Joey Ramone on my Atari!

When I was thirteen, me and my friends Jeff and Lonnie started a software company. Not Apple, Microsoft… we were Eclipse Software Productions, and we wrote software for Atari personal computers (not the game consoles, the 800, 800XL, ST, etc). We started by creating images for Broderbund Software’s The Print Shop, which let you print greeting cards, flyers, and so on, on your noisy dot matrix printer. By the end we were writing primitive Word Processing and Check Balancing programs for cheap, selling them all on a floppy disk for $10 when the professional versions cost $49.99 each.

We made a few hundred bucks over a year or so, but we didn’t stick with it, and went our separate ways. As I dive into ’80s nostalgia for a book project, this all came back to me, and one of my favorite memories as a computer nerd in that time was when my hero Joey Ramone appeared in K-Power magazine, a rag for Apple, Atari, TRS-80, and Commodore 64 users and programmers. He gave them an unrecorded demo called “S.L.U.G.” and the staff wrote a BASIC program that would play the tune in all its 8-bit glory, while the lyrics blinked in time to the music. I keyed it in and was overjoyed! The Ramones! on my Atari 800XL! Totally awesome! (that’s ’80s speak for “OMG”). The song is hilariously silly, a love song about a slug, in the ’50s doo-wop vein. It would go really well with a viewing of Slither.

Here are the pages from the magazine with an interview with Joey. If you want the programs to try out on an emulator, the whole issue of K-Power is archived here. Click to embiggen:

Listen to the 8-bit version. But what did it sound like, really? When the Ramones released their “All the Stuff, and More” collections in the late ’90s, the original demo of “S.L.U.G.” was included:

And here’s a video of Joey singing it live in 1998, a few years before he died.

Joey was a hero of mine, a gangly goof who became a legendary rock star by being true to himself and singing about what he wanted, not what was expected of him. And he’s buried in the same cemetery as my grandmother:


AC/DC Noir: do the bad boy boogie

If you’ve only listened to recent AC/DC you’d think they’ve always been an arena rock band with a fondness for simple chords and double entendre, coasting on their big hits. But once they were young and hungry, and led by outlaw rocker Bon Scott, they told stories dark as Rory Gallagher’s that rebelled against the shackles of the status quo. Over at Andrew Nette’s Pulp Curry website, I guest blog about some of my favorite forgotten songs of theirs.

One of which is “Bad Boy Boogie,” which I chose for the title of the first Jay Desmarteaux crime novel.

AC/DC Noir at Pulp Curry

bon scott


Happy Thanksgiving, Swiss Krissly Yours from Louis Armstrong…


Louis Armstrong was a devout missionary of Swiss Kriss herbal laxatives, and even sent some to the British royals. He loved a good meal, red beans and rice especially, and would sign letters “Red Beans and Ricely Yours” or “Swiss Krissly Yours.”

The above is a photo of his family at Thanksgiving dinner, thanks to the Louis Armstrong Museum twitter feed, and below is a package of Swiss Kriss and the postcard he would send to adoring fans, extoling the benefits of the product, complete with a photo of him using the toilet after its effects took hold.


For the record, just eat plenty of fiber, and your butt trumpet will remain clean…

I’m gonna listen to the Hot 5’s and 7’s collection before I head out to dinner with the fam.

For a full article on the musical genius and his love of Swiss Kriss, here’s the NPR article that introduced me to the story.


In which I dare to be stupid

My friend Jay Amabile, behind the Jersey geekdom site The Sexy Armpit (which is not an armpit sex site, I swear) mentioned that the one and only Weird Al Yankovic would be signing books in New Jersey yesterday. At the Clifton Commons, which is on my way home from work.

me and weird al

So I had to go. Who cares that my niece won’t be able to read the book for some years, it is inscribed to her, and that means she will know who “Weird Al” is, which is a good thing. Mr. Yankovic is one of the pioneers of pop culture satire who proved that if you love something, you should make fun of it, a philosophy I believe to my core. I told him I’ve been a fan since “I love Rocky Road” (which is a terrifying 31 years old) and he was a friendly gent, despite having the plastic gleam of those brave souls who’ve made their living in front of the camera for decades. (You know, when people look more like an airbrushed speedboat than flesh? or is that just me?)

Blade of Dishonor Playlist

When I write or edit a book, I make a huge playlist and put it on repeat. For my current work in progress that means a lot of Creedence and AC/DC. For Blade of Dishonor, I listened to a lot of classic rock, Japanese rock ‘n roll and pop, and some ’30s era roots music.

Here is a highlighted playlist that will make good accompaniment to the book.

“The Devil and Me” – Clutch
“Barracuda” – Heart
“I Just Want to Make Love to You” – Foghat
“Tick Tick Tick Boom” – The Hives
“Precious Deal” – Tomoyasu Hotei
“Setting the Woods on Fire” – Hank Williams
“American Girl” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
“Fighting My Way Back” – Thin Lizzy
“Boom Boom Mancini” – Warren Zevon
“When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World” – Vera Lynn
“Gimme the Prize” – Queen
“It’ll be a Hot Time in the Town of Berlin” – Bing Crosby/The Andrews Sisters
“Woman from Tokyo” – Deep Purple
“Howling” – Tomoyasu Hotei
“Dragon Attack” – Queen
“The Sentinel” – Judas Priest
“Man with a Harmonica (remix)” – Ennio Morricone and Apollo 440

Topless Activism and Bad-ass Librarians

Topless Activism
Topless at the NY Public Library.

I wrote about the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation society for The Good Men Project. Not because I enjoy admiring brave and beautiful women, but because they struck me as a force for change. First something is shocking, then it becomes controversial, then it becomes something you barely notice. Our bodies will always be sexualized to a degree, but if we stop seeing each other as consumables, it’s a good thing.

And now, Librarians recreate the Beastie Boys video for SABOTAGE:

Listen alla y’all, your book’s OVER DUE!

Two Triple Cheese, Side Order of Fries

I saw this first on HBO or Up All Nite, and it remains one of my favorite lesser-known theme songs.
By Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.