I got a great deal of enjoyment–or maybe it was the relief of offloading a big pile of Shadow–lampooning rock journalist Kevin Stukia, reporter for Ungodly Procreative New Jersey Suburbs Music Magazine, as he covers the dizzying rise of the Akard Drearstone Group in the summer of 1975. I worked on Akard Drearstone for decades, originally conceiving of it as the ultimate description of late sixties/early seventies counterculture; later I considered modernizing the story for the twenty-first century, but finally decided that it was a historical novel after all. So journalist Kevin Stukia, lead guitarist Akard and psychotic Jim Piston have been left back where they belong, in 1975, with no smartphones, Internet, GPS, or personal computers, and with that entire decade intact around them.
On his existentially unhappy wedding night Akard’s manager Harray Andreall will freak out on Stukia’s “evil, twisted little face” and “cynical nasty vague blue eyes,” but before that he welcomes all the publicity Stukia and UPNJS can give, including Stukia’s dazzling seventies-esque one-sentence paragraphs as he foists himself upon the Drearstone Group:
Okay, so I was a little late, the goddamn place was in the middle of nowhere and that dinky two-lane Appaloosa Road or whatever you call it was crammed with cars for the last twelve miles and so I missed most of the first set, big deal, but I finally got up close to the dirt area the group was playing on and I heard almost all of “Cop on a Ten Speed” and it blew my fucking mind and believe me that is the best fucking song to come out of the Youth Revolution and I knew I had to interview Jim Piston who wrote the damn music so I charged in there at the break but it was like the guy was in a trance, just tuning his bass guitar over and over and every once in a while letting out a bunch of weird little riffs with the amp turned down low so I could hardly hear it with all these freaks babbling and this huge guy with a red Afro telling me to leave Piston alone.
It was my first trip to the Drearstone farm and I tried to tell that big motherfucker that their manager Harray Andreall would vouch for me, I’d interviewed him for UPNJS just a couple weeks ago and the fucking article just came out like just this fucking Monday, man, didn’t anybody here read it, sure I had to catch Harray in Houston and I’d never been to the farm before but what the fuck, is there like some secret initiation rite I have to go through to interview a fucking bass guitarist?
Meanwhile there was this twerp holding a Nikon F2 and he was so spaced out he was taking pictures of my feet. He said his name was Preston something or other and he said he was documenting this whole thing, which pissed me off because our goddamn staff photographer Bonnie chose not to come to this event for some reason I’ll never know although she was with me in Houston, and I was already pissed that all I had was my tape recorder but no camera. When this Preston twerp saw I was from UPNJS he started frothing and saying he’d sell me all his goddamn pix for a thousand bucks so I just said, fuck off, kid, I don’t need pix of my goddamn feet.
Anyway, somehow word got around that The Press was here tonight incarnated as yours truly, and people relaxed a bit and after a while I figured out who was who and what was what, the things we have to learn in journalism school and all.
Copyright 2018 by Michael D. Smith
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