Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sign your name at the "X"...

Exene and John Doe of X at Grad Nite '85 (All Cat Rose photos)
By Cat Rose

For me it all began on Halloween 1980 at my Argentinian best friend Maria's house in Lawndale, CA.  I was in 8th grade at St. Joseph's Catholic grade school.  Prior to this, I was always considered "the good girl".  She had a friend there and her friend was different -- she was cool.  As we partook on what would be my last night of trick or treating, her friend and I started talking.  We talked about music and different things than I normally talked about with my friends at the time. 

She was the one that turned me on to KROQ (southern California radio station) and Rodney Bingenheimer.  She explained to me that what I was seeking could be found there.  I had never heard of KROQ before, being a top-40 junky prior to this; back then, KROQ was hard to find and get a clear signal.  So that following weekend I had the radio on and was trying to get the 106.7 coordinates down. I ran around the room attempting to get a decent sound, finally the static cleared and the first song I heard was "White Girl" by X.  That was it for me, the metamorphosis had begun. (Ironically KROQ/106.7 actually arose from the ashes of a religious programming station.) 

I did not necessarily dress differently (except for buying my first pair of Converse) but I started thinking differently, and my friends started to notice.  (On a side note, Maria's mother was a religious fanatic that always tried to scare the shit out of us with stories of the end of the world.  She once brought us to a ceremony where everyone started speaking in tongues, but that is a different kind of story.)  

I sought out different friends and wafted away from the religious right.  My old friends did not call me a heathen (to my face anyway) but I think they became scared. My new best friend and I watched "The Decline of Western Civilization" gnawing at the bit.  In that, of course, X was reaffirmed as one of the coolest bands ever.   

When I entered high school (at Bishop Montgomery in Torrance, CA) I walked the line between "normal" and "punk".  I had to start over to find new friends that were of like mind and that took awhile.  Not until junior year and into senior year did I find people that were truly cool -- prior to that, I was stuck with anyone that would get me a ride to Hollywood or near downtown LA where the gigs were to at least hang out. One time, I was with a group of lames but we ended up going to McDonald's right near the Olympic Auditorium where the Circle Jerks were playing that night.  I tried and tried to talk them into us going but they would have none of it.  They were not pleased as I was with the punks pushing in line to get their fries.

With the end of junior year and into senior year, I was finally able to get my driver's license and my first car (a 1977 Fiat -- which really does mean "Fix it Again Tony").  I had also found my people. These people included Bridget, Patty and MaryAnn to name a few (although I could never get MaryAnn into punk as she still had Steve Perry hanging on her wall -- not that there's anything wrong with that.) Now I was mobile and could finally go to the shows.  Those shows included Andy's first Sorex gig at the Cathay de Grande in Hollywood (If only I had known Andy earlier as he had the luxury of getting to shows at a much earlier time).  During all this time, X always remained my favorite band and when we found out that our Grad Nite was at Disneyland and they would be playing (also The Blasters), well, all I could say was "Fuck Mickey Mouse!"

John Doe (above), Exene and Billy Zoom (below left and right) at Grad Nite '85

As we waited for X to start, the anticipation for me was palpable.  The show was all that I expected, and when a friend of ours threw her bra on stage, which landed at Billy Zoom's feet I thought he was smiling because of that.  It was only when I saw them again later that I realized that his smile is a permanent fixture.

After that, I would catch them whenever I could, including most recently in '08 and '09 at the Showbox in Seattle, and prior to that The Knitters at the same venue.  Last year we saw Exene do a solo show at Easy Street Records.  To this date, X has remained one of my favorite bands -- and I give them credit to opening my mind to the other side of it all.


  1. Hey Ms. Rose. Nice story and peek into you turning what some might call the dark side. I call it the "right" side. Cheers!

  2. Great blog post about one of my all-time favorite bands. I finally got to meet John Doe last month!

  3. too bad we never knew at st. joes that we were into the same bands...

  4. i was there with carla that night when she threw her bra. have a picture with joan and carla's bra....

  5. I was turned on to KROQ in 1979 by Hope and Ronnie Sandoval - Hope is the lead singer for Mazzy Star. They were my boyfriend's little sister and brother. They made me drive them to Pasadena and we met Rodney Bingenheimer, who helped Hope to success. I will always be thankful to them for helping me find my way in music and introducing me to X, my favorite all time band!