Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae Part 13: Ted Hattemer


1991–2001

We all had our saviors, although we didn’t always realize it at the time. This should be clarified, I believe that both Jenny Mae and I had our saviors while Jerry searched for one, through his music, through the booze and the bars but his inability to let himself be emotionally close prevented anybody to help pull him up and out. For me and Jenny one of our mutual guardians was a mild mannered man named Ted Hattemer. Ted was active in the underground scene long before I ever met him in 1991, he was a bearded long-haired bartender at Bernie’s, slinging mugs of imported beer for barflies that would try to travel the world on a barstool without ever leaving the cozy, stinking confines of the underground bagel shop. Ted was involved all types of ridiculous sounding band names during the late eighties such as Cavejacket before finding a home in the moody lumbering Stupid Fuckin’ Hippie for which he played bass.

It was at this juncture that I began to know Ted, he was soft spoken, polite and articulate and brought a sense of seriousness to any interaction with him. Stupid Fuckin’ Hippie, in hindsight was not that terrific of a band but they did provide a respite from the more amplified churning of most High Street punk and funk bands that dotted most nightclubs. Stupid Fuckin’ Hippie sounded like Monster Magnet’s little brother without the sense of junkie-dangerousness that early Monster Magnet brought to the table, SFH did not see the necessity to explore anything harder than what most college undergraduates experiment with. For the summer of 1992 (or was it 1991), Stupid Fuckin’ Hippie was the soundtrack at Bernie’s and they appeared to be the house band. As the summer rolled on they vastly improved, with their singer Steve (who bore an uncanny resemblance to Jim Morrison) becoming more comfortable with a guttural growl they provided a pleasant backdrop to playing the Terminator pinball game and swigging Black Label beer.

Ted worked for the Ohio State University; he was basically the only person on the scene who had a real job, one that you had to wash a shirt for.  Although it should be noted that Eric’s Mother, an un-melodic psychedelic band whose singer had spooky eyes and blew fire out of his mouth had a working lawyer in the band. Ted worked on computers for the university and he lived in a large house with several men who would later form the more organic sounding Moviola. At this point, Anyway Records was generating a bit of a buzz, with all of our first five singles selling out immediately upon release. Jerry and I did not think of repressing anything, we were to hurried to think backwards so we wanted to get as much out as we could. One would never know when the proverbial other shoe would drop. We both had lifetimes of shoes dropping around us. Their clatter bearing witness to the utter bafflement of our lives.

Jerry and I started to break apart somewhat at this point; there were more pressing issues with Jerry and Gaunt. Gaunt was in the midst of recording their first full-length and I was bankrolling almost all of Anyway myself with help from the bands. Jerry, who was supposed to be providing a chunk of money, simply didn’t have it. He was disappointed with my leanings towards more pop friendly choices in bands (Log, Greenhorn and Belreve) while his big project was a single by Monster Truck Five whose squalid sounds would frighten the paint off of witches’ house. I ended up paying for over half of the MT005 single including the mastering which took an afternoon to do.  The noise that MT005 on tape caused the arm of the lacquer machine to jump off the waxy plate every time the engineer tried to carve the sounds into the lacquer. John Hull and kindly old man who ran our local pressing plant turned to me after several hours and said ever-so-gently, “so, people listen to this.”  I nodded, “I suppose.”  Jerry and I were both too unskilled to resolve our annoyances at one another over the MT005 single and we simply did what we did best which was to bitch about the other person to whom would ever listen. At times, we both thought the other a complete idiot.

I was approached by Ted and Wayne Lin of SFH during this summer and asked if Anyway would be interested in doing a Stupid Fuckin’ Hippie single that they would finance. I replied “sure.” There were several reasons for this, the main being that both men worked at bartenders at one of my favorite places to drink and the other was that I thought their music was interesting and they  both understood that Anyway was more of a community enterprise at this point than anything else. Jerry was not pleased and by the end of the year he would leave Anyway to me.

This is how I came to know Ted; shortly after this Craig Dunson who was playing guitar in Jenny’s band Vibralux played me a space-echoy song called “Wrecking Ball” by a gutter punk band named the Econothugs. I was blown away, it sounded like carnival version of Galaxie 500. Craig explained that the singer from the Econothugs, Jake Housh was making a new band called Moviola and they would sound like this. Craig’s new label Eardrop, would be putting out their single.  There were many new labels sprouting up in Columbus, no doubt by the idea that if two drunk fuck-ups like Jerry and I could find success anybody could. What we may have lacked in business or planning acumen was made up in surgical passion and a giddiness for the absurd, which is what the world was like for us. Ted was going to play drums. Ted and I became good friends at this point, I trusted his judgment and I admired the fact that he was stable, with a 9-5 job and he was buying a house. Nobody I knew bought a house or a new car. Ted shortly became the defacto art-director of Anyway, laying out most of the covers for singles, CD’s and vinyl covers. He helped me find out how to procure a bar-code for the label.

In a few years Ted would save me from several embarrassing romantic castrophies. I had started seeing a woman who was living with a man in Athens, Ohio. She was a driven, beautiful and ummm driven. She wanted to leave him and I agreed she should. Why not?  We had only been seeing one another for a few weeks and she said she was going to move to Columbus where she had grown up. I thought this was a good idea, she was unhappy with him, had recently graduated from Ohio University and Columbus made sense. “Sure, move up” I told her. In a few days she arrived in front of my house with her pick-up truck filled with her belongings.  I liked my relationships to be at arm’s length emotionally and physically I preferred them to be several blocks apart. My lonely nightly darkness was too intense to share with anybody at this point in my life; it would just lead to yet another disappointment. While she waited at my front door I hurriedly phoned Ted and explained that this woman had just arrived at my house with all her shit, and not just for the weekend. There were lamps in the back of that black truck. I could see them jutting out of boxes, surrounded by paintings and toiletries. If I wasn’t so dehydrated from a night of drinking I would have pissed down my leg. Ted didn’t flinch; he said “you know Scotty just moved to Alaska for the summer, she can stay in his room.” That is friendship. Needless to say there was some animosity between the woman and myself and the relationship died an awkward deflated death on my front yard that Saturday morning but it cemented my friendship with Ted.

A few years later, after my five month “infomercial” marriage disintegrated in a heap of busted expectations, tears and broken plates Ted would remodel his attic and take me and my two obnoxious but lovable dogs into his house.

Just as I had relied on Jenny after my suicidal breakup in 1991, she would return to me over the years to help and motivate her. At times this caused an ordinate amount of grief for both of us, with me believing that I was watching a house burning around her and her believing that I was overtly critical of her life. Jenny had a knack of getting some of the most talented musicians in town to back her up, an assortment of  Columbus finest including Dan Spurgeon who fronted Greenhorn, Craig Dunson from Pica Huss, Mark Deane who played drums for Pica Huss, Mary Adam 12 and Monster Truck 005, Derrick DeCinzo a professional jack-of-all-trades jazz musician, Wil Foster of Clay and the Guinea Worms, Jovan Karcic and Ted all played and recorded with Jenny over the years.

Jenny was confounding as an artist, at times brilliant and at others a pathetic mess who would rather smash her equipment and drink beer than practice or play shows out of town. It was as if every time something was planned for her a collective breath would be held and more times than not the breath would be blown towards the floor as a small community would slowly shake their heads. Ted was always supportive of Jenny, dropping his plans to either fill in on drums or bass for her. He played out of town shows with her several times and was present whenever she needed him. At the height of Jenny’s madness she would bulldoze this relationship, and soon she would be on her own in the streets of Columbus.

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6 Responses to “Jerry Wick and Jenny Mae Part 13: Ted Hattemer”

  1. Christian Says:

    Theo’s house was, as I remember it, the bed and breakfast for many bands and musicians. People coming in from out of town knew that he would be with a couch and a cup of coffee. Maybe some chili when I was in town, or some strange goulash when Bela was on the third floor. I remember when Bela introduced us to Mel. She was a great addition to the house and then a great neighbor as well.

  2. Ian Mac Says:

    I think the band was called Eric’s Mother (not Eric’s Trip) or maybe it was another crazed singer that blew fire.

  3. Ron Says:

    digging the writing taking me back to a time and place i miss.

  4. nick Says:

    right on, ian mac.
    eric’s mother, columbus
    eric’s trip, canada (new brunswick) (although oddly enough they did a split 45 with ted’s band moviola later on)

  5. eric Metronome Says:

    “One would never know when the proverbial other shoe would drop. He both had lifetimes of shoes dropping around us. Their clatter bearing witness to the utter bafflement of our lives.”

    Beautiful.

  6. liz Says:

    My own too-short path-crossings with Ted have always been magical and benevolent from the get-go. I must have met him that same first trip to Columbus where I met you, Bela, when we all walked over to ComFest with John Darnielle to go see Monster Truck Five. Suddenly I was driving from Ann Arbor to Columbus (an old route of Ted’s, too) to come see shows all the friggin time and never bothered with the usual courtesies of pre-planning or arranging a place to stay. I’d roll into town and without fail I’d run into Ted in less than an hour of my arrival, and he’d offer me a futon or that tiny blue couch or any room he had. Once on Indianola after seeing GBV I had to actually install the window back into the attic wall before going to sleep, but I’ve always liked that memory. Ted is one of the special ones: serene and fun, eminently tolerant and kind, the kind of person who anchors and nurtures a community that needs a good influence (but a good influence that still knows how to have a really good time.) I still have some fan club buttons somewhere….

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