R.I.P.: Roy Loney


The original leader of the power-pop masters The Flamin’ Groovies. Somewhere in the dark galaxy of the vanished interwebs is the essay I wrote about Power Pop for Rock.com that gives proper homage to the Groovies. On the blog here, I only have a mention: “Thing is, the untouchable masters of the power pop underground in CA were the originators, the Flamin’ Groovies. They could write songs.”

Can’t quite remember how a copy of Teenage Head ended up in the record store I worked as the only employee in Missoula back in the mid-’70s. Probably sold to us used. Anyway, in the days after I gathered my electrified shards together after an initial listen, it was a constant on the store soundtrack. Boy, was I an ace retailer. “Wow, where’s this great record you’re playing?” “Oh, we don’t have another copy, I just like listening to it alla time.”

When I got to Boston and could actually dig through serious record stores, I ran across Supersnazz (1969) which I regard as a foundation stone of power pop, a faultless sequence of songs and the recorded equivalent of a top-notch Underground Comic Book. And the 2nd-side lead-off, “The First One Is Free” delivers a Chuck Berry/Buddy Holly puncher. Yeah, Supersnazz is an Air Is Still and the Light Is Cool nominee.

Wintertime Humidifiers and Air Purifiers

I’ve posted about this a number of times. (And yeah, past couple days I’ve had nasty nasal-bleeding problems.) ((And yeah yeah, five humidifiers feel like twice as much work to fill up in the morning as four of them.)) But I think they help. I’ll try to post about the different types after a serious parts-cleaning session this Saturday.

[EDIT] Did the machine-cleaning of humidifiers/Purifiers today. First conclusion is that the Honeywell HCM-350 (humidifier, not purifier) is without question whisper quiet and ideal for a bedroom. On low setting (which churns out a load of humidity) it’s no more than tiny white noise and the occasional faint gurgle. However. Despite not quite fessing up on the part of the company, you should change the wick that supplies the fan about every month. It gets a bit yellow-funky after two weeks and the second time you clean it up soaking in warm water it starts to fall apart. Good news: Replacements are around $1.25

Second conclusion is that Boneco W200 pumps out oceans of humidity (as much as two Ventas — I have to fill it twice a day) and it certainly does need to be cleaned after two weeks (water in reservoir light yellow — no sliminess anywhere, though) and it cleans fine in a (soap-less) dishwasher quick cycle. Except for some stubborn stain-like spots on the wick; have to watch those.

Finally, the Ventas themselves. No wicks or filters though you have to buy their essential goop to put in the water (I tried a week once without the additive and it was pitiful humidifying). Once I figured out that using unfiltered tap with chlorine made them stay lots cleaner there have been happy days. It’s hard to measure in any way, but the cleaner and fresher feeling of the air with these things is undeniable. They are a staple and would be my choice if you need a humidifier/purifier for a common room. I would say keep it small.

Anyway, good indeed for skin comfort and house-heat feel. And they’ve REALLY worked on the noise problems. The only clickety-clack is the oldest Venta that we keep behind a closed door in the sun room.

R.I.P.: John P.

[This memorial is going to be expanded again and again, since not only was John Price Anderson the dearest friend of my life who had deep connections to both my hometown Livingston, MT and Missoula, MT, but I had known him almost 45 years and every moment I spent with him was a nonstop high, or at least, as he might say, a pleasant ho-hum.]

John P. and his sometimes inamorata and always friend Doug Bieri first cross my life without me being there. They were part of a crew starting a kind of countercultural business enterprise in Missoula that collectively would become known as the Butterfly Building. But John P. was from Livingston and so when he heard that my father, Dan Miles, had sold the Park Hotel and wanted buyers for the display counters and kitchen equipment, he and Doug were down there toot sweet.

My Dad had been mayor and so when the Chief of Police asked him one day, “What are those longhairs doing hanging around the Park Hotel? You want us to take care of them?” Dad replied, “You leave those longhairs alone, they’re doing business with me!” One of my fondest memories. My mother noted, “You should meet our son Milo — he looks like you!” (hippie hairboy)

Not long after the Park Hotel display counters were established in Doug and John’s operation called the Rishashay ((here is the current website) I did indeed meet the Butterfly Boys and became a member of the Missoula madcaps. A memorable moment came early on in our relationship during a mixed-university-and-street hippies dance party. John P. was out there gyrating and strutting, giving it his all and radiating his exuberant joy. One of my writing teachers was Ed McClanahan, one of Ken Keysey’s Merry Pranksters, and gaping at John asked, “WHO is that guy? He gives off the same energy as Jerry Garcia!”

PS: The original storefront Rishashay, in addition to John’s jewelry specialty, sold whimsical and attractive second-hand dresses and clothes and all sorts of offbeat do-dads (many collected by the Butterfly Boys on occasional trips to Mexico).

It’s hard to emphasize enough how ingrained homophobia was in 1970s Missoula. We used to say that a gay bar would be the only one to be burned down in town. And this goes a long way to explain John P.’s  yearning-for mixed with alienation-from not only Missoula, but especially Livingston. The only hint about sexual identity I heard before I discovered pornography came from my mother whispering to a relative when she thought I could not hear “He’s all boy, I’m sure of that.”

So it was telling, one day walking next to John P., that he commented on a MIssoula campaign to end racial discrimination: “The theme is ‘Hate Hurts.’ Don’t I know it.”

John had one other unduplicated quality — the ability to fall into profoundly deep sleep the second he wished. And this is comatose sleep. You could shake him and yell at him, even slap, and the snores went on. One notorious John P. moment at riotous parties was that he would get close to a bed after he had had enough and say “You wanna see a neat trick?” fall over and instantly be out of it.

So here’s a story I should put here because so few know it any more. At on e point, John P. and Doug Bieri were rooming together while going to the U of M. John P. had a terrible time getting up promptly for classes. One winter, he had a crucial final test early the next morning, so he told Doug, “If you can’t wake me up, go outside and grab a bunch of snow and dump it on my chest to wake me up.”

Indeed, Doug could not stir him that day and followed the instructions. Big double-handful of snow right on the chest. John P. surged awake and fist-smacked Doug right in the face and promptly crashed back asleep. Couple hours later (blowing the test) John woke up and said to Doug who was facing away from him, “Doug I had the strangest dream — I dreamt I hit you.”

Doug turned around, exposing his enormous black eye: “You did.”

Watching TV in John P.’s house during social gatherings was a waste of your brain and senses. And while D and I stayed at his place (while he was away in Bali) many times, I can only remember snapping on the TV once and it was the last strangely mystical phenom that I attach to John P. and his environs. He would appreciate that it was outre and grotesque.

I watched a documentary about The North Hollywood Shootout, which somehow I had not heard of before. I enjoyed a mild but persistent thing puttering along about true-crime books, but had not engaged with true-crime TV, which I regarded as shallow and boring like cop and detective fiction series. But wow, this one was up there with the key footage (Hollywood, right?), the connivance of the crime and the huge law-enforcement consequences. Plus the perps were like right out of comic books.

Final odd note — I’ve never run across anything else about North Hollywood Shootout on TV since. Despite becoming a much more devoted true-crime watcher.

My last thought: all three of the Butterfly Boys — John P., Doug Bieri and my dear art-lover friend Bruce Lee (no relation) — are finally together again. The party in the afterlife — Paradise or the Inferno, it doesn’t matter — just got a lot crazier and more inventive. I don’t wish I was there, but I will be glad to join when the time comes.