Music, Shameless self indulgence

My Favorite Lesser Known Bands of the 1980s

Sure, everyone is familiar with the big musical stars of the 1980s. Acts like Michael Jackson and Madonna and Cyndi Lauper ruled the charts, while other bands like Devo, Stevie Wonder and Flock of Seagulls will forever have a place in popular culture.

But what about some of the lesser known bands of the 1980s? Don’t they deserve a little recognition, too?

In an effort to share the musical wealth, here are some of my favorite bands and artists from the 1980s that have gone unappreciated and largely ignored.

Hopefully, this list will be the first step towards bringing some of these forgotten musical gems back into the spotlight.

  • Crowded Mouse House
  • Men at Twerk
  • Simply Fred
  • Mister Sister (Cross-dressing religious band)
  • Twisted Mister (Everyone in the band had a twirly mustache)
  • Ironic Maiden (Just a bunch of girls who pretended they weren’t that into the music they were playing)
  • Silly Vanilli (Comedy R&B group)
  • Gilly Vanilli (All fish R&B group)
  • Chili Vanilli (Latino-influenced R&B group)
  • Billy Vanilli (some douchebag I went to high school with)
  • Flat Benetar (Promising singer whose career was tragically cut short in a steamroller accident)
  • Splat Benetar (Promising singer whose career was tragically cut short when she fell off a building)
  • Tears for Steers (Radical vegan punk rockers)
  • Hall and Goats (the best man-goat act since vaudeville)
  • Lionel Bitchy (super effeminate R&B singer)
  • Lionel Twitchy (great singer with a bad crystal meth habit)
  • Lionel Itchy (sensual R&B singer who got a lot of STDs because loved the ladies)
  • Lionel Snitchy (we thought he was cool but he ran his mouth)
  • Lionel Stitchy (terrible singer but great at macrame)
Shameless self indulgence, Writing

Possible Reasons Why I Haven’t Posted in Quite Some Time

Loyal readers to this blog (of which, quite inexplicably, there are still none) may be wondering why your Humble Monkey has gone radio silent for the better part of two years. Well, wonder no more my non-existent friends and non-loyal followers!

Here are a laundry list of reasons to explain my absence:

  • Have been hunting down used Trump hotel mattresses on Craigslist for an EPA administrator who shall remain nameless
  • Been recording and rewatching episodes of Fox and Friends to pick up on hidden messages from the Illuminati
  • Recently traveled to an area where fungal infections are common and didn’t tell my doctor about it before he prescribed something for my moderate to severe plaque psoriasis… then had to rebuild the emotional damage this did to our patient-provider relationship
  • Subscribed to Men’s Health magazine and with each issue that arrives in my mailbox my abs get more shredded and defined and my sex life gets so much more intense so that now I’m just a walking, talking six-pack fuck machine. So who has time for blogs?
  • Opened a drive-through sponge-bath business
  • Realized that the whole idea of a drive-through sponge-bath business is logistically unsound and possibly unhygienic
    • Do I get in the car with them and start scrubbing as they drive? If so, are they clothed?
    • Do they get out of their car and hop into a tub in some prearranged location, and if so, is that really a drive-through service or just one of your mom-and-pop sponge bath operations?
    • Do I buy a flatbed truck with a bunch of tubs in it and have people jump on and off to get their baths?
  • Quietly closed my drive-through sponge bath business
  • Had a new baby girl that has somehow managed to steal 99% of all my free time

The Stoke Is Real

There are things that I will remember until the end of my life, no matter if that is 50 years from today or next week when I forget to look both ways when I cross the street.

    • The smell of neoprene in the hot sun
    • Grape surf wax
    • Cold, soft sand
    • That first trickle of cold water down the back of your neck when you hit the water, wetsuit be damned
    • Pink, shimmering sunrises that dance across the water
    • Plopping down on the board and paddling in
    • Sticking the drop-in on a fast moving wave
    • Sitting on my board past the break (but not for too long because there are waves to catch)
    • Realizing that beach season goes 365 days a year
    • The fast twitch neurons in your brain firing before every popup (and then for like an hour afterwards, even if you are just waiting in line at the grocery store)
    • The endorphin high after a great session
    • Pumping your fist on instinct after catching a good wave
    • Blasting Motley Crue’s “Kickstart my Heart” to get revved up for a winter surf
    • Fighting through a hurricane swell just to see what that’s like
    • Realizing the ocean is so much bigger than you
    • Silent in-water therapy session
    • Flopping on the shore in exhaustion when you just can’t stands no more


Shameless self indulgence, Writing

Grumpiest Monkey’s More Tales From the City

FullSizeRenderSomewhere in the city, there are Jehovah’s Witnesses standing in pairs outside of every train station. They are unfailingly well-dressed, pleasant, smiling, good looking people. It is only their literature that hints at the extremity of their views.

For religiously-minded individuals, they seem blissfully unaware of the real-life human suffering that goes on all around them. The addicts, the drunks and the homeless. The desperate and the worn out. They look right past them and focus their attention on the the commuters walking by. A cynic would say that is where the money is.

A man and a woman huddle in a corner. They are thin, frazzled, nervous. The man is berating the woman for some perceived slight, but it is clear that this is nothing new. The man takes his frustrations out on her. Yells in her face. Threatens her with his words. Blames her for everything. She looks towards the ground, sucks on her cigarette and absorbs his rage. She has been absorbing rage all her life.

An hispanic worker at a pizza kiosk inside the train station sets a slice of cheese on top of the counter and whistles over at a man in a faded green army coat. The man, a lifelong drifter who usually panhandles outside the station at rush hour, takes the free slice gratefully and returns to his bench. It is a small, subtle gesture.

Four black teenagers have a loud conversation about which one of them is a more important member of the Bloods. One would think that being the member of a criminal gang would be nothing to shout about, but then again they just seem like kids showing off for each other.

Grown men spend their commute playing Candy Crush on their phones.

Grown men commute on razor scooters.


A truck rumbling through a tunnel hits a warped manhole cover and launches it into the air. It smashes through the front windshield of another car, killing the driver instantly. What was she thinking about when the manhole cover hit? Her job? Her love life? Her weekend plans? All of that is now gone.


And the city lurches on.

Shameless self indulgence, Writing

The Grumpiest Monkey Presents: Tales from the City


Somewhere in the city…

A schizophrenic woman sits on a bench inside a train station, babbling aloud about past sexual trauma, completely lost inside her head while commuters brush past her without noticing.

A chunk of the ceiling inside an underground vehicle artery suddenly dislodges, landing on top of  a passing car and killing the occupant inside. She was on her way to the airport. Traffic will be a mess all morning. A cursory check of the tunnel will reveal no other structural defaults. Life will go on for everyone but the woman inside the car.

A worn out man in a faded green Army jacket waits outside a subway stop with an empty Dunkin’ Donuts cup in his hand. “Do you have 50 cents?” he asks the swirling hordes of working professionals as they pass. He is there every morning, always asking for 50 cents. How did he arrive at that number? Does anyone even carry change on them anymore? Would he be better off asking for a dollar? Or getting a smartphone and a card swipe?

A man staggers out of a bar on a freezing cold night without a coat. It is so cold, in fact, that the streets are all but deserted. Forecasters have warned of frostbite in 10 minutes. He wanders up and down the streets of the deserted financial district, then heads out towards the harbor. He disappears somewhere in the icy black water.

A subway train is stopped so that transit officers can remove a woman who has loaded  all her earthly possessions into the corner of the last car. There are bags upon bags stuffed into two fragile metal pull carts. As she is pulled off the train, the woman curses at the officers. Where will she go now? Where did she come from? What happened in her life to bring her to this point, where she is old and alone and carrying her world along with her?

A tall thin black man with braids, a flat-brimmed cap and sagging jeans stops to help a short, middle-aged white blind man cross a busy intersection. It’s a small moment that few people see, but it’s a rare moment of civility in a city that rarely has time for anything.



Where this Monkey Stands

What I’m for:

  • Hard work
  • Surfing
  • Kindness
  • Music
  • Good television
  • Real breasts (size be damned)
  • Guitar
  • Patience (even though it is a struggle all the time)
  • Sunshine
  • Dogs (especially Southern rescue mix dogs)
  • Leaf peeping
  • Spotify (for music selection)
  • Tipping
  • Did I mention surfing?
  • Surfing in case I didn’t mention it

What I’m against

  • Organized religion
  • People who cut in line
  • People who don’t hold doors
  • People who don’t clean up after their dogs
  • People who don’t walk their dogs
  • Fast food ( 95% of the time)
  • Fake breasts (chicken or otherwise, see above)
  • Coffee with sugar
  • Country music
  • People from the Northeast who wear cowboy hats and/or boots (see previous)
  • Flourescent lights
  • The Northern Lights (more like the Aurora Boring-alis, am I right guys?)
  • Reality TV shows (unless about surfing)
  • Spotify (for poor artist compensation)
  • Best-of-the-year album lists that trade coolness for listenability (Pitchfork can you hear me?)
  • Ads on YouTube that you can’t skip after 5 seconds
  • ESPN
  • Greyhound racing
  • Greyhound busing
  • 24 hour news network
  • Local news
  • OK, pretty much any televised news unless there is an actual emergency taking place
  • No, a 6″ snowstorm is not an emergency

How to run an incredibly unsuccessful blog

From time to time (OK, never), your Monkey gets an email from an eager fan asking him how he did it. How did he–a simple typewriting Monkey–manage to fail so spectacularly at starting and maintaining a blog? How do all of his opinions consistently fail to register in the popular zeitgeist? How does he somehow get negative post views?

Well, the time has come for your Monkey to spill his secrets. If you follow the exclusive plan that laid out below, you can be sure that your blog will flounder in obscurity for months and years to come.

  • Jump around from topic to topic with no rhyme or reason
  • Leave blog abandoned and empty for months or years at a time
  • Revisit blog after one such long layoff and write post promising that “things will be different this time, baby…I’ll post all the time.”
  • Don’t post all the time, or so often, or at all
  • Don’t follow similar blogs, or offer encouraging comments to bloggers who are also trying to make it
  • Vacillate between angry first-person narratives and half-baked fiction
  • Pretend to be a monkey
  • Do not ask leading questions or start interesting conversations
  • Do not find unique ways to approach a subject
  • Honestly tell people how many followers you have, especially if it is in the single digits
  • Comment on your own blog posts in a transparent attempt to fake engagement
  • Mash bananas into your keyboard when you get frustrated that the words won’t come
  • Promote blog by visiting playgrounds and asking kids if they want to come over and check out something “really cool online”