Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Best Teacher in High School I Ever Had Wasn't a School Teacher - She Was an Extremely Beautiful Classmate!

With that title, you are probably thinking about some hot high school "sexcapades" or a story of some girl who taught me about sex in high school. No way. I think those things only happen in movies or crappy Bob Seeger songs. For 90% of the people in high school (at least in my time) dates and going to dances were only things we dreamed about or saw in movies. I was one of those people. 

I never had sex until I was 20, or was it 21?

My high school yearbook photo 1975

After so many years of elementary, junior, high school and college and university, I can only remember a few teachers who really taught me something. I had one in 4th grade, Ms. Demuth, in Minnesota. She gave me a Snoopy card once that said, "Life is full of rude awakenings." I'll never forget that lesson. I don't remember any elementary teachers who influenced me or inspired me after her. 

In High School, I had Mr. Holts, my science and biology teacher. Mr. Holts taught me that there's a big difference between playing and doing. And then, and, in college, there was Mr. Al Miller. Mr. Miller was best of all because he taught me about television, how to handle myself in front of people and, outside of school, he taught me how to be a real gentleman; how to be kind and respectful to people - to all people.

Mr. Miller impressed me because he would, for example, talk to parking lot attendants and doormen and call them, "friend" or "sir." He treated everyone with respect. Not only did his mannerism and respect for people influence me, it touched me so much that it set the way I try to treat people all my life. Alas! I am a poor student and I can never attain the enlightenment of my sensei. I think few people can be such a sincere gentleman as Mr. Al Miller. If the world was filled with people like Mr. Miller it would be so much a nicer place to live. 

But I digress.

Mr. Al Miller was the best school instructor I've ever had  

Even though I had these teachers in school, the best teachers I had in school weren't actually my official teachers. Nope. The best teachers were girls I liked. There were several of them. They didn't teach me important things because they were my girlfriends or anything. They didn't teach me anything because they were particularly kind to me. They taught me well because they were only kind to me when they wanted something from me. They were kind to me when they wanted something like for me to tell them the answers to questions on tests so that they wouldn't fail. They taught me when they used me.

I'd oblige them because, well, in my high school immaturity and insecurity I figured being used and then dropped like a wet a dirty dish rag was better than not being used (or even spoken to) at all. This might sound bitter, but it's not. Those girls taught me well and I appreciate them for it. The lesson that they taught me was a lesson in life and, had they not taught me, someone else would have. They taught me the real world.

One of the girls who really taught me well was a girl who was in several of my high school classes named Kathy Dobbe (I think that's how it is spelled!) I'll never forget Kathy. Kathy Dobbe doesn't know that, all through high school, I had a crush on her and thought she was the most beautiful girl in school - maybe even in the entire world. I thought Kathy was a goddess. 

Kathy was a great teacher. The peculiar part about Kathy's teachings to me is that I'll bet we never spoke three words in total to each other my entire junior and senior years.

I am reminded of Kathy recently because, on Facebook, a few weeks ago, I saw one of those dumb "Guess who's joined your high school class Facebook community?" notices and saw that Kathy had joined (I don't join things like that - come to think of it, how do they know what high school I went to???). I also wonder why so many people seem to long for high school days. Are things that bad today? Were things that good back then? I don't think so... But, then again, I wasn't a popular kid in school...

Anyway, from the Facebook, notice, I saw what Kathy looks like today. Well, I am assuming it was Kathy.  I've never met her mom, but I gather that she today looks like her mom did back then. Kathy looked pretty good, all things considered. I think she looked quite good especially compared to her peers. 

Not aging fast enough? Drink soda! Hoo boy! Japanese people don't drink sweet drinks anywhere near the level that American people do. Even lots of younger Japanese still prefer tea. 

Damned if people in America don't look very old, overweight and past their years! Kathy didn't really look that way, but when I see people in America my age, they all have gray hair and are fat! I saw another picture of a girl whom I have known for over 35 years last night. She is a year younger than me but in her photo she looks easily ten years older than me. It must be that processed food Standard American Diet (it's called S.A.D.) that those people are eating. I'm glad I eat raw food and live in Japan where people eat healthy food. (Any wonder why Japanese women live, on average, at least six years longer than American women? The men live more than four years?)

But I digress.... Again!!!!

Unbeknownst to her, like I mentioned, Kathy also doesn't know that she taught me self respect. She taught me that because I had a complex all through high school; I thought I was inferior and shorter than all the (pretty) girls in school. Really! This complex messed me up because I figured that pretty girls don't like short guys. The guys all have to be tall, dark and strong; just like in the movies. Kathy taught me that I wasn't shorter. In fact, I was taller than her by a few inches... Actually, until she taught me, I never knew that I was taller than all of them. I simply never realized it.

Now, you're probably imagining that Kathy taught me this important lesson in self-esteem in life at some school function like a dance. Imagine! Kathy Dobbe and me dancing cheek to cheek on the high school gymnasium floor to some slow and romantic song. It's one of the last numbers of the evening. The lights are turned down low. Everyone grabs their date and heads to the dance floor.... We look into each others eyes and we embrace...

The saxophones start to play... "And they called it puppy love...." 

No. No. Stop the music... Stop the music! I'm not that old!

Think of it, Kathy and I, cheek to cheek, in a warm high school kid's love embrace? Can you imagine it? No? Neither can I. I was enthralled with Kathy but that was it. Even if I had asked her for a date, and she said, "Yes," that would probably be the end of it. She'd probably have scared me so much that, had we met for a date, I couldn't talk. Not a word. If I could utter a sound, it would be like a bird chirping or a wheel squeaking. Nope. Couldn't do it. Just like in the movies. And that's the only part of this that is like it is portrayed in the movies: Geeks can't handle beautiful women. Geeks are always like that. 

It's been scientifically proven that high school geeks' vocal chords stop functioning properly when they are around girls who they think are so pretty they aren't real or aren't from the Milky Way galaxy. 

I suppose I should tell you why I had such an inferiority complex. It's a long story so I'll make it brief. Before moving back to California, I had spent the last 8 or 10 years (I can't remember) moving all around the USA and going to a different school almost every year. That meant that when I went to a new school I had to start over and make new friends... This also meant that I didn't have very many friends. This is hard on a kid but a good lesson in life (that is for another blog post on another day). Since I went to schools in the South and Midwest, I was used to their school system and their curriculum.

Well, I don't know about today (but can't imagine that it's so different) the level of education in Midwestern and Southern elementary schools are a few years ahead of California public schooling. That means that what they are teaching in 5th grade in a school in Minnesota, they are teaching in 7th grade in California public school. So when I moved from Minnesota, where I was getting "C's," to California, I was suddenly getting "A's." Classes that I hated and struggled in in Minnesota, like Algebra, were, in California, one big joke. Suddenly, from being a dumb kid in school in Minnesota (or as my very kind older brother would insult me all my life, "The F-minus Kid") I went to being the smartest kid in my class.

Through high school, my older brother got all "A's." He went to school in Minnesota too (you do the math). So, even though my grades in academics weren't as good as his, I was still a geek, got mostly A's and, as such, an outsider. Because, even back then, in a California school getting good grades meant you were a momma's boy or teacher's pet and definitely NOT cool.

So here I went from being a dummy in school with no friends in the Midwest to being a smart kid in school with no friends in California. I thought being smart was good? Not in California public school it isn't. Can you imagine how that would play games with a 15 year old's mind? 

My high school in California, was a regular west coast high school like you'd see in the movies. You know, pretty blond girls and handsome blond guys. Everyone drove a hot rod American car and had perfect teeth. The ocean wasn't a ten minute drive from school so we had tons of surfers, stoners and our high school also had the standard issue football team and basketball team that every all-American high school had.

Everyone at my high school looked like they had just jumped out of some Hollywood movie. This is Janet and Randy, who were Prom King and Queen. 

The boys teams at my high school were lousy (you wouldn't know it by the "big man on campus" attitude those guys showed while at school). Nevertheless, it was a big deal every year when we'd play the cross town high school's own lousy team in our standard issue cross town rivalry. The teams would basically take each year going back and forth beating each other. The cheerleaders would cry because, well, as you know, beating Cross Town is so immensely important, especially since, as any cheerleader will tell you "...This is senior year and our last year at high school. We must win!" Maybe it was all planned that way... Maybe they do that in American society to teach militant tribalism (it's great for military recruitment)....

But I digress.... For the third time...

I was talking about Kathy Dobbe. Besides the very pretty girls, surfers, stoners, hot-rodders, and football and basketball players, my school also had geeks. I think I was King Geek at my school. I was King Geek because my grades were almost all "A's" and I was president of the Science Club for my junior and senior year.

Being a geek in high school sucks because the "cool kids" (pretty girls, surfers, stoners, hot-rodders, and football and basketball players) didn't want to have anything to do with you. The only friends a geek has in high school is other geeks. So, all through high school, I only went on a date twice. The first time was when Shanda Shinkaruk asked me to go to a backwards dance with her (she was pretty too and terrified me also!) and then, my senior year when I got up the nerve to ask one of the smartest and most popular girls in school, Debbie Henry to go to the prom with me. Debbie said, "Yes" and that changed my life too.... But let me stick with Kathy for now. Debbie is another story.

How did Kathy teach me self-respect and give me a better self-image? It's ridiculous, really, when I stop to think about it. Here, all that time, all through 11th and 12th grade I thought all these girls would never go on a date with me because, are you ready?.... I thought they wouldn't go on a date with me because I was shorter than they were.

Seriously. This is what I thought. It was what I believed. The day that Kathy Dobbe destroyed this belief is still strong in my memory...

Only geeks and dorks helped the teachers with things like the projectors and handing out petri dishes. I did that sort of thing a lot. Come to think of it, this might be my first photo of my ever having worked in the cinema industry.

It was biology class. I can't remember why, but Mr. Holts told us to line up to collect some materials. For some reason, it wound up that Kathy Dobbe was standing right in front of me. I had never come that close to her before.  I was an extremely shy boy and would never intentionally stand next to her. I was so shy that, had she come close, normally I would shy away and back off to the other side of the room. But here she was! The girl of my dreams! The girl I had only seen from afar and she was standing only two feet in front of me... This goddess!!!!  

As usual, Kathy paid no attention to me and was talking to one of the other beautiful people, a guy, in the class. When she turned her back to me was when it hit me. I was shocked! I couldn't believe it. I had to get closer and check and recheck again. Were my eyes deceiving me? Not only was I taller than Kathy but I was taller by at least three inches!

You cannot imagine how much that really confused me and threw me for a loss. I was absolutely dumbfounded. It was as if a scientist who dedicated his entire life to a theorem and was completely and totally convinced that this theory was true had just found out that all his beliefs and life's work were completely wrong. Everything he (I) had thought, believed and was convinced to be true was completely wrong and had zero basis in reality. You can imagine how this twisted my mind especially as a geek and president of the Science Club!.... Chuckle.

Soon after, I began talking to many other girls. I began to check my new theory and discovery by use of the Scientific Method: "I am taller than these girls hereby it is OK for me not to be such a loser." I tested it over and over and found it to be true.

I stood next to the beautiful girls in school. I was taller than them. When some of the pretty (but dumb) girls in science class would suddenly take a 180 degree turnabout and go from not even knowing that I exist or actually being mean to me to being so sweet and kind and asking for my help giving them the answers to Biology tests, I started having an attitude. I'd intentionally give them the wrong answers.... Really! I am ashamed to admit that I did that one time but then felt bad about it... After that, if those girls wanted my help, I'd just tell them, "You're always mean to me then you want my help at test time? No. I don't think so." Then these girls would get really mad at me and bad mouth me. I think they got mad because I had always given them answers before so they had come to depend on me and when the answers stopped coming, they thought I was a jerk. They treated me like a jerk 100% of the time from then on.

That's OK. I didn't care. Before that, they treated me like a jerk only 95% of the time excepting at test time. Now they'd treat me like dirt 100% of the time. So what? Their loss, not mine, I figured.

And, after all, I was taller than they were and I got good grades. "Who needs dumb manipulative girls, anyway?" I realized.

Life is full of give and take. Life is also full of manipulative people. I thank god that I was to have this seemingly banal experience of standing in line behind Kathy Dobbe and how that changed my life. It's weird the little seemingly unimportant things that make a huge impact on our lives and way of thinking. From the lesson I learned from Kathy Dobbe, I learned self-respect and self-confidence... Perhaps from that experience I also learned too much, way too much, self-confidence too and exercised that far too often.

But this self-confidence has taught me to be independent and to be creative and to depend on myself. It has helped me to avoid the rat race whereby too many people today fear for their jobs and their future. Of course, I sometimes worry about the future and money too, but, opposed to a company employee who has no control over whether or not they lose their job or get laid off, I create my own work and I create my own income. I have come to, through experience and self-confidence and a good self image, to know that, if I put my mind to it, I can do anything. I believe that thinking that way, and helping your child to do so also, could be one of the best lessons in life that they'll ever learn.


I think the lessons I learned from this one experience are (if you are a student, this is for you. If you are a parent, please consider how you can help your child):

1) What we think and believe is often not true. An open mind is necessary. Some of the things we believe are so opposite of actual truth it is epiphany when we realize it.

2) Often we need others to help us achieve these realizations and epiphanies. 

3) We need to have more self-confidence and to explore.

4) Learning to read and write in school is important, of course, but many of the other important lessons are not taught by teachers. They are taught by other kids, parents and the outside world. We need to prepare our kids better for that.

5) Parents need to tell your kids that they are beautiful. This seems obvious but not enough parents do this. Most parents never do this at all.

6) A kid with great self-esteem and self-confidence can do anything and be whatever they want to be. Make sure your child is that way. 

Thank you Kathy Dobbe and to the Kathy Dobbe's everywhere.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I Was a Teenage Collector's Item! (part two)

When I was young, I was in two bands. The first one was sort of famous and our records sell for several hundred dollars. The second band went nowhere at all. Our only single now is on sale for $1680 at auction. Go figure. Here's the link:

、そしてもう一つの全然有名じゃないバンド。その2つ目のバンドのレコードがなんだかすごいことになっている。なんとまあ、コレクターズのレコード屋で17万円! (マイクは写真の一番右)

In January of this year, I found out that the only single of the second band we ever mad - a record that didn't sell at all - we couldn't give them away, was one of the top selling priced items at a record auction site in August of 2015, selling for $1350 (USD)!!!! I wrote about it in, "I Was a Teenage Collector's Item!" You can read about that here:

Now, today, it is going for even more money?! WTF?

Photo from original record jacket. Left to right: Johnny Brewton (drums), Peter MacKenzie (Guitar), Bob Rogers (Bass), Me (Piano and vocals).

OH MY GOD! Somebody has actually put up on Youtube one of our songs! (I think this is one of the best songs I ever wrote - I Must Be Lou Reed was another one) "Things Dogs Do."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"Pokemon Go? The more you know about it, the less intelligent you become." 「Pokemon Go? 知れば知るほど馬鹿になる」

"Pokemon Go? The more you know about it, the less intelligent you become." - Mike Rogers (Apologies to Repoman!)

「Pokemon Go? 知れば知るほど馬鹿になる」- Mike Rogers 
(In Japanese: "Shireba shiruhodo baka ni naru.")

徳島でPokemon Goをやりながら運転していた車にはねられて、女性1人が死亡1人が大怪我。運転手はゲームに夢中で前をよく見ていなかったと言っている。ポケモンGOでの死亡事故は国内初。


Friday, August 12, 2016

My Latest Article on Lew Rockwell: Musicians, Artists and Politics - The Day the Music Dies

“And you tell me over and over and over again my friend, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.” – Barry McGuire
I think this needs to be said (not that what I think really matters) but I am so disappointed by so many of today’s musicians and artists who come out and publicly support this politician or that.
I have been noticing this trend amongst musicians and artists growing over these last 20 years or so. It astounds me that today’s artists are so fooled by the mass media that they will come out in support of certain political candidates. This is foolish as well as lacking in dignity and I will show you why.
I expect that Joe-Blow Average Guy – who watches too much TV – to suck it all in and be lead around by the ring in their nose like cattle to support a candidate. But I didn’t expect musicians and artists to be as daft as average Joe-Blow and openly promote criminal candidate A over criminal candidate B. (Yes. Yes. I know most artists and musicians are not rocket scientists but I still expect them to have a little more insight to life and how things work than the average 6-hour-a-day TV watcher.)
I get disgusted when I see artists posting some nonsense supporting some politician (or attacking that criminal – which is de facto supporting this criminal.) It especially astounds me when I see foreigners supporting some American politician. Guess what? No one in America gives a toss what you think. What would you guys from, say the UK, think if the bassist of Hootie and the Blowfish came out and said he supports the Conservative or Labor candidate in England?
You’d think he were an imbecile, wouldn’t you?
I don’t mean artists have to be apolitical, but I mean you need to publicly support principles, not individual candidates. Past history is proof enough that all politicians are liars and crooks. You should understand and know by now that we are ruled by an evil cabal. It doesn’t matter if Candidate A or Candidate B wins; nothing changes.
Or haven’t you been paying attention the last 50 years?
At this time, we don’t know if Candidate A or Candidate B is going to win the election. All we do know is that no matter who wins, the current direction and decline of the country will continue.
Here is what artists are supposed to be in support of End of the wars, end of poverty, end the bombings, end the war on drugs, more freedom for the people.
The fact of the matter is that all politicians are deceitful liars. They have to be. That’s part of the job. To think candidate A is going to change things is delusional. I explained that here inThe US Presidency is a Donut Shop.
What is going on now; the vote rigging; Bernie’s disgraceful and total and complete capitulation; and what occurred with all our US presidents in these last 50 years should have been a wake-up call: The system is corrupt. It’s always been corrupt. It was built that way. It isn’t going to change. There is basically no difference in our ruling aristocracy and the ruling aristocracy of other corrupt nations.
The USA, Japan, and the EU haven’t a leg to stand on when we criticize North Korea or her president.
Besides the above, here is really why you should stop the political posts and support for any politician: when you do support one or the other, it makes you lose your ability to view the world as an observer. When you publicly support a certain candidate you lose your objectivity and are unable to keep your bias level at a minimum. It destroys your art and loses members of your fanbase. It is amateurish and completely unprofessional.
Still not convinced?
Remember when John Lennon was protesting the Vietnam War? Did he ever come out and say he supported this politician or that? No. He understood that our problems are not because of this politician or that. He fully understood that and said that the system is corrupt.
Can you imagine for a second someone like Lennon or David Bowie coming out and saying he supports a particular politician like Cameron or Corbin or Hillary or Trump?
Nope. Neither can I.
Do not support politicians. Support universal human rights and principles.
Of course, it really doesn’t matter what I think. But I think you do yourself a disservice by getting into politics. Musicians and artists are supposed to help us escape – even for a few minutes – the hell we live in.
Don’t pull us deeper into the cesspool.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fruits? Freaks? I Love These People!

I LOVE these people.... 

Most "ordinary people" (Repo-Man reference here) look at them and criticize them and say they look like freaks... But, you know what? People say that because, deep down in their hearts, the people who criticize know these kids have much more fun and freedom than most of us do. These kids don't care what society dictates or what "regular people" think....

I wish I could be as free as these kids... They are living a dream...What fun! What I wouldn't give to be young and handsome again! 

Oh! How I envy them! (Thanks to Miyako Yamamoto for the photo from London)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Hiroshima Day - Horrific Short Animations for Japanese Schoolchildren

The first nuclear attack on the civilian city of Hiroshima happened today in 1945.

Here are two horrifying cartoons made for Japanese schoolchildren to explain about what happened during the attack. 

The information says: "An epic historic cartoon produced for school children about the day Hiroshima was bombed as seen from the Japanese perspective. English subtitles for those of you who do not speak Japanese and for those of you with short attention spans this is a very short film."

If video doesn't play, click here:

If video doesn't play, click here:

Let's work to make sure this sort of thing never happens again.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Worldwide Rock N Roll Radio! Now On Air!

Crimson FM "Rakuten Power Morning" (The Mike & Taro Show) has begun! Now on air!

This show is the 1st time in Japan history for a show to be broadcast on radio in Japan and simulcast all over the world on the internet. This is the future of radio broadcasting. It's not streaming. It's simulcast - if you miss the live show, you can't listen later. In fact, we are the 1st and the ONLY one from Japan. If you have Wi-Fi, then you can tune in anywhere in the world.

It's the return of the Mike & Taro Show!「Rakuten Power Morning!」 On air now! Want to listen? On PC「Crimson FM」Go here PC: (Click the red arrow!)

Mike & Taro Show 「Rakuten Power Morning」始まりました!ここにクリック!

聞きますか?ここ:Go here PC

Rakuten Power Morning is on air every Monday ~ Friday 6 am ~ 10 am Japan Time. (Broadcasting live in Tokyo and Osaka from August 1 - Worldwide from July 4, 2016!) Wi-Fi is now the biggest thing to happen to radio broadcasting since the advent of FM!

Click the red arrow.

Please come "Like" our FB page:

Monday, June 13, 2016

Short Conversation With a Follower of Islam

I have a friend who has been a close friend of mine for more than 30 years. We worked together, got mad at each other, celebrated with each other and shared dreams.... I knew him when he was a young radical (well, so was I) and since...

He found a religion that fits him many years ago and has since become a very peaceful, sincere and serene guy. 

He's finally happy, it seems.

I'm happy for him.

We had a conversation. For what it is worth, here is that conversation:

Me: "Hey, my friend... How are you? I have a question, if I may. As you probably know, I do not follow any religion (but lean towards Buddhist thought and believe all people should follow their heart's desires. So I am absolutely not against organized religion....I say we should let people worship the way they are happiest - there's enough shit in life as it is). 

Many people want to blame Islam for yesterday's shootings, but, I believe that, just as there are some really lunatic Christian sects, Islam has some too. For example, so-called Radical Islam (as a generalization and possible abstract). I don't think all of Islam can be bunched in and blamed for yesterday. But I do think Radical Islam is a problem for true followers of Islam as well as those that radical Islam seeks to attack. What do you think? 

Of course, the USA bombing, maiming, orphaning dark skinned kids in the M.E. 24/7 over these last few decades has a big hand in making this situation. Anyway, just wanted to know what my devout religious dear friend thought about this."  -Mike 

His answer: "Hello brother. I moved back to Japan earlier this month. America is not my vibe anymore. To my knowledge, true followers of Islam would never commit these acts. Its unIslamic and against the Quran. These acts are political responses to their issues. Some of this activity goes back decades. War is a business. The media is the hypnotizer. Islam is a tranquil religion, i.e. Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, etc.  There are those who use us for political profit and fame." - Muhammad 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I Was a Teenage Punk Rocker - Why Dedication Beats Fanaticism Anyday! Even for Punk Rock or Success in Any Field!

"Do something once or do it everyday." - Andy Warhol

Just like the title says, I was a famous punk rocker... Really.... It's true. I was a famous (sort of) punk rocker.... Woo Hoo! And dedication does matter... Even if it is dedication to something that seems as ridiculous as punk rock...

Early 1980 at Santa Barbara for one of our last gigs

I think that everyone knows that dedication has immense value... It is especially valuable if that dedication is true dedication over the long term and not short-term fanaticism.

I was the lead singer of a famous one-hit-wonder band of the late 1970s. Why were we only "One Hit Wonders?" Because we weren't "dedicated" to what we were doing. We were short-term fanatics. 

By some miracle, or accident of god, even though we were terrible, we sold a sh*t-load of records back then. Bands like the Dead Kennedys or Black Flag were opening bands for our shows. We used to play many shows with bands like the seminal Los Angeles Punk band, Fear. The bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea, was a bassist for Fear at one time.

Left to right: Furukawa Taro, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea, me, George Williams at Tokyo Dome.

Guys like Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedy's and the members of Black Flag, Flea and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are dedicated. That's why they have performed for such a long time. We were fanatics, so we faded quickly into oblivion.

Dedicated people stick with something for a long time. Fanatics are like people who get interested in a new religion one day and they are "on fire" about it for a very short time... Yes. "On fire" is a good description... So "on fire" are they that they also burn out quickly and lose interest. 

The dedicated ones are on a slow, evenly burning flame...

Maybe it's like "falling in love" is comparable to fanaticism; "falling in love" is easy and quick but can end too soon in a sudden fashion. Dedication is like "true love;" "true love" lasts a long time and requires dedication and work to achieve. 

If you do something, anything, try to be dedicated not fanatical.

Back in those days I hung around with lots of kind of famous people. Many of those people who were famous in those days are now dead...

That's me on the left

But the guys in my band (and I) were stupid. A lot of those people from the other bands figured out something that the guys in my band were too dense to realize... What did they realize? Well, it's simple; if you want to be famous and live off of playing music then you have to live it. I mean really live it. You have to dedicate to it. Many people do the talk... Few do the walk. My band wouldn't do the basics. We wouldn't dedicate.

Why didn't we figure out? Well, we didn't figure it out that "Stick-to-it-tiveness" and "dedication" pay off... We wanted the easy way to fame and fortune. It was so easy to make our first hit, that I think it spoiled the hell out of us. We got lazy and didn't work hard. 

What I am getting at is that, "...if you keep to your guns, and do not compromise and work hard, then maybe, perhaps, you can succeed..." If you don't keep at it, then you fail for certain.... 

Is there any business or endeavor in the world that doesn't require dedication and stick-to-it-tiveness?

It's pretty easy when you look at it that way, isn't it? You either do or you don't.

"There is no try. There is only do or not do." - Yoda from Star Wars

May I digress? There is one other reason we didn't succeed; we were conceited jerks. Long ago, I worked with one of the most famous DJs in the entire world, the world famous Rodney on the Roq (Rodney Bingenheimer). He told me, "You have to be nice to everyone because you never know who will become famous or powerful someday." It's true. In show business, you never know who will one day become a famous producer or get married to a powerful person.

It took me years to figure out what he meant. He is absolutely right! Now, I try to be nice to everyone. Even the old cleaning lady who comes to the station to clean up everyday. Who does she come to clean up for? Of course because it is for her job, but she also comes to clean up for us! So we can have a clean environment to work in.

Great ideas and creations do not come from dirt and filth; they come from clean and fresh and healthy ideas and places.

I told the guys in my band, at that time, that "If we just stay together for the time it takes to build a crowd and a solid reputation - maybe 10 to 15 years - even without any hits - we can be famous and live off of playing music all our lives." (Perhaps that's also what Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book "Outliers" that says "10,000 hours of work are required for success in any field.")

But it was not to be for us...

Alas, we were too hard-headed and selfish too see the truth in dedication. My band spent more time fighting over silly stuff like trying to alter other people's behavior to accommodate our own, rather than playing and practicing hard. 

The Rotters 1977 (L to R) Phester Swollen, Johnny Condom, Nigel Nitro (me), Rip Chord

What a waste! Now we are all businessmen and/or unemployed and live with high-blood pressure, stress and all sorts of diseases and sicknesses that are going to kill us ASAP. 

What a fun life, eh?

Now, please allow me to indulge myself and allow me now to ramble quite a bit....

From late 1977 to 1979, my name was Nigel Nitro and I was the lead singer of a punk band called the Rotters. We had a single that sold 600,000 records in Europe; supposedly 1 million records all over the world. (But remember that record labels always inflate their numbers so remove a zero from those and you are probably closer to the real totals! Still not bad.)

It was also the only song by an American band that the Clash played for the BGM of their first American tour. It was also one of the first (and only?) records to be banned nationwide on American FM radio. The song was called, "Sit on my Face, Stevie Nicks." It was a monster hit and why were are called "one-hit wonders."

Listen to: The Rotters - Sit on my Face Stevie Nicks here:

It was all a scam (of course, it was Punk rock, right?)... I think about it now and can't figure out how the guitarist, Phester (real name is Tom) and I arranged all that... But we did. We talked people into recording our record, making a master, and printing it.... All for free...

It was totally DIY in late 1977!

By some miracle of timing, we were lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to be one of the late 1970s Los Angeles punk bands... 

At that time, I had all the most beautiful girls in town as my girl friends (in my vanity I considered them decorations) and our band was hot and famous. We charted on radio stations all over the country and were guests several times on Rodney Bingenheimer's radio show on KROQ and, according to Rodney, "The most requested song in the history of the radio show..." (beating even the Bay City Rollers and the Sex Pistols!).... 

I met the Clash, the Ramones, Blondie, Phil Spector, the Knack (My Sharona) and many others; we played at the Masque for Brendan Mullen with the Germs, the Dils, the Bags, The Screamers; as I said, we often played gigs with Fear, the Angry Samoans, Black Flag (before Henry Rollins) and bands like the Dead Kennedy's were the opening band for our shows!.... I was even at the debut show of the Go-Gos (they were terrible! - but they stuck with it!) and I've gotten high with Dee Dee Ramone and the Ramones many times before and with so many artists that I can't name them all.... In fact, I've even gotten stoned with Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO in Santa Barbara in 1980! All because I was in a one-hit wonder band!

Joey Ramone and I even became good friends one day many years later....

Oh, those were the days, my friends. I thought they'd never end! We'd sing and laugh forever and a day....

So don't you tell me there's no god!

How did that happen?

Here's how: I was a college student in 1977. I was a full-time stoner... I never studied... One day I came home from school "high," as usual, and turned on the TV.... 

TV in those days was sometimes redeeming as I found Monty Python at that time (I have always been an "early adopter") and would come home to watch PBS. There, that day, on the TV was a program about this, "New and sick music craze that was sweeping Britain!" It was Punk Rock. I immediately loved it!

All I really remember was that people had short red hair and were wearing dog collars and jumping around. I'd find out later that it was a video of the Damned live. They were choking each other. 

The announcer was saying how sick these kids were. I thought it was cool. The kids also had cool fashions and wore lots of leather. The bands were real and they were rock and roll. I thought and, as I watched, I felt that I was watching a revolution.

There was a record store in town called "The Wherehouse" so I went there and asked the guy at the counter if they had any "Punk Rock"? He looked at me strange and said, "What?" I said it was a new kind of British rock music. He pointed to the left and said, "The imports are over there!"

I didn't know the names of any of the bands or really what to look for in the import albums but I knew they had short messy hair. I started rifling through the records of guys with nice crew cuts and hippie bands. Then I came upon the first Damned record. The one where they have pumpkin pie smashed all over their faces. I turned it over and there was Dracula and the guy wearing a waitress dress. "That's it!" I thought. So I bought it.

I rushed home and put it on the turntable. Neat Neat Neat came on. I loved it. Soon I took a scissors and cut off all my hair.

That moment changed my life. I became a fanatical fan of Punk rock. Within 3 months, I got together a band and arranged a recording session and we made our first and biggest hit... We toured a lot and played many shows... But my band members fought constantly and weren't dedicated...

And, that, in a nutshell, my friends, is how we became "one-hit wonders."

Phester Swollen, the guitarist in that band is still my dear friend to this day. In early 1980, the famous San Francisco punk band, The Nuns, called us and asked us to open for them. Of course the guitarist and I said, "Yes!" but the drummer and bassist refused to go to SF to open for the Nuns because, get this, they said they had "already promised their friends to go surfing." Idiots. 

That was the defacto end of the Rotters. I was furious. If I knew then what I know now, I would have kicked those two assholes out of the band right there on the spot and the guitarist and I would have gone to SF and performed by ourselves.... Alas, we didn't. We messed up big time.

I fucked up. Really, I should have fired those two idiots. Why? Oh why? Didn't I?

With the White Stripes on July 25, 2002
(Left to right: George Williams, Jack White, me, Meg White) 

That may sound disappointing and it was to me for a long time. For years I was bitter and sad about it until one day, Jack White of the White Stripes - way before they were famous - was a guest on my radio show. When I told him I was in a punk band and what the name of the band was, his eyes grew wide and he shouted, "I bought that record when I was, like 13, I loved that!! I told him how I was pissed off at my failure and he then put his hand on my shoulder and said to me, "Mike, it's better to have punked and lost, than to have never punked at all!" 

Wow! That was like lightening hitting me right between the eyes. He's right!.. I'm glad I was in the Rotters... Too bad, though, it could have been so much more...

Actually our second single did get some airplay and sold pretty well too...
I once saw it in a record collectors shop selling for $250... I told the clerk that I was
the lead singer of the band... He didn't believe me...

Oh, but that's all past now... Long past. Up until a few years ago, the guys in the band had many reunion gigs in the USA, and asked me to come perform, but I never did. The last time I ever played with that band was a few shows in Japan in 1988.

I don't want to do that anymore. It's a good memory and I want to keep it that way.

The point of this all is, like I said, determination and dedication.... Fanaticism isn't necessarily a good thing. Long term thinking, planning and work and practice - no matter what the business - pays off; whether it's music, a new business venture, sports, or a hobby or craft. 

Stick to it. Dedication and hard work pay off... Even if it's only Punk Rock.

NOTE: The above is far too serious. I've always thought that Punk rock should be laughs and fun. If you want a laugh, actually many good laughs, read the below. It is a short recollection of those days by the guitarist, Phester Swollen. Phester has a way with words and this is hilarious! From the online band information site, Break My Face has this:


It was 1978 and rock and roll was the worst putrefying heap of overblown bovine excrement imaginable. Walking into a record store was about as fun as having a raging bout of the Hershey squirts and with no choice but to use a Super Seven gas station toilet that was plugged with some wino's puke and butt blow. Hearing the likes of Peter Frampton, Steely Dan, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and that phony working class schmuck, the Boss, left us contemplating the big sleep to put us out of our misery. What the fuck was this shit? It sure as hell wasn't rock. We were frustrated, pissed off and offended.

Nigel Nitro and I were a couple of nasty film production students at Moorpark College, just northwest of Los Angeles. We stuck out and didn't fit in. Neither of us wanted to make films with a couple of retarded lovebirds walking on the beach to some lame ass Jim Croce ballad. Our goal was to make vicious, stabbing satires. If people were offended we knew we were on the right track. One night we both saw an episode of 20/20 on the lobotomy box ranting on the evils of this hideous new scourge on society from England called punk rock. It featured live footage of the Damned and the Sex Pistols with subtitles for the lyrics so that the world could see how vile and disgusting they were. They hated it. We loved it. If it pissed them off so much it HAD to be good! It had everything we'd been dying to hear for years and besides, any idiots could do it. That meant us, too.

Within a couple of weeks we started The Rotters with another Moorpark film loony, Bruce Brink on drums and Rip Chord on bass. Bruce soon bailed out for fear that the local Oxnard or Ventura hillbillies would kill him for playing punk, a reasonable concern. Rip's friend Johnny Condom took over on drums. Since Nigel and I were both students at Moorpark College we were able to weasel our way into the recording class almost immediately as they were in need of bands to record on the four track. The recording students hated us. We weren't real musicians. We were sloppy, not together. We were out of tune most of the time. We didn't know what the fuck we were doing. But we didn't care. We had a lot of wild enthusiasm and the teacher of the class, Richard Simpson, caught on to this. He told us; "you guys aren't any good, but you have fun and that's all that's really important." Then he encouraged us to put out a single, which he would master for us for free.

We'd played a few volatile shows. After being kicked out of the Mickey Moose disco in Ventura for sucking and being pelted with debris in Anisque Oyo Park in Isla Vista for being shitty, we knew we were good. "Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks" was a standout and the logical choice for the single. It had been written in about ten minutes as one of the worst songs possible while at the same time taking a stab at the big bucks rock world we hated so much. "Amputee", a kind of anthem of the stupid, was on the flip side.

Once we had a test pressing we naively decide we should take it down to KROQ and give it to Rodney Bingenheimer to play. Rodney's show Rodney On The ROQ was THE punk show on L.A. radio at the time. We drove down to Pasadena to the station and snuck in by standing at the back door with a bunch of punk looking guest types. When they let them in, we walked in too. We didn't know it right away but they were the Ramones and Clem Burke, the drummer from Blondie. Even though we didn't have any drugs for Dee Dee, Rodney still played our record and put us on the air with Joey Ramone. Almost immediately Rodney asked us, live on the air, if we liked the Ramones. Nigel and I simultaneously said, "uh... er... we like the Sex Pistols". They broke for a commercial, told us "you guys gotta leave now!" and kicked us out. But the damage was done. KROQ was inundated with requests for "Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks" the next day.

For some strange reason Fleetwood Mac took offense. Well, there's no accounting for taste. It seems this was the era when Mick Fleetwood was boning Stevie Nicks behind Lindsey Buckingham's back and he felt he had to rescue her honor. Christ! As if they didn't have enough problems of their own with all the break ups, infidelity, cocaine addictions and millions of dollars burdening them! They had to throw their weight around and go after some fledgling punk band. I guess it was a case of the big bully beating up the asthmatic wimp on the playground for making a smart ass comment and laughing during his oral report. We soon found we were banned in Los Angeles. Someone claiming to be Mick Fleetwood himself called KROQ and threatened them with a lawsuit if they played the song, then called Nigel at home with the same threat. All the major record stores in Los Angeles were threatened with no more big selling Big Mac albums if they sold our nasty little single. Ooh scary! What a threat. Who the hell bought Tusk anyway? It sucked the turds out of a dead bloated water buffalo's anus. Some stores hid our records under the table like a bunch of pussies and some gave Fleetwood Mac the finger and still got their albums anyway. Then they decided to be less obvious and the doors to a number of the clubs in town closed to us mysteriously.

We didn't really need their help in fucking everything up though. We could do that ourselves. Any money we might have made went into beer. We couldn't play worth shit most of the time, didn't follow any L.A. punk clique rules and were lazy as hell. None of this helped at all. The second single, "Sink The Whales Buy Japanese Goods" b/w "Disco Queen", we couldn't give away. None of us had any use for stacks of the record so many of the 1,000 copies went into the trash. Now it's a coveted collector's item. Go figure. Disillusioned, with our dreams of glory crushed, we broke up early in 1980. However, The Rotters have managed to survive although not with the original line up. But what the hell, how many punk bands stay the same for more than 20 years? The whole idea of middle age punks is offensive anyway. But then again, that's the point.

— Phester Swollen

The first Rotters 7 inch. had at least two distinct pressings. The first pressing says "BANNED" only while the second pressing says "BANNED IN L.A." (pictured above). The second and far more rockin' Rotters 7in. was a single pressing, but with a couple of different paper stocks. The more common sleeve is on standard white stock, the less common is on heavier yellow stock (though either are practically impossible to find). Some copies have both sleeves. Both Rotters 45's (along with several other early L.A. punk greats) have been reissued by Dionysus Records.

Here's a video that I made that has footage of our 1988 show in Japan:

Thanks to Jp Valentine, Kona Cindy and Enrico Ciccu.

For my dear friends Yuri Tsujimoto, Sharon Kennedy and Tom Swollen