Thursday, February 4, 2010

Townshend Follow-Up

OK, found this AP video from today's Super Bowl press conference where Pete defends himself.

Check it out:


Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of The Who and the band’s primary songwriter/guitarist Pete Townshend.

So yes, I know that The Who and Townshend are performing the Super Bowl’s halftime show on Sunday.

And yes, I also know that two – count them, two – supposed child advocacy groups in South Florida, where the big game is being hosted, are making a stink over Townshend’s 2003 arrest for suspicion of possessing indecent images of children. They did the same thing, but with less media coverage, when the Who was selected for the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008. This time it's getting more traction because the Super Bowl is a much bigger event than the Kennedy Center Honors, and you've got the specialized sports media covering it along with entertianment media.

First off, I have a two-year-old daughter, so do you think I would go around sporting Who T-shirts if I thought Townshend was a pedophile?

And do you think the NFL and CBS would have hired The Who if they believed this as well?

Obviously, I can never really know what went on with Townshend’s case, but there are several known, established facts that can be examined to draw conclusions.

An examination of the facts:

Was he on the U.K.’s sex offender registry as the South Florida protesters claim?
Yes, by admitting that he’d used a credit card once to access a site that advertised child pornography images, he was given a caution and placed on the sex registry for five years (2003-2008).

Did police find any child sex/abuse images on his computers or in his personal property?
No. Police seized 14 computers from Townshend’s collection at his home and office and found nothing. Here is a statement from Scotland Yard, which conducted the investigation: "After four months of investigation by officers from Scotland Yard's child protection group, it was established that Mr Townshend was not in possession of any downloaded child abuse images. He has fully co-operated with the investigation."

Was he convicted of any crime?

Did he break the law?
Apparently so, as looking at such illicit images is illegal in the U.K. whether accidental or intentional, hence the formal caution by police and the requirement of being placed on the U.K. sex offender registry. (More on this later.)

Let’s go a little deeper.

The main argument against Townshend, besides the sex offender registry, which has now expired but can’t be disputed because it is a cut-and-dried fact, is that cynical people don’t buy his claim that he was doing research for a campaign against child porn and Internet porn and abuse in general. Furthermore, Townshend claims that he was sexually abused as a child while in the care of his maternal grandmother (who had mental issues) and part of his research was for an autobiography he was writing. Where is the autobiography, detractors ask? He has secured an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for it, but it has yet to be published. In 2003, he said he’d been working on the autobiography for seven years. Townshend in recent years has been a notoriously slow worker (it took The Who 24 years to release a new album and he hasn't released a new solo album since 1993), and also notorious for announcing projects that never come to fruition. The list of failed Townshend/Who-related projects is nearly longer than the band’s actual discography.

My guess is he is working on the autobiography but it became too voluminous and it’s been put aside as he wrote material for The Who’s 2006 album, ``Endless Wire,’’ the band toured internationally in 2004, 2006-2007 and some in 2008 and 2009, and as he worked on a new rock opera entitled ``Floss.”

But back to the anti-Townshend camp: Detractors cite ``research’’ as a common excuse that pedophiles use to rationalize their habits. I can buy that it sounds like a flimsy defense, too. Yet, wouldn’t you think a pedophile would have amassed a collection of kiddie porn and police would have found something, anything? If he had a kiddie porn collection, it must have been the old-fashioned hard-copy kind that he kept locked away somewhere that authorities could not find.

By comparison, look at the case of fellow U.K. rocker Gary Glitter. Glitter was arrested in 1997 when he took his laptop into a computer shop to be worked on and technicians discovered child pornography images on his hard drive. Authorities subsequently found that he had downloaded thousands of these images and he sentenced to four months in jail.

OK, I’ll play Devil’s Advocate. Prior to Townshend’s arrest, his name was leaked to the British tabloids as being part of a child porn sting. In fact, he held a press conference a few days before being arrested to state that he is not a pedophile and to lay out his defense. Hearing that authorities were hot on his heels, could he have quickly erased his computers’ hard drives and wiped away all traces and evidence of child pornography? Or could he have just taken the offending machines and chunked them in the Thames or hired someone to take them away and destroy them?
(I have asked a computer expert/IT geek about this and will update this blog once I get an answer.)

Also, don’t you think someone would have come forward, ala Michael Jackson, and claimed that Townshend molested them, sent them dirty pictures, or fondled their children even if it was just an attempt to extort money? And what about Townshend’s own three offspring – don’t pedophiles often victimize their own brood? Why haven't they come forward with allegations?

The reason I wrote this blog entry is because I’ve been infuriated by the lousy journalism by supposedly reputable media sources, including, and covering this bubbling controversy leading up to the Super Bowl. The latest reports stem from two groups, Child Abuse Watch and Protect Our Children, peppering the area near Sun Life Stadium, where Sunday's game will be played, with postcards warning that Townshend is coming to the area.

Check out this attempt to be snarky item from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"Who survivors Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are facing a slew of protests over their plans to perform halftime at the Super Bowl Sunday. Protect Our Children has been throwing pamphlets all around Miami's Sun Life Stadium featuring a grinnin' Pete above the headline SEX OFFENDER AT LARGE. Another outfit, Child Abuse Watch, sent a letter to the NFL demanding Pete be sent packing. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the Who will be destroying guitars and amps as scheduled, if Pete, 64, can still manage it."

The ``slew'' of protest are by the same two groups - Protect Our Children and Child Abuse Watch - and two men, Evin Daly and Kevin Gillick.

And, for good measure, The Who hasn't destroyed stage gear and instruments as part of its regular act since the early '70s.

If the lack of fact-checking and blatant sensationalism wasn’t bad enough, it’s the idiotic user comments that got me really fired up, such as the ones calling him a convicted child pornographer. (We’ve already covered this ground; Townshend was convicted of nothing.)

Here’s one that I responded to on Entertainment Weekly’s site:

• Iolanthe

Mon 01/04/10 11:51 PM

He is not a good man. He has a long history of trying to get close to children and “troubled teens’’ through charities. Classic pedo.

My response: By that reasoning, then Who band-mate Roger Daltrey also fits the profile because he tries to get close to teens by raising mega-millions for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which builds care units for teenagers being treated for cancer.

Then there are the anonymous posters claiming that Townshend’s admission of accessing the site containing child porn, but not downloading anything – was how he avoided being charged and jailed. OK, I can’t even follow the logic on that one - ``yes, your honor, I am guilty.’’ Judge: “OK, thanks for being honest. Here’s your get-out-of-jail-free card.”

I must admit, this is a very weird case and it appears many facts are missing and obscured, and the timing of how it played out in the public eye is odd. Townshend hasn’t really addressed it, except talking about how difficult the ordeal was, and I swear I remember, but can’t find now, where he stated that as part of the official caution he received that he could not talk about the case.

Fanhouse’s David Whitley wrote a blog dissecting this brouhaha – here’s the link:
- and he probably addresses it better than I am attempting to do here.

But that credit card access bit does confound me; why on earth would a person as famous as Townshend use an easily traceable credit card on a child porn Web site?

According to an investigative piece in PC Pro Magazine (that stands for Personal Computer not Political Correctness), Townshend appears to have confessed to something he did not do.

Here is an excerpt from that investigation by journalist Duncan Campbell:

"Police never had any evidence that the websites concerned...had anything to do with children.
But the police didn’t tell Townshend that their entire evidence against him was a single entry made on Landslide on 15 May 1999 for the purchase of the Alberto website. Under pressure of the media filming of the raid, Townshend appears to have confessed to something he didn’t do."
But he has admitted to seeing child pornography images online, at first by accident, and being terribly disturbed by what he saw. He’s never denied this, actually. And in January 2002, a full year before his arrest, he posted an essay on his Web site entitled ``A Different Bomb’’ that blasted child pornography. This essay, variously, has been used to support his innocence – and argue his guilt.

Here’s my interpretation of what happened: Having seen how easy it was to access disturbing images of child porn online, Townshend, in his rock star arrogance, decided to take the fight into his own hands. There is evidence that he reported his activity to the authorities and to the Internet Watch Foundation. Furthermore, having read and seen many interviews with him through the years, his memory of specific dates and instances is spotty – like on the Royal Albert Hall DVD from 2000 he claims that the song ``Relay’’ was released in 1974, when in fact it was released in 1972; and in a recent interview by Billboard, he says that the 2004 song “Real Good Looking Boy’’ featured The Who’s late bassist John Entwistle, when in fact Entwistle died in 2002, and Greg Lake was brought in to play on the session. So, I think, like the PC Pro piece asserts in its investigation, Townshend recalled looking at the illicit images but couldn’t pinpoint when, where, if he paid for it, etc. and the cops say, “we have your credit card info,’’ so he says, “OK, you got me.” That is simplistic, but I’m guessing it went something like that.

For a brief timeline events and other resources related to this topic, check out the site
The conclusions you can draw from all of this:

- Townshend was very stupid – and arrogant - to think he was above the law

- If he’s a perv, he’s a very, very clever one and was able to construct a well-calculated back story to cover his tracks again and again; and he was also smart enough to erase all damning evidence on his computers and also convince everyone around him that he was not deviant

- We’ll never know what really happened until authorities unlock their vaults and release more info about the case; Or until Townshend can reconstruct what happened and relay that to the public

- The supposed child advocacy groups in South Florida have not been joined by any like-minded national or international groups in the effort to ban Pete Townshend from the Super Bowl

It’s all kind of scary, really, as I worried about the research I did for this blog entry and whether the powers-that-be monitoring my computer use would send up red flags for using the search terms ``Townshend Super Bowl’’ repeatedly as I sought to gather news, and some of the other online discussions I came across that I dared not click onto.

So, unitl further facts and evidence come to light to blow my stance, I'll keep on riding ``The Magic Bus.''

Monday, August 17, 2009

Most Underrated guitarists

I admittedly have not read every best-of guitarist list out there, but I've read quite a few.
And there's a few axeslingers I wonder why never get their due.
So, here is my Top 6 most-underrated guitar players of the rock era, but not in any order, just six of 'em worthy of some accolades.

Martin Barre, Jethro Tull
David Gilmour, Pink Floyd
Elliot Easton, The Cars
Jack White, The White Stripes/The Raconteurs
Dean DeLeo, Stone Temple Pilots
Billy Joe Armstrong, Green Day

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

That Crazy Donkey

With Cinco de Mayo rapidly approaching, I've had many questions about whether Burro Loco's annual outdoor shindig Burro Fest would be impacted by the City of Myrtle Beach's new ordinances designed to crack down on May's motorcycle rally mayhem.
In particular, will Burro Fest be shut down by the city's new law cracking down on impromptu tailgating?
If you've ever grooved with the masses in Burro Loco's parking lot on the fifth of May, you'd know that this is a legitimate question and concern for the Grand Strand partier.
So, I went straight to the donkey's, er, horse's mouth for some answers.
First and foremost, is Burro Loco, located at 960 Jason Blvd., actually in the city limits of Myrtle Beach?
The answer:  yes.
OK, then, does Burro Loco need a special events permit, or anything else, to host Burro Fest, which is set for Tuesday (May 5), or will cops in riot gear raid the event and shut it down?
Here's what Mark Kruea, the city's public information officer had to say via e-mail.

"I haven’t seen the plans for the Burro Loco site, but a business can do what its zoning and business license allow,'' said Kruea. "Burro Loco is able, under its zoning, to do certain things.  By virtue of being a restaurant, it can do certain things.  As long as what the business plans is within what it’s allowed to do for the zone that it’s in, and the business license that it holds, and the state licenses that it holds, then the business does not need a special event permit for the property.  In this case, Burro Loco will need a zoning permit for tents and temporary uses, available from Construction Services, and will need to present a site plan, etc., to Construction Services.  In short, what they propose cannot exceed what’s allowed, but they have some flexibility."

 But what about the parking lot, which has been a sea of folks in recent years?

"You’re thinking of the new parking lot rules and the media frenzy over the tailgating at BB&T Coastal Field," said Kruea.  "As I tried to explain (but sometimes the media doesn’t want to hear), the Pelicans could have held a picnic and even some tailgating in their parking lot, had they been the ones to organize it.  The problem was, they weren’t.  The parking lot ordinance prohibits “…impromptu, unmanaged outdoor events or parties… provided however that such events that are specifically permitted through legislative [Special Event Permit] or administrative action, or sponsored by the business license holder in compliance with regulations governing such outdoor events [temporary zoning permit] are not included.” 

OK, I get it, Burro Loco can host Burro Fest because it's the restaurant/bar's event, but if a bunch of people just showed up, on say the fourth of May instead of the fifth, and began an impromptu party in the parking lot, then... 

"If the Pelicans or Burro Loco manage the event and meet zoning requirements and comply with regulations governing outdoor events (tents, etc.), then they can do certain things that do not exceed the requirements for the property or the business.  To exceed the code or do something that is prohibited by zoning, a business or entity needs a Special Event Permit. All the media heard was “you can’t tailgate,” which was true in the case at the Pelicans stadium, where people held an “impromptu” event in the parking lot, but not true if the Pelicans themselves want to host a managed event on their own property in keeping with all city codes.  The bottom line is that, no, you can’t do anything and everything, but you can do what’s allowed by law, with proper permission in advance.  Of course, if you exceed what’s allowed, you’ll be in violation."

That damned media, why don't they listen?


Thursday, April 23, 2009


OK, digging through some old files I found this un-edited version of a story I did for Creative Loafing's ``Topside Loaf'' in either 2000 or 2001 - not sure as I couldn't find it on their archives.
Anyhow, it is one of my favorite stories of all time.


By Kent Kimes

Three muscular young men, a biracial pack known as the Reservoir Dogs, exchange heated insults, threats and obscenities with an older white woman, who responds by shooting back a double dose of her middle fingers.

"Shut up you old turd," one young man yells at the elderly woman.

"Suck my balls," said another.

This isn't "The Jerry Springer Show," a race riot or a dysfunctional family reunion.

It's All South Two-X-Treme Championship Wrestling, staged every Wednesday night in a 350-person capacity banquet room at US Play in Kennesaw, just off I-75.

For $8, patrons are treated to a night of calculated violence, athleticism, drama, emotion and escapism as big men in colorful garb duke it out in the squared circle - up close and personal.

The brainchild of US Play entertainment director Randy Riggs, a former wrestling promoter,  and professional wrestling veteran "Lover Boy" Lee Thomas, Two-X-Treme wrestling has bolstered the Dave & Buster's0-style establishment's entertainment offerings of billiards, video games, sports bar, on-site brewery, eateries and 24-lane bowling alley for the last three months. They tried a few Friday night shows but ultimately settled on Wednesdays.

Riggs said the show typically draws about 120 people, but on a Wednesday night in late May, the crowd numbered in the 60s, peppered with folks who seemed to know the grapplers personally, teenagers, adults, and several small children.

The league is smalltime, but all the classic elements of the big-time have been appropriated: ringside announcers at philosophical odds with each other, wrestlers goading the audience, the clueless referee, blaring entry music, dazzling lights, merchandising, posing, boasting, prancing, good guys and bad guys, resepectively referred to as “Babyfaces” and “Heels.”

And don't forget the ladies. Three sweet  young things clad in skimpy outfits, look barely old enough to drive, let alone use their feminine wiles to distract the wrestlers and referee to gain advantage for the warrior they escort to and from the ring.

"They're legal," responded Riggs, when asked how old the young ring valets are.

Unless you've been under a rock lately, you're probably aware that professional wrestling has undergone a renaissance in the late `90s on into the new millennium. One of the highest rated cable television shows going is the World Wrestling Federation's Monday night "Raw is War"two-hour program on the USA Network, which consistently scores around a 6.8 audience share as reported by the Neilson ratings. Ted Turner's Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling's television programming also attracts large audience numbers. In addition, WWF superstars Mick Foley and the Rock have both had books on the N.Y. Times bestsellers list while wrestling action toys and merchandise are cash cows. The WWF is now publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Professional wrestling isn't just for the lowbrow, trailer trash audience anymore. It’s commonly referred to as “a male soap opera.”

Although small, local, and regional outfits like Two-X-Treme are nothing new, Thomas and Riggs harbor big plans for the venture and hope to benefit from the trickle down effect of successful heavyweights WCW, WWF and Philadelphia-based Extreme Championship Wrestling. They claim Two-X-Treme has already become the second ranked independent circuit in the state, according to wrestling websites that track and rate the independents. “This is the future of wrestling right here,” said Two-X-Treme ringside announcer “The Authority” Dave Willis.

The organizers hope to televise matches on a metro area cable system and have set up a phone hotline, 770-556-1540, so fans can keep track of match results. They are also seeking sponsors and want to do fundraisers and community events. “We want to take the organization to the next level,” said Thomas, a graduate of McEachern High School.

Some attribute pro wrestling's surging popularity to the fact that the major federations and their stars, led by the WWF, don't deny that the outcome of matches are fixed as they did in the past and are more open about their lives with the media.  These days, pro wrestling doesn't try to bill itself as a pure competitive sport - it's now referred to as sports/entertainment. While the wrestlers perform intricate maneuvers and death-defying athletic stunts, providing entertainment for a paying audience is what it’s all about. It’s a ballet on steroids.

But why come to US Play, when you can sit at home and watch the polished, big budget WCW Thunder televised at the same time Wednesday nights on TBS?

"It's the live action," said Stone Mountain resident Lamont Chavis, whose brothers Rainman (Darrell Chavis) and Homicide (Demetis Chavis) wrestle as part of Two-X-Treme's Reservoir Dogs. "It's more fun to be here than to watch it on TV. You get to yell and scream. Although it's fake, it's beautiful," he said.

Despite a general public awareness that the outcome of professional wrestling matches are  predetermined, the guys who get moonsaulted, powerbombed, piledrived, and chokeslammed still rankle at the word FAKE.

Two-X-Treme star Rob Adonis, a 23-year-old driver's education teacher at Woodstock High School, and opposing grappler The Redneck Hero spill outside of the tiny ring at US Play and exchange blows. A member of the front row audience, who happens to be one of Adonis' students, tosses him a plastic restaurant tray lifted from McDonald's. The Redneck Hero kicks Adonis in the gut, and the tray drops to the floor. The Redneck Hero picks up the weapon, lines it up with Adonis' skull and gives him a whack. The tray splinters, sending shards into the crowd, eliciting a "pop", the loud burst of audience reaction all wrestlers crave like a drug.

There is nothing fake about getting smacked over the head with a restaurant tray, said Adonis. "That hurt," he said."It's not fake. You do get hurt. There's not a Thursday I don't show up at school walking funny."

But taking "bumps" - the wrestling term for willingly giving yourself up for a hard spill, smack or slam - is all part of entertaining the crowd. "Taking bumps on the floor hurts the most. But we want to give them their eight bucks' worth every time," said Adonis.

But Two-X-Treme's wrestlers don't necessarily get their money's worth for putting their bodies through weekly punishment - at least not right now.

They get paid between $75-$100 a night, according to Riggs. "There's not a lot of money involved, like the big boys (of WCW, ECW and WWF). But theses guys have fun and love doing it," he said.

While all of the league's talent hold down day jobs, Riggs said, they also harbor dreams of hitting pro wrestling’s upper echelon. "Hell yeah," said the 270-pound Adonis, who has been a pro wrestling fan since he was four, idolizing legends like Dusty Rhodes, and now looks to inspiration from current WWF stars Triple H, the Rock, Chris Jericho and former Olympian turned pro Kurt Angle.

They know the bright lights and big contracts are right here in metro Atlanta, at WCW.

“I would love to sign with WCW or WWF, either one. It would just tickle me pink,”

said the 34-year-old Thomas, a service worker for B and N Heating and Air who has had a taste of the big-time having wrestled in WCW events and the now-defunct NWA. With a "Stone Cold" Steve Austin-like rapid fire soliloquoy  in which he refers to himself in the third person several times, Thomas rattles off a list of some of the industry's bigger names he claims to have mixed up with in the ring. “I’ve wrestled Thunderbolt Patterson, the Godfather, the Undertaker, Tommy Rich……..the list goes on and on,” he said.

He says a few unflattering things about WCW, whom he thought he was under contract, then takes them back, just in case.

Thomas' reluctance to go on the record about WCW underscores professional wrestling's reliance on image. As the saying goes "image is everything." The right name, theme music, gimmick, outfit, finishing move, microphone style, and concocted storyline about the wrestler's character can propel a career. For instance, Thomas doesn't want it known that he's married for fear of alienating Two-X-Treme's female fan-base. And Adonis, who was a cheerleader in high school, won't divulge his real last name. "Nobody knows what my real name is. My checks even say 'Adonis'," he said.

It's this type of blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality that has brought professional wrestling under fire from some circles. Critics condemn the industry for promoting violence that spawns copy-cat behavior among children, for perpetuating stereotypes, and for containing excess profanity and gobs of sexual innuendo. However, Riggs said his wrestlers keep an eye on the makeup of the audience at US Play to determine the extreme extent of language and actions. But they have no control over what the audience might do or say. "The old ladies on the front row are the ones you have to watch out for," said Riggs.

Battling Bands


Hey folks, come and join me at Hard Rock Cafe (almost said Park, oops!) as I judge the second round of the Ambassador of Rock Battle of the Bands on Friday night.
This not your run-of-the mill contest offering gift certificates to your neighborhood pizza parlor, rather what’s at stake is a pretty big deal: a chance to perform at the Hard Rock Calling festival at London’s Hyde Park on June 27-28. 
Friday's battling bands are Audio Saints, Echo Code, Freedom Street Prison, Sideways Derby and Stealing Anger. I'll be honest, I am only familiar with Sideways Derby, but at least I don't have any pre-conceived notions of what the bands will sound like, right?
Octopus Jones and Wonder Shakedown have already advanced to the May 1 finals, also at HRC.
So come join us and help make one of these band's dreams one step closer to reality.
Here's the best part: there is no cover charge. 
And it’s an all-ages show for all you kiddies out there.
The party gets started at 9 p.m.
Hard Rock Café is at 1322 Celebrity Circle, Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach. Call 946-0007 or visit
If you show up, come by the judges' table and say "hi'' - I love to meet folks - and I love to get news tips on the local entertainment scene.



Friday, April 17, 2009

Hometown Hotties

I was doing "research'' - I swear - and I came across a couple of lovely ladies in Maxim magazine's annual Hometown Hotties contest who claim to be from Myrtle Beach.
Now, you know, I've got a history of letting folks know about it when local beauties are in these national contests.
So, it is your civic duty to go to and vote for Jade, who describes herself as a professional student, and Erica, who says she's a high school teacher.
Cue Van Halen's ``Hot For Teacher'' anyone?