Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur



Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 5:50 am

KCGL PosterWhen KCGL went out of business, all of us punk kids cried. We had been informed that they were changing their format to Christian Rock. We protested. We went to the radio station, begging them to reconsider. I don’t remember calling any of the advertisers, which would have been the smartest thing to do. When you’re seventeen, the financial side of radio is the last thing on your mind.

Nothing that we could do could stop KCGL from changing their format. It wouldn’t have been that big of a difference except that there were no other alternative or new wave stations on the radio at that time. Suddenly, we went from 24 hours a day down to one or two hours a week on public radio. After a couple of months, I was desperate for new music. MTV was good, but it wasn’t the same as the radio.

I remember haunting KCGL. I kept listening in the vain hope that they would change their minds. Maybe if they didn’t make any money with this Christian Rock stuff, they would eat crow. Once I heard them play U2. I thought that they were changing back and immediately called them. No, U2 is considered Christian, apparently.

I knew things were really bad when I saw the movie Pretty In Pink. I heard new Smiths, New Order and Nik Kershaw. It was a whole soundtrack of new music that I hadn’t heard before, except for the title track. After that, I started asking all my friends, “Have you heard anything good lately? What do you recommend?”

I bought more albums during that time than I had the previous year. I was still making the same amount of money at K-Mart, but I was spending more of it on music because the radio was gone. All I had were audio cassettes to rely on after KCGL died. I would buy albums just because one person said that they thought it was good. I didn’t weigh my options anymore. I just bought it all because I was so hungry. 

Then it happened. “Have you heard anything good lately? What do you recommend?” I was asking Pinkston. Unstable Mike Pinkston. Beautiful Mike Pinkston. He had just returned from picking pineapples in Hawaii and his forearms were bronze and bulky. I had been crushing on him since sixth grade. I’m sure he knew it, but he didn’t want me. Just like every other crush I had encountered up to that point. “Here, try this. You’ll probably hate it.” He handed me Japanese Whispers by The Cure.

Update 10-01-11: If you’re missing KCGL, you can relive the best of it on KCQN Utah, brought to you by Chet Tapp and Mister West!


Slam Dancing

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The guy at the table behind Mike had a musical ring on his cell phone. We were enjoying our spicy Thai food at Me Kong Cafe in West Jordan and Mike started dancing in his seat to the tune. It was only the notes, but I felt like I could hear the words.

When I’m a-walkin’ I strut my stuff and I’m so strung out. I’m high as a kite. I just might stop to check you out.  – The Violent Femmes, Blister In the Sun, 1983

While the guy answered his phone, Mike whispered the first four words of the next line, “Let me go out…” We laughed together and I remembered my dancing years at The Ritz. Those few notes made me want to Slam Dance in the middle area of the dance floor with all the guys.

Wild flower, I love you every hour
Wild flower, I love you every hour
 – The Cult, Wild Flower, 1987

There was a brief time when Slam Dancing was allowed at The Ritz in the elevated dance floor in the middle of the club. Every time I went out there to Slam Dance with the big punk rock boys, I got hurt. I never blamed the management. It was my own damn fault for knowingly going in that part of the dance floor. It didn’t take long before the sign at the front of the club had an addition: “No Slam Dancing.” The management hired bulky guys with walkie talkies to enforce the new rule for the first few months.

Let’s have a party there’s a full moon in the sky
It’s the hour of the wolf and I don’t want to die
 – Oingo Boingo, No One Lives Forever, 1985

“Blister In The Sun” by The Violent Femmes, “Wild Flower” by The Cult and “No One Lives Forever” by Oingo Boingo are the three songs I remember being “Slam Dance” songs at The Ritz. Of course, as I said, it was only a small window in which Slam Dancing was allowed. If you weren’t there those few months, you wouldn’t have ever seen it.

In fact, Slam Dancing was only around for a slim window before it was renamed “Moshing” and people avoided “The Mosh Pit” instead of “those crazy guys on the middle dance floor.” If you weren’t there for those few years, you wouldn’t have ever seen it. Slam Dancing and Moshing looked exactly the same, by the way. I guess Slam Dancing wasn’t Grunge enough for those Seattle Boys. The bastards had to rename it Moshing. Yeah, that’ll make it cooler.

So okay, I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all but I don’t get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair – ew – and cover it up with a backwards cap and we’re supposed to swoon? I don’t think so!  – Amy Heckerling, Clueless, 1995

So within a few years, out went the safety pins and in came the flannel. Out went the mohawks and in came the greasy snarled mess. When Cher spouted her traitorous remarks, I agreed fully. I missed those smooth and suave Wavers. Even the Punkers put more effort into their appearance than those Grunge Boys. It was an honor to be slammed up against them instead of a biological hazard.

(Lying my way from you)
No no turning back now
(I wanna be pushed aside so let me go)
No no turning back now
(Let me take back my life. I’d rather be all alone)
No turning back now
(Anywhere on my own cuz I can see)
No no turning back now
(The very worst part of you is me)
 – Lying From You, Linkin Park, 2003

God, I miss Slam Dancing. Where can I go to get that same adrenaline rush? That violent impulse inside of me is still lurking and it cries out for release. Exercise helps some, but miles of endless running just tire it out instead of releasing it. Maybe I need to take one of those kick boxing classes at the gym. The only problem is that you’re just kicking air, not people or things. Nothing broken. Nothing torn. No danger. Maybe I need to take some Karate classes. At least in that class you touch another human being. Maybe I just need to go to a Linkin Park concert. Do you think they’d let me in the Mosh Pit?


The Ritz

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Steff, Laura & Dawni - The Ritz 1988

This is my absolute favorite picture from my Ritz days. The Ritz was an underage dance club and we went there every night it was open from 1987 until I got married in 1990. That’s Steff, me and Dawni the night we all dressed up the same. We did it just for fun and the whole night people kept coming up to us and saying, “Did you know that there are two other girls here dressed up just like you?” It was awesome.

I took this picture with the 110 camera that my grandma gave me for my fifth grade year in school. I thought I took so many pictures with that camera until I got a digital camera and indiscriminately take photos of EVERYTHING now.

Luckily, my nose has grown substantially since then and it balances out my chin nicely now.

I had a lot of fun at The Ritz, but I don’t want to go back. Despite all that fun, I’m having much more fun now.


Retro Videos To Chase Away The Bad Dreams

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 11:06 am

Many thanks to Discopop Directory for reminding me of Voice of the Beehive. I haven’t listened to that old and warped cassette tape for a long time. I guess it’s time to buy it on iTunes.

Here’s the video for “I Say Nothing.” The best line:

“I drink at parties so I’ll be who they think I am.”

Here’s the video for “Don’t Call Me Baby.” The best line:

“Don’t call me ‘baby,’ when she is waiting in the car.”

Somehow YouTube magically knew that if I loved Voice of the Beehive, I would also like seeing this video from Strawberry Switchblade. Mike and I found this one on CD the first year we were married, but the sound of those horns brought back all my Ritz memories.

Here’s the video for “Since Yesterday.” The best line:

“When tomorrow comes, you’ll wish, you had today.”

Back in the Eighties, when I listened to this song, I truly believed that line, but now that I’m living in tomorrow, I wouldn’t go back. The Ritz was fun. It encompassed my entire life, but I enjoy being 38 years old. I have FAR more freedom now to do whatever I want, even with life’s responsibilities.


The Tragic Black Hair Incident

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 7:11 am

Back in 1988, I dyed my hair black. It was a mistake and I immediately regretted it. Only a couple photos survive from the Tragic Black Hair Incident. Here they are.

Stacey, Travis & Laura on the Teacups from Flickr

After dyeing my hair black, I immediately regretted it. It took me a week working at K-Mart to earn enough money to get it un-dyed, but even then, my hair was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Doesn’t Stacey look adorable, though?

Steff, Laura & Dawni at the Ritz from Flickr

I had to live with that horrible black hair for a long time. You can’t tell from the photo, but my hair had grown out some by then. I had a large swath of light brown hair at the roots.

I eventually let it grow out about six inches (it took a year) and cut it all off to get rid of the black.

I have never dyed my hair since then, not even to add highlights.


Lonely Is An Eyesore

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Lonely Is An Eyesore at Amazon.comEvery once and a while, I would type the name of the album into Amazon’s search. Back in November of 2008, I got a hit. Lonely Is An Eyesore was FINALLY available as an MP3 download. It was an album that I obsessed over the first year out of high school (1987-1988). The videos were shown on MTV’s 120 Minutes EVERY Sunday night. They didn’t play these songs at The Ritz. They were too far from the dance and gothic beat that they played at The Ritz. I didn’t care. All the songs were SO COOL!

I bought the album from Sound Off, a record store on 700 East and 2100 South. It was rare that they carried anything that cool there, so I ordered it from them and awaited their call when it finally came in. I played the record ONCE to record it onto cassette tape. Over twenty years later, I emptied a box and found the album in there, just a beautiful as it was years ago.

Lonely Is An Eyesore

The title of the album, Lonely Is An Eyesore, is a line from a song on the album by Throwing Muses.

Each song had a video and you can see them all on YouTube. Here is a playlist, showing them all in the order that the songs appeared on the album.

It’s funny when one album can personify one time in my life so perfectly, but Lonely Is An Eyesore was one of those albums.


KCGL Poster 1984

Filed under: Living in Utah,Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Six years ago, I talked about KCGL and how important it was to me. You can read it here:

Nothing that we could do could stop KCGL from changing their format. It wouldn’t have been that big of a difference except that there were no other alternative or new wave stations on the radio at that time. Suddenly, we went from 24 hours a day down to one or two hours a week on public radio. After a couple of months, I was desperate for new music.

What I didn’t tell you was about this poster.

KCGL Poster

I loved KCGL and I loved this poster even more. I looked at those guys on the scooters and tried to recognize them. I used to imagine that it was Soren Winslow on the left in the blue suit. The drawing on the upper left reminded me of the Ritz and I used to look at it, wishing for the weekend to come sooner.

I didn’t get this poster until after KCGL died, so it felt very special and precious to me. I’ve kept it safe for a quarter of a century and now it hangs in my office with love.


The Artwork of Syd Brak

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

His posters graced my bedroom walls for years. They are the artwork of Syd Brak. Now that I have entire rooms ready for wall hangings, I have brought them out of storage. These two are in the exercise room.

This one is named Lost Love. I loved this poster because of her eye shadow. I recreated that look almost every weekend for my visits to The Ritz. Thank you, Mr. Brak, for making me feel a little cooler than I could have ever felt on my own.

Lost Love Poster by Syd Brak

This poster is named ElectriKiss. I liked it because her hair was pink AND blue. It was impossible for me to dye my hair those colors back then because in 1986, hair dye just wasn’t as good as it is today. I used to wish that I could have cool hair like hers.

ElectriKiss Poster by Syd Brak

I have two more posters, but they are still in storage right now. As soon as I hang them, I’ll add them here. They were Forget Me Not (which is NOWHERE to be found on the web) and Long Distance Kiss.

Long Distance Kiss by Syd Brak

I never bought Wired for Sound, but I considered it for a LONG time. I just didn’t have the wall space in my teenage bedroom to hold more than four posters.

Wired for Sound by Syd Brak

Mike hates these posters and considers them cheap rip-offs of Patrick Nagel’s work.

Art of Patrick Nagel

I can understand the similarity, but I enjoyed Brak’s work much more. I think I liked it better because it was an illustration, but it was so realistic. It was my first exposure to Hyper-Realism and I loved to find little details in the drawings, such as the reflection of the window in the eyes on Lost Love.

You can buy some Syd Brak prints online:

Update 06-03-10: I finally took a photo of my Forget Me Not Poster and Long Distance Kiss. You can see them here:

Syd Brak Forget Me Not

Syd Brak Long Distance Kiss

Update 01-08-13: Here are two more posters that I believe are Syd Brak’s work. They are screen shots from this YouTube video taken at the 6:08 minute mark:

Here is the one on the left. The model has no nose and there is a cherry in her mouth (a very Syd Brak move).

Syd Brak at The Ritz No Nose Cherry

The other one also has no nose and a birthmark.

Syd Brak at The Ritz No Nose Birthmark

I don’t know the name of either of these works and I don’t own either of them, of course. If any of you know anything about these, it would be greatly appreciated if you left a comment telling me about them.


I Broke a McCullough’s Glass Today

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I was cleaning off the kitchen table, gathering dishes from this morning’s breakfast. My hand hit the back of a chair and I dropped a glass. This is not a new occurence. I drop a glass every couple of days or so, but they usually bounce on the carpeted floor and the worst I can complain about is the liquid that threatens to stain the carpet.

Today, however, the glass shattered.

I realized, as I picked up the shards, that it was a McCullough’s glass. I had won these glasses from McCullough’s one night, but I can’t remember what I did to win them. A sick panic washed over me as I picked up the sharp pieces of my past. Did I still have the other one or had I broken it as well?

I rushed to the cabinet and pushed aside the cups and glasses until I found it: my last remaining vestige of McCullough’s.

I Broke a McCulloughs Glass Today

After The Ritz closed, we mourned. It reopened as McCullough’s Private Club. It was there that Mike and I first fell in love with darts. It wasn’t quite like The Ritz, but it was good enough. We went there with my sister Stacey many times before it finally closed as well.

The only thing I have reminding me of those days is this lone McCullough’s glass, in mourning over the loss of its partner.


Syd Brak Forget Me Not

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 1:16 pm

I finally framed my other two Syd Brak posters. Here is Forget Me Not.

Syd Brak Forget Me Not

As far as I can tell, it’s not available anywhere else on the Internet. I just can’t let this one fall into obscurity.

Here’s my Long Distance Kiss poster.

Syd Brak Long Distance Kiss

I talked about Syd Brak before here:


The Ultimate Ritz Playlist

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Ritz SignLast month, I attended the second Ritz Reunion. Dancing at the Ritz was a major part of my high school and college years, so it was VERY enjoyable to let myself dance my butt off to the old tunes surrounded by my old friends.

I was surprised at how many holes there were in my music collection, so I was SO grateful when the DJs posted their playlists for the night.

Here are the playlists with links to where you can download them. I gave Amazon precedence over iTunes because they can be played on any mp3 player, not just Apple products. If it’s not available on either, I linked to it on Listen To YouTube.

Ritz: Black Ticket


The Ritz at Night


Ritz Stage


Ritz: Red Ticket


Kevin Reece 1987It was a wonderful night and every song was perfect. The night couldn’t last forever, however, so there were many Ritz songs that were missed. Here are my favorites from our Ritz days that didn’t make the cut.

Ritz 1987 Stef Parry, Laura Lund, Dawni Burton

The Ritz Club: Music for Moderns

That makes an even 100 songs that we all loved and danced to back when we used to put on the Ritz. Leave a message in the comment if I missed any of your favorites and I’ll track them down for you.


The Infinite Capacity Suction Powered Garbage Disposal Unit

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

My first car was a VW Baja Beetle. This is the only picture I have of it.

My Old VW Baja Beetle

I was into my artsy photography phase when I took this picture, but all I had was a 110 camera, so I used black and white film and that made me feel bohemian enough. And yes, that sun roof is basically held in place by gravity. It remained in that state of disrepair until the day when it flew off the top of my car on I-15 at 1am after a night of dancing at the Ritz. Like a fool, I ran out onto the freeway to retrieve it. From that moment on, I had a garbage bag duct tapped to the top of the car.

During that time, I had an experience with a garbage truck that has been seared into my memory. I was driving behind the garbage truck on 201 heading west. It was the kind that scrunches up the garbage and supposedly counts as a covered load because the scruncher holds the garbage in place. It was spewing garbage out the back, littering its contents all over the freeway. We passed a sign stating, “Fine for Littering $250,” and at that moment, a loaded diaper bomb hit my windshield.

After that incident, I littered whenever there was garbage that needed disposal. I’d uncrank the window, and toss the garbage out of my car without a shred of guilt. If big old garbage trucks were allowed to plant diaper bombs on my windshield, then I had no qualms about tossing a Big Gulp cup out the window once it was empty.

The way the wind almost took the garbage out of my hand when I opened the window seemed to validate my actions. It was as if the outside WANTED my litter because it sucked it out of the car like a vacuum.

I called it The Infinite Capacity Suction Powered Garbage Disposal Unit.

One day, however, I was driving with Stacey and Angie. Without a thought, I fed the Infinite Capacity Suction Powered Garbage Disposal Unit my empty cup and candy wrapper. I may have even passed out the garbage from Stacey and Angie’s snacks. We were listening to music on the ghetto blaster sitting on my open glove box (I didn’t have a car stereo) and laughing at something funny.

When we stopped at the red light, a woman in the car next to us screamed one sentence at me that has stuck to this day:

Do you think you can just use the world as your garbage can?!

I was mortified, but tried to act cool. I think I laughed and said yes and she argued with me a bit more before her husband pulled away as the light changed to green.

I have never forgotten that woman to this day and the Infinite Capacity Suction Powered Garbage Disposal Unit has never been used since.


The Ritz in the Eighties

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 11:21 am

I found this video on YouTube. It’s a slideshow of photographs from The Ritz.

I was starting to get worried because there were no pictures of me, even though I had been there that night. I know this because there are pictures of a lip sync for Killing An Arab and I remember seeing that performance. It was when Dawni was in Chicago, nannying for a family and I had to go to The Ritz alone. Fortunately, I found a couple of photos of myself in the mix. At the 4:51 minute mark, you can see me.

Laura Lund at The Ritz in the 80s

God, I loved that outfit! I wore that long, black skirt until it fell apart, then I mended the seams by hand and wore it for years after that. I used to love to wear it on windy days and feel the air play with the fabric around my legs. Why don’t I have a long black skirt like that anymore?

I think this might also be me on the right, but I can’t be sure. Here’s a freeze frame from the 4:58 mark:

Laura Lund at The Ritz in the 80s

It looks like my hair and I had a black, denim skirt that I wore quite often at The Ritz (same sweater, if you notice), so I’m pretty sure it’s me.

Of course, here is the missing piece in my love for the artwork of Syd Brak at the 6:08 minute mark. The walls of The Ritz were literally plastered with his work.

Syd Brak at The Ritz in the 80s

The posters on the left and right are ones that I do not currently own. I don’t even know what they were named, so I feel as if I’m on a quest to find out their origins. They look like Syd Brak’s work, so I’m assuming they are his, but who knows. He did have many imitators.

Watching that video was a lovely glimpse into my past. It was nice visiting, but I would never want to go back to that time of my life. Things are so much better now than when I was 19 years old.


Palladium Dance Party 1986

Filed under: Personal History,Puttin' On The Ritz — Laura Moncur @ 7:16 am

This video reminds me of dancing at the Ritz and The Palladium so much. I’m shocked that I didn’t know even one person in the video, though.

In 1986, I pretty much only went to The Palladium when The Ritz was closed, so that would have been Sundays and Mondays, I think. Dawni and I had a schedule where we could go dancing EVERY night of the week but I don’t think there was a week in which we actually did that.

What surprises me so much is that all of that seemed so very fun and normal to me. Looking at it almost 25 years later, it doesn’t look normal at all. The weirdest of all is that I don’t really want to go back. It was fun back then, but life is WAY better now.

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