David Peel: The Dope-Smokin’ Pope of the New York City Hippies

May 1, 2017 | 17486 Views | 7 Comments

Hello, ma'am. I'm working to clean up the neighborhood from parasites. Do you mind if I take a quick look around your house? I'm afraid you may have hippies. If you're familiar with the darkly funny animated series "South Park," you know there's nothing that tubby 9-year-old Eric Cartman hates more than hippies. In the 2005 episode "Die Hippie, Die," he gallantly waddles from house to house with an exterminator tank, hell-bent on ridding the neighborhood of the bad-smelling, peace-preaching stoners. Well, in my small hometown in the late 1960s, we had but one authentic hippie, and we intended... Read More »

You’re Invisible Now, You Got No Secrets to Conceal

Apr 30, 2017 | 121 Views | 1 Comment

I’m noting two things today: first, the 20-year anniversary of Ellen DeGeneres announcing, “Yep, I’m gay,” on her popular prime time TV series, thus ending weeks of speculation regarding a “coming out” announcement from the star. Second, it’s National Hairstylists Appreciation Day. Here’s how I relate the two events. On April 30, 1997, I was attending an evening AA meeting (yes, today I’m choosing to be brave and honest like Ellen, and make that fact public), and afterwards several of the members asked me to stick around for the usual post-meeting ritual of gabbing and grabbing the... Read More »

We All Will Be Received in Graceland — Except for Bruce

Apr 29, 2017 | 7414 Views | 1 Comment

All The King's men. That's a royal court that could include every seasoned rocker whose creative spark was first lit by the sight and sound of Elvis Presley. They started out wanting to be him, and spent their lives dying to meet him. Some were fortunate enough to encounter The King long before their moms bought them their first guitars. Future country rock pioneer Gram Parsons was 9 years old when he shook hands with the new singing sensation backstage at the Waycross City Auditorium in Georgia in 1956. Tom Petty was 11 when his uncle introduced... Read More »

It’s Easter: Into the Sun…with Cecilia

Apr 16, 2017 | 9865 Views | 2 Comments

Is there such a thing as an Easter playlist? Aside from the ode to Peter Cottontail hippity-hopping down the bunny trail, or tributes to lovely ladies in bonnets strolling along in Irving Berlin's Easter Parade, can you think of one popular, serious song that celebrates the day of Christ’s resurrection? There are numerous tunes about the rejuvenative powers of spring, but only a handful that mention Easter by name. As a rocker steeped in the punk/New Wave music of the late 1970s, Patti’s Smith’s sad, solemn “Easter,” with its echo of bagpipes and bells, its chime-like vocals,... Read More »

My Wild and Innocent Days Loving Bruce Springsteen

Apr 12, 2017 | 8390 Views | 5 Comments

Jimmy Cagney, hat brim low over his eyes, talking wise to Joan Blondell. Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall picking pockets in The Bowery. Platinum angels with arched, pencil-thin eyebrows, sipping bathtub gin and waiting in vain for their square-jawed mugs to return from the hoosegow. Sharpies named Ace and Lefty. Dames named Ruby and Peaches. Those were the cinematic heroes of my youth. So, it's no surprise I'd fall hard for the denizens of Bruce Springsteen's second LP, "The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle." To this day, it's the most romantic life-on-the-street album... Read More »