Peter Case

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The Nerves Live At The The Cow Palace

The Nerves played the Daryl Starbird Hot Rod Show at the Cow Palace in early 1976.

The place was huge, it was one of our first gigs, and we were anxious, even though nobody was paying any attention to us—they were all there for the cars. But Daryl Starbird himself gave the introduction to the crowd, in a loud, clear voice, over the PA, heard throughout the hall, “Ladies and Gentlemen, now, on our main stage, I’m proud to present, for your listening pleasure, THE NERDS!”

I just about fainted. The other guys were looking at me like they were going to kick my ass. “C’mon man!” hissed Jack, “didn’t you spell it for him?”

We always had to spell it. Maybe I forgot. Oh well. We went out and played a set, and no one listened. We put everything we had into it.

When we were done, Jack and Paul cornered me, and said: “You gotta go straighten him out on the name before we play the next set. Get goin’! And make sure you spell it for him!”

So I headed out, across the main floor, past all his beautiful award-winning custom hot rods, his famous bubble-topped” Predicta” “the Futurista,” and the “Cosmic Ray,” through the Cow Palace, to the lobby, up an elevator, through security, talking my way past officials from the show, finally—about—15 minutes later—arriving in a room at the top of the Cow Palace, a very private, exclusive, quiet, office type room, where two men  were engaged in a deep conversation. One of them was Daryl Starbird, the famous custom car cult hero. I just stood there, a few feet away from them, until finally they stopped talking and Starbird  turned to me” “What can I do for you?” he asked. He seemed kind of pissed that I’d interrupted him.

“Mr Starbird, when you introduced us on the main stage, you said we were ‘The Nerds.’ That’s not the name of the band. It’s The Nerves. N-E-R-V-E-S. Nerves. The Nerves.” I finished and just stood there looking at him. He looked at me. “N-E-R-V-E-S,” I repeated.

“Okay, Okay, I got it.” And he waved me out of the room.

I went back out and made the trek, 15 minutes, down the stairs and elevator, through the lobby, past the hot rods in the main hall, through the security to the backstage.

“Did’ja tell him?” asked Paul.

Yeah, man. So the Nerves hung out for an hour or more, whatever it was until our next show. It seemed like a long wait. We were cracking jokes, bitchin’ about how stupid everything was, making fun of it, smoking, and just generally doin’ our thing and killing time. After a while we tuned up, me and Jack arguing about the pitch for a spell, and then it was time for us to go on, finally. We were nervous, again, and there were a lot more people in the hall. It looked like might we actually have a good-sized audience for this one.

We stood by the side of the stage, waiting, and finally we hear Daryl Starbird’s voice very concise and clear over loudspeaker, introducing us to everyone in the arena: “Ladies and Gentlemen: I’m proud to present, for your rock ’n’roll listening pleasure, from San Francisco, three great guys, THE WORMS!”



  1. Starbird’s claim to fame are his bubble top cars. His car show is in Selina Kansas now. Thousands come every year. He really is an icon… but apparently he can’t hear.

  2. Shoulda embraced it, PC. Nerd Power! … better than Raw Power …

    Holy shit: Just started watching Out 1, a French Flick from 1971. 13 hours long. Starts out with invocation of the Greeks. Prom. Unbound.

    A good place to start. Buck Mulligan in U says: Hellenise it. A Nietzschean.

    I hate to get all heavy over there, but can someone explain to me how Christ is not a counter-revolutionary? Suffer now, heaven later.

    Is that the ethos of our times?

    Hey, Art!

    Love, David Ackles, Sales Representative, LLC

  3. Everybody gotta suffer now says Buddha. Jesus drives the moneychangers from the temple. And inspired Ghandi and King, right? Dies the death of a thief, killed by the government powers, some counter revolutionary.

    But what do I know. Never argue with a lawyer. Was Socrates a lawyer?

    Reading a book called Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson. Pretty great, the twin towers emerge from the earth in South Dakota.

    I need to hear those Butch tunes again…that latest record.

    Good to hear from you Ackles, even if I don’t understand. Understanding seems over-rated, anyhow. best wishes, PC

    1. Socrates was not. But Kafka was. And you don’t want to argue with Franz, the Hunger Artist.

      Love Steve Erickson. Haven’t read that one, tho. He has a book called Leap Year in which Butch (and Jimmie) actually make an appearance. (Butch has been holding those songs for it seems 10 years … but NOW could be the time to release them into Trumpworld Inc.).

      I recently read a book by a called Joseph O’Neill called Netherland. National Book Award Winner. But, I dunno, after U, everything seems so … light weight … or w/o weight.

      Understanding is, indeed, over-rated. (Mis)understandings can be of equal value. Joyce gets into this quite a bit: world w/o end vs. words w/o end. World = words. Dig it?

      Ahh … I’m guilty, mostly, of cocktail party chatter. I lack rigor.

      And I’m with you about Jesus. Just needed a reminder. It’s the followers that are problematic (and that ain’t just Christians either!). Jesus, Buddha, etc. Good men, all.

      And I just saw the Civil Rights exhibition at the Lorraine Motel. Dr. King? Forget about it. Will we ever see another like him?

      Also saw the Stax Museum. Hayes, Porter, Bell, Otis, Carla, Pops, Duck, Cropper, Booker T and on and on. Won’t see their kind again anytime soon either? Neighborhood kids wander into a studio and make the greatest music ever. Technology (among other things) has rendered that impossible.

      Backwards and downwards,

      Ackles, Esq.

    2. Nietzsche might argue Socrates was a “lawyer” in a sense. In conducting dialogue with his “students” the influence of Socrates is a perfect example of what Nietzsche pointed to as a cause for the decline in classical Greek expression through art (as exemplified through the eventual death of the “chorus” in Greek tragedy. He argued that figures such as Socrates who encouraged dialogue in public were eventually responsible for the alteration of the culturally necessary tradition of the role of the “chorus” in Apollonian/Dionysian Greek tragedy. With the works of Euripides and the introduction of dialogue onto the “stage” it removed the role of the “chorus” upsetting the necessary tension between the two forces (Apollo/Dionysus) and resulting in the eventual degradation of a “mindset” which Nietzsche argues was responsible for Greek artistic achievement. I recognize this is very much a paraphrasing of “The Birth of Tragedy”, Nietzsche’s study of Greek tragedy and his argument concerning the causes for Greek cultural decline. It is an interesting book in that it forces one to contemplate what over-arching psychological beliefs of this age may be affecting artistic expression for good or ill. That said, whatever archetypes reside in your mind Mr. Case seem just fine with me and I hope you continue to reap the benefits of them. Keep playin’ the breaks as I feel your work has always had a sense of the magic touch which is simply your unique psychological make up resulting in a representation of you via song, which I’ve always found extremely compelling, honest (as we may be, knowing that we may not always be capable of recognizing our own lies), intelligent yet questioning, and enjoyable. Thanks for all the effort and for laying yourself bare at times so that others may connect, contemplate and even begin their own exploration of self-expression through the great aesthetic that is rock ‘n’ roll in all its diversity…

      1. I’ve been reading that book. Spoke about it with Ackles last time I saw him.

        The culture apparently needs a reboot now, think I’ll go crack the Nietzsche again. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Tyler: Great comment. I have to go back to the Birth of Tragedy. Is the idea that by privileging dialogue, Socrates was responsible for its appearance in Greek Drama? Surely Socrates did not put the words in Euripides mouth.

    There is something to this notion that Socrates was a lawyer. Tho, his method was allegedly (how’s that for lawyerspeak) in pursuit of Truth with a capitol T. Something we’ve gotten very far away from. I’m not sure that the Socratic method as practiced in American Courts of Law (particularly during cross-examination) has the same purpose as it did for Socrates. Art?

    I’ve been thinking about Nietzsche quite a bit lately, esp. what he has to say about Christ and his followers. Nietzsche admired the Greeks, in part, for their relationship with their gods (lower case). He said that the “last man was contemptible” i.e. the further away we get from interacting with the gods, the less creative we are. This begs the question as to why creativity is important but I’ll leave that one alone other than to say that I believe that it is.

    Speaking of truth decay, I heard T-Bone once say that Elvis Costello’s strength was his ability to effortlessly go from his left to his right. He said the same about Bob. There’s something of the Apollinian/Dionysian dichotomy (arguably a false one!) in this idea. Right brain/left brain. PC’s got it too: the ability to move from the jab to the hook with panache and artistry. Rare.

    On another note, I checked out a book about Bloomfield by Ed Ward from the library. Where do I start? PC? Morales? Any of you blues cats? Chris? Other than Highway 61, I can’t say I’ve heard MB. Do I begin with Butterfield? Electric Flag? Which records? I like to listen as I read.

    I also picked up Patchen’s Collected Poems. I couldn’t find my way into the Journal of Albion Moonlight (discussed on the PC blog “about a hundred years ago”). Post-Ulysses, perhaps I could find my way. But these poems are tough. Patchen doesn’t pull his punches.

    Contemptibly yours,

    David Ackles, Esq, LLC. Better Call Saul. Etc.

    1. Ackles, I’m not even going to try to catch up with this conversation. I’m stepping in with the book club when that conversation commences. I’ve never read The Birth of Tragedy (that’s more my son Arthur’s province (gets his b.a. in philosophy in 2 weeks) but I’ll try to keep up.

  5. Left to right? I can’t say I see what he means about Costello. Or the other guy LOL! The more I think about things T-Bones says the less I understand them…oh well, I don’t need to understand everything.

    Bloomfield is at his very best on HWY 61. he is very exciting on the PB band’s first two records, and on the Electric Flag record, especially a song called Texas, a slow blues, which is one of the very best blues lead things ever by any body, just wailing and emotional, but after that is a major retreat. He left off doing new things, the conflicts of the present, and started chasing BB King, and repeating old blues, but not as well as the originals. It’s sad really, he backed out. He didn’t have the songwriting Jimi had (Jimi the Poet,) nor the commercial/ hack instincts of Clapton. so he sank down into his blues. And drugs, and just a complete escape from the heat. I forget, is that what Ward says? I doubt it. You know what is good is Me & Big Joe, the piece he wrote for High Times magazine, illustrated by R. Crumb. Let me know and I’ll send it to you.

    The last man, Stevens had a thing, I think, First Thought, seeing the world fresh, as if you were first. Belatedness is a bummer, I van dig why millenials hate the boomers, etc.. (And Ginsberg and Trungpa, had a “first thought” idea but thats something else again)

    Patchen is great, yes very hard hitting, the war stories, he knew…I gotta get back to the Birth of Tragedy, wow, mind boggling. He flipt though, thats disturbing in a philosopher, no?

    I feel like the culture needs a REBOOT, it’s completely bankrupt. Music needs to start over too. I’m trying to brew up some energy to focus in that direction. I really don’t know if I can. Or if we can. Anyhow we’ll see,


    1. Maybe talking left brain to right brain? Real world to dream state? I don’t know, but I agree with you Peter about reboot vs. energy … and not having to understand everything.

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