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About Me

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New York, NY, United States
Formed Reagan Youth and House of God during the 80s with the late great Dave Insurgent. Now I'm back to burn with my new band DUST ANGEL and I've got the urge to record one last Reagan Youth album about the life and times of Stig Rotsky. My blog is where I rant, it's like a diary, an account of my trials and tribulations that occur with my band's past, it's present and a future that I presume will be fun and interesting as well.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Volume Two

Yes, I know, a bunch of you went "What the fuck?" after hearing Volume Two, especially when you compare it to Volume One. I can definitely understand that. What I will do is explain why this all came to be. Now let me just make clear that Dave and I had been writing songs since junior high and by the time Reagan Youth's first gig, we had a full set of songs ready to go. At that very first show, at A7, for an encore we played "One Holy Bible" though the drummer wanted to do the breakdown part of "Queen Babylon". Now they were called by different names back then, and they went through several name changes until they were finally recorded on Volume Two. So those songs were around at the exact same time as everything from "Youth Anthems For the New Order". But the tunes remained the same, and so did a few of the lyrics. But we continued to write songs, but some of the songs we wrote were not for Reagan Youth, so we reserved those tunes for our next band, which we called House of God. Three of us (Dave, Javier and I) were playing in House of God when recording we started recording Volume Two. But all the songs on Volume Two are in no way, shape or form House Of God songs, I mean shit, we played "Back To the Garden" back at Max's Kansas City and just look at the last time that place was open. Now that I got the fact that a majority of those songs we had from the beginning, let me explain what happened.

We started recording in the Spring of 1989, right after Reagan Youth had disbanded. We wanted to play that one last Reagan Youth show, in D.C., as our farewell, so I called up our bassist, Victor Venom, and asked him about playing it. Victor answers the phone and tells me that he never wants to see us, let alone play a gig with us, again. So that was the end of that. Javier, Dave and I were playing in a new band, House of God, with a new bassist, Chris Simunek, and we were ready to fuck with organized religion the way Reagan Youth fucked with right wing politics, and that wasn't going to be the only change. The music had became more complex, but it would still remain catchy as hell. So instead of two minute political punk rock songs, we were going to play 8 minute songs about the evils of organized religion. Around this time is when Dave and I met Nicky Garratt, the guitarist from the U.K. Subs.

Dave and I met Nicky at the Palllidium and he told us about his new label, "New Red Archives'. He offers to re-release our only record, a seven song e.p., under the condition that we add whatever songs were leftover from those 'Youth Anthems For The New order' sessions, making it album length. Dave and I had a condition of our own; we wanted to put out another album which would consist of all the other Reagan Youth songs that we never got around to recording. So we gave Nicky a demo tape of that stuff. Now the only other thing we ever did with that demo was bring it to Metal Blade (or was it Road Runner?) records. We were told that they only release metal, no punk, and that we should come back when we had House Of God ready. So we took home our complimentary King Diamond (or was it Mercyful Fate?) records and nothing more was ever done with the demo, until we gave it to Nicky Garratt. So Nicky ends up agreeing.

Now a whole year goes by when I finally gave Nicky a call. I told him "Alright, we're ready to do this" and he's like "But Paul, that was a year ago?". We end up having a discussion about Dave and his drug use and I ended up assuring Nicky that I'd be responsible for making sure the shit got done. What one has to understand putting out one last Reagan youth album, let alone re-releasing our first e.p. as a complete album was taking aback seat to our new band, House Of God. Our new band was so much more important to Dave and I because we had been developing these songs for the past two or three years. It wasn't that putting out some more Reagan Youth material was unimportant, it's just that House Of God was gonna be the band that I, and I can assume Dave, felt that we could actually make it in the music business. Reagan Youth was well known, but we were viewing House of God as being something that could be more than just well known; that we could actually become "big". Oh well, so much for that dream happening.

Mixing Volume I went smooth enough, with Dave choosing alternate versions of every song on "Youth Anthems for the New Order" and adding three new songs; "In nDog We Trust", "No Class" and "Anytown". But it was time now to record the songs for Volume II. I called Victor and asked him if he could put aside whatever bullshit there was and to 'just come in and play' bass. Victor said he'd do it so we were set going into the studio. Nicky books studio time at Saatchi & Saatchi, an advertising company who have a topof the line recording equipment so they can record all their jingles and shit. It was going to be real fuckin' sweet recording the rest of our songs there. Unfortunately, that would be our only visit to Saatchi Studios because the security & staff from the building told Nicky that Dave wasn't to be allowed back in there, not even allowed to walk through the front door into the lobby. It had everything to do with the way he looked, or more to the point, the way he smelled. Dave's addiction had made him 'tore up from the floor up' but at least at that time he was showin' up. So we went to record at Toxic studios instead, and first thing I did was borrow a Fender Precision for Victor to play. We always had to supply Victor with a bass when he played in the band, he considered himself a guitarist first, and soon he began playing bass like it was beneath him. And now when it was time to record, it was no different, but actually, way worse.

Now we hadn't seen, let alone played with, Victor in the longest time but I was certain of one thing, that Victor could play. The only thing was that Victor came in and played some real uninspired shit. I'm sure he thought he was keeping it punk and snotty but the only time Victor showed any real interest, at all, was when he asked me "So how does Nausea get the same record deal as Reagan Youth?". I pointed to Nicky, who was present in the studio at the time, and said "Well Nicky's right over there. I mean, he is the guy to ask, the label owner, not me". So Victor just shrugged his broad, lean, masculine shoulders and walked over to speak with Nicky. Well it was no more than a week before Victor tells us that he has to leave, that he can't record with us any more because he has to go on tour with Nausea. The record wasn't close to being finished but he just shrugged and said "too bad".

Right after he left I went and recorded an alternate bass track for "Get the Ruler Out". I told Dave and Nicky that Victor's bass playing wasn't worth shit, and they wanted to hear Vic's playing before any decisions were made. So I told the engineer, Jim Fourniadis, to play for them Vic's bass track so they could hear it for themselves. He plays them "Get The Ruler Out" and they immediately tell me "The bass sounds great" and "Vic's playing is fine, don't touch it, what are you crazy?". Now I'm listening to it along with them and I'm like "What the fuck?" because it didn't sound like this before. So I go and ask Jim "Is that the bass that Victor's playing?" and Jim tells me he's playing the bass track I recorded. So I went and explained to Dave and Nicky that Jim had played my bass track instead of Vic's and right away Dave said "You should play bass on the album"/ It would be extra work for me to record the bass on all of the songs but Dave wanted that and Nicky was cool with it immediately. On Volume II I'm listed as; Pusi Koorahtz, bassist.

Now when you go in a re-record the songs again, that means time is a wasting, and even bigger, money is being wasted. Dave would say "You're taking the costs out of the record sales, so what does it matter" but Nicky was uncomfortable, and how could he not be? But even more important, was the music itself. When you record songs without a full band being present, problems arise. For instance, on "One Holy Bible", the 'improved' part was to be played by all three musicians simultaneously. When Victor left, I had to focus on getting the arrangement right instead of playing the improvisation. On "Queen Babylon", during the 'breakdown' part, we mistakenly played it five times instead of the usual four, so I had to throw out what I usually did as a guitar solo and start from scratch. And when I said let's go record it again the engineer, Jim, told me "Nicky said no more of that, if it sounds decent, then we go to the next song". Now for the most part, we were able to get through it, but those songs and some others could have and should have been played much better, not to mention mixed down. So No Thanks To Victor the Sphincter for all the time and money

Another band member who also went missing, but for different reasons, was the most crucial one, the singer, the leader; Dave Insurgent. "Since I don't play an instrument, I really don't need to be here" was his excuse whenever he didn't show up for the basic track recordings but at least he would show up enough times. When the music was finished it was time for Dave's vocals. A block of time was booked for Dave to come in and sing but he doesn't show up. I called him up and asked "What happened?" and he comes up with some lame story about waiting the entire night for his superintendent to come by and fix his toilet. So another block of time was booked but Dave blows it off again. When I called him up this second time, he starts in with the nonsense about his super and his toilet. Well this goes on and on, again and again and Nicky and I begin to wonder if Dave is ever gonna show up. And just if you're wondering, yes, Dave knew he was welcomed to bring his drugs and paraphernalia into the studio. None of us were gonna bust his balls about pulling hits off his crack pipe in between singing his verses, we knew Dave was not ready to give up drugs, we just wanted him to come in and do what he did, sing Reagan youth songs.

So it got to the point where Nicky comes up with the idea of bouncing Dave's vocals from the band's demo onto the new recordings. I thought that would sound like shit so I came up with a better idea; I'd go down, find Dave, and personally escort him to the studio. I went to his place but he wasn't there so I left a note on his door, basically saying that he better show up tonight, and sing every fuckin' song, or I'd take giant shit on him like something fierce, you motherfucker, you better show up! Y'know, like that. It got his attention because he called me, pronto, and told me how fucked up my note was I'm was like "Yeah, yeah, whatever. Now make sure you just show the fuck up.", and yes, he did.

That night Nicky and I met up with Dave at a deli that was near the studio. Nicky bought him a tea and some lozenges to soothe his throat and then we escorted Dave to the studio and explained to Jim, the engineer, that Dave could not leave, under no circumstances, the studio until he sand a take on every song. Nicky and I leave them alone to do their thing and I go home. The next time I see Jim I ask him how Dave's vocal session went. He told me that Dave sang two tracks on each song before he left, and that he said he'd come back to fix up all his weak spots, which were many, let's face it. But days went by and soon they turned to weeks and it became obvious that Dave wasn't in any rush to come by the studio. As the lead singer, laying down vocal tracks are important, but as the leader of the band, mixing down the record was just as, if not, more important. Nicky had been so patient with us but by this time his patience was just about gone. So Nicky asks me what should be done and I tell him "Just go use whatever we have" as I figured Dave would call up eventually, outraged that he didn't sort through and edit out all the bullshit. Basically, to come in and give it a final mix. I was pissed something fierce at the way Dave was behaving, so my thinking at that time was "Let Dave go bitch to Nicky about how it can't be released like that when he finally decides to show up". I knew in the back of my mind that Nicky would allow Dave to do that, but unfortunately, Dave never ever did show up at the studio.

Soon after that I get this phone call, but it's not from Dave or Nicky. Some police officer is calling to ask me what I know about Dave. I ask him "What happened?" and the cop says "You tell me" like some real wise ass. So I'm like "Okay, so Dave's in jail?" and the cop says "No, no, no. He's not in jail". Next I ask "Is he dead?" and the cop chuckles at that one as he says "Oh no, he's not dead". I take a moment to think what's left and I say "So he's in rehab?" and the cop says "Nope. He's not in rehab". At this point I'm all out of ideas so I'm like "I give up, so where is he?" and the cop tells me to "Go call his parents if you want to find out", and so I do. I get Dave's mom on the line and she tells me that "Someone beat David up with a baseball bat and he just came out of a coma".

The next day I visit Dave in the hospital and boy is it tough, he looks like hell. Dave's eye lid was swollen so much it reached all the way down to his upper lip. His parents were there and I find out that he needed a lobotomy to save his life. Eventually, he gets discharged from the hospital but Dave now has stitches going around his forehead from ear to ear. When Dave finally recovered, as best he could, I asked him what happened. Dave told me he couldn't remember anything. Neither Dave nor I insisted on getting back the tapes and giving it a real final mix. At that time, I was just hoping that Dave would be able to do the artwork for the album and the ensuing CD. I'm sure Dave could have convinced Nicky to get back the tapes, and allow him to re-mix it, but how could Dave even think about that stuff when life altering events, for the worse, had happened to him. Of course I wish I had actually taken home a cassette of the recordings, and dissected them, and then actually mixed it down, but I had assumed Dave would have eventually taken care of it. I remember when Nicky sent us the final mix on cassette, I kept telling Dave that I had put backing vocals throughout "Acid Rain" and boy did that freak him out. When he finally heard it, he was cool with the backing vocals, but not all those lead guitar tracks. The lead guitar track behind Dave's vocals on "Urban Savages" works just fine, on "Miss Teen America" and "Get The Ruler Out", it doesn't. It was too late to go back, just like it was too late for Dave to go back and live without having Frankenstein like stitches forever crowning his countenance. And so that is how Volume Two ended up sounding the way it did.

In retrospect, things just went from bad to worse from the time I called Victor to play on the record. So many sessions (weeks and weeks worth) were wasted because of his shit playing. Javier told us, afterwards, that Victor had told him the only reason he was going to do the record with us was because he knew the record would make money, and that's all he was doing it for. Too bad Victor didn't show up to play some bass that didn't suck instead. Then there was the time when Javier had brought his brand new motorcycle to the studio in order to show it to us. He parked it out front, on the street, and by the end of the session it had been stolen. Things were going like that and it didn't make things better, obviously. That it all culminated with Dave getting beaten an inch from his life just made it all pretty miserable. Do I hate Volume Two? No, I do not, but that my bass playing is way better than my guitar playing says a whole lot. I love the songs on it, I just wish we could've played them way better.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Andy Zapathy

This is a story I just have to tell, it's about the first bassist of Reagan Youth, Andy Apathy. Andy Bryan, his real name, was from Rego Park, Queens and he was one of the most amazing people I've ever had the pleasure to know. So allow me to tell you a story of one of the coolest people ever to have graced this planet.

Dave Insurgent and I were already playing in a punk rock band called PUS back in junior high and by the time we went to high school, we had already met our first drummer, Charley Bonet. Charley looked a lot like Marky Ramone and played a lot like Tommy Ramone so he was a perfect fit. But we had problems finding a bassist. After running through a few guys, Charley knew a guy from his side of Rego Park (the north side of Queens Boulevard, Dave and I were from the south side), so we decided to give him a try. When I first met Andy he was a guitarist, not a bassist, and when he was approached about joining our band he told me "Why I don't join the band as a second guitarist instead of bass and me and you could be like Jimmy Zero and Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys". It sounded cool but it still wouldn't have solved our 'bassist problem'. Eventually we heard that he traded his Gibson S.G. and got a Rickenbacker bass and so finally he became a member of the band.

Andy was already established on the punk scene in New York city. He had somehow got himself in John Holmstrom's Punk magazine, and you can see him standing beside Joey Ramone and Debbie Harry in a picture where those two punk legends are supposedly getting married. Andy was credited as Andy Zap: ring bearer. Andy was so far ahead of the curve when it came to other things as well. While we were losing our virginity, Andy was already having threesomes. Andy was doing the best drugs while we were trying drugs for the first time. He was hanging out with cool people from Manhattan while we were hanging out with Jewish American princesses in Queens. He was basically living the punk rock lifestyle better than we could have imagined.

Back home in Queens, we'd be hanging out and Andy would tell us that he knew the exact basement which the Ramones sang about in their song Basement ( y'know... hey daddy O, I don't wanna go, down, to the base). We'd go into this basement and it wasn't anything special except it was really easy to get into. We'd be rolling joints and opening quarts of beer as we sat on the washers and dryers. Funny enough, no tenants, let alone police ever came to bother us. We'd bring a boom box and crank punk songs all night long as we got wasted. Andy also took us to the building Joey Ramone grew up in. He took us to a building on Queens boulevard and we'd walk into the lobby. he showed us a buzzer with the name Hymen next to it. "That's Joey Ramones' real last name." he'd tell us, "Y'know, like a girl's pussy, the hymen." and we'd laugh because it was funny and we were way stoned (I know this sounds so stupid, but when you're young stone that's what you are, is stupid). What was really cool to us was that the Ramones had gone to the same high school we were going to, Forest Hills High. Andy was no longer going to that school because he was way to cool for that shit.
Andy was the one who hooked up our first gig at A7, opening for Butch Lust and the Hypocrites. The Hypocrites had, as their bassist, Screaming Mad George, formerly from the Mad, a great early New York city punk band. Andy knew him personally. The hypocrites also had an amazing guitarist in Lenny Steel but I digress. Well right before we played that first gig we decided it be best to change the band's name for the childish PUS to the more profound Reagan Youth. It was our first gig and it went over just fine. We started playing more gigs and we quickly gained a following.

With the band becoming popular, Dave Insurgent was now becoming obsessed with being a perfectionist. One of the first things Dave felt needed changing was Andy's punk name, which was 'Zap'. It didn't seem to matter to Dave that Punk magazine had no problem with crediting Andy as 'Andy Zap'. Dave said it was a stupid name that didn't mean anything. Andy didn't grouse or anything and changed his name to the more politically orientated Andy Apathy. Our drummer, Charley, also had a punk name. He called himself Charley Tripper. When Charley was asked about his punk name he told us it was given to him because he always acted all goofy like John Ritter's character on Three's Company called Jack 'Tripper'. I remember Dave asking Charley "So the name has nothing to do with tripping on acid or anything like that?" and Charley answered how it was a "Threes Company thang". Talk about a punk name that had it's origins in something so unpunk. Now Dave never insisted Charley change his name like Andy had to, and I am sure it was because Charley was not way more popular than Dave was at that time, like Andy surely was. To be honest, Screaming Mad George and his wife (I forget her name) had a talk with me about how swollen Andy's head had become since the band had become popular. I'm sure it also drove Dave crazy. And so the band continued to play gigs around the city and things were going great. That's right about the time when Dave told me he wanted Andy out of the band.

Sure there was a lot of bickering going on between Andy and Dave. In all fairness to Dave, Andy did things that were questionable. Andy would do things like tell Dave he wrote a song, a Public Image Limited type song and then Dave would tell me to go over to Andy's place to check it out. I would go over there and Andy would play, on bass, P.I.L.'s Low Life as if it was his new song. I would say "Andy, that's a Public Image song, Low Life, what the fuck did you write?" and then he'd admit that he'd written nothing at all. I'd have to go back to tell Dave that Andy came up with squat and then I'd end up playing for Dave my new idea for a Public Image song which would end up being One Holy Bible. Yeah, we had a new song to fuck around with but it just made Andy look like some kind of idiot. So I guess Dave had enough with his nonsense and his popularity and we began to argue about whether he should get another chance. In the end, Dave as the leader of the band, had the final say and so it was time to give Andy the heave ho. Of course it was decided that it would be me that would tell Andy the bad news so this way Andy wouldn't kick Dave's ass..... literally.

Of course Andy didn't take the news all that well but he was a man, not some little boy, so he accepted the news like a man. The band would try out a bunch of bassists and would settle on Al Pike, who is, without a doubt, the best bassist Reagan Youth ever had. Andy went on to form a new band, a heavy metal concoction called Mega Nex. It had something to do with Aleister Crowley and the band covered Set Me Free by the Sweet. We played a gig with Mega Nex in Queens. Mega Nex didn't last but Andy later found his way into a new band called Urban Waste. Andy and Mega Nex' guitarist Jeff Bensaul co-wrote, what I believe is their best song, Police Brutality. At the end of that song you can hear Andy's voice, crystal clear, saying "Police brutality" in only the way Andy could say it. I recently played it for Stephanie Plungis and I was so happy when she recognized the song and especially the ending when you hear Andy say "Police brutality" like it was some kind of sexual act that you'd really want to have happen to you.

Charley did not take the news of Andy getting kicked out very well. Eventually, during one of our rehearsals, Dave had Charley and I play the song Anytown over and over and over again and each time Charley sounded worse and worse. Charley finally snapped and stormed out saying he was leaving the band. Now we were on the prowl for a new drummer and finding a new drummer was a lot harder than finding that new bassist. Charley came back later on to record with us and said he'd be willing to rejoin the band. Dave told me "Well I guess we're gonna have to take Charley back" and that's when I told Dave "So we could kick out Andy, even though his base playing was good but you want to take Charley back even though his drumming sucks?". Well Dave couldn't argue with that logic and we never took Charley back and thank God for that because he was eventually replaced by Steve, who was easily the best drummer we ever had. We didn't call Steve "Keith Moon's ghost" for nothing y'know. As for Charley, he went on to play drums in a band called the Abused.

Even though Andy was no longer in Reagan Youth he still came to all our shows, and he would always be right next to my amp, driving Dave and I crazy. Andy would always be fucking around with the knobs on my amp, changing the settings on the volume, the treble and bass, shit like that. Dave would be yelling at him to stop but he'd just keep on doin' it. And even though Andy was no longer in my band, he was definitely still my friend. I could honestly say that out of all of my band mates that were in Reagan Youth, Andy was the only one that was truly my friend. After I no longer played with Charley, Al, Steve, Rick, Vic and Javier, I no longer kept contact with any of those guys, but Andy would always remain my good friend.

When Andy and I would get together and hang out, we'd partake in his favorite activity: smoking angel dust. We'd take the 4 or 5 train up to 125th and Lexington avenue and go cop Crazy Eddie, the best dust in Harlem. Andy didn't just smoke dust with me, he'd smoked dust with Johnny Blitz, the drummer from the Dead Boys. Andy, always one of the coolest mother fuckers around. Later on we lost touch but we'd always get together every now and then and of course when we did, we'd get high. It's what we loved to do.

Later on in my life I had become addicted to heroin and Andy found out. He immediately called my mother and told her I was shooting needles into my arm. This idiot once told me "And you count this guy as your friend after he did that?", as if it was bad thing for Andy to contact my parents and tell them I was killing myself slowly. I replied "That's what a real fuckin' friend does you fuckin' moron".

The years continued to roll by and I would see Andy sporadically. He had moved to Florida and had remarried. He also became a chef but continued to play music. Then one day, out of the blue, he contacts me. "I booked us to play at CBGBs". I asked him what the fuck he was talking about and he explained that Jack Rabid, from the band Even Worse, had booked two nights at CBGBs for the 20th anniversary of the New York City punk rock compilation record. Even though Reagan Youth wasn't on that compilation, Jack Rabid said Andy and I could play under the name 'Paul and Andy from Reagan Youth'. He also told me he was now calling himself Andy Zapathy, hence, the title of my blog. So the very next day Andy shows up, from Florida, and he's at my apartment and he's with his old Mega Nex' drummer, Michael Argo. Andy explains to me he could get Charley to play but that Mike was way better on drums. I said "Fine, let's do it". We then go drive to the city and so I can buy him heroin. I had offered him some of my methadone but he refused. He said "Nah, I want that street shit". I was in the process of getting clean at the time and I hadn't bought heroin in the longest. When we were young Andy would always have to buy me my drugs because he knew the connections. When I became addicted later on, things changed, and it was I who had to cop for Andy. So I went and bought him some stuff, from the streets of the Lower East Side, my old stomping grounds. I knew it wasn't going to be really good but I had lost all my old connections so what could I do? Andy actually said after sniffing some, "The shit you got for me last year blows this shit away".

The next thing I know we're back in Queens, at the Guitar Center and he's talkin' about buying me an amp... and also a guitar! I had a Stratocaster at the time but when Andy and I played together back in the day, I used a les Paul (neither the Stratocaster nor the Les Paul were real by the way), so Andy reasoned that I should be playing a Les Paul for the upcoming gig. He told me how he was opening a restaurant with the help of his friends who were gonna be the investors. Andy was going to be getting a big amount of money from his investors and on Friday, he was gonna take some of that money and definitely buy me the amp...and probably the Les Paul too. I got real excited because one thing Andy was not, was a bullshit artist. When he said he'd be buying you an amp you were gonna get an amp. So we plug some guitars and Andy asks me to play the song Reagan Youth along with him. I tell him "Sure, but check this shit out first" and I begin to play a song called In The Beginning that I had written along with Dave Insurgent, for our new band, House Of God. Andy and Mike listen to it and are impressed. I tell them "We'll play this gig but afterwards, let's start a new band, one where we play real music, like this" and I continue to play some of my neo-classic rock. Then I make him happy by playing Reagan Youth, Andy on the bass and me on the guitar, just like old times.

Afterwards, Andy takes us out for dinner. He tells me I can work with him in his new restaurant. He asks me "Do you wanna be a waiter, or a sous chef and work under me? Or do you want me to send you to bartending school?". He even tells me that he'll pay me off the books so I can keep collecting unemployment. The conversation then turns to baldness and he tells me to take off my baseball cap. "Y'know the hairclub for men, well I'm not just the client, I'm also the vice-president". He said it backwards and it was funny as shit. Oh my God, now he's talking about paying to put hair on my head, Andy was like no other, let me tell you. We're wasted and laughing and feeling good and I explain to him. "Y'know, we could have done some great shit in the past but egos got in the way. You're great with money and getting shit done, but you can't write a song to save your life. And I'm all about the music but I suck with money. So can't we just do what we're good at and make this shit finally happen?". He agrees with me and we shake hands on it and then Andy tells me how we have to rehearse the next day. Mike drives us back to my place and I give Andy A Collection Of Pop Classics. I tell Andy and Mike which songs to learn for the CBGBs gig. Andy tells me he'll call me tomorrow and we say good night. It would be the last time I would see Andy alive.

The next day, which was a Wednesday, I don't get a call from Andy. I wait all day but nothing. I'm hesitant to contact him as I believe this means his restaurant investors are pulling out and it's all falling apart for him. I say to myself "Let me leave him alone until he sorts this shit out" but I do get a call later that evening, from my friend Mortali, who used to be a singer in Andy's band. Mortali tells me "Did you hear what happened to Andy?" and at that moment I just knew he was dead. Mortali tells me "He had a heart attack and died." I had already yelled out "FUCK!" and began to cry. I yell at Mortali "This really sucks" and he replies "Tell me about it". Mortali then gives me the details concerning his funeral. It's on Friday, the day he was supposed to take me to Guitar Center to buy me an amp... and probably a new guitar too.

I go to the funeral and I meet his widow right after I kneel at his coffin and kiss it. She asks me "What happened? He left me in Florida just fine and tha next thing I hear is he's dead?! "What happened? You were with him that day, right?". How can you tell Andy's widow that Andy left me that night and went to stay at some cheap motel, somewhere in New Jersey, in a neighborhood with even cheaper crack cocaine. He had just come from Florida and being a chef, he had put on some pounds from all the rich food he'd been eating. He smoked some crack cocaine and had a heart attack. Instead of helping Andy the local scumbags took his wallet and his Hamer bass and whatever else they could. He was found dead. At his age, and in the shape he was in, a blast of crack can do you in like that. A cocaine induced heart attack did him in. This guy, who used to drive around on his black motorcycle, wearing nothing but black engineer boots, black leather pants, a leather jacket and a black motorcycle helmet. I mean completely black from head to toe, and his headlight on his black motorcycle was out. He'd drive around, dressed like that, on that motorcycle, at night no less, dusted out of his mind... and he never died, not even a scratch. Um 'fuckin' believable, just Um 'fuckin' believable.

At the funeral, the Rabbi spoke of how Andy was such a bright light and the brightest lights burn out the fastest. It made perfect sense to me but I still felt gyped. The rabbi asked if anyone would like to say some words about him and I was the only one. I spoke about how he hooked up the gig at CBs, how he was gonna hook me up with a job, how he was gonna buy me the amp, and the guitar. And how he was the only friend I ever had who, when he told you he would do those things, you knew he meant it. When Dave "Insurgent" Rubinstein died, you had to be blind not to see it coming. But with Andy, you just assumed he'd always be there. Lordy, do I ever miss my ole bassist, my ole friend and one of the greatest human beings I ever knew.