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The Big Boom! Boom! Boom!

Another year of the SONGWRITER'S SHOWCASE, another difficult finals competition to judge. If you've followed this event in Metro Santa Cruz over the last few years, you know it's hosted by ZELDA'S and organized by MARS RECORDING STUDIO over about a dozen Tuesday nights every winter. What you don't know is that we who staff the judging table week in and week out (and props go to local music fixture JIMMY NORRIS and to RICK LEACHMAN from OFFSHORE MUSIC for handling way more than their share of said duties this time around) are totally crazy to take on such a challenge. It's hard enough picking two winners out of all the people who compete each night in the qualifying rounds, but it's even worse trying to pick four in the semifinals. Luckily, all eight finalists place in the final showdown, at least.

This year's winner may be the most talented songwriter I've seen ever in the showcase. BRETT WILLIAMS is his name and his two songs "This Means War" and "Boom! Boom! Boom!" knocked all of our socks off. There were a lot of cold toes at that table last week, I'll tell ya. Williams won a sizable chunk of studio time at MARS; he better get those babies down on tape. In second place was troubadour CHRIS JONES; STEPHANIE PARODI took not only third place, but a new separate award for best performance; filling out the fourth through eighth places, respectively, were BECKI DIGREGORIO, ELI SALZMAN, HEIDI POPE and CHAS EDEN. Mazeltov! And one last thanks to MIKE from Zelda's, KEN and BARBARA from MARS, emcee NOEL MURPHY and everybody who came out to yell for their favorites.

Carrot Juice Revisited

A couple of years ago when CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN first got back together, DAVID LOWERY told me they didn't have any songs that mentioned Santa Cruz; his subsequent band, CRACKER, was hogging them all, for some reason. That's changed with the reunion album, NEW ROMAN TIMES. The song "The Long Plastic Hallway" not only mentions "cigarettes and carrot juice," which is the band's crypto-slang for "Santa Cruz," but also mentions Lowery's pre-Camper Santa Cruz band BOX O' LAFFS. Before playing it at the Catalyst Friday, Lowery told the story behind the song, which, to make a long story short, had to do with a young, naive BOL believing they were going to be opening in L.A. for TALKING HEADS, only to be lured to a crack house, where the crackhead who had lured them there seemed rather unable to explain why they were not being promoted as the opening act for the Heads' impending show. Finally the guy told them, as only a crackhead could, that he wasn't talking about the "bullshit gig" that was being advertised in the paper. No, sir! He was talking about the real gig afterwards, where Box O' Laffs would be opening for Talking Heads on a flying saucer. You can't make this stuff up.

Steve Palopoli

This Means GWAR

What choices in life do you have to make to end up as a blood sprayer for GWAR? Is this what happens when you don't pay attention in class? If you fail wood shop, do you inevitably end up inside a giant latex robotic RONALD REAGAN doll?

We may never know. But I did finally see them last Thursday at the Catalyst, arriving a bit late and missing most of ALABAMA THUNDER PUSSY's set.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, semianimated replicas of ARNOLD, PARIS, OSAMA, GWB, LACIE PETERSON and the aforementioned Reaganator all felt the pointy end of GWAR's mighty nerf swords. Entrails were unfurled, genitals generally molested and blood vessels sprinkled the appreciative crowd with an alternating bath of fake blood and slimy urine-colored something or other.

For me, the ultimate highlight of the evening occurred when frontman ODERUS URUGUS, who files taxes as DAVID BROCKIE, asked the crowd if they wished to be bathed in his syphilitic urine. He then proceeded to hose them down with the aforementioned product through a giant, eyeball-encrusted, 4-foot-long latex strap-on. While ducking the stream from my vantage point in the balcony, I realized that this was possibly the funniest just plain wrong thing I have laughed at in a long time. Except for maybe the puppet sex scene in Team America.

Peter Koht

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From the February 23-March 2, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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