Fuzzy Dude and The F Train:
Remembrance of Sound Views Past
I never planned to be a music critic. Nope, this glamorous life literally just fell into my lap. On the downtown 6 train, about five years ago, when I stumbled upon a tiny classified in the back of the now-defunct Perspectives entertainment weekly. "Writers wanted for new NYC music magazine," said the ad. "Send clips!"
So I did. And about four weeks later I was sucking down some frothy, peach-flavored alcoholic concoction in a cramped uptown comedy club with a bubbly Middle Eastern printing company sales rep and wide-eyed Sound Views progenitors Lee and Jason (of Kuffer Nudes fame).
We raised our foaming glasses to toast the release of the 16-page first issue, a rambling, ink-stained labor of love that touched upon Long Island pop, Lower East side funk/rock, several unnamed subway musicians and all of Lee's favorite hardcore bands while introducing our disheveled, wombat-like mascot, Fuzzy Dude, on the two-toned cover.
We even had personals, and a t-shirt-ready No Dancing Yuppies icon, to boot. In short, a profit center waiting to explode.
What happened? Well... Kuffer Nudes never provided the massive cash infusion we were all anticipating. Fuzzy Dude lit out for the coast after Nickelodeon declined to pick up his option. The yuppies just kept on dancing and dancing and dancing, as they are wont to do.
And the paper got bigger and bigger, gradually picking up enough advertisers to keep Lee out of the Boerum Hill almshouse and getting us all on enough label mailing lists to keep us as informed as our competition and our favorite trade-in centers in business.
What was in it for me? Sound Views was my window on the throbbing underbelly of New York -- the New York that had thus far eluded me in my Holden Caulfield-ian endeavors to penetrate beyond the numbing veil of all-you-can-drink midtown happy hours, summer house phonies and bleating Bleecker St. cover bands.
I was suddenly energized with a burning need to find interesting New York music so I could have something credible to report for my faceless, but loyal readers.
I attended every no-cover show I could find (there were lots in those days); served coffee and cookies over the din of Chinese fiddle music and Afro-Peruvian rhythms during the sorely missed First Friday coffeehouses at the Ethnic Folk Arts Center; braved the N train at midnight to catch Astoria's hardest-working Elvis impersonator, Gregg Peters, on his glitzy home turf.
Then, I trekked out among the cat-tails in the farthest reaches of Brooklyn to profile promoter Doug Tuchman's unheralded annual New York bluegrass festival; suffered insult upon insult and pissed in a hole behind the door while memorizing the complete David Allan Coe discography at the much-imitated but never-equalled Village Idiot...
Did I forget anything? Oh yeah. Eating homemade gumbo with Anniston, Alabama's favorite son, George Kilby, at Fannie's Oyster Bar, where a chance seating arrangement introduced me to the wondrous Rosco Gordon, the r&b shouter who put Sun Records on the map in the early '50s and now holds court from the balcony of his Queens high-rise, waiting patiently for the world to wise up to his many talents.
Dragging everyone and his/her brother/sister on board the Diesel Only Records caravan in an effort to spread the word about the roots music mother lode being enriched nightly at dives across town by The World Famous Blue Jays, Blue Chieftains, Five Chinese Brothers, Mumbo Gumbo, Courtney & Western, The Mighty Sweetones.
And riding the F train at sunset out to Coney Island for Sideshows by the Seashore, a frenzied round of skee-ball and perhaps a stopover at the greatest unknown used record store in the world.
At Steve and Kenny's Holy Cow (on 9th St. and 7th Ave. in Park Slope), I always managed to find at least one thing (Flamin' Groovies' Shake Some Action, Willie Nelson's Yesterday's Wine, Sweet's Desolation Boulevard) I'd been looking for all my life and more than a few things (Abba, BTO, Jim Stafford and Ray Stevens) I was too embarrassed to buy anywhere else.
Along the way, I mastered the devious art of employing the semi-colon to extend even the runniest run-on sentence and stumbled upon a treasure trove of fascinating people, dingy coffee shops, forbidding back alleys, soul-stirring subway vistas and cheap refrigerator magnets.
Now if I could only hock that limited-edition Fuzzy Dude bidet and get my hands on that cheap Brooklyn sublet Lee's been promising me for years, I could quit this stupid day job and open the White Castle franchise of all White Castle franchises to pay for the Gowanus Canal summer house where we can have the 10th anniversary bash of all 10th anniversary bashes.
Bring your surfboard. And take the train.