SLACKJAW by JIM KNIPFEL
September 10, 2017

Note to an Old Punk in Green Bay

 

Nubbisco,

I was just listening to that first Cheap Trick album (still my favorite) and was reminded of something incredibly pointless.

††††††††††† Do you remember a guy named Tom Adamany from back in the olden days? Think thatís how it was spelled. Anyway, he used to own Wallyís Spot Supper Club in Green Bay. I donít know if heís still alive, or if the Spot is still there, but he definitely ran it back in the Eighties and early Nineties if not longer. I remember seeing Suburban Mutilation play there at least once. Wasnít that where the ďEl Salvador StompĒ video was shot? That was the night that Italian hardcore band, Raw Power, was supposed to headline but never showed up. And isnít that where Black Flag played on their last tour? The one with Gone and Painted Willie? I couldnít hear for a week after that show.

††††††††††† †But thatís another story. Anyway, it turns out Tomís brother, who lived in Madison, was Cheap Trickís first manager. You probably knew that already.

††††††††††† †Canít remember his first name, but I met his daughter, Carrie Adamany, here in New York City in the early Nineties when I was a security guard at the Guggenheim. Carrie was very sweet. She worked upstairs in the museumís administrative offices, and was dating another guard named Jim Wallerstein. Jim had been in Das Damen, and we became good friends. After Das Damen broke up, he went on to form Sensurround, Desire, New United Monster Show and a couple of other bands. It was Desire, I think, who backed me up when I did an Elvis show at Mercury Lounge, and the drummer that night lives around the corner from me now. Some years after breaking up with Carrie, Jim went on to marry Steve Tylerís ex-wife Bebe Buell, so now heís Liv Tylerís stepdad. Jim and Bebe moved to Connecticut, I think, and opened a hotel for a bit before moving to Nashville, where Jim got involved with some other band.

††††††††††† After leaving the Guggenheim, Carrie, originally being from Wisconsin, started up a little Wisconsin-themed Ďzine called ďDairy AireĒ (of course), with some guy originally from Oconto who was living somewhere in Brooklyn at the time. They interviewed me once, though I forget about what now. I think it was at that interview Carrie told me her Uncle Tom ran the Spot. Next time I came back to Green Bay I asked my dad if he knew the guy who ran the Spot, because my dad knew everyone in that town. So it was no shocker when he blurted out, ďTom Adamany!? Of course I do! Good friend of mine!Ē So that night we went to the Spot for dinner and my dad tried to introduce me, but Tom had already gone home for the night.

††††††††††† Anyway, the other guy who worked on Dairy Aire (for some reason I think his name was Jim, too) also worked for Teen People magazine. A couple of years later, after my third memoir came out, he conscripted a guy named Andy to interview me for the teenybopper set. Andy was from Chicago and was blind, too. He also fronted his own Southern boogie outfit under the name Velcro Lewis. Ever hear of them? Theyíre still around, and Andy and I are still in touch. Turns out over the past couple of years Andyís become good friends with Mike McPadden, who was loosely associated with the New York Press back in the late Nineties when he wrote under the name Selwyn Harris. Selwyn used to write incredibly vicious, ugly, funny things about me, but I always admired the hell out of him. He put out that Happyland Ďzine, if you remember that, and wrote for Hustler, Screw, Genesis, and a slew of other skin mags. He wrote the best goddamn porn film reviews ever.

††††††††††† Anyway, let me back up a second. Carrieís dad, along with being Cheap Trickís manager, also ran a club in Madison just off the corner of State Street and, Christ, now I canít remember the cross street, which is weird because I lived on that street for two years. It started with an ďO,Ē that much I remember. The club was called Merlinís or Grendelís or Helmís Deep or some such shit. Thatís where I saw HŁsker DŁ on the Zen Arcade tour circa 1984 or í85. After the club shut down, he turned the building into a weird but fancy Canterbury Tales-themed hotel. When I was on my book tour in í98, I was put up there in the ďWoman of BathĒ room. Yes, each room was named after a Chaucer character, and The Woman of Bath room had a really, really big bathtub. (Get it?) Fucking absurdly huge thing. I also remember they left a laminated threat on the pillow warning that if they found any evidence that Iíd been smoking in the room, they would oust me on the spot with no refund. And though they offered room service of a sort, this amounted to a cup of frozen yogurt with crushed peanuts sprinkled on top for breakfast. That was the only choice, and they left it in the little room fridge the night before.

††††††††††† They also had a decent (if snooty) bookstore and cafe on the ground floor, which is where I gave the reading. The cafe was, of course, vegetarian, but at least I could get a beer, even if I had to smoke outside in January. Fucking Madison, right?

††††††††††† Anyway, there was a surprisingly large crowd for the reading, which shocked me given I hadnít known anyone in Madison for years. Too bad the reading itself was pretty miserable.

††††††††††† Actually I did know one person in Madison at the time, but she didnít show up for the reading. She was from Ashwaubenon originally, but I met her at the UW when we were in the same German class. I was pretty smitten. We went on one date that summer when we were both back in Green Bay. Went to that bar, Floydís, which was a jazz bar at the time. The whole evening was pretty disastrous. After graduation she went out to California to get her Ph.D. in plant genetics, then took a faculty position back at Madison. She may still be there for all I know. Canít think of her these days without thinking of that monologue Mr. Bernstein gives in Citizen Kane, or Sigmund Snopekís song ďCall Me in Wisconsin (After the War).Ē

††††††††††† Have you ever met Sigmund, by the way? Heís in Milwaukee, pretty legendary there, and I know Lars knows him.

††††††††††† But thatís all beside the point. I checked not too long ago, and found that The Canterbury hotel had since been turned into luxury condos. The bookstore was still there, but they now only allowed readings that related directly to womenís and gay issues, which is pretty darn ironic, you ask me, given Canterbury Tales.

††††††††††† So anyway, that first Cheap Trick album is pretty fucking great, ainít it?

††††††††††† Jim

P.S. Just looked up that cross street in Madison, and it was Gorham, which doesnít start with an ďOĒ at all, though there is one in there.

 

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