Happy Halloween From File 23 Magazine

Posted: November 1, 2009 in The Roper Files
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october 30th 2009 055
The party started early here this weekend. About a month ago a reunion show by that OTHER Little Ole Band From Texas (the Butthole Surfers) was announced. I call a few friends; no one wants to go. It’s the usual litany of excuses: “ I hate them”
“Can’t afford it”
“Dallas? Forget it…”
“Weren’t they just here?”

Well yeah actually they did play Dallas within the last year; but that was on a Wednesday night. I had to work the next day, no getting around it. But this time was on a Friday night and when my friend Tom calls and says Let’s Go I am game. They put on simply the Greatest Show On Earth. Movies, strobes, and smoke machines; it’s never boring to say the least. october 30th 2009 001We ride on that gleaming blur of lights and concrete known as I-30 and cruise east towards Dallas, detouring to pick up his brother James, who is married and has kids now. Oh boy a for-real guys night out. About a half hour later we are pulling into the parking lot of the Granada Theater in Dallas.
There is a small crowd hanging around out on the sidewalk in front of the box office. We see several people we know and stop and talk before going in. Many people are already wearing their Halloween costumes. What better time to see a show than on Halloween? I remember seeing King Crimson on Halloween back in 1995 and the image of the guy in front of me wearing the cow costume silhouetted against the band is forever imprinted in my brain.
october 30th 2009 011
The Granada is a very old movie theater; Tom and I used to drive to it in the late 70’s/early 80’s and watch double bills like ERASERHEAD and FREAKS. A few years ago they ripped out the seats and turned it into a live venue. I hadn’t bothered to check it out yet but then again since I find the majority of rock acts these days to be slightly redundant and tiresome. But when the Butthole Surfers are touring I will get off the couch.

Thirty bucks at the door got us in. We missed the first act but the second opener Peaches was interesting. Think of a punk Madonna ( who actually plays a number of instruments) with a frequent number of onstage costume changes and with a big emphasis on Gary Numan-ish electronic noise and you pretty much get the drift. october 30th 2009 021

The highlight of the set was probably when two audience members in Halloween costumes (Elvis and Santa!) climbed up onstage and danced as the audience cheered. october 30th 2009 051The Granada has installed additional screens to both sides of the stage and it looks like digital projection equipment now sits side by side with the audio soundboard so this is perfect for the Butthole Surfers multi-media assault on its audience sensibilities. I first saw them in 1986 and back then they had movie projectors (the old-fashioned kind with film reels) set up to show movies behind them. Now they had three screens behind them and one on each side of the stage, all with digital projected imagery being broadcast at once while they played. october 30th 2009 025To the uninitiated the Surfers might sound like just random noise, but what amazes me is how well they reproduce that noise every time I see them. I get the same feeling listening to them I got the first time I ever saw a MAD comic book. Not the black and white magazine we know today but the color ones with that insane Bill Elder artwork. I get the same feeling listening to the Butthole Surfers I got the first time I ever read a National Lampoon or ZAP Comics. The feeling that it’s okay to draw/write/ paint/or play a musical instrument any way you wanted. Coloring outside of the lines if you will; that to me is a wonderful level of artistic freedom. When I listen to tunes like “100 Million Dead” or “Jimi” I smile.
october 30th 2009 026Can’t really offer a you a detailed review of the show because I didn’t really take notes but I did take about a hundred photos. And good thing I took them when I did because during their final chaotic number, they turned on the fog machines and despite the two industrial-sized fans I saw mounted on the rear of the balcony reduced visibility in the theater to near-zero.
Security was almost not needed at this show; the Surfers audience is aging and it showed more than a little Friday night. In fact Gibby Haynes even said something to the crowd between songs about “look at how many people here are wearing glasses” (which included Yours Truly and three fourths of the Surfers) I saw no one moshing (thank Gawd) no fights and no one really visibly drinking to excess. Compared to some of their shows I have attended in the past, the contrast was as startling to me as the loops of exploding heads shown behind them as they played would have been to Tipper Gore.
october 30th 2009 034Toms brother James ( who is a few years younger that us) was laughing at Tom and I while we were walking back to the car because we were both moaning and groaning like two old men after having to stand up for four or five hours (“Oy…for a couple of Naproxens!”)
Is this what I have to look forward to when I turn fifty?” he wanted to know.
Yeah and it’ll happen faster than you think  too.” I think to myself. october 30th 2009 035The next day I awake with a slight headache and ringing ears; how’d that happen? I am talking to “K” on the phone long-distance when I hear the mailman at the door. Mentally chambering a round, I head for the door thinking: “this better not be another goddam bill” when I find a box on the porch wrapped in red and white tape. Someone has sent me a CARE package from Canada. Oh…boy!!!
october 31th 2009 002After carefully opening it with a box cutter the first layer reveals two bags of Old Dutch dill-pickle flavored potato chips: manna from the Gods? No just obviously from their placement the first thing “K” wanted me to see when I opened it. I became totally addicted to these during my ten-day visit to Canada. While walking through the Vancouver airport on my way out, I walked past kiosk after kiosk that visibly had Old Dutch chips on their shelves but not a single one of them had the dill flavored ones. I didn’t fret about it too much at the time because I was already lugging a Canadian coffee cup, a beautiful but delicate-as-dinnerware oyster shell and an even more delicate sand dollar “K” found while we were sharing coffee on the beach at Tofino one heavenly morning. So sacrificing potato chips was a deliberate choice; I figured carrying three delicate objects 4000 miles was challenging enough.
November lst 2009 008Another souvenir I brought back from Tofino was a handful of Tazo tea bags I snagged from a shelf in the lobby of the hotel, specifically “Wild Sweet Orange” flavor. Hey two hundred bucks a night of my hard-earned cash for a room; I figured a few cups of tea would be an okay souvenir.
It wasn’t until I got back to the US that I bothered boiling some water and trying some. After taking the first sip I think I felt my pupils dilate; this stuff is like liquid candy. The pleasure sensors in my brain went into overdrive: “I want more of this stuff…” Now I was wishing I had snagged all the bags on the shelf back in Tofino instead of the half dozen or so I did take.

A quick inspection of the tea bag wrapper reveals (surprise!) “Made In Canada” Upon visiting their website ( which resembles a video poker game) it lists two local grocery stores that allegedly carry their teas. After driving to both of them I discover neither of them have the Wild Sweet Orange, only teas with weird names like “Tranquility” and “Bliss” etc. Dammit!
Bigelow makes an orange-flavored tea that tastes okay but the only way they could make this box any gay-er would be to have two Raggedy Andys smooching on the front of it:
september 6th 002“K” has thoughfully included a few precious packages of Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea as well as three other flavors so I can quit trying to squeeze any more flavor out of the Tofino bags (“Come on, baby!”) october 31th 2009 003She has also tossed in an assortment of three of my favorite Canadian candy bars: Coffee Crisps and my two favorite varities of Aero bars: peppermint and “milk lait” and two packages of chewing gum that have Maple leaves printed on them. November lst 2009 003Besides two packages of dill chips, she has included one of the ketchup flavored variety. These are really tasty with cheeseburgers. Since they don’t last forever I can’t really horde them; must eat them soon. I will make chicken salad sandwiches to eat with the dill chips; Sunday I will get a burger for lunch to eat with the ketchup chips. I love my CARE packages; will have to assemble one to return her way. A certain someone I know in Canada who used to live here in the States has told me she misses little things. Things like Almond Joys she can’t find in Canada…November lst 2009 007So okay so it’s Sunday and Halloween is over. Happy Halloween to you anyway !
This has been a memorable Halloweekend for me…


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