Ear Infection

Between I-95 and downtown Delray Beach on Atlantic Avenue, a road sign announces "Delray Beach is a quiet community" and advises would-be aural disrupters to turn the volume down. But Delray resident and enterprising music scenester Steve Rullman takes issue with the town's dictum. "It's not a quiet community anymore," he laughs.

Rullman should know. He's doing his best to make Delray, and all of South Florida for that matter, as loud as possible. From his small, eclectically painted duplex in Delray's downtown, Rullman, with help from partner Stephen Ballard, maintains the Honeycomb Website (www.thehoneycomb.com), a guide to South Florida's music events and general clearinghouse for local music news. Rullman also uses his pad as HQ for the Honeycomb's first excursion from cyberspace to solid ground. Dubbed the Swarm, it's an ongoing series of shows held every other Wednesday night at Elwood's, an open-air bar on Atlantic Avenue.

A native of Delray, 31-year-old Rullman has been pulling strings and pushing envelopes in South Florida since he graduated with a marketing degree from FAU eight years ago. His first dabblings in monkeywrenching the region's static music scene took the form of DJ'ing the local show "Resident Noise" on the now-defunct, purchased-airtime, AM Pirate Radio program (which later became the aptly titled Irate Radio). Concurrently, Rullman and his radio coconspirators opened the Wormhole, a sorely missed small retail outlet for books, magazines, vintage clothing, and incense, which also hosted intimate all-ages shows by local bands.

His passion for promoting local and underground music led Rullman to his present gigs: maintaining the Honeycomb, managing the Swarm, and paying the bills with his night job as local booker and event coordinator for West Palm Beach's Respectable Street club. Having pondered and rejected the prospects of both film school in Gainesville and graphic arts school in Atlanta, Rullman contents himself with pushing the local scene to expand its horizons. "My main reason for what I do is to turn people on to good music," he says. "Commercial radio doesn't do it."

The Honeycomb's mission-statement page states, "We love it when someone plays something for us and we have to ask them who it is!" This statement sums up Rullman and Ballard's intentions: to expose underground talent, both local and national, and shed light on artists commercial radio would never touch. The Website features comprehensive local event listings; an art gallery of locals' works; free classifieds; links to a plethora of local bands, publications, and national indie labels; Real Audio tracks by various indie bands; and a "Band of the Month" page, on which Rullman and Ballard each spotlight their current tastes.

The Swarm, which is gearing up for its fifth installment this Wednesday, has been a fulfilling project for Rullman thus far but is only a small cog in his master plan. "As soon as the Website gets to where I want it, where it's regarded locally as a portal into what's going on in South Florida, then we can expand to other media and have it all interconnected," he explains.

His future plans include acquiring a half-hour cable access TV show, a radio program, and a 'zine-style circular to complement the Honeycomb and the Swarm. High intentions, but Rullman's past antics (including a guerilla stickering campaign against the commercialism of "alternative" radio station The Buzz (WPBZ-FM, 103.1) prove that his tenacity isn't to be underrated. The curious can catch Rullman guest DJ'ing on WKPX-FM, 88.5, Tuesday night at 9 p.m. (Swarm #5 features Them Ickies and Baby Robots performing April 14, at Elwood's, 301 E. Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, 561-272-7427. Showtime is 9 p.m. Cover charge is $3, free before 9.)

Seems the editorial staffs of City Link and the Free Press are oblivious to the obvious, so the Infection's gonna take this opportunity to fill them in: Sabateurs are in their midst. In a clearly sinister attempt to further lower the quality and blur the identities of the papers, longtime City Link contributors Bill Meredith and Jerry Warmuskerken have slipped their Odd Couple-style concert preview into the Free Press as well, providing a double dose of the nauseatingly campy duo (who're prone to sentences like "Cha-ching."), often with verbatim copy (see last week's Neville Brothers and Brian Adams previews).

Ear Infection thunk it weird enough when we first spotted the identical format and identical first-sentences in the theoretically competing papers over a month ago. But weeks after that, when we actually tried to read the Meredith/Warmuskerken "debate," the real shock set in. Nevermind that Free Press editor Michael Koretzky (or "Miranda," as his friends call him) is sharing material with City Link, a paper he was unceremoniously ousted from; the real kicker is the absolute drivel that Koretzky has been seduced into sharing with his former employer.

The corruptive intentions of the duo are obvious; there's no way critics would submit such vapid, first-grade commentary to a paper without subversive motives. The back-and-forth banter between Meredith and Warmuskerken (who answer one another with lines like, "Oh yeah?") has less substance than City Link's "Ask the Magic 8 Ball" page. Example #1 (from the March 3 issue of Free Press), Meredith on Korn: "Maybe I'm too old and unpierced to appreciate this California quintet. Singer Jonathan Davis is a professional whiner. And their guitarists are nicknamed 'Munky' and 'Head,' while their bassist is 'Fieldy.' I don't know who their drummer is and I don't care." Way to tear 'em apart, Billy!

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