Hidden Stash

Famous stoners such as the Kottonmouth Kings and DJ Muggs have graced past covers of Mean Street—nothing out of the ordinary for a rock mag. But the Mean Street publisher's new print venture would make all the hard-living punk and metal bands featured regularly in its pages gasp. Called Dispatch, publisher Shael Trunk bills it as an “Anti-Drug Magazine for Youth . . . By Youth,” and Trunk is finding out that collaborating with the Man pays. Monthly circulation of Dispatch quickly surpassed the 14-year-old Mean Street's hard-won numbers of 70,000. Most of the reason is that the audience for Dispatch is a captive one: 120,000 copies are distributed to school kids in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Trunk expects Dispatch to bulk up to 320,000 by the end of the year. The articles are written by Los Angeles high school kids and approved by advisory boards made up of anti-drug disciplinarians from the school district, the California Narcotics Officer's Association and even the Drug Enforcement Agency. The kids pen CD and video-game reviews and interview such celebs as skateboarding's Tony Hawk and Dr. Drew (who talks about yawner subjects like “clean living”). Bureaucrats from the LAUSD's Health Education Program really walk this dog, however. They direct the Dispatch team to write about dreary “eat your vegetables” topics such as nutrition, obesity, teen smoking and club drugs, according to LAUSD Health Education chief Rona Cole. Does all this sound contrary to the libertine spirit of Mean Street? It does. So what possessed Trunk to join the drug war? It's a chance to build the business, he says, and to do something for kids. LAUSD gave him $15,000 of state and federal anti-drug education money to publish Dispatch, but he says he hasn't touched it. The $60,000 needed to publish each issue comes from paid ads from such clothing companies as Hurley and Sketchers, as well as assorted public-service-announcement mills. But in pitching his initial idea for Dispatch, did Trunk show LAUSD higher-ups any copies of Mean Street? “We had to look hard for a clean issue,” Trunk says. “I specifically made sure we didn't show them the Kottonmouth Kings issue.” (Andrew Asch)

The Breeders played a free surprise show at the Detroit Bar on April 22, yet another in what has become a steady stream of impressive indie-rock bookings for the Costa Mesa club, joining such names as Elliot Smith, the John Spencer Blues Explosion and Stereolab. In the Breeders' case, their gig was a warm-up for a South American tour. They treated the capacity crowd to such new songs as “The Central Office,” trusty hits such as “Cannonball,” and surprises such as their garage-punk version of the Beatles' “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” The biggest jaw-dropper, though, was the straightforward version of “Gigantic,” a song the Breeders' Kim Deal hasn't played since her days in the Pixies, according to the band's sound engineer, Mark Arnold. Playing a song from her estranged aural alma mater was a shocker even to Kim—”Hey, who put that on the setlist?” she remarked, badly feigning surprise. Who knows? But we're glad someone did. (AA)DIABETIC COMA

So we see Sugar Ray has a new single, “Mr. Bartender (It's So Easy),” a download of which is available for your listening displeasure at www.sugarray.com. Lord knows we could say a lot here—much more than just snarky jibes about the lame-o chorus “It's so easy/It's so right/It's so easy/To rock it all night” and their blatant theft of the guitar riff from Sweet's “Love Is Like Oxygen”—but we'd rather leave the commentary to the posting masses at music-gossip website www.velvetrope.com:

“Has anyone caught this atrocity yet? I'm actually a huge fan of Sugar Ray, but this is a brand-new low. It just sucks: too much bass, too much hip-hop style. Ugh. Blows.”

“I swear this sounds like New Kids On the Block! Isn't it too soon to be entering an early-'90s retro phase?”

“Sugar Loaf is still around? I thought they packed it in after that smarmy lead singer did those Tampax commercials.”

“It also bears a remarkable resemblance to 'Let It Whip' by the Dazz Band.”

“And don't forget the 'No Parking On the Dance Floor' homage to Midnight Starr.”

“Question: If you take a piece of dog shit, cover it with gold flakes, spray perfume on it, place it on a sterling-silver tray and put it on a pedestal behind glass in a beautiful palace, what do you end up with? Answer: A piece of dog shit. My Lord, that was so terrible. The worst part is you can tell they spent SO much time and energy fleshing out their piece of shit.”

“This is one of the worst things I've heard in a long time. I now have a headache. The band needs to be dropped and disbanded immediately—and [Mark] McGrath is not allowed to go solo.”

“Next thing, Mark McGrath will be sporting parachute pants.”

“You know, Sugar Ray STARTED OUT basically pretty hard rock except for one radio hit. NOW they're Sweet meets Midnight Starr? It's like watching some gangster-rap band sing Cher songs!”

“Another prime example of an act that wouldn't be anything if they didn't have a good-looking singer.”

“He's not that good-looking! He's a total dork!”

“Kinda New Kids, kinda 'NSync . . . I bet they're already working with 'NSync's choreographer to get their moves together for the big tour.” (Rich Kane)

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