Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sierra Madre's Rock 'n Roll Warrior

Somewhere beyond Mayberry
A lot of the people in town who know Tony Brandenburg do so because of his strong advocacy for the rights of autistic children and their parents to receive equal educational opportunities within the moldy Pasadena Unified School District. For their pains the Brandenburgs have been targeted by a bizarrely entitled group of narrow bigots and bullies, people who not only repeatedly singled out Tony's own child personally and in public, but in time went after the entire family as well. To the point where a sitting Board of Education member actually sided against them in what was clear cut discrimination leveled upon a special needs student. Done apparently because this Board member wished to please people he socialized with, those being the very same members of Sierra Madre's politically connected anti-autism hit squad. An almost unheard of act in a school district that boasts loudly of its supposedly socially enlightened educational practices. Usually right around the time it wants more money.

That is one side of the Tony Brandenburg story. Here is another one. For New Year's Eve myself and my family went to a party that is put on each year by Mary Brandenburg, Tony's wife, mostly for the friends of their three children. Since Tony is almost always on tour New Year's week with his band, the world famed Southern California punk rock outfit The Adolescents, Mary holds these parties as much for the neighborhood kids as she does their parents, most of whom have parties of their own to attend and are grateful to have a safe place for the kids to go and have fun as well.

Not everything was good that night, however. Tony, scheduled to play a sold-out and much anticipated New Year's Eve show in Houston, had been sent to a hospital emergency room for what was apparently a pretty serious condition. Tony had recently been operated upon here in Southern California, and while given a grudging clean bill of health by those in the know, had developed a serious infection half-way through the tour. At the insistence of Tony's concerned bandmates, who had driven him to a hospital without his being exactly told about where he was being taken, he was checked in and underwent an emergency medical procedure designed to both alleviate his considerable pain while also checking a rapidly spreading infection.

All of which pretty much dominated the adult conversation at Mary's New Year's party. She had been on the phone several times with Tony, and most of us wise souls here on the Sierra Madre side of those calls were all for canceling the show. Signed contracts and unhappy club owners are one thing, but risking your health and more is quite another. There would be other shows and other opportunities.

But none of us get to be Tony Brandenburg. At the last possible minute Tony checked out of whatever hospital he was in, went to the club where this midnight shindig was taking place, and put on what apparently was one hell of a rock 'n roll show.

Considering what you now know about what went down before he hit the stage, the following review of that performance is even more remarkable than it would have been otherwise. This from the Houston Press (click here):

To end 2012 on a note of anti-apocalypse, in which the forces of vitality outmaneuver destruction and oblivion, Willow Villarreal of Hank Productions -- who has survived through the thick and thin of a fickle Houston music scene for more than a decade -- presented two iconic bearers of seminal Southern California punk, Youth Brigade and the Adolescents, bolstered by local heroes The American Heist and Molotov Compromise.

Undoubtedly, the foment of the Adolescents remains alive and well, as proven by the crowd's raucous and riotous reception. Still-buzzing songs like "Amoeba" and "No Way" literally unleashed a sweat-swishing, knee-crunching whirlwind at Fitzgerald's. Even the band seemed surprised by the mustered mayhem, exclaiming the gig as the best and last (tomorrow they play post-midnight in Austin) set of their taut Texas jaunt, exceeding brethren in Dallas and San Antonio.

The Adolescents' early tunes remain endemic to punk's timeless musical fabric of disaffected, disenchanted America, but their 2005 comeback album OC Confidential and 2011 follow-up The Fastest Kid Alive, whose songs they offered with bite and bile, proved their politics are still fiercely focused in their middle-age years, too. Sure, young turks try to steal the limelight, but few come close to the trenchant, brash staying power and melodic prowess of this unrepentant unit who can uncover pain in both dirty basements and geopolitical maneuvers.

Singer Tony Brandenburg is a barbed poet, lethal and witty, while the Adolescents' music is a surging, unbottled force. Taking no prisoners, they unleashed their vehemence at America's darker tendencies, such as backfiring foreign policy ("Operation FTW"), floundering ideals ("Democracy"), rampant angst and alienation ("Wrecking Crew," "Who Is Who"), fakery and fashion ("L.A. Girl") and senseless violence ("Rip It Up"). Each felt pregnant with pummeling power.

With tuneful tenacity, the Adolescents combine surf-punk prowess with vetted, tried and true, bona fide punk nerves that transcend Ronald Reagan's era because they don't dwell on any one blundering administration or espouse simple-minded diatribes. Instead, they observed the human condition and faulty systems with an unyielding eye, capturing the tenor and spirit with metaphors and allegories that speak to recalcitrant renegades. Their barrage never weakens, their flag never tatters.

Sure, they cautioned stage-divers weighing more than 115 pounds to be mindful of those underneath their flaying, awkwardly stretched-out, catapulting bodies, but the Adolescents never berated the audience, never demeaned the frenzy.

During one of their last refrains, the tumultuous "Kids of the Black Hole," they poignantly called out to their friend Larry, a newcomer to Houston actually affiliated with the famed Black Hole residence in Orange County that helped give birth to Social Distortion and Agent Orange.

The song's refrain, "House of destruction where lurkers roamed/ House that belonged to all the homeless kids," rang out in cross-generation clarity, bridging the worlds of kids separated by decades and thousands of nervous miles. It was the news that stays news, an avatar of angst for tens of thousands, and a brutal memoir that keeps speaking.

For a second, they seem to veer on the verge of ending with "I Got a Right," their Iggy and the Stooges staple, but instead jolted the crowd with a fiery rendition of "Sonic Reducer," which proved even more bruising and behemoth than the one unlocked by Jerry Anomie of Legionaire's Disease and Doomsday Massacre at last month's Island Reunion. It amounted to a deft and deeply burrowed nod to a common musical ancestry, like desperado days made anew.

Tony, I'm proud to know you.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. He should find real work at his age.

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    1. Tony and his wife Mary both hold Master's degrees in special education and work in that field. Tell me 7:27, what is your real work? Waiting for make work state funded development projects?

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    2. Tony, take care of yourself, sir, we need you here in Sierra Madre and autistic and special needs kids need you.
      Best wishes to you and your family!

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    3. Here are the lyrics to the song 7:27 sings:

      "Obama! Obama!
      Fund me a job
      My wife works
      My kids are jerks
      And I am an unemployed slob!"

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    4. Pretty much describes half the dirts in town.

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    5. 7:27, who says playing music all over the world isn't "real work"? What does age matter? I know plenty of seniors who refuse to crawl in a hole and wait for death to come.

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    6. Exactly 8:16. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones says he wants to be like the great blues guitarists that inspired him and perform until his last day on Earth. Sounds to me like 7:27 only likes singers who are Justin Bieber's age.

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    7. Age-ism is a form of bigotry.

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  2. The Adolescents S/T album was one of the albums that got me interested in punk. I had no idea that this Tony did the vocals for it. Good to know that Sierra Madre is home to one of the LA Punk scene's icons.

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    1. Me neither 7:31. Who knew he lived in Sierra Madre?

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    2. Sierra Madre, which fancies itself as being an art friendly town, apparently has a problem when the real thing comes along.

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    3. Sierra Madre used to be a more art friendly community. Things changed when the nannies spent more time with the kids than their actual parents. It's a whole new groove nowadays.

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    4. The DIRTS try to run out every decent opponent of their evil plans for Sierra Madre they can. Unfortunately, they have succeeded.
      Many of our strong advocates have left the town, a few have left the country.
      Don't let these damn DIRTS drive out Tony and Mary.
      Sierra Madre would be a much better place without DOYLE THE BOIL and his gang of scumbags and unicorns.

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    5. The Brandenburgs don't appear to scare too easily, IMHO.

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  3. John, you're introducing the over 60 demographic to a whole new world experience. Thanks.

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    1. There are a lot of very cool and very hip over 60s in this town.

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    2. In fact, some of us were members of another counter culture movement.

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    3. I know "seniors" who would spit in your eye if you called them that.

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    4. Would "wise elder" be alright?

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    5. Sure. Give it a try.

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    6. Art isn't necessarily water color Queen Anne cottages and Barbara Streissand albums, although those, too, have their place. The '50s and '60s, even the '30s and '40s, were a time of great social upheaval and change. I'll bet more than a few Tattlers marched, demonstrated, and , yes, even streaked.

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    7. 60 is the new 30! And you can bet you won't find 'em in the Civic Club!!!

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    8. In order to qualify for city services you need to fit into clearly labeled categories. The reason why so few people participate in these services is they do not enjoy being defined that way. That concludes today's consultant report. Now send me $50,000.

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    9. Civic Club is evolving with many new younger members while the oldsters are willing to sit on the sidelines. Just watch and see what they can do in the next few years. The Club is coming alive again, and that means active members - not like Walsh who joined to get the club on her resume and has not been seen since.

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    10. That is good to hear. Thanks!

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  4. Sierra Madre ArtistJanuary 12, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    You go Tony, and thanks John. The narrow minded extremists who waste their time cackling about you and your child do nothing to contribute to the good of society and they think they do.....which is the sham. Be the creative/unique person you are. That is being honest. And soon your child will grow up and remember how his parents fought for him and he will in turn give back to those in need. Perhaps, also, he will give back with the music of his soul.

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    1. No doubt, SMA. The honest in Sierra Madre seem to receive the most flack, but in the end they can be proud of who they are.

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    2. A bunch of people made some bad downtown investments a few years back, and we've been cursed with their anger ever since.

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    3. Those fools should look in a mirror and see who they should be blaming.

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    4. Long live Taylor's!

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    5. They have some wonderful oranges right now. Good for fighting colds in this chilly weather!

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    6. What a wonderful post Sierra Madre Artist. You are a very fine person.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Some people need to let go of the lite beer lifestyle.

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    2. It's happy hour at the Buc. Some of Sierra Madre's finest citizens partake there daily.

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    3. Do they still arrest people in Sierra Madre for drunken walking?

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    4. 5:43 could be the first instance in town of someone being arrested for drunken posting.

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    5. Thank you John for such a nice write up. I really do appreciate it, and I know you are intercepting the hate mail and not telling me because that's the kind of person you are- the kind that looks out for people. I am grateful for all that you do for my family's health, and I am humbled by the compliments because I understand the quality of the person who makes them.

      Sierra Madre Artist, agent 731, 736, and others I have missed; thank you for your encouragement and thoughts. I do my best to be the kind of father mine was incapable of being, and I still try to do and say things that will make my mother proud, no matter how distant my thinking may be. Thank you.

      I also agree with the posts about age-ism. While I often joke about the advancement of years, it is tongue in cheek, self-directed, and designed by one who hopes to be as dynamic as those who have walked before, and after, I have. I have been lucky enough to create something that touches generations and sets them into motion, and I am proud that it cuts through all kinds of barriers that keep us apart.

      The one it can't cut through is assholism, and for that I have to just stand up and take it. I don't give those clowns a second of the thought that I put to the people who post here and struggle against ridiculous odds to guarantee a quality of life that the scumbags want to steal from us through their deceit.

      I stand humbled by it all.

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    6. Tony, there are some in Sierra Madre who got your back. Keep up the good fight, but take care of you and yours.

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    7. I caught 5:43 beer bonging Pabst with some of the local dirts. They really don't know better.

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    1. The survival of the species is in doubt.

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    2. sometimes i think we should check, you know, just to make sure they have opposing thumbs

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    3. Homo Baldwinius. They must not be allowed to spawn.

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    4. As part of a misguided attempt at social equity, the City of Sierra Madre will soon be installing special phone booths in key locations throughout the city that will allow Homo Baldwinius species members to talk to themselves. According to experts in the field this affords them the chance to overcome the voices in their heads. Speaking on behalf of ACT, former Sierra Madre Mayor John Buchanan pronounced this as an example of how a city can "do real good." No representatives from the Homo Baldwinius community were available to speak on the matter as all seemed deep in conversation with City owned trash receptacles.

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    5. Somebody needs to start bringing in some competition to weed them out. Already have enough invasive species, what with the unicorns prancing around the place.

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    7. that would certainly explain the furry footed birckenstock babes running around. i had thought i'd woken up in the shire for a minute

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    8. Though they dine almost exclusively on prepackaged food products comprised mostly of high fructose corn sweeteners, they themselves are quite sour.

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  7. The Idiots are Taking OverJanuary 12, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Darwin's rolling over in his coffin
    The fittest are surviving much less often
    Now everything seems to be reversing, and it's worsening
    Someone flopped a steamer in the gene pool....

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