, and get 'em dancin'. To put a smile on everyone. To never give up.That's real honest heroism, in my book, anyway...and in Joe Bonomo's, too!


Look, this won't be a snappy, upbeat, Entertainment Weekly-style, short, professional book review. This is an impulsive, self-indulgent fanzine rant, by a fan. Dig? The media-professionals are the people who get paid handsomely, to pretend all that horrible, shit-music's good, and make you believe you're "happy, joyous, and free", and if you'll just purchase more plastic swag, you'll be worthy of life and liberty, and maybe even love, after some plastic surgery, of course, and an updated make-over, and that these multiple quagmires in the Middle East, they really just couldn't be helped, but trust your government, everything's just swell, even without Habeus Corpus, the Bill Of Rights, Constitution, and Geneva Conventions...and we're not becoming a nation of monsters, advocating torture, fixed-market corporate welfare, utter inequality, library spies, totalitarian data mining, indefinite imprisonments with no legal recourse, never-ending false justifications for still more war-war-war, "sneak and peek" Watergate style break-ins supposedly legalized, and ongoing (!!!) under the current President, more Pat Act/FISA big brother style electronic surveillance, roving wiretaps, pain compliance weapons, around the clock censorship, ruling the tax-payers with brutality, intimidation, phony provocateurs infiltrating peaceful organizers and demonstrations, masked-thugs oppressing people's right to peacefully protest, or ask their elected officials inconvenient questions, recent history being swept under the carpet by classifying most everything "state secrets", corporate corruption, zillion dollar Wall St. heists, the po-po using rubber bullets on women protesters at close range, and relentless fear-mongering, swine flues, bird flues, this flu, that flu...untested and controversial/potentially very dangerous vaccines...although...you really could use some more plastic swag, and horrible, soulless, shit-music--if you want to stay youthful, and be sexy, and worthy of love...Why wouldn't YOU wanna cash a check for pretending "G.I. JOE THE RISE OF COBRA" was a positive development?


Oh yeah, and Shucks-how 'bout that dastardly Kanye(!) spoiling poor, innocent, Taylor's "moment", and is Beyonce' a proper role-model for America's young people? Shall we investigate Janet Jackson's titty at some Super Bowl performance, from years ago, some more? Zoiks! Doncha grow tired of pictures of "celebrity babies", Tim McGraw and Faith Hill perfume ads, and page, after page of ad's for Pfizer over-the-counters?! The slick big media-pros of the lamestream all have forked tongues, because their lavish lifestyles come from being embedded with the entrenched interests of the "strategic class"-the corporate oligarchy. They won't tell you to stock up on Vitamin D, or that TV sucks. They're all willing puppets of the armaments industry, and the bankers who run it, if you just keep following the money. It's not just that awful torture-cheerleader, Elizabeth Whatshername on "The View", either! Brian Williams, all the Shock-Jocks, Sixty Minutes, "The Doctors", Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Oprah Winfrey...all of 'em. Who funds the news? America's in turmoil, because all those crooked executives stealing all the money at the top, and financing insane wars for oil companies, and spending every cent on espionage, and the big business of imperialism--not because of the tiny, miniscule, fraction of a percent they spend caring for the poorest of the poor, huddled masses-but that's never the honest picture, painted by the media pros, is it? They always wanna cover-up the casualties, white-wash the lies that justified the crimes, scapegoat the downtrodden, revictimize civilian casualties, or slander a brave truth-teller-even if it's a top-name entertainer, like Rosie O'Donnel, Sean Penn, or Susan Sarandon. The current administration's using the exact same playbook, building up pretexts for "pre-emptive" invasion, as the last one. Also spending billions, still spying on U.S. citizens, outsourcing obscenely over-paid "security contractors" to do the dirty work of colonialism, and using sophisticated new war arsenals to silence dissent, here, at home. The crazy part is how the cops and soldiers of the working class still have to tell themselves they're protecting someone's "freedom". The freedom of big business to rewrite our laws, the freedom of Congress to ignore the WILL OF THE PEOPLE, and wring excessive profit for the elite minority, at the cost of countless lives. These wars are still all really about oil, don't let 'em fool ya. They distracted us all with empty promises about reforming health-care, but Max Baucus (D-MT) only wanted to reform it according to his bosses, the insurance companies' specifications, mandating everyone MUST buy their shitty private insurance, like auto-insurance. All they really did was distract us from the occupations, and make another bill mandatory. What a sham. It's extortion. They ignored the universal demand for a single-payer option. Both sides were fixed. That's how it is, now. I guess maybe, we should have voted for third party candidates, like we all discussed. The fix was in. Again and again.

EVERYDAY, the police-state prepares more prisons, and arrests more people for assembling to make their voices heard...like the doctors and nurses, protesting outside the lobby of the private insurance company, AETNA, demanding single-payer option, universal health-care, and enough with the rip-offs...they clampdown and arrest loads of hotel workers in Chicago, but did you ever see even ONE Glenn Beck rightwinger gun-nut get arrested? Even when they carry guns, or call for violence, the cops are cool with the loony rightwing, but the progressive teenagers who protest war, and demand the end of Bush policies under Obama, or who call for the public financing of political campaigns, since the balls-out corruption's gone so far beyond obscene, the cops crack their skulls. I don't get it. WHY aren't the police on the side of the real people? What does big business do for them, besides give them a Free Pass for violence? I mean, they risk their lives all the time for shitpay. $10/hr. in some towns, no shit. Why aren't their sympathies with the working poor? Why do they always support the bankers and oil tycoons? Do they just love the new Robocop uniforms? I don't get it. The good cops, and moral members of the military should stand with the people, not the Corporations. Both "sides" are owned by the same Forbes 500. Democracy? It's gone. We get no say. Just like we got no say about the wars, the bail-outs, the Patriot Act, or the private armies on American soil, while those smug politicians continue ignoring the cries from the majority-for real investigations of the white collar corporate criminals, who intentionally create these crisis scenarioes for fun and profit.

IMPRISONING PEOPLE WHO HAVE BROKEN NO LAW? REALLY? That sounds like a good idea to Obama and Rahm? "Preventative Detention"? Based on someone speaking out, or having different views than your own? They better hire even more attractive rich girls, and privileged, Ivy-League people of color, to repeat their Newspeak justifying tyranny, fast, if they're gonna try to slide that one by. That's why we were against Russia growing up, remember? They spied on, and imprisoned their own citizens? For "thought crimes"?! "Breadlines"?! "Censorship"?! "STATE MEDIA", "Disappearances"?! "K.G.B."?! It's like we're in an abusive relationship with the corporate-oppressors, and we keep telling ourselves, "He might change!" We voted a different party in, again, with a sweeping mandate to stop the war, and repeal the Patriot Act, and close the torture camps. What happened, instead? They took over the banks, the car companies, and gave billions more to the Wall St. execs, and private armies. Kept a lot of high ranking appointees in key positions, too. The Cheney family are on television, as much as the White House. Who's really running things, here? Who's gonna vote for these sold-out Dems next time? Stiv Bators used to say, "If voting could change things, they'd make it illegal/Truth is the sword of us all!" This world is so fucked. They've taken over the Democratic Party, and they just keep taking over more countries, too...

American MOMS need to rally one another at playdates, and on the playgrounds, to stop believing Fox media-distortions, vet multiple sources, and get involved, locally. Remember when Rumsfeld swore we had to bomb Iraq, because the ruthless dictator used chemical weapons on his own people, and TORTURED his enemies, in secret prisons? Maybe we can't make the powerful elites bring their profit-driven carnage to a screeching halt, but we can threaten their jobs-just like they threaten ours! Most of 'em wanna go to work as lobbyists, anyway. I say, we give 'em all a dose of their own authoritarian propaganda:"You're Fired!" What's the difference between Dems and Pubs, now? There isn't any. VOTE OUT each and every pol who does not repeal the Patriot Act. Any city that contracts goon squads on steroids to beat up teenagers? HOLD CITY COUNCIL, THESE MAYORS, AND POLICE CHIEFS ACCOUNTABLE! ...Journalists? What journalists?

Unless you are willing to pretend all that sterile Nephew-Rock, and Corporate Product, and even war, is cool, you can't participate in the big-media. You have to have a certain enthusiasm for war propaganda, smirking irony, and puns, and think Devendra Banhart is the Dali Lama, and all those millionaire teenagers on "the Hills" are clever, and important. We'll leave that to Spin and Rolling Stone, alright?


I'll tell you why I can't stand Republicans. They are usually greedy, mean-spirited frauds, who abuse religion to mislead and exploit the blue collar workers, guilting them with hellfire fear, to fight their oil wars, and vote against their own best interest. There's nothing Christian about them. Everybody seems to love all that macho, talk-radio, "boot-straps" tough talk, until it happens to them. Until their own jobs are threatened. Until their own families get sick, or become entangled in the corruption of the big machine. One out of every 31 adults in America is incarcerated, or on probation. The fastest growing industry. Mostly, for non violent drug offenses...It's sad, really. How effective the media monopolies are at manipulating folks with fear, and their own greed, and racist blind-spots.


Monopolies aren't "competition". Murder is a sin. War is criminal. Genocide and slavery are evil. Nobody told 'em that in Sunday School, did they? A homeless veteran gets killed on the street-those heartless pigs write letters to the editor, sayin' he had it comin', cos he wasn't busy, a-workin', or in this day and age, "volunteering". They know no mercy, whatsoever. That's the kinda phony baloney shit they print in those "corporate-reality", Ann Coulter newspapers. The Big-Money Democrats are even worse, because they talk all purty, and intellectual-like, but then, they govern, and legislate, just like the Prison-State Republicans. Talk about bait 'n' switch! America's becoming the Russia they scared us about, as children. Corporate-Media rule, and bi-partisan corruption are to blame. They use words like "democracy", "peace", and "freedom" to sell war and oligarchies and tyranny to the enslaved. People keep talkin' all this smack about the President alienating his base...His true base is the corporations who installed him. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was...

The press is just a bunch of oblivious, obedient, well-paid, publicity-whores. Except for "Big Takeover", the American Rock Press has been dead for years. They keep threatening to revive the venerated "CREEM" brand-name, but with those same old trust-funded, "Spin" magazine sensibilities. Fuck the slick media-professionals. They're liars. Employed merely to somehow justify the 9/11 Clampdown, and cover-up, or distract us from real life, war, "illegal assembly", homeless families, another foreclosure every second and a half, lay-offs, plans on the conference room table for Verichip Brand micro-chip implants and I.D. bracelets already in use in Boston, to "allow doctors to track the viruses", warrant-less wire-taps, strangers routinely/currently, reading your e-mail, and monitoring your phone calls to make sure you're not complaining about the shock and awe billion dollar boys club, banking giveaways, to all those "Too Rich To Jail" Goldman Sachs and A.I.G. shysters. Thank Goodness for Matt Taiibi, somehow, being published in the ever-corporate pages of "Rolling Stone"-it almost renews our faith in it's founder!

Every 18 seconds, the police-state busts an American for drugs, but it's never the rich Rush Limbaugh drug-addicts that go to prison, is it? It's always the poor. Big pharma writes the laws, the military controls the poppy fields. Private industry builds more prisons. Then, they make prisoners manufacture products, out of the eye of the general population. What a sham. That's what I'd call a criminal conspiracy. The rich people all get high. The wage-slaves are constantly drug-tested...but never the pharma-reps, bankers, share-holders, politicians, mercenaries, lobbyists, or MEDIA PROFESSIONALS.

I'm just gonna speak to you cats and kittens truthfully here, cos I'm proudly, a media-amateur.

There probably won't be another band like the Fleshtones, the Hardest Working band In Show Business. In the eighties' college rock/post-punk heyday, you didn't need to be born wealthy to form a band, live communally, get in a van, travel freely, and entertain the people. 'Course, even back then, certain folks, Sting and his boys, f'rinstance, probably had a better time of it, touring in a van, than others. You'll find out how free you really are, when you try to make your moves. Our gang usually got stopped, before we crossed the county line.

Unlike most so-called, "garage rockers" of today, the long-suffering 'Tones never had everything handed to them. They really did practice in dingy basements, and garages. Peter's Dad was a truck driver, Keith's Dad was a cop, God Bless ‘em! They bonded as teenagers, and hooked up with their amazing drummer, Lucky Bill Millhizer, before many of you were born. The consummate-entertainers, Keith Streng, and Peter Zaremba, grew up loving sixties R & B, Easybeats/Paul Revere/Strangeloves pop, and Nuggets-style, obscure psychedelia, and never lost that blue-collar work-ethic, only, their chosen vocation happened to be drinking a lot, throwing awesome rent-parties, doin' the twist, banging tambourines, drinkin' some more, sleepin' in Howard Johnson parking lots, high on drugs, when there was no money for a room, and uplifting their fellow humans, with a profound spirit of humane empathy, and gabba gabba hey camaraderie, they never "outgrew". These painfully sincere,and often prone to fuckin' up, drunken, gospel punks could unite a room fulla screamin' skulls and yuppie shmucks, and send everybody home with a song in their heart, and a common experience of shared frivolity, high-mischief, and good times galore, to draw from, as they continued to interact with their fellow man. They got their kicks from twelve to six. The 'Tones were graceful, and suavely stylish. Even in the midst of falling apart. They had so much ready-made, Little Rascals charm, and finesse, that they never had to angrily pontificate from atop some bully-pulpit, bull-horn in hand, but they always lent a sense of moral courage, and compassion for the misunderstood outcasts of the world, to every occasion. From Wigstock, to MTV. They were always champions of the average joes, the dispossessed, and the broken hearted, making it seem like dreams really can come true, in this star spangled land of back porch keggers, and indie-label opportunity.


Having narrowly escaped the repressive confines of Baptist Bible School in South Eastern Kentucky in 1985, where they constantly "rebuked" the evil spirits of French kissing, and chocolate milk, seizing all my childhood Beatles and Monkees records as "contraband", and endlessly lecturing us on how KISS were "Knights In The Service of Satan", I was totally enchanted with the ghetto-cool, downtrodden glamour, and music history, of the Lower East Side. I lived in the Bowery on Rivington Street, with two foxy film-makers, and spent my days and nights exploring all the tiny record stores, and run-down juke-joints. I thoroughly dug the tiki-statues, cheap garland, graffiti-stenciled, tacky xmas-tree lit atmosphere of Downtown. Some other eccentric habitue’s of America's free-est, freakiest, most diverse neighborhood, back then, incuded Sonic Youth, the Kostabi brothers, Nick Zedd, Richard Kern, Leg Lung, Lady Bunny, Stiv Bator and Martha Quinn, John Spacely, They Might Be Giants, Wendy Wild, the Antoinette's, Walter Lure, Quintin Crisp, Leee Black Childers, Jim Thirwell, Lydia Lunch, the pure genius-Phoebe Legere, the Swans, and loads more-hangin' around at the Wah Wah Hut, or C.B.G.B.'s. The World, Area, Danceteria, Palladium. Nick Zedd's fliers were on every telephone pole, and street lamp, for his short film, "Police State". My beautiful Latina girlfriend used to take me to the loud, dark, night spots, and laugh, when I was regularly fooled by the Patricia Fields drag queens. We listened to lots of Chet Baker, and "Hunky Dory", and we'd go traipsing through the snow, holding hands, and she'd make me stop and look at our reflection in store front windows, asking, "Don't we look just like John and Yoko?" Her, in her fur coat, me in my wide brimmed bolero hat. I often wonder if she's still alive. She got tired of me running up her phone bill, calling my suburban dream girl, back home, and eventually, dumped me for Zedd, who she had a lot more in common with. I was 15-she was 25.

Upon my first arrival on the scene, the Lower East Side of Manhattan was still almost affordable, and it was a genuine melting pot neighborhood. I was fifteen, scared, a little Joey Ramone kid. It was a big deal to me, that these cool, older guys took time to offer me encouragement, some kind words, and inquire about my well-being, and I didn't even know who they were, really. I was just thrilled some older people were bein' cool to me, and I wasn't getting kicked out of the bar. For years, I poorly emulated the style of Fuzztone, Rudi Protrudi, and upon retreating back to the mid-west, for the love of a a hyper-intellectual, suburban, new-wave girl, who immediately ditched me, upon my incarceration in detention hall, in 1986, I recognized quite a disconnect between my urban dance party sensibilities, honed in post-punk Manhattan, at places like the Pyramid, Neither-Nor, and the Wah-Wah Hut, and the whole crunchy-granola, Tracey Chapman/Natalie Merchant/Michael Stipe/Ian McCaye style, straight-edge, political correctness of my college aged, alternative-nation, Lollapalooza peer group, back in the staid mid-west. All those back-packed, sober, academic types took themselves so seriously. They seemed really uptight, and un-cool.

It's easy to comprehend all that the Fleshtones had in common with Peter Buck, in particular, but gee whiz, R.E.M. was just never my bag, at all. I much, much preferred the Replacements..."Lay It Down Clown" and "One Good Dose Of Thunder" are the only Replacements songs I didn't really like. I used to encourage all my punk rock drummers to listen to the Fleshtones, and was disappointed when our audiences wanted to skank, and slam-dance, pushing all the girls to the back. For years, my various band mates referred to me as the "Flower Power Popster", and chastised me for always wanting to cover the Love Delegation arrangement of "Save Me". Soon after, grunge came into vogue, and I found myself even more out of time.

In spite of fronting a long series of fucked from the start, nowhere glam bands, I'm pretty certain, I did all my best singing with the bums in the alley, or on various street corners. I finally quit forming bands, because every time I do, someone dies, or goes to jail. I really connected to the story of the Fleshtones charisma-king, Gordon "Mister Dangerous" Spaeth. I'm still going through my "cardboard years". I love the way these guys stuck together, and stuck it out. All my old shipmates are long gone, even those with whom I shared a childhood bond, and creative chemistry, there's this emotional distance. I sorta just fell through the cracks. See-all my guys wanted to be "Overnight Sensations", like Jack White, and The Strokes, and when I could not single-handedly finance that event, they all sorta flaked...one by one, they all drifted off, into the nine to five corporate-world, succumbing to all that, hellishly-familiar, "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em/ Can't Fight City Hall/ But What Can One Person Do?!" jive ingrained in to everyone, by the power-holders-99% of whom, merely, INHERITED their wealth.

It don't bother me at all, that people like Gene Simmons, or Ted Nugent are Republicans. I don't agree with 'em, but I believe they both have an integrity. I think THEY believe what they say, and get to live it. Market domination by union busting, big capital monopolies works for them, just not many of their fans. They are what they are, but when people I knew and love abandon what I believed were our common principles, and shared values, sayin' Adios, Amigoes, to those of us at the bottom, it hurts deeply, cos like I already said, it feels so much like, bait and switch. The women all dumped me for the money-weasels, too. It's like my own special hex.

See--I always worked at bookstores, and record stores, until they killed 'em all off. Then, came the long string of more physically demanding, blue collar jobs, as a house-painter, land-scaper, dish-washer, roofer, janitor, until many of those jobs dried up, too. Plenty of Americans are making less now, than they did in 1987. I know hundreds of middle aged property owners, and former property owners, who have been forced in to minimum wage, retail, and food service positions, the kind of jobs one used to work, in high school, for pocket money, while still living with your parents. The yuppies all love TARGET, because of the ass-kissing that's required of their smiling minimum wage employees; billion dollar green-wash marketing; and billionaire Bowie's clothing line, but in reality, they're Reagan-ites, all the way, at that company. "Expect More/Pay Less" is an apt description of their business model-it's how they treat their workers. They have all these stiff, "feel good" meetings daily, but everyone is quietly instilled with the usual fear. Anyone who ever complains, speaks out, asks for a raise, or makes any genuine suggestions to management, is perceived as an instigator, a threat, making waves. You become the “target”. Everyone stares at the floor, because the whole staff knows that foolish individual will be the next to go. They'll only schedule you for 15 hours a week, but then, they want you to sit by the phone, waiting for them to "call you in" to work. That "flexibility" shows "dedication", but many people only get a seven cent raise-per year. The managers get bonuses for keeping labor low, so they assertively run everyone around. It's a friendly, immaculate, well-lit, stressful, sweat-shop atmosphere. All those sixty year old women being told they're not folding clothes fast enough. They won't let people wear knee pads, but they expect you to bend up and down, facing product on bent knees, on hard floors, for nine hour shifts. It's really just Wal-Mart with some skinny, emo threads. If you work at Wal-Mart, and ever whisper the word "union", they'll fly "private security" people in to silence, spy on, intimidate, and fire everybody. If I was imaginative enough to make this shit up, maybe I'd be employed at some high-paying, porn-surfing, office job. Like Michael Moore says, What's wrong with paying people a fair wage, and benefits, for honest work? You should see what the hotel workers are going through in Chicago.



If you ask me, Poison Idea were right, when they said that, "Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes!"

In this greedy age of E-Bay shit-hoarders, and knife-you-in-the-back, one-upping, upwardly mobile, steadily contaminated by greed and privilege, careerist-pricks, it's understandable, if many of you heart and soul rock'n'roll types, feel completely jaded, and alienated from all the Planet Of The Apes-lunchbox collecting, ironic, detached, middle-class, suburbanite garage poseurs, with their vintage love beads, and freshly dry-cleaned, Nehru jackets....

If you've never been an ecstatic, front row participant, of the life-affirming, whirling, Sufi-like, passionate, spectacle that is the FLESHTONES, live, perhaps you've even mistaken them for just another snooty buncha reptilian, old, Bryan Gregory lookalikes, in paisley shirts and Cuban heels, who feather-dust their prized Farfisas, Vox amps, antique Theramin, and neatly organized, precious, old platters, until you wonder why did they invite you to their house, if you're not supposed to touch anything....

'Thing is...the FLESHTONES are probably the most egalitarian band in the world. They never seemed to mind if you're a police-state fortunate son, a wild-eyed speed freak, a kooky transvestite, a drunk ass frat boy, a wise-ass social climber, a disco reptile, a coked up film student, shifty little runaway, mustached leather-boy, horny jazzbo fuckup, long-winded yippie peacenik, whatever. If you attend one of their performances, they're probably gonna find the way to reach, and release, that long repressed, inner-soul man, that lives inside each and every one of us. It don't matter if you're a street crazy, or a company jerk, they're gonna shake you up, until you find yourself guzzling back potent, fruity, neon-colored punch, and doing the Watusi, half crazy, on the dance floor. Can I get a witness?

"The Fleshtones....They are totally COOL guys, and a BITCH to have to follow on stage, let me tell you!! The guys and I know when we play with them, we better have our 'A' games, as they will BLOW you off the stage, if you don't!!! Also, the push-ups on the bar is so COOL!!! They are a great band-especially live. Hope to do some more shows with them in the future."


Magic Christian


Van Halen fans might think their group are the ultimate live party experience...fans of Prince, or P-Funk, or even the Red Hot Chili Peppers, may feel the same. I've seen a lot of longhaired freaks in my day...I've seen 'em all-from the Butt-hole Surfers to the Waldos, from the Phantoms to the Broken Homes...from Iggy to the Flaming Lips, from Fetchin' Bones to the Rolling Stones...From London Quireboys to the Makers to the Stray Cats...from Mono-Man, to Tom Petty, from the B-52's to Andy Wood, from Urge Overkill, to Faster Pussycat's original line-up, from Thunders to the Humpers...and they all pale next to the Fleshtones, live. The Fleshtones are like James Brown, Little Richard, Question Mark and The Mysterians, Andre Williams, the Standells, 13th Floor Elevators, the Seeds, "Animal House" and the "Blues Brothers", John Waters "Hairspray", the Monkees, the Seeds, and various Hanna-Barbara cartoons, come to life. I always say, if you can't do it under a single light bulb, in a dirty t-shirt, you can't do it, right? Well type, "Fleshtones in Madrid", onto your Youtube search, to see the boys leading hundreds of smiling drunks, in a street corner sing-along. If you ever brushed with me in a gloomy cocktail lounge, over the years, and found yourself later dancing on the bar, or taking off your clothes, or lighting something on fire, well, these are the cats I learned it all from. The FLESHTONES are about fun...Fireworks and Bongo Drums, and askin' "What The Fuck?" the next morning! All people need to remember...to have some fun---while we're still alive, even if the evil empire's ruining everything, around us. We can't let 'em steal our joy. Hunter Thompson said, "When the fun stops, something's wrong". Emma Goldman said she wouldn't wanna participate in a revolution, she couldn't dance to. I'm not the only one who really misses the "I.R.S. Cutting Edge Happy Hour" starring Mister Peter Zaremba! Again: those of you who saw my own no-budget, cable-access tv show in the early 90's, or any of my ramshackle punk bands, I learned it all from Z-Man!

Michael from the CYNICS: "One of my Favorite Super Rock moments with The Fleshtones:

"The Cynics had a night off, in Atlanta, Georgia, and I found out our friends, The Fleshtones, were playing at the Scrap Bar, so I was very excited to go see them. I had the news on in my hotel room, so I had heard that O.J. Simpson had not turned himself in to police, as he was supposed to that morning, and he was missing. Well, shortly after I got to the bar, and said hello to the band, we noticed on the little bar TV, that they had Found O.J. , and he was in an SUV, driving down the highway, being followed by police, and the whole thing was LIVE on TV !! The Fleshtones and I both came from a generation that really appreciates some good "Live" television, so we were just enthralled. Plus, having followed the case, we were full of theories about how it will end in some crazy stand off, or something. Very shortly, we were too engrossed to be watching in a noisy bar on a tiny TV. I think it was Keith who noticed this warehouse Strip Bar/Disco across the street. It was open 24 hours a day, so their crowd wasn't even up yet. The place was vast and totally empty, but the bar was open, and they had a gigantic TV screen for Football Games!! We were joking it seemed like O.J. would be driving through the wall!! We laughed and drank for hours, just the Fleshtones, me, and a bartender, and I can't even remember if we saw the disappointing conclusion to the chase. I remember someone coming over and saying the opening band was almost done, and the 'tones would have to play soon, and Peter said "No way are we playing until this is ovha!"

Anyway, it was a perfectly great show, as usual, but I'll always remember where I was during the O.J. chase, with my favorite band and friends!!"

Michael K. , The CYNICS

The brilliant lyricist, John Easdale, of DRAMARAMA, ("the Jim Carroll of college-rock"), was also deeply affected by the uplifting vibes and twistin' the night away positivity of the Fleshtones. He remembers fondly:

"Fleshtones were always lotsa fun...the sophisticated and stylish, Mr. Peter Zaremba, was a 'pop hero' of mine in the '80s, especially, when he was hosting "The Cutting Edge" on MTV...We played together once or twice-once in France, I think!

They definitely influenced and inspired us...'showed us that it would be okay, to just do our own thing, at a time (early-mid '80s), when the charts and airwaves were mostly filled with bands like Journey, Styx and R.E.O. Speedwagon. God bless the Fleshtones!"

I agree with John “Work For Food” Easdale, that one of the coolest things about our power-soul, rock'n'roll revivalists, is their nitty-gritty, home-made, D.I.Y. persistence. That's what makes their myth so powerful-the way they continued to hoist-up their own personal, tattered Jolly Roger, year in, and year out, without ever "making it" commercially bigger than, probably, some fleeting, minor, Miller,or Budweiser beer endorsement, a good decade ago. Everything ain't for the love of money, people. They persevere, because they're genuine-articles, rock'n'roll is really what they love to do, who they are.

Gordon Spaeth, the legendary 'Tones sax-player's tragic-comic misadventures parallel my own:

"I would say that my drinking, yes, was a factor, at times."

I've heard it implied from a number of sources, that the 'Tones may have been somewhat lacking in the humility department. Much like, with Arthur Lee, that was not my experience, with them, at all. My few brushes with the Fleshtones front man always left me wondering how someone so kind-hearted, gentlemanly, and well-spoken could instantly, transform himself into such a larger than life, mighty presence, on stage. They might deny being messengers, let alone divine messengers, and scoff at the very notion of message songs, but they've gone out of their way to make people happier, and give hope to the weirdoes, and misfits of the world, for thirty-some years, if that ain't a righteous, bleeding-heart, democratic, mercy-mission, I dunno what is.


Like the Deadboys, Dictators, or Mink Deville, the Fleshtones hardly ever get mentioned when the corporate mainstream talk about Television and Blondie and Talking Heads. I dunno who these guys pissed off, but they're almost always written out of the history books. 'So thrilling to see them finally getting some long belated recognition. Never in fashion, always in style, the FLESHTONES set the pace for revved-up, retro blast-punk, and we just followed. Probably the only way I'll ever be able to repay the kindnesses shown to me by the good hearted men of the Fleshtones, when I was a semi-homeless runaway teenager, lurkin' around the Pyramid, and King Tut's Wah Wah Hut; is by carrying forth their inclusive, got-to, got-to, got to, get-down spirit, and by continuing to proudly carry their flag. Hell, in my twenties, the Streng family even got me (and my infamous punk guitarist celebrity drinking buddy) off the streets, by helpin' us get a room for a weekend, at the Rutledge Hotel, when some junkie idiot caught fire to the squat we'd been staying in, on 14th Street. Peter Zaremba's the most naturally charismatic singer in the world, I'm tellin' you, people. Weeks back, when everyone was goin' on and on about "ABC" and "Wanna Be Startin' Something", (the Fleshtones were always big fans of the Jackson Five!), I was here in my dark room, thinkin', to myself, "These TV people never seen the Fleshtones!" Plus, I've had the occasion to interview countless rock-banders and rug-cutters, artistic-anarchists, freaks, and film-makers, throughout the years, and few were ever as genuinely gracious as Mister Zaremba. I talk to green kids in gimmicky bands, all the time, who've contributed nothing whatsoever to rock'n'roll, who are insulted if you're not privy to the trite minutiae of their Myspace blog-bio, whereas, Peter Z. was memorably patient, even when I had huge gaps in my knowledge of their chronology, and discography. The truth was, that my dwindling income sadly prevented me from keeping up with their releases. It was never a lack of love.

Devoted fans, from all over the globe, will be excited about this wonderful book, and the accompanying film, "Pardon Us For Living But The Graveyard Is Full". How often do you hear those unimaginative, commercial rock groups, just goin' through the motions, enjoying all the spoils of big-time success, still moaning about being "cursed"? Meanwhile, our hex-breaking heroes of the unstoppable Fleshtones, valiantly, labor on, and on, changing sad people's lives, one show at a time. Like John Lennon said, when there was controversy surrounding their receiving those M.B.E. medals, from the queen, "Most people who get medals receive them for driving tanks, we received ours for entertaining people. I think we deserve ours a lot more!" Now, I'm paraphrasing, here, but that was the gist, and the same can certainly be said for the lovable Fleshtones!

With their endless luau, blue whale sippin', super rock power stance, the Fleshtones are the living embodiment of the free swingin', everybody's welcome, dance party U.S.A., never give up, American Beat. Shining examples. Real Patriots. Freedom Seekin' Good Guys. Left or wrong, queer or straight, rich or poor, all you leather kings still fightin' for a lost cause, this book is for you.

I was particularly flabbergasted to learn, about halfway through their illuminating bio, that the twin 'Tones consider themselves conservative libertarians, in spite of investing half their lives, immersed waist-deep, in bug-eyed, speed-freak celebration of uproariously irresponsible hedonism, in the seemy depths of the decadent, after hours, arts-community, of free-wheelin' eighties NYC bohemia. Their young bassist, Robert, who replaced Marek for awhile, in the late eighties, around the time of "Fleshtones VS. Reality", even quit the band, largely, because the older guys always hazed him on the bus, Johnny Ramone-style, taunting and chiding him, for not being a conservative libertarian. Maybe Peter was challenging his young protegee to think in a less myopic way. Perhaps, they thought they were just harmlessly, "initiating" the new recruit, givin' 'im a hard time, testing his mettle. Maybe it's just Keith's way of trying to connect to his cop Pop, like Bill O'Reilly. Maybe it was misconstrued, or taken the wrong way. Maybe it was a one-off drunken gag, taken out of context. It's hard to say-even anti-war activist, Neil Young, went through a rightwing phase, along with Jim Osterberg, in the Reagan Years. Bizarre, huh? The Fleshtones are complicated dudes. Plenty of murky depth, and raw pain, and pathos, lurks just behind the shit faced, light-hearted grins, and little umbrellas, and crazy harmonica wails. None of them are strangers to hardcore substance abuse, they're clearly not racist or homophobic, because they're obsessively devoted to many black, and gay artists... they're thoroughly working-class, mighty Keith still humps furniture on his back to support his family, in his fifties...so I just don't understand how they could proclaim themselves "conservatives". They all seem so kind, and genuine, and big hearted.

I suspect, maybe, they have a different definition of conservative than I do. They're alot older than me, they all grew up, in the Cold War times, super-saturated, in that J.Edgar Hoover, sixties propaganda culture, of atomic-spies and astronauts, and philanthropic millionaire/super do-gooders. "I Dream Of Jeanie", and "Get Smart", Adam West As Batman/Millionaire Bruce Wayne, and James Bond's "License To Kill". Back then, independently-owned newspapers were most often, still portraying bank robbers as folk-heroes, and the police as clueless thugs, so Cross-dressing J.Edgar contacted his buddy, Hearst, the publishing-tycoon, demanding comic-books, films, even toys ("Junior G-Man Spy-Kit") be manufactured, to portray spooks, and his men-in-uniform, as the kitty-rescuing, capitalist, Superman good guys. Maybe all that seeped into their brains, not sure why some of the most decadent and hedonistic, all night ravers can suddenly become "conservative", in the morning. Like Iggy Pop and David Lee Roth. It always surprises me, when the kooky hedonists are big-capital hawks. I dunno why. Bonomo quotes Whitman, saying it's good to "celebrate the contradictions". Remember how cool it was, when Aerosmith spent two and a half decades, brazenly copying Thunders, and cultivating their outlaw "bad boys of rock" image, bragging non-stop, about their illegal drug-intake ("Half Of Peru") and then, they "came back" preaching, Nancy Reagan "Just Say No", and extolling all the virtues of their growing stock-portfolios, as syrupy, ballad-mongering, corporate shills for theme-parks, and video-games, Britney Spears, and helping to legitimize the far-right insanity/"Gunsmoke" fantasies of Terrible Ted? "Take your Grey Poupon, my friend, and shove it up your ass!" I always thought Tyler's hero was John Lennon. Rich rock stars always get out of touch. That's why we needed punk to happen...and something new to happen, now, to raise people's consciousness, again.

Even if Peter slags Billy Bragg's protest-song, leftist-sloganeering, or "rebelled" (??) against "the hippies", the Fleshtones are still a lot like the Clash, because kindness is their weapon-they use music to bring people together. It's more than skin deep, with them. They mean it, mann! They've always been a force for good-poking holes in the material-consumption obsessed, straight world culture, of the squares in the Matrix, so the light can shine in. That's gotta be at least, part of why they're hexed. "If you were of the world, they would love you". The garage-sound of the sixties mod-soul subculture's been ceaselessly commodified, skewered, and lampooned, by big-business straights, from "Love American Style" to "Austin Powers". Every three years, somebody starts regurgitating go-go boots, and Roger McGuinn shades, like, they just thought of something really "hip and gear", and then, use it to sell you more plastic crap. War-mongering crackpots like Robertson, Bork, and Gingrich revise, and demonize, the whole 60's era, to use as a boogeyman-to spook the rural, religious-fundamentalists into keepin' in-line, with the big business of war. How Christian. Meanwhile, iconography from the 60's is, eternally, used to sell shit for virtually every major corporation, no matter how heinous, exploitive, inhumane, and mercenary, their agenda. That's why it's so easy for the pols to ignore the ubiquitous peace signs, it's just become a trite logo. To sell on teddy bears and blue jeans, while you deceptively expand wars. When Billy Bragg talks about "the people", he's referring to the many humans who live outside the beltway business class/show-biz/big media bubble. The wage slaves in the service industry, that have to do the jobs of three people, or lose their jobs, that still don’t pay even nearly enough to cover the bills. Us.

Marketing-Tricks, and dumb ass trends, may come and go, but the real rock'n'roll people can't shake off the holy spirit of real rock'n'roll, even when they try. It comes from inside. We may view the world differently, I'm utterly horrified by what this country's becoming, but I'm still happy to "reach across the aisle" to sing the praises of "The World's Most Unusual Blues Band", cos shit, babies, I think I was BORN with the blues.


One thing I know, that even many of the various, right-wing gun-nuts, 9/11 truthers, militia-men, and even certain Jesse Ventura-styled libertarians, are all right about, is that the whole Left VS. Right paradigm is an outdated hoax. I mean sure, it was Reagan and crew, who happily encouraged businesses to fire three fourths of their work force, and send all the manufacturing jobs overseas, but the sold-out Democrats did their own part in damaging the work force, and helping the corporate elite to steadily continue their war on the working poor. Ever since, closet corporatist, Bill Clinton, handed the public air-waves over to the military-media monopolies, in 1996, the general public are all mostly shielded from the atrocities of war, the Gestapo tactics routinely used on anti-war/Bill Of Rights/billion dollar banking-fraud demonstrators in our own country, over-funded corporate-enforcers, and the computer-surveillance companies, who are paid billions by your government, to utilize their new technologies, to quietly gather intelligence on community-organizers, worker’s rights groups, and peace activists, of the civilian population.

In the sixties, Cronkite showed the casualties of Viet Nam on the nightly news. Not anymore. Nowadays, Dan Rather reports on Bush and his military record, and gets fired...even college kids, numbly, play war-happy video games, and engage in fake debates, about phony controversies, assigned to them by the war-pigs: Obama's birth-certificate hooey, Clinton's Affairs, Palin's buffoonery, Two-Faced Kerry's swift boat nonsense, but the real deal, is that all these candidates are pro-war, permanent police-state, corporate puppets. Just witness John Kerry's non-response to law-enforcement using excessive-force, to silence, and arrest that honor student, for asking him about the abandoned election recount, and his secret society, on a college campus. Who among them resisted these illegitimate, pre-emptive wars in any real way? Who among them stood up for the Bill Of Rights?? WHO’S WRITTEN A BILL TO REPEAL THE PATRIOT ACT/FISA JIVE/DOMESTIC SPYING ON WHAT WE READ AT THE LIBRARY, FOR GOD’S SAKE? Who’s crusading to restore our democratic rights? Kucinich and Gavel. Are there others? If so, they probably deserve your support.

Big-media still glamorizes secret-societies, spies, bounty-hunters, violent SWAT-teams, militarized urban cops with their new-fangled, "non-lethal" (but always lethal) weapons of war, routine brutality and rubber bullets, strong arms who are only ever put on "paid administrative leave pending internal investigations", even when they kill civilians, who were unarmed, and no threat to them. You know it's abusers who seek these positions of authority-overgrown boys still trying to impress their Fathers who never showed them any love, still trying to win some merit badge, from the man. They arrested a Harvard Prof., and Bob Dylan, for not producing their papers quickly enough, and the only outcry was from the rightwing, when Obama referred to their lack of common sense, and obvious heavy handedness, in a man's own home, as being, "stupid". Touched a nerve, eh?

All day and night, FOX TV celebrates these violent mercenaries and newly minted millionaire special forces, conditioning the people to believe that someone who kicks in a family's door, anywhere, and assaults, kidnaps, spies on, or tortures them, for profit, or for having different religious, or political beliefs, is somehow a “good guy“. Ever heard of POSSE COMITATUS? What kind of government prepares to wage war on it's own citizens? Why is there currently military occupying America, from the Northcom super base? If you've yet to read about the new Fusion Centers, well, they've read about you!

In the seventies, even the lazy, California-cocaine cowboy crowd were still aware, and socially engaged to the point, where many of the reactionary punks and garage rockers were inclined to wanna spurn the Jackson Browne/Bonnie Raitt/Crosby, Stills, Nash, And Young/Don Henley No Nukes clique, dropout of any kind of democratic movements, and make-believe it was still 1965. Those were different times. When a nation just idly accepts torture, decades of lies, constant surveillance, and daily paramilitary beat-downs of tax-paying citizens, right on Main Street in broad day-light, and the ongoing escalation of needless warfare, all over the world, something's wrong. Where is our national CONSCIENCE? Every last rock’n’roller with a heart in their chest, needs to stand up for our R-I-G-H-T-S! Rape and murder are never heroic. Google "information contractors", "FISA Amendments Act", or WWW.ACLU.ORG/FUSION, to learn more about who's been keeping notes on YOU. Remember when they all thought Lenny Bruce, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, John Sinclair, Abbie Hoffman, Jello Biafra, and Frank Zappa were just paranoids? You'll know you're securely ensconced in the "middle-class", when you're so immersed in your comfy acquisition, that none of this bothers you. I get it, though.

You pick up a glossy mainstream magazine, and there's not one mention of war. It's all commercialized rap, reality shows, and heiresses. You never, ever hear about the wars, on the so-called news, either. Except when some general feels another urge to "surge". The only mention of war, typically made nowadays, is by various bandanna’d, has-been, hair-band hacks, who try jumping back into the spot-light, by loudly proclaiming themselves loyal, drug free, flag wavers, while trying to "go country". You know who I'm talkin' about. They're everywhere. Last refuge of a scoundrel. Religious folk never talk about war, and violence, being immoral, anymore, do they? "THOU SHALT NOT KILL" ring any bells, you money-changers?

When the banker-controlled, fake Democrats talk about being "bipartisan centerists", man! What kind of empty, bullshit, sales-pitch is that? WHAT CENTER? There is no "middle". The quarter of the population that's duped by the dumbed-down, hate-speech radio demagogues of the right, are only the "average American", in TV Land. Half the country's so beat-down, dispirited, and marginalized, with significant segments of their population incarcerated for non violent drug offenses, or on probation, that they don't even bother voting. They all got wise to the rigged Diebold voting machines, election frauds, and wrongly-disenfranchised, minority voters, and gave up. The other half, is divided by this cable-news, culture-war. The weapons of mass distraction. The age-old, skin color, sexuality, and religious issues. Both parties only legislate on behalf of big business, neither party represents the interests of the common people, but steadily, deny the people a true voice, we're reduced to being terrified spectators of genocide, cowering, as the special-interests, of the global corporations, continue their permanent warfare upon...yes, the people.

Everyone's infected with that television-herd mentality. if you have any common sense, at all, they'll label you as unpatriotic-even military families are asked to shut up. Peace and social-justice leaders always seem to die young, under mysterious circumstances, don't they? Or else, they're entrapped, and discredited as drug-using, "criminals"-everyone from Wayne Kramer, to Abbie Hoffman, to Public Enemy, and really-all the eighties and nineties politically conscious Hip-Hop voices, like Tupac, Ice T, and N.W.A., to Hunter S.Thompson's been hounded by plants, set-ups, narcs, and undercover infiltrations. We all know who the real drug-pushers are. They're not the kid who gets caught, with a bag of dirt weed, at the festival, either. All those lawmakers have used drugs, why haven't they legalized pot? I hate pot, I've never been a pot smoker, but EVERYBODY KNOWS it's less dangerous than hard liquor, all those popular and wildly addictive middle class pain pill prescriptions, and cigarettes.


All the Geneva Convention Article Three-Scorning, war-honkeys have FANTASTIC health-care plans, don't they? Bill Hicks? Dead! Doc Thompson? Dead. Stiv Bator? Dead! Joe Strummer? Dead.

Immigrant-Labor is just like marajuana, or cocaine...supposedly illegal, but all those rich Republicans use it, all the time, anyway!

The Nixon goons and break-in ghouls all live to be 100. They break the law, and get rewarded with million dollar radio shows. Poor people protest the wars, the erosion of the Bill Of Rights, and suspension of the Geneva Convention, and get tasered and roughly dragged off to jail.


I noticed that the race-baiting, right-wing congressman who heckled the President the other night, didn't get tasered for "disrupting the peace", or dragged off, and "renditioned" anywhere. It really is like Orwell's "Animal Farm". Two Americas. "Either You're In, Or You're Out."

If you're poor, you can't criticize the government, unless it's a pre-arranged photo-op, negotiated with law enforcement, in advance, like with these insurance company financed Glen Beck tea-baggers. There's really no effective way for us little people, to hold the corporate elitist, ruling abusers accountable, anymore, we tried voting 'em out, how many times? We're not allowed to protest for a living wage. They never throw the white-collar crooks in jail. Only the workers, and students, and human rights activists. Most of us are too busy to protest. They keep us all busy, fighting one another for crumbs, to barely pay all this jacked-up rent, and feed our families...It's all gotten so ugly and serious. When was the last time you attended a bar b q? It's as if FUN has been outlawed. They've even hi-jacked the street-theatre and grass-roots traditions of past progressive movements. Here's how to tell the difference between grass-roots demonstrations, and "astro-turfing" (when phony protests are organized and paid-for by big corporations.) It's simple, really. The "astro-turfed" protests, are the ones that get widely reported by big-media, with no emphasis on petty property-damage, and they are, also, the ones where no one gets arrested, tasered, or beat-up, and dragged-off, for "disturbing the peace". The big corporations even pay desperate white kids with dreads, and crusty punks, $10/hr., to collect signatures on pro-corporate interest, big polluter petitions, with misleading names, like "Save Our Jobs". In this economy, people with multiple college-degrees are working at Target, and Taco Bell, and not always in management positions.

It's against this bleak, and hopeless back-drop of obscene poverty, ignorant violence, and ruthless unemployment, constant deregulation, with no Congressional-oversight, and constant foreclosure, that a band like the FLESHTONES still shines the brightest, because people need to rub shoulders again, and recall that most of us are still in this same leaky boat, together, no matter what our opinions on gay marriage, or immigration, or the sanctity of Starbucks windows, might be.


Even if you can pretty easily, just ignore the inhumane prison-camps, and atrocities being committed worldwide in our name, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, there ain't much glee happenin', around here, anymore--y'know? I mean, maybe on K Street, or Malibu, or TV Land, those crooks and Wall Street slime-buckets are lubed-up, and jolly. Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are probably havin' a BALL, but for the vast majority of us, everything's gotten pretty dire, especially, since the initial, Springsteen/Oprah/U2 fuelled jubilation of the inauguration died down, and we started realizing the current administration was pretty much keeping in lock-step, foreign and police-state domestic policy, with the last one. We got families living in storage-units, families livin' in cars, people suffering, but cable TV only shows us fat loudmouthed rich guys, commercial-rappers on yachts, pouring champagne on themselves, and spoilt, bitchy, rich girls getting boob jobs, and shopping.

They keep us all so buried in our fear, with their Big-Media/Cable News/Infiltrated-Online Disinfo. Websites browbeating us with "news" of more alleged terrorist attacks, Long-Range Acoustic Devices in the anti-free speech arsenals of LOCAL law enforcers, mad cow diseases, death panels, Fema prisons, private goons, right-wing lynch-mobs working for phony "rights" groups funded by insurance companies, shadowy thugs, "Homeland Security" orange-alerts, squalene vaccines, etc., etc., that most Americans are too paralyzed with misinformation, and ugly economic worries, to even want to get together, or let our hair down, or cut-loose, even among friends, nowadays, but whether you die by assassination like Fred Hampton, or John Lennon, or Tupac Shakur, or JFK, or MLK, or Malcolm X, or Gandhi, or you die from some suspicious death plague, or dangerous vaccine, or you die from one of their "non-lethal" tasers, while asking for a fair wage, or to form a union, or the restoration of the Bill Of Rights, we all gotta die, someday. I hope all those brave, wrongly imprisoned kids, and workers, you see getting beat-up on Youtube, will take class-action law-suits out, against the jackbooted heavies, and the pols at city hall, who mandate, or enable their abuse. It’s wrong.

Many of us will die from poor health--due to poverty, shit health care, and all the poison, and pollution, the politicians pump into our eco-systems, as they go back and forth, between big-business, and "public service". We might as well live the rest of our days in faith, and be who we really are, try to find some good cheer, and stay true to our highest ideals, and contribute what we can. Those venal think-tank war-mongers, and their murderers and torturers, and Wall St. shyster billionaires, can't take it with 'em, and when they meet their Maker, how they gonna bribe, or fancy-pants lawyer, their way outta that one? If there's a big, wrathful God in the sky, the killers and the liars will have to stand before him, same as you and me, and RuPaul. Even rich people are afraid of the neo-con media juggernaut, look what happened to Bill Maher, the Dixie Chicks, Dan Rather, and now, Van Jones-the Obama administration's green-jobs czar, and ACORN, advocates for raising the minimum wage, and registering poor people to vote--all for speaking truth about the dark empire, or signing a petition. It's fucked. They're giving that Glen Beck misinformation-agent lunatic the key to the city. They bloodied and ARRESTED (!!!) Amy Goodman from Democracy Now and Company for reporting, and getting caught in the cop wedge. WITH IMPUNITY. ALWAYS WITH IMMUNITY. Gore Vidal says we’re on the verge of being a dictatorship.

…."If you were of the world, they would love you." Like Brian Wilson, the Fleshtones are alright by the heroes and villains. We can all benefit from following their example, holding on to the good times, even in the clouds of tear-gas, beneath the chem-trails, in the unemployment line. Those geezers still INSIST on having a good time. I dunno how they do it, but I know it has something to do with standin' by your real friends, thick or thin.


"They're raising the roof, they're high on Vermouth...becoming uncouth..." (-Gordon Spaeth)


I know exactly where I was. I was the only male willing to dance, deep in the bowels of Palin country....Shipwrecked for years, in a mean-spirited, Republican sports town, watching bruiser cops mace, and even kill unarmed, regular, everyday people, for no real reason, where bloated-ego, racist, music scenesters, smugly, acted like it was right and proper. Even when trendy national acts would come through their 90's alternative, hipster-grunge dives, most of these alternative-nation, goateed, squares would line the back wall, arms folded, too un-cool to support anyone but their own uptight, fellow locals. It was like the worst high school, ever. Only, everyone was pushing thirty. These former jocks all dealt heroin and coke, pretty openly, and could get away with it, because they were the sons of landed gentry, but they didn't even know how to party. They had to always throw their weight around, keep white-knuckled control, over everyone else. They all had shitty alternative-by-numbers, mediocre rock bands, but they were still mostly elitist, power-mongering bullies, fat cops at heart. They worked at the indie/alt. bar, but mostly, just to target young females, move substances, and because, they clearly, enjoyed getting to use mace, and be bouncers. Booze and recreational pharmaceuticals were only used to prey upon the meek, to seduce freshmen, there just wasn't any fellowship, or communal spirit, except when the perennial scene-police were singling someone out for exclusion, or abuse. That was the only time they'd come together.

Does anybody really party, anywhere, since Giuliani killed-off all the dark after-hours spots in NYC? Where are those RICO statutes, he made so famous, now, when we're all drowning in organized-corruption, on a global scale? Is anybody having fun, anywhere, out there, in some private country-club, that isn't cruelty-based, or at some poor, lone, gazelle's expense? Right now, the smirking lobbyists and crooked politicians are boogie-ing their asses off, behind electric gates, guarded by mercenary commandos, but most of us who live in the OTHER AMERICA, we can't even afford charcoal, Tiki-torches, Japanese lanterns, Mexican souvenir maracas, sparklers, roman candles, or baby pools filled with refreshing libations, on Labor Day. I know many ole NY rockers, who had to move to France, or Australia, to continue to enjoy the lifestyles they were accustomed to. Exiles.

It's hard to keep hold of a sense of hope, or joy, when the powerful, tiny elite, who owns Congress, can pass crooked laws, in the dead of night, that make killing, torture, war, slavery, genocide, lost jobs, unchecked greed, police brutality, predator lending, and inhumane exploitation, acceptable for the few...but any pauper, who organizes his fellow low-wage workers, or demands a living wage, or their right to par-tay, in the fly-over states, is likely, gonna wake up on the wrong side of the barbed wire. It's a damn shame about Obama. The comfy counter-culture's gone back to sleep, drowsily relying on their promise-breaking, charming, supposedly liberal, figurehead to act on their behalf, but human rights mean so little to big-capital military-imperialists, Wall Street scam-merchants, and two-tiered society, prison-industrial-complex profiteers. Pretty soon, the only jobs available will be as informants and enforcers, preying on your fellow tax-payers, to satisfy the sadist status-quo. Didn't all those free-speech squashers in the black armor take oaths vowing to defend the Constitution, and the rights of their fellow Americans? What happened to their oaths? Is it honorable to violate someone's civil rights? Are gay-rights and enviornmental activists REALLY considered low-level terrorist threats? Is protesting really a crime? Are we really policed by the military, since they're going to escalate wars, and declare a pandemic emergency? Then, this is not a healthy democracy. Nobody should be arrested, or tear-gassed, or tasered, for peacefully holding a sign!

Two out of three Californians need work. Everybody's broke, if you try to throw a rent-party, basement hootenanny, or a campfire shin-dig, with the hippies in the woods, here come the assholes, with their truncheons and riot-gear. The entire health-care reform debate is a diversion, both "sides" owned and operated by big-pharma, and insurance companies, with their wonderful free-market profit-motive....it's all a big show, so the masses won't wake up to the fact that their handsome Shepard Fairy Silk-Screen is expanding illegitimate, pre-emptive wars, white-washing the crimes of the prior administration, and allowing all the democracy killing signing-statements, torture, and Patriot Acts to stand. Fooled Again. Nader tried to warn us.

As another, who's just recently, become addicted to the blue glow of the computer hypno-screen, I'm callin' on all the rock'n'roll people to rekindle real relationships, and visit with your real friends, and have compassion, even if they're misguided, or misinformed, or seem paranoid, or don’t know what to do anymore, or maybe even, look like they're selling-out, in a mean-spirited fashion. The ruling elite want us all divided, and glued to false reality. Not so long ago, a wise man named Joe Strummer sang, "Love buys a six pack, and gives it to the bums!" Go sit in the park, smile at some people. Drink a beer on the front stoop, say Hi to your neighbors. I dunno about you, but I've totally lost my sense of humor, in recent years. The whole trip got too heavy. Ain't no good times, when the land-lord's bangin' on the door, and disconnection notices keep pilin' up, and another loved one's on the phone with medical emergencies their insurance won't cover. Poverty? It was okay when I was 15-25...not so cool, anymore. I'm still trying to find something beautiful, though. I haven't TOTALLY abandoned hope, and hopefully, you haven't either.

Some say spontaneous dance parties are a thing of the past, like liberty, pet rocks, and Aqua-Net....I say we owe it to ourselves to boogie with (y)our loved ones! Look-in on your family and friends, in-person, not just their Facebook profile. Have compassion for your brothers and sisters, who are less educated, because we’ve ALL been lied to our whole lives. We got to form our own Truth Commissions and Love Delegations, and Coalitions Of The Peaceful, super rock fans!

Look, I know books are luxury items, for the vast majority of us, in this dark hour. I had to sell my own hard-earned, rock book library off, one by one, to the guy at the rockabilly record store, for food and rent, years ago, but if you can buy even one new music book this year, it should be "SWEAT", and I'm only here to explain why. Cos the author, Joe Bonomo, is an outstanding yarn-spinner, this is one of those f-f-f-fascinating sagas you don't want to end... It'll either remind you of when the pursuit of happiness was your inalienable right, before it all went so grey and Kafka-esque, or inspire you to persevere, in the face of darkness, misinformation, and unbelievable odds. It's like a therapeutic escape-hatch, a way-back machine, to a more innocent, happier, golden, era. Now, I fully understand, that the powers that be, are doing a real bang-up job, ratcheting up the fear, and reigning by terror, but the good people who'd rather dance, than kill, for money, are still the vast majority. Increasingly militarized police, and military, probably don’t even think of themselves as slave patrols, maintaining social inequality, but when we witness the routine abuse of tax-payers, with their undemocratic torture devices- the tasers, and worse, it‘s hard to understand what those guys could possibly be thinking. It’s immoral and unethical. Where's the patriotic glory, or heroic machismo, in tasering a soccer mom, in front of her babies, or in beating up and tear-gassing your neighbors, or killing women and children, on the other side of the world, who just happen to live, in grim poverty, near some oil--who are absolutely no threat to your own families, or countrymen? First, they told us they were going to Iraq to get revenge for Saudi Arabians knocking down the towers, then, it was to liberate them from a virulent despot, then, to find the imaginary W.M.D.'s, then, they started referring to the brutally occupied citizens as "insurgents", then, they were just fighting "foreign fighters", whatever. The rich Western privatized mercenaries are the foreign fighters. We need to leave those people alone, Stop stealing their oil, and trying to impose our Ronald McDonald money God on them, and send our troops home. Like George McGovern used to say, "Come Home, America". We got problems to fix, right here.

Where's the honor in shooting a woman with a protest sign, with a rubber bullet, in the face, and laughing about it, with your frat-bros? Why are these goons so proud of those behaviors? ONE MILLION DEAD IN IRAQ! Nobody talks about it. Fuck that. What happened to "Never Again"? What's so funny 'bout peace, love, and Blue Curacao?

The Wendy Wild: 1 1/2 oz Vodka 1 oz Coconut Rum 1 oz Orange Juice 1 oz Pineapple Juice 1 oz Cranberry Juice Stir well or shake. Serve in a collins glass with ice!

(For iron-man, Keith Streng's Miracle Cure-All recipe for "THE BLUE WHALE"--his mythical party-time concoction....well, you're gonna have to buy the book!)


However the fickle wags of pop history may judge eccentric moguls like Marty Thau, and Miles Copeland, many of us still owe them our gratitude-for all the underground rock greats they brought to our turn-tables, that enhanced our lives-like all the old Bubblegum groups, the NY Dolls, Suicide, Lords of the New Church, Go-Go's, Wall Of Voodoo, the Alarm, and the wonderfully exciting, forever young-at-heart, FLESHTONES. The 'Tones may have, rightly, felt like they paid their dues for far too long, and that they deserved a more comfortable standard of living-particularly, when one glances around, at all these manufactured, pop-punk, and Disney corporate millionaires, who've added so little to the culture. Grace smiles, anyway, and teaches generation, after generation, how to do the swim, the boogaloo, the camel walk, the philly dog, the shingaling, the surfin' bird, the shake a tailfeather, the Crisco-Disco-Limbo, the frug, the twist, the duck, the monkey, the conga line around the block, the mash potato, the alligator, the loop de loo, the bug, the jerk, the bony maronie, etc., etc.,....Summa my close friends are know-it-all, garage-rocque hot-shots, and I'm here to tell ya...the Fleshtones are the real ones. As Frank Infante says, "Funny singer, hoppin' guitarist, rockin' rhythm section, cool songs. What more do you want?"

Myself, I'm often, a miserable wretch, I live in a lot of worry, frustration, and despair, but if I allow myself to visit the Master Plan, or Fleshtones, on Youtube in the mornings, I'm finding, my day goes a little bit better. Somehow, they keep it alive! Goodness, and mercy, and light.

The Fleshtones are like Presley, the Beatles, and Muhammad Ali---even if you hate me, and all I stand for (truth, justice, freedom for all, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, peace, equality, human rights, a government for the people-not just the robber-barons), chances are, we could still agree on the Fleshtones...IF ONLY...you ever had the chance to see, or hear them, which is unlikely, because Big-Media monopolies won't play 'em, they're all too busy programming people with more fear-based, fundamentalist theology, and hateful, authoritarian, rightwing talk-radio, and hollow commercials with plastic hip-pop beats...Murray The K is not here, today, ya dig...and now, that these venerable garage-fathers, have their own families, to provide for and protect, they're not always able to keep all towns properly 'Toned, at all times. They may be miracle-workers, but they can't be everywhere, at once.

Fuzztones Guru, Rudi Protrudi recalls,

"We met the Fleshtones back in '76, when my pre-Fuzztones band, Tina Peel, played the Washington Project of the Arts punk rock extravaganza. They were really supportive, and we developed a bit of a comraderie, so when Tina Peel moved to NYC, Marek and Peter wanted to show us around. They ended up taking me and my drummer to the Crisco Disco - which turned out to be exactly what the name implies! When they frisked you at the door, it wasn't for weapons - tho' they definitely wanted to know what you were packing!

Tina Peel played a few shows with the 'Tones. Peter and Keith liked to come up and join in on 'Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White', which we used to cover.

Once the Fuzztones started getting off the ground, some of the Fleshtones started slagging us in the press - even accusing us of ripping them off. Pretty funny, actually, as I don't think the two bands sound anything alike. Yeah, the Fleshtones are 60's influenced and so are the Fuzztones, but so was Tina Peel! And all differently might I add. Tina Peel was influenced by Bubblegum groups like the Monkees, Archies, Dave Clark Five and the Raiders. Fuzztones more the darker stuff like Sonics, Music Machine, Doors... The Fleshtones are influenced by 60's frat rock like the Swingin' Medallions,

Premiers, Kingsmen. It's all good. There's room for everyone. Personally, I always thought they were a good band and alotta fun - hell, I still dance to 'em whenever I go see 'em."

The FLESHTONES line-up finally stabilized, this past ten years, to a core of Keith, Peter, Lucky Bill, and Ken Fox, their bassist, who I knew nothing about, prior to reading Joe's fine story. He's even got an interesting background, as an alumni of Smashed Gladys, and Jason & The Scorchers, and I think, Joan Armatrading, too, actually. It gets confusing, as this band touched a lot of peripheral character's lives. Fox is also mentioned in the new Pamela Des Barres book.

I've read books this good on the Doors, Beatles, Pistols, Bowie, Clash, and Stones, and maybe that one-on the Manic Street Preachers, but many of us already know most all those stale tales by heart, and seldom, are rock books written with this much detail, research, and obvious love for a band, unless they've shifted a zillion units, in the so-called, corporate big-leagues. You don't have to be a conservative frat-boy, athletically-inclined sporto, "Soldier Of Fortune" subscribing gun crazy, or even a garage rock purist, to love the Fleshtones. Believe me, I love tons of corny, un-cool, populist drivel, that would probably make old Peter cringe. Then again, their faithful biographer refers to Van Halen's "Panama", as the perfect meld of MC5 and Bubblegum, and while I couldn't agree more, I can't imagine Zaremba having much tollerance for Ole Diamond Dave! The only time this excellent bio gets slow, at all, is when the very articulate, Joe B. delves into each and every cast-of-thousands sideman's teenage musical influences, which is infinitely more than can be said, for my own absurdly over-caffeinated ravings, I know, but I'm here in dregs poverty, exploring my third anguished year of hardcore, total, sobriety, which probably accounts for much of my surplus fervor, or sensitivity to the erosion of our way of life, but the corporate globalist monopolies, and their oppressive clampdown-culture feels like an old "Twilight Zone", or "Outer Limits" episode. Anybody who's ever been in a band can tell you what a weird head-trip it is, when you go from being leader of the pack/belle of the ball/trippin' the slut fantastic...to endin' up, broke, defeated, stunned and ashamed, with only a couple of real friends on the other side of the globe-the loneliest surfer in town, sweepin' up the confetti remnants, after somebody else's parties.

This book was really taking me back to the laughs I've known, a forgotten era, of friends, basement shows, cook-outs, flea-market vinyl, and drinks on the patio, before all this Military-Industrial-Prison-Complex/Big-Media/Big Brother Lie, Cheat, Steal, And Kill Shit ruined everything....Everybody I know is in crisis, now. It sucks. And it looks like they're just gettin' started. MAN, how I miss the good old days of NYC bohemia, and independent little neighborhood businesses. Bands like the Fleshtones. Little labels, clubs, fanzines, films, freedom, fun.

I respect how Joe Bonomo leaves room for the human frailties, and flaws, and insecurities, behind our principled pioneers to be revealed, without ever stooping to cheap-shots, or sensationalist, character assassinations. It ain't a blow-dried puff-piece, but it stands proudly, as a much-deserved, "fair and balanced", and long-awaited, document of America's Garage Band. It was long-overdue, and a righteous labor of love. Another Whitman quote, for all you guys: "This is what you shall do: Love the Earth and sun and animals. Despise riches...Stand up for the stupid and crazy...and your very flesh shall be a great poem."
The last three or four chapters of "SWET" ably underscores how painful it must have been for the Kings from Queens, to have some twenty-nothing, namby-pamby, Spin Magazine turd, arbitrarily, decide they weren't "culturally significant" enough, (in this corporate-climate, where all that matters, is units-shifted...) to deserve coverage in their Beck and Beastie Boys-worshipping, corporate-rock encyclopedia of alternative music. Spin's sucked shit for years, Full-Time Rockers, so don't take the opinions of the sadly brainwashed emo shits to heart! I would've liked to have gleaned more intimate insight on what motivates the mysterious maestros, Streng and Zaremba...esp. regarding the absolutely baffling, rightwing shit. Zaremba's such a conflicted enigma to me, as well as, a real star, and obviously, a giant rock’n’roll figurehead....but all and all, this book belongs on any true rock'n'roll fan's book-shelf! Keith Streng is the Keith Richards of Non-Stop Power Soul Party Rock!

There's this one particular Zaremba quote that gave me chills, it just slays me...."I don't want anyone in the audience to ever have to feel embarrassed again...." That's the real heart of why these guys are True Rock'n'roll Saints, in my eyes, and that's why I'll always love the man, even if I don't understand his politics, or he seems somewhat contrary, I never seem to fully understand Virgos....That's why, they'll always be heroic, in my eyes...I really admire Peter Zaremba, not just for his wit, brains, charisma, or amazing abilities as an old-fashioned, show-biz, master-entertainer, as much as, for his sensitivity, COMPASSION, loyalty, dignity, and quiet perseverance...even in the face of so-called failure. He's no failure, to me. Just a Mystery. A Mystery With Soul-Power! GIVE THAT MAN A NEW TV SHOW!!! Tarantino really blew it, failing to cast the Fleshtones, in a "Hogan's Heroes" slapstick-shtick cameo, in his latest flick, "Inglorious Basterds", but I s'pose he'll muddle through with Brad Pitt. They really oughta be in pictures! Where’s the “Cutting Edge” TV shows on DVD??? Keith Streng's new band is so unspeakably kool, I urge you to go Youtube 'em, right now, and find out for yourself. The Master Plan got the beat, babies. You'll wanna drink.

Even if they suck at making money, and I know how hard that is--on relationships, and self-esteem-ESP. if you're a parent, the FLESHTONES have SUCCEEDED at making people happy, all over the world. For YEARS! They've already accomplished way, way more with their lives than most of those Wall Street Suits, and big-media professionals, who never did nothin' good for nobody. Take a look at how sour those rich people we envy really are, with their evil/obsessive/vengeance/power/control/meanness/violence compulsions. The FLESHTONES outlasted almost all their old peers, and stayed true to their own codes. What a contribution. They are authentic rock'n'roll SUPER HEROES!

If you're not already a member of the Fleshtones Hallelujuh Choir, do yourself a favor, and read this epic bio, and see 'em while they're still among us. The only requirement for membership in the Church Of The Holy Fleshtones, "THE CHAPEL OF COOL", is a spirit of generosity, and a living soul. B.Y.O.B., and don't forget your dancin' shoes...

*Special Thanks To Joe Bonomo for doing such a whiz-bang job on this project. And as always, Thanks to Little Steven for perpetually championing the heart-felt, soulful, blue-collar, underground, underdogs of real rock'n'roll.

R.I.P. Gordon Spaeth and Wendy Wild....


**It's not too late for us all to turn it around...to make some more really great memories, together, again, my friends. It's all up to youse. Take your VITAMIN C and D, okay?**

You only have to see them once. You'll see the light. Their motto in recent years? "We can't change our luck, but we can change your mind!"

(-Geordie "Still A Sissy" Pleathur; SUGARBUZZ HOUSE-BASTARD, "POWER TO THE PEOPLE!")

(Last time I tried, this link was down...)








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