Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Funky Cold Medina makes the donuts

No promises: While sitting in the Denver airport awaiting my journey back to Egypt following the book release event, Sonny sent me a messaging saying his plane was delayed. A couple of gates separated us. We met up and the conversation turned into the possibilities of working on a follow-up to Denvoid. What about a part 2 covering 87-96? I pulled out my laptop and started jotting down notes. 

Last week I went through a spurt of writing...maybe 10 pages over a couple of days. I'm thinking a similar format to Denvoind, a narrative at the beginning leading into interviews. I haven't picked up a brush yet. I miss the discipline of posting every Wednesday. Again, no promises.

If you haven't got yourself a copy of Denvoid and the Cowtown Punks, what are you waiting for? You can visit my secure website.

Below might be the beginning of the next Denvoid. 

Time to make the donuts Funky Cold Medina.

Long before people started calling me “Funky Cold Medina” in the late 80s, friends would constantly tell me it was “Time to make the donuts” repeating the infamous Dunkin' Donuts commercial. Far too many times I would up and leave in a middle of a band’s set and head to my night job as a baker at Winchell's.  

Late Summer or Fall of 1987.
To clear up the “Funky Cold Medina” remark, I did encounter Tone Loc outside of a bank in Oakland in the later part of the '90s. A friend pointed him out and I walked up to him and said, “Thanks, thanks a lot!” and walked away never turning back to see his reaction. It probably wasn’t the first time someone bearing the last name Medina walked up to him and razzed him for writing the song. I’m certain every Medina across America suddenly awoke one morning to a new funk-a-fied moniker. Perhaps it was a term of endearment, a way people showed they were hip with the latest rap hit. I’m sure all the Mrs. Robinsons were suddenly branded cougars after Simon and Garfunkel’s hit. I felt their pain. Though it has been over 26 years since the song came out, I still get the occasional Funky Cold shout-out and more recently Mista Dobalina, Mista Bob Dobalina

While researching my boxes for Denvoid, I came across a roll of negatives I never printed. I decided to scan the roll and see what came up. To be honest, I don't recall the day these were taken and I'm fuzzy with the names of the people in the photos. It was a long time ago.  
Now that the name nonsense is cleared-up, we'll to move on to the how I got involved in the Donut business. I finally secured a driver’s license right before my 17th birthday. With driving a car comes responsibility and expenses. I needed a job and saw a sign posted in the window of Winchells Donut House across the street from Buckinghan Square mall. I walked in, filled out an application, chatted with the manager and was hired on the spot. It was my lucky day. Since I had the last period of school off, I was given the 2 pm to 10 pm shift 3-nights a week. The duties were light: clean the shop, get everything ready for the baker, and hock donuts that have been sitting in the case since the morning. I probably worked about two solid hours and did goofed off for the other six. At $3.35/hour it was easy money.

A friend coming in to curb my boredom.
Donuts would be my profession for the remainder of high school into community college. The summer between Junior and Senior year was when I transitioned into a baker to the whopping sum of $4.50 an hour. Of course it meant surrendering weekend nights plus the hours were gnarly; 10 pm-6 am and that is if my replacement showed up on time. The hours cut into my punk rock as far as weekend shows went. I would show up to gigs in my uniform then cut out early to go fry those precious nuggets of dough and deal with drunk and indecisive customers after the bars closed.

When you have friends visit you at work. 
By the time I graduated high school I was putting in 32-40 hours a week, not ideal for someone who was a borderline dropout. I befriended a lesbian coworker couple that dropped hits of LSD at the beginning of their shifts. Both were high school dropouts and a few years older. They were heavily entrenched in 70’s rock music and tried to convince me punk was junk. As gesture to convert me, the pair bought me a ticket to go see a real concert. That show ended up being Stevie Nicks at Red Rocks. The catch was I had to drive the three of us. The pair were super excited the event was being taped for HBO. 

When I arrived to pick them up, they looked like they walked out of a Fleetwood Mac video. Maybe they were under the impression they would be in a crowd shot. Already one step ahead of them, I had taken a marker and attacked an old white undershirt redrawing the Rotters-Sit On My Face Stevie Nix EP cover. I wore it to the concert, my coworkers giggled and surprisingly several cokehead bikers in the audience praised my Rotters rendition. “Man, I wish Stevie Nicks would sit on my face” was repeatedly thrown in my direction walking up and down the aisles at Red Rocks. There were moments I had to explain the shirt to a suspicious fan, but was usually given thumbs up afterwards. 

My homemade Stevie Nicks concert shirt looked like this.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Denvoid's Release party

October 6-11 was one heck of a ride. Just for the record, October 6th is Armed Forces day in Egypt. It was also this day I started my journey back to Denver for the release of Denvoid and the Cowtown Punks via a train ride from Alexandria to Cairo.

I asked the hotel for a 4:30 am wake-up call. Thirty minutes later I was pulling a suitcase through the neighborhood of the Zamalek desperately hunting down a taxi. Ten minutes into my search I caught a cabbie napping in the front seat parked on lone and desolate street. With a couple of respectful but firm taps on his window he was jolted up from his reclined driver’s seat.
“Fil Airport” (To the airport?)
“Ay-wa” (Yes)
“Bit Qam?” (How much?)
La’ 100 (No, 100)
Ty-ebb. (Okay)
By 6 am I was filling out an exit card and going through customs and security.

When you fly in from Cairo
A five-hour flight to London or anywhere is a cakewalk these days. I used the time to catch-up on movies. Though I have never been a Beach Boys fan, Love & Mercy was powerful and made me appreciate Brian Wilson’s vision where he wanted to take the Beach Boys music. I have since researched Pet Sounds and listened to the album with a different set of ears. The depth of the layers of sounds is astonishing. 

On the other hand Amy, the story of Amy Winehouse was one I had been looking forward to. I was vaguely aware of her background and music, but had been curious about her since her death. The film featured quite a bit of archival and home movie footage to help paint a picture of her profoundly sad rise and demise. The movie should be shown to all aspiring fame seekers.

Your truly. Photo by David Ensminger 
Terminal 5 of Heathrow is one giant maze that leads to a shopping mall. Even the Cairo airport is more efficient. After a three-hour layover devoted to answering questions sent by Tom Murphy from Westword, it was a straight shot from London to Denver. The flight was mostly devoted to sleep and reading, A Wailing of A Town: An Early History of San Pedro Punk 1977-1985 by Craig Ibarra. The pages are packed full of info about bands such as The Minutemen and Descendents, infamous shows, venues, and a whole lot more. So far an excellent read.

18-hours later since leaving Cairo I’m at the counter of a car rental place. The counter person and his partner are laughing at my 13 year-old Nokia brick phone. He asked if it still worked. With a straight face I told him, “In every country except the United States, the best part is it can’t be traced by homeland security or the KGB.” He finished the paperwork in silence while I held in my laughter.

With Joe aka Spike
I rented a house in Capitol Hill near Cheeseman Park for David (editor), Sonny (designer) and I. I needed a larger space to prepare the artwork and package/ship orders. I also wanted a common space for us to spend some quality time together and figure out how the release party was going to unfold.

In the meantime, I did have a chance to jam with my buddy Martin Day at his apartment. He is a killer drummer that I always wanted play songs with. Had wine and cheese with my old college friend, Marta. Invited a handful of folks over to a casual evening of conversation. Otherwise most days (10 plus hours/day) were spent preparing artwork, hustling books, and other menial tasks.

Bryan Wendzel is your tropical home invader.  
David and Dan swapping war stories.
Sonny and Staci on the porch.
The day finally arrived for the event. Fast forward to the evening. Sonny and I hung about 100 drawings from the book. Jif Jiper showed up with the PA. People trickled in and swelled to over 150 throughout the evening. Jif played an acoustic set, The Frantix were up next and belted out a handful of classics. The Buckinghan Squares finished the night. It was the perfect trio. The two kegs emptied within 30 minutes of putting in the taps. Several family members and friends showed up, many whom I haven’t seen in dozens of years. In the end, it was everything I had hoped for.

Emcee duties. Photo by Joe Morgan  
Signing Jen's book. (note: her and her friend Cat are on back cover)
Photo by Joe Morgan.
Much love and appreciation to all who made it out and participated and supported the project. It felt surreal to actually hold the book in my hand and marvel at it. That moment didn’t come until I was on my way back to Egypt the following day. It is finally starting to sink in that I finally completed what I set out to do nearly 20 years ago. Thank you.

Plywood walls.
Making the art show happen
Colin and his adorable family showed up sporting the Chris Shary shirt collection. 
Jill and Jim. 
Frantix with Paul Dog
With Harry and Shawn
Buckingham Squares
Jif with the Squares
with Little Fyodor.
Paul Dickerson 
With Paul Dickerson and Headbanger. 

My ride home! Thanx Ben! 
With Paul Dog and Davey
The crowd. Photo by Oakland L. Childers 
Jif with my brother George in the green shirt. Photo by: Oakland L. Childers 

Frantix. Photo by: Oakland L. Childers 

You know, you can still order a copy or two (they make lovely gifts) and they will be sent out by my right hand man, Matt K. You can order directly here: and receive free goodies or order through Amazon, Alternative Tentacles, Microcosm, and RevHQ. If you’re in the Denver/Boulder area check out Wax Trax, Mutiny Information CafĂ©, Kilgore Books, Twist and Shout, Black and Red, Albums on the Hill, Tattered Cover, Capitol Hill Bookstore, Red Letter Books, Trident Book Sellers, and more locations to be added soon.

Related articles:
Westword’s coverage of the show:

My interview in Westword:

The morning after at the Mercury Cafe. Photo by Paul Dickerson.