Shattered Wig #28

Shattered Wig #28
Coming In November!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pope Croke Tribute #4 - We Knelt, We Bit, It Was Over Too Soon, Part 1


It seems appropriate to be fighting off a flu and sinus infection from the sanctuary of my couch as the spirit of Pope and our time living together and playing in Kneeling On Beans, Furniture Falling Down the Stairs and She Bites fills my cobwebbed brain. His lair on Maryland Ave. that I got to hole up in for a few years was a sanctuary from the madness of drug and crime-ridden early 90's Baltimore. And most of my time there was spent in darkness recuperating from nerve blistering hangovers or burbling giddy past my saturation point from cheap Sam Adams pints from The Rendezvous, which was perilously close to our apartment.

I first met Pope in that subterranean, battleship gray apartment that seemed to hold the night in its walls. Anna Oldfield told me he was someone special that I had to meet and that he had punk rock albums to sell. I was immediately struck by his wise animal nature - a lot of sniffing and owly sidewise peering. At one point he danced upon his bed playing a flute while I flipped through his Crucifucks, Crass and MDC LPs. We talked a lot about music and writers we loved and in no time we were in Kneeling On Beans together with Anna, Mok Hossfeld, Angus and a crazed 18 year old red headed drummer going by the name Microcosm. We practiced in Microcosm's Calvert Street rowhouse, which quickly turned into party central, gaining the love and admiration of the neighbors, police department and landlord.

Mok Hossfeld eventually moved into this house with Microcosm and Matt, who were his Mt Royal Tavern pit bull bodyguards, along with Laura T. It was in this after bar closing party house that Mok got his nickname Pappy, being the professorial elder with a handful of years more under his stained cravat than his housemates.

One of the first things you learn when playing in a band with Pope is that he existed in his own time and you had to work hard to lasso him into an approximate time frame for practice. With the Beans this often meant Anna going into his bedroom before practice and making quietly passionate cases for why he may want to stir. Not that being on time for practice with the Beans was easy for any of us because it was a large band peopled with folks who worked all kinds of patchwork part time jobs. So we often even had to practice at godawful times like 11am, which of course meant we had to prime the mood with morning canned beer and skunk weed.

(Above is Microcosm as successful highly paid skins man possessed by Spike Jones.)

It was in the Beans of course that Pope somehow turned a tv hippy parody song from Get Smart into a thrilling frug-worthy punk song. His haunting intonation of "make her scahream! Like in your dreams", his voice choking somewhat, trance-like, captured with the rest of the Beans repertoire by Wally Novash expertly with just a cassette 4 track recorder in the basement of the party house. It's one of the few band recordings I've been part of that actually sounded exactly like the band.

There were some great shows - opening for Lungfish out behind the Mt Royal Tavern and playing some forgotten DC club with Monkeyspank come immediately to mind, but sadly no record companies were snapping up Baltimore acts in the '80s and band members began relocating.

One day driving with Pope, both of us single and aching at heart, we were discussing the rare, unique qualities of the fiery original singer of the Motor Morons (Michelle?) and Pope said in his best emphatic whisper "Hmmmnn...she bites!" Sometime soon after Skeeter Davis' "End of the World" came on the radio and She Bites was born, our lovelorn punk torch song duo to send our love calls out to the ladies.


  1. Sir Microcosm reminded me that the DC club was called The BBQ'ed Iguana. It was at this show that Pappy got swamped with young groupies who said his bass playing employing a chipped coffee cup for slide sounded like Jimi Hendrix. He often got this comparison and instead of luxuriating in the ego stroking he would react with righteous anger, saying that he didn't know what he was doing.

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