the year was 1994, the northridge quake rattled in january

greg vaine, jeff tsar and i shared a three bedroom house in atwater village

because the boys were aspiring rock stars and they had wanted a home

that also had a basement or a rock room, and voila greg found 3300 glenhurst.

jeff worked at warner bros in the animation cel division, greg was in art school

and i was the southern california sales rep for magnavox with a company car.

but at night we were the Three Bad Roommates watching old westerns and listening to nirvana non stop because kurt cobain had just ended his life and we were more than obsessed with trying to find clues in his music that such a talented and loved man would want to do that to himself.

but with every aftershock from Northridge we got more and more ancy so we went into the rock room basement beneath our kitchen and i would create eerie rhythms on my drums.

daring the earth to crush us.

earth QUAKE earth QUAKE boom boom boom, id drum

then jeff would mimic it on bass and greg would make a melody.

and then we’d jam defying mother nature and the angry spirits bubbling below.

after a while we’d freak ourselves out and segue into cover songs from our favorite bands: nirvana, the velvet underground, the stones, springsteen, even the romantics.

while jeff and greg worked on their serious projects, we kept jamming for fun and eventually we formed a covers band called Chopper One which allowed us to bond as roommates and set up a fun playground for the two actual musicians to get their ya-yas out without worrying about every note and lyric.

when we realized we had enough songs to put on a show, we invited our friends and neighbors over, jeff threw on a david hasslehoff tapestry as a cape, greg slipped into his Elvis Presley outfit, and i put on my grandpa’s pajamas as a tribute to cobain who often wore pjs on stage

and Chopper One rocked out in our first show.

hard to believe that was 20 years ago, but time flies when you’re giving the biggest earthquake in a century the middle finger.

twenty years ago today i was living with Greg from the Villans and Whalen from Tsar

northridge quake

but at the time they were both trying to be in a band together and it wasnt really working out.

in college, in a land of great musicians, in a peninsula of a million bands, greg was the best lead guitarist

he also wrote some funny ass songs, and painted, and ruled.

jeff, in that same land, wrote the best songs, and dated the girl who most resembled a prettier Uma Thurman

so after college they naturally moved to LA, like many of us did, in order to follow their dream, in their case it was rock.

i was not following my dream. my dream was to be in the music business but i was driving a company car around the valley

teaching salesmen how to sell better, and failing miserably.

miserable is actually a good word because Greg Jeff and I were pouty little bachelors living in Atwater Village.

we had found a 3 bdr house on Glenhurst, just blocks away from where the Beastie Boys were recording Ill Communication

“Glendale Blvd., thats the one!”

the three bad brothers you know so well were doing far better than the three bad roommates.

greg even made an art school film called the three bad roommates where my character punches his in the gut

1484272_10152562510251040_1039197651_nbecause he had borrowed my appetite for destruction cd and had not returned it.

it was really just a great excuse for him to use slow motion while spitting out kool aid.

their was hella tension in the house because we were in the post-Isla Vista hangover, and their band wasnt really working

then in the middle of the night, 4:20am i think, i heard and felt what seemed like a slap on the side of the house

like a bigass slap from the hollywood sign.

i shook, opened one eye, closed the eye, and went back to sleep.

minutes later i heard an AM radio and greg and jeff panicking.

soon they knocked and opened my door and said Earthquake! the powers out. your book case fell over!

i asked “is the house on fire?”

they said, “no.”

so i said, “i’m gonna stay sleep then.”

which boggled their minds for some reason. and when i woke up a few hours later the power had been restored and they were watching LA freak out on the tv.

one line we heard over and over those few days was “and now from Chopper Two we have Stu Mandel. Stu, how are things from where you are?”

what made this earthquake unlike any that i had experienced was there were hella aftershocks.

the first one came that first night. it felt like a school of whales swimming underneath our street.

you could hear it rumble as it approached you and it got louder and louder and then your house wiggled in the most unnatural way.

and then you could hear it roll past.

sometimes there were just big smacks on the side of your house. it was unnerving. especially at night.

the best part about this house was it had a rock room basement. which was the reason we rented the home.

because there were already tensions, the weirdness of the aftershocks only made things worse.

so i got behind the drums one night right before we were gonna strangle each other and tapped out a little Native American rain dance beat

fuckyou earthquake, fuckyou earthquake… i chanted as i beat the toms.

jeff plucked the open bass string fuckyou earthquake fuckyou earthquake he sang into his mic

and when greg powerchorded to the beat Chopper One was born and we played off the mojo and made it ours.

if we were gonna die we were gonna do it with rocking a soundtrack of defiance.

after a half hour we started playing nirvana, the velvets, van halen, bruce springsteen, and any other song we all could play instantly

my favorite was the romantics’ what i like about you. pretty much the opposite of fuckyou earthquake.

about a month later we threw a party, introduced chopper one to the world, and only got together one more time,

my 30th birthday in frisco.

thats pretty much what i remember of the northridge earthquake: it created Chopper One.

today marks the eigth anniversary of the Northridge earthquake

a good reader informs me. He wrote at my account, which is cool. However if you want your email on the site, try mailbag Not every letter will be put up, but this way I know which emails are meant to be read and which dont mind being posted.

So yes, the Northridge quake. It was loud. It was crazy. I was living with Greg and Jeff and the chimney fell down and my cds fell down and a few books fell down.

Good came out of that quake, however. We roommates formed a band called Chopper One so that we wouldnt fight due to all the nervous energy going on with the after-shocks, etc. We only played one show at our pad but it was a success and really a success a few years later when the guy who wrote Weezer’s “My Name is Jonas” stole our name to form his band. I bought their cd so I could say that I have a Chopper One cd, but I dont think i ever listened to it. I do shit like that.

Back then I really wanted Jeanine to be my girlfriend again. Now I really want Chris to be my girlfriend again and the biggest lesson that I learned was quit looking back and appreciate all the craziness that you have in front of you.

If I had to do it all over again, I think I would have accepted the job at the porno company, or I would have gone to Prauge when Jeff did, even though it wasnt the same any more. But now that I think of it, I’m glad I didnt do either because I would have easilly fallen in love with one of those hot porn stars and married one of them, or done the same with one of the hotter Czech girls if I had gone thataway.

Fortunately I stayed in the States, moved to Frisco, and was turned on to the Web by one Mr. Marc Brown, esq.