The Outline of my Life
21 years old.
Now that we had actually played in public we were starting to feel like a real band, and Danny Stefacek bought a huge 1920s drum kit from Thom Stickney and joined the band, which we renamed Jambox.
Herb Balaban was expanding his restaurant to include a sidewalk cafe outside, and he hired me to be one of the main chefs to open the place. It was wild, with Herbie and his wife Adelaide changing the menu and plate designs constantly right up until opening. Danny was moving out of his cool apartment at McPherson and Kingshighway, a beautiful one-room studio on the third floor, and I moved in his place. It was a complicated arrangement, because the place was technically Jean Ponzi's place, a waitress from Duff's who I had a big crush on. When I moved in we started to hang out together and got together, which was a big kick for me, since she was three or four years older than me. But she was living with her friend Jeanie Breeze and her daughter Ariel Star, so I had the place to myself. This was the first of my bachelor pads.
Jean Ponzi did the sound for our next gig, at the Learning Center, a hall connected to a church in the west end. Flash powder that went off during the gig nearly set the place on fire and the sound was terrible, and Jean and I had a big fight about it. But the fact was that Jambox was without a doubt the most awful sounding band in the history of St. Louis bands. And I have the tapes to prove it. We anticipated punk in the sheer chaos our music generated.
We did another Euclid Festival gig this year, but this time they wisely set us up on a side street, as far as possible from the main stage. Practically nobody came by to see us except well-meaning friends. Danny had bought an ARP synthesizer, and used it to make a few bizarre sounds while he played the drums. I was getting discouraged with the band. When Patrick and I played together acoustically, I thought we sounded great, but with all these cheap amplifiers feeding back and turning our sound to grating noises everything changed for the worse.
We decided to let three girls join the band to rap a song and sing backup on a couple of numbers, and the Changelles were born. We called them the Changelles because our music was called Change music. They were three gorgeous west end girls: Sue Leonard, Annie Byrne and Josie Christian.
Then I was fired for the 3rd & last time from Balabans, right before Christmas. This was a drag, since I was starting to see a little more of my family again, after many years of detachment, because my mom and my sister JoAnn had finally moved back from Virginia.
But by now I was old enough to collect unemployment, and was able to survive on the cheap rent. At this time, a new publication had appeared in St. Louis called Metro the Tabloid. Since I was sitting around trying to find a decent job, my friend Charlie Leonard asked me to come down and help put the magazine together with him and the publisher, Richard Wachter. This was the beginning of my career as an art director.
Jambox broke up around this time. I had the feeling that the band was going nowhere, and was more interested in Punk and New Wave than funk. Our last gasp was recording an extended play 45 rpm financed by Danny Stefacek, called "The Change Music Variety Show, Featuring Jambox". The four songs included were: "Classical Music" "Rendered Pimpless" "Sweet Weaving Dancer" and "Hoochie Coochie Poochie".
Annie Byrne, the Changelle and future hotshot advertising executive, and I dated briefly around this time, until her mother made us break it off.
I met Alissa Feinberg, and formed the Oui-Oui Twins with her & Rommie Martinez. This was the next of my attempts to make it big in music.
My dad bought an abandoned storefront on Olive just west of Taylor, the heart of the Stroll, where streetwalkers paraded up and down the street boldly asking men in passing cars if they wanted a "date". It was a seriously dangerous neighborhood, full of derelict buildings and junkies. I immediately decided that it would make an ideal place for a punk rock nightclub, so with the help of my friend Mort Hill and some others, we worked to open the OP-P club on New Years eve 1981.
Me in my room above Club OP-P
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