About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My First FLASHCUBES Writing

This blog is loaded with examples and evidence of just how much I've written about The Flashcubes over the years.  My first published piece on The Flashcubes was a brief retrospective I wrote in 1992 for Radiovision, a zine produced by WNMA (the then-home of the first Dana & Carl radio series, We're Your Friends For Now). For all the years that have passed since then, and for all the volume of words and words and words I've written about the 'Cubes, I've always thought of that as my first-ever writing about The Flashcubes.

But it wasn't.  I'd forgotten all about this unpublished piece, which predates Radiovision by nearly 14 years.

In the Fall of 1978, I was in my second year at the State University College at Brockport.  My concert resume already included KISS, The Kinks, The Ramones, The Runaways, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Herman's Hermits, and...um, The Charlie Daniels Band. Yechh. I'd already seen The Flashcubes a dozen or more times, and they were already my favorite band. I was taking a course in Radio and TV Writing (taught by a great guy named Joel Loy), and one of our assignments in Mr. Loy's class was to write a press release for...something. Anything. I guess I could have written something about Todd Rundgren--the Something/Anything? album, get it?  GET IT? I slay me!--but instead, I decided to write a press release about a fake event that I wished were true. I wrote about a fictional Brockport gig for The Flashcubes.


Syracuse punk band "The Flashcubes" have been booked to appear October 9th at Brockport State University's on-campus bar, The Rathskeller.

This is the second time in the past year that Brockport has played host to a "new wave" or "punk rock" band, the first instance being last Spring's appearance of British recording artists Elvis Costello & the Attractions. Costello's show was greeted with an almost hostile crowd reaction. Nevertheless, Brockport Student Government officials have stressed the need for a "balanced diet" of on-campus musical presentations, including punk rock.

The Flashcubes consist of Paul Armstrong (guitar), Steve Lenin (guitar), Gary Frenay (bass) and Tommy Allen (drums). Vocals are provided by Armstrong, Lenin and Frenay. The group specializes in a type of music called "powerpop," which is described as "raw rock 'n' roll with la-la-las." The band's repertoire includes songs by The Beatles, The Who, Raspberries, Knickerbockers, The Jam and Eddie and the Hot Rods, as well as their own large catalog of original material. In the past, the group has performed songs by artists as diverse as Shaun Cassidy and The Sex Pistols.

Flashcubes' manager Mick Mather sees Brockport as a challenge: "If we can win this crowd over, then we've accomplished quite a bit."



As much as the amateur writing and "overuse" of "quotation marks" bug me as I read this now, I still love my enthusiasm and conviction. In class, I recall another student (also from Syracuse) expressing disapproval of The Flashcubes, since he thought a band called Steak Night (later called Pictures) would have been a better choice. Fine. Let him get his own blog.

And my mention of The Knickerbockers prompted Joel Loy to say that he used to know some of The Knickerbockers, back when he was himself playing in bands in the mid-'60s. Loy, incidentally, was already a news reporter and local celebrity in the Rochester market at the time he was teaching this class; he later worked on the show Inside Edition, and the Internets tell me that Loy helped break the Mark Fuhrman story during the O.J. Simpson trial. Loy died of cancer in 1997. I liked him, even though I think this class was really a distraction he didn't need at this point in his burgeoning career. But I'm grateful I had the chance to take his class anyway.

That's Joel Loy on the right.

Roughly a year and a half later, during the Spring 1980 semester, I wrote my second Flashcubes-related piece. This was about The Most, Paul Armstrong's first post-'Cubes band with singer Dian Zane plus (at that time) bassist Dave Anderson (aka Dave Devoe) and drummer Dick Hummer (later of Machine And Hummer). This was a real gig this time, so I wrote some hype for Brockport's student paper, The Stylus:

Scan courtesy of Wes Connors

And that's the tentative, gawky--but still pretty damned sure of myself--beginning of my writing about The Flashcubes, The Most, Screen Test, 1.4.5., Dress Code, The Poptarts, The Dead Ducks, The Penetrators, Tom Kenny, and the whole Bright Lights Syracuse new wave rock 'n' roll scene. Which reminds me: we wanna try 'n' do another BRIGHT LIGHTS! live reunion show next year. Guess I better get to work....


Both BRIGHT LIGHTS! posters designed by Dana Bonn.