GHE (A Good Hot Enema)

Summer 1984, Washington DC

GHE flyer.

Flyer for what may have been our only gig. Artist unknown.

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.

Personnel

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.”

Listen

(For non-Flash-enabled, iPad etc, go here.)

“I Don’t Need a Girlfriend (I Can Masturbate)”
“Please Entertain Me”
“People That I Hate”
“Social Injustice”

“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)
8. Honor
9. Autopsy
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.

GHE in index of Banned in DC book

Footnote to history: GHE in Banned in DC.

Post mortem

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.

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27 Comments on “GHE (A Good Hot Enema)”

  1. michael causey says:

    I’m digging the blog.

  2. There was a time when music was the only thing you stopped doodling for… keep writing!

  3. CJ says:

    Ti fill in some blanks–Pete Fettnor was dating my ex gf Honor, who then became my gf again. Pete’s parents were so cool they let us burn in their basement during rehearsals. I remember on comment by Karten when he said “DeMarco, what the fuck are you doing getting stoned for rehearsal?” and I answered “I’m gonna be stoned for the show, might as well be stoned for rehearsal.”

    He ended up as our drummer because Karten and I were down at Carmichael’s drinking and scouting the local DCHC talent when we ran into Honor and a group of friends, among them Pete F. and he told us he could play drums. Then he went out and bought a drum set. He go tthe drums and I got the first girl i ever loved. the song Homor waas about her and our one year estrangement. We were both to stupid and obnoxious to know what we had and it fell apart while i was on your floor in NYC.

    Was it a complete joke? I think Karten and I conceived of it as a satirical thing and wanted it to be funny, but not so much a joke band per se. I believe your over-the-top bass playing just made it work better. Every musician friend of mine who’s heard your bass lines was highly amused. So maybe you accidentally stumbled into the right effect. Karten and I loved them as I recall.

    Cholera in Calcutta was based on my microbiology class and our study of pathogenic bacteria.

    The show at Katy’s I believe was GHE. There were Germans there. I don’t know why or how they showed up. Katy gave me a bag of old nylon stockings to tie Honor up with in the basement, which i did. She got mad and went home early. I went to her house and we slept together anyway. Strange days indeed!

    I guess I could go on but that’s enough for now, and, btw, it was Sewaren, NJ, not Seymour.

    Excellent blog. and for the record–I’m still legendary and still odd! Ah! memories!

  4. Tom A says:

    Mark Lerner sent me eight of these songs (the best?) on cassette. To round out Mark’s 1984 musical palette a bit, here’s what fills out the rest of it: Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson Band, The Kinks, The Band, and the entirety of Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story.”

    Sidenote: This cassette is titled “A Cause for Excitement, Part One.” The A-side is “Cuffs for a Sideman, Part One” and the B-side is “Cups for an Exciting Party, Juan.” Re-imagining and re-spelling the title “A Cause for Excitement” became a long-running joke between Mark and I, during the 1980s, as we traded cassettes through the mail. It began with a cassette of GHE sent cross-continent.

    Further Sidenote: Not that I’m the sort of guy who keeps cassettes from 1984 (and earlier!) because that would be creepy and a little sad.

  5. Mark Amft says:

    4 bands for $3.00. Not quite making it big.

  6. Dan Eilenberg says:

    Oh, so THIS is a blog … Honestly, this is the first one I’ve ever read. Probably on account of having never seen the point of following any old someone’s meanderings unless I was fairly certain I’d be mentioned, being the megalomaniac and other kinds of maniac that I am. Thanks for taking care of that in the opening paragraph of debut post about a band I wasn’t even in!

    By the way, Mark, we were going to be the next Lieber and Stoller? I thought we were going more for the next … ahem, Lerner … and Loewe. (Lerner and N. Lowe??)

    As for the GHE, I was at the one show. At least I remember being in the parking lot outside the one show. It was a Saturday matinee, I’m fairly certain.

    Loved hearing “Social Injustice”! Listened to it no less than five times back-to-back. (It helps that the song clocks in at a brisk 1.38.) Hey, that drumming’s not so bad. If that’s the worst drummer you’ve ever played with you’re lucky. Who’s on background bellowing, you or Eric K? Nice guitar work and excellent bass. Great arrangement, with the copious stop/starts.That is perhaps the best intro and ending for a song I’ve ever heard. One last thing: CJ, is it really “unjust” to make fun of people from New Jersey?

  7. Ken M. says:

    Your review of the drummer is making me nervous….

  8. CJ says:

    Dan’s right in that Pete knew what to do for each song, he just didn’t execute it well because he’d never played before. i was happy with the arrangements, but yeah, the drumming is far far from crisp.

    Social Injustice was based on the Clash from their first album. Basically I told Karten what kind of sound I wanted or he would tell me what sound would work best, with both of us often laughing delighted that it just might all work.

    Karten did most of the production and arrangement, Lerner and I did a song or two each. I’d mentioned on the FB thread that some of these songs might be pretty good with better production facilities. It wasn’t supposed to be a “good” band, but i think we fulfilled our “artistic objectives” as it were. Or are they more like artistic objections?

    Backing vocals were karten and Lerner. karten and i think shared a mike and Lerner had one too. On social Injustice you can only hear Karten.

    And Dan, it was a Sunday, like the poster says. I think you and Bidjje and Keef were all there. Thank you for your support!

    funny follow up: two years later i was going into a party in College Park and this hot little mod tomato sees me walk in–u know with the tight white pants, beatle boots, and heavy eyelashes and says to me “I know you. you’re in a band.” “That’s right baby. Now lets go downstairs and do some b-hits.”

    Mission accomplished.

    • Dan Eilenberg says:

      All right then. So my memory’s apparently not that sharp; nor my reading skills, evidently. A Sunday—not Saturday. It was a mid-day matinee though, yes? Poster doesn’t mention starting time.

      • CJ says:

        LOL! are you doing this on purpose. yes, Dan, your memory doesn’t fail you. 2:00pm, like the poster sez.

  9. RBW says:

    The tot-loathing in “People That I Hate” is golden. Truth to power, young punk!

    I love this stuff. Well done.Your years as a band slut serve you well. More please!

    The prospect of watching this list grow like, say, a yellow-mohawked girl with a sock in her mouth, fills me with Christmas morning-like anticipation. I expect I’ll end up in at least one of these postings, and I look forward to your perspective on all things Uncle Rock and/or Catskill 45s. I think.

  10. eddielove44 says:

    I was also at that birthday gig, though I seem to recall I may have bid a hasty retreat upon sensing the girl I brought was a little too into C.J. (That sort of thing happened a lot back then…) I also believe he donned that nylon on his head for the whole performance, no?

    Nazi Girlfriend may have been a title repurposed from a song Erik and I wrote in high school, that was strangely and hastily re-written the day of it’s intended debut to the more palatable Commie Girlfriend (really?) upon the strident entreaty of our bass-player.

    • Mark Lerner says:

      I’m wondering who you are, Mr. Love. And I’m thrilled to read all these comments.

    • ek says:

      I’ll post my long-form rebuttal to all of the above tomorrow. But, in the meantime, I can confirm for Ed (!) that the GHE “Nazi Girlfriend” was, in fact, a deliberate attempt to revive his original Sir Cedric Arse concept. CJ’s lyrics were, I thought, so vile that I refused to set them to music. (Which is pretty funny, given the lyrics which I apparently deemed acceptable.) Mark, however, was happy to oblige. And another masterpiece was born.

      I don’t recall Silva having anything to do with the Commie debacle. My memory is that we changed it because my parents (in complete seriousness) forbade The Fuckheads to play a song called “Nazi Girlfriend” in their basement. We had nowhere else to rehearse, so we capitulated and you rewrote. It was never the same. “She cleans her ovens twice a week…”

      There’s more to say about “Commie Girlfriend” and how our attempt at vocal harmony on the hook led to the band’s demise, but I suppose that’s a matter for someone else’s blog.

    • CJ says:

      Did you know, Eddie (I take it you’re an old friend of J.F.), that Autopsy was supposed to be formed as a dual piece Autopsy/Phlegm in the Streets, but EK was never satisfied enough with my rendering of Phlegm and refused to do it.

      Nazi Girlfriend was not a rework. It was original, based on a chick with a swastika tattoo on her head we saw at 930 club. together with Neurotic Girlfriend they form a rather informative trilogy about the girls we knew at the time (no decent girl would touch us of course).

      Next time throw the kid in the car and motor down to B-Town, Baby! And best to that lovely wife of yours.

      • CJ says:

        And one more thing, Eddie: Phlegm in the Streets was the best damn song to ever come out of Whitman. Hats to you!

  11. Eric says:

    Corrections, Addenda, Excuses:

    1) The posted flyer was came from the Gray Matter camp. I have a copy of the GHE version (designed by Katie Robinson) in the archives, along with a copy of the cover letter which went to club bookers with tape. Mark, you typed it on an old manual, with lots of xxxxxx-outs. I guess we couldn’t afford any whiteout.
    2) I also have the, uh, master tapes. I made a crude digital transfer around five years ago which sounds just a little less horrible than the transfer of the dupe which has been posted. (I can send you those files, Mark, if you want to upgrade. Meanwhile, look for my attorney’s cease and desist letter.) Next time I’m around a decent A/D converter, perhaps I’ll give it another try, if they’re still playable. And the next time I’m in a mastering room on someone else’s dime, maybe I’ll see if there’s a little bit more to be gotten out of these tapes.
    3) GHE was supposed to be funny to us, but the harDCore scenesters weren’t intended to be in on the joke. I think. But no one noticed us one way or the other.
    4) CJ was the only guy on the scene whose black leather jacket wasn’t adorned with hardcore logos. Instead, he’d painted “Sinatra” in big letters across the back. This was the sort of thing which made CJ either very funny or completely crazy, depending on your perspective, or on the length to which he was willing to go on that particular day to try to convince you that he was either (A) completely serious or (B) joking about everything.
    5) Mark, I tried to convince you to “thunk away with a pick”, especially on a little thing we liked to call “Cholera In Calcutta”. You refused.
    6) I sincerely hope that when I pop up again in this blog, you’ll talk about me at greater length and increased acclaim.
    7) I’ve never done anything for a lark. A chicken, maybe… I think the band was formed so that CJ could get over with the harDCore girls, which seemed important to him at the time. If I was similarly motivated, I cannot recall.
    8) Pete was the worst drummer I’ve ever heard, with the possible exception of myself. Contrary to CJ’s version of the story, I’m pretty sure that CJ found him loitering with the other punks at DuPont Circle. We’d been trying to find a genuine scenester, and Pete was the closest that we could come. When CJ reported that he’d found us a drummer, I asked if he was any good. CJ shrugged and said, “He’s got drums.” (Which, of course, was not the case.) Plus, he looked the part. Mark: Pete’s mother was probably about ten years younger then than we are now.
    9) There were actually two GHE drummers prior to Pete. The first was Lennit, who left to play bass on tour with Government Issue (his main gig at the time) before Mark even arrived from NY. Lennit was replaced by a fairly solid player who’d previously worked with Mark and partner Dan on a set of demos recorded at Inner Ear. (Where, incidentally, most of the noteworthy DC hardcore records were cut. I remember sitting in the booth with engineer/studio owner Don Zientara, looking at the Dischord master tapes lined up on the shelves and scoffing at the prospect of anyone ever wanting to hear that stuff again. Always a visionary, me.) Drummer-boy was good, but he said that he just couldn’t go on playing that kind of music.
    10) CJ’s nom de enema was Dom Bosco, rather than Don. We actually chose our own aliases. (Except Pete.) Mark named himself after a kid a year ahead of us in school – one who’d physically attacked a member of CJ’s and my cappella juggernaut, The Streetones, after we performed a very peculiar but sincere tribute To John Lennon for, in Scarnecchia’s view, mocking the recently departed. I don’t know why we stuck Pete with his stage name. I think the “Mort” part referred to a character in Bazooka bubble-gum comics.
    11) One of the three other bands on the bill failed to show. Might have been metal/thrash outfit Malefice. Gray Matter, the principal draw, was fronted by Geoff Turner, two or three years younger than us, who sat next to CJ and me in typing class, ridiculing the kind of post-punk guitar pop which I favored at the time and with which he would eventually make his mark as leader of Senator Flux.
    12) It was the loudest gig I’ve ever heard, anywhere, any time. The PA was twelve times more powerful than was appropriate for the venue, and the stoner sound guy just refused to turn it down. The volume was so high that it was virtually impossible to hear anything other than a rumble of indeterminate noise. Most of the audience was driven out of the building.
    13) It was definitely GHE which played the thirtieth birthday celebration of Kelly Robinson (the older brother of aforementioned flyer designer Katie), who was very fond of his sister’s former boyfriend, his “Uncle Cheejay”.
    14) In writing the songs, CJ and I adhered to what we dubbed “the ten-five rule”, which required that he spend no more than ten minutes writing the lyrics and that I finish the music within five minutes of reading them. I suspect that CJ cheated sometimes.
    15) I believe that the correct title of the song listed as “Dead Dog Rap” was “My Dog’s Dead”.
    16) I almost got “People That I Hate” onto a movie soundtrack once, but it didn’t stick. I did, however, manage to sneak it into a 1987 Chicago production of Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders for which I did the sound design, along with tracks by all four of the bands which Mark cites as GHE influences. But I don’t remember trying to sound like any of those bands, all of which I liked then and now. CJ and I did see Minutemen at the 9:30 club that summer. They were fantastic. CJ was not impressed. We also saw the Replacements that summer at the same venue. They were great. CJ was not impressed. Tommy Stinson approached us on the sidewalk before the gig to ask if we had any cocaine. We did not.
    17) The recordings were actually made at two different rehearsals, one in my basement and one in Pete’s. This resulted in several alternates, which will eventually see release as part of Rhino Handmade’s forthcoming GHE box set.
    18) I think the naming of the band went like this: My father walks into the basement, asks what we’re up to. Me: “Dad, what do you think we should call the band?” CJ: “Yeah, Marvin. We need a name.” Dad: “What you need is a good hot enema.” It was his standard response to everything.
    19) Regrettably, Hound is no longer active and that myspace page hasn’t been updated in several years. Only one of the tracks posted there (“The Old Zoo”) was ever intended for release, and was included in the soundtrack to that same movie which did not feature a GHE track, but did include one from Mark’s Rosine. The other tracks are just work tapes from rehearsals and only organist Carl Byron could possibly account for why they’re up there. There’s an album’s worth of Hound material in the can which has yet to be mixed.
    20) CJ should know better than I, but I’d swear that Pete was not involved with Honor at the time of GHE. In a peculiar twist, I recently discovered that the selfsame Honor is now a friend of Todd Weeks, who played in a post-GHE band with me in Chicago and, several years after that, played with Mark in Flat Old World in New York. “It’s been several years/Since I’ve had any Honor./Terminal sickness./I’m a goner.”
    21) Mark sent me a cassette of demos he’d cut of Tom A’s songs, as well as is own. The Tom A side one was titled “Shake Your Butt”. The Mark B-side was called “Suck My Dick”. (I thought that Tom was a terrific songwriter. Once, while walking through Hoboken in the snow on the way to an Oswald’s gig, Tom told me that he listened to GHE more than one might think healthy. I found that very troubling.)
    22) On “Social Injustice” and every other track, only one vocal mic was employed. Because we only had one. (A Shure 588 from 1980, plugged into a 60s Univox guitar amp which shocked anyone who came near it.) So Mark wouldn’t have been bellowing.
    23) “Production” consisted of guessing where on the floor to stick a 1982 Panasonic boom box with a stereo pair of cheap, built-in condenser mics and pressing record.
    24) “Autopsy” and “Phlegm” together? Why?
    25) I do remember that young woman with the swastika on her shaved temple. If I recall correctly, she had absolutely no idea what it represented. Just thought it was “punk”.
    26) All in all, it was a pretty good summer.
    27) These notes are much longer than the original post.
    28) The sun was in my eyes.

    • Mark Lerner says:

      It *was* a pretty good summer.

      Thanks, Eric. As blogger-in-chief, I am tasked with hitting a little “approve” button before comments appear, to filter out spam. In this case, “approve” was far too weak a word.

      I bow to the superior recollections of my bandmates.

      The next blog post is coming later today. I can only hope it elicits as many intelligent and heartfelt responses as this one has.

    • CJ says:

      2 and 16) As copyright holder of the original lyrics i fully authorize their use for your blog, Mark, and what’s all this distribution of GHE going on without my approval? If i was duly noted as co-songwriter i’ll let it slide. Although, living in China, who am I to complain about IPRs?

      17) I don’t believe you and yet wish it were true.

      18) It was in your bedroom.

      20) I swear Honor was Pete’s gf at the time and she broke up with him when she ran into me again. He found out at a rehearsal at his house when I let it slip I was meeting her.afterwards. and he said “Oh so you’re the one she left me for. Well, dude you must be hung like a horse, because I’ve got one of the biggest I’ve ever seen.” Oddly, that was all he ever said on the matter. Honor and I are now friends on FB. She’s married and has a daughter. I invited her to lunch in NYC last month but she didn’t get the message in time. Virtually all of her friends were VFM.

      Her best friend’s boyfriend, Graham, attended a party at Mark’s where i was crashing on the floor (after I’d moved out). two funny things happened at that party. some girl wouldn’t leave who we wanted to leave, and she asked why she should leave, and I told her in my best William Shatner “Because, we, don’t, like, you.”

      Graham stuck around too late and finally had to be “encouraged”, and some friend of Mark’s asked him in this comically condescending voice “Got your token?” Guess you had to be there.

      22) I thought Mark was miked for the live show.

      24) There was something linking the baselines or something. I can’t remember now, but at the time you thought it was a good idea too. alas!

      26) heartily agree

      29) Fenwick’s in the manger.

      30) Quite a moon!

      • Eric says:

        16) If money or credit was ever involved, I’d have made sure that you got your share.

        18) Makes sense. (This is the kind of attention to detail that’s really going to bring massive click numbers to Mark’s blog.)

        22) Perhaps.

        24) I can see that. Okay, you can have that one, as well.

        30) Yah.

        31) “I’m sure you’re duly impressed by that display.”

  12. Dan Eilenberg says:

    9) Adam Gibbons played in GHE?? No wonder he never played drums as well after 1984. You guys ruined his chops.

    12) Extreme loudness of show: So THAT’S why I solely remember the parking lot. Was wondering what would compel me to come to see live music performed by my friends but then not watch my friends as they performed live music.

    16) It’s funny. Tommy Stinson would have been, like, only 17 then; already into scoring street drugs—of all places—on the street.

    • Eric says:

      9) Adam Gibbons. His name is now immortalized.

      16) I think that Tommy was already an old hand by age seventeen.

    • Adam says:

      If I did play in GHE, it must have been short-lived. My memory is a total blank on that, although I do recall I played with a bunch of different groups for short stints, willing to play just about anything – until I realized I couldn’t play everything. I always admired punk drummers – incredible chops and stamina. Pete (can’t remember his last name) was a friend from college who played with Dagnasty. Anybody remember them? They were amazing – blazing speed – I thought the songs were awesome at the time – would be cool to listen to them now and see if I still liked them.

  13. Eric is in the film business in Los Angeles ? If he’s reading this, he should try to launch a biopic of Sal Maglie. Portray him as depressed about having to move from Brooklyn, New York to Los Angeles in 1957. Oh, I forgot, that would mean James Ellroy must write a book in which Maglie procures loose women to help him feel better, and only then can a filmmaker adapt Ellroy’s story. Have Maglie do that instead of switch from the Dodgers to the Yankees.


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