On the morning of September 12th, 2:40am 2011- the year of our Lord Jesus Christ, a man by the name of Wes Weinman claimed that he was the least gay member of “Funky Panda,” Tampa’s newest and oldest supergroup. This charge was posted onboard the Funky Panda Facebook page wall for all to see and admire. The thesis of this essay is to reconfigure the notion that in fact Wes Weinman is the gayest Panda band member of all-time. Surely, the band has been accused of gay antics before and the Funky Panda is no stranger to attracting the media’s attention garnishing editorials of sexual trysts and intrigue. However, most of these occurrences in the past were because of their drummer- a gentleman whom has been attributed for homosexual antics in the past by means of slander, libel and general public behavior. To really take into account such a claim made by Mr. Weinman, we must explore the band and paint a portrait of their sexual exploits.

First we will begin with Mr. Aaron Schwartz, a.k.a. Dirk Nowitzki. The lead singer, guitars and harp player of Funky Panda. Firstly, how can a man that looks like Dirk Nowitzki be considered gay? To reinforce this notion, there are no gay basketball players because gay people do not wear high-tops. In an interview conducted with the “E Channel’s” super anchor, Steve Kmetko he is quoted by saying: “Gay men do not wear high-tops because you can get leg cramps when performing fellatio on another man. Therefore proving that in fact if you resemble a basketball player in anyway or do play basketball or wear high-tops for sport or comfort you cannot be gay. To further support this notion that Schwartz is not gay one could go to the Rock N’ Roll Band Pyramid.

Lead singers are at the top of the pyramid and always receive the most accolades and women, then guitarists and pianist share the second tier and their pussy-etting factor is itinerant on their personal style and good looks. Secondly, the third tier of the Band Pyramid is shared with the bass guitarist and key-tar player (the Pyramid was made in the 1980s when Key-Tar playing was at its pinnacle.) Lastly, at the bottom of the totem pole is the lowly drummer- who is the wild card of the band. Drummers can take on many types of character personifications that makes their importance close to negligible. Though, some drummers can get as much pussy as the other tiers represented- still it is not uncommon for drummers to fuck farm animals and revert to necrophilia. Using this Pyramid as a tool for equivocation one can understand that it is nearly impossible to be gay if you are a lead singer- let alone a lead singer, harp, guitar player. 

A popular case study on the lead singer phenomena was conducted by Cambridge University Psychology students in the late 1980s. They studied Freddy Mercury, then lead singer of the British giants “Queen.” It was well-known at that time that in fact Mercury was gay, and being a rockstar and always in the limelight he was always forced to have sex with women whether he liked it or not. This is not uncommon for other rockstars who try to not be gay but are in fact gay. Take for example, David Lee Roth- lead singer of Van Halen. He is in fact a douchy-homosexual that was once again forced into sexual behavior not aligned with his genetic predetermination. These case studies provide startling results that in fact turn gender normalcy and social mores upside down. The author of this passage alludes to the point that music can transcend all barriers of sociological expectations. If we apply these case studies alongside the Rock N’ Roll Band Pyramid we in fact come to the conclusion that lead singers are not gay and if they are can be subject to engaging in behavior that runs counter to their sexual orientation. If a gay man is forced into having sex with women on multiple occasions he then becomes a bi-sexual. As George W. Bush once said: “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”

Funky Panda is know as a “eclectic duo,” meaning there are two members in the band. The next member of Funky Panda is the drummer, Michael  Aloysius Rosenzweig- the commander behind the percussion. This non-genteel drummer made his name in academia and bar fighting and has demonstrated behavior that is not conducive to any orientation of any kind. Sure his tight pants, shirt shorts and tight t-shirts will get him called out on his sexuality on multiple occasions. Critics of his personality would say that it could be possible that he is gay, despite his peers trying to hide it from him, they were willing to accept him when he did in fact come out of the closet. If this essay was written before he accomplished the astonishing feat of having a girlfriend we could consider him gay as shit. From his family to his friends and acquaintances all have revered that in fact he could be gay. To recapitulate on past assertions- the drummer of the band is a wild card and with wild cards comes a responsibility to everybody and nobody. 

In the past there have been instances of drummers behavior attributing to not only their deaths, but questionable behavior practices. Two such instances can be examined: the first is legendary drummer of Led Zeppelin, John Bonham who died of vodka vomit asphyxiation while taking a bath. Next we can take a look at The Who’s drummer Keith Moon, who decided to take 32 tablets of the sedative clomethiazole and go to bed. Both men were loosed in their behavioral tendencies and demonstrated sexual conduct that could be considered ill-begotten. They were both philanderers and sex machines despite their marital vows. However, they were not gay despite their stupor-like sexual prowess. Their brandishing is nullified due to social code of ethics shared by users of hardcore drugs and alcohol. This accepted maxim is that is you are drugged-up or alcoholified in any way and engage in sexual behavior that is incongruent with your association you are exonerated from your behavior. Meaning if you go to a party after your concert and get wasted and hook up with a dude by accident you are not burned at the stake. Rock N’ Roll scholars and bands have gotten into their fair share of unusual sexual situations- just read a prominent rock starts biography and you can understand what I am getting at. Just because a guy hooks up with another guy does not mean he is gay.

To further this notion, in 1996 the Red Hot Chili Peppers released an album called “One Hot Minute.” In one of their songs entitled “Warped,” Anthony Kiedis (lead singer) makes out with Dave Navarro (guitarist who married Carmen Electra.) This move was somewhat publicized by people other then Kurt Loder- and received no anti-homosexual or pro-homosexual attention. This was regarded as Rock N’ Roll status quo and projected the notion of music and sexuality on a egalitarian level. Secondly, girls did not stop hooking up with the two rockstars because it probably made them more turned on- two hot dudes making out! Thus proving that a man can be exonerated for his past sexual behaviors by simply resetting the bar of cultural accepting of sexual mores or being a musician and making out with dudes. If this is applied to drummers in retrospect for their outlandish and crazy behavior aside from sexual choices- we can further the idea that drummers could never be gay.

Playing the drums and percussion is an experience that not many can describe or perform. It takes intense mental concentration unknown to gay men and coordination they only wish they had. The athleticism and personal fitness involved in mastering one’s instrument cannot be described as gay at all. You can find any drummer in a gym on Howard Avenue spotting one another while doing squat thrusts and tossing medicine balls to one another. The sheer part of drumming that makes it inconceivable to be considered gay is the fact that few ladies are drummers. In orchestras and marching bands and other bands working with other guys long hours and late nights doesn’t make one gay because drummers are not creatures of habit that shit where they eat. If a guy can play double stroke 32nd note rolls on a 30” bass drum with a mallet the size of a chimpanzees arm it does not warrant one to be so impressed that I would bone him. In fact it would make me think: “If that was a girl it would be way more sexy because imagine what she could do with you mallet in her hand.” 

Apart from professional experience, even being lowest musician on the Rock N’ Roll Pyramid means more fat chicks, uglies, and girls with even lower self-esteem. Sure they may not be the 10s and 9s but if you live your life like Bonham and Moon and probably every drummer in the Roaring 20s you probably wouldn’t mind the 4s or 5s. Thus concluding that despite unusual personality, appearance, and lack of sound moral code of conduct drummers cannot be gay. I hereby exculpate and disburden the standard core of “Funky Panda” from any homosexual epithets that may come hither from their critics. However, there is a new 3rd member of the “Funky Panda” that has come under the magnifying glass of recent. HIs name is in fact Wes Weinman and he did charge that he is the non-gayest Panda band member of all time. This is not true, in fact Wilt Chamberlain is the most un-gay “Funky Panda” band member after him giving us his seal of approval and joining our fan club and trying out for the full-time tambourine position posted on Monster.com. 

I will call into question Wes Weinman’s masculine practices as a person, musician and friend. First we will begin with the friendship part because that is the most brief and depressing part of this story. On many occasions but sober and intoxicated I cannot clearly remember whether he did or did not make a pass at me but I think he may have. Unless is really was Stephen Baldwin that made a pass at me- I would not blame him for doing so. On once such occasion he has asked me to be his friend with benefits- I thought the benefits were free bread from Pane Rustica (his place of work.) To further capitalize on his place of work- where he is a waiter in the evenings and a line chef during the day proved that he is in fact maybe, could be, more then possibly gay because he is a chef. There is the age old question in the world of the Food and Beverage Industry that chefs are disgruntled homosexuals trying to cook well to get chicks that they would feel uncomfortable with. This is totally true and scientifically backed by factual evidence.

In the New England Journal of Health’s March 2010 Issue the cover article: “Chef’s: The Man’s Best Entree,” highlighted how the majority of chefs are in fact gay because they work with other men and handle meats together, toss salads and talk about their likes and dislikes as a unit. This behavior habitualized over a long period of time becomes classical conditioning and rewires the brain for dude-on-dude passion. Even a chef’s clothes, the all white garments with white top hat is in fact a phallic symbol of virile strength that other men cannot get away from who are in the vicinity. According to leading psychologists, if you chef for a sustained period of time, you probably will become gay or are already gay. If you have noticed Tea-Partyers protesting in front of restaurants it is because they do not want homosexual- let alone Mexican homosexuals cooking their food. Chefs specialize in food, and not just one specific type of food- but all foods including spices and sauces. There is no line of demarcation separating a chef from a pastry chef or sushi chef. Chefs still know about food and are not deterred by lines drawn across the spectrum that stratifies foods into a typology. 

The same way Wes addresses his food service ambitions, he addresses his music because he does not specialize in one specific instrument. He plays drums, piano, guitar, bass, sings, etc. He cannot be classified into the Rock N’ Roll Band Pyramid and therefore is gay by default. Wes’ ideology towards music of playing everything and being a one man band is like meeting a guy in the music store who says that he plays everything and hands out in the Acoustic Guitar room waiting for other guys to come in and talk about wood types. Everyone knows the acoustic guitar room in music stores is where homosexual singles can mix and mingle and talk about how shitty their parents are, sexual oppression and their large libidos co-mingled with how much disposable income they have because they have no kids. If you are a lesbian, you can walk into an acoustic guitar room and talk about Lilith Fair and be carefree  regardless if you are a Lipstick or  Bull. If you are a dude, you can meet another dude that likes Coldplay and dresses like Sid Vicious, but, loves the rich mahogany on that vintage Martin acoustic. 

If we compile the fact that Wes has made passes at his own band members is against musician code because the number one rule on tour and off-tour is “To not hook-up with your band members” because that could ruin the band. You cannot write a song about how your heart was broken by the guy you work with- that runs counter to the modicum of rules that all musicians exist by. Also, one person who plays all instruments and cannot pick one to master probably does that with partners of various sexual orientations, for example:  ”I am Wes Weinman and today I am going to play the drums and hook up with a Columbian chick; tomorrow I am going to play Piano and make fuzz noises on my mixer and hook up with a Nigerian Dude.” Pick a side and stick with it Mussolini!

In conclusion, Wes Weinman is not only the gayest Panda but the only gay Panda in the band. We are happy to have him as a member and grateful to have his musical expertise alongside our. We did not affirmative action hire him because he is gay, we hired him because he is the man who loves men. Also, for a duo with both members having girlfriends- it is a good way to defuse the sexual tension and keep the ladies at bay. Wes serves as the buffer between two male egos that are philanderers. Wes is gay and we are proud of him for being gay. 

Buenos dias faithful bloggers and lovers of Funky Panda music. It is a wonderful day here in Chicago-town. We came into the Monster of the Midway via Louisville. After playing an incredible evening of music alongside the Tunesmiths and The Dirty Church Revival at Zazoo’s in Louisville. I actually had the wonderful opportunity to fulfill a Louisville drummers dream and sit in for a full set with The Dirty Church Revival. It was great to play with an awesome band and warm up for the next set of Panda tunes jumping out of the stage. It has been some time since I last played with another act and it was great to play with other musicians that have the same dream that I ascribe to- which is to perform and play music to the best of my ability. Our show Friday at Zazoo’s would be the cornerstone of musical performance and the magnum opus of our Louisville foray. Both bands that we played with have a great following, loyal and dedicated fans and it was a pleasure to bring the Tampa spirit to L’town. 

After our show, we were welcomed to stay at the home of The Tunesmiths, which is on US-71, just outside Louisville. We had a great place to sleep, and a friendly cat that snuggled by my side as I subconsciously stroked the cats comforting fur until it purred and clawed my arm. The cat and I had a great time, and became wonderful friends. It was the type of cat that you invite to your child’s Bar Mitzvah. Going to bed around 4am and waking up at 7am is not an easy feat. Sometimes the way of the road throws random shit your way, like insomnia and forces you to leave after only having three hours of sleep. However, the predicament is always warm-welcomed as the inevitability of travel and seeing things enlivens the spirit and urges one to go onward regardless of exhaustion. Sleep truly can be the enemy and sometimes, one cannot shake hyperawareness.

Sometimes, the road makes me feel as giddy as a gay guy at a Beyonce concert. The wonderful thing about this leg of the trip was going to fucking Chicago! Who would not be excited to visit the third largest city in the US? What a town, and it is a beautiful gem whose sheen can be admired from many miles away. The feeling that grips my soul as we travel up 65 North and you finally see your place of destination would be similar to an Egyptian in 3500 B.C. walking up the Nile River pass and stumbling upon the pyramids in the Valley of Kings. The architecture and sprawl or urbanity makes me feel at home. Being a gentleman hailing from New Jersey, seeing tall structures and concrete jungles warms my heart. What always has fascinated me is the gradual change of scenery from farmland and rural hamlets graduating to small fringe towns and slightly increasing signs of life.

Next the life forces becomes more entrenched as humanity begins to poke more holes in the Earth’s surface and rise out of the flora and fauna. It is not too far away as you would witness the replacement of open fields and range with strip malls and wee beginnings of industry. The installations that cut out the transcendental soon fill the countryside and metropolitan infrastructure begins to make its headway into my eyes. The city is close and we can start to feel the reach of its pulse as we enter the outskirts. My favorite part is the fact that driving gets more aggressive; I utilize my Florida license plate to cover the clandestine intent of a New Jersey driver that would cut off any car… even if Jesus, The President and The Queen of England were its occupants. Soon the cruise control that set your pace it now left up to the potentiality of my right foot’s coordination combined with the marvel of German mechanical engineering. We are in Chicago and we are dead sexy-man what a life to be part of an excellent band that travels around the country to make some beats. Apart from being in a band and being good-looking we were well-endowed to explore the amenities this place had to offer. 

What I failed to mention earlier is the grueling and extemporaneous details that make our landfall into Chicago that much more rewarding. Upon our departing from The Cardinal city of Louisville, we ate last around 3am at a Waffle House. We arrived on nine hours of no food in our system for nine hours. Waffle House is not so fulfilling when it comes to health and wellness and stabilizing the human body. We were so famished and thankfully I was well-hydrated because of my Camelback. Hydration is important and can sometimes, with astute mental concentration stave off hunger. In 5 hours of travel, I easily drank at least six liters of fresh tapwater. Chicago is beautiful in so many ways. Some people mention the buildings, some Lake Michigan, others enjoy the parks and greenery, other enjoy the vibe. But this place has something for everyone. Sure, it is famous for food and specifically pizza, sausages and all things unhealthy. But, there is a wide range of cuisine and restaurants that can fill the belly and make you feel great in the stomach!

We took I-94 towards the Chicago Skyline Freeway and came in through Chinatown- stopping in the small Asian neighborhood to dine and speak with the local Cantonese inhabitants. This is a young Chinatown, only just establishing its Chamber of Commerce in 1983. Nonetheless, we found the best place to eat at called: “Tasty Place.” We had wonderful Chinese food that did not fill you up and make you food comatose! This was awesome food and I suggest any native inhabitant of Chicago or a visitor to go there and eat the best Chinese food you will probably ever have in your life. If you are in Tampa, and go to “Yummy House” Chinese restaurant- this place will blow it out of the water. Tasty Place is the shit, and I strongly recommend anyone to renew their love for Chinese food or enrich it. 

Our belly’s fool, spirits lifted, and heats and mind strengthened, we made our way back to Vanna and began to drive around and explore the city in comfort and style. Our van wooed and wowed the local residents of Chicago. People marveled at our van’s beauty and surprised many locals that she was still running. Vanna loved to drive up and down the city streets and sit in traffic with us as we made our way into a suburb just outside the city to Addison, IL. Our gig here was at a fucking awesome place called “Bigby’s Pour House.” It is an incredible beer and wine bar, which is run by our amazing friend Ed Simbol. We are fucking lucky to have him as a friend and enjoy this amazing place. This place has everything, friendly, folks, incredible, incredible beer and wines. The food is fucking awesome and can impress even the most astute foodie! I cannot give enough kudos and credit for ed to run such a fine establishment that is a well-reknown place in the area. He is cutting out his place in the restaurant and dining world and making an impact- for that we are proud of him and glad that our college friend can find his place in the world and be successful both monetarily and more importantly spiritually. Ed congratulations to you for having an awesome place, and also for allowing us to play and meet your friends.

The local patrons who come to such a place are absolutely incredible people, warm-hearted and they love music. We had their support and we really enjoyed playing here and cannot be more happy with the place, people and vibe. What a time we had! We drank the finest craft beers, got completely drunk and partied down with the locals. We met some new friends and reacquainted ourself with a great person that we have not seen in almost 6 years. The respect and admiration we have for one another- Panda’s and Bigbys is the fact that we can relate to one another even after so many years of absence. We both are doing what we love to do- run a fine restaurant/bar and play music. It is rare that people have the ability to do such a thing and it is invigorating to the spirit that you can meet someone that pursues their dreams like you do, even for something that seemed unobtainable. Hat’s off to all if Addison, IL for showing the Panda a great time and welcoming us into their hearts and homes.

This road trip, though brief and never long enough because no road trip is long enough! We have met new and strengthened old bonds that became less sinuous. Now that our bellies, minds and chi are taut. We have grown akin to constantly seeing and appreciating the intimacy we have with the road and how it deals out its hand that shapes our lives. Miss everyone and love everyone! GO GIANTS and have a wonderful football Sunday! Panda out!

Still, we remain in Louisville, and are slated to play our last show in The Cardinal City. Our experience last night lead us down the path towards the classic Irish Bar. For some reason, America is completely obsessed with he idea or the Irish Bar. Every city has a Flannagans, O’Flaherty’s, O’Whitney’s, O’Donaghue’s, O’Brien, Macsomething. This lovely Irish bar mentioned yesterday was known as O’Sheas. Nothing out of the ordinary- they are a monstrosity of fine wood and brick, nicely strewn together on Highland Avenue… smack in the middle of a happening spot. One could expect big things from such a large and forthcoming establishment: craft beer, overly-exceeding expectations of pub food, etc. The Irish Bar has a position in the heart of America that can never be removed, ever. Honestly, the Irish have it well in America- there are numerous cities that have such a Irish cultural heritage and Louisville is another one of those. Over-looked by the braggadocio of Bostonians and San Franciscans- there are many gingers here with the carpet matching the drapes.

The affinity the Irish have for drinking has made its way into mainstream American culture- Bennigans wasn’t a good idea? Are you shitting me?! Awesome! As a Mexican-American or visa versa stereotypically speaking, we are known for clandestine border crossings, wearing Dickies clothing, colorful usage of bandanas and know for our exceptional ability to accomplish arduous tasks of labor that makes us tired. Whereas, the Irish are know for drinking, fighting, Notre Dame, and the Dropkick Murphy’s- which are nothing fucking special. I am sure that Mexicans could move to a town like South Bend, Indiana- built a way more awesome college with cuter women and have Carlos Santana be the dean of their music program. Sure our football team would probably suck, but we would be able to beat any NCAA program in soccer. This is because we are faster and typically more aggressive then white people- according to caucasian sociological research. 

Back on track, this was a fine Irish Bar and had wonderful outdoor and indoor places to walk around and drink in. Unfortunately, the attendance record was not in our favor- but we made some friends and accepted new fans into our ever-expanding fanbase. Sometimes, quality is better then quantity… the staff was awesome and courteous and friendly as all hell. We enjoyed meeting new people and having an experience that is uncannily unique and ubiquitous. Remember that no matter what Irish Bar you find yourself in, it is unique and completely different from all other Irish bars. Sure the ideology behind it remains the same- $7 Jameson shots and $5 Guinness- but the decor and the people make the place. What is important to understand with any Irish bar is asking the bartender for specials. You may get out of a huge bill if one inquires about specials. Otherwise a casual day of drinking can cost you upward of $100 which is embarrassing to spend at an Irish bar. Nobody wants you to do that, and friends do not let friends do such a thing. Ever! Spend your money elsewhere, because there are probably better bars out there, and let some Abercrombie wearing college student waste their money.

Lastly, to conclude my tirade on Irish bars, they are like the Tea Party- a necessary evil. Surely, it is not the quintessential place to go and drink and party economically. However, they are a necessary cultural niche that contribute to our marco and micro economic overlapping structures. They provide people with jobs, give the average joe or jane a place to get drunk and procreate, and provide vital service to spreading false cultural assumptions with random Gaelic shit written on the walls. This does not take away from the fact that we had a good time, because we did! Once again, when going on the road and experiencing places- it is always the people and never the place. Louisville, is a city filled with great people and every day we have spent here has reinforced that notion and furthered even more in our hearts and minds. 

Our show was great, sure we did not get paid and played for food and drink- but there is more to it then  just playing for a few beers and a triple cheese cheeseburger. It is about having the ability to communicate and reach an audience with your music. Sure the crowd was small and the place not coincidental with our refined artistic tastes- you fucking play the show and do what you love to do. We were joined by our new great friends The Cigarittes. And yes, I misspelled their name yesterday and they are pronounced the Cigarittes. We love those guys- not only because they let us crash at their place, but because they are genuine and nice people. They make great music, have a great vibe and we are privileged to know them. I suggest that you check them out on Facebook and become friends with them because they have managed to help us out on the road so much and if you are our friends- then you are theirs because we are the conduit of interconnection. Befriend them, now because they will be huge and you should just jump on the bandwagon now before it becomes formalized.

Upon this very day, it will be our last in Louisville, and we have been welcomed and have become a part of the local culture. We came here to make an impact and meet new friends and we have done that. Sure we go onto Chicago- and that city is huge and widespread- but we will leave a piece of our hearts in Louisville because she deserves it and we deserved her. Our foray in Louisville, was like meeting a cute girl on vacation and connecting and then saying hello and goodbye within a few days. The irony of life, so it may be. The good thing about The Pandas is that we do not believe in good-byes; and hold true that hellos are much more important. That is what you get here from the average passer-by on the street as you cross paths for a second… you get a hello. And that is why, Louisville, we can’t say goodbye because you are not that type of city. As we turn towards Chicago and resettle into our nomadic habitualizations, I will be reminded of that UL Cardinal gritting its teeth.

Once again we venture into the St. Matthews borough of Louisville and join hands with other bands to play Zazu’s. We are playing with local acts called The Tunesmiths, and also The Dirty Church Revival- which I believe I am sitting in on drums to play some songs with those cats. I can assume that after we play the show, we will probably be making our way to Chicago and drive through the evening. By the time we finish, it would only make sense to do so. Today is a beautiful day in Louisville, the sun is shining and there are people out ant about enjoying their daily activities. Sure, I am not really clean and well kept as usual- but it is nice to be in a foreign place I no longer consider foreign. 

Best wishes to all from the road, we are lucky in Kentucky. Screw you John Boehner!

In particular the vast expanse of Louisville, KY can go unnoticed to the occasional passer-by who neglects the wise reaches of this virile metropolis. Our departure away from the Scotch-Irish hamlet of Highland, we moved towards an up-scale area know as St. Matthews. This particular part of Louisville, was named after Matthew the Apostle- one of the 12 disciples- hailing from Galilee, Israel: “A fun place to enjoy steak and milk separately.” Do not let the religious connotation fool you, because this area is not filled with ginger-bearded Irishmen that are regulars at a Church sponsored Whiskey bar. They are dwellers of the urban lifestyle whom have managed to cut out a solid and remarkable identity amongst the landscape of the city. The town is bustling with commerce and enterprise as the locals drive through and about their way to accomplish their daily activities. St. Matthews was a fine spot just outside of downtown Louisville that has earned a reputation for providing the same level of debauchery that rivals the other boroughs.

Located centrally between Frankfurt Avenue and some other road is Gerstle’s Place- a bar that has been a local establishment for a number of years now. Famous not only for its music scene, but for “The BIg Gerstle,” a sandwich according to local barkeep, Beth, is the “best sandwich in the world… I think of coming here and ordering it even on my day off.” Such tall words that butter up a sandwich that are the foundations of a fine establishment that stakes its claim as a top music venue in the city. Unfortunately, we could not have the opportunity to taste this Big Gerstle, for the chef was off that particular day. Surely it made us sad, but our dependence lay on the faithful lunchmeat which traveled with us in our trusty cooler that some drunky left at our house one pool party’s afternoon- thanks buddy!

Our hunger and famine was easily quelled by a stomach full of slovenly prepared bologna and assorted speckled meat, mixed with mustard and whole wheat bread! Oh the glory that lay before us on a magnificent white napkin! We hunkered down in Gerstle’s and awaited the production which lied before us. Sometimes, downtime on the road is a good thing because you can rest and collect thoughts and just relax and prepare for an evening of shows. When one is away from all the amenities that you would consider home, it is tough to find some sort of way to busy yourself with anything aside from thoughts. Sure technology that you bring along can alleviate some of the monotony of disengagement from productive things- but its novelty wears away quickly.

Gerstle’s is a excellent venue that is good to all bands both local and foreign. For this particular evening, our event was in competition with Waterfront Wednesday, a special music event that runs all summer until yesterday that feature live national, popular and semi-popular acts. The turnout for the event was not really close to a sell out and all the local bands contributed the attendance record to sharing an evening with Waterfront Wednesdays. This Waterfront Wednesdays event is an event of great magnitude and importance to the local happenings because everyone was there. I am glad the city has this event for the locals because everyone deserves great music and the arts to be made available to them. Exposure to the arts is a right, not a privilege and please don’t fucking forget such an opinion.

The bands which we were playing with was “The Rusty Old Crows,” a bunch of Bellarmine University kids-young adults that brought the fire and had a unique and eclectic sound. It was great to see a four piece have a wide and expansive sound that can follow many paths towards melodica. Sweet guitar harmonies and excellent bass riffs combined with solid dynamic drumming gave the a wide and hearty sound. I find their work hard to compartmentalize because it was very progressively sounding. I found their name interesting because none of them were really old whatsoever. Only one of them was married, and that was the drummer-Blake who was recently married. Congratulations to Blake and his cutie wife. We are proud that you two have sought matrimonial harmony and consummate love. We hope to see those guys again and look forward to keeping in touch with them. Please check their out “Rusty Old Crows” on Facebook and peep their music. 

The Crows started around 9:30 because their lead singer had a presentation to present. They had local support and some of their family came to see them jam, and contribute to the wholesome atmosphere provided by Gerstle’s. They played some awesome songs and packed up shop and made way for “The Cigarettes.” This brotherly trio is fueled by their vintage denim, boots, and voracious hair that can make any gay hairdresser and Louisville woman jealous. Do not be fooled by their hair and ultra-noveau-vintage looks because they guys clock in and work until the morning shift. They had excellent 4-4 rock sounds and excellent guitar licks. Sure their jeans are tight, but tight jeans make their music that much more enjoyable! According to their Uncle Mark, they were born and bred to be rockers. This role they fulfill without acting, it is a suave aspect of personality that encompasses their spirit. This trio has a monster lead guitar, solid drum beats and excellent lyrics held together by a punchy and thick bass line. They are integrating the keyboard into very creative ways playing some B3 Hammond Style grooves that reinforces the notion that all organs are happy.

I do suggest that after you check out “Rusty Old Crows” you check out “The Cigarettes” because their music is a testament to their rock n’ roll spirit that never died. I am sure that we will see much more of both bands in years to come as they continue to shape, create and diffuse the Louisville music scene. There is no fucking doubt in my mind that Louisville does in fact rock and it is a city with big balls (or vagina) and a huge heart. The friendliness of the local folk and the niceties that are apart of the local culture is something that everyone can appreciate- be it local or traveller. People say hello to you as you pass by on the street as complete strangers. People talk to you with all accord and decency and perpetuate the circle of universal friendship.  After the two local acts finished, yours truly went on and kicked people’s balls into outer space! We played well and had a awesome show, and the same will continue onward tonight as we find ourselves back in the Highlands to play O-Shea’s Irish Pub.

I am sure it has been brought to people’s attention that in fact Shwaggies was molested, however, this was an isolated incident that cannot be ascribed to the general local persons modus operandi. Sure, people become over-zealous in spiritual, sexual, enterprising, and other ways. But, we hope that James- the Highlands Groper comes to find himself when he moves to Jacksonville, and ceases to pull shenanigans of the seductive kind. Last night, there was no groping- just a solid evening of killer music that filled the evening air with notes of many colors. We had a blast getting to know all the bands and were fortunate enough to not spend the night in our Van.

The Cigarettes Uncle Mark was kind enough to let us crash on the second floor of his 1904 under-renovation downtown Louisville home. Uncle Mark allowed us to crash in a haunted house which we would learn the very next morning. The home is beautiful and made from bubble framing that prolongs and strengthens the structure. This home is not some modern Chinese drywall piece of shit. We were so fortunate to be able to have a roof over our heads and we send our wishes and gratefulness to Mark, his wonderfully gorgeous family,  The Cigarettes, and also Uncle Mike from New Jersey. We spent some time with Mark and the family, had some breakfast and played legos with the little girls. It is nice to have some hospitality in a city far from home. We would do the same for anyone and any band that is traveling or local. 

We look towards playing O’Shea’s tonight, an Irish gem that is located in the heart of Highlands. We have made our way around the city today, exploring UL and some underlying areas that we normally become over-looked. we stopped at the 3rd Street Cafe and has some delicious 4-bean soup. Beans are wonderful and a excellent source of protein. O’Shea’s will be great and it is a beautiful bar that is so glorious and opulent that it reminds me of drinking in Savannah with my lady. The antiquated outdoor decor gives one a feeling of a 19th century inn with old Kentucky sarsaparilla drinkers and whiskey shoot-outs. MacDinton’s could learn a thing or two about atmosphere and exuding class from a place like this. This is the mother of all Irish Bars. This is a place to have whiskey and get a real perspective on local Highlands culture. 

Love you all and be safe! We are traveling and miss seeing everyone and stealing their pets! Always the best!

It was a sluggish morning and we hastily made our transition from a band at home to a band on the road. Sometimes it takes time for the sleeping giant to awaken… but once we packed the van and smelt the open road we settled in right away. As our wheeled-magenta savior made her way on I-275 North our homeland sank into the horizon and became a mirage evaporating in the scorching afternoon sun. It is so hard to leave, but great to get away. Missing and meeting at the same time can truly enrich the human experience. Trite and true as always, never steering away in the face of uncertainty- The Pandas moved towards our ultimate goal of playing music for new people. Somehow Florida became shortened due to a wonderful cup of cajun jumbo-boiled peanuts.

Cruising through Florida, you realize how shitty and flat the scenery is to look at. 35 minutes into the trip the scenery became boring and dogmatic. The minute rolling hills are the harbinger for the topography yet to be seen. It seems almost unobtainable that fucking Florida will never end and seconds after I-10 the “Land of Flowers” is gone. Georgia does not disappoint when it comes to people watching and one has become an expert in redneck genealogy by assessing the unusual physical characteristics of local Georgian driver- both rural and metropolitan. Initially, we were supposed to stay at the lavish and glorious home of a Mr. Frank Alioto and join him for dinner at the Varsity Club in Atlanta. However, our plans changed on Sunday night because we found out that Frank Alioto, “The People’s Champion” was not in town and went whaling with his boyfriend, Nuck-Tuuk (an Inuit indian man from Yukon) in British Columbia. Though, not seeing Frank made us sad and we did cry from Valdosta to Macon- we could not but pontificate as to the quagmire at hand for not having a place to stay. Still unabashed and exhibiting imperturbability The Pandas rolled onward heading north on the I-75. 

In the past Funky Panda has been know to show great composure in the face of the ambivalence of nature and the cosmic forces of the galaxy. Not being able to stay in Atlanta made our trip longer and more exhaustive. Panda friend extraordinaire Dave Cox helped us our with a place to crash in Nashville, TN. Nashville, is about 4 hours from Atlanta and 177 miles south of Louisville, KY so that was an ideal situation for us. We had to put more time in behind the wheel, but thankfully we clocked in for overtime and jammed through the southeast and resolved a huge logistical issue. And thank you Dave! In Valdosta, GA Shwaggies and I switched the driving responsibilities to myself and I took over. I was to drive from there and I eventually continued until just north of Chattanooga, TN. The weather was cloudy and had strong overcast as we jetted northward.

Somewhere in a mountain pass between Chattanooga and Nashville the rains kicked up. I don’t know exactly what time, but it was the time when it is just yourself and trucks on the highway and apparently at that time trucks take no prisoners. The rain went from a sprinkling to a torrential downpour and the wind blew our van back and forth in the lane like a pingpong ball between two trucks. Rain greatly reduced our vision and the road conditions were testing of our van’s mettle. I admire German engineering and marvel at its glorious splendor, but, all of the advanced 1987 lifesaving technology our van possesses did not make me feel at ease with that part of the trip. As the evening became more pronounced, we passed through the storm and came into Nashville-town with a slight drizzle. Cute moisture that makes you feel as if the novel comes to a resolution. We arrived safely in the country music capital of the world pretty exhausted. 

After saying our prayers and thanking Poseidon for a safe journey we were  so grateful that we arrived to dual inflatable mattresses and soft blankets at our dogs crib. Never has a mattress filled with air been so inviting and appreciated to either of us. The extra mile we went made our slumber that much more gratifying and justified. It could have not been more prolonged, the morning and it always comes way too god-damn soon… fuck. My dreams of being a Mexican-Viking warrior, conquering George Washington and having sex with 100s of hot vampire-fairies that play hockey came to an end. We awoke in Nashville to a hazy day full of sunshine! The initial inhale of the sweet Tennessee air tasted refreshing as the smell of deer poop tinged the nostrils. 

Dave’s house finally became recognized in my brain, forgetting that I over-looked the impact it made on my long-term memory the previous night. Dave’s roommate, Ramon, was a friendly dude that jammed with us a for a bit in the morning, apparently he also was making his way to Louisville as well- moving there. This transient youth was a righteous dude and we had fun with him as Dave slept in the next room after an evening of toil from the Red Lobster. We ultimately had to depart and head towards our destination. We quickly took Vanna to the Jiffy Lube to get topped-off on oil. Jiffy Lube has a great policy that if one gets his or her oil changed there, you are entitled to get a top-off anywhere in the country for free. For an old and reliable lady such as Vanna Magenta, those corporate perks can come in handy. Consider it similar to having a key to the executive bathroom, a whole wide range of barriers can be broken for you, in addition to, the pice of mind that comes with such security can be overwhelming at certain times. 

We jumped in the 440 and headed West and said goodbye to the 24 and jumped on the 65 towards Louisville. It was about 1pm and to reiterate once more, it was shitty weather and good driving conditions. Tennessee and Kentucky share a similar geographical contour and it is sometimes hard to tell the difference. If I apply my past research in redneck identification its like two guys named Cletus with a pick-up truck, except one has a UL Cardinals hat. Also, when you are in Kentucky it will usually be made known to you with widespread usage of the color blue- for University of Kentucky. Louisville, is a surprising city, it has a well developed and built-upon metropolitan landscape with densely populated surrounding neighborhood boroughs. Unfortunately, it seems that mass display of cosmopolitan heirs lack and makes me assert to the foundation that the city has not participated much in cultural development. 

Nonetheless, do not let the lack of illustration in cultural refinement throw you off because beneath all of the industry and corporate edifices lie a people who enjoys the arts. One cannot help to presuppose that this is in fact the work of religious suppression of the arts and cultural development because Jesus is big here chief.. oh yeah. The destination which we chose to play in this city of red was called the Highland Taproom. This Highlands, is a serene and picturesque part of Louisville. The name highlights the roots of the Irish community here in old L’ville town. There is a grandious amount of Irish-themed bars and trendy restaurants and shops in this area on Highland Avenue, Baxter St. and Bardstown Road. This is a nice party of town and it is exemplified by the joggers and townies milling about as the day turned into dusk and fell into night. The community gradually made a transition from its daytime garb into its nighttime naughty. The Highlands put on its mascara and fishnet stockings around that time.

The Highland Taproom was a centrally located establishment right across the street from a Grocery store with a thrift store inside of it. Not only did this blow my mind, but it fucking blew my mind. We spent $5 on some sandwich meat, bread and mustard and had ourselves a fancy little feast in the van. We had some space to spare because we already dropped off our stuff at the bar and had some time to mill about time. Unfortunately, I was still tired and decided to sleep in the van for a little while before the show. It would be a good decision because we were slated to play at 10pm until 3am. With a bill that long, one has to rest and conserve the energy for playing the drums. I listened to some tunes in the van, falling in and out of sleep. I could not obtain definitive REM and that was okay with me. Still the weather was shitty and cloudy, I hope the rain would fall back and go away so more people would be inclined to go out. 

I listened to some “Lettuce: Live in Tokyo,” “Massive Attack” and Beck’s CD Guero intermingled with “The Information Deluxe.” I was psyched to be in a new place and tormented by making the decision to not go out. But, I had to gain some strength for the show. I allowed my sentiments to be at ease with the notion that I should wait for Louisville to get her skirt on and experience the nightlife when it settled in. The Highland Taproom was a nice bar- brandishing a pool table room with one table and a male and female toilet. I did pee in both by the way. The interesting fact about the place was that it failed to initially reveal that it could have possibly been a gay bar. That remains in dispute with me and I carry that thought with me as I speak before you today. It would not be the first time we have played a gay establishment and it is good to party down without the usual hetero dominating presence sometimes. We did not take the signs given to us, when we were talking to the bartender he mentioned that: 

"Oh yeah, karaoke is our big nights and we have it three times a week." The hints which went over our heads was the fact that this place has karaoke and it gets "wild and crazy in there" and the second idea is the fact that they have it so many times a week. It is well known in Key West, Provincetown, and Block Island that a bar with so much karaoke usually means gay if they do not advertise it. Apart from what the bar is is besides the point because the people were extremely friendly. There was an really crowd of awesome people and we made some great friends. We played our hearts out and made some tips, gave out stickers and met some really cool people. I think Zack is going with us to Chicago this weekend. It was a tremendous show and we were extremely excited that we  could play for all of those people there. Good times and good stuff!!

Now the gig is one part of the story and the other part is what we do after the gig. Being a band, one has to understand the showmanship that accompanies the musician occupation. One has the stage personification and then there exists the after-hours, off-duty musician. The extracurricular activities are very fun and always tend to be somewhat liberal experiences. Thus lies in the fact the three factors of occupation-musician-traveler can be added to produce very fascinating occurrences. Be it as it may, there is has always been a stigma to the musician’s role in society. But, I can tell you we do not live the life like Bleeding Gums Murphy from The Simpsons- the starving jazz musicians that wears a different color beret every day of the week and wears corduroy jackets alongside vests. We befriend a Louisville Sherpa-Groper, a brazen individual that we met while playing and he offered to take us around town to see the sights. 

As most drunk people do, they usually banter on and on about the city they live in and how they love it and hate it. This seems to be usual when asking people about how the feel about the city they inhabit. This sherpa, James was very open and honest about his lifestyle and who he is as a dude who digs other dudes. I mean he ditched his man-boy follower that went into the arms of a English dude to take us around Louisville at 3am. By the way, the bars here are open until 4am. We needed no car and decided to walk down the street, about one or two blocks down the road we came to a crosswalk and identified a lady moving about town in the we hours of the morrow. James identified her as a local whore, which she immediately afterwards yelled to us from across the street. Upon crossing the street, we met this haggard-looking woman and it became known to us that it was in fact her birthday. She also mentioned that she got fucked up on a bunch of Zanax and Oxycotone and was on her way to drink. She was wearing white jean sorts and a teal blue shirt and seemed pretty well-kempt for a local prostitute. She was drunkly vivacious and carried with her the common whore connotation with oddly timed outbursts and epithets of drunkery. 

We made it to the bar and James brought us right inside to a place that was jumping, people playing pool on numerous tables- a late night spot all Tim Boylans would love. The bar teemed with local whiskey and had all sorts of variations. The ability to drink whiskey until 4 in the morning can be dangerous and especially bourbon. For $5 we received pretty much a pint of whiskey and a dash of ice. I did drink one and they immediately gave us a second one, and it proved to be too much to even consider finishing. The first drink went down somewhat smooth as we mingled with the local patrons. James knew a bunch of cats there and we met some local folk. The whore was off whoring and using guys for drinks- which is what whores do. At least she is good at what she does. The bar closed and all of the drunk and misled patrons exited the building and somewhere between the car and the bar my memory becomes somewhat hazy. 

I do recall waking up in the morning in the van next to a tree around 9am… another hazing morning. Screw you Kentucky, your weather is sucks. That the hell man? Seriously? Though it was not easy to get up, we had to for good reasons and get our shit together.  James for some reason decided to sleep in the van with us and he had to be asked to leave. The reason is a highly contested groping incident which is not appropriate to mention on this sort of forum. To be honest, why the fuck would you sleep in a van with band when you have a bed in town and live in Louisville, KY. Let me get this across to the general public that it is not cool to sleep in a van because it sucks. There is nothing glorious about it, I have slept in our van in many inconceivable ways and none of them could ever pertain to glory and personal achievement. To sleep in a bands van when you live in the city that we are playing in makes no sense for the following reasons:

1. Invite us to stay at your house so we don’t have to fucking sleep in a car, please? We want to stay up late and watch “Saved By The Bell: The College Years” with you too man.

2. Already it is cramped, why would you contribute to more discomfort? Being too drunk to walk home is not a valid excuse either. 

3. If you have ever walked by someone who looks like they are sleeping in their car; it is not fun. Learn from your intuition from past experiences and do not be like us. 

Moreover, tonight the @1st we play Gerstle’s Place and are pretty pumped to be playing with a bunch of other bands. We are not only psyched, but fucking thrilled that we can jam out with the local talent here in Louisville. Kentucky is a pretty place. We hope to stop by Mammouth Cave in Tennessee on our way back. I remember that shit from science class and so badly would love to visit it. I would like to take the time to thank everyone for supporting us and that we miss everyone and are glad that you can take the time to read our stuff about the road. Later!

   We all know that Tampa and Florida is hot in the summer and sizzling like the panties of a dancing Latina. We know that Pandas are not deterred by inclement weather of extremes of seasonal patterns. We thrive in the sweaty Florida sun and chew on stalks of sugar cane and drink the finest ales purveyed in the Sunshine State. Funky Pandas weekend proved to be eventful and full of traveling locally, experiencing new audiences and venues. Most importantly, we took our music to the masses and rocked their worlds moreso then Madonna ever would- and we don’t talk with a face English accent. Please sit back and enjoy this ruse of a story.

    Our story began on Thursday evening when Funky Panda went promoting alongside their “Great Administrator,” Timothy Matthias Boylan. The evening began with a meeting in the glorious Pandadome- a place nestled next to the Academy of Holy Names School for soon-to-be-skanks. Tim jumped in Vanna Magents (our old ‘87) and we drove down Bayshore Blvd and took in the sights of Spanish Moss, low-tide and a city wrought with humidity at 9pm. Our spirits were high as the night too ahold of us and began to take us into unchartered waters. We went to the home (two bedroom shitty condo) or a Manuel Gilgoodman- former Wildcat tennis star and renowned South Tampa Gentryfolk.

   We passed the time talking of fabled lore and stories from days past. We became so inebriated that we forgot where we went that night and all I can recall from my experience is waking up at the Pandadome and watching The BIg 10 Network. Friday had came and went and found us once again in our beloved city, set ablaze by high temperatures and unruly weather. We visited our friends at Acura of Tampa Bay and enjoyed coffee, magazines, soap operas and chips in their waiting room. Our stomachs were groaning with the uneasiness of hunger and we sought Hot Dogs to fill out bellies and provide us with sustenance. We dines on Busch Blvd. at Mel’s Dogs and our dream had become a reality. This did not happen without making friends on the way and furthering our ‘Pillars of the Community” status. We kissed babies, visited the home of Tampa’s Greatest Farmer Nick Fingar and admired his squash harvest.

   Apparently, if you are like Tim Boylan and own a luxury car… life is not made easier for you. One could say that Notorious B.I.G was right by saying “Mo money, mo problems!” Acura deemed it necessary to stick a fork in the dreams of Administrator Boylan by keeping his trusty steed for one more day of unnecessary testing. He became at our whim and his lack of transportation not only back him into our grasps and control- but he was ours for the taking. The Pandas had a handed opportunity to make Tim’s life ruinous and more cumbersome then before. We took Vanna back to the Panda Ranch- our island ranch escape to get away from the hustle and bustle of industry and progress occurring. Our day’s work concluded as we lounged on the Pandacouch and enjoyed hors d’ oeuvre and the finest Champagne known to man.  We discussed our plans to go whale hunting with our Japanese friends- and how lovely the island of Hokkaido is this time of year.

   The evening chill did not set in because when we arose from our powwow, our city was sweltering with the evaporation of an afternoons rain. Our destination tonight was Hyde Park Cafe- a place to see and be seen. A place where the beautiful habituate and engage in drunkenness and sex of the protected and unprotected kind. Gorgeous women and well manicured men coalesce for the sake of tying one off for weekends sake. Funky Panda stood in the face of adversity and blew the crowds mind with a composition of handsomeness and incredible grooves that would make Stevie Wonder jealous. As we played the HPC courtyard amidst the sweat and intense heat, our grooves poked through the haziness like sunshine between the clouds… enriching the drunkards of the evening. We appreciate you HPC for letting us serenade you and your patrons. We will see you September 16th, and we will be looking as good as ever- fresh off dual vacations to far away places. We love you HPC, and we will continues to bring cheer and love to your establishment.

   The evening did not allow us to reflect on our accomplishments because we regrouped with our beloved friends, Lauren Scholl, Neil Magida, Kevin Kellog, and our great administrator. We traveled down the Street of Platt and parked by Yogani and joined Neil for tea, biscuits and a small dosage of Palladia network. Once again our stomachs grumbled from the inertia and due diligence. We had to look somewhere for salvation! What fine establishment could feed us and quench our thirsts simultaneously?? What place could satisfy our carnal urges? No place other then Hattricks of Tampa! Hattricks, a place that would make any man from Canada’s heart melt. What other place can you find Hockey and the bay area’s most beautiful women in one building? Hattricks is a normal playground for the Pandas. Manning the bar was local hero James Bronte and his trusty and busty staff that is friendly and kind. 

    While dining on delicious Italian Wedding Soup and Hamburgers we received a distress call from the Davis Islands. There was something going down at Yeoman’s- something unholy, something unmusical. There was a fiasco, quagmire, predicament, dilemma, problemo at Yeoman’s… the booked band for that night could not get it together and salvage a performance. Therefore, Funky Panda jumped in their escape wagon and jettisoned to their unpredicted next show. Our mission? To salvage a night of rock gone bad. Something was askew and afoul in the air and we put down uncertainty and combined with a great team of mercenary musicians managed to jam the night way for Tampanians alike. Though unexpected, it warmed our hearts to be able to be on call and help out a bar in need. All was lucky that we decided to eat downtown and not at Bern’s Steakhouse were you get no reception. 

    We slept off the evening and awoke to a beautiful and peaceful Saturday morning. There is something about weekend mornings- you can feel the sinuous tension ease up and alleviate the stress of the weekday ardor. Going for a Panda-jog was a privilege to see so much wildlife thriving in this urban biome. It moved my heart as I ran a hearty amount of miles. My mind became at ease and I limbered up after my jog with Yoga poses and calisthenics. The day passed quickly as, Panda downtime found one Panda going boating and one enjoying the pleasures of metropolitan life. Our minds could not be taken off a show that was looming over us in the evening. In anticipation day did not turn to night fast enough. The Pandas waited silently for night to fall, and the stars to shine bright and illuminate the hopes of a city about to tie one off again.

    For those of you that are not aware of our colloquial culture here in Tampa, this is a city that had a proud party heritage. Sure Miami parties and everyone knows that. But in Tampa, our parties are multi-dimensional and in many cases longer then the average Miami-Dade county inhabitant. There is always a place to chillax or get rowdy at be it in public or in private. There is a niche for everyone, clubs, brewpubs, irish bars, karaoke bars, hipster bars, doctor/surgeon bars, power bars, private bars, dive bars. Your faithful Panda friends were playing in a historic and well-admired local dive treasure nestled on Gandy Blvd. It is know as “Barefoot Billy’s,” a place where all can come together and drink as one community for self-betterment and prostration.

     At Barefoot Billy’s one can steer thyself away from the fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle of the young and hip and relax in an atmosphere that is the epitome of welcoming. Here, you can turn off the light bulb and enjoy the pace of Florida life conjoined with inexpensive booze. Dress as you will and expect to have a lively conversation with the local patrons. Upon the evening of August 20th, conversation was little and music was pumping and Funky Panda took the stage for an evening of shits and giggles. We played solid sets of musical enrichment, blending mixtures of cover songs to please the crowd and a large dosage of our original fanfare. We were also accompanied intermittently with legendary troubadour Tampa Carl who has played the country up and down and sideways since the late 19th century. Carl is as old as a Brontosaurus and as nice as they come. He is a fine player and with him every show is VH1 Storytellers. He is a great friend of ours and we appreciate his work as an artist and friend.

    We finished the evening around 1:30am and had to rush and hurry over to Ybor City to celebrate our dear friend Susan Pompilio’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan because it is still your birthday week. From the rooftop of an apartment complex parking garage, Panda and crew enjoyed an evening of kegged beer, cornhole and the finest sausages money could buy. The chips and dip were splendid and our great many libations contributed to a wonderful evening. Kudos to all who were involved in the party and whoever that girl was in the FSU skirt was cute. We would like to thank XM radio for providing great tunes and hip-hop. The Pandas and crew after a great party decided to head back to Davis Island and hit they hay and rest up for another great Sunday of live music and enjoyment.

   Sunday began with a jog and lifting session at the beloved Choice Fitness- my gym of many years and a great place to never wait for a machine. Choice Fitness, you would be way cooler if you never cut down your hours from 24hours. I enjoyed my jog and lift and also utilized the erg machine to get limber for Pandashow. August 21st would end with an extravaganza of music and great times at Howard Avenue’s finest establishment of Tapas and wine….

    Ceviche is her name and fine dining is what it does. However, Ceviche has a rich history of diverse ethnic and world music. We knew the locals would love to hear some bluegrass and get some Panda in their veins so we drove over around 8pm. Ceviche is another South Tampa hot spot to see and be seen. Beautiful women and a dining environment second to none. Funky Panda was joined by long-time friend and incredible sessions gentleman Fil Pate- a local mandolin and stringed instrument guru. Together with Fil+Panda= Pandagrass a bluegrass/roots/new country/hillbilly project that brings back the style from when it wasn’t stylized. 

    With a wonderful and sexy crowd and awesome beats, we probably contributed to couples, singles and the dating crowd engaging in sex of all sorts by setting a sensual mood to procreate in. You are welcome Howard Ave. and fans of tapas. We will see you again September 19th, so wear a skirt, heels and no panties. We will not be late to escort you into another night of wonderful music. 

    All in all, our sentiments of our weekend were positive. Funky Panda goes into this weekend relaxing as Shwaggies travels to San Francisco for two weeks and I travel to the Atlantic Provinces of Canada for a vacation with the Misses. We get back into town September 13th and look to playing a bunch of shows before we head out on tour. We love you all and thank you for your continued support. Tell us what you think because the mic is passed back to you. 

Funky Panda at The Library in Laramie, WY

Chat


Another weekly weekend recapitulation of what has been happening in the life of a Panda. We had a solid and awesome weekend of chilling, playing, having fun and doing what we do best- play music for all walks of life. This weekend found us all over our glorious state of Florida, here in our hometown and abroad. Pandas could have been found in Orlando this past Friday playing Fat Fish Blue, a comedy club that also has live music and semi-edible food. If you do go to Fat Fish Blue, do not try their potato crispers- the sugar and cinnamon spicing does not do the potato justice. Potato's deserve better then that and we are sticking up for you potato! Anyone from Idaho might take offense to having potatoes served in that manner.!


Anyhoo, the Pandas were accompanied up the I-4 corridor by a lovely Susan Pompilio. A great friend of the Panda, who decided to be apart of our musical excursion. She resides in Ybor City- the new Hillsborough County destination for hipsters and people that had a decent relationship with their parents. Nonetheless, Ybor City has more culture in its few gridded blocks them Orlando has in its entire urban sprawl. The aforementioned sentiment came to fruition as we neared our Orlando destination of Fat Fish Blue. Fat Fish… a place strewn about amidst a plethora of corporate restaurants just off of International Drive. There is no surprise that a strip mall of Olive Gardens, Cheesecake Factory's, and TGI Friday's is places near the Orlando Convention Center.


Any tourist of Orlando, knows that when you come on vacation to the Disney City- you want the same food that is available to you anywhere in America because why bother with local cuisine? A family's money is best spent in amongst the throngs of buffets, conceptual higher dining facilities of chain restaurants and places where free crayons can shut your kids up for an elongated period of time. Orlando is at one's service, with armies of hyper-important valets that rule parking garages like a jailhouse arbiter. Hospitality is taken to an entire new level, that can put one at ease because this is Orlando… this is our vacation spot, our destination of paradise, our Xanadu! Fat Fish Blue was our Pantdatopia for the evening. And we enjoyed our spot in the Orlando nightlife, as sultry and humidifying bringers of incredible original music.


This place was a Comedy Club primarily, and also sought to provide its clientele with live music during intermission, before and after Comedy shows. That particular night saw Bill Bellamy formerly of MTV in performance that night. The fact that he was funny came to us as a surprise because it is hard to learn how to be funny in order to resurrect one's career. Black comics always follow a similar schtick- make some jokes about what black folks do, make fun of white people, talk about pussy, maybe some drugs or interesting life experiences. Obviously, the fair majority of the show is making fun of white people, which I think is funny as Mexican-Jew. The cultural nuances of certain races is not taboo to exploit for the sake of laughs.


We did have the opportunity to meet with Bill and give him some Panda stickers, to which he seem overly disinterested that someone was giving him something funny. I figured that maybe he could get a laugh at our stickers and humor us as we are both performance artists- but he was very focused on getting pussy. There was some fine Asbury Park chicks in the audience that if I were in his shoes, I would try to get down on.


We got paid and then packed up the van and departed for our home in Tampa. The experience was great, and we played like two hours and got paid in the scale of playing for four, so who can complain about that? It was not the most appropriate place for live music, but we had fun and the staff was really nice and accommodating. Overall, if you play and get paid that is better then staying home, so that is good stuff. We had a great Friday and were happy to have a great experience and meet new people, and see a free comedy show and make some money.


SATURDAY:


Oh, yes it happened… Saturday came along and blew our minds! Every year in August, Easter Seals has its charity event at the Florida Aquarium adjacent to Channelside, and the Port Authority. This is a remarkable food/wine/beer tasting event that can change a person for the better. For the sake of charity!!! For the sake of helping those less fortunate, and for the sake of paying $95 for free alcohol and appetizers. One cannot go wrong with the experience to hang with socialites, admire cougars, mingle with a diverse crowd ( I did not see many minorities there, let alone any) and get drunk. This was a non-paying gig, and it is not only spiritually rewarding, but socially rewarding. We met some great people, tasted some of the Bay Area's finest foods and got to hang out with Susan once more. We came to knowledge during our car ride home that she was working for Barefoot Wine at their table for this particular event.


This was our second year being invited back to Easter Seals and our level of commitment to charity is of great importance. Last year, we played outdoors on some fire escape and that was somewhat unrewarding because we almost died of heatstroke and dehydration simultaneously. Trying to play, consume alcohol and stay alive was difficult, but our will to live prevailed and we once again found ourselves back in the swing of charity the next year. This year we were promoted to playing in the "Marine Life Cave." An underwater exploration/exhibit of the diversity of Florida aquamarine wildlife. We played next to a wine company table- and that turned out to be rewarding for us because we drank a bunch- great wines!! Good winery!


We rocked the house all night with as performance of our hits, and some cover songs. The general consensus amongst the populace was that Funky Panda was the premier band there, and who knows… maybe we will play next to the Stingray tank next year on the main stage. There was a great many wonderful acts and it was enjoyable to see so many different genres of music and musicians performing in the name of charity. We thank Easter Seals and The Florida Aquarium for the wonderful hospitality and great times that we had. We played our show, and mix-and-mingled our way around wildlife, charity-goers and Easter Seals staffers. We love you Easter Seals.


The evening closed with a visit to Ybor City, a place that is a cultural milieu- home to the American cigar industry, Susan Pompilio, Trolley Cars, Hipsters. Ybor City has more cultural in its limited grids them the whole entire urban sprawl of Orlando- to reiterate! We had some nightcaps with our friends Dorian, Tim Boylan, April McCrae, Chops, Lauda Lacayo, Kaley Gay, etc. at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company- home to some of the best beer in Florida. Then we made our way to the social debacle known as The Castle- a place where all folks come together to let everything go and dance the night away. My dancing almost got be put in the paddy wagon, but there are days and there are days. I would like to thank the TPD for enforcing the law and The Castle for their effort to protect individuals from crazy and silly-wild dance moves. The public and I thank you both for preserving the innocence, and protecting the innocent.


Thus concludes the Panda Weekend Wrap-Up. This is Mikey Rosenzweig reporting live from Panda HQ on Davis Island, Tamp, FL 33606. Buenos Dias chefs and sous.

Chat


On the evening of August 5th, a humid and breezy evening set in as the sun bent down, underneath the horizon glistening one more farewell speck of sunlight. Our 1987 Volkswagon Vanagon was packed not with out musical equipment because we dropped it off there earlier- but the spirits of two young individuals who were destined to rock the house that evening. Our destination? The new location of a Ybor City semi-iconic rock spot called The Orpheum- an offshoot of a name heralding the mind to think back to Greek times when theatre, dance, and music was in its performing arts infancy. This particular venue is endearing in the hearts of many a young hipsters (I prefer not to capitalize the label of the said group because they do not deserve it) because it provided a gritty atmosphere for those enveloped in the scene of what really young people are playing now. If you wear skinny jeans, talk about moving to Brooklyn, have a substantial amount of tattoos, and your favorite novel is written by J.D. Salinger… one might say that you would fit in quite nicely.


However! The Orpheum moved down the road to 7th Ave. The question burning in my mind all day is if they were able to still maintain the vibe and do what they have done for years beforehand, which is to provide a place for young rockers to do what they do best, which is to perform, drink and dance! FUCK YEAH! I personally have fond memories of The old Orpheum and please allow me to diatribe. Flash back to 2002, a young 19 year old gentleman and sophomore at UT makes a lot of money working at a local music store and gets into drinking Dry Manhattans, goes to The Orpheum and sees a band there. Apparently, on Saturday nights it used to be $7 all you can drink which was remarkable for someone with a fake ID. I get hammered, eat two McDonald's fish sandwiches for the first time, go home and puke all over a 1999 Dell Computer tower.


It is hard for a place to move and change locations and start anew because I believe that people are always looking for nostalgia and tend to resist change. Especially, when dealing with the hipster community- the more rustic and bucolic a place is, the better it is! Embrace the hardboiled and gritty! On this particular day, there were five bands playing and we are second to last in performance order. During the day, we dropped our gear off in the afternoon and they have some soundcheck- which is run somewhat unprofessionally. There is little coordination between the promoters, sound-guy, and bands- so it was tough. They have something called "backlining," which is when you line up amplification units behind the stage. The stage is large and overbearing like a tall peak amongst rolling hills.


It is funny to see young bands walk in and be somewhat intimidated, the look on their face gives away their experience. It is admirable to see that look, and one can reminisce back to when they first began to play out and experience what the music business is all about. The disorganization and lack of decisiveness in the staff was kinda shitty, but, it is important to know in the music industry that not everyone has their shit together and as long as you do that's alright. The venue is large and dark inside, the vibe is very Orwellian and industrial. The walls were painted solid and there was a lack of decor and graffiti. It felt as if someone had just moved in, regardless the party must be brought! Through all the commotion of multiple bands running around the daytime check in finished and all looked forward to the show.


It felt as if the night would never come and day would never subside, thinking about our lonely instruments sitting their idle at a wonderful venue. When we came back to the show, we were rearing to go and get down with the crowd. Unfortunately, the venue does not give bands free drinks or even water! That was one of the most surprising things! When you look at a band and the business it can bring to your place and hath not the honor to allow even free water, there clearly is something wrong with your managerial style. One the subject of managerial style, I am not going to mention the use of Afton when trying to sell tickets to a show, let alone promote it.


What is important to understand and realize is that as a band, meeting other bands and seeing them play is a rewarding experience. There were so many great bands that performed that night and it was wonderful to see such nice musical styles and meet cool people. As a band, we must take the initiative to not only play music, but make people have sex with one another. Sure there is so much bullshit to tread through in order to play music. But, it is worth the bullshit to have the opportunity to play in front of an audience.

ROAR!