panama_joe (panama_joe) wrote,
panama_joe
panama_joe

pineapples

The Obscene Pineapples : The Band That Couldn't Be The Band That Never Was

The Obscene Pineapples was formed in Panama Joe's head some time in 1992. He was bored in class and decided to make a humorous flyer for a fictional band. The flyer featured a grinning pineapple and the words "Don't censor me, set me free!"

It is not clear when Panama Joe decided to start the band, although it is believed to have happened shortly after showing the flyer to his longtime friend and brother-from-another-mother, Bird Thing. At this point, only Panama Joe had a musical instrument : a Series 10 guitar, purchased with some of his Bar Mitzvah money. Although he did not know how to play this guitar, legend has it that he could play the intro to Metallica's "The Unforgiven" without fucking it up, and he may have even known a scale or two. It is not known if he was aware of any chords, but it is clear that he did not care. Bird Thing soon purchased a bass; The Obscene Pineapples were ready to rock.

Except that they weren't. They didn't even have any songs.

That was, until one fateful night, when Panama Joe stayed over at Incredibite's house and stayed up late playing her mother's acoustic guitar. This was completely unknown to Incredibite's mother, who openly despised Panama Joe, and in fact once chased him out of her house with a broom. This incident was later known as The Great Ejection. It is unknown what Incredibite's mother is currently doing, but it is known that she eventually let Dino hang out at their house again, even though Panama Joe was (and still is) banned. This will later be known as Totally Fucking Unfair.

Anyway, that fateful night, Panama Joe discovered the power chord. This moment gave birth to the Pineapples' entire ouvre; partly because it was the first time Panama Joe made anything that sounded like music, and partly because he never really got beyond that stage of guitar playing. He would, over the course of several years (and many, many drummers) apply that power chord to every string and fret, fruitlessly hoping for another "a ha" moment that would never come. He would later trade his guitar to a dexedrine addict for a ride to a Rainbow Gathering, and through an odd series of coincidences, this guitar would (years later) wind up in the repair shop of one of the Pineapples' (many) drummers. Cue Twilight Zone Music.

Nonetheless, the indefatigable Panama Joe went on to write a vast number of songs that were actually kinda witty at the time. Probably the most memorable was Nuclear Tan, a song that fiercely derided the patrons of suntanning salons. This song would become well-known and hated by any friends' parents gullible enough to let the Pineapples practice in their basement. On one notable occasion, Tears1322's parents thought that the song was actually Mary Had a Little Lamb. This is because the song did not resemble any actual music, except for the last 10 seconds, where the Pineapples had tacked on the melody for Mary Had a Little Lamb. The reasons for this songwriting decision remain unknown, although it has been verified that, when performed, this portion of the song did in fact sound like Mary Had A Little Lamb.

At some point, Panama Joe met Sourdough, a guy who actually knew how to play the guitar. They, along with Bird Thing, and I dunno, some other guys I guess, formed the only version of The Obscene Pineapples to play a gig. They never actually practiced together, and although it can be surmised that all the members had been in the same room at some point, it is not known (and is in fact doubted) that they had musical instruments with them at the time.

The Pineapples' only show took place at Bastille's, a now-defunct all-ages club in Chesterfield. The Pineapples took the stage with Bird Thing sporting white face makeup. Sources say he did this to emulate Robert Smith, although it is conjectured that this sudden change of costume was actually an attempt to Get Chicks. It is not thought that this gig led to any Chicks, for anyone.

The show was a chaotic mess, with members randomly walking off the stage in disgust, and others randomly coming onstage and fiddling around with the instruments, only to slink off minutes later, dejected. Panama Joe shouted some of his lyrics, although the music was unfamiliar and entirely unlike his power chords and johnny-one-note solos. It was hinted (strongly) that Panama Joe and Bird Thing leave the stage. Having had Enough of This Crap, either Bird Thing or Panama Joe (sources are unclear on which) decided it was time for the show's climax. A Commodore 64 was flung bodily into the mosh pit. (This was the 90s, so basically every show had a mosh pit. Like, I remember being at an Indigo Girls show that had a mosh pit. So a mosh pit, in this case, was no indication of any actual enjoyment, exuberance, or even music.) The Commodore 64 was successfully smashed to bits, so it cannot be said that this show accomplished nothing. The Pineapples did, in fact, completely destroy this unsuspecting computer.

And then on the way out of the parking lot, Sourdough hit a cop's Porsche. Oops.

That summer, Panama Joe moved in with Napoleon at his Mom's place in Florissant. Napoleon's mom is a wonderful person who was kind to Panama Joe, even though he was (by all accounts) kind of a punk at the time. Napoleon became the band's first dedicated drummer, even though he did not know how to play the drums, and in fact mostly ruined Panama Joe's drum set. There was no beat-keeping that took place in this band, although this probably went unnoticed, as it was years before any of the Pineapples became acquainted with the notion of a beat. The boys were later joined on vocals by Scott The Impaler. Nobody really knows where he came from. Sources have been interrogated, memories have been searched, BBS chat logs exhumed, all to no avail. Among a subset of Obscene Pineapples scholars, there is a debate as to whether or not Scott The Impaler existed at all. However, to mainstream professors of Obscene Pineapples Studies, this argument is considered laughable at best. Scott the Impaler was actually really good, and really got into the music.

What followed was weeks of intense practice, in preparation for a gig at Hopeless's Warehouse. (I mean, Hopeless's warehouse. When I capitalize it, that makes it sound like an actual venue, when, in fact, it really was just Hopeless's loft, which happened to be in a warehouse.) This would have been the Pineapples' second gig, but alas, the party never happened, probably because somebody ripped off Hopeless, which, according to various police reports, happened on a number of occasions, owing to Hopeless being a really nice guy and this world being really kind of a shitty place sometimes. The Pineapples broke up, Panama Joe moved back to Chesterfield, and nobody knows what the hell happened to Scott the Impaler.

At some point, Parkway Central announced a battle of the bands. This was exciting news, because pretty much anyone could audition. The Pineapples could sign up, and, at least until people heard them play, could be thought of as a real band. It may even lead to a second gig! All they needed was to submit a demo and show up for an audition.

By this time, the Pineapples were on their 4th (5th?) drummer, Bruno Isn't Home. Bruno earned his nickname because his mother didn't approve of him hanging out with Panama Joe, and every time Panama Joe tried to summon him to practice, his mother would answer the phone and announce that Bruno Isn't Home. According to studio logs and band historians, Bruno had a habit of not showing up to practice, although it is thought that he did show up at least once.

Bruno Isn't Home failed to show up on the day they were supposed to cut their demo. Somehow, the Pineapples cajoled Polyester Punk Steve into help them out by playing drums. Although this process did lead to some frustration -- Steve can be heard at the beginning of the demo warning us, "okay, but this is the last time!" -- it did lead to the recording of a barely listenable demo. The Pineapples wound up using their last take of the day, since it turned out that Steve was being serious.

Audition day came, and Bruno promptly failed to show up -- his reason being an alleged accident involving a broken pair of eyeglasses and the subsequent introduction of a glass shard to his eye. This incident has not been corroborated by any St. Louis Area hospital, and in fact Bruno went on to pass a number of difficult driving tests and eye exams, casting doubt upon his whole story.

It is hazily recollected that one of the members of the band 138 stepped in to help out with drumming duties. (sources suggest Kevin) This was especially kind, seeing as that the Pineapples were technically his band's competition. The help was greatly appreciated, without which the Pineapples would have missed yet another opportunity to not play a second gig. More on this later.

Weeks later, to the surprise of absolutely everybody, the Pineapples were chosen to appear at Battle of the Bands. This was going to be it! The big break! A gig that would not involve broken computers, wrecked sports cars, or absent members -- a new first! Plans were made! Songs were written! Friends were told!

All to no avail. Shortly after, Panama Joe was caught smoking Something That Wasn't Tobacco on school grounds, in probably the most predictable spot available. Current and future students of Parkway Central Senior High are advised by music scholars to avoid igniting illegal substances behind the soccer backstop, because The Fuzz Is Totally Onto That Shit. And although Panama Joe clearly could have survived with his academic record intact, he at this point had become thoroughly sick of the school where he had been a social outcast basically from day one, really the bottom of the social ladder, had suffered untold humiliation at the hands of its students (including an incident now known as The Great Betrayal), and was thoroughly uninspired by the academic curriculum, which was really sad, considering that he spent much of his spare time programming computers for fun, although perhaps not too surprising, considering that the school's only programming course was a BASIC class taught on Apple IIe computers, which even in 1995 were badly outdated. In short, Panama Joe dropped out of school. This disqualified the Pineapples from the Battle of the Bands.

138, however, did appear at Battle of the Bands, and went on to win the school's hearts and minds, proving once and for all that PCH did have a place for punk rock, even if it didn't have a place for the Obscene Pineapples. 138 featured rising stars Matt and Kevin, who went on to play in a number of successful bands in the St. Louis Area. You could say this was their first step towards a successful career in music -- and they deserved it : they were damn nice guys who actually knew how to play their instruments.

This wouldn't be the last time that the Pineapples and 138 would cross paths. 138 would later cover an Obscene Pineapples song called "Likes and Dislikes : the Ferret Song" For those unfamiliar with this timeless classic, it was Panama Joe's passionate endorsement of ferrets as loving and suitable pets, and his strong disregard for those who would say otherwise. (Panama Joe is no longer in favor of ferrets.)

As for the Pineapples, things would continue on for a few more years. No-Nickname Chris joined as a drummer, and Dead Friend Glenn was recruited as a vocalist. Of all the Pineapples incarnations, this was certainly the one that most sounded like music. Glenn's over-the-top, histrionic wail was a good match for the Pineapples' discordant, power-chord-driven punk.  No-Nickname Chris actually knew how to play the drums, and in fact it is unknown why someone with Chris's talent even hung out with the Pineapples.  A number of films addressing this question are currently in production; among these, "He Needed a Drum Set : The No-Nickname Chris Story" and "He Was Generous With His Weed : The Panama Joe Story" seem to be the most historically accurate.

At one point, a recording was made. Only one copy ever existed. According to irritated neighbors and law enforcement officials, this tape could be heard blasting from any number of mid-1980s Toyota Camry automobiles owned by Panama Joe. It is unknown what happened to this tape, although it is conjectured that it somehow wound up in the possession of the brother of some chick named Becky who Panama Joe made out with at the Loop. No further information on said tape was ever forthcoming from some chick named Becky, or her brother, who I think was some kind of skate punk kid.

The current literature is unclear on why this incarnation of the band broke up, although Bird Thing's enrollment in college and Chris's Getting Sick of Panama Joe's Shit may have played a role. And although there may have been a few scattered jam sessions with other musicians over the years, this marked the last attempt by anybody to form a band called The Obscene Pineapples. And we can be reasonably sure of that, because we've totally googled it.

Epilogue

Bird Thing and Panama Joe later went on to successful careers in the software industry, ending up in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, respectively. There is documentary evidence that Bird Thing eventually learned how to play stringed instruments, and in fact can be witnessed doing so at parties thrown by his Silicon Valley startup. Panama Joe never did learn how to play the guitar, although he did become quite skilled at playing obscure Middle Eastern drums. He's played in a bizarre assortment of bands, from melancholy chamber pop to Latin-tinged free jazz to alt-country shoegaze to live electronic bootie funk. Witnesses say that he's actually pretty good.

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