Wednesday, January 13, 2010

getting back to the Clash...

Brad Austin had lent us the Clash’s 1st record from 1977
but it was now actually 1982
we soon found out their 5th record “Combat Rock”
had just come out
we got that next then all the rest too
we became obsessed with the Clash
in October we videotaped them playing “Straight to Hell” and
“Should I Stay or Should I Go” on Saturday night live
we watched it over and over again with the UTEP vs. Hawaii
basketball scores annoyingly ticker taping along the bottom of the screen
our Mother (who liked or encouraged us with most of what we listened too)
walked into the living room one afternoon while we were watching the SNL tape
she said “you call that singing? i just don’t think that’s singing…”
it didn’t matter to us
we thought Joe was the coolest as he held his fingers to his head like a pistol and sang
“go straight to hell boys…”
i was now 15
my brother had just turned 14
we’d never been to a rock’n’roll concert
in late January of 1983 we heard Nick Lowe was coming to El Paso
opening for Tom Petty
i was a big fan of Lowe’s and had found out about him because he was Elvis Costello’s producer
we begged our Dad to let us go
he eventually agreed
just 5 months later we found out the Clash was going to play the El Paso Civic Center
on the way to play the US Festival in California
Dad said “oosh baba, not again!!!”
we begged and pleaded with him
he said this time only with a chaperone
on May 25, 1983 F and i road in the blue Monte Carlo with our 24 year old 1st cousin
Maad Okko
Maad was from Algeria and spoke broken English
with an ear to ear grin he sported a healthy afro and woolly mustache
plus parachute pants and a tight sleeveless shirt
he listened mainly to disco music
he had never heard of the Clash or punk rock music
he was baffled by it all
to document this momentous occasion i planned on smuggling a micro-cassette recorder
into the Civic Center
i don’t remember how this plan actually worked
i only remember being convinced i’d surely be caught and potentially arrested
thus, missing the Clash
my favorite band
neurosis aside, once inside we took our position about 20 rows back and in the middle
a perfect spot
the lights dimmed and Spaghetti western music came over the PA song
the Clash finally took the stage
we jumped to our feet and cheered
they kicked in with “London Calling”
Mick hopped around like an elastic Mexican jumping bean
Paul bobbed, ducked and weaved like no bass player you’ve ever ever seen
Joe attacked his beat up Telecaster with ferocious intensity
wearing a white sleeveless military jacket/vest and black straight to hell t-shirt
Maad looked to us and yelled “you like this?”
i nodded my head and thrust the micro-cassette recorder to the sky
soaking in “Death or Glory”
the show plays out for me now in a haze of nostalgic slo-mo bliss
memories afterwards of laying under the sheets at night
with the micro-cassette recorder pressed to my ear
trying to re-live the moment by listening to the shittiest recording imaginable
we also begged our Mom to make us a black straight to hell t-shirt ‘cause they were sold out at the concert
she tried valiantly but after wearing her iffy labor of love to school one day i decided it just didn’t look right
i retired it to the bottom of my t-shirt drawer and never wore it again


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