Macho Alex: The Funk
This is a cassette that I bought off of a kid named Alex who I went to middle school with in Pacific Grove CA, back in the mid nineties. We were about 12 years old when it came out. He would sell them at recess for two dollars and my copy has been sitting in a closet for over 20 years now. Now that I finally got it transferred to digital I have been listening to it at least once a day for a few weeks and I’m just as strangely transfixed by it now as I was two decades ago.
The songs are mostly about food, monsters, other kids at school or strange pre-pubescent fantasies that I never really understood (like “Runaway Lizard,” a song that is somewhat similar to “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum). At the time the main draw to The Funk was the sense of humor. I remember the first time Alex played it for me and another friend on a walkman at school – we absolutely cried with laughter. More than just being funny, it was a real point of genesis for me because it was the first time I met someone who had actually made something.
I got to know Alex relatively well thru middle school. He one of the wildest and worst behaved kids that I had ever met at the time. I remember him blasting out windows around the neighborhood with a BB gun and throwing things at cars that drove past. One time he put a bunch of candles in a pan on top of a lighted camp stove in the basement and, when they melted completely, he took it out and flung a big splash of melted wax across the windshield of his neighbor’s van. He was a really weird kid, an only child.
The Funk was a bit of a sensation at our school. It sold somewhere between 15 to 20 copies and it seemed like everyone was talking about it for the rest of the year. Had you heard it? Did you have a copy? Was he making fun of you?
Anyway, I know a few people who still claim to have copies of The Funk. There are maybe four or five in existence that I know of.
Alex recorded The Funk on a handheld cassette recorder which often pitched his vocals up in speed and gave them a weird warble due to the fact that his batteries were usually running down. For backing tracks he used his parents’ record collection – sometimes singing along to more than one recording at a time which has a really disorienting effect. Other times it sounds like he is singing along to the TV. He told me that Runaway Lizard was recorded with a cut-in-half pog container taped over his mouth. His parents’ record collection was actually pretty cool. Incidentally, the first time I heard John Fahey was on Alex’s song called Randy Savage.
The last time I saw Alex he told me that he was collecting VHS tapes and he played me some of the instrumental music he’d been working on that sounded like Dancing Fantasy.
“Chickens Have Rabies”
“Coach’s Ham Sandwich”
“Dracula Lickin Tickin Wombat”
“PJ’s Mom Looks Like Elvis”