By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
The amount of bad blood generated from the Mabuhay gig sealed the fate of the band. Steve told me that he couldn‘t play with Mark anymore. Patty nobly tried to arbitrate, but the band was at an impasse. The Maids had, as it were, no future. Even a request from Dirk Dirksen to play an upcoming benefit at the Mab couldn’t heal the wounds. It came down to a contest of wills between Mark and Steve, two of the sweetest, most soft-spoken guys you‘ll ever meet. As my mother used to tell my sisters, “Watch out for the quiet ones.” Fortunately for me, I had a heartbreaking romance to obsess about.
You don’t realize what a small town San Francisco is until you consciously try to avoid seeing someone there. After months of running into this woman who was driving me crazy, I gave up and decided to move to New York. It was at this point that Mark decided we should issue our own single of the two songs we had in the can. The idea seemed nuts to me, as I already had a departure date set. But Mark was not to be deterred. As he agreed to finance the record, I went along with it.
Mark laid out a detailed production plan that still wows me in its thoroughness. First, we took photographs of Patty in a maid‘s outfit, laid out the photos alongside a topological map of the Bataan peninsula (unearthed by M&P in the UC map room), added press-on type, then Xeroxed the assemblage on 8 12-by-14 paper. In a concerted effort (mostly Patty), we then folded and hand-glued the sheets so that they formed sleeves for the eventual vinyl. Two thousand and thirty-four of them.
Taking the sleeves with us, Mark, Patty, Carman and myself got into their 1968 Plymouth Satellite and drove to L.A. We were under an extreme deadline, in that I was flying out of LAX for New York in three days. Upon arrival we immediately tried to get our recording mastered at RCA, but failed. At 10 p.m. that first night, Mark called Parker Street alum Gifford Myers (a gifted ceramicist), mentioned that he was in town and asked if we could crash with him. Gifford said okay, so we drove out to his house in Altadena. He proved to be an exceptionally gracious host, but his live-in girlfriend wasn’t too happy about the visit. The next day Gifford and his girlfriend attended a lecture on how to relieve tension.
Our mission enjoyed some tension of its own. After two false starts, we eventually got our tape mastered. Then we had the master plated, a mother struck from that and stampers made from the mother. (The records would get pressed off the stampers.) Buying art supplies along the way, Mark designed and executed a rotoscope for the Anemic Records label (a Marcel Duchamp tribute). The result was that when the record turned on a turntable, a concentric circle on the label would demonstrate retrograde motion. We dropped off the art for the labels to be printed, then contracted with a pressing plant for 2,000 records, leaving the Xeroxed sleeves there.
Then disaster hit. Mark, who was bankrolling the operation with cash, lost his Pendleton shirt with all his dough in it. Good anarchists that we were, none of us had any credit cards. All seemed lost. It was very bad. Despite the collective despair, we brainstormed. The last place we remembered seeing his Pendleton was on the trunk of the Satellite as it sat in front of Fidelatone, a mastering facility in Hawthorne. Hypothetically, we drove away with the Pendleton still on the trunk; it flew off and was probably lying in the street.
Mark stopped at a pay phone and called Fidelatone. He asked the receptionist to go look out front and see if the Pendleton was lying there. She reported back: It wasn‘t. Because we didn’t have any other choice, we drove our exact route back from the pressing plant in El Segundo, keeping our eyes peeled for the shirt. Unfortunately, there was no sign of it. Things looked incredibly hopeless. We were pulling into a parking space at Fidelatone when something caught my eye. Flattened like a pancake, as if a semi had run over it, the Pendleton was sitting in a water-filled pothole in the middle of the street. Mark fished it out and checked the pocket. The money was still there.
With the production on the single finalized, I departed for New York on February 8, 1979. That May the single appeared. In the interim Mark Xeroxed lyric sheets on red paper to be inserted in the sleeves. He also created handbills that advertised the disc and that we wild-posted in both Berkeley and New York. Using a post-office box in Richmond, California, we took out ads in Trouser Press and Slash, selling the 45 for $2.25 mail order. I made the rounds hawking it to record stores in New York, like Bleecker Bob‘s, but the general line was, “We don’t make money on singles.” Steve didn‘t have any better luck in Berkeley. Rather Ripped Records carried the singles, they disappeared and we were never paid for them. We got some airplay on KTIM in the Bay Area and a review in Trouser Press (advertising pays?), and probably sold 100 to 200 copies total. Each band member got between 100 and 200 records to do with as he wished. And that’s pretty much where the story ended.
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