Monday, December 1, 2003

A Three Piece Iron Hand Fluter

Dear Friends,

  Gather round, children, for I have a story to tell.  A story that will capture your imagination and lift your spirits. Be careful, though, or you might learn something along the way... about antiques!
  The story of Harris's Fiddle Tune dates back to age of the Old South, to the days when aristocratic jack dandies lazed away hot summer days, resting their mint juleps on the backs of hard working cotton gins. Legend has it that the greatest fiddle player in Kentucky in the early 19th century was a man by the name of Harris, and he was about as far from an aristocrat as you could get. Fiddle players in that particular time and place weren't exactly what you or I would call law-abiding, and Harris was no exception. He did it all. Gambling, petty theft... Why he even robbed a stagecoach or two.  I guess you could say that crime was his day job, and fiddle playing was more his hobby. Nobody would want to run into him in a dark alley, even if there were any back then, I'm telling you. But in the dance halls and in the juke joints of the Shallow South, Harris was a bona fide hero. His signature piece was a blazingly fast solo number that became known simply as "Harris's Fiddle Tune."  
  One night after a particularly raucous show in a Louisville cat house, the local sheriff caught Harris beating an old grocer with a three piece iron hand fluter. 
  Harris tried to escape, but his feet were no match for the sherrif's 31" antique lead tricycle. 
  Harris was immediately arrested and sentenced to hang the next day. The good judge sat down with Harris to draw up a will, but it wasn't really necessary - the only thing Harris owned was his old wooden fiddle. (The hand fluter belonged to the grocer, and Harris gave it back after the beating.)  Harris' fiddle, however, was nothing to be sniffed at. It had a tone so rich and so pure that every fiddle player in Appalachia coveted it more than an intricately detailed shoe made of pure gold.
  Harris promised to leave his fiddle to anyone in the county who could match his skills at his signature tune. The day of his execution, the sheriff led Harris down from jail to the town square, sat him on the back of a horse and tied the noose around his neck. Dozens of fiddlers lined up single file and took turns performing their renditions of Harris' Fiddle Tune. Harris listened patiently, but when the last fiddler put down his bow, he realized that none of them had the skills or the passion to carry on his legacy. He could never bequeath his magical figgle (as he called it) to a two bean imitator. 
   As the crowd watched in awe, he hoisted the instrument high above his head, as if he was about to hand it to one of the fiddlers. Suddenly, he brought it crashing down on the horse's rump with a wild crack. The fiddle was smashed to pieces and the horse took off running, leaving Harris dangling like a rare bronze stirrup.
  Harris' ashes was placed in an antique copper urn, the predecessor to the modern day Thermos. The fiddle's ashes were placed in a tin one. Legend has it they were never buried, but left beside a horsecart somewhere south of Owensboro. 
  Over the years, the fiddle tune itself was lost.  No one could play that song like him, you see, so it was long forgotten by time you and I were born. This month's Hard Taco song, "Harris's Fiddle Tune," is not actually a rendition of that forgotten tune, but rather a tribute to the story of Harris and his legacy. I recorded a low-fi version of this song in 1996, which has also been lost somewhere in the archives of history. Since then, I have become related by marriage to a gentleman named Harris, who by pure coincidence is both the most gifted fiddle player and fearsome criminal mastermind I have had the pleasure to know. Ain’t life a funny roll in the mud, sometimes?

With warmest regards,

Saturday, November 1, 2003

The History of Hard Taco

Dear Friends,

   Does anybody know who makes CD liner notes? I want to bring something to their attention. When I buy a CD I want the content of the liner notes to be limited to: 1. Lyrics and 2. Weird gorked out pictures of nothing in particular with defocused song titles stenciled over them chaotically.
   I DO NOT want: 1) A long list of silly promotional thank you's, such as "Ozzy would like to thank Dean Markley Guitar Strings" and 2) Tedious retrospectives about the band. I don't care about which band member joined the band when and how many doughnuts they always seemed to have on the  tour bus. ("I can't give you exact numbers, but it was a lot!").  
   I realize, however, that not everyone shares my views. Therefore, I have prepared this issue of the Hard Taco Digest for the amateur rock historians out there who don't find autobiographical masturbation as offensive as I do. For the rest of you, feel free to skip to the last paragraph.

   The first incarnation of Hard Taco was the environmentalist rock band Savannah, formed in the summer of 1992. We all had eco-centric pseudonyms. I was Logbert and the other founding members were Skybert and Willow. We released one LP, "Love Thy Planet (Like Yourself)" which featured the singles, "The War For Ecopendence" and "If This Bark Could Cry." We broke up after about two years under less than ideal terms. Skybert felt that glass containers should be rinsed before being placed in the recycling bin, while Willow felt that rinsing them was a waste of water. Next thing we knew, Skybert had left us to join The Rock and Roll City Rockers, who later changed their name to Spoon Phed. We put out one Savannah album without him ("Godspeed Johnny Appleseed') but it didn't really take with the fans. Willow broke off to form the Urban-folk Chamber Pop band Orpheus Morpheum. They eventually changed their name to Morpheus Orpheum, and changed their style to Riot Grrrl Surf Revivalist. 
    I spent a few months touring with the San Antonio-based band Thrombosis before we were commissioned to work on the music for the 1996 Winter Olympics. The rest of the band was keen to pick up that torch and run with it, as it were, but I refused to be a part of it. I have always felt that the Olympics are the cruelest, ugliest head of the international corporate hydra. To be fair, they did end up writing a pretty catchy jingle for the 500 meter slalom. In the Spring of '97, we reunited briefly, changed our name to Chain Slaw and put out a controversial live album, "Mister Fantasy." This album was hailed as one of the most influential Blendist Noise Pop Cowpunk recordings of the decade, although personally I think it fell more into the category of East Coast Neo-emo Proto-ambient. Unfortunately, Sam Goody refused to sell "Mister Fantasy" because of the song, "Bet You Can't Murder Your Own Children." It still ticks me off... The people who were boycotting that album never even listened to it. Jerry Falwell was quoted as saying that the song "promoted gambling," and his entourage of loud-mouthed conservative sticks-in-the-mud bullied the distributors into jumping on the boycott bandwagon. Anyway, without the Sam Goody market, we basically folded outright.    
    Secretly, I was relieved that Chain Slaw broke up, because I had spent the previous two years wanting to get back to doing eco-rock. I hooked up with the former members of The Recyclone and formed a  band called The Dian Fossey's. We spent most of our time gigging around Colorado, although we never made it into the studio. We were the headliners at the Green Party convention in '97 and several rallies against timber corporation fraud. We raised almost $4000 for gorilla awareness, I think, but I could tell it wasn't going to turn into a full time gig. 
   I spent a brief stint in the band Vracht! with Kaat and Raf DeMonikle. They were a brother/sister team from Antwerp, and were already Belgium's hottest names in Grindcore Electro-goth. We put out an album of dance songs for sleepover parties, called "Pajama Jams" on their Demeulemeester Label. We were two gigs into our North American tour when Kaat suddently left us for the New Traditionalist Christian Psychobilly band, Jubilation Now. I'll always have fond memories of the DeMonikle twins, but after all these years, I still never found out which one was the brother and which one was the sister. 
  It was about this time I got a call from some ad execs at Chrysler. At first, they wanted some kind of radio spot, but by time we hung up, I had talked them into funding my side project, "Classic Cars! The Musical" It was an upbeat fun-for-all-ages stage show that opened at the State Theater in Detroit in December of 1999.  The cast wore roller skates and dressed up as classic cars, bragging (in song!) about how they had "Four on the floor" and "Pressure Plates a-Burning." The show featured Levi Stubbs from the Four Tops as the '45 Studebaker. Classic Cars was the sleeper success story of Detroit musical theater that winter. It was during preproduction for the show that I met my future wife, Lauren. She had also been cast as a '45 Studebaker (We were only able to secure the rights to impersonate one car, so we had lots of people playing '45 Studebakers.) Once I heard her sing the high harmony in "Posi-Traction Chrome Runner" I knew I would never love another. The show may have lasted longer, but we hadn't taken the appropriate safety measures to insure against the Y2K bug. When the millenium rolled around two weeks later, everything went positively haywire. 
   After the show closed, I recruited Lauren as a vocalist on what would eventually be the first Hard Taco album, "Eight Songs About Five Things." It was really a Kraut Rock Go-Go Fusion Crossover album, but it developed a bit of a cult following in the Indie Urban Cowboy Swamp-Bop circles. 
  A few months after 8SA5T hit the stores, Lauren and I were at the farmer's market, and we saw a great Peruvian PanFlute band called Alpacataquar ("Alpaca Attacker"). I was scouting for some new talent, so I invited the band to Perkins for a slice of pie. Next thing I knew, I had recruited 17 new members for Hard Taco: Jon, Jeff, Thellea, Ty, Russell, Darin, Adam, Aaron, Josh, Marsha, other Zach, David, Tom, Nicole, Dan, Sandy, and Siobhan. Nine albums and TONS of doughnuts later, there have been remarkably few personnel changes. It's been a great ride, and I'd like to thank each and every one of you who helped us along the way, and I think you know who you are. (I'm looking your way, D'Addario guitar strings!)

  If you're in the mood for a sentimental drinking song about lost love and self-pity, the November HT song, "Tonight the Rafters Roar,"  may be just the medicine you need. However, if you are wheezing and short of breath, I would consider albuterol first. You can try the song as second line therapy if the albuterol doesn't work. 

With Warmest Regards,

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Gimme Yer Lunch Money

Dear Friends, 

  So I'm hanging out, you know, around town, minding my own business, and some dumb-looking guy walks by looking all whatever, stupid and stuff. So I shove him a few times, and his girlfriend says, "Pick on someone your own size!" What's that all about? It's hard to find someone exactly my size to pick on. Most of the people who are as tall as me and weigh as much as I do so much fatter than I am. I mean it's disgusting sometimes to think that they just let themselves go like that. Anyway, I realized that if I lost 50 pounds, I could safely and fairly pick on people who are 50 pounds lighter than me, without the stigma of mismatched weight classes. Furthermore, those guys who are my current size would feel guilty about picking on me. It's a win-win situation. Suddenly the cultural obsession with weight loss makes sense to me. 
  The key will be to slim down without losing any of the intangible qualities that make me such an effective bully. After all, good bullying is not just about throwing your weight around. In fact, it's not about violence at all. It is about grace and honor. When most people think of bullies they think of intimidation and arm twisting, but the true bully is foremost at harmony with himself. He meditates on patience and humility, striving to achieve an objective state of completeness. Only when he attains this transcendent state can he focus his entire being on giving swirlies, grundies, wet willies, and atomic noogies to twerps who have it coming. 
  The true bully knows his enemy as he knows himself, and anticipates his enemy's next move. For instance, when I say, "Hey, Twinkie, give me your lunch money or else," I have to be prepared to defend against a possible "Or else what?" Furthermore, when I lift someone up by their shirt and slam them against a locker with their feet dangling, I have to be prepared to defend against a possible pants-wetting. 
  Speaking of pants-wetting, I'm about ready for a new pair of jeans just thinking about the October Hard Taco song, "Hooded Jackets." If you've ever yearned for the summer to finally end, this is your torch song. Be careful, though, because it kind of rocks, so don't play it too loud or your mom might take away your boom box until you learn to be more considerate of others who don't have the capacity to rock as hard as you do. I'm still waiting to get my boom box privileges back from when I played the fourth Boston album in my parents house in 1992. 

With Warmest Regards,

Monday, September 1, 2003

Sing with me ee ee ee ee

Dear Friends,

   I hope you are having a fulfilling Labor Day, or "Labour Day," for you lazy Canadians. I only call you lazy because you also skip work on Victoria Day, Canada Day, Remeberence Day, and Boxing Day. Also because you always call in sick on Fridays, and then later that day I see you at Home Depot with your cousin from out of town.  I have much more respect for harder working countries like Japan who consolidate their holidays (i.e. Kinro-Kansha-No-Hi, or Labor Thanksgiving Day.) I have a friend who went there once in February and said they don't even get off early for Lincoln's Birthday. 

   Speaking of upcoming holidays, October 29th is Korean Alphabet Day, as in "Only 58 more shopping days until Korean Alphabet Day!" I think we should have an Alphabet Day, too, primarily because we already have a theme song. It would be a touching show of patriotism to have 15,000 people taking their hats off and singing their ABC's before a baseball game. The great flaw with the English Alphabet Song is that there seems to be some controversy about what the last line is. I learned it as, "Now I know my ABC's, next time won't you sing with me," but some people end it with, "come along and sing with me." If we're going to institute Alphabet Day as a holiday, that's going to have to be standardized. I suggest, "Now I know my ABC's, Sing with meeeeeeeeeee." That should satisfy both parties, because nobody has to add any phrases that make them uncomfortable.

  Now that I think about it, English Alphabet Day might really bring together from all over the world. There are probably at least 100 other countries that use the English alphabet, and many of them don't even speak English! I'm sure they would get behind English Alphabet Day. In fact, I bet we would export a lot of limited edition Red White and Blue Alpha-Bits. 

  The September Hard Taco song is entitled, "Forced to Breed in Captivity." As you can probably surmise from the title, it's a duet. If you're like me, you may think of duet as a four-letter word. It always makes me think of John Denver and Miss Piggy. They would always be singing some stupid love song that would start with Miss Piggy swooning over John Denver. Somehow, by the end of the song she always worked herself up into a jealous rage and was punching him. It was predictable and boring, and only worth sitting through because Veterinarian's Hospital was often next. Let's work together to remove the stigma of the word duet, and cleanse our minds of any memory of John Denver.


Friday, August 1, 2003

Love Is

Dear Friends,

  This is the kind of day that people who write newsletters live for. We newsletter writers are kind of a strange lot, I guess, but we really salivate over the idea of using outlines.

I. Outline
  A. Love is Really Great
     1. Nothing is Greater than Love
     2. Music Without Love is Worthless Crap
  B. I Hate Love Why Bother
III. Sexy Hard Taco Summerwear
IV. He May Well Have Died for Your Sins
V. Conclusion

II. "TENDER IS THE HEART," the first new Hard Taco album in over a year, is now available! It includes ten of the best loved favorites from the website over the last year, all remixed and remastered, plus all kinds of exciting extras.

A. Love is Really Great
You people have often berated me for not writing more love songs. I would like to thank you for teaching me a lesson.  You couldn't be more right! As it turns out, 1. There is nothing greater than love and 2. Music without love is worthless crap! To prove this assertion, I have worked all year to write ten of the most deeply personal love songs ever and put them on the new Hard Taco album. If your very soul has ever ached from the suffocating embrace of true love, you will certainly relate to such favorites as "Let's Talk About Feelings," "Don't Do That to My Heart," or "I Never Met a Woman (Like the One I've Met in You)." Everyone will find something to yearn along with in this collection.

B. I Hate Love Why Bother
If this is your response, you should still consider buying a copy of "Tender Is the Heart." The album also includes a hidden bonus track (Hint: It's track 4!) of non-love related, overtly masculine Hard Taco music entitled, "Unemployment Line." Honestly, though... I know you've been hurt before, but that's no reason to slam the door on love forever.  Love may right there under your nose you just have to open your nose and let it in!

III. Sexy Hard Taco Summerwear
Here's a weird development. I am pleased to announce that the "Taco Stand" is officially open for business. You can actually purchase Hard Taco merchandise such as T-shirts, underwear, frisbees, etc. Why not get some? If this seems a little too commercial for a band that doesn't really exist, keep in mind that the company that makes the merchandise gets all of the profits. I get nothing except the voyeuristic satisfaction of knowing that YOUR BABY is wearing a Hard Taco bib. Please buy one, put it on the baby and send me a picture. (At least put SOMETHING on that baby. It makes me uncomfortable when you send me pictures of the baby naked.) 

IV. He May Well Have Died for Your Sins
I know what you've been waiting for and I'm going to give it to you in the worst way... Christian Rock! Check out the August song, "I Asked for a Barbell." It doesn't really rock, actually. It's a pretty acoustic song, and come to think of it, it's not especially Christian either. There is, however, an instrumental part where you can sing, "Christ Almighty Lord and Savior hallowed son of our immaculate Virgin Mother" if you are so inclined. If it doesn't seem to fit, try singing the word savior in three syllables (i.e. Say-vee-yore).

V. Conclusion
I don't really have a good conclusion, so I borrowed this one from my "commendable" fifth grade book report.

"In conclusion, The Wind in the Willows is a very interesting book about animals who have to get taught valuable lessons and with an interesting ending. I recommend The Wind in the Willows because it is fun to read especially if you like animals like me. "

With Warmest Regards,
- Zach

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

The Sun is Flat

Dear Friends,

    Has anyone else noticed that if you take the 'ac' out of 'Hard Taco Digest,' you're left with 'Hard To Digest'? You know what else is hard to digest without the AC? My car! And my house! It's turning into a real scorcher out there this summer and I don't know where I would be without modern urban amenities like temperature control.
   You know, when you're a hard working rock band on the road, one of things you really notice is that different motels have different air conditioning units. We always stay at Red Roof Inn, primarily because their Member Rewards rooms used to come standard with the Friedrich Quietmaster SL35J30. There's nothing like the comfort and peacefulness of a noiseless split system AC unit when you're feverishly trashing a motel room in a drunken rage.
    That's how it used to be, anyway. This last year, Red Roof downgraded their AC's, and it's changed things a bit. First of all the whole band quit drinking altogether. In fact, we usually just make the groupies stay on the bus after the show, because the low hum of the new units is such a killjoy we all just feel like sitting around and watching TV. Sometimes we'll play Uno, but even that seems unnecessarily demanding with all that low-grade white noise in the background. The room temperature is fine, I guess, but being cool doesn't make you cool, as they say.
     Speaking of being uncool, you know who is number one on my "Forget You!" list this week? Weird Al. That guy doesn't have his finger on the pulse of anything.
    This month's song is called "Flatness," and it's a tribute to stubborn reactionaries everywhere. Those of us who ask ourselves if the Earth is really round, and come up with the only logical conclusion... Yes! Round like a pizza. The sun is also flat, by the way.

With warmest regards,

Sunday, June 1, 2003

A Decade Fondly Remembered

Dear Friends,

   If you remember any of the following, you were probably alive during the 1980s"

1. The phrase, "That would be Smurfy!"
2. The first two years of George Bush Senior's presidency
3. Funny T-shirts

   That's all I can think of right now, and I'm second guessing whether the last one should count. Nevertheless, it should now be abundantly clear why I burden you with pointless, impersonal mass emails every month. Where else would get such charming regurgitations of pop culture nostalgia?
   For those of you who weren't alive during the 1980s, don't feel bad. There will be a special section next month of jokes that will only be funny to people who were dead by 1979.
   Anyway, the reason I bring all of this up is that "The Eighties" (as we used to call it) was when we, as a nation, finally learned how to dance. If you ever want to be completely repulsed, rent a movie that was filmed in the sixties or seventies, and fast forward to the dance sequence. It will make you wonder how the human race ever perpetuated itself. I did a little research on the web, and it turns out there may have been a rudimentary form of dancing even as early as the 1940s! Thankfully, there aren't any movies that go back that far, and no one filming a period piece about that era would be sadistic enough to subject us to this.
   How does this apply to Hard Taco? Well, the June song, "Pottymouth," is a quirky, danceable frolic that will make you want to really cut footloose like that maniac in "Flashdance." It's perfect for doing all the great moves from the Wiener Dog Strut and the Chubbo to the Funky Skidoo. Don't waste another second... Hurry over to K-mart because you can't download leg warmers from our site (yet!)

With warmest regards,

Our motto is and always will be: "There is no cure for Pac-man fever! But a couple of aspirin may help bring the fever down."

Thursday, May 1, 2003

And I Certainly Don't Know How to Insert Headers

Dear Friends,

  You've probably noticed that Hawaiians say everything twice, like "Mahi Mahi" or "Humu humu nuku nuku apu ah ah." Therefore, when I tell you that organ donation is a "win-win" situation, you may think I am practicing for a ukulele song. To the contrary, I am merely referring to the fact that donating an organ is the soundest investment a brain dead person can make. In many European countries, organ donation status is presumed unless you specifically request an exemption from the government. Why is it any different here, at a time when organ shortages are approaching Depression-era magnitude? I would like to exercise my power as a celebrity endorser to urge you to get a donor card the next time you are at the DMV. If you want, you can even be selective about which organs you wish to donate. For instance, you can give away your skin and your lungs but keep your eyes. (Note: even nice eyes probably won't get you a date after your skin has been donated.)
  Organs are just another example of quality taking a back seat to quantity. When the chips are down, I like some cold hard numbers to hang my harp on. After all, the Hard Taco machine spits out one song a month, no matter what, whether it's good or bad. That's the power of raw numbers, my friend. For May of 2003, we have reached a new milestone in our quest for the objectively measurable. The new song, "Kid Fingers," has more lyrics than any other Hard Taco song in our exhausting history, or for that matter, any other song I can think of offhand. With the help of Microsoft's Word Count feature, I am privileged to present you with some data supporting this claim. See for yourself how we match up to other verbose songs: 
"It's the End of the World As We Know It" by R.E.M. - 362 words
"We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel  410 words
"One Week" by Barenaked Ladies  592 words
"Tangled Up in Blue" by Bob Dylan - 594 words
"American Pie" by Don McLean  856 words
"Kid Fingers" by Hard Taco - 892 words

   I would have presented this in chart form, but the Word Count is the only feature in Microsoft Word that I'm comfortable with. The point is, do not be lulled by the professional musicianship, catchy melodies, and high recording quality of those other songs. Those are just cheap studio tricks that you have to slather on when you don't have the sheer force of 892 words to back you up. 
   Anyway, enjoy, and keep those organs coming coming. Aloha!

With warmest regards, 

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Only 4th Graders Think Sporks Are Funny

Dear Friends,

  There aren't many of us left anymore, but those of us who lived through the early nineties will never forget those tumultuous and idealistic times. At Nicolet High School there was a short-lived underground newspaper called, "Gathering No Moss." One of my classmates wrote an article about the sluttiness of the Homecoming Queen. Another one wrote an article about how funny the word "Spork" was. A third student wrote an editorial about the importance of voting. All three of them were suspended. Here's where I became involved. Not only did I physically handle a copy of this publication, but I actually signed a petition asking for the suspensions to be revoked. Honestly, I thought the Spork guy deserved it, but there was no space on the petition to explain the need for selective amnesty. By initialing that document, I was suddenly vaulted into the same category as the extremists who wanted reprieve for the Spork guy. And don't think there weren't consequences... I had to move three or four times before I finally got off all of the mailing lists. 

  Anyway, it turns out I come from a long line of dissidents (and by long I mean a line connecting two points.) In the 60's my parents chose to be tear-gassed rather than walk an extra two blocks around a group of protesting students on their way to class. This is a true story. The rest of their stories from the 60's are surprisingly uninteresting. 

  And speaking of surprisingly uninteresting, April's Hard Taco song is called "Hunger Strike." For those of you locking arms on the San Francisco freeways this weekend, this song may be just the inspiration you need. Be strong, brothers and sisters.


Saturday, March 1, 2003

Hee the Old Haw

Dear Friends,

  America has many things to be proud of, but I have always felt that it is our rich heritage of folk lore that makes us truly stand out among peoples. I treasure beyond all else those moments in time that magically transform something American into something much greater... Americana. This war that we're starting may seem pointless on all levels, but indirectly, we may be fighting to preserve the great American art of storytelling. The more I think about it, the more I want to head down to my local Army recruiter this afternoon and get a pamphlet.
  Few characters in American folk lore still hold as much notoriety and charm as the Great Mermule of Mississippi. Those of you who didn't grow up in the South may only know the Mermule as a side character in the Paul Bunyan saga. (If I remember correctly, Paul Bunyan catches the Mermule disturbing a log jam. They wrestle for 6 days and 6 nights, but they're too evenly matched, so they eventually call a truce and build a giant windmill together.)
  It would be wrongheaded to assert that I was the first person to put the Mermule's adventures into song. Alan Lomax recorded Woody Guthrie doing a version of "Let's Hee the Haw My Darling Only," which chronicles the brief romance between the Mermule and one of the girls who sold Johnny Cakes to the longshoremen. I also seem to remember a song about the Mermule helping a family keep their apartment during The Depression but I haven't been able to find any reference to it on Google. (If anyone remembers the title, let me know.)
  Anyway, this month's Hard Taco song will be a welcome trip down The Nostalgia River for those of you who grew up listening to stories of the Great Mermule. For those of you meeting the Mermule for the first time, I hope you're hungry for a healthy serving of delicious Americana. Remember, if we don't invade Iraq right away, there may be no more Mermule stories someday!

With warmest regards,

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Sell Out or Die Trying

Dear Friends,

  It has recently come to my attention that certain bands who run in similar circles have taken to challenging their fans to compete in ping pong tournaments. Vic Kardell from promos asked me to try to set something like that up this month. Forget it, Vic. You should know by now that Hard Taco is about the music and the music only. The day I play ping pong against some stupid fan is the day I lay down my guitar forever. We talked it over this morning and the rest of the band feels the same way. If you want, we will do a few publicity shots holding paddles, but there's no way we will actually play ping pong against people we've never met before.

  February's song is called "The Loser's Union." I may have put the apostrophe in the wrong place, but it's way too late to change that now. I don't think it really affects the message of the song, which is, as of this moment, that I will not prostrate myself before a bunch of whiny teenagers for the sake of some dirty money ping pong competition.

With warmest regards,