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JULY 2002


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July 25, 2002

Diary entry: TROMA-TIZED! (Picture right: Future "Tromette;" Isabelle "Necrophilia" Stephen, in a scene from ''Sins of The Father,'' a Light & Dark Cinema movie. Also watch out for her in upcomng homemade splatter flick THE SHYCOPATH)

Late last Friday night after watching a video I turned on the boob tube & who do I see on TV but Troma Films' Sgt. Kabukiman sticking his tongue out live at CBC cameras during a televised Just For Laughs comedy fest bash of some sort. CBC was wrapping up the festival, mostly promoting boring upcoming shows of theirs & interviewing the personalities that'll be hosting them, so seeing Kabukiman in the background ham it up & hog the limelight was a chuckle (apparently the Sgt. caught shit for disrupting). For a few seconds I could also see local aspiring B-movie actress (& publisher of the recent FLIRT cheesecake comic-art anthology) Isabelle Stephen (pictured above) wrapped around the Sgt., striking poses. Team Troma was in town to promote the Canadian premiere of their comedic doc ALL THE LOVE YOU CANNES which I previewed last week. Isabelle called me to go to the next night's screening & I thought, what the hell, seeing a Q&A between Troma head honcho Lloyd Kaufman & his fans could be interesting even though I'd already seen the film.

Seats were packed at Cinema Du Parc & after being introduced to Kaufman in the aisles, he immediately announced to the patrons that Rick "Trembleeez" was in the house & to my surprise there was a bunch of applause. Then Daniel Walther, the stagehand/mascot that normally helps out at Montreal's annual Fant-Asia film fest (which was canceled this year), donned Troma's official, stinky, much-used, mildew-laden foam latex Toxic Avenger mask (I know because I dared look inside & take a whiff) & went up front with Team Troma's Doug Sakmann, who was dressed as the hell-raising Kabukiman throughout the CANNES doc, but disguised especially for us lucky Montrealers that night as a "Frenchman" (over-the-top accent & all). They worked up the audience 'til Kaufman made the scene (K tried to coax me up there before him but I told him I'm a lousy public-speaker). He ranted all against "evil conglomerates" holding him down just like he does in LOVE YOU CANNES & mentioned at one point that the guy who directed this summer's SCOOBY DOO used to be a Troma employee & will be involved in an upcoming remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD (!). Kaufman had to fend off a couple of groans for that distressing tidbit (I suppressed mine 'cause I was front-row-center, within earshot) but he assured the audience not to worry because the man has plenty of good ideas. He introduced Isabelle as "Necrophilia," who'll be making a cameo in upcoming Troma flick TALES FROM THE CRAPPER & she posed & postured next to him like a true starlet. Fantasia & Cinema Du Parc programmer Mitch Davis loomed at the side of the stage asking additional questions & before wrapping it up Kaufman put me on the spot again pointing out how Rick "Trembleeez" was in the house. He really liked the cartoon I did of his movie, saying I got all the right details from it. It's funny to hear him constantly remind his public how much his movies are pieces of shit, but on his insistence, the audience was all made to collectively root for the perpetuation of "independent cinema."

After Kaufman did a bunch of autograph signings & souvenir photos for fans we all ended up at Luba Lounge for drinks. Beer & margaritas went down fast. Glasses of wine for K. We talked about old newspaper comic-strips for a bit, he likes the older stuff just like me, first half of last century. He also loves old Fleischer Bros. animation & said Troma was able to rerelease some of their lesser known cartoon shorts like The Little King, based on the newspaper strip of the same name. Someone humorously pointed out how he was holding hands with each of the girls on either side of him simultaneously. One of these girls, "Necrophilia," happened to be holding mine too so I jokingly bugged everybody to join hands with us as well, to make a chain & raise them all in mawkish honor of "independent cinema." Troma's Doug the phony Frenchman ran after customers offering to draw fake mustaches on their faces just like his & actually convinced 3 giggly girls.

Afterwards we all walked down the street to the Cleopatra strip bar/transvestite cabaret on St-Laurent & St-Catherine, Kaufman reluctantly following along (on the way, looking for a kindred spirit, he asked me if I was tired but I was too hyped to see this show I'd never been to before, so I encouraged him it was only a couple blocks away). I followed him past the "ushers" as they were laughing at the "generous tip" he'd left them for letting him & the girl he was with inside: fifty cents. Ha ha. Way to go, those bouncers are overpriced & pushy. Fuck 'em. At one point one of them burly beefcakes in a monkey-suit practically yanked my beer out my hands even though I was resisting 'cause it was still a quarter of the way full. If I would've resisted any more I'm sure it would've been all the excuse the bully needed to bop me on the head. We were too late for the tranny show so we caught a couple of softcore strip acts & I left as Team Troma & their entourage started dancing up a storm on the stripper stage near closing time ("tired" Kaufman included: what a dynamo).

July 18, 2002

NOSTALGIA DEPARTMENT: REMEMBER "MILLENNIAL ANGST"? (Pictured right: "Y2K bug" with the year 2000 emblazoned on its back gobbling up computers, bought at the corner drugstore)

I caught a minor case of the "millennial angst" bug back when 1999 was coming to a close only 'cause I wanted to make sure my band got to play at least once that year. The very first thing I actually ever posted on the web (on one of those free one-page promo sites you can't add images to) was the following batch of diary entries documenting the evolution of that show...

THE AMERICAN DEVICES are a Montreal-based band that's been together for twenty years. We evolved influenced by the first wave of punk rock to presently who knows what hybrid of what's gone thru our noggins the last couple o' decades. Unfortunately, Montreal has to be one of THE WORST cities on earth to try and perpetuate a musical outfit striving to produce tunes that aren't carbon copies of whatever happens to be "hip with the pods." Hopefully, things will get better for uncompromising younger MTL bands out there (The Spaceshits & Godspeed You Black Emperor seem to be making some waves), but it looks like it's too late for us (about time, isn't it?). No one is the least bit interested besides a handful of loyal local yokels. The only thing that's kept us together so long is the fact that we happen to get along well and the sheer creative kick that writing warped songs offers. Having a (fatalistic) sense of humor has helped. However, we recently wiped the smiles off our faces when we decided we couldn't even afford to keep our rehearsal space any longer. THAT'S how broke we are. We're contemplating having our very last show New Year's Eve, 1999, in what will most likely be the shabbiest dive we can secure. To commemorate this self-indulgent event, I've written the following "AMERICAN DEVICES' LAST SONG" to be performed at the very end of our set. Enjoy. (Note: following the song lyrics I'll be posting periodical diary/countdown style updates on the band's state 'til the turn of the century)...



copyright 1999 Rick Trembles

August 27, 1999...

Last night I went to see GEARBOX (the band our drummer Jackie fronts) at the Barfly on the Main. The owner was drunk and I asked him what he's doing New Years 2000. He laughed and said that's when his birthday is. I said it's the American Devices' 20th anniversary and we'd like to "celebrate" by playing his bar and launching a CD at the turn of the century (I didn't tell him about our breakup gimmick). He thought it was a great idea and said to call so we can start working on it. I cornered Jackie and told her the good news. She said great but the only thing is, she can't play New Year's Eve because she'd been planning something with her family (!) Very disappointed, I waddled over to Chris (Crackpot) Burns to cry in my beer to him my woes. He said to forget Jackie and offered to play drums instead. He told me he could probably do a better imitation of our original drummer of 13 years (Cups Von Helm) than she does anyhow, and went on and on about how great a drummer Cups was and there wasn't anyone like him. Then it dawned on me... What might CUPS himself be doing New Years Eve? I emailed him to ask if he was free to fork his butt on over and drum with us. The problem is, he's been married and living in San Francisco bringing up a kid ever since leaving the band years ago. But every time he calls me, he keeps asking me to move over there and start a new "Captain Beefheartish" outfit with him because he's got nobody to play with and he misses the Devices so bad. Haven't heard back from him yet. If the Devices don't get to play New Year's Eve on our 20th birthday, then we won't be able to split up. I can't let that happen. I can't go on with this cursed band for another century!

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to get a recording session together so we can commit the 3 last songs we've written to CD; Rob's "Big Brown World" and "Two", and my "50/50." So far the only place that seems decent can only do it for 30 bucks an hour and we have to move equipment in there, which will cost another 50 or so for transportation. I want to add these songs to our others from the "90's Demos" cassette we released last year. They're all on DAT, so I want to put them on a master CD and burn off copies to hand out and try to generate interest. If nobody in any position to help us along with these CDs even bats an eyelash (which is highly likely) I'll just keep making copies until I've got enough to put in local stores for whoever the hell might give 3 shits. I want to title it simply "Devises Américaines," which, in French, translates as "American Money." For the cover I want to use a "surrealistic" black and white "Snakes 'n' Ladders" type cartoon painting of mine that I did for Montreal's Just For Laughs Museum Comic Art Exhibition last year. The main problem right now is to get some spare bucks to accomplish any of this. Rob's probably got a few bucks saved up, but he won't budge until someone else pitches in. And we take it as an unfortunate given that Jackie and Andre aren't gonna toss a cent our way. So it's up to me to generate half the dough (of which I got not one penny at the moment). Let's see if any happens to fall in my lap before Y2 freakin' K!

September 11, 1999…

It doesn't look good for this millennium band-termination gimmick. After waiting a couple of weeks for a response to my email from ex-drummer Frisco-Cups, I called him long distance (he never checks his email). I asked him about playing drums for us this New Year's and he said that as much as he'd love to do it, it's not likely he'll be flying halfway across the planet. Besides, he's got plans. My only other option is to take up Chris Burns' offer of replacing Jackie for the one gig, but that would mean much trial & error during (many) rehearsals with no guarantee of it working out. I don't think I have the patience. I want this done "badda-bing, badda-boom," & I want it done reasonably properly to leave a half-decent corpse. Too bad. I was planning to elaborate on the theme by having our first set end just before midnight 2000 & then ask the audience (if any) if they think we should continue for another century. If we were asked to do an encore it would force us to play the following century, so we'd announce that since we broke up the previous century, we're as of now "reunited" & jumping on the "comeback" bandwagon. The continuity having been broken by being officially terminated between the time we ended the set, the audience response, and the clock striking twelve. If there were to be no audience response, then so be it. We're done for. Our fate's all the audience's hands. How's that for interactivity?

Now I'm entertaining the idea of actually playing sometime next year. I've got it in my noggin that I want to record our 3 last songs & put them out on the internet with our "Nineties Demos" material as MP3s. Our "20 year anniversary last show" could simultaneously be a launch party for the web site where these songs would be available for anyone to download for free, no strings attached. We can advertise this fact on posters up and down The Main, thumbing our noses at any notion of attempting to make money off our music (20 years has taught me it's an impossibility). I need an excuse to learn how to build a site anyhow & this one could link up to the comix site I'm going to have to build soon. We could make the front page of the Devices site look like an album cover or something. I wonder if there's any keeners out there that might be into helping out on such a "futuristic" project? Could there even be grant money being offered for such a fiasco? With the black cloud hanging over this band, I'd bet we're blacklisted from any if there is. Shed a tear-droplet for The American Demises. I bet you find this real funny. Well, I'll let you in on a little secret. It's always been about the music. The rest is superfluous, asshole.

September 22, 1999…

What's bumming me out now is the realization that if we don't play at least once this year, we'll have broken our record of having played every year for the last 20 years of our existence. What bums me out about THAT bummer of a realization is the fact that that's our only incentive for trying to look for a gig somewhere before the century runs out. Rock & roll! We never split up, but we never had a reason to play anywhere. Does that make our band any less of a band than it already is (less of, that is)? Maybe we could just go up on stage somewhere where some friends are playing and altogether strike one single note and walk off stage so that officially, we WILL have played together somewhere as a band once this year. Because I want to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest lasting unacknowledged loser band that ever existed. At least it's SOMETHING!

Here's some terrible title ideas for our first & last CD if we ever get that far: Outsiderdom, Die of Grief, Pisstake, La Revanche du Berceau (name given to the population explosion promoted by the Quebec government in the 1940's), The Telegraphers (fraudulent voters), Bunk Rock, Here Goes Nothing, Eke Out (parodying Frank Zappa's "Freak Out"), Highfalutin, Sewer Pickles, Call it a Night, A Brand New Day That's Never Been Touched, Cuddly Flunky, The Last of Our Kind, Away We Go, & Freakflagpole.

October 19, 1999…

Yeah! A placebo's finally fallen into our laps! A friend of mine (Howard Chakowicz) is launching an "underground" comic book November fifth at a place called "ARTISHOW" (never been there) on Montreal's Main. The Devices' drummer's other band GEARBOX, is booked to play among others. Howard had originally asked if we were interested and I said "not likely" (because I didn't want to do a full-length gig unless it was to be our apocalyptic/apoplectic exit out of this pesky century). Then it dawned on me: Here's our chance to have at least played ONCE this goddamned year and insure our existence as the longest lasting pathetic excuse for an unknown band that there ever was! So I agreed to the show and suggested we only play 15 minutes to make it hassle free as far as paying for rehearsal time goes (even though we can play most of our shit blindfolded by now). Thing is, I want our NEWEST songs to be the priority, but they've been coming along kind of clunky because of what I think is the unnecessarily accelerated tempo we usually play them in. So I suggested we do a 4 or 5-song set deliberately, overtly slow for the novelty of it. That'll allow us to properly pick the riffs apart and put them under a much-needed microscope, the kind of which playing too fast can't provide (sometimes we race through our stuff so fast that I wonder if it's to cover up weak spots). I want to concentrate on the music for a change so much this time around that I'm even considering either looking for someone to sing for us or doing the songs instrumentally, because our attempts at vocalizing always get in the way of our convoluted playing. Ugh! I can't believe my big mouth has committed the AMERICAN DEVICES to another humiliating gig! Rock off!

November 6, 1999…

So it's done. It was pretty damn sloppy, but I guess we got through it OK. We played at Howard Chakowicz's book launch for HOWIE ACTION COMIX. It was surprisingly packed, considering there was hardly any coverage from the local weaklies (what else is new) and I didn't see one poster up on the streets. I guess Howie gives good word of mouth. He probably told every single person that came in the bookstore he works at. Lotsa familiar feces there, but we played so early that people missed us. We got on at about 11 PM like I wanted. The lineup was a folk girl that Howie played drums for whose name I forget, local cartoonist Bernie Mireault's quirky low-fi act with Howie drumming (Bernie drew the official BLAIR WITCH PROJECT comic). Then it was THE AMERICAN DEVICES, GEARBOX, & NUTSAK. I cringed when "Howard the MC" introduced our show as the only one we're doing in all of 1999. We played a short set of 6 songs (Big Brown World, Deusexmachina, Spacey Seasick, Fifty/Fifty, Two, and Wetmare). After we finished, ex-FEARLESS FREEP drummer, George, jokingly yelled out "What? That's it? I paid 2 bucks for that?" Mark Montanchez of STEAK 72 said he liked the fact that we were playing newer songs he didn't recognize. We sounded just a little slower than regular, tired would be a better way to put it. Because we had a grand total 3 fucken hours practice after not having played for a full year (due to a scheduling mix-up that I'm peeved at Rob about). No time for any conceptual tempo alterations, it was tough enough just to get back in shape. We used other people's equipment, nothing was being miked, and there was no sound check so it was all pretty off-the-cuff. It was such a tiny place that I thought the volume would have to be kept down, but I had no choice but to crank it up when I couldn't hear shit (and especially when a stranger told he couldn't hear me either). The PA surprisingly cut through with the vocals. My guitar was still so thin that I'd occasionally find myself on the wrong note once it was too late, because I couldn't make out where I was by ear. So I threw a lot of bum notes and screwed up a couple of lyrics. I thought for sure we were dying but, as usual, people said we sounded great out in the audience. It sounded like crap to me, so I was all stressed and not having much of a good time up on stage. I wish things could be different. More practicing and gigging would definitely help make it feel more second-nature to us and we'd be looser about it and have a good time. I told Howard to shut up onstage while I was packing my jacks because he was at the mike telling people we "deserve respect" and to clap for us. He looked at me & said, "shut up?" and laughed. I had snuck in a 6 pack so I proceeded to get tanked and watch the other bands. Gearbox rocked out. It's true, the sound wasn't bad out in the audience. Intricacies got muddled in the noise but a bit of everything did make its way out there. They were super-tight because they had just finished recording, despite Mia D's arm being sore. Nutsak really rocked out. I was looking forward to their cover of the STOOGES' "Loose," but it didn't work for me. Half the band had to take a crash course in stoogeology beforehand. They played it too fast and they didn't do the guitar solo. I thought their originals sounded more in the spirit of the STOOGES. Mark Montanchez knows we really wanna record, so he asked me if it was OK to give our phone number to his teacher at the recording school he goes to, because students often need guinea-pigs to work with. I jokingly said "sure, why not, as long as they're easily intimidated, because we've been around the block a couple of times." We're familiar with the recording process and don't wanna sound lousy. Everybody miraculously got paid 18 bucks at the end of the night, so Mia D and I went drinking at the Miami 'til closing. All in all, I'm glad we came out. All the cross-pollinating you could ask for in a bunch of like-minded Montreal bands and their next-to-invisible incestuous scene. I'm glad it was someplace we never been before. I wanna play some more now.

July 11, 2002

"FREAKY BUG-EYED WEIRDO GIRLS BROKE EVERYTHING!" (news headline in The Powerpuff Girls)

This week I was originally gonna review The Powerpuff Girls feature instead of Plaster Caster, but I figured, hey, Plaster Caster's more of a rare treat & a screener copy fortunately fell in my lap at the last minute. Just as well, because I have a REAL hard time when it comes to reviewing animated films where the artwork has a distinct style of its own. Since my reviews are illustrated, I end up having to ape whatever style the animation is in & have a rough time doing it justice if I happen to enjoy it (if it's a style I despise, I don't care how badly I represent it). I don't think The Powerpuff Girls is doing so hot at the box-office, which is too bad because it's a nice antidote to the Disney crap that's saturating theaters. "Sugar & spice & everything nice" plus a little thing called Chemical X is how "The Professor" brings the Powerpuff Girls to life in the movie, but director/creator Craig McCracken's recipe called for a mishmash of influences. He studies Jay Ward (Rocky & Bullwinkle) cartoons when he's looking for great writing (who he says is the biggest influence on his career). He examines UPA & early Hanna-Barbera animation for design & Japanese anime for action. Surprisingly, he originally designed the girls based on those unsettlingly sad-eyed kid Keane paintings (pictured above). Three super-powered kindergartners; Blossom, Bubbles, & Buttercup, accidentally destroy "Townsville" while playing a game of tag because they don't know their own strengths! Shunned by the population as a result, feeling guilty & vulnerable, they become easy prey for manipulative mutant monkey-man "Mojo Jojo" to get them to side with him by sympathizing with their similar mutantness! Mojo tricks them into transforming all the zoo's primates into killing machines by telling the girls they're actually helping build a "help-make-the-town-a-better-place-machine"! A monster robot baboon farts bombs out his butt! A Jimmy Durante monkey lookalike terrorizes the population by spreading banana peels all over the streets! Another ape spins tornadoes out of tomato-juice! Screwball comedy with lightning-bolt timing. I can't understand why this thing's rated PG. I was the only person in the theater when I went to see it.

July 4, 2002


I had a "buffalo burger" last week. It was ok. I wasn't expecting it to be actually MADE FROM BUFFALOES though. Somebody told me there's a place nearby in St-Henri that serves 'em. I'm always up for new & weird food so I tried it. I thought it was going to be like buffalo wings, you know, like a bbq-sauce sloppy-joe or something, but it acted & tasted just like a regular burger (except maybe meatier/beefier & it was big). Actually, they should combine it with the buffalo-wing sauce, then they'd have a real gimmick that'd draw people from afar, no? Buffalo-winged sauce sloppy buffalo-meat burgers. Double-buffalo BBQ bison hot beef injection. BBBQ burgers. Service was kinda slow though. Took ages even though I was peering anxiously over the counter the whole time. Maybe 'cause they were extra busy. Or maybe buffaloes need longer to cook? "La Frita" (looks like yer typical greasy-spoon) at 4909 Notre Dame west, corner St-Remi.

Peak heat wave. 105.8 degrees fahrenheit yesterday. Too hot to blather anymore. Snot the heat it's the stupidity.

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