(Originally published on my Agony Shorthand blog in 2004)

THE BOTTOM 10, CIRCA 1985-1989

Somehow the band “SUICIDAL TENDENCIES” popped into my head today and it got me reminiscin’ about my 1980s college-era punk rock/garage/rock & roll radio show “White Trash” on KCSB-FM in Santa Barbara, California.

Not because I’d ever play such an atrocity, but because several of my listeners repeatedly begged me to. Requests for true quality did come in but were few and far between, yet these mid-80s clunkers were always, always being dialed in. The Top (Bottom) 10, in order: 

1. (By a goddamn mile) SUICIDAL TENDENCIES “Institutionalized” 
2. DEAD MILKMEN “Bitchen Camero” 
3. BLACK FLAG “TV Party” 
4. anything by DR. KNOW (consider my then-location and proximity to the “Nardcore” scene) 
5. anything by METALLICA, ANTHRAX, C.O.C. or MEGADETH (consider the onetime popularity of what we then called “speed metal”) 
6. RKL “Pothead” (consider the marijuana intake of many college students) 
7. VANDALS “Anarchy Burger” and “Urban Struggle” 
8. anything by THE ADOLESCENTS or D.I. (what is D.I., you ask??? Don’t ask.) 
9. AGGRESSION “Money Machine” 
10. anything by the DEAD KENNEDYS 

Except for “Money Machine”, which is just a numbskull politico-corporate rant and not really a punk novelty, I never assented to any of these requests. Sadly, no one ever requested “Destroy Exxon” by CIRCLE ONE or “Fuck Money” by RF7, but I wish they had….


Several weeks ago I posted a moderately embarrassing June 1989 radio show that I did for KCSB-FM in Santa Barbara, CA called “White Trash”. It was my last show ever – on that station, anyway – and therefore was the culmination of four years of training, teenage toil and practice.  

Now let’s go back in time over two years, to April 22nd, 1987. I’m 19 years old; I’m snarky; I’m fast-talkin’, and I’m absolutely lovin’ the noisy late 80s indie rock. This show features paranoia about an impending crackdown on what records we’re allowed to play on the station, all thanks to a minor censorship kerfuffle that was erupting that year in which the FCC gave our station a warning for playing punk rock music with naughty words. You can read the LA Times story on the incident here. My repeated paranoia about impending censorship doom during this show’s 90 minutes are testament to the limited scope and worldview, political myopia, and the affluenza common to UC-Santa Barbara students who come from nice families.

Download the 4-22-1987 show of KCSB’s “White Trash” right here, and you’ll hear gems from Pussy Galore, Squirrel Bait, Naked Raygun, Soul Asylum, Bad Brains, Redd Kross, Phantom Tollbooth, Adrenaline O.D., The Flesh Eaters, and much more.


In 2006 I recounted the story of then-underground (and really good) band WHITE ZOMBIE playing live on my radio show back in 1988 in Santa Barbara, CA. Thanks to modern analog-to-digital recording technology, I’ve finally digitized that cassette. It’s a psycho-head-blowout 34-minute performance, and you can download the whole thing right here.

Download WHITE ZOMBIE, live on KCSB-FM, May 25th 1988.

Here’s my original post on them on my extinct Agony Shorthand blog:

I did my “undergrad work” at a beachfront college in Santa Barbara, CA, and one of the perks of being located where we were was that it was the perfect place for a touring band with a day off between San Francisco and Los Angeles to park themselves for a night. As it so happened, I had the 8-10pm DJ shift on KCSB-FM on Wednesday nights, and we had an aggressive music director (Eric Stone, now residing in where-are-they-now files) who was a total success at grabbing these bands from the road & plopping them down for a live in-studio set on my show. One such show was released on vinyl & CD as “Radio Cowgirl” by the LAZY COWGIRLS – though this session actually interrupted someone else’s show, not mine. Stone came to me one day in May 1988 & told me that WHITE ZOMBIE were going to come to the station to play on my show, and at the time, that was kind of a coup. White Zombie were cresting the wave of lots of noise/grunge-era hype emanating from their new low-print-run record “Soul Crusher” and their previous mini-LP “Psycho-Head Blowout”, which was already out of print & a collector’s item a year after it came out. Their sound at the time was a brutal, dissonant clatterfest that was somewhere between out-and-out rocking and completely unlistenable nonsense.

Once they arrived at the station, it was obvious that a publicist had put them up to this, because the NY ‘tude they were throwing off was off the charts. The tigress of a bass player “Sean” was pretty friendly, the drummer & longhaired guitarist were completely unmemorable, and “Rob Zombie” – wow. After one song, he sighed and muttered into the mic, “Hoooomph. Why are we here?”, and wouldn’t look anyone in the eye the whole time. And on a nice May evening in Santa Barbara, he was wearing a trench coat and compleat grunge garb. Full-on junkie behavior, but I’m sure that wasn’t it. I saw him holding a flyer from the band’s show in Seattle a couple days earlier & saw that the brand-new Mark Arm/Steve Turner band MUDHONEY had opened for them; I asked him how they were & he spat back with condescension“Hooomph. Good – if you like Green River”. You ever met a musician like this before? A full-blown rock star in their own mind? Ironically this guy did in fact became a rock star only a few years later, and I never in a million years would have imagined it at the time given White Zombie’s unrelenting, caterwauling, noise-laden sound. I guess they timed their ascent in tandem with that of “nu-metal”. and went through some serious sell-out sound changes & milked it to the top, but I’ve honestly barely heard that stuff outside of the ubiquitous “More Human Than Human”.

On my radio show in ‘88, however, and please believe me when I say this – they were fantastic. I have a tape somewhere, and I remember that they were absolutely massive toward the end, when they played a wild original that was louder than loud – like the first-LP DIE KREUZEN (here I go again) playing BLUE CHEER backwards, sideways and in Esperanto. Then they followed it up with a cover of KISS’s “Rocket Ride” – and although Kiss might just be the lamest band of all time, it was fantastic. So pumped up from this experience, I took the bass player’s advice and went to their show in Los Angeles that weekend. It was at a floating, no-fixed-address club called “Alcohol Salad”, and this time it was located downtown, in the heart of skid row. Those of you that know LA know that in the 1980s, downtown was not just a terrifying place, it was simply not an area where nightlife ever happened. Anyway, we made it from the car to the club & back alive, and good thing too as White Zombie were (again) on fire. At the time I called it “one of the best shows I’ve ever seen”, which sounds ridiculous now, but I’m telling you, there was so much raw energy & crazed balls-out guitar fireworks going on, I instantly anointed the previously ignored guitarist Tom Guay my new rock hero. Rob Zombie did a couple of complete back flips in the course of the evening’s entertainment, the crowd went wild, and it was really some kind of happening. For one night, we were all New Yorkers. I don’t know what got me thinking about this band today, but I figured maybe you too might have your own White Zombie tales to tell, good or ill.


Erin F./La Lengua, whom we now follow religiously on her killer Ribbon Around a Bomb online culture trove & punk rock radio show podcast, used to be a disc jockey on KCSB-FM in Santa Barbara, CA – just like me. Just 19 years apart from each other. The collection of insular radio nerds and music fanatics was her sorority, just as it was my frathouse.

She posted a misty-eyed review of her days there, along with a show you can listen to on “MySpace” (!). Check it all out here.


Just received one of those newfangled cassette-transfer contraptions in the mail recently, one of those things that lets you take ancient cassette tape recordings and transfer them into new, improved digital versions. Even figured out how to use it. Just in the nick of time, too – I mean, I have a garage full of 1980s mix tapes, live show recordings, and radio shows I once did in college moldering and decaying. Another year or two and they’d be sawdust. This post is the first of several rescue/reclamation projects.

On June 14th, 1989, a 21-year-old version of me did his final “White Trash” radio show on KCSB-FM in Santa Barbara, CA, as he graduated from college that very week. It was taped, and after festering in aforementioned garage for 24 years, was transferred this evening and uploaded for what interested parties there might be to then download and listen to. Having listened to the tape for the first time in at least 20 years before digitizing it tonight, it naturally brings forth much embarrassment – so please humor me and let me add a few careful disclaimers in case you wanna listen to it (and you should – the music is smokin’). 

After doing a radio show at KCSB for four years, and having had access to all the records in their library (and being a rabid music hound/record collector of the most obsessive order), I got to be fairly knowledgeable in the limited punk rock/heavy underground rock genres I’d permitted myself to like. My dismissive, albeit very studied, insecure cockiness is on display in this show. I’m not sure I’d actually like this DJ right now as a human being if I was hearing him on the radio for the first time. Though I love every song I played in this, “My Top 40 favorite songs of all time” show, I can’t believe how dudely it all is. For the 1989 version of me, it was all dudes, all punk, all raw and all aggressive. The only chicks allowed were those rare cool ones from The Bags, The Avengers and Sonic Youth. That’s it. The Fall sucked already, and The Lazy Cowgirls were the best live band in the world.

It’s also preposterous that someone with such a limited musical life experience and frame of reference could even deign to determine a 40-greatest-songs-of-all-time list. As you might expect, approximately 37 of mine came from the 1980s. One of the highlights/lowlights of this show is the recording that starts the show, a nervous, mealy-mouthed 16-year-old me doing a “guest DJ” slot on KFJC (on the “Ransome Youth Show”) in 1983. Then the 21-year-old me mocks him mercilessly, with all the wisdom and experience that 5 years of perspective and deep life experience brings. 

Now that I’m doing a fake radio show podcast here in 2012/2013 – Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio  – I was startled to see some identical on-air back-announce mannerisms crop up from ‘89 that mirror the blather I’m doing today. Hopefully you’ll enjoy forty dudely 70s/80s songs from the likes of The Pagans, Mudhoney, Black Flag, Scratch Acid, Die Kruezen, Electric Eels and more. I have even worse shows sitting in the garage ready to be rescued and maybe even posted at a later date. 

Download “WHITE TRASH” Radio, June 14th 1989, KCSB-FM


Believe it or not, for a short period of time, WHITE ZOMBIE were an absolutely amazing molten mess of a band. They played on my radio show on KCSB-FM Santa Barbara in May 1988, and their live show in Los Angeles the next night – at the Alcohol Salad club in the heart of skid row – was at the time one of the loudest, wildest shows I’d ever seen. I wrote a remembrance of the band and their magic Southern California trip on my old blog Agony Shorthand, and you can read all that here.

Here they are on the cover of Gerard Cosloy’s CONFLICT fanzine from a little earlier than that.