My love affair with San Diego's finest, Rocket from the Crypt, has both flashed and faded over the years. There was a time, somewhere during the years 1992-'94, when I loved them so much it hurt. Circa: Now! was always on my Walkman or blaring in my car, and in retrospect, I'm positive the album was to blame for the speeding ticket that resulted in my second license revocation. And before any of you righteous assholes get the itchy finger to send snotty e-mails chastising me for my driving record, I'll let you know that I haven't received a speeding ticket since 1996, I have scarcely driven since that date, and my license is now suspended for an entirely different reason, so fuck off. Anyway, back to Rocket from the Crypt.

In 1996 I literally jumped up and down inside Austin's Waterloo Records when I found a newly released copy of the then vinyl-only Hot Charity, and refused to put it in my suitcase or overhead compartment on the flight back. That thing could slice through me on impact, as far as I cared, before anyone's jackass swag bag or overstuffed carryon could mess it up. That same year, I drove out to Tacoma and watched the newly expanded Rocket from the Crypt play inside the trailer of an eighteen-wheeler. It was the last Warped Tour to feature a great band--and let's just say the fact that I drove in a gigantic, 50-mile circle back to Tacoma before figuring out how to get home to Seattle says a lot about why I scarcely drive. I didn't see RFTC again until they showed up at a Stranger Xmas party after tourmates Soundgarden canceled their double bill at the Moore.

Yeah, so I may have gotten "a hickey" from someone in the band that night, but that's no reason he should have been offended a couple of years later when I said--in a show preview for The Stranger--that the band gave me hot pants. Okay, I said wet pants--but Rocket had been doing that since way before Junior signed on, and as far as I was concerned, the heat came from frontman John Reis anyway. (Anyone who knew me before I quit the booze two and a half years ago can attest that I was usually blacked out hours before the "hickey" part of most nights happened.) Bygones.

Anyway, back to Reis. Even before he blurted out the cranky "Goddammit!"--my favorite swear word--at the end of the latest RFTC record, Live from Camp X-Ray (a claim about as true as what studio The State of the Art Is on Fire was recorded in), I was fully into hot-pants mode, because the album sounds like "back in the day"--"the day" being when the guitars didn't fight with the horn section for prominence, and when the flourishes were just that. Lately I've said that the band is the most male band out there, and of course folks have taken that to mean I think only boys like Rocket. Dead wrong--I MEAN that they are "all man," masculine and strong with no loss of sex appeal over the years. And excuse me, but have you seen Reis lately? Talk about looking good (insert wolf whistle here)! I love a guy who at least seems like he could fix my Dart or defend my honor--assuming I have either--and RFTC is the musical embodiment of that man. That's all I'm saying, so get your noses back into joint already.