|When the Real Kids bumped Tracks from the New Year’s Eve 1978 Cantone’s gig, our rhythm section, Wild Johnny and John Shriver, headed down to Boston’s Combat Zone. They played a show at the strip joint/rock club The Birdcage with Frank Rowe as a sort of a pick-up version of Baby’s Arm. As could have been predicted, they got screwed on the money. On top of that, Shriver’s bass amp and some other equipment got stolen. Just as predictably, a benefit was quickly arranged at The Club. It seemed that every time a musician or punk scenester as much as stubbed a toe, a benefit would pop up. I guess that somewhere in all those freebie shows maybe there was a good cause or two. But that was the exception. Some of those benefits were just to raise money for a band’s monthly rehearsal rent or even recording. It’s great that all the bands got together on these things, but jeez, what kind of group are you if you can’t come up with the basics of keeping things together? A few other bands thought this just as funny as we did. I remember one group getting their equipment mysteriously stolen over and over again.|
|Tracks...the Wild Ones|
|Perhaps like jerks, right until the last minute, Lorry and I were stubbornly refusing to take part in the charity event for buying John Shriver new equipment. Really, we loved the guy, but he got burned because of his own carelessness. Maybe we were dead ass broke (just like everyone else) but we didn’t like to solicit hand outs. At any rate, our fanzine NEON reported that the Molls, the Neighborhoods, The Count & Astral Projection, the Bimbos, Baby’s Arm, Bonjour Aviators, La Peste and Tracks participated in the all day event on February 5th along with a thank you for a fun and profitable time. I don’t know, the whole thing kind of embarrassed the two of us.
The winter of 1978 was brutal, but we managed to make it through the Blizzard of the Century (Go There) and Tracks got down to business again. When the roads opened up, the whole band drove down to New York City. We collected money due us from “Brakes On You” sales, got more records into the stores and went down to the Bowery hoping to track down Hilly Kristal (who did all his own booking for CBGB’s at the time). It was futile. It was the same story with Terry Ork over at Max’s Kansas City. You had to camp outside these guy’s doors for hours to see if they’d drop by. Both clubs refused to book any bands over the phone. We had better luck setting up future gigs at Rock Bottom on West 8th Street. Rock Bottom kind of gets lost in the history of those days, but the site continued to be a viable New York venue for the next twenty years or so. We also had luck with WNYU who were now airing our record, which led to other New York college stations picking it up. Lorry did a quick (but cool) on air thing and we headed back to Boston pretty satisfied.
|Chapter 12. Saturday Night Auto Wreck (Puts the Brakes on Tracks)|
|So we rehearsed new material (always new material – Lorry and I must have written close to a hundred Tracks songs by then – even if only about 30 of them ever made it into a set). We played a few Boston gigs, including a great one at Cantone’s with La Peste on February 18. A week later on Friday night, February 25, we took time off to go to a loft party. I think Jane and Jeff Hudson of the Rentals threw the party. Anyway, there were representatives from just about every major band in town there. I don’t know what was going on at the Rat or The Club or Cantone’s that weekend, but it must have been pretty dead. They had a great old-time jukebox that sounded unbelievable, if you can imagine the Sex Pistols being blasted through equipment that was made to handle Frank Sinatra. We were having just a wonderful time socializing with all the scenesters. Lorry and I managed to polish off the Jose Ceurvo we had brought with us and started mixing it up with other intoxicants. I got smashed. I mean really smashed. And Lorry wasn’t far behind me. Eventually, we stumbled out to the street in the wee hours and somehow found our car. I was determined to make an attempt at driving back to Blue Door and Lorry – well, she was too drunk to stop me. What were the alternatives? The streetcars had long since stopped running for the night. A cab. In Boston, are you serious? I suppose I could have asked someone at the party to drive us back, but what kind of a Man would I be if I had to do that? No, I had to drive myself. So with one eye closed to gain some semblance of focus and all the windows rolled down to let the bitter cold keep me awake, I jerked out of the parking space. I was fully aware of just how far gone I was but that didn’t seem to matter. From what I remember of it, it was a very scary trip and probably the single most irresponsible and stupid thing I had ever done. Some how, some way we made it back to Blue Door. I puked my guts out and Lorry managed to get me into bed where I lost consciousness for the next twelve hours or so.
When I woke up late Saturday afternoon, I wanted to die. Lorry was more or less as spunky as ever (damn her) and said something about going to La Peste’s loft party in the South End that night. I sort of remembered we had run into Peter Dayton at last night’s party and said we would be there. But it was the last thing I felt like doing. I tried to talk Lorry out of it to no avail. Once she made a commitment that was it. I managed to eat something and felt a little better, so when John Shriver and Wild Johnny showed up we all went over to the party together. I let Lorry drive. It probably was as great as the party the night before (many of the same people were there) but I still felt like crap. Even Lorry was pretty low key, the previous night finally catching up with her. We each nursed one beer all evening long and called it quits fairly early. John and Wild Johnny left with us and Lorry drove again.
I really don’t like riding in cars with other people driving, but Lorry was the exception. I had originally taught her how to drive in my old '64 Ford. By then long gone, it had been a 3-speed with manual steering and brakes. It was a big, heavy car that drove like a truck and you needed some real skill and muscle to steer it and work the heavy duty clutch and shift. Lorry had had no problem learning how to drive in it at all. I had also witnessed her getting out of some pretty hairy driving predicaments, including a terrifying skid on black ice that had seemed impossible to recover from. Other than myself, she was the best driver I knew. Maybe even better. But now with the two of us stone cold sober, I guess it was instant karma time and we had to pay for what we had gotten away with the night before.
|Although I was comfortable with Lorry at the wheel, as I always did, I still kept an eye on other cars and traffic signals just as if I was driving. I remember peering up and seeing the green light when we entered the intersection and then the sudden, impossibly large image of the white car that filled the entirety of the windshield. I barely heard screeching brakes before the silence of the adrenaline-induced slow motion kicked in. There were three guys in the car. Young teenagers. Jocks. Their eyes, staring at us in disbelief - glassy from drink - widened and bulged to comic, cartoon-like proportions as the body of their car caved in from the impact. The car lifted up slightly being rammed sideways by us. Then, as if a switch was turned back on, the loud sound of crunching metal all around as I realized I was being tossed violently (and painfully) around the interior of our car. It was over quickly. Christ, Lorry never had a chance to do anything to avoid them. I looked over. She was slumped against the steering wheel, hands cradling her face. And her hands were covered in blood.
Before I could react, the surreal image of a fire fighter in full gear appeared at her window. Was I dreaming this whole thing? He slowly opened her door, as Lorry began to moan, “My teeth … my teeth.”
“Let me have a look,” he said calmly, gently pulling her hands apart. He gave a little laugh, “Don’t worry your teeth are all there, you just cut your lip.”
He was right, her teeth were fine but I could see that Lorry’s lip was almost completely severed and dangling limply on her chin. Another fire fighter appeared at her side with a first aid kit and held a gauze pad against the injury. As I tried to comfort her, another fireman was at my door.
“Are you guys, O.K.?” We were and he helped us out. Standing, I saw our car and couldn’t believe the tangled, twisted mess it was. Ambulances and cop cars pulled up, sirens wailing. I guess the fire fighters called them. The fire truck had been behind us for the past couple blocks, silently returning from a false alarm. They had seen the entire event play out.
“They ran off,” the fire fighter next to me said, gesturing toward the equally damaged, now empty white car. “I think they were drunk.”
The paramedics gave us the once over and got the four of us into an ambulance quickly. The time from impact to rushing off to the hospital couldn’t have been more than two or three minutes. I never got a chance to thank the fire fighters.
|Tracks' band fanzine, NEON , reports the full story of the Saturday night auto wreck that knocked Lorry Doll and the band out of commission for three months|
|In the emergency room at the New England Medical Center, we waited and waited and then waited some more. John Shriver, Wild Johnny and me were a little bruised but fine (though for the next few days or so I would feel like I had been gang banged by the Hell’s Angels). Lorry was doing O.K. Sitting there, holding a gauze pad against her face, totally pissed that this could happen to her. She had cut herself when her mouth hit the large stone of the ring on her left hand. If she hadn’t been wearing it, she probably would have only gotten a swollen lip. She never wore that ring (a favorite) again. They finally took her in to be examined at about the time the cops showed up.
What was it with them? Is it still illegal to be young and cool in Boston? I guess we looked pretty scruffy in leathers and all. But it wasn’t all that unusual for the time. And probably having Wild Johnny among us didn’t help. But, man they were rude and crude. I didn’t like the way they were implying we were stoned. I didn’t like the way they were trying to say we were at fault. And I sure as hell didn’t like the way they were referring to Lorry. I had had enough. I more or less told them that if they hadn’t had their collective thumbs up their asses, they probably would have gotten the drunk kids that sped through the red light. They, in turn, more or less backed off and eventually went away, reluctantly admitting that the other car had been reported stolen.
Then there was a commotion coming from the examining room and a young, disheveled doctor came hurrying out, looking frightened.
“You better have a talk with your wife, or whatever she is,” he told me in a high, nervous voice.
I went in. Lorry was on the table, really upset. I saw that the nurses hadn’t even bothered to clean the blood off her.
“That asshole is not sewing me up! I want a plastic surgeon,” she managed to communicate behind the bandage covering her mouth.
“I told her it doesn’t matter who does the procedure, there is going to be a nasty scar,” the doctor said in a shaky voice that was trying, but failing, to be authoritative.
The arrogant little son-of-a-bitch. Some bedside manner. If that was true, did he have to tell her? And besides he didn’t even look clean. He needed a shave and his hair looked greasy. Had he even washed his hands? He was supposed to be a Doctor for God’s sake. I told him I had lots of insurance through work (a lie, I still had the ID card but not the job) and that we wanted a specialist. The proper calls were made, and in an hour or so they loaded Lorry into another ambulance and over we went to Massachusetts General Hospital where an elderly surgeon showed up with a reputation of being an artist at his craft. Now this was a Doctor. I found out later that he was considered the best plastic surgeon in Boston.
He took all of two minutes to sew Lorry up. And he did a fine job, but it was obvious that she was going to be out of commission for a long time. Just when “Brakes On You” was getting peak airplay and publicity and we should be out there gigging to promote ourselves. The irony of a car wreck putting the brakes on Tracks didn’t escape Lorry and me.
|In early 1978 Tracks was getting into the New York groove, setting up record sales, radio and gigs in Manhattan
Photo - Fred Taylor