When is a bill not a bill?

Contrary to a report in Tuesday, January 14's Austin American-Statesman, a recommendation to restrict the presence of anyone under 21 in establishments that sell alcohol is not a bill, but that still doesn't mean that club owners, club-goers, and musicians shouldn't take an interest in goings-on down Austin way.

The recommendation--which allows for exemptions for establishments based on criteria like overall sales of non-alcoholic goods like food or gasoline--is a small part of a much larger interim study on children's issues like immunization, smoking, and health care. The study--introduced by the state Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and pushed by Committee Chair Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo)--is only the first step in making a new law, a long and not particularly wieldy process that involves public hearings, passage in the House, and signing by the governor.

Although hundreds of such suggestions get bogged down in that process and never go anywhere, it's still possible for the whole deal to go down in the space of a year, so the time is now to start thinking about the issues. With more and more players starting earlier and earlier--witness our own local talents like Paul Size and Johnny Moeller or the Calways' Todd Deatherage, all of whom cut their teeth and their chops as youngsters gigging around Deep Ellum--how will such restrictions affect their development? How will this affect the already-tough row that all-ages shows frequently have to hoe, or the clubs that chase the ever-more-elusive customer dollar?

And what does that mean in light of our culture's ever-increasing awareness of the pitfalls of substance abuse? Or the need to shield youth from the dangers of adulthood even as they feverishly work to taste those dangers? It was the rigors of navigating that paradox--protecting kids from themselves--that led Doak Boettinger to open Club Dada as a 21-and-up club from the start, even back when there wasn't a legally compelling reason.

"Face it," Boettinger says. "Everybody that serves alcohol and allows [under 21] kids in has been popped [by the TABC]. Whenever we'd do somebody a favor and let an 18-to-21 year old in, at some point in the evening you'd look up and have to go over and take their drink from them, and you've got a whole bar to run, and all they've got to do is try and get another beer, so we don't even mess with it." Other clubs like Trees, however, try to accommodate both the underage and liquor sales. In a state like Texas--where the only place a minor is officially barred from entering is a liquor store--a titty bar and a music venue are the same if they serve alcohol. A great balancing act is about to take place, and it behooves everybody who has a stake in or cares about the outcome to relay their thoughts to their duly elected representative. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.

Bollox in a teacup
In response to the handful of "scenesters" who wrote to the Observer to bitch and moan about the credentials of Benji Bollox ("The Little Punk Who Could," January 2) and question our veracity, we can only reply with the following facts: Mr. B. Bollox has his face on a UK Subs album; said face is attached to a body sitting behind a drum set, playing aforementioned drums, along which is written in large block letters DRUMS: BENJI BOLLOX. This tends to indicate to us that he was the drummer for the UK Subs on this album, at least as far as the Subs are concerned. When, in response to bold challenges to our credibility, we called London and talked to founding Sub Charlie Harper, we got the following searing indictment of Bollox: "He did record with us, and he did play live with us, in Blackpool," Harper confirms. "But that's not as important as his writing that song "Riot," which is a brilliant song; it's been released in two versions in Europe and America, and I think we could have a hit with it. He's a good talent, and as soon as he comes to London he'll be rehearsing with us again."

Splodge, from the band Splodgenessabounds, was at Harper's digs when Street Beat called, and was equally harsh: "He's every bit a Cockney boy from Southeast London, and there's no doubt he's played with the Subs...he went with us to Blackpool, (unintelligible) and he rode it all a good way..." Of course, we don't expect a bunch of blather from British punks whose roots stretch back to 1977 to impress a bunch of pissant Dallas punk tirebiters, but we offer these words in our own defense anyway, out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

Scene, heard
Fugly has just signed with Clockwork Entertainment, a California-based company whose ties with Alliance could mean national distribution for the band. A recut version of "364" from the band's locally produced, self-titled release (Inescapable Butthole Surfers Reference #24-000-567: The re-doing of "364" was produced by Paul Leary) will be released as a single, and the band will go on tour in March...Buck Jones has signed with Steve Records; their previous self-released album--the attractive Shoegazer--will be followed by a 14-song disc to be recorded soon at Crystal Clear Studios... a "freestyle winter '97 jam" will be thrown to benefit KNON January 24 and 25 starring El Presidente, a Latin house music guy from Cuba; call 828-9500 for more info...

The Broadway national tour of Jam on the Groove at Fort Worth's Casa Manana, set to run February 18 through 20, has been cancelled...Club Clearview is hosting "Band Dude Karaoke" Thursday, January 23, an event that apparently features local musicians (i.e., have actually been booked) acting like drunken Japanese businessmen. The point is a bit elusive, but it sounds, um, interesting.

When Thing One guitarist Jeff Ballow was working at Arlington's C&S Music and ran into Howard Scott, songwriter and lead singer for War, he did what any musician would do: engaged him in a little light conversation, then gave him a CD of his band's music. "In this business, any response at all would be above and beyond," Ballow admits, recognizing that such uninvited tapes and CDs are more likely to be used to steady that uneven table leg than actually get a listen.

Much to Ballow's surprise, Scott actually called him back. Even more amazing, Scott thought the album, Brother Humble (recorded and mixed in two days) had potential. "He asked us if that was the best we could do," Ballow recalls, "and I said 'no way.' Most everything on it was done in one take." Scott has forwarded the disc to friends at RCA and promised to support the band, perhaps by getting them some opening slots.

Both Pat Boyack and Slobberbone are in Austin's Arlyn studios working on new albums...Boo! The ghost of defunct band Flux will reappear this week on a colored-vinyl single put out by Frank Kozik's label Man's Ruin; meanwhile, former Fluxers Bucky Buchannan and Gerry Cummings can be caught as part of Killagain...Matt Castille of the Vas Deferens Organization called the other day to express remorse at leaving the name of Brec Outland off of his list of folks he started the avant-experimental group with in 1992...

The Moon Festival has a new album out, Sugar Pill, and will be celebrating that fact with a free show January 31 at the Barley House; showtime is 10 pm...Punkers Mess are going mental on the road, about a third of the way through a 15-gig tour of the Gulf and East coasts...

Street Beat wonders about some of the people you see wearing leather pants. Your observations, comments and input are welcome at [email protected].

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Matt Weitz

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