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xmag.com : July 2003: The Dictators

My favorite song is on the first record, "Two Tub Man." It's got this great line-- Whatever I want to do I do/ Whoever I want to screw I screw! And years and years before anybody knew it there's a lyric that goes I'm just a guy walking down the street/ I think Lou Reed is a creep. And "Master Race Rock." We are members of the Master Race/ We don't judge you by your face/ First we ask you what you eat/ Then we bend down and smell your feet. What is the Master Race? It's drunken teenage louts!

--Richard Meltzer on The Dictators

Long-time pals Richard Meltzer and (Handsome) Richard Manitoba caught up for the first time in over ten years when the Dictators played in Portland last month. Viva sat rapturously in the middle and pressed play on her tape recorder. The rest is history. [For those who don't know, the Dictators are The Greatest Rock and Roll Band of All Time and are from New York City, The Greatest City in the World. As New Yorkers they care passionately about the Yankees, boxing, wrestling, New York, White Castles, pizzerias, etc. Richard Meltzer is The Greatest Rock Critic of All Time and an ex-New Yorker who still cares about New York stuff but who now lives in Portland and swears he will NEVER GO BACK!]
VIVA: You guys are still around, still touring. Everyone else is dead. What's the secret?
Handsome Dick Manitoba: We found the Fountain of Youth! We like feeling young. I stopped ravaging my body years ago. Everyone takes care of themselves for general purposes. And more specifically, I always sorta kept myself available to play rock'n'roll. Whatever job I had, I made sure I could leave it when the rock'n'roll bell rang, and come back to it to make money.
VIVA: And Handsome is still the handsomest man in rock'n'roll. What's HIS secret?
HDM: I dunno how to answer that, I'm humble.
Meltzer: You're humble?!
HDM: Just born that way, I guess. Lucky.
Meltzer: So do you use any kinda haircoloring?
HDM: Me? No. I dye my beard. It's like once a week, I put this stuff on for five minutes. Cuz otherwise it looks all white and I don't wanna look like Jerry Garcia. I'm bald and I walk around all the time like that, but on stage I wear the hats cuz it's a better look. It's like wearing a good shirt. It looks better and I look younger without being bald. If I were James Taylor I guess I wouldn't mind, cuz then I'd be a sensitive singer songwriter.
VIVA: You've got a lot of hats.
HDM: Yeah, yeah, I got a collection. I've got a custom NY hat with a Jewish star on it, I've got a Bronx hat...I've got all kinds of hats.
VIVA: What's the weirdest hat you've ever worn?
HDM: For my friends from Pennsylvania. They threw me a Philadelphia Phillies hat and I went "photo op!" and put it on for like two minutes.
Meltzer: Do you remember--the Dic-heads were always trying to compete for Sandy Pearlman's attention with the Blue Öyster Cult--so when BÖC had their Nazi period, you were doin' your Nazi schtick, too.
HDM: Yeah, but ours was tongue-in-cheek. Pearlman was like mesmerized by Nazis.
Meltzer: Don't you remember once your father was upset with you and said something like "Well what about our ancestors?!" And you picked up a bar of soap and said, "Here's our ancestors!" Remember this? Remember this?
HDM: No. God bless you, Richard, and your memory.
VIVA: On Dictators Go Girl Crazy, you rhyme "growing up" with "throwing up." Were you listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen and Greetings from Asbury Park at the time?
HDM: No. I think there are only so many words in the English language, and only so many chords, and sometimes in rock'n'roll they run into each other.
VIVA: What influenced you in the very beginning?
HDM: Our culture influenced us. Which was part music, uh...pussy, gettin' drunk, White Castle hamburgers and cars.
Meltzer: Have you ever had a White Castle hamburger?
VIVA: Yes.
HDM: You got a good nose. I like your nose.
VIVA: Wanna have kids?
HDM: They've got the greatest thing now at White Castle. The Crave Case. Thirty! In like an attaché case.
VIVA: How many can you eat? You'd have to throw away the bun, wouldn't ya? On your low carb diet?
HDM: No I don't throw away the bun. Religion is religion, and White Castle is a religious experience.
Meltzer: So d'ya ever eat at Wetson's? Remember Wetson's?
HDM: Yes! I said that yesterday, Richard. I said, "Does anyone in this car remember Wetson's?" Errol Wetson was the playboy son of Wetson's. Their specialty was pastrami.
Meltzer: The cheese on Wetson's used to be quite a bit like Velveeta. It was very bad.
VIVA: Any new music that gets you hot and bothered?
HDM: The newest band that I've loved was Nirvana. So that was like twelve or thirteen years ago. To me that was the last great rock band.
Meltzer: They're from this part of the world, you know. Courtney Love used to give blowjobs in the parking lot of the Satyricon before Kurt came along.
HDM: She's from Portland?
Meltzer: She lived here. Her father was a Deadhead! The album Aoxomoxoa-- she's on the cover. Wanna see what I've got in my pocket here?
HDM: OK. [Meltzer pulls out a pocket watch.] You've got a Dead watch. Really! Wow. That's cool.
VIVA: Sexiest song of all time?
HDM: It's gotta be some black soul singer. I don't know... Al Green? It's gotta have that slow Al Jackson-Booker T.-Otis Redding slow, sexy....
VIVA: Sexiest record of all time?
HDM: What's the difference between a record and a song?
Meltzer: What's the sexiest cassette?
HDM: What's the sexiest 8-Track?
VIVA: Alright alright. Who's the sexiest singer?
Meltzer: Portland has 8-Track collectors.
HDM: Shakira.
Meltzer: Portland has a lot of people who collect 8-Tracks. They go to the Goodwill every week, see if something new shows up...
HDM: Or Ann Margaret.
VIVA: Sexiest thing about Debbie Harry?
HDM: Her face.
VIVA: Sexiest thing about Joey Ramone?
HDM: His voice.
VIVA: Sexiest thing about KISS?
HDM: Nothing.
VIVA: Sexiest thing about NYC?
HDM: The fresh mozzarella that I get around the corner at Ruzzo's. Sexy. Mozzarella is sexy. It's just a glob of white that they bring up from the basement. And as you press it or cut a knife into it milk spurts out.
VIVA: Oooo! Lovely! Thank you. What's sexy about having a kid?
HDM: I don't know if it's sexy--having a kid. It's got everything else, but I don't think it's sexy.
VIVA: Sexiest Stones song?
HDM: When I was like eleven years old, "Satisfaction" was like my favorite song ever. And I like all those mid-sixties singles like "Mother's Little Helper" and "Get Off My Cloud" and "Paint it Black." To me they were perfect rock'n'roll songs. Hot!
Meltzer: I hear that Dylan is playing "Brown Sugar" as part of his set now.
VIVA: Do you have a favorite Dylan song?
HDM: Yeah. I heard it on the radio yesterday. FORTY YEARS after a song comes out I still get chills and I still get overwhelming feelings when I hear "The Times They Are A Changin'." It's as heavy as the heaviest song ever written. I get a physical reaction to that song. To me that's a song that changed the world.
Meltzer: I think the Byrds' version is even better.
HDM: If I was listening to two hours of music and you said well you can listen to two hours of the Byrds or two hours of Dylan, I'd listen to two hours of the Byrds. But Byrds didn't change the world. Bob Dylan did.
VIVA: I love Gram Parsons.
HDM: I love Gram Parsons. I love the Byrds. I LOVE the sound of Roger McGuinn's voice and I LOVE the sound of his Rickenbacker.
[Both Richards start singing "The Times They Are A Changin'."]
HDM: That was just so powerful. It was like one of those times, like when Elvis came out and it was blown from zero to one. Three acts turned the world upside down--not that they're my favorites!--but Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
VIVA: Who are your three favorites?
HDM: The Stones, the Beatles and... what was your band called? Vom. [Vom is the proto-Angry Samoans band that Meltzer founded.]
Meltzer: What about the Doors?
HDM: No way. Not even close. He was an L.A. guy! No. The Stones, the Beatles and Brian Wilson. I love Brian Wilson. That's one body of music I could listen to for more continuous hours without taking it off than any other body of music. I could listen to the whole box set and do my chores around the house and not get tired.
VIVA: Sexiest wrestler of all time?
HDM: Freddie Blassie. Check out this magazine. This is so amazing. Look at this photo! The caption says, "Women really go for me." Now sit down. I'm gonna read one paragraph to you. But you have to imagine it in Blassie's voice. Ready? Alright. "About Antonina Rocca."
"There was another thing about Rocca that made him one of the most intriguing men in the business. A detail I figure that most fans didn't know. He had the biggest cock most of the boys had ever seen. You should have heard them go on and on about it. They'd hold their hands apart and talk about the length. They'd cup their fingers together and describe the thickness. Then they'd talk about the site of Rocca laying back on a bench in the locker room with the head of his dick resting in the middle of his chest. But you can rest assured that Freddie Blassie never took part in these lively exchanges. I talked about wrestling and Cadillacs, women and making money. I was never interested in cocks."
That's genius! Like he doesn't even say "I talked about wrestling, cars, girls and making money. He goes "wrestling....Cadillacs." That's like saying White Castles instead of food or hamburgers.
VIVA: What color panties are you wearing and how long have you been wearing them?
HDM: Black 2 button Calvins. HDM DON'T WEAR NO PANTIES!
VIVA: Would you rather go bowhunting with Ted Nugent, or drink til ya puke with Lemmy Kilmister?
HDM: Drink Yoo Hoo 'till I puke with LEMMY! [Suddenly watching the TV very intently.] Goddamit where's the score I want? Boston won. Shit! Fuck!
Meltzer: So I really think that Clemens has the stink of the Red Sox on him.
HDM: Stink of the Red Sox... I'm not a huge fan, but he wears the pinstripes, so I like him. Sorry, Richard. Ha ha ha. The stink of the Red Sox.







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