The problem with digging things up is that it often unearths things that no one missed to begin with. Nostalgia can cloud our judgement and we end up putting on display that which is actually rotten.

Two days ago, a ghost appeared.

Ron McNally has been mentioned here before. He was one of an original group of friends that met in elementary school to then fall apart somewhere at the end of high school.

After those years, I don’t believe I ever saw or heard from Ron again. Occasionally his name would come up but usually only after an odd rumor about his whereabouts after high school. Being a collector, in the back of my mind I hated not knowing what became of him. Many times I considered going to his parents house in Oreland, knocking on the door and asking about him but I never did.

However, two days ago, Ron appeared via email.

I’m going to stay in touch with Ron and get caught up on where he’s been and what he’s been doing. It will quiet that nagging curiosity in the back of my head. I hope he won’t mind the interrogation.

However, while Ron seemed genuinely pleased to be back in touch and has promised to bring me up to speed on the last 20 years of his life, his email first wanted to deal with a topic that was not sitting well with him. That being the inclusion of a song on this blog that once unearthed, saddened him to hear.

The song is called S.T.D.’s and 1,2,3’s. It had been posted over here.

As a band, The Tazmanians (a group of high school kids) wrote the song together. It was a stupid, juvenile song made by young kids who never realized the ignorance of their own creation. Including that song on this blog was simply the act of unearthing a relic. Hearing it 20 years later, everyone involved understands how dumb a song it was. However, as the singer of the song, Ron really felt put off by his own words…his own voice, screaming such thoughts across the entirety of the internet and I completely understand.

I asked Ron to write some thoughts about the song and the removal of it from this blog and he was kind enough to do so.

Dear friends,

At my request, Brian removed one of our malformed early recordings because it contained some ill thought and seemingly homophobic banter. I take full responsibility for it’s ridiculous and offensive content. Sadly our minds hadn’t been opened yet. However, I don’t feel like we need to preserve and display this one any longer. Although, I do feel that the phenomena deserves a little light shed on it so here go’s:

When we were kids, I covered up much of what I was going through in my extremely dysfunctional home-life. Our noise, for better or for worse, was in many ways therapy for me. I never thought it would turn into anything and thankfully it didn’t. However it was a seed that sprouted into a scene full of much better bands with much better music.

My band and friends were my anchor for a long time and probably kept me from spinning entirely out of control. But……. as some of you well know, friendship back then was a battle! One of us would always be the target of all manner of abuse (often me) from the rst of us, and that esteemed position seemed to rotate regularly. That’s how we entertained ourselves. We would spew a variety of politically backwards profanities, insults and attacks at one another endlessly. All of it would be wrong in oh so many ways, often racist ,sexist, or homophobic in nature, though not with any thought or sincerity. We were kids!…and we were ignorant. This trend literally started in Elementary school. The truth of the matter is none of us really felt any actual hatred. Our hearts weren’t racist, sexist, or homophobic, it was the regurgitation of the shit that was passed down to us from a slew of sources. It was the lowest base humor comprised of bullshit that we would steal from TV, movies, and our parents, as well as a running line of douchebags that would serve as our role models. We never learned how truly painful and hurtful that kind of language can be. It seemed harmless at first. Our brains hadn’t even developed yet. To the best of our knowledge at that age, we didn’t really know of anyone who was queer or dealing with the difficult nature of a situation like that. We also didn’t know many other kids from a different racial or cultural background. Just a few really. As we got further into our teens it was perhaps worse, because we still hadn’t thought anything through and we were getting even more clever with this mindless, game. Unfortunately the younger kids were starting to look up to us. Thankfully, we wised up before too long. To his credit, Greg was always more mature than the rest of us. Probably because he wasn’t forced to attend the same nazi education camp we had for a school. I grew up pretty quick myself when I wasn’t in the band anymore. I stayed in the city and met a wide variety of people from all backgrounds. I learned about an entire spectrum of race, culture, sexuality, and gender identification, that I just plain didn’t encounter as a kid. The doors were blown clean off the hinges. Eventually we all snapped out of it and became better role models. I went on to confront and address a lot of the same kind of behavior elsewhere once i had identified it within myself. I think knowing how I grew up allowed for a certain empathy in dealing with those kind of issues. This helped me keep things positive when encouraging others to check themselves. A scenario that I would face time and again as I went on my path.

Unfortunately, during our pre-teens and early teenage years we were monsters! We spent nearly all of our time recording this proto band of ours. This put me in a position of having a mic in my hand most of the time so there are literally volumes of reel to reel recordings of all of us saying unforgivably stupid shit to each other from the time we were 13 years old to 16-ish and of course, me saying it VERY LOUDLY. I definitely wasn’t alone in this behavior, but this particular recording is the one to have resurfaced and with the power of the internet I can have it slap me in the face over and over for all eternity. So, understandably, I think I’ll pass. Suffice it to say you are not missing much. It’s a catchy tune but I’m not sure even I can understand most of it. I’m not entirely convinced we even finished writing it. Before I hear any griping about censorship, I must remind everyone that this wasn’t intended to be a demo or a release of any kind it was kids practicing and talking shit to each other for fun and for our own ears only. It just happened to be on the tape that Brian dug up. To be clear, I know who I was, and who I became, and who I am now. We needn’t preserve this snippet of fuckery with equal weight to the good and fun things we worked hard to create. We really did some great things that we can be proud of at such a ridiculously young age. We started what was to become a thriving scene out of a complete void. When I look back here that’s what deserves to stand out. This explanation can remain here to remind us of the shortcomings of youth and the road we set out on to find ourselves.

Thank you for understanding.



I remember standing in left field absolutely convinced I would get hit by a fly ball. Batter after batter came to the plate yet luckily, no hit ever found its way to my corner of the outfield. Fortunately for me, our defense had to only deal with sad grounders and loopy infield fly balls. Had it been an actual game and not just an after school practice I’m sure Murphy’s Law would have guaranteed a hilarious outcome. Something involving me underestimating the depth of the hit and trying to run at breakneck speed in an attempt to catch up to the ball that was already flying over my preoccupied head.

But frankly, at that moment, I couldn’t have cared less. You see, The Tazmanians had a show that evening.

Finding places to play for our high school punk band in 1990 was pretty difficult. In fact, outside of this “show” I think up until this point we had only played engagements that exclusively included our closest friends and their bands as spectators. These might better be described as “community band practices”.

But nevertheless, immediately following that soon-to-end baseball practice T.J. and I would head for the locker room to change and head over to our High School auditorium. We would meet Ron and Greg and set up for the Springfield High School Battle of the Bands.

I’m not sure whose idea it was to scheduled a Battle of the Bands but it was certainly out of the ordinary. At the time, I believe the only groups in our school were two punk bands and two metal bands, one being more in the vein of hair-metal than actual metal.

Nevertheless, our band The Tazmanians was one of those punk bands and we were on the bill! While the event was a competition where one band, chosen by the audience, would win some cash prize, I remember not being at all concerned with that. For us, just playing to a crowd that had never heard our songs seemed more important and revolutionary to our small lives. It gave weight to the hours we had spent in our parents sheds, garages, basements and living rooms learning to play our instruments. It gave us a chance to present songs that we hoped described our uniqueness in a sea of horrifying conformity and ultimately it presented us as a unified gang set against the horrors of modern suburban life…or so we desperately hoped. Sure, that sounds rather dramatic now but then? It’s probably not an overestimate.

Funny how important every moment can be when you’re so rapidly adding experiences to your life. And frankly, trying to describe the importance of those moments 22 years later is a lot like trying to catch a ball that’s already flying over your head.

If you’re interested, here are the recordings of the songs we play in the live video above.

Life in Hell

And then some photos from the evening…there’s a lot to take in here, of course. Lot’s of Peavey’s, the angle of Greg’s tom’s, my flannel, Ron’s fade…enjoy!


Today (and for the next few entries here) I’m going to head back to the photo albums. And when I say photo albums, ultimately, that means going back old, old school. Not just old school like most of these posts, but WAAAY back.

Thus, today, we’re talking about The Tazmanians once again and these photos of our very first show in the basement of a church. This is interesting because it was our first show as a band but more importantly, it was our first show ever. None of us had ever played music before in front of any sort of crowd. Until this moment in time, our experience was playing music (or trying our best to play something that resembled music) in a small shed in Chris’s parents backyard, my parent’s garage, or any other variety of locations lent to us, free of charge, by our parents.

T.J. singing.

T.J., Greg, Ron, Chris and I were in 9th grade which dates these photos to 1989. We had started our first band that summer and had worked up a few songs and a lot of covers. We spent time at lunch drawing pictures of ourselves playing shows imagining what it would be like to have real amplifiers and a crowd to actually watch us play music. We dreamt of being good (even tho we knew we were badass which is not the same thing) and we tried to wrap our young minds around how one might go about getting a show…anywhere. So we did what any resourceful group of young lads might do. We played for our Boy Scout troop.

Ron playing guitar.

Now, it might be a bit of a contradiction to imagine young suburban punk kids also belonging to a boy scout troop but alas, that’s who we were. However, I should explain that our boy scout troop wasn’t what one imagines when thinking of scouting. We all loved camping being outdoors and the assorted things that came along with boy scouts and it ended up being more of a gang than anything resembling an ordered scouting experience. But nonetheless, we were scouts and as far as we could tell, our scout troop and our meeting place in the basement of a local church was our only hope at finding a venue and a crowd.

Chris on the other guitar. Looking miserable. As usual.

So, we convinced our scout master (sounds funny saying that phrase to this day…scout master) if we could play one night and he said yes. Looking back it was incredibly cool of him. But then again, he was a great guy who supported all of our lunacy as an odd bunch of rogue kids so I guess it was just another statement of his own badassery.

Me on the bass.

We settled on a date and after one of our more amusing scout meetings, walked over to our instruments and banged out our tunes. I can’t recall what we played. I can’t recall how long we played for. But I can tell you that we played for maybe 8 people and that was enough because in that moment, we all felt like we could do or be anything.

More importantly, we were punks.

Greg on the drums. Please note the roto-toms.

An action shot! Please note the incredible equipment we had.


Today, we’ve got the rest of the recordings I have of The Tazmanians. The first post I put up about our songs targeted the music we had recorded over the summer of 1989.

This final batch were all recorded at various times prior to The Tazmanians morphing into The Random Children somewhere in the spring of 1990. By this time, we were sophomores in High School when our friend, Haim Koenig introduced us to a fella named Ralph Darden.

Ralph grew up in Mount Airy, the final stop in the city of Philadelphia before one succumbs to the suburban wasteland. Haim knew Ralph because they had played in a band together called Grooving Power. Haim, always the most direct of people, thought The Tazmanians were good, but that our singer Ron wasn’t all that keen. Because Haim was a year older than us and had a way more impressive record collection than any of us, we pretty much considered him, “Right” in most topics about music and bands. So, one night, Haim brought Ralph to one of our practices at Niles Martin’s parents house. We liked Ralph instantly. A few weeks later, Haim would bring Ralph to see us play at Springfield High School’s Battle of the Bands (photos coming!). We sort of knew instantaneously that we wanted Ralph to be our singer. He was hilarious, creative and most of all, fucking punk. He was from the city (which gave us the feeling of being way cooler than we were) and he knew about the city, he knew kids in the city…it just made sense. Plus, he could sing.

Thus, being completely shallow, self-absorbed High School kids, we kicked Ron out (a life-long friend at the time) and Ralph joined. Kind, kids are not. Especially kids in bands.

Here are some photos I dug up from the particular night we met Ralph for the very first time. It’s odd to have a visual document of the moment you meet someone who will go on to be one of your longest running friends…but I’m glad we do!

T.J., Ron and Brian. You can see Ralph sitting in the doorway between T.J. and Ron.





End – Recorded 9/18/1989

Take a Stand – Recorded 11/4/1989

Reunion Time – Recorded 11/4/1989

In the Past – Recorded 12/9/1989

Thieves Guild – Recorded 12/9/1989