GHE (A Good Hot Enema)Posted: February 20, 2012
Summer 1984, Washington DC
I promised these entries would be in no particular order. As I happen to have very little visual or audio documentation of GHE, it’s an easy group to begin with.
Eric Karten – guitar
Pete Fettner – drums
CJ DeMarco – vocals
Mark Lerner – bass
In 1984, I dropped out of college at Columbia after 2 years. The plan was to go back to DC for a summer and earn some money, return to NYC with my then songwriting partner, Dan Eilenberg, find a cheap place to live, and “make it big” in music, be the next Leiber and Stoller. That’s not exactly how it worked out, but more on that in another post.
Somehow making money in DC during the summer of 1984 still left time for me to play in 3 bands. One was GHE, a hardcore band that either was or wasn’t a complete joke. I couldn’t tell. This may say more about me than about GHE. The hardcore scene in DC was largely a mystery to me. It seemed to be mostly people a year or two younger than me (one year was a big deal at that age). It was people’s little brothers. Also, I liked pop music way too much to really get into the scene. I wanted to play bass like Bruce Thomas, like Paul McCartney. I didn’t want to thunk away on 16th notes with a pick.
I knew Eric and CJ from high school. They were close friends with each other. CJ was a legendarily odd guy. At the time, I believe he listened exclusively to Frank Sinatra and hardcore punk. We were pals, but I was more than a bit confused by him. Eric seemed to be doing the band more for a lark. His taste was (and is) pretty wide-ranging. He will pop up on this blog in some other posts.
I wasn’t a very likely or very good hardcore bassist. Listening to these tapes now, I hear me trying to cram melodic bass playing into music that doesn’t need it. And my tone! What the hell? I think I used to crank the midrange up all the way on my amp. Ouch. What I also hear is a band desperately trying to overcome the worst drummer I’ve ever played with. Sorry, Pete Fettner, but you sucked. I don’t know where we dug Pete up. He was younger than us. I remember his mom was very pretty. Maybe he got better later.
We all had stage names, despite the fact that we only appeared onstage once. I think CJ assigned them to us: Eric was “Sal Maglie from Brooklyn,” Pete was “Mort the Hardcore Drummer,” CJ was “Don Bosco of the Seymour, New Jersey K of C,” and I was “Joey Scar-fucking-necchia.”
Our one gig was August 26, 1984 at the Bethesda Community Center, with three other hardcore bands: Pudwak, Malefice, and Gray Matter. It was REALLY loud.
I have some recollection of us playing a birthday party as well, but I’m not positive that was GHE. It was a party for a friend’s intellectually disabled brother who liked us a bit but really liked yelling into the microphone. Was this GHE? Perhaps someone can help me out in the comments section.
Judging by the two tapes I have and my memory, we knew 11 songs. They were written by Eric Karten (music) and CJ DeMarco (lyrics). I’m told I wrote the music to “Nazi Girlfriend,” which thankfully I don’t remember at all.
The music wore its influences on its sleeve, or tried to: Black Flag, Minutemen, Husker Du, Dead Kennedys. The band got its name from Eric’s father, who heard us and said “What you fellows need is a good hot enema.”
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“I Don’t Need a Girlfriend (I Can Masturbate)”
“Please Entertain Me”
“People That I Hate”
“Please Entertain Me” was recorded live at our show. The other tracks were recorded on a boombox at a rehearsal. I have *more* songs, in case you are insane; just ask.
Our repertoire, as best I can recall:
1. Cholera in Calcutta
2. Social Injustice
3. People That I Hate
4. Dead Dog Rap
5. Please Entertain Me
6. I Don’t Need a Girlfriend (I Can Masturbate)
7. Marble Bar (Girl With the Red Beret)
10. Nazi Girlfriend
11. D Hill
My son really likes early punk rock, Black Flag, the Descendents, the Germs. Once when he was shopping for records at a store in DC, I picked up a copy of Banned in DC, a book about the Washington hardcore scene, and pointed somewhat proudly to the spot in the back where, in a listing of every DC punk show (?!), our 8/26/94 show is listed in tiny tiny type, alongside shows by Black Market Baby, the GIs, and others from that scene. He didn’t really seem all that impressed.
The summer of 1984 was the last time I lived with my parents. GHE was only ever supposed to be a summer fling. In the fall I moved to New York for good. Eric went back to college in Illinois. I’m not sure where CJ went right away, but he ended up doing a good stretch of time on my floor in NYC over the next year. Pete may have still been in high school, I don’t know.
CJ now lives in China. Eric is in the film industry in Los Angeles and plays bass in an instrumental soul band called Hound. A bit of Google stalking shows Pete is a professor in DC.