September 14, 2007: Serial Partial Update For Lazy Lapsers Like me|
May 14, 2007: Klaus Nomi Tribute, Parma
August 22, 2006: West Virginia: Trash Like Me
August 12, 2006: I Join The Gun Club
August 6, 2006: Mel Gibson: Party Madness
July 26, 2006: My Space Mayhem
July 22, 2006: Branding Grandstanding Plus Ancient Gossip
May 16, 2006: Benefit Ballyhoo
May 13, 2006: Thespians and Bunnykins
April 17, 2006: A Barrel Full of Blather
March 2, 2006: Dress Code, Birthday Suggestions, and the Devil Of Today
February 16, 2006: New Math and Old Glory
February 14, 2006: Valentines Day, Mumps TV or not TV, & The Little White Sperm that Tried!
February 8, 2006: What do YOU get out of my whimpering remorse? A FUN LINK!
February 6, 2006: Studio Magic! and Turban Party Revisited - My (sort of) Bad
February 3, 2006: Vegas With the Downtown Sensation - and Turban Party!
January 26, 2006: Happy New Year - and Thanks
SERIAL PARTIAL UPDATE FOR LAZY LAPSERS LIKE ME
First let me say that I have been SOOOOOOOOO darned intimidated by the prospect of taking up the task of these diaries again - It's been soooooooooo long! And I'm obviously, incurably, patently incapable of self-editing, so after so long, it's mammoth! Let's face it - for a blabbermouth like me, sometimes a "Blog" is really just a Bog! Or a Bleagh!
So, if I'm really going to do this ----- Where do I begin? And the most apt question of course is: Who cares?
But then I thought, well it's obvious: I care! And I have the vague suspicion that some of you might be able to muster up a shred of charitable empathy as well. We're all friends, aren't we? So far, anyway? Wait - don't answer that!
But if I were actually going to attempt this, first I had to make this a task that I could actually face - figure out a way I thought I might really do something about the mystery missing segment of my on-line existence. And the first thought that popped into my head was: "Let's be LAAAAAAZY about this!"
So - LAAAAAAAZY it is! I'm giving myself the highly unprofessional permission to just get as far as I get, leave things unfinished, drop whole stories and come back to them later, and, laaaaaziest of all, just copy in stuff from my own regular diaries, no matter if I can actually still remember the accuracy of the incidents or not. I'm going to add pictures later - or not! I'm going to leave things out, gloss things over, give short shrift! In short, I'm actually entering the realm of legitimate journalism!
So here, at last, is the first chapter in my return to Blather-a-go-go. Non Sequitur? Of course! Scattershot? C'est vrais! But at least I live up to the high standards I've set for myself - I'm still unbelievably, unremittingly, unrepentantly VERBOSE! And all for you, my dearest reader! If words were love, we'd both be ejaculating right now!
Just sat through a few brief moments of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome on some obsure cable channel. Tina Turner - delicious in that dead ferret wig! Have you seen the high school pictures of her that have been circulating? Id post them but theyre in the dreaded MIME format, which means I dont know how to make them into jpegs. If I had an iPhone, Id send them to you! But anyway, thats what I call a great makeover. She is Goddess.
Of course at this (advanced) stage in my life, I can only stand to watch the horrendous Mel Gibson for moments at a time, as Ive said before.
And of course one of the remarkable things, which is precisely why Ive already remarked on it elsewhere, about Mels willful descent into Bible-based madness is how he has managed to completely rescind his own one-time world wide adulatory cult status as ass-plow fantasy fodder. Poor guy! He put the I Object! into sex object. And that Grizzly Adams Taliban beard too - whats that all about? Fundamentalism surfing?
But back to MMBT: this time capsule was interesting on several levels. First of all, it reminded me of that more innocent moment when Mel was a sort of 80s gay icon so long ago - a punk-adjacent update of James Dean, with the added attraction of long, lingering loving takes focused on his leather clad backside, especially in Road Warrior. I dont know what that says about Director George Miller, but it sure helped gaggles of nascent gay fantasists find something to obsess about in their silent daydreams between bashings. Tangent: (please sing this to your self mentally in a Robert Plant screech) Does anyone remember Wilding?
Add the fact that in Road Warrior, two of the bad guys had a loving gay relationship that was never exploited as complicit with their badness- it was just a (hot!) matter of course. In a pre Queer Eye world, This movie was sexual-outsider-friendly!
But what really came home to me this morning is - girlfriend! The FASHION! Come on, all you Tyrah-cketeers! You Project Runamoks! Without Road Warrior , and the basically unwatchable sequel, there would be no Mod Prim!
You dont know what Mod Prim is? Do the math: if Ab Fab equals Absolutely fabulous, and, on a more personal note, Am Fam equals American Family, then Mod Prim obviously means: Modern Primitive! Where were you in Silverlakes glorious 90s, when it was, as Vag Davis squealed continuously through the whole decade, ON FIIIIIRE?
Anyway, I was astonished to realize that all the sartorial tropes and templates and conceits of the Silverlake Uber-Recruit where right there in this garsh dang movie: the shaved heads, the tattoo sleeves, the unisex S&M lite belted leather harnesses and bustiers, and the Plethora of Purposeless Piercings. Why, there was even bear culture and bad music!
This look, merchandised ad nauseam by admitted pioneers in the tribal genre like Ron Athey, and which then trickled down to become an imagination-free uniform of choice for scads of heretofore repressed Weho fags, who were looking slightly eastward (like Dorothy in search of a broomstick to sit on!) after years of amyl-addled clone-hopping white parties. Whenever a Puce Pioneer was moved to venture east of Vermont (usually by passing inevitably from the ranks of perpetrators of WeHo's rigidly cruel agism, lookism, or just old fashioned jism-ism into the pitiful ranks of the victims of same) they'd use Mod Prim affectations to jumpstart themselves into a slightly more exotic culture, and hope to find a soft target landing in some safe manifestation of mall rebel, but which was still clone-y enough to read well at Chi Chi La Rues porn awards.
Mod Prim was comforting because you could let your gym membership lapse too! Where are lapsed Fitness Nazis banished to die? Silverlake! First we take Manhattan, then we take Akbar! Add one tattoo, pretend to actually LIKE Einsturzende Neubauten, and shake (dont stir) that booty - suddenly that big gruff Echo Park bartender is smiling at you, and making you a bad margarita!
Mod Prim also spread exponentially like Silverlake Wildfire into the biker-lite affect of straight heroin addicts everywhere - and their girlfriends, and through them into east side NA and AA survivors, and the downtown artsy types who still clung to the watery dilution of the last vestiges of romance sprinkled like dandruff on the grave of the Velvet Underground Thrice Removed, and had closets full of lousy Social Distortion records (Mike Ness had an early sleeve! But he had the excuse of the Neo- Rockabilly Tattoo fad - of which Mod Prim is definitely the ugly stepsister). If heroin chic had its day, Mod Prim would party all night long!
It was a short hop, skip, and a NIN remix to a cable show, and thus Inked was born. If language is a virus, Mod Prim is the plague!
Mod Prim also claimed hair band victims from Motley Crue to GNR as their spotty and poorly rendered metal tatts crept inevitably toward MP style sleeve-dom, and it crept onto the arms, through the eyebrows, lower lips and tongues of every contestant on Parental Control from Boise to Bayonne. It made Ralph Feinnes in Red Dragon look like a quaint and tired Gauntlet Leather Panties Night also-ran!
And all it took was a five minute window into the past, courtesy of that darned Thunderdome, to realize: The Prim Starts here!
So, the final question is - whom do we sue?
BTW, whats with that frightwig on Mels Thunderdome anyway? The bizarre Brylcreem forehead brushback and the totally incrongruent Grandmama Addams sides? Who greenlighted that look? Did grown men at the height of their professional careers actually make that decision? Or was there a Dingo involved? Why do real men not have bangs when they have long hair? The same deplorable thing generally happened as far back as Errol Flynn and Cornell Wilde and the ever-dour pouty lipped sexless Stewart Granger. Mel should have studied This Town era Russell Mael - now theres a hair style for a real man!
Why why why WHYYYYYYYY havent I been able to make myself write more fun-filled fabulous diary entries?
I havent REALLY written anything for this space since ----- um ----- ooooof ---- pardon me! - hiccup ---AUGUST OF 2006??? Can that be true?
And, as if you didnt know, Im usually so wordy and self-involved that I cant wait to describe my feelings about --- well, I admit it --- just about anything! I can EASILY write 20 paragraphs about a 5 minute Mel sighting - in re-runs on cable yet! Im usually sooooo hopelessly in love with the Me-ness of MEEEEE! What happened to the jocular foppish fellow who didnt have a single feeling that he didnt find remarkable? And that he remarked upon, interminably, ad nauseam?
Well - lets follow the clues for a moment, if you care to.
Hmmm - Where did everybody go?
Photo By Rocky Schenck
I guess first I have to admit, I had to WORK. That CAN interfere with the will to self-document. I know its unseemly for one who is universally regarded as lazy gadabout twee-psych pseudo-gentry to EVAH engage in anything as menial as actual labor. Im embarrassed about it too! Id much rather wax verbose about how nauseating I find our man Mel, GWB, and/or on occasion, Glenn Close.
But no - making a hugely ambitious first-time-ever CD with Ann Magnuson requires nose-to the-grindstone effort and concentration. You have to actually think about stuffnshit! Ouchy!
Yours truly did actually WORK, day-in, day-out, producing, arranging, co-writing, conscripting fabulous musicians, rehearsing, and even actually playing and singing on this preposterously gradiose epic by the fabulous and inimitable Ann Magnuson.
It was almost like a - yikes! - real job! For about 9 months there were CD-related chores and missions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Lawsy, how does the general workforce manage? And they commute! I dont usually ever do ANYTHING that requires effort everyday.
So - Since Im known generally as Captain Atrophy, after these long hours I would come home and barely even have the energy to cruise the Jack-in-The-Box drive-thru. Our fabulous local faux Craftsman JITB, natch, because we live in a preservationist historical overlay - Thank God! Its got fake river rock columns and those cheap reproduction lamps you see on the Gilmore Girls, and everything! So Id get my daily (sadly discontinued) Lime and Cilantro salad, go home, exhaustedly pop open a bottle of Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet (then still quite inexpensive at Trader Joes) and pass out during the midnight re-run of Top Chef.
Theres really nothing like recording to make you feel creative and fulfilled and juicy and tender and even occasionally beefy! Its great! But at the end of the day, it also makes the old coot sleepy! And thus it doesnt render diary writing much of a priority.
During recording, I was privileged to work with so many wonderful people: my core band of Rock Gods: Dave Bongiovanni, Joe Berardi, Ernesto Garcia - and erstwhile (and as of 2007, current) Rock God William Bongiovanni.
Then the glorious gals: Heather Lockie, Lisa Jenio, the Chapin Sisters, Abby Travis, and Weba Garretson.
Plus: Fabulous guests like the ever handsome DJ Bonebrake, Rockstar Jonathan Lea, boyish bear-bait classical harpist Alexander Rannie, the worlds most famous saw player, David Weiss, and even the fabulous Earle Mankey contributed a stellar finger-pickin good acoustic guitar solo.
What Im trying to say is - it was like a party every night! So much talent in one little room (Mark Wheatons fabulously appointed Catasonic Studios) or other (Earle Mankeys fantastic Thousand Oaks home). No wonder I was pooped.
I AIMED FOR SCHENCK-STYLE GRANDEUR, AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY VINTAGE INKWELL!
Does this qualify as Louis Cat-orze?
Then there was the fun filled (some might say inebriated) Rocky Schenck photo shoot for the cover - what a genius!
A visit to Rockys house is always like a special visit with the Mad Hatter, and boy do I have decorator envy.
As proud as I am of my impossibly cluttered Addams Family life-styling, Rocky has me beat on every rococo, ghostly, baroque, over-the-top level. Every where you look there are desks made out of tortoise shell, furniture made out of driftwood, sculpture made out of coral, palatial gilded mirrors, vintage Spanish tile, Red Chinese Peoples Statuary porcelain figurines, and iridescent stuffed birds straight from the tragically dismantled Potters Museum of Curiosity in England.
As a brief aside - said Museum of Curiosity not only had the entire Story of Cock Robin done completely in taxidermy in elaborate vignettes, but they were (conveniently!) geographically situated right next to a cat euthanizing facility, so they used all of the adorable kitten corpses to make mock school rooms with desks, tables, chairs, blackboards, etc., and little farm yards, in full clothing. At least Rocky doesnt have any of THOSE! Id have to kill him!
Rocky is really sort of like the A-list version of me. A little sad really when you think of it - me being a poor stepsister to someone elses vision. Everything he has is a just a wee bit bigger, grander, more elaborate, more gilded, legitimate. This is not a position Im used to - I generally condescend to lord my 1897 silver plate glass-eyed cats popping out of top hats over all and sundry! But, drat! They just seem so small next to his Louis XVI grandiosity. But at least I have photo-documentation, courtesy of the great master himself!
Being a ghost is better than an Oil of Olay Chemical Peel!
( photo by Rocky Schenck, for the "Pretty Songs" CD Booklet )
Speaking of Potter's Museum of Curiosity - circa 1977, my very close friend (and original Gun Club drummer) Brad Dunning and I had an idea for a vigilante group. We were so totally over "crimes against humanity". I mean, it's just a bunch of people! As if being born automatically should give any asshole automatic rights to anything! Being born is not an accomplishment! It's practically a crime!
But we were definitely concerned with another sort of crime - Crimes Against Civilization! We may not have been in love with Mankind, but we were (and ARE) in love with many of his peculiar accomplishments. So we were attempting to write a comprehensive manifesto of how to deal with Crimes Against Civilization, and to conscript our friends into wildcat justice dealers.
You know, crimes like when they replace all the original wooden window frames in a 20's home with aluminum ones. We thought that was a crime worthy of death. Or at least maiming and torture. Or being forced to wear polyester, at the very least.
Of course we were young, and in bands, and lazy. What seemed rousing at closing time after the third $2.00 double margarita at El Coyote began to feel something like a chore in the cold hard light of day in Brad's bachelor single ( I actually slept in the closet - read into THAT what thou wilt!) at Fountain and Gardner.
But the idea has never really left me - people aren't important, really. But the obsessive accomplishments of many driven eccentrics are. Which is a roundabout way of getting to:
SELLING OFF THE CONTENTS OF POTTER'S MUSEUM OF CURIOSITY AND DISMANTLING THE MUSEUM WAS A CRIME AGAINST CIVILIZATION!!!
I first heard about this museum from Jim Spinx, whom I met through Beirut Slump bass player, fried okrah making, "Too Lazy To Live" star and sometime roommate Liz Swope. Jim sent me a catalog of the museum from England, and told me I MUST go there. Well - the downfall of civilzation was just a little too fast for me! Even so, I'm very glad that a couple of the minor items in the collection made it into the home of one Rocky Schenck, because who is more deserving than he? If these beleaguered items are the orphans of art, then Rocky is the saving adoptive grace of Brad Bitt AND Angelina Jolie! What better fate for them - save one:
KEEPING THE GODDAMN MUSEUM INTACT FOR OUR EDIFICATION AND THAT OF OUR PROGENY-IF ANY
But Nooooooooooo! That seemed as tall a request as keeping fanatic Talban hoodlums from blowing up the Bamiyan Buddhas.
So instead all you get is these downloaded photos, works for ye mighty to look upon and despair, just a few examples of the only recently dismantled collection of fantasically appointed anthropomorphic tableaux, which neither you nor I will EVER get to see in person. As myth-buster Pat Loud always used to say: "Why do they call it Never Never Land? Because we NEVER NEVER get to go there!" Wah! Wah!
Oh Mr. Potter! We hardly knew ye - and now we never will!
WHERE WERE WE? OH - THAT'S RIGHT! I CAN'T READ!
Back to the work on Pretty Songs. After the intensive design sessions, there was the inevitable checking and re-checking of the eensy weensy text for the cover art - and still, we managed to leave off a SUPER important credit for Jonathan Lea, who played EVERY SINGLE GUITAR on Is This Heaven? Ooops! Sars, buddy!
Im pretty sure right about this time, mid-to-late 2006, legendary Super Casanova Eric Bonerz gave me call and said, The Millionaire [bless his soul] has recommended you as a DJ for the radio station Im restarting. Its basically a tribute to long-time thrift shop record collectors everywhere, and we want a variety of DJs to showcase their own particular and peculiar obsessions every week.
Sounded like heaven to me! A pre-emptive license to play the hundreds of insufferably twee pop confections Id been hoarding for years and years, plus any quirky novelty records I couldnt even pay any of my friends to listen to? Wheee!
Of course I said yes - and the first couple of shows were easy - Id been binging on vintage vinyl and CD re-issues of trivia obscura for so many years that purging came as a violently regurgitative release!
Sure Id play the Pipe Dream, the Geranium Pond, the Almond Lettuce, the Blossom Toes, Kathe Green, the Picadilly Line - not to mention various bombastically unlistenable Richard Harris cuts (so many to choose from!)! Id play Lavender Popcorn! Tara Tiger Girl! Sweet Little Innocent Lorraine! I Lied To Auntie May! The L.S. Bumble Bee! We Are the Moles! Glass House Green, Splinter Red! Lazy Fat People! Over the Wall We Go! Swallow The Sun!
Of course there was a wealth of outre cover versions to leaf through - Frankie Randall, Julie London. Sue Raney, Eartha Kitt, Rosalind Kind - so much psychedelic camp - so little time.
And I could force whatever listeners there might possibly be into my favored shadowy cul de sacs of Michel Polnareff, Eric Charden, The Moon, Illes, the Klan, Czerwone Gitary, the Wallace Collection. Grapefruit! Appletree Theatre! Los Brincos! Thorinshield! Tinkerbells Fairy Dust! Boudewijn De Groot! Erick Saint Laurent! I could finally even play the obvious lite psych bon bons like Donovan (and his peculiar aural stalker, Arthur) and the Cowsills, why - even Barry Ryan! - with smug impunity! In fact - someone was inviting me to do so!
My mind was filled with thoughts of karmic revenge on people like my older brothers best friend, Ron Seeley. Ron Seeley was an acerbic high school over-achiever from a family of pretentious professorial intellectuals, and although he superficially seemed sophisticated and worldy to my young eyes, in retropsect his most prominent social trait can be reduced to a single word: bitch.
When I was a top 40 obsessed tweener (admittedly - what a glorious top 40 it was!), I was always treated as the clueless unhip nerd teeny-bop little brother in the fight for the family turntable in the living room, not only because of my completely age-appropriate adoration of the Monkees, but because of what turned out to be a totally prescient fascination with the Bee Gees, the Left Banke, the Merry-Go-Round and the Kinks.
So when I, with tremulous and fragile pride, finally spent my saved-up allowance on There Are But Four Small Faces, and brought it into the living room to sneak it onto the stereo, thinking, This FINALLY will SURELY be heavy enough to gain the approval of these cruelly elitist elders, I was absolutely crushed to hear Ron say with snide nasality, Isnt this that AWFUL bubblegum band, the Small Faces? And I retired to my room in utter defeat and ignominy. I was really ready NEVER to come out. I can still remember Rons casual dismissal of my most secret dreams as he leaned against our yellow formica kitchen counter in his rumpled beige khaki shorts and Penneys Towncraft print shirt, helping himself to something out of our refrigerator. It was a bleak day, and I have yet to recover.
Now, as an adult I could look back on both his and my brothers pathetically predictable selections of Canned Heat, Cream, those awful Butterfield/Bloomfield jam records, and the Rolling Stones with an air of a hardened (wizened?) obscurists bitter retropsective superiority.
At least Id had the sensitivity, even as a child, to be drawn to some of the LEAST selling masterpieces in recorded history! Those guys were just rote FM lemmings in comparison!
But it still hurt even years later that, as a vulnerable child (boo hoo!), Id had no one to with whom to share the mental adventures which that technicolor music had taken me on. At least not until I met Lance Loud, and we proceeded to force copies of Vilallage Green Preservation Society and Sparks first LP on all of our unwitting and bemused high school friends!
Before that, listening to Sound of the Screaming Day by the Golden Earrings, which I had gotten by mail in a trade with a Dutch pen pal, was a lonely vigil!
So --- here was my final triumph! Vinyl vengeance! A passle of highly regarded lounge-core hipsters had asked little ME to be one of the premiere DJs on their brand new radio station. It only took, oh, about 50 years - half a century - for the pay-off!
Thus I give thanks for making me the determined lyte-psych nerd I am, Ron Seeley! You gave me the emotional dragon scales to make it through decades of disdainful sneers to this glorious moment!
As a slightly mitigating concession to my brother, (who is now completely removed from the decade-hopping world of vinyl collectibles, and makes a living calling contra dances all over Europe instead - thats his real music now, and he couldnt give a fuck about any of this shit anyway) I do have to confess that I first saw the cover to the Thorinshield AND the first H.P. Lovecraft LPs in his collection, although he STILL wouldnt let me listen to them!
He thought I was too young, and he knew I wouldnt like real music like that, and besides, a kid like me wouldnt know how to handle real LPs. Even my more loving sister had told me the same thing about Loves first album: You just wouldnt get it Kristian. I snuck into the living room one day and listened to it on the sly, and was somewhat proud and astounded: whether it were true or not, I felt like I DID get it.
So, years after not be allowed to listen to Thorinshield and H.P. Lovecvraft, I was still haunted by the mesmerizing 60s graphics on those covers. I doggedly searched for copies of them in thrift shops and used record stores, longing to hear the magic behind that mandala medallion and that crazy rapidiograph seething garden-of-evil flower bed.
Of course, I finally DID find my own 50 cent copies in the Salvation Army, and also concurrently bought anything that looked even remotely psychedelic, or kooky, or old. Those were the dinner time records we played our record collecting infancy, from high school through punk all the way to the new wave, along with all the other babys first collectibles hallmarks of that era: Esquivel, the Sonics, Tiny Tim, Louis Prima, Mrs. Miller, Hayley Mills, the Shaggs - you know, the usual.
I was eager to tell my brother that Id found these records which had, in a way, set me on this record-obsessed journey. When I was finally able to tell him (hed lived in San Francisco for years, and we rarely saw each other), I was utterly confounded that he confessed that he didnt remember either of those records at all! It was so primal to me, yet not even a footnote in his memory!
Is that the definition of a hollow victory?
It really shouldnt have been much of a surprise, because when I finally got to listen to the Thorinshield LP, it was full of glorious off kilter over-orchestrated twee pop-psych - the very thing my brother had so volubly disdained throughout my entire childhood!
And H.P. Lovecraft? Despite pleasant moments, they were just a fairly rote folk/psych outfit - nothing like the heavy shit my brother and that darn Ron had proclaimed to be real music all those years ago.
It was then that I wondered - if they hadnt been so mean to me, would I ever have developed my outsider aesthetic? Did I need that rejection to be open to Lance, and New York, and Punk, and gosh darn -- all great music in general? Did I NEED someone to rebell against to clarify my own tatse? Should I actually be THANKING these people? Hmmmm......
After about three milliseconds of consideration, I realize definitively - NAW!!!! No way! Fuck them! I would have liked the Bee Gees and the Innocents and the Sopwith Camel no matter what, because Im RIGHT and THEYRE wrong! Look buddy, there ARE some absolutes!
But childhood trauma aside, Luxuriamusic was going to be a blast, and I soon encouraged my great friends and fellow light-psych twee pop obsessives, Andrew Sandoval and Steve Stanley, to join as DJs. My old friend Howie Pyro was next on my Luxuriamusic invitational, but he had already gotten the call from Kari French, and soon after Jim Laspesa got conscripted, and Ron Sures was already there, and the Millionaire came back from Providence and signed on. So it was shaping up to be a roster of some of the coolest record collectors I knew, sharing all of their magic and knowledge like one great big aural carnival ride/time machine/acid trip. Grooooooooovy!
FREE TICKETS TO PEPPERLAND WITH ANGIE!
I'll Boudewijn YOUR Groot!
Thus was my very own weekly radio show, PEPPERLAND SPICERACK, on Luxuriamusic.com, born! As you might be able to infer from the title, it's basically a forum for anything from the late 1960's through the early 1970's (with occasional impulsive and unapologetic time travel to other realms), that is Beatle-damaged, or trippy, or melodic, or orchestrated, or humourous, or all of the above. Or anything that has a heaping helping of joyfully rebellious 60's attitude. As marginally gifted but gloriously enthusiastic Boutique owner Angie Cat sings in "Angie Cat", the composition by Spanish genius Manolo Diaz which I use as my theme song:
I love Ho-Chi-Minh
I love Che Guevara
I love Kosiguin
Yo soy Angie Cat!
And of course, I also feel free to transgress into Bowie territory whenever I want! So be sure to try logging onto www.luxurimusic.com - you're sure to hear something ridiculous!
Anyway, as I was saying, the first couple of shows were easy - I almost went through them as an automaton, because there was such a huge back log of music I had NEEDED to finally share.
But after that it became - dare I say - work? I actually had to listen to that whole damn Jolliver Arkansaw LP that had lain untouched at the bottom of some pre-millenial pile of thrift-store purchases, to find the solitary track worthy of sharing with the audience I hoped to seduce into being my new cyber Family Von Trapp. Von Trypp?
I had to look through all three Love Generation LPs to find a single track that hadnt been played to death. And even though its a joyful chore, I had to carefully scan and scrutinize Amazon.com for the latest re-issues, or I might miss wonders like the ultra Badfinger-esque Fickle Pickle CD containing the heretofore unknown classic Wilfred, the Homosexual Stoat. I OWED that Stoat to my listeners, if any!
Yup - it dawned on my addled head that one actually had to do some legitimate prep work for these shows! Egad! Go through thousands of records, think about possible themes, try and keep it to the real quality items, stay away from over-played classics as much as possible, research new archaeological possibilities, keep a steady stream of new disc-coveries coming in - and, the most time comsuming of all - actually LISTEN to the music you planned to play before hand! Every week! This was like a whole other job!
Once again, diary writing was put on the back burner, and after a while I didnt even notice that the pilot flame had gone out.
Of course throughout this period I was also playing gigs with Abby Travis, Mink Stole, the occasional gig with my own band, gearing up to do gigs with the Abe Lincoln Story, all my usual rock whoring activity on top of production duties.
And - there was......
A few years ago my friend Elizabeth Seidman had sent me a post card of Der Bein Haus, the Bone House. It had haunted me ever since - one of the places in this world I MUST visit.
As Justin and I were planning a possible life-enriching trip abroad, we had several possible destinations in mind. But I just kept chanting Bone Church! Bone Church! And wouldnt consider anything else. I found the post card, and it turned out that it was called Kostnice (Church of Bones) or more officially, the Sedlec Ossuary, at Kutna Hora outside of Prague.
That was all it took! I would not be swayed. Of course Id heard that Prague was a fun travel destination, but I really didnt know the first thing about it. Prague, Schmog! I just HAD to see der Bein Haus! Bein Haus ist Mein haus!
So we made plans, Justin actually did research and found a fantastic sublet, and we booked tickets on Air France - which is a whole nother story as they say.
Now you may think Americans have no fashion sense, and you may be right - perhaps sense is the wrong word. Is uncontrollable urge more apt? Perhaps will to disaster? See Mod Prim entry above! Lets put it this way: Americans are fashion-bent. On any given day you can enjoy visions like I did at LAX in the crowded lounge of any decaying understaffed airport:
Morons branded with Dior sunglasses where the logo is bigger than their nose!
People pushing by in an orgy of quilted maroon leather with the huge applied Chanel interlocked C logos in polished brass! Bootleg? I think not - they seem too self-assured. But maybe thats the very nature of bootleg logos - it takes someone utterly brazen to pull it off.
And for those of you who find those fashion statements a little too predictably mall damaged, theres always a sprinkling of a few pioneers like the following, who engage less in fashion statements and more in fashion howling :
Kitty corner from me, there is the lady with the grizzled Alice B. Toklas fro, the bizarre huge proto-hippie string art earrings with aquarium pepples for gems which scrape across her wizened liver-spotted beige collarbone, and the siena denim skirt suit with the subtle aboriginal print that just screams Museum Store Catalog. The skirt is appended with rows of purposeless Project Runway pockets, each festooned with several large rough primitiva naif buttons in distressed silver. Shes wearing hammered sheet copper bracelets that look like odes to crumpled discarded paper. Its like a power-lesbian-L.A. Eyeworks-splinter-group-Bodhi-Tree-New-Age-Folk-Art-Boho-Mama cultural salad. Its like Shirley MacLaine threw up and Gandalf said - Wait - I see Jesus face in that vomit! I wonder dispassionately - can that perhaps really be Webas grandmother? After all - shes doing crafts!
Yes, Alice B seems to be methodically weaving heavy gauge silver wire into some sort of lariat/jewelry on a stick. Boy - how DID she get THAT past security? Did the cumbersome square burlap Tienda Ho carryon with the magenta Polynesian stencilling signify she was from some search-exempt pacific rim religion? Or just that she was a tourist hopelessly damaged by the upper State Street boutique shopping district in Santa Barbara?
Tourist or native, Tiendo Ho, that high end vaguely wiccan import boutique was a long time favorite of all Suburban Sunset Magazine pseudo bohemians - from my peace activist mom, right down to my brothers make-up free Argentinian yoga instructor vegan wife. Could this tribe truly be mine?
Meanwhile, further branding abounds, from the legitimate uniformed members of the U.S. armed forces (oddly, theyre NOT hot. They just look young and pimply and stupid) to the casual splashes of camo in a rainbow of color treatments on just about everyones outfit, including several babies, and the 70s styled flares of the slightly seedy bottle blonde being shepherded along by the muscular Israeli in the Abercrombie and Fitch Tee Shirt. Now HES hot! Israeli soldiers - now THERES some real queerbait!
This makes me think two things (aside from my fantasy of taking the entire uber-hot Israeli army from the rear in a total wet-lube tsunami coup dass): Camouflage is NOT an appropriate fashion pattern or accessory. Camouflage is what people wear when theyre sneaking around trying to kill someone or something. Camouflage=death. Camouflage is not good for babies. Its not good for Madonna. War outfits are not cool fashion statements, unless were talking Sgt. Pepper. (OK, OK - Yokos bullet belt was cool , but with her trademark beret it was always more Symbionese Liberation than Army/Navy/Marine.) War outfits, and the pattern of camouflage are about killing. Killing is not cool. No sir, Mr. Gunn, Sir! Thats just not my brand!
Also, call me an old stick-in-the-generic-Payless-mud, but the urge to declare commercial fealty by using a corporate logo to adorn any article of clothing I wear is as foreign to me as....um.....Scientology. Listen, Im an unrepentant Bowie fan, and I wont even wear a super cool vintage Bowie T Shirt! And Ive got them - and the medallions, buttons and patches that go with them - I just wont wear them.
Meanwhile, Im next to two typecast slightly horsey Third Watch (now THERE was a show rife with hot Queerbait!) East Bloc babes - you know how there was a fad in mail order Russian Mafia brides for a while? That underrated movie "15 Minutes" utilized this passing fad to it's logical conclusion. And had a naked Russian pro wrestler running through Times Square! Anyway these Belorussian Babes were in clingy chartreuse sports stretch wear with matching chartreuse iPods. Their flowery lace unmentionables are protruding over the waist band like an invitation - or is that a threat?
Ice skating contestants? Ive seem similarly alien fashion sense on those midget Russian prodigies when they show them disco-ing in the wee hours at Olympic Village.
Then theres the scrawny 5 foot chinless wimp in the George Michael stubble, droopy asymmetrical Marc Almond eyes, incongruous Fauntleroy hair, boney torso skulking in the billows of an Ex-Large sleeveless 24 Hour Cougar Run tee shirt pocked with ugly stains, the black gloves with the fingers cut off, the Oliver Twist hat, the denim pedal pushers that just reach his toothpick calves, the rows of jangling gypsy bracelets, the soiled looking yellow do rag (WS friendly?), pink flip flops(!) dwarfed by the huge Luis Vuitton satchel hes dragging his boutique water and God knows what else in. Hes got a rock star contestant lisp I can here from 30 paces. Yup - thems travelling duds!
Of course every aspersion I might cast boomerangs right back to me in the form of Lances mid-70s Am Fam emergence from that plane on the Santa Barbara airport tarmac - all Altamont scarves and floppy Ogdens Nut Gone hats, his mirrored tortoise shell glasses somehow making his Scotch-Irish nose look even more protruberant and less glamorous. And what about me walking around Paris in a floor length 20s silk velvet dressing gown, waist length Clairol herbal essence shag and braces? But that was different! Ahem! There were cameras! And the 60s stilled lingered as if there were the ghost of a defensible prototype for this sort of peacock behaviour. Or thats what Im saying now, on record!
Anyway - I applaud the conviction of these headstrong fashion aberrantics, even if I lament the cultural touchstones that they scrape loathsome graffitti onto. Its not really eye candy - more like eye pretzels - stale eye pretzels. But its astonishing!
Air France - Sacre Bleu! When we and our colorful fashion outlaw cohorts finally boarded the plane, I was rewarded with all the assaultive hauteur of French cultures self-regard by a ratty flea bitten seat pocked with hardened grease stains and peppered with crumbs from the previous passengers baguette.
When I pulled down the tray table (French blue daccord) it was a treasure map of stains and marks. Charitably I assumed they were permanent, but a cursory swipe with a damp napkin proved otherwise: apparently according to French hygeine, an air passenger doesnt rate a wipe with le damp cloth, nor a brush with le vacuum. There was enough jam sur la table to be mos def!
After our resolutely middling Le Dennys meal of a tough greasy chicken thigh, some Del Monte mixed vegetables, and a gateaux as searingly dry as lattitude Francaise, plus beaucoup de unrequested baguette evente d'hier, Justin tried to free himself from the enforced crowd control device of the stewards resolutely NOT clearing the tray tables by attempting (horrors!) to bus his own Le Tray.
At the kitchenette he was greeted by stern hectoring NON! NON! NON from the appalled staff as if he were fomenting a second revolution. TAKE VOTRE PLATE BACK TO LE SEAT! was the huffy instruction.
Cant you just let me put my trash in the gargage can, and leave the tray with you? Justin replied reasonably - to a self-determining American anyway.
NON! NON! NON! NON! came the chorus in miltary clipped diction. RETURN WITH YOUR PLATE TO YOUR SEAT!
Justin tastefully replied with the classic Continental rejoinder: You CUNT!, and returned to his seat as instructed, but not before leaving his tray, with napkins and like detritus thoughtfully arranged so as not to spill, in the middle of the floor in the aisle.
Amazingly the staff showed a deft Cirque De Soleil sense of balance as at least 10 of them, over the course of the next half hour, were able to negotiate by, over, and around that tray on the floor without so much as a displaced peice of cutlery. However, this althletic grace did not extent to the gesture of actually stooping to pick up the tray.
In America, this sort of brash point making would be an invitation to a delightfully frivolous clss action law suit, but I guess in Air France, lattitude cest tout! It was almost like they were encouraging lanarchy! Never mind the Bollocks, heres the Frogs legs!
It actually made me feel a grudging respect toward them - they picked their role and stuck to it. Punky!
...........TO BE CONTINUED BY YOUR OWN PERSONALLY LAPSING LISPING LAP DOG!
KLAUS NOMI TRIBUTE IN PARMA ITALY
Hello all you young lovelies! I have been SOOOOOOOO inexcusably busy or lazy or something, and I AM just leaving for NYC and then SPAIN (aren't I a globetrotter?), that I just haven't been able to get it together to write any new diary entries. Believe me, I've got the material! But not the dedication, apparently.
However, recently, there was a fantastic Klaus Nomi tribute in Italy which I was invited to attend AND participate in.
Sadly, neither time nor bank account would allow such a transcendental transcontinental folly - but I'm offering the next best thing - a diary entry from an artist who was actually THERE!
The lovely singer/songwriter Vivanne Viveur volunteered to be my eyes and ears, and here is her entry about the event:
Body: London 10 May 2007
From a secret diary
Rainy London the air is fizzy so sure something will happen, and here it comes: Respira Lab - a congregate of artists wanted Vivianne Viveur to arrange and play live a song of Klaus Nomi in Italy. It sounded fascinating.
The first thing was to choose a song and understand Klaus Nomi as a person and artist. Klaus Nomi first filled my heart with loneliness and my choices were "Death", "Cold Song" but then I thought that probably he wanted to gift people with other worlds so the song that chose me was "Three Wishes".
Vivianne Viveur arrives in Parma. We’ve met Respira Lab: Giovanni, Alice and Erica three lovely mad geniuses. The place was the Veronika Club absolutely perfect for the event.
I started to drink heavily to calm myself down - I was extremely excited, because you could tell that something very special was going to happen, and it did!
The event at the Venue started with "The Nomi Song" (the documentary about Klaus), people looked kindly lost.
I liked when he goes back in his country where he used to play before he was going to greet death.
Citronella, an Italian artist, was personifying Klaus with amazing dresses; Angela Buccella read a touching letter to Klaus Nomi.
When we played I fell into a spell! My feet refused to touch the ground - I was somewhere else, where I always wanted to be - in the dreamland the same place where you write and paint.
Then was the moment when Christian Rainer that played "Total Eclipse". He was already one of my favourite artists, but knowing him and listening to that version...... I was shocked!
He was fabulous. And then he asked me to play the floor tom at the end of "Total Eclipse"; so I thought that Klaus wanted all of us to stay together very tight.
Afterwards DJ Donut played records like she was swimming and took all of us into space.
She was stylish. Klaus, you must have been a person with a great heart who believed in art as a pretext to embrace humanity.
The Klaus Nomi tribute wasn't just a success, it was something else.... he was there!
Thnak you, Vivianne!
CHAPTER ONE: TRASH LIKE ME
Cranberry Flats: Anyone Got A Banjo?
I went with Ann Magnuson to Charleston, West Virginia to participate in a benefit for the local chapter of Covenant House, whose credo is quoted below:
We believe that through our different faith traditions, God is seen on the side of the poor. We believe that we are to use our prophetic imaginations to create a new earth.
We believe that we must work together across all barriers and boundaries in order to solve the social problems of our community. These issues are interconnected with the social issues of our state, national and global community.
We believe that all people have rights to housing, food, clothing, education, health care and employment. These rights ought to be guaranteed to all human beings irrespective of race, class, sex, religion, creed, sexual identity, age, handicap or national origin.
We believe that we must act justly on behalf of all people.
Wow! They set some pretty high goals for themselves. I think more along the lines of, If only I can manage to get the tile in my bathroom redone in a period appropriate style, puh-leeeeeeeze God - sometime before I die!
I believe the Covenant House organization has chapters all over the U.S.A. - isnt there one on Western near Fountain right here in L.A.? Or did I read that sign wrong, as I rushed by it to waste my disposable income on overpriced restaurants and collectible vintage LPs by bands like the Sauterelles, and that sign really said the much witchier, more Californian Coven House? Uh-oh - Im beginning to sound like the guilty white liberal I am! Excuse me!
Well, suffice to say, these Covenant House folks are GOOD people - thats GOOD with a capital G-O-O-D! Ann had been playing these benefits regularly, and I was thrilled to be part of it. The weird thing is that I actually got paid as well, about which I felt somewhat conflicted, but I wasnt QUITE enough of a guilty white liberal to forego the honorium. They dont give those vintage LPs away for free! I still have my eye on on important things, like that mono version of God Bless Tiny Tim. So I rationalized effortlessly: Well, these people have been doing this for years - They must know what theyre doing!
Ann and I had a secondary motive of having her show me around all the playgrounds of her youth in and around Charleston - the High Schools, Hollers, and Head Shops that had shaped her budding perspective on American life and culture, or lack of same. Fun! We were also going to visit her father in the Snow Shoe ski resort, so what little altruism we embodied was spread pretty darn thin, even from the get-go.
WV CHAPTER 2: CANDYLAND
We were picked up at the airport by one of Anns dear friends, Candy, who was a staunch member of what was, suddenly, a fast vanishing species: a West Virginia Democrat.
It felt very Jackie-Oh! to be taken up the winding roads through the wooded hills and along the dramatic riverside cliffs, festooned with industrial revolution Mothman Prophecies bridges, to Candys lovely home with the tasteful heirlooms and the immaculately appointed atmosphere of gentility and casually lavish hospitality. Candy was highly literate, a game and humorous conversationalist with a glowing purebred beauty, like an idealized portrait of a youthful senators vivacious wife. This was no fast food Martha Stewart/Laura Ashley snooty approximation of breeding - it was hard-earned rarified book-learnin warm and welcoming culcha, doncha know. Fantastic!
Lest one get the notion that there was even a single ounce of pretension, one had only to look to the left to Candys partner, a hot silver-haired pony-tailed rocknroll loving post hippie smartass who also runs the local head shop (Where for 99 cents I got my early Xtian Rock Musical version of The Narnia Chronicles The Roar of Love from about 1978, by the 2nd Chapter of Acts, containing the hit Are You Goin To Narnia? - scary!).
Candys books spilled out of every crevice and shelf, and though most were neatly divided by subject and alphabetized, many were causually tossed about on every surface with bookmarks, as if caught in midread, easily controverting Candys humorous disclaimer that Books are just SOOOOOOO decorative!
I recognized many of the books as identical to those in my parents collection, more through visual acuity in regards to their distinctive spines than having actually read any of them - Im a child of my generation after all!
But it made me wonder about the generational mind adventures they must have shared, binding geographically distant intellectuals across the nation much as we today might share a website. My eyes wandered across the familar bindings of Balzac, Rumer Godden, Joyce, Mann, Dinesen; Joseph in Egypt, Babbit - all books I am unlikely ever to read in this particular lifetime. I also spotted the books once given me as suitable reading for a child, like Anna and the King of Siam. There were titillating sounding collections like The Complete Works of Osbert Sitwell in lavish gilt Victorian bindings, between the volumes of poetry and whatever cultural diversions had graced the New York Times best seller lists over the last 20 years. Art and photography, history and science, wonderful childrens books - everywhere the hunger for edification. How I love an oasis where language and culture are so valued!
West Virginia doesnt feel particularly southern - you dont get the sensation of grand ante-bellum plantations, or the historical smudge of vine covered slave quarters, or the romance of Mark Twain riverboat culture - it feels much more transitional; a halfway point between the sleepy south, the industrial north and the prairie midwest. More backwoods! giggles Candy helpfully, and theres a reason why the tourist stops are filled with Hillbilly outhouses made out of local coal - its backstory is more fuedin families with stills-in-the-back-yard Deliverance than Scarlett and Rhett.
Apparently, until the recent depression that has emptied the city, giving it the rare American distinction of actually losing population, the major industries here were chemicals and energy in all of its environmentally incorrect permutations. You wouldnt know it to look at the gracious streamline moderne university glamorously floating just beyond the peaceful green riverbank like an errant Fred Astaire ocean liner, while behind it the recently gilt capitol dome glows in the humid piercingly blue sky.
Candys house reflects this midway point between genteel grandiosity and rusticated restoration hardware functionality. Its sort of highly sophisticated colonial ranch living. Though every surface in the house is white glove clean, outside the humidity inspires picturesque moss to grow on everything, giving a romantic air of natural decay amid the lavish blooms of lilac and dogwood everywhere.
Candys daughter, a frisky energetic natural beauty, is a sous chef at the local nouvelle/sushi restaurant, and she brings us all sorts of luscious tidbits and samples as our jet lagged eyes blear up and were ready to sink into downy beds. Theres all sorts of cackling laughter and storytelling and soon we feel like family. I know why Ann loves these people, and its not just the hospitality, although that doesnt hurt! Its something open and giving in the spirit, something easy and warming. Something about loving life and longing to share that enthusiasm.
Is it then, just as were drifting sleepward, that we hear Candy lightly sharing, with a sort of subtle air of restrained mourning, that no matter how comfortable and rarified shes made her homelife, shes really lonely here, because the ugliness of Red State politics has become so oppressively ingrained into every aspect of this seemingly down home culture? Is it then that she shares that besides her daughters, her partner, and her friends at the covenant house, and a single adventurous gay couple who have bought property down the road, she really has no one to talk to? I think thats what she shared, after the cabernet had loosened our tongues to make like life-long friends. But Im sure it slipped out unheralded amid cheery banter, between blasts of songs on their brand new copy of Neil Youngs Living With War CD (about which I admire the bravura sentiment, and its GREAT he did it, but it would have been nice if hed spent ten more minutes on the songs).
It makes America seem even more strange and cruel - that such a beautiful environment can have such an overlay of spiritual want. Candy has charitable appointments most days, volunteering as a docent at an art museum so schools can bring their kids there, giving a reading class to other kids, to say nothing of what I imagine her political work entails. I see her on the go the next morning, driving out to organize all sorts of good things. And she has a fantastic loving family life, and a gracious home in which she makes strangers like me feel so unequivocably welcome. Is this the same lady that sounded like she was fighting back a slow-moving, long-threatened, long-suppressed tear last night, before she brushed it aside with another charming anecdote? Its confusing - its not raw enough to be sad, but it adds to the bleak grey impression of a countrys populace so far off the track that true hope seems almost like a lost commodity - the rare vintage of which cannot be spared for everyday use, but must be saved to be savored in spiritual crisis when all fighting and caring has left one empty and drained.
But thats not what we talked about over coffee the next morning! Candy was on the run with a thousand things to do, and Ann and I would be busy with a quick visit to the people who run Covenant House, then rehearsal and soundcheck, and then maybe take a spin around Charleston gawking at architectural treasures, and maybe take a solemn moment at the beautiful hilltop holler next to the former art museum to where the memorial for Anns brother had been held.
WV CHAPTER 3: (THANKFULLY) BRIEF PRURIENT ASIDE
The beds had been so comfortable that first night, and I felt so safe in that house, that Im sure it contributed to the wonderful dream I had: I was in a typical NYC railroad tenement flat, much like the ones I and all my East Village friends all inhabited at one time or another, and as I walked through it, the apartment just kept telescoping lengthwise magically so it could hold all of my New York friends from over the years like we were at a big High School reunion, and some people from L.A. were there too. So I got to laugh and chatter with Billy Stark and Howie Pyro and Patrick OLeary and give my dear friends Liz Swope (Beirut Slump) and Liz Seidman (Disco Lolitas) long lingering hugs, and finally I got through the throng to the end of the mile-long telescope/apartment, where it was so packed that there was only room to sit on the bed. So I ended up squeezed in between my old dead boyfriend Bradly Field (Teenage Jesus) and the delightful Theresa ODonahue of the Fabulous O Sisters. I was so happy to see Bradly that we just started kissing (a little too demonstratively! You may write and request the embarrassing necrophiliac X-rated version) and holding eachother, and suddenly his nose began to twitching, Just like Oscars! I thought. (Oscar is the white cat that lives with me and my current BF). Then right before my eyes, Bradlys nose mutated INTO a cat nose! Meow!
I woke up and had one of those bittersweet moments - there had been so much death around me, and around my generation and tribe, with Lance and Bradly and Klaus and John Sex and Tom Rubnitz and Joseph Fleury and scores of others gone - it had for years been the one constant - then why do I still live? I could have gone down the path of what I had or hadnt done, and whom I had or hadnt failed, and it beckoned like a seductive come-hither siren song of shame and regret. But somehow I remembered to just be grateful for life and the path Id been given, and that, after all those crazy adventures Id been blessed enough to be on with those wonderful kooks, I was lucky enough to be here, on yet another one! Thank God, if any! Life is good and rich and full of discovery, and there were robins nesting in the gloriously opulent trumpet vine just beyond the Steinway that Candys longtime helpmate Nanny was polishing, and we had stuff to do.
WV CHAPTER 4: COVENANT HOUSE PARTY
We went round to the Covenant House and met Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey. They were two petite, vibrant, warm, welcoming, exuberant and humorous women, with little pixie haircuts and sensible clothes. Their can-do optimistic energy reminded me so much of the best qualities of my Moms friends from the days of Quaker Peace Activism - they make it seem like there isnt anything dull or academic or mournful about doing good. Apparently, though Ive never actually practiced it, its an exciting calling that gives you an enviable bubbly energy.
So these ladies immediately put me at ease. I always get the pre-high-school-exam jitters of being hopelessly trapped in a grimly interminable ritual of sensory punishment when taken on a tour of some institution - I have the self-involved Do we really HAVE to see it? naysaying attitude of exhaustion-before-the-fact. Im a lazy snob! But this wasnt like that at all. I felt like I was with my favorite aunts or slightly older sisters, and we were running around to go on some great new white water rafting boat trip or something - they were simply abuzz with good vibes.
It was very moving to go through the house, which offers a drop-in center, emergency assistance, food pantry, free clothing, adopt-a family program, counseling and an AIDS residential and resource program. Covenant House's AIDS program was instrumental in forming a statewide coalition: WV Coalition for People with HIV/AIDS. You can learn more about the coalition's mission and works at: http://www.wvaids.org.
The house itself is an revamped sort of craftsman affair with facilities for drop-ins to take showers and do laundry, or just hang around socializing in the garden or living room, and there is a private entrance for people with HIV to enter with dignity if they choose to use it, and to guard against any potential negative feedback or ostracism from the drop-ins community of origin, which is a sad testament to the invidious continuing prejudice that is not yet uncommon.
The drop in center/ living room is warm and sunny with lots of original woodwork, and the people working there are on first name terms with most of the visitors that day.
One of the volunteers came up to me and shook my hand, and said I read all about you on your website! Gulp! Maybe I should tone down the rant? Nawwww! Because apparently these good people are still speaking to me AFTER they read it, and really, who else matters?
Candy met us for the end of the tour, and we went upstairs to see the art that had been donated for a silent auction during the performance the next night. They had taken Family of Man type photographs of the staff and the people who called Convenant House their haven over the last 25 years, and framed them with distressed wooden window frames rescued from various razed houses.
It was work that at once put me off with its naked guilty white liberal manipulation - it was like assembly-line wistfulness - and yet moved me nearly to tears to see the work that was done to give these disenfranchised souls a lift, however transient, in their quality of life and their feeling of community, safety, and resource. And of course I mentally revisited the trail of the dead in my own life. It was difficult to look at. But it helped seeing it under the guidance of these wonderful vivacious literate caring people.
I think Barbara and Patricia actually founded this particular branch of Covenant House (www.wvcovenanthouse.org) 25 years ago - after they........
.........Well, thats a whole other story! And its a big one! But briefly, they are notorious/famous/revered for being former nuns who very publicly resigned from their religious congregation, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SND), after a protracted struggle with the Roman Catholic Church involving their public pro-choice stand on abortion.
Their struggles with their institution (and home) is detailed in a highly regarded portrait book No Turning Back that they co-wrote, wherein they tried to get the Catholic Church to at least create some forum in which creative dissent about abortion, and finally about anything, was allowed and dealt with fairly. I actually think this book is required reading in many courses on feminism, civil disobedience, and religious freedom, etc.. Its a tragically predictable story of patronizing dismissal, and finally the compromises the charch ask the two women to make are too much for their spiritual well-being. Even though the Catholic Church protests that it is bad for the faith at large if they resign, they choose to do so, leaving the institution that they had both chosen as young women to devote their foreseeable lives to. And in a heroic turnaround, they seem to claim that leaving the church was when their real lives, spiritual and otherwise, actually began. Pretty heavy! They are like rock star activist nuns! The more I learn, the more humbled I am.
Its hard not to feel small when preparing to merely play some goofball music for such dedicated inspiring experts who are out there in the trenches, doing the draining and sometimes thankless work of really making a tangible difference in peoples lives, and this gosh darn world.
But then maybe there is a place for what may be charitably termed court jesters like us? A sort of liberal USO? Maybe our small gift is to give the community some welcome distraction, hopefully lighten their hearts, and even make it feel MORE like a community by drawing people together with music and laughter? I know thats pretty watered down Monday morning rationalization, but I have to do something to make myself feel O.K. in the company of these saints.
We were reassured constantly how welcome we were and how excited people were about us, and even that sales or making money on the event was not an issue. They perceived these concerts more as outreach sessions to the community at large, to local politicians, business men, residents, and indeed anyone who might be drawn in by the music and fun and then become interested in what they were doing.
WV CHAPTER 5: GO-GO SHOW BOAT - BAND OF GOLD!
Anyone for Bowie?
So I tucked my self-doubt into my vest pocket, or would have if I were wearing a vest, and we headed for rehearsal at the adorable little gem of a vintage theater, one of those catalogue mini-palaces from the 20s that most mid-sized towns of America still sport. If they havent yet been razed, were lucky enough that the current trend is towards turning them into revitalized community art centers, like this one had been. It had a Greek revival theme with somewhat time worn plaster bas reliefs of generic Gods and Goddesses all over the walls amid less specific floral motifs.
The band was waiting for us there - most of them Mountain Stage radio show regulars. The band were musical director Ron Sowell on acoustic and rhythm guitar, Ryan Kennedy on lead guitar, Julie and Laurel on backing vocals, last minute replacement Ken Tackett drums, and Chris Allen on bass. Ron looked sort of like a friendly pirate, long hair with an impish grin; Ryan looked like he was at LEAST 3 generations younger than me, and by his fashion signifiers, he could either be the intimidating gangsta guy from down the block who wanted to kill fags, or just a nice guy who happened to buy a lot of black clothing at the gap. Being paranoid, I was fearful he might be the former, and for a while I just kept my trap shut! Ken was a tall handsome Wilson Brothers type, and apparently was a big golf buddy of Rons and they kept an affable repartee going, while Chris was the quiet one, but occasionally let go with a sassy zinger.
What was amazing was that from the murky rough demos of the songs from Anns new CD that, in effect, wed be basically previewing here, they had learned EVERY SINGLE SONG almost NOTE perfectly - and they had an incredible relaxed groove oriented feel that made the songs seem even better! And on the rare occasion that I had to correct them and say, I know it was hard to hear, but that song is actually a MINOR chord, they all listened attentively, didnt bristle under my musically illiterate direction, played EVEN BETTER, and then THANKED me! They also went on and on about how much they enjoyed playing the material, and loved the chord changes. I thought, Is this a trick? Or just southern/transitional hospitality?
But it seemed absolutely genuine. Ryan was just an absolute revelation - no matter what you suggested, he telepathically embodied your vision, only better than you could have imagined it. He was like the magnificent Fredo Ortiz (Genius Beastie Boys drummer, with whom it is often my pleasure to play in the Abby Travis Band) of guitar. There was no pop refence too obscure for him to pick up on it - and I thought, Dont these people usually play Bluegrass or something? But they were totally connecting to their inner glam - maybe thats why they enjoyed it so much! Glam is for EVERYBODY!
We had even thought that, to make it easy on the guys, Ann and I would play a couple of numbers by ourselves. But they practically begged to be on those as well - so Ken learned a delicately swinging brush part for the deceptively complex Skys ACryin, which is basically one verse and about 14 unrelated bridges, in about 5 minutes flat.
And we had arranged Sex In Heaven so they would only have to learn a little tag and the last chorus - I thought it was too complex to throw at them with all the other meterial they were going to have to learn. So it was wild to discover that, on their own, they had learned all the parts to that as well, and seemed genuinely disappointed that we were sticking with the pared-down acoustic version.
I just wanted to marry them all! And I have an absolutely magnificent band in Los Angeles - but there is something magical about coming across the U.S. to meet a bunch of strangers and have them bring such hi-falutin golden salutatious srump-diddly-umptious instant trouble-free quality to your most opaque composition. It was like a little bit of heaven! I wont believe anything I see on the red neck channel anymore! I think those woefully unfunny homophobic crap-spewing comedians are a bunch of fakes - a passle of citified posers condescending to a people they know nothing about. Because if this is the kind of musicianship you get in Deliverance country, us big city rats could learn a thing or two!
So we went home aglow with the inspiration of meeting these new musical friends, and looking forward to the show the next day. What made the approaching show even more poignant was that I learned that it was also a farewell show for Barbara and Patricia. Here Id just met them, and seen all the fabulous work they were doing, and now it was already time to say good-bye.
The Charleston Daily Mail said:
Barbara Ferraro and Pat Hussey, co-directors of Covenant House, will leave at the end of the year and return to New England to be near family. The former nuns believe the time has come to pass the leadership torch. For the last 25 years, they watched the seeds they planted sprout, grow and flourish.
Now, Barbara Ferraro and Pat Hussey believe the time has come for new leadership to plant ideas and form visions for Covenant House.
We feel assured the mission and the original vision can continue without us," Ferraro said. "We are leaving when things are in good shape. We feel good about leaving it in good hands. We need to look at emerging leadership. You have to know when it's time to let go.
The two will return to their native Massachusetts to be near their family members at the end of the year. A search committee is now looking for new leadership for Covenant House.
Easy come, easy go! Anyway, I wasnt too sniffly as we got ready for the show down in the dank basement which smelled of rats and spilled beer - but they were vintage rats! Anns hair and make-up were being done by an old school wise-acre charmer of a gay beautician, who actually was wearing cream colored loafers that he could be light in.
Backstage I'm Lonely!
We went on after a Ron Sowell solo spot, during which he played a heartfelt anthem in front of a slide show of the history of covenant house, and the audience may not have been capacity, but it was pretty darn full.
It was an ambitious set which included:
Falling for an Actor*
Old Enuf 2 B Yer Mom*
I Met An Astronaut *
Mystery Hole (a hilarious Bongwater song about a local Knotts Berry Farm type crooked house attraction, and any sexual innuendo in the title is purely intentional. I didnt play on this, but it was an anarchic wild swamp rock number that allowed Ann to fully access her Miss Pussy Pants Raver persona)
Just a Guy*
Is this Heaven?*
Sex in Heaven
(* = Songs from the new CD)
Amd more! Plus other stuff I didnt actually play on, like the West Virginia anthem!
The show went well, and the band played like magicians, so we got a genuine ovation that let us play the encore Moonage Daydream with impunity, going from slinky to hyper glam over the course of four minutes, and ending with one of Ryans amazing solos. It seemed odd that after the sophisticated audience recognized every one of Anns expertly timed pop references with avid laughter and warm applause throughout her show, the name David Bowie would be greeted with a hush that indicated he just didnt enter their pop culture vocabulary at any juncture. Weird! Is this a Bowie Free State? Hopefully we made some converts, but all I know is, it sounded fantastic. Charleston, got to go Bowie!
Afterwards there was a meetngreet in a gallery next door with rich pastries which were mostly gone by the time we got there. Apparently some heavy politicos showed up (Mayor? Governor?) but I didnt meet them. I think there was a guy running for Senate named Higgins gladhanding in a 40s fashion outside the theater, and was Bonnie Brown his adversary? She was there too. I think wed seen her stumping in the harsh sun beside the highway outside the university earlier. Small town Norman Rockwell politics! However, I DID get to meet Anns tall imposing silver haired Dad, who looked more like a Republican Congressman from The Contender than any of the real condidates, among other family members and their friends whod all come from distant places for the occasion. But mostly I just hung out with the band, who were so funny and friendly it was like an instant gang of peeps. It was weird to think we might never play together again. It was hard to say good-bye! But it gave me a new kind of faith that there are wonderful friendly musicians everywhere.
OMIGOD! Im listening to a medium cool Mamas and Papas wannabe band called Juarez who keep ending up slightly more Spanky than MnP, and they just sang in four part harmony Life is a sad little frug, with the icy touch of a pop art clown! Fantastic!
WV CHAPTER 6: CHARLESTON NATION?
We Have Always Lived In The Castle
It only takes a little research to find out this starling fact: the West Virginia State Soil is Monongahela Silt Loam . Just thought youd like to know!
Anyway, Ann and I got ready to leave Charleston the next day, but not before driving down the 1500 block of Virgina street - the LONGEST BLOCK IN THE WORLD! There Ann told me of her secret fantasy: housing prices are very low in Charleston, (at least if you live in L.A.!) and as she drove me through the historic garden district there was mansion after mansion in the ragtime style ,all walking distance from the sweeping capitol grounds and the river. Grand brick affairs with columnated wrap around porticos, stained glass windows on the first landing, garden gazebos and romantic gables, and about a third of them were for sale!
I guess thats what happens when all the main industries leave town. Anns idea was to get as many of our friends who were exhausted by LA - which means most of them - and get them to buy these mansions so we could all be artsy neighbors and start a sort of magical arts community, and just in effect co-opt the whole town.
In that moment, seduced by the gorgeous architecture and the verdant setting, I BELIEVED! Charleston is one of those towns where theyre carefully restoring whats left of the historic downtown district, in hopes of inspiring a return from the suburbs of business and pedestrian traffic, and at first glance, it looks like its working - the vintage street lamps and Victorian detail gleam with recent paint and polish. But empty storefront after dusky empty storefront tell another story - its a town without focus, without dream, and the appallingly ugly mall only 6 blocks away is the only downtown edifice that seems to inspire any custom. Could we really get a party of kooks to move here and take it over, like we did the East Village in our youth?
But theres one major difference, besides the stodginess that inevitably comes with age - this is no urban center, connected to the rest of the world as a vital thriving community. Its a cute country retreat. And it isnt even close to ANY other major cites. Mounting the smallest of tours for whatever incredible musical aggregrates our fantasy commune would lead us to create would be a logistical nightmare. And no matter how close the internet has brought the world, actual travel is often required - especially if you like PEOPLE - and I do! Still, those for sale signs in front of those gorgeous mansions continue to haunt my daydreams.
WV CHAPTER 7: WEST VIRGINNY WAYFARERS
Before we got completely out of Charleston, we made a side trip to Nitro, a small hamlet whose main industry is - Nitro! It was a crumbling roadside strip of white wash peeling brick single story boxes, with chest high weeds crowding in from the foothills like triffids. They had a nice bunch of antique malls there with reasonable prices on the vintage tin-types Ann was researching for her new CD, but the most remarkable thing about it was that the kids WERE having fun in Nitro- by lighting piles of tires on fire! Retro! Now thats good sport. The black smoke heaving into the sky was as dramatic as any injun smoke signal in a 40s serial. And I got a piano shawl with 20s egyptian belly dancers. So there.
We meandered through West Virginny at a leisurely pace - went to Pearl S. Bucks home, a home of near-Amish severity but the ghost of the writer made it feel lively and inspiring. The backyard windows looked onto a sunny orchard, then a wide field, and then rolling foothills where not one sign of the 20th century intruded - not even a telephone pole. The whole state felt like time travel, and I remembered from some Willy Pogany illustrated nursery rhyme book that only the yellow rose knows how good mud feels between the toes. Bucks books had also been deemed child appropriate when I was in grade school, so I was reading up on extended families with mistresses and infidelity and revolution as just a bitsy tweener. We stopped for lemonade at some friends of Anns who had a working farm, and a humble house full of family antiques on a grand bluff overlooking it, with a bullfrog pond, a Grimms forest sneaking down on it from the hillside, and crazy arrays of wildflowers. The late spring air was thick with fragrance and buzzing bugs. Could life ever have truly been like this? I had to shake myself to remember that this farm was actually the vanity project of a wealthy retiree - not the hardscrabble existence that true farmers had before corporations destroyed them. Even my memories and sense of what is American are courtesy of Disney, and thus suspect. Like Radiohead says, Nice dream.
Shopaholic: Pepperidge Farm remembers, But WV tries to forget!
We stopped to pet a Llama (!) that rushed to a rough-hewn fence to greet us. At a country cafe in a small town that seemed to have more churches than populace, the sign by the cherry blossoms in front of the chapel across from us proclaimed, Reverend Lucy. Now that was Rockwell-free reality! Must have been Episcopalian. We stopped at abandoned company towns clinging to steep piney-wood hillsides right out of a pre-Nick Cave sullied Murder Ballad, built for railway or lumber workers - Of course, despite the cruel stratifying indentured servitude heritage of these company towns, now, to paraphrase the Micah 4:3 adage, they shall beat their cottages into time shares.
And of course we drove by many roadside triple cross displays - coarse ochre handmade two by four crosses, co-opting the landscape like Avenue D squatters in an explosion of folk art fundamentalism, peeking out of forest and glen, or naked on hilltop. Calvary Alert! Heres what the net is good for: now I know that Calvary means skull as, apparently, does Golgotha! That really puts the goth in Golgotha!
You know, I may only be writing this incredibly verbose account of our trip after all these months, but I have an excuse, because we just opened our jar of West Virginia grown Zekes Original recipe Hillbilly salsa! And its good! Strangely pickle-y, but right tasty!
We then drove up a steep curving hill on the way to Snow Shoe, familiar in feel from all my visits to Idaho. We got to the top after a long ride, and it opened up into a spare ghost town of architecture not unlike a minimalist Universal Citywalk - it all seemed faux, but faux what? Neither chalet nor chateau, it aimed for something grander than mere resort, but recent upgrading left it spookily generic. It was like an Olive Garden restaurant masquerading as Zurich. Of course it was summer and off season, and it would have felt quite different with the expected crowds of college swingers and ski bums, covered head to toe in lycra corporate logos and weirdly form-fitting neu-ski gear, fresh off their hot toddies, and trolling for ski molls, along with the odd middle aged couple on the beginners slope in pink sweat pants and hangovers.
But the actual condo complex that Anns dad called home was much more culturally flavorful. It had a sixties "Hef puts his feet up" feel, and his back door terrace looked into a thick forest where there was often bear sighting. The apartment was uber-manly, avocado green and dark panelling, with mementos of various world excursions and framed pictures of Ann in all the stages of her career. Martinis were offered as casually as if we were all in the Bond family. There were little patches of snow and frost lingering, and the air was as crisp as a laminated guide book. Her dad had fun neighbors who invited us for powerful cocktails, crab on toast points, and resort gossip about marriage and health and occasional local scandal. Ann and I took long walks in the crunchy pine needle carpeted woods and thought about lifenstuff - as one might, when on a soaring mountaintop skyspace, caught somewhere between the great creator and the outsized steaks her dad bought us at the one restaurant that was open off-season.
My mind wandered to divorce, American style, in my family as well as Anns, and how the artsy found their family of choice as soon as they could escape to whatever tawdry Mecca beckoned and was affordable. I mean - thats how I met Ann! In a tawdry yet affordable environment - backstage at the New Wave Vaudeville show! There was a lot of private stuff that Im not going to tell any of you until you write me pleading beseeching fan mail, hopefully with offers of sexual favors. But it was poignant, plaintive, profound and piquant being there. And pretty too! And while I pulled out the earth-toned plaid tweedy castro convertible in the guest room, and snooped through the closets and drawers (no porno!), I got to think about the wonders of long term friendship, and having a creative history with someone, and survival and commitment and all those other good things that make for snooze-fest reading but resound in my soul nonetheless. Im very lucky to get to travel with Ann and make music with her!
We rounded out the trip with a visit to Cranberry Flats - a big plain of primordial swampy tundra, with mossy rotting logs enough for any aspirant leprechaun or garden gnome. Columbine flowers (NOT AK47s, nature lovers) actually grew wild in the rich damp earth, as did cranberries. The creaky boardwalks that kept you from sinking into the ooze were silver from elemental pummeling, and peppered with bear shit, which made one think that the bears liked a nice place to evacuate, just like us! And we happened upon a little mouse carcass that we poked with a stick. How I love nature!
Somehow, in retrospect, it all seemed like a real Moonage Daydream: why did I feel so guilty when confronted with the Barbara and Patricia - true saints of our time, yet only a day later, when confronted with some of the most gorgeous wonders of nature Id ever witnessed, I thought not of God our creator, but of possible property investment, and how I could get all my pals to have a big party out here? Im just a lot more Druid than Catholic I guess!
Treesnflowrsnnaturenshit just make me want to get some red wine, pull out my Hello Kitty boom box, put on some hot tracks by Shampoo, and dance around making an even bigger dope of myself than I already am! Maybe I am the son of Hickory Hollers Tramp! And youre all invited - to be Trash Like Me!
Monsanto at Snow Shoe!
Well, first theres the REAL Gun Club - we Americans! That damn Pakistani terrorist Muslim Liquid Explosive plot sure smacks of pre-election convenience, and it even has a 9/11 cross marketing branding tie-in with Ollie Headline-huggin 3-flops-in-a-row Northss new milquetoast take on the whole damn fear thing.
I mean, I do think there ARE Muslim terrorists that are stupid and evil, but are they all REALLY out stumping on the campaign trail to get a bunch of Republicans re-elected and keep Bush in power? Who fucking profits?
Both the Bush and Blair approval ratings were falling off precipitously, and now those two bunker buddies can get all cozy over this supposed triumph of our Big Brother security policies.
Then why, on the front page of the Los Angeles times, IN the headline, are they still calling it an alleged terrorist plot? But at least it gave Schwarzenegger a moment to flex some atrophying muscle by deploying the National Guard - very True Lies! Everybody wants in on the act! Except, apparently, sensible Oakland, who refused Arnies blustery blowhard offer.
At least when I talk about my Gun Club, I admit its only show biz! So lets set the way back machine to right before the June 29th Opening Night Premiere of director Kurt Voss Gun Club Documentary Ghost on the Highway.
DONT KNOCK THE ROCK
Who am I? Davey Crock? KH Pix by Dawn Wirth
Only the previous Monday, I was happily conscripted as a temporary Jeffrey Lee Pierce channeling medium through the generous and unfailing machinations of fab indie photog, and long time friend, Dawn Wirth . She used all of her persausive powers (and perhaps some of her delicious Brownies) to remind her friend Terry Graham, Gun Club drummer extraordinaire, that I was perfect for this assignment (and who am I to argue?), and apparently it worked! Because later, when I picked up the phone, it wasnt my usual techno-friend, the pre-recorded telemarketer; it was the providential call from Terry.
Just moments before, my friend Arthur and I had been wondering how we were going to get into the darn show at all - we didnt know about the movie, but we wanted to see Kid Congo Powers revisit his Gun Club incarnation for sure! The only thing was, we were sure Kid, with whom we both shared varied adventures, would be getting into town too close to the show for us to wheedle tickets out of him, and the show was already sold out.
But now , suddenly, thanks to Dawn, THAT was solved: I was going to be IN it! Thats the A-List of freebies!
I got to have one run-through of the song on Wednesday (the night before the show). When I walked into the NoHo rehearsal space, legendary Flesheater Chris D (who produced the original Gun Club masterpiece LP Fire of Love) was in the middle of an intimidatingly masterful rendition of that OTHER Fire of Love, the single. Pretty heavy! Chris always had those arched eyebrows that make him look either angry or thoughtful, depending on your state of mind. So I quivered in a dark corner, too scared to even say hi.
But Terry is a perennial wit and charmer, and warm as all get-out. And Kid is, of course, the Rajah of love and affection (although I dont know where that Cramps turban went!) just radiating welcome, and Ward was at his sly sardonic best. Rob Zabrecky was on bass, just one of his million OTHER capabilities beside being a celebrated songwriter, rock legend, and Magic Castle magician. And of course I know him from his Velvet Hammer incarnation, so soon I was at ease. Thus singing my assigned song Fire Spirit with this fantabulous convention was just chock full of rockem sockem fun.
As I left, Kid asked me how I was going to dress, and I said without hesitation, Why as a swamp wizard, of course!
Oh how I LOOOOOVED that first Gun Club LP! Thankfully, I tastefully neglected to share how many times Id had sex to those seminal (ha ha) tracks - a tad too much information? But the mysterious Kashiselvis , who opened for the Gun Club at the Variety Arts Center, certainly knows!
Kashiselvis opens for the Gun Club at the historic Variety Arts Center
L-R: John Edsall, Fred Maddox, Robert Mache, KH, Paul Rutner, Kash, Joe Katz, Craig Roose, P.J.Goldfinger
Anyway, our three minute preparation apparently went well enough that they all said, Why dont you sing Goodbye Johnny too? I dont know about you, but I took that as a supreme compliment.
So we decided to do that song without a rehearsal - in keeping with Wards admonition Dont be too good! You really shouldnt sound so much like a real musician!
The day of the show I got to the venue - the uber-buzzy Redcat Theater in the basement of the notorious, blindingly reflective Disney Concert Hall, the building that took architect Frank Gehry out of a dead-end of ugly minimalism and down a rabbit hole of delightful Reynolds Wrap whimsy.
I caught myself rudely scooting right by Dawn, who was waiting outside, because my sieve-like mind was just obsessively going over and over the lyrics to Goodby Johnny and I was in an alzheimers adjacent fog. So I blindly groped my way back for the soundcheck, into the 80s black box minimalist auditorium. The technicians were all very helpful - and young! However, the brackish water in the cooler dressing room that contained a few floating candy wrappers, and a single lukewarm can of Tecate that certainly should have been carbon dated before trying, kept me grounded in mildewy Rock reality.
Thalia, of the NYC band Come, was the featured singer for the evening and would sing ALL of the songs besides my brief mini-medley. She may have had a petite body in a blood-red western shirt, but she filled the room with her super cool punk rock rasp - very melodic, like Jeffrey crossed with Janis Joplin, but also capable of cool whispery Morrison spell-casting. She was bringing an almost manly rock prowess to her reverent interpretation of the songs. So her soundcheck went like magic.
By comparison, thinking of my inescapable instinct towards unforgivable hamminess, I never felt gayer! (Think, in grade school sing-song: I dont go out with the girls anymore! I dont intend to marry! I just go out with the boys I adore - WHEEE - Im a fairy!) At first I thought - is this affect appropriate for this swamp rock legacy? But then I thought, well Jeffrey was an unpredictable drag-lite fey hambone too, given to all sorts of inept dancing and writhing that made him look a little light in the mocassins, so I just gotta be true to the scattershot breadth (ahem) of his persona and just represent, as the kids say.
After soundcheck, I went backstage and sucked on my generic Equaline Halls-wannabe mentholyptus honey-lemon lozenges - thats the extent of my stagecraft, all in a neat little wax wrapper. I got introduced to Kids new significant other Ryan (which was somewhat incestuous, because didnt he used to go out with my sometime collaborator John Fleck? Hmm.....Maybe there are only a limited amount of fabulous people in the world and were just switching partners like a Gone With The Wind ballroom scene).
Then we all went out to the foyer/bar to check out the vittles, and there was Jenny Lens bouncing around in her hippie mama frock with resplendent iridescent maroon locks, while her catalog of incredible punk era pictures were slide-projected on two walls around us, together with amazing selections from equally fabulous collections by my amiable Gun Club procuress Dawn Wirth and the lovely Theresa Kereakes, who gave so much to the How I Saved the World Mumps compilation. Theresa was there as well, all smiles and honey smooth skin - later, in her new interviews that were included the movie, she looked like she was all of 18. And of course, there WERE some pix of me and Lance et al amid the more site-specific Punk Royalty of the Los Angeles scene. Not only were we bi-coastal, but now were High School art class multi-media too!
Also milling about were loads of punk and post-punk legends, including Lisa Curlin and Ann McClean of the immortal Lotus Lame and the Lame Flames. How it brought back former lead Flame Cindy Schwarzs coyote-like shriek in one of their top hits, I caught you giving blow jobs at the Apache! During my tenure as one of the Lame Flames biggest fans (and often their housegurest as well), I had the privilege of seeing hostess with the mostest Cindy go from being a bank president to a gun runner! And Im not kidding! To those of you in the Lame Flames know, where IS Jocko?
Anyway, I bet now that erstwhile Lame Flame Clayton Clark ( a wonderful artist who also designed a Gun Club album jacket or two!) is married to mainstream Hollywood uber-director Gore Verbinski, someone could get a pretty penny, or at least some petty blackmail cash, for some of those lo-fi videos of the Flames doing a conga line around the chain link fence on the semen-soaked floors of the One Way Leather Bar, which was the Flames spiritual home back in the days when Hyperion was a rather sketchier locale than now, before the greening (as in $$$) of the Silverlake real estate boom. The One Way was sort of the gay sister of the Anti-Club, sharing many of the same outrageous acts and savvy promoters, and proof that for one brief shining moment, fags could actually ROCK!
Back at the Red Cat foyer, there was Ann (Magnuson), looking fab in her black gown, escorted by Arthur Brennan, whod lent Kid his Golden Gibson Les Paul as back-up just in case of a broken string. I didnt even recognize legendary walking encyclopedia L.A. rock historian Johnny Angel, looking tough and macho, but being very gentle when I apologized by abjectly kneeling at his feet. Or maybe he just likes it when people do that? We also met two Gun Club superfan kids, one of whom had the entire Botanica shelf from the back cover of Fire of Love tattooed on his arms. That must have been a chore!
Then back into the auditorium for the movie showing. Michael Des Barres, Silverhead cheekbones and Glam-era Garbo eyes completely intact, welcomed people to the opening night of the festival and the world premiere of the film with his usual sardonic snappy repartee, which, if not quite Oscar Wilde, was at least Oscar Levant, to the giggles of the sold out audience.
Kurt Voss made a brief statement, and the lights went down.
Then there was some puzzled silence as nothing happened for a couple of minutes. People were shifting in their seats uneasily, and several muted coughs could be heard. Finally, the screen was covered with a vibrant yellow sunset portrait of a field of waving wheat, and while some academically bearded talking heads started expounding gravely about the genius of a true British orginal, the blood red credits trumpeted The World of Scott Walker!
A little muffled tumult came from the back of the theater, and the film stopped suddenly, to return the screen to neutral grey. After a brief but uncomfortable interlude, icons representing the production companies that cobbled together the financing for the film together passed by, and there was a collective sigh of relief and some applause as the title Ghost on the Highway appeared on screen.
What first emerged was how articulate and funny and smart and moving Ward and Terry were! As were almost everyone involved in the movie. But why no Brad Dunning (the Gun Clubs first drummer) interview? Dave Alvin, Jim Duckworth and Dee Pop were by turns hilarious, scathing and poignant. As befit the films subject.
It was yet another tragic arc of a misbegotten visionary, not unlike the Nomi Song, in that the genius of choice starts a bewildering downward arc from which he never recovers, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, just death. Glum! And Jeffreys demise seemed more willful and self-determined than most - a slow but utterly committed act of suicide-in-increments as a supposed doorway to transcendence. Was it just the drugs? Or something imbedded and inseparable from his persona, his psyche?
Unlike Klaus, most of whose demons came from without, it seemed like one of the greatest tragedies portrayed in the film was that of Jeffrey buying into his own sad predictable self-mythologizing, and railroading himself into the death legend of his iconic muses.
That character flaw seemed so part and parcel of what made Jeffrey unique and yet lamentably out of touch with where is true genius lay - in his craft, his voice, and his vision.
Somehow, sadly, he seemed to feel it lay more in affecting the boring excesses of his clueless forbears. I still dont believe the mystique of a willful death wish makes you a better artist. In fact, to me its just another form of soul laziness. And this was doubly lazy because it was an applique or decoupage of other peoples death wishes into a patchy scrap book Frankenstein of a rock persona. The tragedy is that without that overlay, Jeffrey would have been great anyway.
The movie also had a peculiar reverse mystification factor: Its funny - but the more people tried to explain Jeffreys genius, the smaller he sounded - everyone name-checked the supremely rote Burroughs/Faulkner appropriations as if they were not something that every tired punk-by-numbers was doing at the time. In a particularly over-the-top moment, they even credited jeffrey with inventing thrift shopping and record collecting (!), as well as giving him credit for inventing a fetish for a cemetery pallor by avoiding the beach, citing that hopelessly generic punkngoth affectation as further evidence of Jeffreys genius for living and direction. I was kept wondering - are you really referring to those things that every single nascent punk-in-waiting had been doing since 1971? Where are you from - the valley?
Weirdly, the guy making most of these dramatic claims was one Mr. Steven Tash. I had actually met Mr. Tash under peculiar circumstances before - he played The Teenager in my then-boyfriend Donald Kreigers performance/theatrical extravaganza called The Unwrapping.
Donald played Ranger Don. Bruce Schwarz (he of the genius grants for his incredibly gorgeous marionettes which he sculpted, dressed, and wrangled with equal facility) made all sorts of floating cat mummies, and some tastefully abstracted human nude mummies as well, including a life sized one, which wrapped and unwrapped while mysteriously floating in one of those magical Vaudeville black out scrims.
I supplied one of my very first tascam 4 track soundtracks of whimsical incidental music, AND I got to play The Mummy! I was in a full Mummy body suit, which I enjoyed as much as armor from self-identification as a dreaded actor ( I actually didnt ever talk to anybody back stage - I just grunted) as I did because it was Halloween-y and I got to shuffle around in Lurch-like slow motion to my hearts content. Unfortunately for Donalds and my relationship, I personally got great notices at the expense of just about everything else in the production - Ooops!
Anyway, I remember Steve Tash as an inexhaustibly perky and enthusiastic Steven Gutenberg type - kind of a walking Pepsico head shot. He seemed like hed just come off a tour with The Kids From Fame, and was just slumming in a bit of equity waver work between Jack in the Box commercials.
But here he was, his frizzy shoulder length hair dyed post-Rockabilly black, Brooklyn-lite NYPD-Blue-friendly accent, a drape coat, and a distressed western themed Knots Berry farm type appartment filled with collectibles, holding forth on his relationship as one of Jeffreys closest friends. Whoda thunk?
As Lurch sayeth, "Grrrrr,Grrrr..."
I guess back then I was still so prejudiced, even though it was admittedly the post-punk 80s , that I thought you were either in OUR tribe, or you were one of THEM. You know, regular people! Eww! Here was a guy who had a toe in both worlds, and apparently the weirdo side of him ultimately won - but even though I worked with him, I had absolutely no idea!
Anyway, in the film Steve still had a chummy self-effacing charm, but he was one of the chief Jeffrey-boosters, constantly citing Jeffreys most unremarkable pasttimes as proof of his unearthly gifts.
Maybe Steve and the others just werent quite able to articulate Jeffreys particular brand of genius - it is difficult to pin down, because it wasnt really about being an original, or an innovator; or even about being a master of pastiche like Bowie. His hybrid of CCR swamp fetish and Cramps redux guitar sounds was more of an inspired mash-up than anything particularly inventive - it was a sound that some fan was bound to make - witness the outpouring of middling "psychobilly" bands soon after. But there WAS something that set Jeffrey apart from those bands. Part of it was tight rocking workmanlike songcraft. But what of his much vaunted "genius"?
I think his genius was more about an uncontrollable will (or even rage) to self-expression that could not die. It wasnt WHAT he expressed - it was the act of expression itself. That was where Jeffrey was a giant, and could not be denied. He wasnt any more a legitimate bohemian outsider than a member of the Dawsons Creek cast - in fact his most believable persona was not the tired Morrison-lite shambolic shaman with a petite soupcon of Johnny Rotten confrontationalism.
His true outsider soul was actually more convincingly hinted at by the pink leggings and Lets Get Physical head-band ONJ bottle-blonde stalker-adjacent Blondie fan club president. Jeffrey could absolutely rock, and wrote fabulous timeless rock songs, but it wasnt his references to heroin (yawn) or poser pseudo sexual longing for Ivy from the Cramps (cringe) that gave his soul its depth - it was this needy wail of wannabe-ism that remained his most unique and timeless role.
That unspeakable raw chasm of hunger is what made Jeffrey a legitimate outsider beyond question, and a revolutionary, and a seer - not despite this utterly desperate nerdism, but BECAUSE of it. He had an utterly desperate need to BECOME - through devouring the de rigeur school of punk book list, through listening to the right obscure jazz records, through name-checking and posing and taking the right drugs, he WOULD transcend, he would BECOME - by will alone. His was no dry Ziggy persona to don and discard at will. He was mortgaging all of his emotional and psychic reserves to truly re-invent himself in the guise of some Frankensteinian hybrid of hipster icons. He was Eve Harrington times 10! His genius was to distill this nerdishly needy wannabe-ism into the chemically imbalanced dizzying Munchian Scream (as brutally impassioned as Lux trance-channeling the Phantom in the Cramp's immortal classic "Love me"), an elemental wail of a soul literally DYING to be heard. His genius wasnt in the dumpy fatigues with the post-Vivienne Westwood Napoleonic mediallions. His genius wasnt in his occasional Brando/Blondie/Arbuckle beauty. His genius wasnt that he bought literally into the sad heroin chic pose, or the shopworn off-the-rack inebriated outrage. His genius WAS that banshee wail that haunted the best of his recordings. The wail that lifted his agile and facile but derivative lyrics above their apparent slavishly imitative high school posturings, and made them rank among the best of the Germs lyrics as evocative and primal cries of a universal discomfort in the inadequate human vessel, among the ruins weve made of Eden. Oh yeah, having a great band helped too!
The other odd thing about the movie was that there was no Gun Club performance in it. There apparently were some back room machinations, and whipsers throughout the auditorium pointed to Jeffreys mom, but I have no proof beyond that speculative gossip - but someone with proprietary rights to the footage that contained actual Gun Club songs had prevented ANY of them from being used. So there was footage of Jeffrey fucking around on stage, baiting the audience, or doing his ridiculous trumpet playing, but all of the set up and back story and unbridled accolades and kudos made you long for proof of the Gun Clubs peculiar genius in the form of at least one wonderful transcendent performance.
Its a credit to the editing and coverage of the movie that it was never less than fascinating, even without that. But it was a huge obstacle to make a movie about a purported rock god and then never show him revealing his gifts.
Fortunately for US shobos, that actually made the audience hungrier for some live musical excitement at the end of the evening. We wouldnt have to compete with any actual Jeffrey stage voodoo - because his Fire Spirit had been silenced in some legal wrangle! So all we had to do was be decent and fun, and wed provide a much needed release for the audience.
I was too nervous to actually watch Thalia do her performance. But I could hear from back stage the thunderous applause and the wild whoops and screams that greeted every song. This was going to be hard! But at least I didnt have to worry about anyone walking out. They seemed genuinely thrilled to be hearing this music being played by so many original members, and being given voice by such a capable charismatic performer.
As I sat in the dressing room, I brooded about what I loved about the movie, and what it showed about Jeffrey that I could use. I had brought something to do a little pre-song reading in what I thought was the spirit of Jeffrey, or at least in the spirit of his voodoo pretensions. But then I began to have the usual pre-show misgivings. Too boring? Will they HATE me?
But after the movie, I felt utterly vindicated about bringing along my homage: all the reverential references to Jeffreys supposedly super-human intellectual capacities in the movie, however much they seemed to miss the point of what was truly cool and transendant about Jeffrey, also gave me a fabulous excuse to wax ridiculously academic - in that Mick Jagger at the Brian Jones Hyde Park memorial way. Like Ann Magnuson said with gape-mouthed awe when she played the clueless groupie character in love with Jim Morrison - Hes deep - he reads books!
So in that spirit, I pulled my sturdy copy of The Magic Island by Alexander King off the shelf - the one Id bought at the Little Morocco street flea market that used to grace Astor Place, before they filled the lot with that strangely retro curvaceous new chromenglass Gwathmey/Siegel Sculpture for Living Citibank building.
That had been the flea market where I was kneeling over some worn cardboard boxes, leafing through some used records (oh yeah, I forgot, Jeffrey invented that!) and thought Wow these look familiar! I turned them over and they all had my intials on them! They were records some junkie had stolen from one of my Grand Street parties, and now I had to buy my own records...again! A very NYC experience, but one they never showed in Felicity. That sure kept the coinage circulating!
So anyway, I brought this book that had once been the property of the American Society for Psychical Research (!), and if it had gotten onto that particular vendors dingy streetcorner blanket by the urge for a fix, what, pray tell, could be more spiritually apt?
When I came out there were screams galore, and Kid generously burbled some introduction for me into the microphone about how wed been friends for years or something, and the stage was set for me to ease into rock history on a cushion of perhaps unearned approval. It was all about the love!
Still, I could hear the collective intake of breath and the unspoken Boredom Alert flashing hazard signal go off in a hundred heads as I opened it to the first page, in a chapter called, appropriately, Secret Fires. I thought to myself Is that all it takes to completely lose an audience that had, only one moment ago, been leaping out of their seats, giving this fabulous band a standing ovation, and even to lose the respectable passle of them who were screaming my name when I came out here? Even the band itself looked stonily prepared for the worst.
But I plowed ahead with the Morrison/Bowie/Jagger/Johanson (remember HIS reading re: La Kane at the Palace?) homage plan, and all I did was change the name of the proragonist in the book to Jeffrey. This is what came out:
Jeffrey, son of Catherine Ozias of Orblanche, paternity unknown - and thus without a surname was he inscribed in the Haitian civil register - reminded me always of that proverb out of hell in which Blake said, He whose face gives no light shall never become a star.
It was not because Jeffreys face, frequently perspiring, shone like patent leather; it glowed also with a mystic light that was not always heavenly.
For Jeffrey belonged to the chimeric company of saints, monsters, poets, and divine idiots. He used to get besotted drunk in a corner, and then would hold long converse with seraphim and demons, also from time to time with his dead grandmother who had been a sorceress.
In addition to these qualities, Jeffrey was our devoted yard boy. He served us, in the intervals of his sobriety, with a passionate and all comsuming zeal.
We had not chosen Jeffrey for our yard boy. He had chosen us.
It was strange, but in the context of the moment, what had been concocted in a halfway jocular farcical frame of mind was suddenly...well....it was WITCHY! It seemed like the right thing to say.
And then I said the first lines of the song I can see clearly... and the crowd roared in thrilled recognition.
But.......we flubbed it - just like rehearsal. No one came in on time, and we came screeching to a graceless halt. Thats drama class for you! Just like the REAL Gun Club. But I started it again, this time with Wards coaching and Terrys full attention, and we went into the song in a kind of fury. Its just a GREAT GREAT song. So fun to sing! Dawn Wirth afterwards said - You really channeled Jeffrey - you were possessed by him! Which I thought was a little too generous, but I loved hearing it!
With that powerhouse of a band behind me - finally really playing ROCK with Kid Congo after all our carefully rock-resistant years of semi-goth posturings in Congo Norvell, I was sure something was working. I really WAS going to the mountain! I felt in tune with the voodoo of the song somehow. Gosh - maybe I was a little too harsh. Maybe there WAS something to this shambolic shaman thing after all!
And the crowd was screaming, and jumping up and down - the roar was like a warm blanket of approval enveloping me - it was so darn Beatlemania or American Idol - a sort of faux knee-jerk adulation,once removed - these werent MY songs, and this wasnt MY band, it wasnt actually ME they were screaming for - I could have been practically anybody. So it wasnt even really MY moment. But the reality of the approval didnt seem to discriminate, and I thought I could get used to this! This is what its like when people actually LIKE you!
So I was shaking my beige buckskin suede Schott Brothers Rancher Davey Crockett leather fringe jacket - Id thought Id never have another Americana/Bad Indian moment like this to exploit this seldom worn relic from the back of my closets. I had no mocassins, so my Lakota war dance had to be in Italian pimp shoes. It was kind of magical! We were putting the wow in Pow Wow!
But I cant repress my inner Schecky for long, unfortunately. So when it came to the break down part of the song, it was my dubious gift for mockery, as opposed to transcendent mojo rising channeling, that won the psychic battle:
Shhhhhh! Shhhh! Im going to make a CONJURE circle - a CONJURE circle I recited in rather unconvincing witch doctor style, etching an imaginary circle in the stage - Were going to call Jeffrey - lets call Jeffrey to join us..... - a few wrist flicking sprinkling motions, and hopefully psychic sounding moans - I am sprinkling the oogly googly - the name of that particular brand of pixie dust came from the lyrics off the immortal Lavern Baker Classic Voodoo Voodoo - and I leaned my ear to the ground, injun style, and while I'm down there inanely incanting "oogly googly" I look up at Kid and he begins to crack that adorable smile of his into a laugh and I can hardle contain myself - should I just lie down on my back, and start giggling at what an oaf I am? NO! I must continue to conjure - I hear something....yes...could it be.......yes...its Jeffrey!...very faint.....louder now.... he has something he really wanted all of you to know..... - I stand up to deliver the message from the ether, as my arms greet the rising Hopi Sun - This is what Jeffrey wanted to tell you - HE REALLY WOULD RATHER HAVE HAD NICK CAVE SING THIS SONG!
I know, I know, I KNOW! That punch line is SO fucking lame, so UN-witchy, but I had heard the rumours that the Gun Club had really tried, and failed, to get Nick Cave to do the whole set, and then they just sort of continued failing down their wish list of requested rock luminaries to do the singing until they finally arrived at...well....me. It seemed funny in my head anyway.
But heres the weird thing. First of all, they were like the classic Im-happy-cause-Im-in-on-the-joke I recognize THAT rock audience - when they heard the words Nick Cave they all SCREAMED, just as if he was walking up behind me to take over the mike. And secondly - even my lousy schtick couldnt kill the voodoo! Because I went right back into the remainder of the song, and Cave or no Cave, they continued rocking and screaming right through to the end of it.
What a fucking high! I was totally seduced by my moment of faux celebrity. I was in love with this moment! I ran over to Ward, who looked like he was afraid I was gonna hit him, but I just gave him a loveing caress on his cheek, and I actually kissed Rob Zabrecky AND Kid Congo on the lips - and they started playing Goodbye Johnny which is much more slinky and spooky. It was just kind of tingly.
And Jeffreys lyrics were suddenly new again in their despair of what we as a species have done. It was like an eerily specific lament against Bush (the flashlights especially reeked of the new culture of indiscriminate surveillance) and all current human crimes against the planet and eachother.
Ive thought for some time that weve gone so far that you dont even need to learn to mourn from experience anymore. Youre born into a sort of ready-made mourning that is as inevitable as diapers and cancer. And it was all there, so simply, in Jeffreys lament. And in the sad minor raga-billy chords. It wasnt really faux Morrison anymore - it was as REAL as the soul of what Morrison represents, or what Morrison was meant to be, or could have been, if only our imagination of him were manifest:
Look whats been done Johhny, Coming out of the east like rain
Look whats been done Johnny, coming like a God with no name
There are flashlights on the backroads
Im out here in the desert.
All your dreams are dead in the desert.
Im all torn up Johnny
It all just beats me down.
Ooooh - I just basked in it.
And then the REAL singer of the evening, Thalia Zedek came out again, and did a show stopping version of For the Love of Ivy.
Fantastic! What a night! I didnt even have to wait to feel good about the performance until I saw Howie Pyro at the opening of the new branch of Manic Panic in Venice Beach and he said, Everyone says you were the best thing about the Gun Club show! - somehow I knew it was a super fun evening, one of those magical times where things come together with.....well....with shambolic shaman voodoo?...and even I hadnt managed to spoil it. Heres to Jeffrey - a Fire Spirit indeed.
Dont Jew Wish You Could Get Away With That?
Did you hear the one about...?
First this: I detest Mel. I detest his smirk, his stance, his hairline, his clothes, his affect, his false aw shucks charm, his oeuvre, his family, his movies (O.K., I admit it, I liked Ransom). He makes me physically ill.
Ive said it before, and Ill say it again - it seems like it might take a LOT to destroy the transcendent fuck-fantasy cachet of the one-time ultimate queerbait leather clad S&M poster boy from Road Warriors. He was the masturbatory icon of the ages! Those leather trousers! That ass! That youthful beauty! That biker affect! Yummy!
But it was an easy job for our Love Removal Machine Mel Gibson. His ridiculously illiterate revisionist fundamentalist views, his horrifically neanderthal contention that his wife will not enter heaven with him, and of course the grim punishing bloodlust that he considers spirituality in The Passion of Christ (to say nothing of the gratingly homophobic Braveheart) have rendered this one time jerk-off blow up doll into fool-proof anti-boner reverse Viagra. Droop!
This, then, is Mels ultimate accomplishment: he made the uber-hot Road Warrior ICKY!
And not just minor league garden variety Could you pop a Certs? icky - But MAJOR LEAGUE SOUL DESTROYING GAG-WHILE-I-VOM-IN-YOUR-MOUTH ICKY! Get Your Fucking Cooties Off Of Me! icky! Dont pop that festering leprous pimple in front of ME icky! Fucking loose stool dripping dog shit on my shoe icky!
Its not merely some testosterone macho Cigar Club Drive Hummer and Carry Big Hollywood Power Stick icky - that kind of icky could still be considered remotely sexual, if only in the most primal Challenge and Conquer I made Rambo my power bottom bitch by shoving my police baton up his ass way. No, its the sore loser on the playground, runny nose, athletes foot, anal wart, first smelt it dealt it loathesome, gruesome, yet strangely powerless icky. Mels behavior makes him ICKY, and SMALL!
BUT! What of that drunken rant of his thats been played out on every front page in America?
WELL - and you can QUOTE ME: THIS JUST IN! And apparently its news so earth shattering that its duking it out with the Lebanon crisis for predominance on the front page: People say OBNOXIOUS STUPID THINGS WHEN DRUNK!
So Im sorry, but even though Mels ickiness runs so deep its like AIDS of the soul, I MUST come to the poor helpless icky and small guys defense! Thats right - as a proud American, Im on the side of the little guy!
I still hate Mel. I hate the way he abuses his power. I hate the way he lies about his fathers beliefs (the same facile way I think he lies about his age). Hes so deeply abhorrent that I actually think the world of casually destructive soul-dead manifestly evil Republicans deserve the embarrassment of him. They deserve to wear the flesh removed from his face as a raw bloody mask. They deserve to be tainted by his evil until they die.
But, in defense of this reprehensible reprobate whose soul has failed the test of charity and compassion on so many other levels, lets consider this: drinking doesnt make you an anti-semite! Nor does it reveal your true nature.
Oh, I have no doubt that Mel IS anti-semitic - just look to his Christian faith. Christians ARE by definition philosophically anti-semitic, and of course in Mels literalist views, he takes that directive literally.
But again - drinking doesnt reveal your inner anti-semite. It reveals your inner OBNOXIOUS BOOR. There IS a difference!
For you younguns: Drinking the wonderful perfectly LEGAL mood elevator known as liquor makes you say idiotic things you wouldnt say otherwise. When youre drunk on this LEGAL drug and you get into a conflict, it makes you act like a stupid kid who cant access his impulse control, especially when challenged by a bully at the tetherball court.
Youre likely to going to bluff your way through the conflict by saying the most outrageous things that come into your head, like a bird puffing itself up to scare off predators, or youre going to topple into foetal snivelling despair, with perhaps a tenuous hope that your tears can affect the outcome - or you might even use your heightened sense of non-existent sexual wiles to try to flirt your way out of it! Maybe you should have just offered your once fine but now irredeemably icky booty to the pigs, Mel!
So: drinking is likely to make you a little delusional - and OBNOXIOUS. GRATING! LOUD-MOUTHED! STUPID! It makes you say things to manipulate, either through outrage, power mongering, wheedling, propositioning, or implied bribery - it makes you say a LOT of DUMB things! It impairs reservations and etiquette! It makes you act like a dope! But it DOESNT make you an anti-semite! It does NOT reveal your true nature! It reveals your true nature when DRUNK!
BTW, driving over the speed limit is illegal. Drunk driving is illegal. But, as far as I know SAYING OUTRAGEOUS THINGS IS NOT ILLEGAL! Um...sticks and stones anyone? SO! Up with free speech, buddies! Feel free to say whatever you want! This goes for YOU, Mel!
First - let me ask you a question (you can answer to yourself and no one else, if youre a darn pussy): which one, among you 2.5 people who are actually going to read this, has NEVER EVER made a racist, sexist, religion-based or gender-based joke that required a prejudice-based slur on the way to the punch line? Hmm....I can hear your silence from here!
And which one of you has NEVER EVER EVER said something STUPID while drunk, when your purpose was to rile up or outrage or provoke? Which one of you has NEVER EVER made a drunken remark completely anithetical to your core sober beliefs just for the sheer (if ill-advised ) joy of shock value?
Or which one of you has NEVER EVER made a joke at the expense of the poor race of Blondes, who have no power-mad anti-defamation agency to rush slavering to their aid, preening for a photo-op? Or perhaps at the expense of a Polack? Or a Wop? or a Mick? A FAG? And face, it which one of you has NEVER EVER laughed at one of those jokes? Theyre funny! Theyre funny not only because much humor uses the recognition of broad generalizations to exact an Oh, I get it laugh, often at the expense of the perceived other (duh!); theyre also funny because theyre FORBIDDEN! Forbidden is FUNNY! Nasty is FUNNY! Its a conspiracy of laughter that everyone succumbs to. AND - theyre JUST A BUNCH OF WORDS!
And which one of you, when in the privacy of your own home, has not used the darn word that is usually, in this ostrich society, spelled N-word - even though black people say it a thousand times in every fucking stupid rap song every fucking day. Thats right: NIGGER! Which one of you has NEVER EVER used THAT word in the context of a slur or a joke? NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER! Oh, how we laughed! Its just a fucking WORD, you thin-skinned lily livered morons - a WORD protected by FREE SPEECH! We can SAY whatever we want! Its just a word like FAGGOT FAGGOT FAGGOT FAGGOT FAGGOT FAGGOT or KIKE KIKE KIKE KIKE!
But those words, like nigger, are a loaded words, and YOU loaded them! Youre the idiots who give these fucking lame-ass words some harebrained voodoo power over your behaviour and thought. And as with all forbidden things, that only makes it more FUN to play around with! At least at home, in your safe haven of stealth N-word dalliance. Hey, all you Hebes out there - ever raise an unseemly chortle around the Passover table with a little comic schtick about the predictably kooky other behaviour of the people you call schwarzes? Oy! Yo yiddisshe Mama!
So does bumbling into the dubious cul-de-sac of outrageous slurs while in an agitated drunken state make you a racist? Or perhaps......human?
I actually think we need a few MORE of these hot slur words - lets call them SLURDS! Mo, mo, mo! How do you like it. how do you like it? Its just too bad that no one has come up with a catchy word to embody the disgust I feel at the behaviour of that most evil of ALL other tribes: WHITE MEN! Wheres OUR N-word? How come WE are left out of the fun? Honky just doesnt quite cut it. Of course the demeaning prejudiced-based loaded word around MY house is BREEDER - you fucking heterosexual morons! BREEDER BREEDER BREEDER BREEDER! Oh how we laughed! But unfortunately that word is laced with transparently tragic overtones, because it refers to your disgusting habit of inflicting your progeny on an already hopelessly abused world. So that laughter tends to get a little thin and strangled.
You can then distill that even further, down to the more literal Straight People - now THERES an UGLY epithet! The one-two punch of that degrading moniker is sure to inspire a rueful smile as you think:Yeah, I thought theyd stoop that low, but its still shocking how horrible they are - Oh! I forgot! Theyre STRAIGHT PEOPLE! And straight isnt just about sex - its about loser-itis cultural cluelessness. Forget-it City! Its loaded! Yeah, Straight is a HOT slur, but DAMN! Its still no Nigger!
Coming right after that is FAGGOT, because face it, most fags ARE a bunch of limp wristed BabsnBette loving FAGGOTS - or as my dear dead friend Lance used to love to call them: Losers with AIDS. That STILL makes me laugh! And it made HIM laugh! And he DIED of it.
In fact we thought it would make a great musical. Youll DIE laughing.
But its STILL just a bunch of words - words meant to outrage, and prod, and hopefully make you think about how helplessly, thoughtlessly REACTIVE you have become. And we at my house think the word CHRISTIAN is a fucking swear word. That word just makes me SICK! If you called me THAT, could I sue for defamation? How about the word SCIENTOLOGIST? Now THERES an ugly word. But ultimately this word shit BORES me! In fact, you fucking BREEDER FAGGOT NIGGER KIKES bore the SHIT out of me.
The Jews started all the wars. quoth drunken Mel. Well obviously Mels no history student. The Jews were powerless to start wars for about 2000 years, until a little after World War II. Its the fucking CHRISTIANS with a heaping helping of MUSLIMS and of course, in the past, a bunch of marauding Mongol War Lords and Greek and Roman Imperialists and the British and the Americans and the Spaniards and the French and the Russians and the Teutons of every stripe, and even the darn Portugese got into the act, and the Chinese and the Japanese and on and on - even the African nations warred against each other without our help for thousands of years! But Jews? Theyre war come-latelys! But that doesnt mean they havent made up for lost time, having studied well at the feet of their abusive fathers, and learned all of daddys ugly tricks, and now theyre just as good at it as the rest of us!
I personally like to make a distinction between the Jewish faith, which can be, and often is, practiced with an enviable wisdom, warmth, humanitarianism and care for your fellow man - they practically invented charity, and support for the arts, and all sorts of cool stuff - and the actual nation of Israel, which, although Im certain it contains many lovely peace-loving citizens, is JUST AS BAD if NOT WORSE than WE ARE! And believe me, I mean that as an INSULT!
But, even so, making outrageous remarks while drunk out of your mind is not generally the province of shade and nuance, nor even fact! So only an idiot would react to a rash drunken statement as baseless as The Jews started all the wars! You might laugh and say, What a clueless drunken moron! But bottom line - WHO FUCKING CARES?
Being obnoxious, as fun as it is, just isnt news! In fact its our God given right as Americans to make ignorant incendiary remarks about just about anything, just as much as its our God given duty when someone says something stupid TO FUCKING ACT LIKE A GROWN UP and PUT UP WITH IT!
Mel may or may not have been revealed by his words, but what was really revealed is that, once again, we are a bunch of knee-jerk reactionary morons making something out of nothing and acting all superiornshit when in ALL of our other actions (can you spell Iraq? E-co-lo-gy? Health care?) we define ourselves as willfully amoral pathologically selfish war mongering bastards who couldnt preach morals to a Hyaena.
So Mel - come home! Your rant is forgiven, even if its fun to see scum like you squirm!
Oh - by the way:
adj 1: of or relating to the group of Semitic languages; "Semitic tongues have a complicated morphology" [syn: Semitic] 2: of or relating to or characteristic of Semites; "Semite peoples" [syn: Semite, Semitic] n : a major branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family [syn: Semitic]
So maybe Mels true nature is to be against a major branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Who knew?
Bill Arning by Steve Lombardi
Could this be Art?
I have just been in touch with the ever lovely David Scharf, the handsome charismatic lead singer of fabulous NYC combo Student Teachers . I am proud to state, with some conviction, that at least some of the Student Teachers actually met at a Mumps concert, so I personally can claim some tangential responsibility for their uber clever catchy output.
David sent me a comment through the wonders of My Space, which included a pretty darn hot pic of him, floorbound in a contorted rock position on what I assumed to be the highly distressed CBGBs stage, and told me that he would never forget me yelling Art with a capital F!
Hmmmmm.... I remembered saying that, but I couldnt really recall the circumstances. But it WAS evocative, and the clap-trap labored whirring of the sad remains of my memory took me back to that happy CBGBs -centric era when Bradly Field, Miriam Linna, Lydia Lunch and I casually formed the Bite Club, the only membership requirement of which was that you run rampant through CBGBs biting people, preferably right through their de rigeur leather jackets. Those who left the biggest angry red welts were of course the winners, especially if it was on someone you didnt even know, and you might even score yet another one of Lori Reeses free drinks. Miriam in particular gave off such a feline aura of eye-rolling, purring, mascara-smudging ecstacy when shed be noshing on someones leather clad limb that an imaginary R Rated disclaimer hung in the fetid air like ectoplasm - which in the determinedly asexual early punque days of yore was no small accomplishment. (Well - Lydia was never asexual, but thats another story!)
Then the capital F started to come back to me. I think back then, in the early days of the Student Teachers brief flaming assault on the eyes and ears of New York Rocker cognescenti, their keyboard player Bill Arning saw fit to put some of his art education to use by opening a small gallery on the East Side.
This was, unfortunately, relatively early in my relationship with Dame Alcohol, so there was no telling whether I might end up getting crossed off of one more guest list by writhing in a sea of pugnacious bodies on the floor in some midtown loft where they were showing Don Rodan adjusted (read: smeared) Polaroids, being kicked in the head by a righteously indignant Native American because I thought I was trying to protect the socially incendiary James Chance. Or I might rather end up barely propped up in a corner booth at Maxs, weeping with embarrassingly voluble sniffles and moans over my chick peas because Id sighted the Mump that got away - Jay Dee Daugherty - and went instantly, terminally maudlin in the most unattractive fashion, as documented by Anna Suis cruel tenure as N.Y. Rocker gossip columnist.
But this was a tweener night as I recall. Neither riot nor tearful blubberfest - although there WERE some fisticuffs involved.
Because of my oft-mentioned Cal Arts damage, I had little patience for any art that reeked of concept - it just made me physically gag! And Bill Arning, bless his soul, had a fondness for abstractions in dusty earth (oh well, lets be honest - shit) tones, which would later culminate during his tenure as curator of White Columns Gallery in the notorious piles of dirt show. This was coupled with what I thought was Bills supremely collegiate aesthetic effrontery of having the sound system in the gallery play taped phone messages from his voice mail machine.
Now, I confess, liquid courage (or perhaps stupidity) played a smidgin of a part! Also in the mix was a little bit of what I, wrongly or rightly, considered to be the fun punk rock prerogative to engage your inner thug with some cultural vigilantism. I was of course encouraged in this regard by what some later self-help disciplines might call my low companions of the incipient No Wave. But they were the FUN guys! And werent we all about saying big "Fuck you's" to the establishment, however stealthily it might manifest itself? Or for that matter, just saying Fuck You to everybody and letting God, if any, sort them out?
But this establishment happened to be one of my dear friends, who had formed the first Mumps fan club, cooked me and members of the Blessed shrimp omelettes at his house at 4:00 A.M., took scads of wonderful pictures of the Mumps as featured on our website, and started that fantastically creative band, the Student Teachers, from which I would later loot Mumps last bass player, Joe Katz.
Still, I was so possessed by my rush to infantile judgement that I proceeded to go behind the counter, and tear down the stereo system so it fell clattering to the floor, right in the middle of the opening!
So soon there was no admittedly pretentious Hello, this is Bill. Please leave a message at the beep to add an aural dimension to the art (which I cant recall in the least - but I assume the usual earth tones were in play!).
And, as weve been taught by liberal secular scientists, my action DID provoke a reaction. I remember a brief moment when I had been wrestled to the ground (again!), apparently by Bills art posse. However, it could easily have been by my own friends who just happened to realize with awkward embarrassment that I was acting like a huge asshole!
But this time I had a secret weapon! Yes, Id brought Jim Marshall, he of the incredibly completist Nervous Norvus record collection (he sold his original issue Jo Ann Campbell Im Nobodys Baby LP without letting me get first dibs! Shame!), who was also the manager/owner of the first pioneering Avenue B Rock & Roll bar, the Lakeside Lounge, a rock critic for the East Village Eye, and the fabulous legendary the hound rock and roll WFMU DJ. He also just happened to have a heart-stopping huge-shouldered football player physique. I never could actually figure out what he saw in this limp wristed pop fag, but I think the Swinging Madisons made him chuckle, which is not to be under-valued. So in my inebriated haze, I remember being pushed to the ground, while I was screaming the battle cry which David so cheerily recalled:
ART WITH A CAPITAL F!
...to a bunch of disinterested art mavens with better things to do. And then Jim Marshall, with one casual sweep of his meaty arm, pushed Bills stalwart helpmates off of me like so many autumn leaves, and soon we were out on the sidewalk laughing with unseemly triumph.
I think this evening ended up at MacDonalds, and this is the evidence: Chicken McNuggets had just made their dubious appearance. They seemed to be purposefully shaped like the tools from that game called Operation, and had a faint saw dust odor. Well, I recall our party, which by this time probably included Kid Congo, ordered lots and lots and LOTS of extra mustard sauce, and then proceeded to have a moronic sauce fight. Oh, how we laughed! It wasnt quite as funny when I woke the next day to find indelible yellow mustard stains all over the beautiful black trenchcoat my BF Bradly Field had just brought me back from Teenage Jesus recent London soujourn. Sometimes when you go to bed a dolt, you wake up an idiot!
Why is this man smiling?
George's Faux-to Op with Happy Cannon Fodder!
BRANDING - NEU COKE (NUKE COKE!) A GO GO
Yes, all Gods chillun got branding!
From Coachella swag bags sponsored by Glaceau Vitamin Water, Honda (!), and Urban Outfitters, which are only attainable in the Swag Suites, where uber-bling coordinaters like Moj Mahdra exploit the gratis mentality of the Sell-ebb-you-taunts with Gifting Houses pushing the Neu Crack of DKNY and Motorola to quasi-talents (well - make that queasy talents) like Nicole Richie and Scott Speedman, with the smirking imprimatur of Neo Cuture Rags like Anthem ( This from their website - Im not kidding! Some lucky respondents will receive a gift from our generous sponsors: bags from Burton, a lap top case from Triple Five Soul, or the 2006 edition of Puma's uber-limited 5X12 vinyl series! Wow! Swank! Ill have to take a second to clean the pre-cum out of the crotch of my vintage Gloria Vanderbilts) - these style Nazis whose tenuous purchase on hipness teeters on the sorry Monday morning quarterback discovery of neo-obscurities like the Raconteurs (no shit Sherlock!) - from THAT chokingly rarified atmostphere to the culture war slugfest of Wal-Mart actually flexing its behemoth power to DICTATE the RECIPE of Coca-Cola TO Coca-Cola (!), BRANDING is the NEW Pavlov! Slaver away, lil dogies! Scrump-diddley-umptious!
Just check out this average contempo slice of what passes for life: some so-called mom saw fit to give matching pink luggage, plane tickets and no escort to the pre-teen next to you, whose jeans are so preternaturally tight that her camel toe seems to be lip syncing to the gobble-warble wiggle singin Shakira-wannabe on the airport Muzak. Theres a reason this teen babe from Monsanto is wearing a latex-tight tee shirt with the pink glitter Abercrombie logo emblazoned across her nascent breasts like a visual scream of advertising prowess, and its not just to remind you of that Makos/Weber style neo-porn beefcake campaign, in mammoth floor-to-ceiling prints, at every mall in America, that shows you everything but the STDs! Its also to signify her tribal connection - nay, her sold-idarity - with the BRAND consumers! She may be a mini-whore surrogate, but shes a winner! SHES BRANDED! Shes the alpha cow in the branded corral! Moo little heifer, moo! Nothing gets between me and my Calvins! Well, nothing but my gonorrhea emissions, and they make it easier to slide right in!
But you already KNEW that, didnt you? Im only stating a given. Snore! But wait - there is something HOT at the end of this story - and I mean hot, as in burning bodies!
What is THE NEW NEU NEWEST OF THE NEU SO NEU IT'S NEW-CUE-LAR BRAND thats taking the world by Desert Storm?
You guessed it - the ULTIMATE brand - 9/11!
Catchy isnt it? Its the biggest marketing bonanza since Y2K! Not only can you plop down your infotainment dollar to relive the moment in space and time with a flurry of new docudrama propabranda movies about Flight 93, you can re-access the anguish, anxiety, and horror at any moment with the help of loads of new BRAND NAME products to keep you HIGH on the FEAR! Sizzlin!
Now, with a modest investment, you too can save yourself from these incipient tattle-tale brandin back-slides: Ooops! Getting a little intellectual perspective on the whole 9/11 thing? Ooops! Starting to broaden your point of view with involuntary access to leavening information about other cultures, and Americas implicit part in creating a world where terrorism can flourish? Did a liberal voice next to you start to make sense? Omigod! Getting a tad confuserated between the swarthy turbanned other terrorist of choice, and the homegrown white bread Mayberry R.F.D. Timothy McVeigh version that might make you think the urge lurks within all of us? Catching yourself wishing for a peaceful resolution, or even thinking that the United Nations might help? AS IF!
STOP RIGHT THERE!
You CAN deaden those unwanted cerebral synapses with their discomfiting bent towards unChristian concepts like charity and understanding (grody!) , and re-experience the gloriously absolute SHOCK of the Day When Everything Changed! (Hey buddy! Can we get some writers on top of that lame catch-phrase? Sounds a little too After School Special to me - its a tad too happy and harmless. How about Bloodbath Booty Bonanza? Plop plop, fizz fizz, ka-boom!? Or more accurately, Fizz, fizz, kaboom, plop plop? Just thinking out loud!)
YES! You can REPURCHASE your own CONFUSION AND FEAR! You can REPURCHASE your own certainty of RIGHTEOUS INDIGNANT VICTIMHOOD! You can REPURCHASE your HATRED of ALL OTHER CULTURES! You can repurchase your claim to a happier, simpler time when THEY = BAD, and US = GOOD! It puts the DICK back in Philip K. Dick, to say nothing about the BALLS - Its not just I can remember it for you wholesale - but I can put a little macho swagger in your goose step, and make you feel GOOD about it too! You can exploit the tragedy of others to stay HIGH! You too can be BRANDED!
Now, it doesnt cost much to kickstart your hot shot of MINDLESS RAGE with a PATRIOTIC SUPERIORITY chaser - which is the ultimate Bush era BUZZ! In fact, the first one is FREE! For a teaser, just watch the local news! After that, its only the price of a movie ticket. But be sure to watch for merchandising tie-ins and cross marketing in the form of lunch boxes, action figures (body parts - collect them all!), posters, tee shirts, mini-vans, and diet drinks and fad foods (chicken fingers!)! Sport shoes, iPods, and blackberries! Computer games, skateboards and theme parties! Just look for the cheery flaming 9/11 logo!
And through any and all of these products you can REPURCHASE your possibly wavering belief in (admit it - you entertained a doubt or two, didnt you! Really, its only human - but this too shall pass!) THE WAR ON TERROR! The 2006 edition of Puma's uber-limited 5X12 vinyl W.O.T!
Our world affairs expert consultant
- this is the guy who thinks he has the right to rant!
BUSH HAIKU - WHO KNEW? FEAR IS THE NEW COKE!
So.....The War on Terror continues. What a fantastically nebulous declaration of bellicose intent! What a deliciously choice abstraction! Its almost poetry. Well it would be, if Bushs lacksadaisical faux accent didnt make it more Country Music Network. But why split bleached and permed bouffant hairs? Why sully that heart-shaped peach-fuzz pre-teen landing strip with some proto-Dixie Chick bummer of an observation? Just enjoy the W.O.T. ride!
I was walking into the Mao Portraits room of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, which portraits were, quixotically enough , hung right next to the Glamour Jackie/ Funeral Jackie portraits. Posted rather hapahazardly on the entryway, like a returned term paper on a high school bulletin board, were Dr. Laurence Britts 14 points called Defining Fascism.
Pretty grim reading. I know theyre a bit of facile liberal gobbledygook, but at least its well researched resonant scary facile liberal gobbledygook. And Im certain I was supposed to react just the way I did - with the glum horror of absolute recognition.
Take # 7, for instance:
Obsession with National Security - fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
Hmm... could that POSSIBLY relate to Bushs one size fits all concept of a war on TERROR? Not, after all, a war waged on a transgressive individual or state or tribe, with a clear inception and victory, but a fab neu unending war on an ever shifting, amorphous enemy of convenience! An enemy only defined by ones (possibly pre-programmed) emotional response to the (obviously preprogrammed) abstract: a war on an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety and dread! Yup, ya durn cowpokes: a war on a FEELIN! Now thats a war that need NEVER be finished. Cuz ya can always have that feelin! It takes a lickin and keeps on tickin, like a lil ol strap-on suicide bomb! And that FEELING can be fostered and nurtured and fertilized like a precious hot house flower! And - its addictive!! Thats how you get BRAND loyalty! Im hooked on a feelin - Im HIGH on believin!
Thus powers reserved for executives only in time of war are now fun-filled everyday powers! Because NOW, ALL time is WAR time! And Bush is the self-declared WAR president. Savvy!
Them corporate honchos awaaaaay up yonder in them skyscrapers got the R&D to make this feelin as cleverly manufactured, and product tested, and target marketed, and nuanced and BRANDED as the eternal Coke/Diet Coke/Coke Zero triumvirate. Its a feelin YOU can BUY, so you can ACCEPT and even APPLAUD the removal of whats left of your emperors new clothes. Thats product placement! YOU pay for Bushs right to destroy YOU and the WORLD! Hey - maybe that IS poetry after all! HE breaks it - YOU buy it!
I never really understood Roosevelts famous quote There is nothing to fear but fear itself. It seemed weird in the context of Hitler and WWII - wasnt it reasonable to be afraid? But now I get it -this may not be the meaning he intended, but in THIS generation, we have to fear being manipulated, controlled, and finally crippled by this highly designed corporate boutique product called fear. Fear is a brand that has a blinding radioctive aura brighter than Love at First Glow by J Lo! PLUS the pheremone scent of an innocent Lebanese civilian begging for mercy! And its top shelf priciness just makes it bling-ier! Buy the fear and default on the mortgage on your humanity, your compassion, your well being, your security, and your future! You know its worth it! Besides, once you put it on, your skin falls off anyway, but the dynel label stays on! So future, schmuture - Sounds like a brrrrrrrrrrrrrandin deal to me!
Of course it helps if you can choose your brand of terror. Like youd choose J-Los Love at First Glow over Britney Spears Fantasy, even though the latter touts the fragrance of sweet cupcake accord, whatever THAT is. I didnt make that up! Now THERES TERROR!
Thus, you might want to choose a pre-emptive strike against the TERROR of a hobbled Iraqui regime about to topple from years of disciplined international embargo and containment programs, as opposed to ending the TERROR of a conflict in oh, Darfur, where 300,000 people have died. Thats just not MY brand of Terror! Thats cupcake accord terror! Ick!
Which brings us to:
ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER WAR
Looks like those kooky middle easterners are trying to keep the longest running carny show in vaudeville going with new thrills, chills, and spills! They walk! They talk! They crawl on their bellies like a reptile! Theyre STILL fashion forward! The Cirque de Schlemiel!
Of course in those desert temperatures, theyre a little thirsty for the new Coke of FEAR, cause that just builds them up so they feel like the biggest bully on the beach. I hear theres plenty of sand to kick in each others faces over there. Who knew THEY were taking Bushs poetry class too!
So they buy the FEAR cocktail, and oohh! Its fizzy and the bubbles get in their noses. You dont need to tell them its caffeinated too! Or is that meth? Anyway, what a rush! And suddenly the excuse of a few stupid soldiers being killed and a couple of stupid soldiers being kidnapped is good enough to start re-laying waste to a region as oft destroyed as any rubble-strewn goth landscape in any lame collegiate dystopian computer game. Wheres the Rock when you need him?
Of course its easy to forget these kidnap victims were SOLDIERS. People in the BUSINESS of DEATH. You know, the business of which FEAR is only the PG preview. Thats what soldiers do. They choose to be in war zones and put their lives at risk in hopes of finding a militarily enforceable (as in FORCE) path to peace. But now, this lonely passel of a few minor professional death-dealers are suddenly victims. Awww! Which apparently means that you can strike back at, oh, civilians and their children, air strips, diplomatic headquarters, train stations, strip malls, schools, mosques, you name it!
Then the shocking response from the admittedly crazed violent religon-addled kidnappers - in kind! Whoda thunk?
So by now, do I care whos right? Fuck THAT! These war mongers - theyre ALL wrong! Deplorable! Moronic! EVIL! The only good thing to come out of this is that I can get out my 12 of Human Leagues tragically prescient The Lebanon. Meet the new wave - same as the old wave!
Do I really have to keep track of the new players in this sad replay of the unlamented Khomeini years? Sheik Hassan Open War Nasrallah - shut that ugly fucking trap of yours! Ehud No Limits Olmert? You were mysterious before - not anymore!
But these guys are BOTH singing the same hip tune: BUYING THE FEAR. Because any moron can see that this NEVER works. Has peace in that area EVER been arrived at through the methods of war?
Oh yeah - the Israelis have the superficially better excuse - or at least their religious forebears did. Oppressed for thousands of years (I know this story - I read the Great Mortality - how they blamed YOU for the Black Plague and forced you to walk into the fire with your entire families - thats just one of a million horrific examples) , and theyre hemmed in on all sides by an angry tribe that interprets their religion in a manner so dire and medieval that even a knee jerk liberal like me has a hard time finding the good in it.
But I think the Israelis used up quite a few of those Brownie Points treating the Palestinians like shit for the last 50 years or so, and then getting mad that those same darn Palestinians, as the other oppressed people, had the (pardon my French) chutzpah to get a little irked about it. Oh yeah, and now these Palestinian kids, who were raised through three generations of war, and know nothing but armies and religious zealots and rubble and deprivation and having their homes bulldozed in the midde of the night, are suddenly supposed to turn around an act reasonably? Well - maybe you cant raise people as sharks and complain that theyre not goldfish! Ill have to ask the Dog Whisperer on Animal Planet, but it seems like when you only teach anger and violence and hatred and oppression, why did you think these kids are going to act like you were giving out degrees in botany and water color?
But typically, Im misreading the situation. AGAIN! Duh! Its not really about convictions or victims or morals - its just one more step in BRANDING the BUSINESS of FEAR! What theyre really doing is launching a new scent! Now the ostensibly more civilized party - the Israelis - say, Where others see transgression, we see OPPORTUNITY! Huh? Thats right, Opportunity! Im not making this up! Sounds like a line out of Robocop! A golden opportunity to destroy Hamas and Hezbollah, according to Israeli commentator Roni Shaked. Why am I not shocked? Who profits?
The response to what the world media has characterized as two small scale border raids (Los Angeles Times) has been Whee! Now we have an excuse - an opportunity! - to get out the big guns, and take Hamas and Hezbollah out! So theyve marshalled their considerable military force to hurt, and hurt real bad!
This always works too - it always makes the militant zealots in Lebanon and Palestine just lie down and surrender, doesnt it? Hmm.....I guess thats why Nasrallah is humbly saying Follow me, or be seen as bowing down to Israel? (Sounds like homespun Bush logic to me - Gee, maybe they are really learning to be true Americans after all.) Looks like that plan worked like a charm on those wimpy hapless Hezbollah pussies!
Meanwhile from my seat in front of my BRAND NAME computer (iMac, daccord), surrounded by loads of BRAND NAME collectibles (Im an LOTR victim - I CONFESS! And looking around my office I see Epson, Sony, Tascam, you name it!) all I can see from my shamelessly privileged perspective are monstrous primitives. Im a one-stop laptop judgement day!
But really - Im too old for this! But arent we all? Im not buying this new scent. Give me Granny-friendly cafeteria classics like White Shoulders any day! If you kids cant play nice, pack up your toys and go home! So there may be a reasonable solution out there that Im too dim to grasp. Like killing a whole bunch MORE people or something. Or destroying MORE stuff. And claiming to be right about it. I admit, I cant see it - but that doesnt mean Im right about it!
But meanwhile, while we wait for that light bulb over my head to get some power from Enron, just for fun, lets just take Bush, give him a skateboard, a couple of paint guns, and that body armor he thought was adequate in Iraq, and drop him on the Israeli/Lebanese border in the middle of this latest Terror quagmire. Hes the expert! Then we can get FEMA to build a wall around the whole middle east and let those morons sort it out.
Me? Im ready to switch brands - I think Im ready for the Pepsi challenge!
On Stem Cell Research (something that, through the absolute lack of MY own research, Im about as qualified to comment on as that South Korean scientist who had to retract 4 years of published papers) - I found the Davies cartoon in L.A.Times 7/20/06 to be amusing........
Bush: I feel Israel has a right to defend itself....so long as no embryos are harmed!
...if in truth one can be amused at the most powerful and evil and embarrassing man in the Western World declaring the murky conundrum of what he refers to as his morals. I guess diverting is the better choice?
Through the miracle of My Space I am now pretty darn good pen pals with Steve Balderson, director of the notorious high school revenge flick, Pep Squad.
Of course it doesnt hurt that my friends Pleasant Gehman, Mink Stole, Jane Wiedlin and Selene Luna are all going to be in his next project. Or that most of them were already in his second film, Firecracker. Thats like negative 6 degrees of separation, so it was bound to happen.
But he also seemed to be an adorable, crafty, sassy, iconoclastic, gifted person, AND an unrepentant cyber flirt, so of course I LOVE him - and was hoping to get my OWN product placement in some future project of his.
Then it turned out that I already did!
Wonder of wonders, through several notes rife with unprintable innuendo and outuendo, it was revealed that a little ditty that I recorded with Pleasant Gehman some years back at the studio of the redoubtable and golden-voiced Johnnette Napolitano was the theme song of some Laundromat meetnscheme moment between the Pep Squad principals.
I got involved in that song when Plez had just asked me over to Johnnettes studio for a little - what do the kids call it? Jammin! Ouch - I never thought Id use that word. Johnettes rustic home studio was conveniently located less that 5 miles from my house, and between gutteral laughs and savage gossip, I managed to improvise a little instrumental melody as backing for Pleasants spoken word Super Mega Zsa Zsa. I remembered the session with a lot of fondness - it was so much fun. But I never thought something would actually come of it.
And now this happening hipster (handsome) director was sending me a DVD of the film with OUR song in it. Oooh - swoony!
So now I've watched the movie a couple of times, with and without commentary. Of course I HAVE to looooooooove it, because my NAME is on the commentary track! I'm a cheap date!
I love it even though La Baldersons business manager and soul mate, his dad, DID have to remind Steve what my last name actually was, but in a way, that's even cooler. His DAD knows my name. Witchy!
Anyway, the movie mines some strange lost territory between Waters, Carpenter, Argento, and, strangely, Visconti. Its got outsider goth revenge fantasies, teenage rape, murder, clueless meddling fashionistas in white lipstick and chartreuse - everything!
For all that, its actually rather deliberate - almost stately - and painterly. This is NOT a criticism. I was really unprepared for how lush it is - the colors so rich, each frame with such stylized composition. It was really like watching a super saturated technicolor fairy tale of Americana.
And Steves sister is amazing! She has a demonic glower and platform stomp that makes you just want to offer your back as her personal tarmac. (Although sometimes the family resemblance IS so strong I thought Steve was really casting himself in the title role as well!)
Theres a party sequence which is a satire of Steves experience at Cal Arts. Being an alumnus who is scarred by my own dubious Cal Arts experience to this day (and yes, that IS a criticism), even before I understood what this crazily choreographed and clothed (and unclothed) pool party was doing in the middle of a Wamego high school drama, it just sort of felt right. After all, cheer leading is a sort of performance art, so why wouldn't cheerleader obsessed teens just do an x-rated version of that ritual dance when the parents are out of town?
And I laughed out loud at the flying bodies every time! The Tara character (was that her name?) had facial features so close to those of the mom who gets stabbed to death with a trowel in the basement scene in the original Night of the Living Dead that it was uncanny!
Theres a scene where the camera is languorously passing over some blond dude's eye (Scott? Was he gay?) to include the orange shag carpet, during some stylized sex, with a lengthy iconic chiaroscuro study of the play of the muscles on a girls back as she sits on him, writhing slowly. It was like Tom of Finland crossed with that Salvador Dali photo where the girl is painted like a cello. The film is less David Lynch than David Hockney, and less Carrie than Kwaidan - a fabulous moving gallery of intense watercolor.
And of course any film that shows teenagers getting served alcohol and smoking continuously gets my vote, especially after they get away with murder. A hot first film! Oh, and Im in it - sort of.
MAKE YOUR OWN COMPUTER GAME OUT OF WORLD EVENTS!
Hey kids! Heres a super fun paranoiac conspiracy theory (i.e. common sense!) website. Hyberole and fantacism - mmm-mmm good! The heavy metal Satanist graphics make it a bit of a puerile wade, and cease to be charming, even in a condescending outre or campy fashion, fairly quickly. But there are plenty of head scratchers, rib-ticklers and even jaw-droppers to make this an overall deep tissue conspiracy massage! Full release guaranteed! Just go to:
BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS
Theyve FINALLY released Beyond The Valley of the Dolls on DVD. Hoo-ray!
Of course this is just an excuse to write more about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! And yes, its one more Zelig of Rock alert. Because I was THERE!
When I was hanging around the GTOs at the tender age of sixteen, the cute Armenian lead of BTVOTD, David Gurian, or whatever his name was, used to host regular late night parties for a bunch of proto-seventies red wine and quaaludes sexually indeterminate hangers-on, of which I was perhaps one of the youngest, and, as I recall, the only one with a tired moth eaten Sgt. Pepper jacket AND braces.
So yes, because of that connection, we DID attend the Los Angeles PREMIERE of BTVOTD! I was THERE! I think I went with lovely gifted L.A. artist David Hargrove, and Im pretty sure uber-hosts Mark Lipscomb and John Ladner, along with scads of GTOs, were there.
It was the still innocent dawn of what would be inelegantly branded divine decadence - the sexually ambiguous, barely post-hippie, Andrews Sisters and British Blooze Bands, bakelite bracelets and multi-colored Italian Shoes from Nunn Bush, all ages L.A. 70s scene, and the incipient Tequila Sunrise of corporate rock had yet to singe us into the cynical misanthropes wed soon become.
Of course the premiere wasnt exactly a red carpet event. I may be getting some of this memory mixed up with the premiere of that Screamers movie years later, because I went to that too, and I think they shared a distinct lack of traditional Hollywood glamor - but, as I recall, this was at some shabby little hard-seated auditorium style theater.
And YES! After said premiere, I DID spend that night at HIS house ( a neat old 20's "Double Indemnity" style Spanish revival affair around the corner from the Hollywood Bowl) that night!
David G. was was neutrally friendly and welcoming in the anything goes post hippie spirit of the time - although perhaps it was only because I usually showed up at his open houses with several adorable GTOs, who liked me because I actually had....a CAR! Go figure!
But Davids general affect was just about as wincing and squinty and non-committal in real life as he was on film. So he was hard to read - if there were actually any implied subtext there. He might just have been legitimately blank!
I thought he was glamorous and beautiful though, and was soon nursing the kind of amorphous crush a 16 year old who has had very little sex develops - I thought he might like my drawings, or think I was clever, or something. I dont think it went much deeper than that vague fantasy of a ...would you call it a love connection? Although Im sure I imagined that a kiss from him would be absolutely dreamy!
Anyway, I thought David was gay, in that netherworld of blurred sexual predisposition, perhaps because the other people that were either crashing at his pad or actually lived there were - transparently so - and in fact I had uncomfortable schoolboy frottage with a couple of them eventually.
In some sort of inspired fantastical denial of reality, and out of all the handsome boys and cute girls he could have plucked from that crowd of hangers-out and hangers-on, I actually dreamed I might have a chance with this movie star dreamboat! I mean - he never actually kicked me out of his house, did he? And he even looked at me once in a while, and I bet wed exchanged at LEAST 5 or 6 minutes of meaningless pleasantries. If that isnt foreplay, what IS?
Still, unsurprisingly, theres little to report - maybe because I had waist length frizzy dishwater hair and braces and looked like a ridiculous shy geeky gooney bird!
But on one occasion he actually invited me into his bedroom (I know! Fate can be so outlandish!) and we sat on the floor as he showed me his little scrap book of his stage appearances. There were brief newspaper articles and pictures and notices from his home town - I'm assuming Orange County, but at the time that would have been just as exotic and unknowable to me as Timbuktu, so he may have been from Pittsburgh for all I know.
There on one page, prominently displayed, was perhaps his biggest newspaper mention to date - the sweetest picture of him playing the romantic Thai lover in some shoestring production of "The King and I" , complete with an upside down Pier 1 rattan basket on his head, spray painted gold, in a low budget regional theater approximation of the wonders of the exotic orient!
AND his patent squint, with eyebrows beseechingly upturned (or it could have been an involuntary facial tic), served him so well in that role - he looked positively Chi-nee. His quaint Balinese shadow puppet akimbo stance was SOOOO fetching. Even back then, I smelled the lack of sophistication, and it was postively pheremonic! No shirt either! Just a lava-lava wrap, or whatever they called those Cost Plus lower torso saris over there in gamelan land.
Ooooh! I was all mushy and ready to be swept off my feet, and right onto that hamsters nest of a mattress on the floor, but somehow the moment just didnt happen. David - for brief intoxicating moments MY David - turned out NOT to be my David after all - just a nice guy, charitably sharing a little bit of his history with a plain-faced snaggle toothed gooey eyed teen.
After our brief interlude of what seemed to me to be impossibly intimate exchanges, during which I was sure the implacable Gods of Fortune smiled on me and imaginary wedding bells rang in the hippie temple of rock sex, he got up and left the bedroom - and so did I.
So I ended up out on the couch - but all was not lost - some blonde guy whom I hardly knew thought I was coming onto him, simply because I WASN'T in la Gurians bedroom anymore, and gave me a blow job. I of course thought the guy was REALLY OLD because he was AT LEAST 22 or something. But it helped! Hmm....is it too late to sue for statutory rape? I guess here is an opprtune moment to declare: Hello prudish lawmakers of the American right! Unlike you asexual eunuchs, I actually ENJOYED the sex I had with people over 21 when I was only 16.
Disappointingly, no Nazi manservants figured in this little drama however. Oh well. Soon enough Id be hanging around with swastika clad N.Y. Dolls. Apologies to Phranc folksinger, of course.
Featuring performances by Ann Magnuson, Mike Kelley and Los Super Elegantes plus DJ Kevin Hanley
And a silent auction of artwork by John Cage with Joseph Beuys, Martin Kersels, Barbara Kruger, William Leavitt, Pat O'Neill, Jim Shaw, James Welling, plus a poster signed by Lou Harrison on the occasion of his 70th birthday.
Sunday, April 23rd, 2006
Ann and I drove out to the magnificent Stanley Grinstein 20s faux Hispanola mansion in Brentwood. It was a palatial manse in the style of old Hollywood, at least from the front! And it had a faint Sunset Boulevard patina- it looked a little under-tended, like the gardener had been let go a couple of months before.
Once you stepped inside, you realized most of the home had been solemnly bastardized with grim additions in chilly raw concrete Soho redux style, with occasional confounding flourishes of the ridiculous 1980s Po-mo Milan Memphis excess that had been so mercilessly pilloried in Beetlejuice. In fact one whole upstairs corner of the building facing the back yard looked like the Terydactyl cage from Jurassic Park III.
It was definitely the showplace of a self styled aesthete of the mid 70s variety, easily and unfortunately seduced by all the academic aberrations and joyless conventions of that reductive conceptual era. It had some ugly sliding glass doors, looking onto the patchy lawn in the backyard. The glass in these doors was completely shattered, like a Toyota safety window after a run-in with a lamp post. And it was so art-infected that you had to wonder at this crackle glass as you did at every other infelicitous architectural decision: is it art? Is there a subtext? Irony? Is it signed somewhere? Or is it just lousy taste?
Of course the in-house collection was intimidating - it covered every wall and most floors. There were rows of Warhols investment-desirable silver Marilyn Monroes that inspired an internal monolgue less artsy and more prurient: would these be more precious if Gerard Malanga had screened them? Hmm.......I wonder what he looks like now? As well maintained as Joe Dallassandro (who has fallen effortlessly into the distinguished category of older male, and is still fuckin HOT)? Maybe a little less choosy than he once was? I always wanted to get into his proto Morrison trousers, no matter how bitter he seemed, or how unimpressive his poetry. But all I knew was the Spanish Revival intent of the original building mixed so uncomfortably with the overlaid Tribeca austerity, like a rejected organ transplant, that not even all the Rauschenbergs, Stellas, Bueys, Warhols, and Oldenbergs could make this house warm. It was so sterile that even the single artfully charred log in the fireplace looked conceptually arranged, and tastefully minimal.
Even though the coordinators were super friendly and welcoming, they felt called upon to make the understandably paranoid please dont touch ANYTHING! remonstrations. Those took me right out of adulthood, and made me not only want to leave greasy finger prints on EVERYTHING, but also to adjust certain aspects of the compositions with a little magic marker repurposing. I managed to resist the urge however, and left no art sullied, although Im still not certain thats a good thing.
After wed futzed with the sound stuff, and set up our limited pile of low tech junk in the corner of the yard on a flagstone patio, next to the huge weird conical grey brick-lined indentation, which I imagined was at one time a sort of artsy fountain, but looked more like an entryway into the kingdom of the Morlocks, we were free to explore the grounds and sample the catered goodies.
Part way down the weedy hill there was a little out building that looked like it was once meant to house a pool heater, but there was no pool. I peered in the window, and tested the door, which opened abruptly onto a Manson style bohemian living arrangement with a Hudsons Bay blanket thrown hastily over an aluminum cot. It felt very Friday the 13th - I thought Id see the bloody cleaver at any moment - so I closed the door and ran back up across the overgrown steps to the mottled lawn.
There the art crowd had begun to emerge - I saw B-People legend cutie Tom Recchion with his BF, fantastic photog Fredrik Nilsen, and gabbed freely with Los Super Elegantes who had just the night before introduced themselves to me via My Space. They seemed to have tuned into a very specific art market, as grant mavens - every song of their fun crazy set was nonchalantly introduced by a line like, This next number was written in a cabin near three rivers, Yosemite, for the Whitney Biennial until I was green with travel envy.
There was a Campari endorsement bar where brunch-type Campari and orange beverages served by cute art student types were getting people in the mood, and the nouvelli-deli platter food was making the rented buffets groan - purple beet mustard, mini gherkins, pepper encrusted turkey sausage, among the expected crudite and breadsticks, and there was a huge cake with black frosting that apparently was never actually served. But there were loads of fresh cookies to make up for it -oooh! Lemon squares!
As it actually started to get crowded , it was impossible NOT to notice the L.A Eyeworks tribe of Golden Girls power lesbians - they sure have the courage of their fashion convictions! I wish I were brave enough to wear knee hose and a powdered wig down the street, and they had the equivalent post punk clown panache -there were bumblebee yellow heavy wool oversized houndstooth pattern jackets, multicolored striped silk pants with gold lurex pinstripes, gold mock alligator patent leather loafers, a pink camouflage hand bag, and a purple and white striped wool hat with an inexplicable Eurofunk applique badge - and that was just ONE outfit. It was like a walking Turkish Bazaar! You didnt know whether to applaud or scream.
As Mark Wheaton assured us our soundcheck had gone okay, Mike Kelly started to take over the event with his Ratso Rizzo Detroit oddball affect. He had been flouncing about the event in a loose fitting, blindingly day-glo magenta womans pant suit ensemble that seemed to trumpet the arrival of the new Matronism. He was looking stunningly Margaret Dumont, sans Proactiv.
He quickly hosted a negligible plastic Easter Egg hunt, and then changed into some loud floral print swim trunks for the Peanut Roll. His new look was a very confrontational aesthetic statement - his bodily vessel seemed to be losing the battle with gravity, and had gotten lumpen in all sorts of surprising places, and his skin had a sort of pre-embalming greyish hue - in fact - he looked his age! In boomer terms thats practically revolutionary!
But this outfit seemed particularly unsuitable for the Peanut Roll. Lots of the arsty attendees had come with picnic blankets to accomodate the scads of their very young children, who were in a festive mood, dashing about the lawn and holding their plastic easter eggs aloft. The Peanut Roll set-up included some lengthy narrow tarps placed in close rows on the lawn. The contestants were supposed to roll a peanut from one end to the other with their nose. Innocent enough - until you add the sight of the resolutely middle-aged uncomely and unclad torso jiggling into the closerthanthis midst of the adorable pre-teens, and Mikes weasely growls and hyaena guffaws didnt alleviate the Law and Order kiddie porn ring sting aspect of the game. The little girls of course were laughing and cheating, and Mike goaded them along with Itchy Brother glee - as they all fell over and on top of eachother, howling in a heat that could have been merely competitive, but was quickly taking on an unseemly sexual aspect. Creepy!
In fact it was much more creepy than the part of Mikes act that seemed actually intended to be creepy - the looping fest. Mike had gotten one of those instant loop machines that make Jon Brions instant arrangement magic shows at Largo technically possible - you can make layers of loops just standing there. Of course now, everybodys got one. But Mike put on a vintage Halloween skeleton outfit, decided to do a series of uber-basso space noodles, growls and grunts so gutteral they were obviously intended to unsettle, or at least get a laugh. But it seemed that everyone took that cue to hit the buffet, so it was the Peanut roll image that lingered indelibly, like a menstrual stain. Points for more costume changes than Queen though!
Then Ann and I went on. It seemed like the crowd was getting just drunk enough and loud enough that they would probably talk over our admittedly somewhat demanding, nearly acoustic set of lite-pop ditties. But I always forget - its ANN, after all! Somehow when she plays people hush and pay attention. Of course it didnt hurt that she was wearing a fairly glamorous shimmering evening gown style out fit.
Also in our favor -It had been grey and overcast all day; in fact people were getting wrapped in blankets and throws that they'd hastily retrieved from their station wagons all afternoon, until the gypsy-esque look of many attendees was unintentionally vying with the L.A. Eyeworks Carnival feel.
But just at the moment that Ann started to croon Just A Guy, the sun snuck up over the horizon, as if taking a last peak through the clouds before drawing the curtains of night, and the perfect timing of the sudden glowing aura of glorious back lighting was as technicolor as Gone With The Wind. There were even a few involuntary oooohs!
So a set that we had intended to trepidatiously hurry through turned into a real art auction highlight, with loads of applause and laughter and even a genuine encore. Weba Garretson had added her lovely alto to several of the songs, and later, as I plugged my trusty acoustic guitar into my Roger Mayer Mongoose fuzz pedal - it makes a really screamy distortion! - for Miss Pussy Pants, Mike Kelly took the stage to do the vocalese drumnbass rhythm section by spitting and growling into the mike between all sorts of demonstrative antics, and Ann ran shimmying and squealing through the crowd with her customary possessed fervor. That was fun! Mike actually apologized for forgetting some of the arrangement (he had been the drummer on the original recording on Luv Show) - which was odd, because this song had always been the freeing moment when we could all spill into nonsensical anarchy. What a pro!
So the benefit for something I really dont understand - I think it was to raise money so artsy people could use artsy venues to host artsy shows like this one, but Im not sure - turned out to be a lot of fun.
That fabulous smile!
Im just now trying to face writing about an event that that had an ultimately fun veneer, but was deeply poignant and bittersweet - the immensely successful Charlotte McGinnis Woofinden benefit at Immaculate Heart.
Its difficult to come to terms with this without tracing the arc of our relationship, which intersected with so many of my dearest friends and most cherished collaborators.
Charlottes inimitable laugh, that echoed through the auditorium at Immaculate Heart like a cross between Reba MacEntire and Precious Pup, is imprinted like trace DNA on so many of my Los Angeles memories, even though we spent relatively little time together. So Im afraid a meandering history is about to pop out - Charlotte made me think about friends, connections, and incidents I had taken for granted and hadnt really considered in years.
PUNQUE ROQUE 101
Charlotte was one of Paul Reubens earliest comedy partners, after he left Cal Arts which is where I met him. Paul and I had shared opposite sides of a cinder block wall in the grim Valencia dormitory during the frog crisis, when the fact of watering lawns in what had just been arid desert caused a population explosion of frogs so dire that you couldnt drive into the parking lot without running over them. Splat! We had Chili Sizes at the Saugus Cafe, and he had tropical umbrella drinks while I had Shirley Temples at Tips, and we went to the swap meet together regularly, along with the delicious and lovable Lolly Bienenfeld, soon to have her torso painted silver for the cover of the (unlistenable?) Jazz/Rock/Fusion/Wimmins Music band Isis.
Later, Mumps were coming to L.A. to make their seminal First NYC Punk Band To Play In L.A. appearance at the Whisky. Ridiculous I know, but at that time, all these silly firsts were slavishly noted by the musically disenfranchised, who were praying for a musical revolution of some sort. So, similar to the brief miniscule triumph of the Damned actually getting their first single out before the Sex Pistols, Mumps gained a certain amount of notoriety by beating all the other NYC bands (Ramones, Television, Blondie, Talking heads, you name it!) to L.A.
Anyway, I called Paul to say we were coming to L.A., and he suggested that he might announce us on stage, with his Gong Show act, Les Chats. Paul and Charlotte had been frequenting the Gong Show, and actually won (twice, I think). Then they had this ridiculous idea of pretending they were French and didnt understand the rules. They made up this infantile simplistic routine where they dressed in cat ears and Zorro masks, carried bags with a dollar sign on them ( cat burglars, get it?) , and then did a moronically repetitive soft shoe two-step to Kitten On The Keys. The whole point and joke of the notion was to get Gong-ed, at which point they could erupt into thrilled pidgin French, mistaking the Gong for an announcement of the Winner, and effusively thanking their American hosts for winning the prize!
Unfortunately, the panel of judges was so mesmerized by the hypnotically minimal Danse Naif, and kept expecting it to be a set-up during which SOMETHING (Anything!) might happen at last, that a mystified Paul and Charlotte finished the alotted time, without ANYTHING happening, AND WITHOUT being Gonged!
I had never met Charlotte, but Paul brought her along to the Whisky. So these were the characters that tip-toed down the same stairs from the dressing room level to the Whisky stage that Id seen the Kinks, T Rex, the New York Dolls and Iggy traipse down in various formative concert experiences before.
Now WE were going to play that hallowed arena!
Charlotte and Paul minced down sneakily with their loot bags and cat masks, pausing to peer with synchronized neck twists to the right, and then to the left, stealthily checking to see if theyd been spotted by Les Gendarmes. Then they stalked and crept and crawled up to the microphone, claws at the ready, and screeched a unison feline meow meow Meow Meow MEEOW MEEOW MEEEEEEEEOOOOOWWWWWMUUUUUUUUUMPS! And Mumps took their place in the checkered history of what was once the Doors house band residency venue. Thrills! After that I didnt see Charlotte again for years.
FLASH FORWARD TO CALIFORNIA DREAMIN
I first became a renewed resident of the Los Angeles Smog basin circa 1984, partly at the urging of the relocated Cramps, who crowed encouragingly Huge cheap apartments! Fabulous thrift stores!.
Also, our Mumps/Swinging Madisons posse, which included Pleasant Gehman, Brad Dunning, Kid Congo, Dennis Crosby, assorted Lame Flames, Go-Gos, Screamers, Germs and other colorful characters, got us drunk at the Brown Derby Sunday brunches, or ordered us hangover specials at Olde World across from Tower Records , or flattened us with the dirt cheap margaritas at El Coyote, and encouraged us to make L.A. our home with promises of constant fun, including regular nite-time jaunts over the wall into the Hollywood Cemetery.
And the Swinging Madisons then manager, the lovely Joseph Fleury, from whose tastemaking influence and cultural excess (esp. Tara Tiger Girl by the Casuals) I have yet to recover, said Come hither, and I shall make you like unto the stars!
Very soon afterwards, I bit, as one with all the other little Swinging Madisons. Im not sure Joseph was able to quite keep his promise, sad to say. But we had a pretty fair three or four year run!
Young Girls (and Old Boys) are Coming To The Canyon
And Bleaker Street Incident, the folk/parody/homage band Id started with Ann Magnuson and Robert Mache at the Pyramid in NYC, immediately began a fairly celebrated regular series of gigs at the Lhasa Club, in Hollywood.
Craig Lee made sure BSI were always the pick in the weekly, Jim Yousling got us a color spread in In Touch magazine, Jim Van Tyne got us to play at his legendary Theoreticals, and we were on our way to becoming, if not the flavor of the month, then at least a minor speed bump on the Buzz Band Trail.
One of the first Angelenos to come backstage to greet us at a BSI concert was performance artist extraordinaire, and apparently sometime Screamers gigolo, Donald Krieger, with whom I would soon embark on a tempestuous adventure that resulted in several gratifying collaborations, fun road trips, itinerant canoodling, a brief but semi-fancy Los Feliz cohabitation, and some occasional meltdowns over margaritas at Casa Cugat.
Donald was fresh off a high from his critically celebrated Boys Life at the Cast Theater, which successfully negotiated the treacherous wastes between boring pretentious artsy performance shit and boring legitimate theater, coming up with a new and titillating hybrid: brief , succinct, visually sensual, emotionally evocative, entertaining work with pithy dialog and no draggy art moments. Whoda thunk?
TAKE ME TO THE ISLAND
Donald quickly seduced me into participating in his next project: a musical! With his direction, and many of his words, I would write a bunch of songs for myself, some of Donalds kooky pals, and Lance Loud, which made me happy, because since the Mumps Lance and I hadnt had much chance to work together.
And it was through Donald that I met an instant community of people who would become my sometime collaborators, dear friends and/or constant sources of inspiration for much of my Los Angeles existence since.
Besides Donalds cadre of Cal Arts pals, all of whom would soon become internationally famous Mike Kelly , Jim Shaw, and the wonderful Jim Isermann, there was the shameless charmer Rocky Schenck, whose already incredible visual gifts have expanded exponentially ever since into some of the most beautiful photography ever made; John Fleck - octave vaulting, audience-baiting carousel of technicolor angst; David Schweizer - theatrical master of dazzling visual legerdermain who has since directed so many of Anns one woman shows, Weba Garretson of the cossack hat, golden voice and nightclub sensation The Weba Show, and of course, Charlotte McCinnis herself.
All I knew of Charlotte was that one moment at the Whisky, and suddenly here she was: a crazy, laugh-a-minute riotously charismatic goofball beauty, with a surprisingly lovely voice and performance chops to match. She was to play Lances and My Mother ( she was probably years younger than we were!) and John Fleck was to play our Dad in Donalds trend setting pre-lounge era Tikifest, called Island. Only Charlotte could EVER have kept up with John Flecks wildcat barely controlled mania, and they were a couple so watchable that Im afraid Lances and my admittedly limited theatrical skills were completely buried under the stage-filling weight of their superior gifts.
I thought of that experience when we were planning Charlottes benefit, and I managed to dig out an old cassette of the songs the cast had sung in the show. Suddenly I was in shock for two reasons:
A. The songs werent actually too terrible!
B. Charlottes rendition of Take me To the Island was an eerily gorgeous gooseflesh performance that gave the song an emotional wallop it probably didnt deserve, taking it from the realms of somewhat rote writing into that place where moments like Abbas Like An Angel Passing Through My Room dwell. In fact, in spite of the hissy and pop-y 80's tech limitations of the olde tyme 4 track equipment, listening to her sing it WAS exactly like an angel passing through my room. I'm going to post the song here, so you can enjoy it (I hope!). Hopefully we'll have souvenir copies of the entire soundtrack, including two other Charlotte performances, available in the Record Store section of this website soon.
Take Me To The Island (MP3) (double click to listen, or right click to download) The song starts very quietly with a metronome fading in, so don't worry if you don't hear something right away!
After rediscovering that track, and all of the fab memories it prompted, I was left to wonder: How had we NOT collaborated further? What a missed opportunity! I think after Island, we may have done a couple of other Donald pieces together, and then I think she moved on to other, more strictly comedic ventures. The hilarious film shorts she made with Rocky about Shirley Jessels Hollywood remain the defining document of her incredible talent in that area.
After that, I saw Charlotte at some Rocky Schenck parties, and I believe at some of my own, and marvelled at her amazing presence as the neo-Metropolis dancer in Rockys fantastic video for Martini Ranchs blatant Devo........homage? Oh well, Devo rip-off : How Can The Laboring Man Find Time For Self Culture?.
But we drifted apart - she into marriage and children and home-ownership, and me into my other various California adventures.
BIRTH OF THE BENEFIT
And then, years later, the grim news of her bout with cancer. Benefit organizers Rocky and Tony Abatemarco ( Id seen him and Philip Littel give awe inspiring performances in David Schweizers production of Platos Symposium) , who were coordinating a million more important things like the art auction and the catering and the sound system and the space, contacted me to see what, if anything I could do. Of course I only came up with the usual: some musical entertainment. It felt so small and inconsequential. But many of my friends who didnt even really know Charlotte volunteered their services, so I had my power posse of Mink Stole and Abby Travis and Ann Magnuson on hand. What a generous bunch of damoiselles!
Rocky and Tony were outlandish in their praise of my minimal contributions, and I did add a couple of other chores that made me feel a smidgin more useful: Backing up Patty Foley, one of Charlottes closest friends, when she opened the auction portion of the show with a mini medley of Hey Big Spender/Money, and backing up her daughter Emily singing Over The Rainbow.
MR. MEMORY SAYS: RECALL, KVETCH, AND MOVE ON
Patty Foley was seared in my memory because of one particular long-ago incident. Of course it is an incident best forgotten, but you must know by now, thats not my style! She is gifted with an incredible huge fabulous Broadway style soul-sistah voice. A voice I would LOVE to work with!
At one point aound the time of my Kreiger-performance-adjacent tenure, Patty and Weba Garretson and Noreen Hennessey (another actress/performer friend of Paul Reubens and Donald Kreigers with yet another glorious voice) were thinking of forming a sort of retro/ironica girl group after their rendition of Its A Mans World brought down several performance-friendly art houses around L.A.
I was summoned by somebody, apparently because they thought I could help with musical direction, or arranging, or piano playing or something. I wrote a couple of auditon type songs that I thought could point to a Shangilas/Lesley Gore/Mama & Papas type vocal interaction direction they might be interested in. I thought the way they responded to these would give me a clue as to whether I should try another flavor, or not, be it more Motown, or more Broadway, or more arty, or whatever. I felt fairly confident because I had, after all, become a reasonably respected songwriter through the Mumps and Klaus Nomi. Additionally, all the cast of Island, including Weba Garretson , had professed a sentimental love of the songs I wrote for that piece.
So at the first rehearsal in my Fountain Avenue apartment, I was trying to demonstrate the songs I had written as girl-group hopefuls, and maybe give the girls a few harmony ideas that their fabulous voices brought to mind. I thought this was the reason I had been invited to be involved! But strangely enough, Patty seemed to get more resentful and irascible at every word I uttered. Finally, I asked her why I seemed to be irritating her so, and she came very close to me, and looked directly into my face, and said, Because you know absolutely NOTHING about music!
WELL! Did you EVAH! For all I know, she may very well have been right. And she may CONTINUE to be right to this day! But that didnt make it a particlularly comfortable venture for me, so needless to say I withdrew my talents, licked my wounds, and went on to abuse my utter lack of musical knowledge with more receptive folks. But I must say, that wasnt the most constructive nor polite remark I had ever encountered.
So my mindset approaching her benefit song was a mock valiant, For Charlotte! And I didnt bring up the incident, and neither did she.
I did wonder how she could consider approaching me to back her up though. I think it was through channels, as they say, so it was probably Rocky who made the suggestion. And perhaps, if that remark had been an acceptable form of casual language in her clique, she didnt even remember the original incident for 5 minutes afterwards.
But fortunately for me, that is the ONLY time in my life anyone has ever said that to me, so I remembered it quite clearly as I waited for her to arrive. But she soon disarmed me because she was so charming and humorous and genuine, and still had that remarkable voice, so by the time we were arranging her cowbell solo (!) we were laughing together like old chums.
I didnt get an opportunity to rehearse with her daughter Emily because of so many conflicting commitments. I tried to guesstimate a key, and dutifully wrote down one of the three thousand different chord permutations which that hallowed composition confusingly allows.
FINALLY - THE SHOW
What can I say? Knowing me, probably too much. I arrived at the Immaculate Heart auditorium early, to see Tony Abatemarco in a blur of purple batik drawstring pajama bottoms, rushing around arranging everything, and there was a lot to arrange - from the fantastic items given for the silent auctions, including gourmet picnic baskets from Kash Brouillets Blue Star kitchen, vintage framed World War 1 lithographs, autographs from movie stars, week-ends at Bob Hopes Palm Springs retreat, and a fully furnished wildy elaborate mock rococo Czechoslovakian puppet theatre (!) with sets, props and a complete puppet array of witches, devils, skeletons, royalty, peasants and farm animals.
Then there was the live auction art to display, which included some of Rockys most evocative gorgeous moody prints, lots of paintings and photos from accalimed artists, and a large Kenny Scharf piece. There was the generous catering buffet to be set up, tables and chairs and tablecloths, and the merch table which had t-shirts and DVDs and prints and even my memorial Island sountrack -things you could just buy outright.
The Natives Are Restless
Soon To Be Available at a Website (VERY) Near You!
While copying the Island Soundtrack onto CDs, I thought about everyone who sang on it, and it made me remember what a gift it had been to be friends with and to work with Lance, but it also made me remember his last days at (recently closed) Carl Bean Hospice - and how many others weve lost, and the scary thought that Charlotte might - No! heaven forbid, salt over the left shoulder, knock on wood, and prayers to God, if any - become one more. Its not that my experience is any more special or remarkable than any one elses - and even THAT thought is a little bit tragic - that this could seem, or even possibly be, so commonplace.
But when I was finally at the minimally tuned scuffed-up parlour grand in the corner of the Immaculate Heart auditorium, I was too busy rehearsing Rainbow with the sweet voiced Emily Foley (who was completely friendly and unaffected for such a young MTV generation whippersnapper) to entertain these maudlin reflections, or to wallow in my usual What if they gave a benefit and nobody came? prognostications.
And that lame predisposition of mine was completely overwhelmed by the setting anyway. Immaculate Heart is partly up the hill on Western just north of Franklin, and for those of you from lands afar, that means its just about an acre shy of Griffith Park, Los Angeles most gloriously beautiful civic offering. And it has that other priceless Los Angeles attribute - a view. Theres a balcony that runs the full length of the glass-walled auditorium, and when Paul Reubens and I were standing at the railing, we could look down at the pool (unfortunately, there was no meet of scantily clad nubiles to slaver over) or directly out to an incredible view that commands the entire basin of Los Angeles. If the sky were ever clear, you could see the ocean some 15 or so miles away. Breathtaking! I might have enjoyed school more if Id had that view, although I probably wouldnt have heard anything the teachers said.
Paul Reubens cattily reminded me every time I nervously exploited one of my default quirks: I remember that, hed remark dryly. But hes always hilarious to be around - he has that gift, like Lance, of making you feel like youre in your moment, and no where else in the world could be as fascinating or fabulous as where you are right now.
Charlotte arrived early in her usual aviary flutter of energy, looking a little frail but doing a hearty lachrymation-block with her great good humor, making self deprecating remarks about her Shirley Jessel wig while dressed in her typically indecipherable amalgam of country girl, Victorian hostess, and twenties flapper.
Downstairs in the green room , which was actually green, but usually served as the main office for the nuns of Immaculate Heart, the ever lithe Mums were inspiring some salacious ogling as they put on their circus finery, next to the tchotchke hutch that contained some ebay style Nun collectible memorabilia - nun dolls and porcelain figurines. Even God loves cheesy kitcsch! To add to the surreal atmosphere, Girls on Stilts, who actually WERE girls on stilts, practiced their act out on the patio.
The place quickly filled up to capacity - it seemed like there must have been 400 people there. Abby, Mink and Ann showed up dressed as the stars they were - Pat Loud came with a retinue of glamorous industry folks, and I encouraged Long Gone John to bid on the puppet theater to add to his mind boggling collection of weird dolls and pop culture ephemera including a fetish for loved-to-death worn, threadbare, broken and an injured looking vintage plush toys.
The show portion of the evening started as I accompanied Patty in her bravura performance - shes got one of those great big church voices that needs no amplification - sort of a cross between Ethel Merman and Aretha Franklin, and it quickly got the crowd to settle in for the bidding. Rob Zebrecky veteran of many a Velvet Hammer , Mata Hari, and Magic Castle show, was an amazingly adept auctioneer, with Paul Reubens often popping onto the stage to hold up a painting or make an absurd comment. I think Rockys print took the prize for most heated bidding.
There was a slight break, as everyone remarked how smoothly the evening was going - it was even on time!
Then it was my part of the show, or at least the part during which I had to be on call to back up four acts in a row, and do my own. It was a blur to me - I remember John Fleck going out with a huge Victorian frame which he stepped through to do some maniac ad lib and falsetto scat singing, but not too many other details. Emily sang beautifully. Mink sang God If Any and made warm contact with Charlotte, and Abby did a swinging rendition of her drinking song Heres A Toast. Paul gave me a lengthy and affectionate introduction, flatteringly going over most of the stories I told above, but of course with a lot more punch lines, so I actually didnt have to sing my song while being afraid no one knew or cared who I was, or was wondering why exactly I was there in the first place. I think I should ALWAYS have him with me when I play!
Daring to be bitchy as opposed to perky or uplifting, I dedicated my soon-to-be-recorded song Evil to the insurance industry, and the response was generous. Ann looked red-carpet-ready as she was met with a movie star ovation and sang Just a Guy , and then the whole thing somehow rushed to a close.
I was overwhelmed by the incredible show of support Charlotte got, and how gracious she was, and how tragic the circumstances were - it doesnt always take this kind of event to show that we are actually good people, but in the middle of the emotional overload, sometimes it feels like it.
I had to drive very carefully on the way home, because I was trying to see through my tears. It felt good, really good, to be even a little part of something that set the room aglow with so much love and tenderness and caring, and it raised tens of thousands of dollars. Of course, given our criminally expensive and unmonitored medical system, that will probably get Charlotte through a week or two of treatment.
And with the fog of the current regime, and the apparently bellicose and ungenerous mindset of much of the world, it was hard not to feel a cynical twinge that even all this love, even all the love we could possibly muster, would never ever be enough. So I just had to go home and cry for a couple of hours, or days. Its almost like any brief show of humanity and reason just highlights the world of appalling unreason that were trapped in and trying to navigate. Fuckin A - I dont want to end this on such a fucking downer, but when you get right down to it, it is. Charlotte, I hope we did you some good. I love you.
What? No Hot Dogs?
Unaccustomed as I am to the world of legitimate Theatah and the even stranger world of Literature, I was doused like a witch in a Salem pond in both recently. You may all be used to this, but hearing words spoken on stage that actually encourage rational thought is not a commonplace event in my life. So pardon me if I remark upon my own neo-literati olde worlde quasi-fabulousness like the old bridge-club matron I am rapidly becoming. Heres the scoop: Justin Tanner and I were lucky enough to score tickets to the opening night of All My Sons at the Geffen Playhouse starring the inimitable comic genius and consummate actress Laurie Metcalf and - you asked for it! - Doogie Howser, stretching his theater chops.
We tried our best to navigate through the maddening Westwood traffic by what pass for back roads in that neighborhood - and saw parts of Beverly Hills I havent seen since slumming there with the GTOs, back in the ancient 1900s.
When we got into the parking structure elevator, we started joking with and making silly faces at a guy who turned out to be Seymour Cassel, apparently an actor of some renown and many a John Cassavetes film. So Im glad I stopped short of doing my jump-up-and-down-in-the-elevator-until-it-stops joke that I did back in the Hotel BelleClaire in NYC to hilariously scare elevator-mate Jay Dee Daugherty. It sort of stops being funny when youre stuck between floors and realize the emergency bell doesnt work and the claustrophobia makes you start crying tears of utter panic. Hmm.....Maybe THATS why Jay quit the Mumps.
Anyway, after a rush to the lovely garden bar, we were seated in some eensy teensy weensy seats that begged the question , What million dollar renovation? behind Brendan Smith, Karaoke Superstar of the scathingly competitive Farmers Market Black Sabbath championship, star of many a Tanner play, and sometime Dweezil Zappa production partner. Also meeting and greeting was perennial heartthrob Tom Irwin, everybodys favorite father figure (and we DO mean Faaaaaaaavorite, as in Masturbatory Incest Dreams back when that was still cool) from My So Called Life, as usual squiring some gorgeous mystery date and being all friendly and self effacing.
The obvious fact that the play, a wartime drama about corrupt business practices, faulty military materiel, and a culture of almost religious denial, seemed particularly timely on the surface, was not lost - even on illiterate me!
But it was the subtext that resonated even more - when Doogie Howsers character rails about blood on the money speech about his experiences in the war:
Chris: (Doogie) -
Remember, overseas, I was in command of a company?
Well, I lost them....just about all of them.
It takes a little time to just [get over that experience]. Because they werent just men. For instance, one time itd been raining for several days, and this kid came up to me and gave me his last pair of dry socks. Put them in my pocket. Thats only a little thing...but...thats the kind of guys I had. They didnt die; they killed themselves for each other.
I mean that exactly; [had they been] a little more selfish and theyd be here today.
And I got an idea - watching them go down. Everything was being destroyed, see, but it seemed to me that one new thing was made. A kind of....responsibility. Man for man. You understand me? - To show that, to bring that on to the earth again like some kind of monument and everyone would feel it standing there, behind him, and it would make a difference to him.
And then I came home and it was incredible. I....there was no meaning in it here; the whole thing to them was kind of a bus accident.
I went to work with dad, and that rat-race again. I felt....ashamed somehow. Because nobody had changed at all. It seemed to make suckers out of a lot of guys. I felt wrong to be alive. To open up a bank book, to drive the new car, to see the new refrigerator.
I mean, you can take those things out of a war, but when you can drive that car youve got to know that it came out of the love a man can have for a man, youve got to be a little better because of that. Otherwise, what you have is really loot, and theres blood on it. I didnt want to take any of it.
Now of course knowing me, I instantly extrapolated that the love of a man for a man could be Doogies FINALLY coming out, the cute lil gym bunny gay blade!
But even snatching that typically cheap smug chortle from the jaws of tragedy didnt make me immune to the REAL message that resonates today: not the literal parallel faulty weaponry story, but the fact that WE are the looters of the world. And there is blood on the loot.
And in this most recent, um...enterprise...which we call the Iraq war, the blood on the loot includes that of the civilians and families in Iraq, but it also includes the blood of the suckers: our boys and girls, who went out with minimal education and perhaps some simple-minded conviction that this folly had some meaning, when they were merely exploited as investment collateral to shore up a loan on Iraqi oil futures and a cynical global game of Monopoly.
And these clueless kids are played up - no, make that exploied as well - as heroes, but really their blood was only used to line the pockets of the uber wealthy, while these children, the children of the poor and disenfranchised and well meaning earnest patriots, these child suckers lined up in front of land mines and snipers and zealots and died killing innocent families just like their own. Theres blood on it all - all the loot.
And yet we sniff in self-righteous indignation that any of the many peoples we have steamrollered into subordination and subjugation under the iron heel of our war machine and our imperialist exploitation might actually DARE protest by choosing to visit a little of that blood on OUR precious shores. Its a blood industry! It makes the Vampire blood banks of Blade look like a course in international business management. And here I thought that was popcorn escapist fare!
Anyway, then theres another resonant and moving passage in the play, when idealist Doogie has discovered that his father knew the parts were faulty, and sold them anyway (literal parallel, anyone?) and, spiritually crushed by this revelation, Doogie dashes off into the dark, and coincidentally out of his denial. The next door neighbor, sympathizing with the mother, says to her....
Chris [Doogie] would never know how to live with a thing like that. It takes a certain talent for lying. You have it, and I do, but not him.
But hell come back...we all come back.
These private little revolutions always die. The compromise is always made. In a particular way. Frank [the oft ridiculed astrologer in the play] is right - every man does have a star. The star of ones honesty. And you spend your life groping for it, but once its out it never lights again. I dont think [Doogie] went so far. He just probably wanted to be alone to watch his star go out.
Now I told you Im a weeper. And this speech that has all the power and beauty of a sort of rusticated Nabokov; this speech would easily have had me a puddle of salty tears in my uncomfortably narrow million dollar renovation Geffen theater seat. I heard the poignance and pathos and universality of it in the words. But the actor delivered it as a a sort of diversionary grocery-list plot device on an episode of Paul Reisers Mad About You. I had to fight through his performance for my tears, and by the time this sucker got through with that battle the tears were dry.
But the other thing is that there is a fatalism in the poetry that I dont believe. I like it, like a sad defeatist Leonard Cohen song. Face it, empathetic crying is fun! I do it all the time!
But I think buying that proposition means were doomed to compromise, and might as well join the Star-less Bushes in their multi-media entertainment lounge for a Plasma (remember - its a blood industry!) TV festival of 700 Club re-runs. Im just not ready for my star to go out. After all, theres a Star Man waiting in the sky! Sure Sure Ive lied and been dishonest - almost every day! But I guess Im sort of a default Catholic. You get up, confess, and continue to believe that we can re-light our stars while snuffing theirs! Its a blood bank holiday! I guess my drag name is Pollyanna Bowie!
Anyway, Laurie, as the Mother who insists her dead son is still alive with a vehemence just this side of a Tsunami, gave an incredible, standing-ovation performance of such nuance and range and depth you couldnt take your eyes off of her. It was a total Kate Bush sized wow-wow-wowwowwow!
And, thinth Juthtin and I were just thoooooooooooo thuper fabuluth, we were privileged to be invited to the cast party afterward at an Excloooothive Thanta Monica Theeeefood Reth-toe-raunt.
We raced out of the Westwood parking lot to beat traffic, and walked into the ritzy cafe, where they were setting out all sorts of food and waiters were carrying trays of wine, and there was a display of baseball themed chocolate bars (?) on the dessert buffet, which would soon be joined by lots of delightfully messy petites fours. Fancy-ass! There was a Jaqueline Bisset sighting - startlingly gorgeous! - and Karl Malden was rumoured to be in attendance, but we didnt see him. It got pretty crowded and we shared a table with a beautiful couple who were of course actors - but still friendly! Weird!
Soon La Metcalf made her entrance and I rushed up to her with Justin, pushing past throngs of well-wishers, and blurted:
O my god you were so INCREDIBLE ! You simply EXTINGUISHED the lights of your co-stars!
Looking back, Im not sure if that would sound like a compliment - is it the aim of an actor to obliterate the other characters in the play? Does that mean she put out THEIR stars? Ooops! But I meant well - and there was a certain television-friendly lightness to the characterizations by most of the other actors that Laurie rose so far beyond that at times it did seem they needed a little cattle prodding to show up in the same theatrical realm as Laurie.
But continuing on, I gave this unsolicited insight:
And really Laurie, I think if theyd just gotten to that steak house dinner they were trying to arrange through out the play, it would have had a happy ending!
There was a generous but somewhat neutral giggle to acknowledge that Id spoken, without actually endorsing my incisive observation. When I suggested turning the play into a musical however, there were suddenly lots of other people she needed to speak to. But I was happy, having witnessed one of the great performances of my life time - Laurie is the BOWIE of Arthur Miller! A total rock star! And Justin and I grabbed handfuls of sweets on the way out into the breezy Santa Monica night, so then we were fat AND happy!
Romp Through The Pomp!
THE OTHER RICHARD HARRIS CLUB
Meanwhile, Im listening to John Garys LP Holding Your Mind - which title inspires visions of somewhat unsavory anatomical calisthentics.
The liner notes are by none other than that pioneer of clueless smugness, Mason Williams, a sort of Playboy Mansion version of an intellectual, which really sets the stage for John Gary to join the hallowed ranks of ORH (Other Richard Harrises).
These somewhat lost musical souls tried to emerge from the contemporary Late 60s pack of middlebrow song peddlin vocal hacks (John Davison, Andy Williams, you know the type) by grabbing for the questionable license granted by the peculiar success of a few ponderous Jimmy Webb compositions.
These singers dare to aspire for the laurel wreath of... relevance? - that heady, seldom attained 60s commodity, emphasis on oddity!
So Im luxuriating in an enjoyably snooty cringe as Mr. Gary tries to stretch the itchy confines of his Frank Sinatra Junior template into the realm of...um....observational poetry? But its a sort of poetry by someone who never actually observed anything. They perhaps heard others observing and thought, Hey, Id like some of that! What if I pretended I actually had a personality?
I dont think the pop crooners of our era have ever been left as liberated (and quite possibly rudderless) since. Id have to check out American Idol, but Im not sure I have the stomach for it. But the composing team of Grove-Smalley has realized a particularly criminal abuse of language and song in this epic groanfest which poignantly aims so desperately for Webb, and yet gets stuck somewhere south of Goldsboro:
How Old Am I today?
Here are some choice excerpts from the 6:12 (!) sonic adventure:
Yesterdays a piece of chewing gum
Stuck to the shoe of my soul
Hey Mr. Time! Ive got a last minute message
From the front:
Our team is way behind -
Weve got to punt!
[as Mr. Gary expressively holds out the word puuuuuuuuunt with just a pinch of mock-soulful vibrato, enter a baroque string arrangement a la Judy Collins Both Sides Now!]
Where did the day go? Where did the day go?
[He sings repeatedly until it attains an unfortunate sonic semblance to a derogatory term once used for our Italian friends - DAY GO DAY GO DAY GO - then continues -]
The circle youve drawn in the dust
Is just the beginning of the end of the beginning!
Where did the day go?
[then, his voice attaining blaring profundity]
HOW OLD AM I TODAY?
A triumphant fusillade of trumpets, but no Days of Future Past Gong? Im volunteering for remix duties, Mr. Gary!
On another song he asks with a quavering Mathis falsetto,
Is the Zebra black or white?
Entering the canon of liberal race commentary with a particularly leaden notion. But there are some lovely string arrangements - its hard to tell which side of my mouth Im enjoying this LP out of after a while, until I am reassured it is merely a circus of dressy but lousy poetry:
In a garmentless promise of nothing we stand
With only the raiment of time
It is ours to endure or endear and end up
Embracing whatever we find
And here am I
HOLDING YOUR MIND
[Capitals - or as Sherlock tells me - Majuscule! - from the original lyric sheet. If the composer of this last - could it be Paul Williams? had known that the word majuscule meant Upper Case letters, it would have been somehow related to holding your mind, Im sure! like, um...
Here am I in the vestibule
Where your mind seems so majuscule
Its surface Crepe - or is it Tulle?
The Major minors in the cruel
And graduates if so inclined
By dipping the toe of his soul IN YOUR MIND!]
Please feel free to start streaming musings on OORH (Other Other Richard Harrises) whenever the mood strikes you. The bad puns alone are worth the price of admission, which, at Out of the Closet Thrift Stores, is STILL only $1.00 per LP.
HERE COMES PETER ROTTEN TALE!
I really enjoyed the brou-haha when the religious conservatives got all atwitter about the coalition of Gay Families (Family Pride Coalition) attending the White House Easter Egg Roll. Lets face it, getting riled is a conservatives mood elevator! Its like Popium; the Pope-approved high! And we wouldnt want to let them down.
Hang 'Em High!
Mark Tooley, director of United Methodist Committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy (what a mouthful! And I dont mean a mouthful of deliciously creamy warm semen, much as he might have preferred that. A better name might be How to make a Repressive Un-American Theocracy out of Fear and Hatred, and other Christian Values) - anyway, Mark T., with great imagination, called gay families crashers.
So does that mean were coming in without an invitation? PARTY! Wheres the keg? When he said the coalition of gay families was crashing the event, did I detect a note of that other Christian value, hostility? Good, because were hostile to you! Christ on a Crutch! as Lance Louds Nana used to say. May we then, in the spirit of your Christian values, call you bashers, and then challenge you to a civil game of lawn croquet? Easter Eggs have long been interpreted as fertility symbols, so I invite the self styled Reverend Fred Phelps (AKA Funeral Crasher) and his crony Reverend Lou Sheldon, long time bastions of the loving Christ, to a tourney. When the balls are flying, better cup YOUR fertility symbols - cause symbols are surely all youve got!
Tooley said one of the Gay organizers was well known for its disruptive demonstrations. May we take as a template the aformentioned Good Christian God Hates Fags picketin fool, Fred Phelps? Besides, an appropriate question might be - Disrupting what? Your fat assed moral quagmire?
Tooley has in earlier writings claimed that these people indulge in various exotic forms of sexual expression. Hot! I should hope so! Id trade exotic forms of sexual expression for your repressed impotent Ted-Bundy-lite smirk any day. Where did you learn that? From your separated-at-birth evil-twin turncoat George I'll save my skin at any cost Stephanopoulos? I see you both starring in a photoshop porn movie Wrestle For Bottom (of the Spiritual Barrel) soon! Unfortunately, its inevitable turn-off factor would probably result in a world-wide involuntary day of abstinence, but we could make a cool art loop out of the sounds of millions retching.
They could easily demonstrate and make their statement heard at a thousand other places and a thousand other times, came the shrill girlish whine from a petulant Tooley. Did they really have to do it HERE? Its such a shame they had to pick the Easter Egg roll!
Sniff sniff! Yeah its a shame a bunch of families with young children would choose to attend a family event for families with young children!
Some Christian protesters at the event displayed protest signs including one that read Homo-sex is a threat to national security. How I wish that bizarre fanatsy were true! Ill fuck to that! But....Hmm....could that sign be a tad disruptive for reading age children innocently looking for the Easter bunny? Besides, plushies ARE notorious deviants, so I guess its a theme party!
Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition (Mr. Sheldons organization), found it distasteful to use children to politicize the event -her lucid argument being, This is a FAMILY event.
Oh, that clarifies things. Lets see - things that take place at the White House, home of the President of the United States, ARENT political in nature? Especially when theyre celebrating a Christian holiday at the home of a president whos supposed to be dedicated to the American principle of separation of church and state? Thats not political? I havent noticed a lot of Ramadan feasts or Dradle parties there. Or is it a non-denominational party? Then why are all these people talking about Christian values? Christ on a motherfucking Crutch! And I guess when straight Christian families show up, its apolitical, but gays, even those with legally adopted children, or children of their own, show up, theyre using their children? Or maybe gay people with children just ARENT families! Good to know! I was confused for a minute.
Family Pride Coalition said Were going so American citizens across the country can see and meet our families, rather than hear politicians talk about us. Uh-oh - better check their eggs for bombs!
One of the reasons they felt that attaining a degree of visbility was important was the recent bossy cow behavior of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. One wonders what exactly a Bush-Regime education secretary does? Keep track of books that are burned? Cackle with glee as she slashes education funding? Make fun of poor children who thought Bush cared about them? But La Spelling exercised the powers of her office in this creative way: she criticized an episode of PBS childrens series Postcards From Buster specifically because it showed lesbians raising children. PBS did NOT broadcast the episode. Thats backbone! Thats Broke Backbone mountain!
So as a strike against what is apparently an apolitical governmentally enforced invisibility of a whole segment of American society, these darn perverts RUINED the party by showing up and wearing some colorful leis.
Laura Bush, who apparently has met hairdressers even back in Texas, answered, when asked if she had gay friends, Sure, of course, everyone does! Hmm - is Fred Phelps part of what youd call everyone? Anyway, nice for her, although if they are actually her friends, those are some pretty stupid gay people! Schlockholm syndrome, anyone?
Trumpeting a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage help Bush hobble into his second embarrassing squat in this very White House. So it might behoove one of his loudly proclaimed principles to show up in riot gear (because he has a bigger uniform fetish than Tom of Finland, in case you hadnt noticed) and shoo the hapless Lei-sportin pervs off his carefully manicured lawn.
But apparently, contrary to the Phelps paradigm, the gay couples did not actively butt fuck their own children or even the children of others in front of a stonily but commenadbly neutral Laura Bush, who may have been fearful that her Aqua Net endorsement would be cancelled by a single misstep. But perhaps that restraint was admittedly possibly only for lack of lube, which apparently is not doled out in the off-site Easter Egg dying festivities earlier in the day.
Seemingly neutral choice of language reveals intent: Even Yahoo News.com said Family Pride was behind the calls for gays to crash the party. (Italics mine, daccord) Hmm - where I live, standing in line and getting a ticket that says you can go to an event is called attending. What am I missing? I mean, thorry - what am I mithing, Mith Thing?
But actually, ultimately the silence of the dear sweet pardoned drunk driving murderess Laura Bush and her blandly smiling cronies on this attendance was deafening. A good sign! Was it out of etiquette? Or a predisposition to a loving inclusiveness towards all American families? Lauras stated-on-record affection for certain light-in-the-loafers hairdressers aside (cause theyre cute and cuddly, like E.T.!), the answer is NO, girlfriend! I think, and hope, and PRAY that it was FEAR! Fear that they dont know WHAT the (butt) fuck position they should take, fear of polls, fear of offending constituents, fear that they might (yet again) appear foolish or clueless or mean spirited on Television! Were the Bush tribe becoming incrementally, even ever-so-slightly more civilized? NO! They were cowering in FEAR! Shaking behind frozen smiles, and trying to remember where they put the Cuticura anti-bacterial hand gel! Trapped in an uncomfortable cultural manwich between the butt fuckers and cunt lappers and unpredictable whims of the American media. JUST WHERE THEY DESERVED TO BE! I might be foolish enough to hope that there was some ectoplasmic wisp of civil dignity and compassion in the fact that Laura carried off her hostess duties without an immortal gaffe, but I could SMELL the FEAR, and I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVED it! Hippity Hoppity, Easters on its way! And its a total Zombie-fest! Hey Jesus, you can pull a Night of the Living Dead on us and get your lifeless cadaver to come a-hoppin outta that crypt now, encouraging us to eat your flesh and drink your blood, like they do in church every Sunday. Part-tay!
Just What The Doctor Ordered!
SHOPPING DOWN THE DOCTOR TRAIL
Speaking of Easter Party, who should be celebrating more than our man Rush Limbaugh? Peter Rotten Tale may be hopping, but Rush is shopping - Doctor Shopping that is! Filling out single prescriptions multiple times through various doctors so he can access the addictive buzz of his happy pills whenever he pleases! OxyContin, Lorcet, Norco, Hydrocodone and Kadian, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, the cholesterol-lowering drug Niacin, and Clonodine! Thats some Jelly Belly flavor array! The same Rush who said, The FDA says there's no -- zilch, zero, nada -- shred of medicinal value to the evil weed marijuana. This is going to be a setback to the long-haired, maggot-infested, dope-smoking crowd." seems to feel quite differently about partying with illegally obtained FDA approved chemical mood elevators. However, the system he lambastes for not being harsh enough with drug abusers seems to have afforded him a relatively easy out, with no jail time, and minor fines. Did he step up to the plate and say, No, I admit I erred! Let me take the punishment thats coming to me, like a man of conviction!? What the f---? Naw! That would be unAmerican! This is the land of the PAR-TAY! And since he has a cute lil rodent smile like Thumper from Bambi, and his torso is shaped like an egg, who better to get a special Easter Arise-From-The-Tombs-Free card than punishment-evading Law Limbo Limbaugh!
At Home with the Bushes
INDIANA GROANS AND THE TEMPLE OF GLOOM
The most surreal televised moment in recent memory was seeing our beloved President Bush at that roast, that has been covered to death because of Steven Colberts performance, whose triumph which was directly measurable by the silence with which it was greeted (up to and including eerie Limbaugh lookalike Scott McClellan televised silently mouthing a bewildered Wha?).
But to me, although I found Steven Colberts inclusion to be heartwarmingly bizarre and hopefully one more coffin-nail error in the judgement on the part of the conservatives, I found Bushs routine with weirdo comic Bush lookalike, Steve Bridges, to be far more disturbing.
The most powerful man in the world yukking it up while being the straight man for the so-called comic, while Steve made jokes about holding his hands up out of fear of being shot at when he runs into Cheney in the hall? This is America I guess, and what sets us apart from other power mad religiously fanatical governments is we have a sense of humor....I hope!
But the joke about the inability to pronounce nuclear - which seemed wildly, creepily unfunny, was the most chillingly telling. The way the two apparent chums repeated the mispronounced word ad nauseam, and guffawed in unpleasant pride at themselves, seemed to confirm the theory that the countrified twang Bush affects (unlike anyone else in his family), and the way he often goofily misspeaks in down-home Aw shucks folksy homilies, is a purposeful and rehearsed deception to dress his inner Kali the Destroyer demon in peeps clothing. If winning was silence, as Colberts performance seemed to indicate, then Bush ultimately won, because I wasnt laughing.
Who says you can't listen to Jewel?
But lets allow ourselves a brief OUTRAAAAGEOUS break; it gets darn tiring doing all that mincing! At least theres the guilty pleasure of Jon Bon Jovis Who Says You Cant Go Home? (I prefer the version with Jennifer Nettles) to brighten the VH1 wake-up newspaper moment. Maybe its because you can actually sing Sugar Sugar right over it almost all the way through, and the chorus is PRECISELY Sam Cookes Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow. Those are some catchy tunes to rip off, man! If only they could have squeezed All the Young Dudes and a bit if Xanadu in there, it would have been a masterpiece!
Maybe its also so enjoyable because theres no ponderous neanderthal plod that weighed every other earthbound Bon Jovi light weight anthem-wannabe down like a Sisyphean stone (thats why they call it rock I guess). Maybe its just that JBJ has finally come out as the bubblegum airhead I can afford to love, but that chorus is the catchiest thing Ive heard since Jewels Standing Still (Yummy!). It gets my vote over the Artic Monkeys slight and derivative threshing any day, despite the JBJs Little Johnny Cougar faux down home drums, which sound as programmed as Phil Oakeys nipple piercings.
SPEAKING OF PIERCED NIPPLES, AND WHO DOESNT?
I have an idea: What if we did a new industrial goth version of Cage Aux Folles starring Trent Reznor and Scott Stapp, that guy from Creed? Who is gayer than they are? Trents lyrics are STILL so Ouchy! Dont pinch me, Mary - That hurts! And my pain is more special than yours! - which would be a close contest with the proto-messianic grunting semi-literate agony of La Stapp. And that darn Creed guy is the most bitter millionaire - face it buddy, sometimes its NICE to fail upwards, sourpuss! Those schekels arent nails crossing your palms, martyr-lite buddy!
And just imagine the now embarrassingly buff and weirdly, cumbersomely heavy-set Trent wrapping all that angst around a fallen souffle! He looks like your gay uncle, blushing when you just caught him reading the Advocate. Hed look so cute in his black rubber apron, with the adorable little cock ring frills all around, and rubber oven mitts shaped like angry lil herpes! That would lend some Manson-come-lately credence to it! (And I dont mean Marilyn!) And when they try to pass as say...........people who understand the 80s? Breakfast Club fans? Hilarity ensues!
Nin - and I love calling them Nin - it rhymes with Din, but somehow it diminishes them into their proper pop history perspective as a My Little Pony pouting, whiney six year old Jon Benet goth queen hopeful also-rans. On KROQ hey were playing that song Liar or Lies or whatever the fuck it is, where an irony-free Trent opines I think you owe me a great big apology - I was screaming with laughter and could hardly drive! Poor baby - such sad little my feelings are hurt because you limited my cell phone minutes angst! If it werent like aural Crisco that fits so easily into the bathhouse world of dingy unsafe sex, Nin would become culturally unmoored. Head like a Hole indeed. Thank God (or whoEVER! Paris chimes in) that its a logical update of the Germs playing on the Cruising soundtrack - playing into the Cruising Al Pacino straight mans self-congratulatory fantasy, which they pretend is paranoia, that somehow every straight mans ass, no matter how wide, squat, flabby or droopy, is irresistible to fags - especially in dens of grease and leather. Believe me girlfriend - that rabbit butt of yours is resistable! In fact, lets just call it La Cruise Aux Folles, and combine the two. Then Al Pacino could finally play Godmother Charles Pierce in the inevitable Queeny Friend role. That would be OUTRAAAAAAAAAAGEOUS!
IMMIGRATION REFORM - HELP! IM TOO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND THIS
SKIP NOW OR SHUT THE FUCK UP! DISCLAIMER:
Most of you who are looking for even the slightest pretense of entertainment, or even comically bitchy whining, better skip this part! MOVE ON! Even IM bored by this! Thats the precise reason why I put convenient little headlines in these darn diaries - just skip to the part that looks short, or sounds like fun! Or just skip the whole thing! Look at the pictures! Or go back to Myspace!
BACK TO MY BIG DOPEY UNINFORMED WHAAAAAA?
We've got your red hot stereotypes heah! Or mono, if you prefer!
But whenever I see people marching in the streets, I wanna get my fair dose of OUTRAAAAAAAAAAAAGE! Wheres mine, man? I want to flail my wimpy arms in the air, and squeal a withering "OUTRAAAAAAGEOUS !" at the powers that be, and be all rebelliousnstuff!
But in this particular historical moment, when the whole country is full of concerned Latinos marching in the streets in fabulously impressive numbers, Im not sure HOW to be properly outraaaaaged. I guess Im just too dopey!
I mean, the so-called government - while it may be just trying to distract us from their dreadful record in Iraq or the inconceivably stupid build-up to yet ANOTHER bellicose blunder into Iran - the government seems to be expending a lot of energy on this, and Republicans seem to be doing a lot of preening and tub thumping and proposing a lot of new laws about it. In my experience, that has NEVER been a good sign!
Obviously, as a white child of relative privilege, I can have no true understanding of immigration reform, and as a skimmer who prefers whining to actual research its unlikely that Ill gain any that way!
However, since these proposed immigration reforms have been written by aging white Republican males, with maybe a slight comprimise on some minor points to assuage weak-kneed Democracts with wavering convictions, you can pretty much trust that anything theyre proposing is to the disadvantage of our Latino brethren, and written only to exploit them, keep them in their place of poverty and powerlessness, and probably intentionally do them ill.
So without knowing anything about it, if Latinos are taking to the streets to protest it, Im against it too!
Now I LOVE my Latin neighbors - in fact if the myriad Latino gorgeous males of every age, physical type, and cultural affiliation in my neighborhood knew the lascivious fantasies and unrequited crushes I entertain and savor for them, and the ideas their mere physical presence prompts in my libidinous dreams, Id probably have been beaten up long ago, or at least been forced into a Santa Ria exorcism. Hot! Even...outrageous?
And I am absolutely thrilled to see demonstrations in the streets, and questioning of American principles, because any current American principle by its very nature is worthy of thorough and loud questioning!
The one thing Im unclear on is - what exactly do these street marchers want? Is there a written alternative to the present unenforcable patchwork of conflicting laws and attitudes? Do they just want general amnesty? Do they actually want citizenship? Does that mean something to them besides getting to stop worrying about deportation? Should it? I dont know. I personally didnt choose to be an American, I just fell into it. So I never had to prove that I cared, or pass a test, or apply to anyone, or anything! So Im sure I have very single one of the blind spots of the entitled.
But as much as I whine about America, I havent concluded (yet - although Ireland sounds pretty good!) that Id rather be a citizen of somewhere else. I actually LOVE America! Thats why I actually CARE when its being corrupted and abused!
I heard a couple of older marchers on NPR saying theyd worked hard here for years and wanted amnesty - but then what? Do they continue to work without paying taxes anywhere? Or do they become citizens without actually having to apply for it, or take the test, because they happen to have been here for a long time and flouted the existing laws? And amnesty from what? Is the law really breathing down their necks, if theyve been able to work here for years? In a way, do they get amnesty or citizenship for being criminals? Or do they get amnesty for being long term SUCCESSFUL criminals?
I know, I know, its not a violent crime - its actually more of a (harmless?) little white lie type of crime, aided and abetted and EXPLOITED and encouraged by the REAL criminals: big white corporations who tell big white collar lies all the time, commit big white collar crimes all the time, and who PROFIT by this arrangement, and rarely get punished for all the stuff they do at the expense of their own investors and the American populace, and the well being of the planet in general. I concede - those are the BAD guys! Youve heard it from me before - the most important question is: who profits?
But still, Im stupid - so spell this out for me - what IS your plan, Mr. NPR ?
A BRIEF MUSICAL ASIDE
Don't ask stupid questions! Buy this now, and be happy!
Personally, Id rather ignore all this shit, enjoy my neighbors, and listen to my new copy of Quarteto 1111, the great Portugese 60s folk rock band that sounds a little like that fab Lee Hazlewood-produced Donovan-wannabe record, Arthur - by Arthur; no, not the Kinks Arthur, just Arthur! Quartetto 1111 is great light folksy music for coffee, paper reading, and quiet, relaxing half baked ranting.
BACK INTO THE QUAGMIRE
But this shit (caca?) I cant quite ignore seems to be a little in-your-face at the moment, especially when apparent spokesmen for the thousands on the street are quoted on the radio (obviously selectively, for some manipulative purpose, and of course to keep us inflamed, .....or not?) as saying Los Angeles is the second biggest city in Mexico! Now, thats a cute slogan, and maybe if I were a true liberal, Id be celebrating it! But I dont really know what it means. Anything? And I was born here! Help me on this!
Its like being invited to a birthday party where youve never met the host - what do you say? Is it okay to eat the cake anyway? And then you find out its taking place in your own house, even if youre not sure that its your cake. Confusing! There seem to be a lot of messages all at once, like getting a bunch of competing radio stations on one static challenged soundwave. And of course as a non-Latino, and a loser liberal to boot, Im afraid of seeming uncaring, unsympathetic or uninformed. Unhip! And, dag nabbit, I AM uninformed.
But on a purely theoretical basis, if a law is unenforcable, or we choose not to enforce it, then shouldnt the law be changed, or the means to enforce it be put in place? Otherwise ALL law is meaningless. I know, I know, thats a groaner! Oy! But if we can pick and choose the laws we enforce and whom we enforce them upon, then all law is innately unfair. Oh I forgot - we already do that, with rich white people! So maybe it IS fair that poor Latinos and Rich White people have that one thing in common - that laws are bent to the breaking point where they are concerned. Anyway, if everyone gets to pick and choose which laws are enforced, it might actually make it more fun! But Im not certain thats an option theyre offering me at my next audit or speeding ticket.
Again - on a completely theoretical basis - if the people who will do the jobs that American citizens refuse to do (which I somehow feel is apocryphal - wheres the evidence?) suddenly disappeared, then those corporations and systems that paid less than minimum wage and offered no health benefits and depended on illegal (you know - the old sense of the word - against the law, get it?) immigrants as employees would either find ways to pay the legal living wage, and be responsible for legal health benefits etc., or they would FAIL. That sounds GOOD to me!
And perhaps Americans would not refuse to do those jobs if the wages meant they could afford to pay their rent, put food on the table for their families, and even have a little health care benefit on the side and go to a couple of movies a month.
And those with jobs that American citizens do not refuse to do, who already depended upon LEGAL employees would either succeed, or FAIL as they settled into the reality of a new minimum wage based market. Which might be a GOOD thing!
Then new corporations that perhaps do NOT pay unconscionably stratospheric salaries rife with probably illegal perks to their corporate heads, might have to use some of that money to figure out how to make a sustainable business in this new legal world, by paying actual living workers an actual living wage! That might be a GOOD thing.
And perhaps if the millions (is that true? or another manipulative word?) of undocumented workers were suddenly gone, or legal, and getting an adequate wage to live on, then the fast food industries and big box stores, that are most likely the only place the illegal immigrants could afford to give their custom, would be impacted by the subsequent loss in revenue, and have to adjust to the new market as well. How bad could that be?
On a theoretical basis, obviously, what if, after some painful adjustment, we actually ended up with a workforce that all received at least the minimum wage, and maybe even some benefits as well, and their income were able to be taxed because it was actually reported, so then that tax money could be used for the infrastructure and educational needs of a slightly reduced workforce, and there were less people in each community living at the enforced poverty level of doing the work Americans refuse to do? What if the price of vegetables and fast food and consumer goods and oil went up slightly, but the work force had an enforced slighty better income to afford it? Would that be so terrible?
What if NOBODY did the work Americans refuse to do and we were all just forced to LIVE with it, until somebody decided that equitable wages should be paid for work that people refuse to do?
What if we had immigration laws that WERE enforced, without exception? What if people who now come here illegally were either given the option to come here legally, or else be punished or expelled for knowingly breaking the law, when we made a law that was reasonable enough to be enforcable? So illegal would actually mean illegal ?
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF ALL:
And - more basically, What the fuck am I talking about? Help me!
AY AY AY!
Now you know WHY La Cucuracha marijauna que Fumar! Because of eye-glazing meandering ramblings like these!
Yawn! Im only puzzling this out because its been so saturated on TV, especially when there are no Law and Order reruns, and Ive already seen that episode of Top Chef more than once. (What about that one poor little Top Chef fag guys involuntary grimaces? Isnt that like Aunt Hepzibah or who ever she was in The House of The Seven Gables, who was unaware that her own involuntary scowl was scaring the children she so longed to hold? But his Mexican food sure looks tasty! Wait - is that an inflammatory remark? ) But whatever this darn immigration shit is, it does seem important to a relatively large segment of the populace - a segment in whose neighborhood I happen to live!
Or is it yet ANOTHER baitnswitch, like the predators the federales are going to cruise mio espacio for?
ANYWAAAAAAAAAAAAAY, SPEAKING OF PREDICATBLE!
(PLEASE FEEL FREE TO KEEP SKIPPING, RANT NAYSAYERS)
This darn guest worker program: I was reading in the paper that the people who are most skeptical of it are Democrats without college degrees. Oooooooops! Thats me! Without a college degree - doesnt that imply Im too stupid to understand it? Oh yeah, I already copped to that.
I felt as weird and predictable and sad reading that as I did when, at about 10 years of age, I was reading in the World Book Encyclopedia about yawning, and it said Yawning is very easily prompted by suggestion. In fact, youre probably yawning as you read this! And I was! Bummer! Does that mean Im not special? I felt tricked, trapped in my own inability to be unique - I was just another yawning loser!
So am I just another college-degree-free loser on this stupid reform issue? I better shut up then! But still - does a guest worker program mean employers STILL get to pay now newly legal immigrants LESS than the official living wage? What does THAT fix?
The paper also says that I am in the sector that would face the greatest competition from such a program, since if I chose to enter the work force (icky!), I would have to compete with guest workers willing to work for less than me. Bummer squared! Like I would ever actually WORK! The very idea makes me ILL! But, do these guest workers pay taxes? And whos going to enforce this guest worker shit? And what are the qualifications of a guest worker?
Obviously, by my questions, I prove that I dont understand a thing about the immigrant experience, beyond the fact that I know theyre fucking hot, and most of them that I have personally met are very nice, and intellectually I know they are an exploited servant class that somehow benefits major corporations in their current undocumented state.
I also cant afford a maid, or a gardener, and dont need a baby sitter or live-in Nanny. And even though Ive had some major house repairs lately, they were done by my friends from the musical community who happened to have carpentry skills. (Ill give you their phone numbers - just ask! And theyre cute too! And sometimes you get free CDs!) So I havent had that other end entitlement experience either. I havent gone down to the parking lot at Home Depot to hire people whose qualifications and background Im unsure of, like Ive seen in those well intentioned PBS documentaries.
Maybe my entitlement is that Ive benefited by their unsung exploitation in the low price of fruit and vegetables, but the price on those products has been going up as fast as the price on oil, so someones maniplating that somewhere, and I bet it isnt the illegal workers.
Oh, and Im not personally a big fan of most of the Latino music that Im aware of (which doesnt mean much!), although I LOVE Zurdok because Im a pop nerd in any language, and their televised soap operas are endlessly fascinating!
So I guess Im too stupid to figure this stuff out. If only wed kept that free university system in place! And any question that involves, however tangentially, the race word - any question that even BRUSHES on that is inflammatory - even though this is legitimately an immigration law question, and NOT a, um........ race question. Is saying a question is NOT about race - is THAT inflammatory?
But it seems like these simple (- minded? dopey? okay, moronic) questions havent been answered, at least in my hurried skimming of current events. And of course, now the paper isnt covering it any more anyway!
One thing I HAVE figured out - my opinion probably wont make a bit of difference. And Im just going to vote against evil Republicans anyway. So who cares what I know or dont know?
In absolute fact, I wish that ID skipped this whole section TOO!
So I think Ill just go back to mindlessly objectifying the cute guys in the neighborhood instead. Mmmmmmm, tasty!
HEY SKIPPERS! - YOU CAN ALL COME BACK NOW! IVE GIVEN UP ON THAT immigration STUFF!
To Netherland We Go!
MINK STOLE AND HER NETHER REGIONS - EXPOSED!
An Anatomy Lesson
Back to something I might have some facts about - Mink Stole!
On the first night of a two night run, in the familiar confines of Silverlakes Cavern Club in the basement of Casita del Campo, Mink was a tad loopy in front of an intimate but animated audience filled with attractive girls who all seemed to be there for one reason: George Baby Woods! Like father, like son I guess! The girls were squealing piercingly at Georges every minute change in facial expression, and were considerably less vocal about accomplishments or appeal of the rest of the band. Charisma - you cant buy it - yet! Even if you could, I probably couldnt afford it.
Anyway, I think the smaller crowd, or perhaps the particularly strong vodka and soda (Minks not much of a drinker), give Mink a freedom to extemporize she doesnt always feel in the more packed houses, and she was suddenly diverging into stories I hadnt heard before, like the one about her first fuck - I did it with the guy from down the street whose last name I cant remember in the basement when I was about ten. I only did it to remove my hymen. Ive always hated the hymen, and thought it was purposeless. What IS that thing for? So I just thought of this first fuck clinically, as surgery to get rid of it the darn thing, not because I was eager for sex, but because I LOOOOOVED Tampons so much and couldnt wait to start using them!
My favorite body parts are my tummy and the fat under my arms. Really, the fat under my arms is just as comforting and soft and lovely as breasts! A gasp that might be mistaken for a titter comes from the crowd - ...If only I could have a couple of extra nipples on that particular under arm fat... - and here, she made a rather disturbing gesture at the audience, lifting her elbows straight up, so the undersides of her upper arms aligned with her neck and upper torso, and the imaginary extra nipples under her arms would be staring the audience right in the face, joining the original two on her breasts, so her torso became for a moment an imaginary quadruple areolae-empowered pink fleshy trapdoor spider arachnid face, with four variously placed nipples for eyes, glaring inscrutably into the room. I dont know if its just because of my sexual leanings, but I found the unavoidable mental image somewhat discombooberat.... discombobulat.... discombobblat.... oh, just unsettling!
Thats a journey we dont usually take in a Mink show - but shes always full of surprises!
I See You!
She also revealed that her real name was Nancy, (not news) and out of the ten kids running about her single mom home, her mother chose this moniker for her: Nancy Shut Up! Thats what she always called me, every time she spoke to me - Nancy, shut up!
LURCH INTO MERCH! A Mink sidebar
Immediately the merchandising prospects came to a boil in my inner scam projector, and from my little corner of the stage under the high school level glitter and foam core quarter notes spelling out Doe-Ray-Mink that adorned the black curtain, I dreamily imagined the proto-cabbage patch frenzy for Little Nancy Shut-Up dolls - probably modelled after the Keane inspired Little Miss No Name street urchin dolls of the late 60s.
But these dolls would be so much better - The Dakota Fanning style little blonde school girl features with the big pleading puppy eyes and the cute turned up nose would have some radio controlled yammering in Minks inimitable drawl about how dreadful Catholocism is coming from a tiny speaker in the mouth, that would end only when you yelled SHUT UUUUUUUP! at your very own Little Nancy Shut Up doll!
And of course, when you stripped off the fetish-lite Catholic school girl uniform, thered be an extra nipple under each arm - so when you raised the arms and took off the dress it was kind of like those transformer dolls where a tiger turns into a robot - except in this case, the prim little school girl doll turns into something similar to an adult toy blow up doll crossed with a spider face! And, they could have a removable hymen! Like cabbage patch dolls, theyd come with fancy scroll gilded certificate of authentication - from John Waters! For an extra fee, you could get official Little Nancy Shut Up Tampons in a variety of pastel colors.
Well, this really set my imagination in motion. What this rabid e-bay generation of on-line shoppers really needs is a new breed of super collectible dolls - because collectibles are the new votive medals! How about this: Abortion Barbie?
You heard it here first! And in red states she could be sold with a rusty hanger (with a grisly little foetus eye stuck on it to give it that Todd McFarland stamp of detailing quality). And you could get the dirty back alley red state Abortion Barbie play set!
In Blue States you would of course get beautiful soft curvy pink and white plastic hangers, and the abortion clinic would be gleaming and clean, with cute friendly nurses in a rainbow coalition of races, and uber handsome doctors, complete with that super clean Doctor Scent Glade Air Freshener endorsement - the scent could be situated in the Doctors hair - you know, that Ken-style hair thats like flocked wall paper some of them have (although, like Ken, their sexuality would remain indeterminate). You have the friendly stem cell researcher side line, and outside there could be some fun right-to-life play-pals, with paint guns that spray fun-filled mock pig blood, and there could be a whole line of born again Christian memorabilia! Snakes for snake handlings, a speaking-in-tongues magic decoder ring! What about Abu Grahib Barbie? Complete with her own disposable camera? Could be very empowering for todays complex woman! Mattel - give me a call! Ive got a million of em.
What better way could there be for young girls of a tender age to learn about one of the most pressing issues of our time? And, like an Ideal toy, its fun for boys too!
BACK TO THE CAVERN CLUB
So went the evening, as I downed the cheap-tasting Cabernet supplied gratis by the most fabulous stage manager and tech officiator of all time, Mr. Dan. Hes every where at once, making sure everyone is happy, and saying retro theatrical things like Places!. It wasnt his fault that the wine they served tasted like anti-freeze! But obviously, it did the trick. It was actually so acidic and so painfully sweet that our diligent drummer, Matt North, wouldnt drink his, so I HAD to drink it for him. Im no under-achiever! And Im certain there were more merchandising ideas in the bottom of that disposable cup, if I could only remmber through my blinding headache.
We premiered our version of a fab George Baby Woods/Lisa Jenio composition Thank You Baby (which I was a little envious of, because it edged my own composition Waiting For the Worldright out of the set). But Mink remained true to God If Any, singing it with her usual aplomb, and we even played Windmills of Your Mind.
Theres a song I took for granted as an essential psych-lite bon-bon, until we actually tried to play it, and found out how truly weird it is. It seems inherently uncomfortable at any tempo, and if you check out any version, from Noel Harrisons original speed freak breakneck reading on the original soundtrack of the Thomas Crown Affair (like he cant wait to get it over with and connect with his pot dealer), to the Anita Kerr Singers stopngo Free Design stylings, to Petula Clarks somewhat funereal reading, youll know what I mean.
We first attempted the absolutely definitive Dusty Springfield version, and realized that it must have been recorded truly live, because upon examination, it wavers flippantly in and out of speeds and time signatures like a cheesy CSI crack addict extra. So we settled on a more straightforward faux Sergio Mendes reading, because at least (we hoped) then Matt could hold us together. Mink hit the octave jump notes in the weird third verse (not a bridge - just a maddening shuffle of chords!) like a pro.
We also added Goin Back to the show, a song which Mink knew through Dustys rather sappy version, and which was apparently also recorded by Queen (!), but which I knew through the Byrds slighlty less saccharine version from The Notorious Byrd Brothers. I was happy when my slightly rock-ier version won out - and Foster proved an able raga rocker, complementing the fantastic Electric Prunes stylings he adds to Waiting For The World (sniff, sniff, boo hoo) whenever Mink will play it.
Anyway, the hymen/nipple stories that were tender, scary and inner-soul revealing on Friday turned into seasoned professional hilarious schtick the second (sold out) evening of Saturday. Minks no dope! When a good story pops into your head, it needs to be told! And it was fun playing for a capacity audience that wasnt quite so George-centric. There was actually applause for each of us after our names were thoughtfully announced - several times - by Mink, and I recognized the voices of Super Starlet Selene Luna and vocalist extraordinaire Lisa Jenio in my personal huzzahs.
NOT MY NEGRO PROBLEM
After the show we gathered for futher imbibement at the bar upstairs, with local luminaries like the adorable Debbie Spinelli and Carol Cetrone, and I noticed that Heidi Roewald from Stews band was there. I completely invaded her booth, unfortunately not remembering the name of the friend sitting in the booth with Heidi, whom I later discovered Id met no fewer than ten times. I not sure how long this senility excuse will hold up. Oh wait, thats not true! I DO know! Until I die! One of the FEW advantages of being a village elder.
Anyway, Heidi was, as usual, being the incredibly sweet adorable wonder that she always is, inspiring love in all those around her, including, of course, me! Damn shes cute. Irresistible! I just LOOOOVE her! But there was an incipient ugliness inside of me gnawing its snaggle-toothed way to the surface. I felt like Jeffrey Combs in From Beyond. Eewwww - it was acid reflux envy! From some bilious cavity within comes the Scrooge-esque nasal query. Pardon me, but isnt that MY success youre having? As I tried not to visibly manifest my wrong-side-of-the-red-velvet-rope covetousness, Heidi innocently listed the many wonders happening in her career with Stew, as one does when something remarkable is happening in ones life. She was about as full of herself as her Shirley Temple name sake, and more self-effacing than the Dalai Lama, but still I had to fight my unseemly inner umbrage back down my throat with a couple of high pitched unconvincing remarks like, How WONDERFUL for you - after all the work youve done, isnt it great to have something good like this happen?
I heard the list of their much feted accomplishments wafting over me - Their musical play Passing Strange would opening in Berkeley before moving to NYC, and Heidi innocently detailed her slight discomifture at the way everyone seemed to be treating Stew as a precious national treasure. How much EVERYONE loved them.....The development meetings at Sundance, on and on..... Instead of the appropriate congratulations to the obviously incredibly gifted artists they are, who have worked endlessly and tirelessly for every iota of success theyve achieved, playing all over the country 300 days a year on less than a dime, sleeping on floors, producing fantastic music - instead of appreciating THAT, my soul was mutating into a bitter Fuck That! Wheres Mine? bobble head hobgoblin. I hope that wasnt written all over my face, as I struggled to stay at least partly in the conversation by relating my pale pith-impoverished stories of distant momentary brushes with a threadbare bottom feeder version of the kind of love and support they were (deservedly) receiving.
So I was as smiley and congratulatory as I could manage to be, and guess what? Nobody hit me, and when I got collared by my Mink cohorts to adjourn to Minks booth and actually get paid (!) it kind of reminded me that I work with fabulous artists and get to do all sorts of cool stuff. Duh!
BLACKBURN BEATLE BONGO!
4,000 holes? We only really need one!
Unfortunately, one of the four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire wasnt one made by a bullet in the middle of our wandering Secretary of State Condoleeza Rices head. She was met with many delightful protests, and actually had to pull out of a planned photo op at some Mosque because of the protesters. But she lived through it, if you can call that living. Darn!
But the protests didnt stop her from confessing that she wanted to continue on to Liverpool because of her love for the Beatles! No, this wasnt an uncharacteristically sardonic jaunt into the hitherto unxplored frontier of Condoleeza Ironica - she was serious! Is it actually legal for someone of her moral persausion to love the Beatles? I guess all you need isnt love, or at least not THAT kind of love.
She must have missed a few bed-ins I guess. War is over if you want it! John sweetly offers her. Thank you kindly, but no-thank you! I dont want it! comes the polite newscaster English refusal. I guess she just cant IMAGINE!
But her strange school girl confession of Beatle Love has some fanciful double think ramifications: If only shed been in power during Ghandi's non-violent protest movement, she could have helped him win faster - by supplying the guns!
GOD IS WATCHING US FROM A DISTANCE
He just never said how far!
Loving loving LOVING the new study that proves that prayer doesnt work! In fact, if you pray for the recovery of someone who is ill, it actually makes them sicker, and causes more medical complications!
Just because Jon Stewart has covered this to death doesnt mean that the the fact that if millions of morons pray for Bush, it will actually help him fail doesnt tickle the funny bone! He better tone down the Godspeak, or prayer will get him right out of the White House. Maybe he can catch the tail end of that new anomalous outbreak of Mumps on his way! (No thats NOT a shameless plug for the recent CD/DVD 2 Disc fabulous Sympathy For the Record Industry Release MUMPS How I Saved the World. Really!) Anyway, Im soooooooooooo hoping there will be a court room logjam of law suits, brought by poor gimps with complications, against being prayed for! If only prayer had surgeon general health warning stickers on it! And maybe we can outlaw it in public places! And while driving! Or maybe just altogether! Hot!
But having scientific proof of anything hasnt ever swayed the darn believers: witness those kids being groomed and prompted to stand up for God against teachers of Evolution, and doing it so stridently and effectively that some teachers are actually avoiding the subject out of burn out and exhaustion. Oh, you dont think the little angels have been groomed and scripted? And I bet you believe Santino made the final three of Project Runway because of his talent? Please, be careful who you pray for! You know its bad for your health!
Anyway, I have a rejoinder for those teachers to use if they care to: You kids better pray that evolution exists, because otherwise the only conclusion we can draw is that if God were so smart hed have given you a brain. And maybe one for your parents too. Basically your idiocy is Gods fault. And if God were so smart, why are there more Moslems than Christians? Maybe the Moslems are just more evolved!
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY CHRISTIAN
L.A. Times: Christians sue for the right not to tolerate policies! Many codes intended to protect gays from harrassment are illegal!
I feel a musical coming on, and its not Jesus Christ Superstar! Perhaps My Unfair Lady? I dont know, but this new I gotta bitchnmoan for Christ movement is so rife with zingers that Kander and Ebb better get out the staff paper!
Ruth Malhotra (what a drag name!) says her faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But her darn school, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Isnt that a euphemism for hair dressing and nail salon studies? Or how to copy the charcoal drawings of cute little dogs on the insides of matchbooks?) bans speech that puts down others because of sexual orientation. You can see where this is going, and apparently theres a movement burgeoning, although that movement could be as real as Santinos sartorial gifts! But apparently they have laywers trying to overturn anything to do with diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes protecting them, and anti-discrimination policies for campus clubs.
Evangelical Reverend (! Whod be dumb enough to revere this guy?) Rick Scarborough (imagine what lilting soprano porn puns could be made when Rick gets aroused by Ruths Malhotra and goes into a malhotrance - he might scar her burrow!) says this is the defining civil rights struggle of the 21rst century - the fight for the right to be Christian! Good to know! Christians should NOT be discriminated against simply because they are discriminating! Thats a Christnundrum! Christian activist Gregory Baylor says (and Im not making this up - its THAT rich!), Think how marginalized racists are - if we dont address this now, it will ONLY get WORSE!
I hear the next song, hopefully with a huge all black gospel choir of faggot hating born-agains: you could sing it to the tune of Pity The Poor Immigrant, but youd be pitying the poor marginalized racist, and singing, Good Christ, dont let that happen to me!
But in the middle of all this joyous musical falderal I have a plot point to suggest that might make the resolution of this crisis a little less remarkable, and rob the show of some of its dramatic thrust. I dont really want to be a spoiler, but the kids are gonna see right through this faux crisis (Christis?), and durn if it wont be as big a bomb as Van Helsing!
Because, Poor Miss Ruth, see that invention called a cross walk? No - not THAT cross. The one in the street. Wait for the light! Now, why dont you just walk across the street? Because if you read the fine print, before all the name calling and fag baiting and of course most importantly FUNDRAISING (who profits?), youll find that these diversity protection rules only apply ON CAMPUS and for CAMPUS BASED CLUBS AND GATHERINGS.
Hmm- can you move to the left about 20 feet? (I hear a new dance number! Sung by cute little after school traffic monitors, To the tune of David Bowies Fashion - Christian - Turn to the left!) Then you can yell angry ani-homosexual vitriol, based on fear, and lack of experience, and small minded bitterness, and a complete LACK of any real Christian values, as LOUD and as LONG as you want - at least until someone PRAYS for you, because then youll probably get complications - like throat cancer!
Speaking of CROSS walks - remember the Christian prostest against using the letter X in words painted on asphalt, such as SCHOOL XING, because the X was based on the cross our dear lord was nailed to by those horrible Ro-Jews a while back? Where are those civic minded people now? We could sure use their clarity of vision and purpose!
SPEAKING OF FAGS - AND WHO DOESNT?
Is it really so long that I havent made a bitchy remark about Broke Back Mountain losing the Academy Awards? Not that it was such a great movie - sure I cried, but you know I wept at Gay Purr-ee.
And the performances were uniformly nice, although the over-designed over-the-top austerity of the Christinas World setting of Jake Gyllenhaals family of origin at the end of the film took it to just this side a Madonna video - all that distressed wood , all that grey, all that lack of furniture. Very minimalist opera. Dems sho am sum po folk! I could almost hear a distant chorus of Express Yourself as Heath fondled the shirt that was recently auctioned for some unGodly sum.
The movie itself though was disappointingly safe - like Will & Grace without the laughs. It used the distancing of time to keep the audience in its back then comfort zone: back then before Oprah and Doctor Phil (and Jerry Springer), back in the olden days when we had so much difficulty communicating our true feelings.
One need only look at the demon spawn on the chairs and couches of those shows to see how much we have progressed - not!
And it was set in another world as safely removed from 99 percent of its target audience as E.T.: the world of cowboys. It might as well have been the circus, or France, for all of the audience identification with those poor people.
It did have genuine emotion though, and its milestone contribution to cinema and culture is that it did have what Will and Grace sorely ( or not so sorely) lacks - an actual butt fucking scene! Which leads geometrically to the fact that it had the screens first out macho bottom. Hot! Bottom liberation! Although how Heath got (what one would assume is) a fairly massive Aussie protruberance into what must surely have been a very dry and somewhat musty cowhand receptacle in Jakes posterior, without even a little spit, or cow fat, or a moment of massaging encouragement with a finger (or tongue) showed that the writers were a little ahead of themselves in the research deparment. Ouchy! Must have been one tender spot in the morning, and I dont mean tenderfoot!
But the true tragedy of the film is the most predictable one: that it had all the promise of historical moment, a genuine milestone, and of course America dropped the ball. Not since the moon landing has a true cultural epiphany been so very nearly in the grasp of our great lumbering country - here was a chance to say Hey, some of us ARE civilized after all, and were ready to send flowers to this cause that is still so moronically divisive - were going to defuse it and make everyone feel a little better about themselves so we can go back to the work of repairing the epidemic stupidity of everything else we do. It was going to say You can use this as a wedge device in political campaigns from here to eternity, but there IS a kinder, smarter, more sophisticated side of America, and we want to share that face with the world.
Its very hard when youre watching the retard and he gets the square Fischer Price block so close to the square hole (no innuendo intended - well save the child molesting rant for another paragraph). Youre just rooting for the little loser. And America, the supremely retarded country, came sooooooo close!
But no, once again the dope is somehow dazzled by the round hole, and the primary colored block goes unfitted, and all is lost. Prognosis: He IS a hopeless numbskull after all.
Thats how America is - when they defaulted to the safer issue film, Crash - about the safer issue we discuss so often that it actually doesnt mean anything any more: racism. Im not saying weve resolved racism - America is an endemically epidemically racist country, and it needs to be continually addressed. But weve defused it in the world of entertainment by constant sit com talk show massaging until as a choice for an Academy Award its about as progressive and status quo threatening as margarine. Can you spell To Kill A Mockingbird? This is not new territory, and threatens no one.
And Crash was an ensemble film as well - MORE very likable actors (and MORE friends of the actors voting for them) doing really good work in the smart mans Magnolia - a not-so-fun-house of coincidence that was never supposed to be real - more like a dance that engages you, and then riles you, mortifies you, and actually makes you think a little. I actually liked Crash better than Broke Back Mountain myself.
But it was not a film of moment. It was a film of intelligence and craft and ultimately hope, but it was not historical. Sure it was a minor revolution to have so many (somewhat) low budget statement films up for awards (although it was a no brainer after the disappointingly unwatchable pap of King Kong etc.). And it was gratifying that they were uniformly of a leftist liberal slant, by which I mean THEY WERE RIGHT AND ANYONE WHO DISAGREED WITH THEM IS WRONG!
But reread the word minor - America cant even crawl to its own birthday party. It was a vacuum of moment, a silent world wide applau (as opposed to the plural, actually audible applause). Everything went back to normal the next day, and Brokeback Mountain was reduced to the charitable status of the little-art-house-film-that-could. It became a blip on the cinematic consciousness of America that caused a little discussion, fueled a few late night jokes, and whose most notable and lasting acheivement is merely that it didnt actually destroy the careers of its two stars.
But even that was no act of real courage - Tom Hanks can truly call that his own in the certainly much smarmier but ultimately far more groundbreaking film Philadelphia. He was truly a major star taking a major risk in a major film. And the Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen songs were so much better than the unmemorable slush of whatever was on Ang Lees tired folksy schmolksy soundtrack (sorry Rufus, not your most shining moment) - they were actually the most beautiful songs to address the gay experience other than, well.......Scarecrow! By ME! Kristian Hoffman!
Of course Philadelphia was equally safe - the distancing device of that fag disease that kept the fags resolutely other, like watching wounded wombat surgery on Animal Planet, and really feeling for the little guys. Poor things - emphasis on thing. And I dont think the red spot on Tom Hanks' squinty grimace during his wincing opera hoe-down scene made the gay plight seem any more familiar.
In fact the REAL moment of playing gay in a semi-mainstream film has GOT to go to.......drum roll!..... Will Smith in Six Degrees of Separation. That took courage! He couldnt even bring himself to kiss the guy - he was that scared. And he did a great job anyway.
So America, you lil retard, youre just HOPELESS! But we love you just the same. And next time - remember the lube!
ALL YESTERDAYS PARTIES
Ive been to LOTS of parties lately. Very uncharacteristic for someone who starts yawning uncontrollably at 7:00 p.m.!
First the fantastically lovable Millionaire swept back into town for a couple of days, and had a delightful meetngreet at the bar in Hotel Figueroa, that wonderful mock Moroccan neu exotica lounge where Ive embarrassed myself before with Alice Bag, the only girl I know who STILL sneaks liquor into a bar!
Mill and his fiancee Sascha were in fine and friendly form. But unfortunately one of those events involving the strange and inscrutable parallel universe called Sport had just finished at the Staples Center, two blocks away, and the revellers in their cultish uniforms of pin-striped navy polyester and sweat togs emblazoned with the exotic logos of unknowable ritual worship were crowding the sidewalks, and just as soon crowding the interior of the bar as well.
I didnt know that these religious fanatics were allowed to drink, but apparently in this particular sect its encouraged. So it was nearly impossible to get to the bar, or get a drink, or hear anything.
I did manage to get in a brief conversation on the wonders of the Critters two Project 3 LPs with Eric Bonerz, visionary behind The Super Casanovas In Space, record collector and mixmeister extraordinaire, engineer on the Velvet Hammer Bands classic recording of the Millionaire composition Ass Tassels (from which my organ solo was summarily edited for live purposes!), and apparently also member of some uber hipster band with John C. Reilley in it. Who knew? Sounds very Largo! So Im afraid you cant go. But then, neither can I!
Then I had to rush off to meet Abby Travis and the luscious Donita Sparks at the Echo Park home of Bryan Lee Brown, Downtown Sensation drummer and scofflaw of Las Vegas reknown.
When I finally managed to park on his almost perpendicular street, I came in to find a living room free of furniture to encourage interpretive dancing, and the comforting familiarity of some Nuggets garage punk selections on the stereo. Abby was looking gorgeous as usual, and having an easy time mingling with the folks, most of whom were in, or had been in, all manner of Spin covered hipster combos.
There was plenty of liqour, and everyone was friendly, and Bryan had made a delightful tiki grove in the back yard, (which you had to squeeze past the back porch surfboard stash to get to). It boasted a glittering view of the downtown skyline, one of Los Angeles most Oz-like features, and one I sure dont have at my house. But everyone there was SO young! And there were so STRAIGHT! Its not a crime, but it should be!
Fortunately for me, in my usual pop nerd cul-de-sac, even though 99.5 % of the gentlemen are clinically straight, they also are quite a fey bunch, given to vintage 60s clothing and a wimpiness of affect that leaves me feeling quite at home.
But these lovely welcoming folks were of the hooded sweat shirt, quilted nylon parka vest variety - it made me wonder WHY they were playing that retro music in the first place. Dont these kids have some NEW music that they call their own? The seemed to communicate with a series of knowing insider macho grunts, and I didnt have my Clan of the Cave Bear handy translation device with me.
Sure enough, soon some dishevelled guy with the droopy jeans and the de rigueur wrinkled plaid boxer waist band over hang (thats the neu plumbers crack!), his face completely obscured by his hood like a LOTR Ring Wraith, was at the laptop that served as the stereo module, and just as quickly some of those repetitive kindergarten tribal pulses accompanied by a bunch of arrhythmic electronic blips and squeaks took over the soundwaves. He also had that nervous DJ tic of switching the song (if thats what these monotonous oscilloscopean patterns are still called) every 30 seconds or so, as if he were browsing through holographic vacation possibilities on the Star Trek TNG Holideck, all the while bobbing what must have been his head under that shadowy snood.
Bryan was everywhere in his Viper Room circa 96 leather accented finery, hobnobbing chattily, making sure guests had their drinks, parading his charming dogs around (and Im NOT a dog fan, but these dogs were adorable. I even had pet envy!), and maintaining that soon the dancing will start. Is that a promise or a threat?
I was glued by a feeling of social inadequacy to the couch, uncomfortably close to the two other people that seemed superficially to be approaching my age, but with a little more grace than I was. So I wasnt exactly alone. But by the third time they offered the observation:Isnt Jane Wiedlin fabulous? (and of course she IS!), I felt a bit out of my depth, or my niche, or possibly my coffin. Dracula needs his beauty rest!
There was no pop nerd safe corner here. There was no Marizane member I could wow (or bore) with my encyclopaediac knowledge of Bowie: Images. These people were ROCK! Good rock, tasteful rock, now rock, but ROCK! Its funny, but I can pass in punk rock circles, but I dont think I can pass in rock. So I tucked in my paisley shirt, grabbed my western jacket (Pretenders II style if youre interested) and crawled carefully down the deadly incline outside to my car without even saying good bye. But I did think it was a good place for Abby to meet a romantic prospect!
I also attended the Paula Kelly post Some Suckers LifeCD Release party at their cute Atwater Village apartment. She and her BF Aaron Tap are giving Carolyn Edwards and Steve Stanley quite a run for the title of Pops Cutest Couple! I smell cat fight! And they are wonderful hosts. AND Aron even confessed he paid full price for How I Saved The World. Thats commitment! And there was lots of delicious cheese and guacomole and Makers Mark and exotica decor and friendly chatty expat Bostonians. And no one was encouraging me to dance! I was in my pop nerd barrio and loving it!
Played with Carolyn Edwards at her bittersweet Fare the well, Thou Brief Taix Residency show. The crowd was filled with luminaries: Paula Kelley, Aaron Tap, Nick Walusko, Darian Sahanaja, Jim Laspesa, Jonathan Lea, Todd and Debi from Marizane, several California Navels, Gwynne Garfinkle, - and when youre in a room with Bill Inglott, Andrew Sandoval, and Steve Stanley all at once you better pray (oh, I forgot! Christ on a Crutch! Prayer doesnt work!) I mean wish that there is NO natural or unnatural disaster - otherwise there will never be another re-issue you care about. Its the re-issue Mafia!
I forced a copy of my new MySpace faves Rude Staircases full length masterwork CD into Steve Gregoropulous willing hand - hoping that La Staircase will find a home at Steves (and Carolyns and Heathers and Webas) fab label collective True Classical Records. I also gave one to KPFK psych expert Barry Smolin.
Carolyns set was fab as usual, with her band consisting of several Bryan Wilson/Now People alumni, Steve, and then of course ME. She had us play the most inspired pop nerd encore of all time: Flying from Magical Mystery Tour. I had to forgive her for insisting somewhat bossily that rising chords in the second verse were on organ, even though I listened on head phones and am pretty darn sure theyre on a string mellotron patch. Its her band after all! And what if shes right? Gulp! She usually is. This selection has it all: Beatle cred thankfully minus Beatle burn out, no words to speak of, an Oz-friendly basso Chorus of Winkie Guard La La Las, and a coda of mellotron flute noodles into lite jazz/psych complete disintegration.
Then the Now people played with their unbelievably ambitious counter-melodies and five part harmonies, most of which were magically in tune.
I remember in the Swinging Madisons, for the first five years or so, I wouldnt let ANYBODY sing back up, because I thought it was a better gamble if you just risked less things that could go wrong. Thats why it took me that long to discover that Robert Mache was a great singer! I was too busy saying, NO!
Not so this yes-sayin, sleigh bell shakin, risk takin conglomerate of pop daredevils. Smile, Schmile! The Now People are all about orchestration!
And then they had a surprise treat for us: Steve announced that they would be singing Windy, and of course everyone was cheerful and excited about THAT, and he continued: With the great lady who wrote the song! Screams of disbelief as Ruthann Friedman stood up in the crowd. Now thats REALLY collectible! She was very petite, and had a cute little page boy hair cut, and the howls of appreciation were deafening as she made her way up to sit next to Steve while they went through the Now People version of this pop classic - unfortunately she was so terminally shy that she kept her mouth about two feet away from the mike, but you could tell she was moving her lips. Steve tried to give her morale and encouragement by singing with great restraint from about a foot away from the mike, but even at minus one volume Steves voice obliterated whatever sounds, if any, Ruthann was making. So we just gaped in wonder at the woman who made one of the quintessential twee pop hits of ALL TIME! If Id only known, Id have brought my Constant Companion Ruthann Friedman LP to get autographed, even though the textured raw paper cover (a la Neil Youngs Harvest) looks like some hippie spilled coffee all over it, and the fairly rote acoustic blues/folk inside bears little semblance to the magical lite pop confection of Windy. I guess if one only heard Night In The City by Joni Mitchell, one might bring a different set of expectations to her catalogue as well.
RECORDING NEWS FLASH - MUSICAL CHAIRS!
Eat this, Eno!
I am now an official Chair player - in the last Ann Magnuson session when we were doing overdubs to Pictures on My Dentists Wall, I noted that the black quilted polyester Target style desk chair on casters in the control room had a fairly distinctive squeak. No sooner was the observation made than engineer extrordinaire Mark Wheaton had set up some gleaming top line mikes around it and I did a session of chair squawks and squeals and whines for placement in some spoken word Dentist break. Im now available for tours, jam sessions, and recording dates, playing - God, no! Im trying to resist the painfully awful pun tweaking my frontal lobe, but I guess sometimes I have to just set it free - chairemin. Forgive me.
You've Got Your Orders!
Umbrella stand plus Bagpuss!
So now perhaps you see the source of my ambivalent attitude towards taxidermy - Im a staunch boring environmentalist, and actually would rather see people die than animals, but stuffing and abusing endangered creatures is not only a family tradition: theres also the Addams Family factor (where IS that swordfish with a mans leg coming out of it now? On E-bay?) and finding comfort in dusty Victoriana to consider. Making taxidermy -BAD! Having taxidermy - GOOD! Lounging with the absolute masterpieces of the art in LACMNH - Trippy!
But back to the photo-op: the groom pleasantly but flatly says, Oh yeah, Ive been told your grandfather had something to do with this place, so my reveal is a total non-starter.
So were at the run-through. It becomes apparent that perhaps the first 30 seconds of each song that we beat our brains out trying to approximate is going to be used. Its a relief AND a disappointment after being over-prepared as usual.
The man hired to officiate the ceremony under the traditional Jewish Chupa is a slightly grizzled non-denominational Universal Life Church actor-type of great and flowery demonstrativeness, and theres some staged spontaneous objection frivolity with quotes from Cher and Matt Groening ( hell be in attendance, with Long Gone John fave artist Mark Ryden - power wedding alert!) . The Matt Groening quote is cute - about love being like an attack by Siberian ice weasels. I laughed anyway. But I dont watch the Simpsons - it could be old. It turns out that David, the groom, is either a writer (?) or producer (?) on Futurama - industry a-go-go!
The ceremony is simple enough, and then the great pocket doors are opened as the busloads of fabulous guests are arriving from (where else?) Hollywood.
The ceremony proceeds without a hitch, and even the sort of rote Cher joke gets a huge charitable feel-good laugh. Im even misting up a little - this sort of optimistic commitment seems strangely lovely, and Im think Im turning into a sniffling dowager bridge club lady, caked in baby powder, in the loud-print neck-to-ankle rustling crepe church gown, with the drooping breasts and overpowering White Shoulders eau du toilette, before my own eyes. Wheres my lace handkerchief?
The assaultive sound of the wireless mike scraping and sawing noisily against the resonant shuffling of the plastic laminate pages of the preachers black vinyl notebook for interminable moments, as he searches for his place after getting lost in a particularly theatrical and grandiose hand gesture, brings me back to earth. Its about as romantic as the sound of a not-too-distant leaf blower. BZZZZSHRRRWHSSSHHH. This is a routine that will repeat itself throughout the ceremony, each time he seems to feel a phrase deserves more florid delivery than is evident on the written page. In other words, hes not off book. BZSHWSHH! But at the close, the glass is dutifully stomped on, although it doesnt look like anyones thinking about the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem because theyre a little giddy, and we ace our three cues, playing out the function with a nice Hullaballoo version of Things We Said Today as the people repair back to the rotunda for cocktails before dinner.
Im planning a quick discreet packnleave scoot, but seduced by the temptation to scarf a glass of wine and hang with Jonathan and Dennis and Senor for five minutes first, observing the scrillionaires and their cadres in their natural interaction as befits the museum setting.
Theyve started serving the Wolfgang Puck mini-fast food hors doevres, and with whom am I caught in the corner but Darian Sahanaja, Lisa Jenio, her adorable BF Jerry Buskek in even more adorable 60s Edwardian revival finery, and several other twee tribe members - its like old home week. Dennis lovely wife Michelle is all friendly and accomodating as usual, and asks where Im seated. I dont think Im invited, I confess with ill-disguised grumpiness, now that I realize what a party lies ahead. But she simply ambles over to a near-by sideboard and returns with my personalized place card - Why of course youre seated with US at the giant diamond table! I barely have time to register astonishment at the organizational efficacy and generosity of the event planners - even I barely knew I was going to be here! - when who approaches but George Baby Woods, Candypants auteur and sometime Mink Stole bass player! This is getting freaky.
You look like you work in an ice cream parlour! His malicious opening swipe at my Van Heusen striped shirt is typical of the source. Im deciding how much hurt and offense to affect, but then Darian and I have to dash to catch the mini-cheeseburgers, which have been disappearing too fast to reach our corner. I share with the pop posse the fact that I am a dress code wildcat, for stitched onto the inside of my Wembley tie are helpful directions for the fashion illiterate: Wear with Blue Suit. But I am wearing my maroon Beatle jacket! Rebel. This is good for a minimal giggle til the even more minimal mini pizzas pass by.
Then even more weirdness is revealed - the florid and somewhat ruddy-faced pastor (?) reverend (?) with the distinguished grey goatee who married the lucky couple, and is now hanging about us, is Georges dad! Is that fabulous? Or creepy? For some reason, this seems to explain a lot, even when later it is revealed that George Woods Senior is not only a man of the non-denominational cloth (chintz?), but quite the swingin lady killer as well (by reputation anyway).
We head in to dinner and indeed there is a huge faux diamond on red plush under a bell jar at our assigned table, around which most of the conversation centers as the wine is freely poured. A line assembles at the buffet and, thinking to be smart and get up when the crowds thin, I wait at the table with some sweet people whose names I cant recall. But its moving fucking slowly. I see Lisa and Co. near the head of the line, and go over to make conversation. Are you cutting? the lovely lady to my left mildly disapproves.
I sure am! comes the reply - and refreshed by the atypical honesty that emerged from my own mouth I add flagrantly, Its time for the rock star cut! Nobody in Lisas crowd objects, and I get my mint lamb chops (3!) and chinese stir fry (spicy!) and enjoy myself thoroughly. Even the weird layered beet thingy isnt too bad.
Then there are toasts and there is so much sincerity laced with just the right amount of humor that the eyes go all damp again, although I could blame it on the wine. Senor Amor plays some kerrazeee Ventures version of Hava Nagila and people are up doing that circle dance and the couple are carried on chairs and the whole room is writhing with activity and I wonder a little too loudly to Jonathan if the white napkin Pattis waving from her chair is supposed to be proudly displayed with the blood of the broken hymen ala Stargate later in the evening.
Then the incredibly ornate cake which is a meringue ensconced Chambered Nautilus complete with the Cephalopod tentacles and the creepy pin hole eye is served up and the dance floor is open, and heres the only other punch line youre going to get.
Everyone is too full to move except for a few hardy souls who cant resist Senor Amors impeccable choices. But as the crowd thins and buses begin to leave, Senor throws on a Wondermints song - which one was it? It wasnt Hypnolove or Chris Craft, was it?
Anyway, it sounded so GREAT on the huge speakers and the dance floor was so resolutely empty that I HAD to GRAB Darian and say, COME ON! Lets dance! He resisted of course, very tastefully and without apparent nausea, but it was futile. I just urged in a frenzy, When are you EVER going to get to dance to your OWN music on HUGE speakers in the Hall of American Mammals again? NEVER! COME AWWWWWWWN!, all the while pulling the sleeve of his black turtleneck until it was certain to unravel.
It may have been only to protect his apparel, or because he realized that the song was almost over, but he gave in, and I grabbed him by his tiny Renee Zellweger waist and out on to the floor we spun - it was like Cinderella, only with stuffed sea lions! No ball room dance tradition was left unsullied, as we swooped and swirled and tilted and dipped and spun with no apparent gift for rhythm, and Im certain my hands were sweaty as I grasped his much more delicate fingers - but he actually got into it as the look of horror slowly drained from his face, and even cued me into a mincing tippy-toe minuet in the delicate harpsichord outro.
My evening was made, and if the ghost of Mor Far was peering from beyond, through the jaundiced prism of those glass eyes that surrounded us, I heard no Viking curse. Lisa Jenio was even flatteringly miffed - He would never do that for ME! Im the twee pop Nijinsky! Or was that just child abuse? Wait - youre both right!
At the top of the hill outside of the reconditioned Echo Park bungalow that houses Weba Garretson/Mark Wheatons Catasonic recording studios, where Im producing Anns CD, behind the rolling iron security gate, floating down the sidewalk, I see them: three unaffected lovelies who in another era would have been judged so deeply, gorgeously ren-fair (Renaissance Fair to you!) I would have had to pledge my troth, wear their colors to the joust, and proffer a jug of mead at the mention of their name. Oooh! The Chapin Sisters! Its like having three (somewhat taller, thinner) Sandy Dennys show up and say, Is that good enough? I had arranged some backing vocals for Anns and my (hopefully) orchestral lament Cynical Girl with only two parts - thats about as much as I can handle. And on the spot, the girls (Lily, Jessica, and Abigail - those Childe Harold folksy names! Its like theyre in that seminal 60s UnicornsnSoul outfit The Cake) say Why, just run the track! And magically, like a celeste played by Gabriel, these little bell-like harmonies emerge from them as naturally as Chiles new fabulous budget cabernet, Casillero Del Diablo, emerges from my pie safe. And Im just as drunk on it.
Its like the Mamas (sans papas) are jamming with the girls from the Pipe Dream, Fairport Convention, the Sunshine Company, and the Pleasure Faire, with a little Kathe Green thrown in for good measure. Folksy - but definitely NOT mopesy! So I have to thank that Paper Magazine party that Ann and I played at for throwing me into their orbit. And the fact that the vodka endorsement gave me the courage to say, Come be on our record! It also helped a little bit that their brother/manager Jonathan Craven was someone Id actually accompanied to Vegas with matching bad 50s tuxedos and renegade significant others (dont ask and I wont tell!) some years ago. All I could do in the producers chair was say, Oooh - pretty!
Necrophilia on tap!
In a similar vein, when Ann had been a guest panelist on J. Keith Van Straatens continuing live send up/homage of Whats My Line? (Keith is very dry, and keeps you guessing), one of the mystery guests had been David Weiss, the worlds most famous virtuoso saw player. I knew when he stepped out for his post-show solo spot, I HAD to have him. Chills! He generously did NOT delete my e-mails, waited while I was inexcusably disorganized for about 4 months, wrote out my arrangements on staff paper (! photo copies of this inscrutable cuneiform available on ebay soon!) and showed up ten minutes early to add some of his spooky One Step Beyond saw to The Skys A-Cryin . Gorgeous!
All this - and Mr. Weiss plays oboe too! Lead oboe with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to be exact. Wow! Thats my fetish instrument from so many Bill Shepherd Bee Gees arrangements - its like the rock star instrument of the orchestra. The Obowie! It stands out like Ronnie Ronette in heat, and yet it continues to be so determinedly Baroque. On a good oboe day, my soul sports a powdered wig, and even on a bad oboe day its carrying a sweat stained copy of The Left Banke Too under its toga. Of course David is married, so forget it! But his saw playing is out there for all of you who adore gooseflesh and left field spook-house mastery. The fact that he had just scored an HBO special about necrophilia didnt hurt either!
A BRIEF SUGGESTION
Will Arianna Huffington be the understudy in my new musical Fag Hag? I love her so much as a guest commentator - shes so campy, so WillnGrace, she must have known shed done the ultimate fag hag hazing and married a gay! Shes the new Angie Bowie! Even though I love her reformed (turncoat?) conservative about-face, and her delicious filo dough accent (so flakey and light!), somehow I just cant take her seriously. Shes the anti-Arnie; her sentiments are right on (as his are right off, that retro little campy post Nazi!), but her motives are foggy and obscured by questionable neurotic needs. In other words, she just SCREAMS FAG HAG! Can she sing? Boy, could she re-imagine some of Eartha Kitts disco-era misfires! And her pretentious accent would be real!
THE SAME OLD QUESTION
Saudi security forces shoot to death five suspected terrorist Al Qaeda connected Militants during an early morning raid in connection with last weeks foiled attack on Abqaiq (Why dont these darn foreigners have to put the letter U after their Qs like WE do?) the worlds largest oil producing plant. I guess dead men (if any) STILL tell no tales. Someone alert Johnny Depp! Theres an oil-based buccaneer prequel in there somewhere!
Surprising result of this terrorist (t-word alert! inflame! frighten past reason!) attack (those POOR POOR oil sheiks! Now whos gonna tend the harem?) - Oil prices shoot up two dollars a barrel. After last years record setting profit margin for the oil industry, during a claimed oil crisis which meant that all consumers needs no longer are worthy of consideration. Bleed the suckers dry (...er)!
Umm.....the answer to who set off this lame inept terrorist bomb could be answered by the oft-asked query: Who Profits?
So I am hereby sending into the public arena, as a sort of public declaration of copyright, the concept of the new board (and bored) game : Who Profits? Unfortunately, the answer to that question cant be the ultimate qualification for winning, because its too easy: Not us!
But it will be fun trying to guess who actually set off those easily foiled terrorist bombs, to create a perceived threat, so the price of oil could go up up up UP yet again, and gullible Americans could quiver anew at facing the inscrutable desert threat without even a (I Dream Of) Jeannie in a Bottle. Part be could be ascertaining if indeed there even WERE any bombs, or if just having friends in the media to plant the story is enough to line your gilded coffers. Thats a real SMART bomb! This could be FUN!
Meanwhile: this just in! Hey you guys, OIL IS OVER! Yes, as of about say, 30 years ago, it was noted by every leading scientist in the world that an oil-based economy in the present predictable expansion of population and need was NOT sustainable. Oil is TIRED girlfriend, its DONE, its soooooo last century, youve ridden that sway back nag into the ground and even if you whip her bleeding leprous flesh, the bulemic old mare just isnt gonna get up again. DUH!
So can I say again: O-I-L I-S O-V-E-R! So Bushes JebnGeorge, we dont actually NEED to destroy the ecology of Floridas coast FOREVER to dredge up less than two days worth of oil. Nor do we need to befoul Alaska and drive several cutsie-pie species to extinction to do same. Did I tell you already? OIL IS OVER! Its like Studio 54 - you had your moment - now wipe that Colombian snow off your nosebleed, and count your ill-gotten gains! Youve got plenty to retire on!
Then just reconfigure your diesel Mercedes to run on vegetable oil! Im told it emits a smell like MacDonalds French Fries, so in fat America, thats a win-win. Its not that hard. The technology is there. And - it might even decrease reliance on those furners in those oil-rich emirates you like to vilify as you woo them. Which was confusing everybody anyway!
But just in case you didnt hear me, OIL IS OVER, so get on to a new game, or youre sure to be Mr. Losey Loserson in that trendy new board game Who Profits? I guarantee you wont like that! But I will!
Don't ask - but DO tell!
A Modest Suggestion
So you say you just cant get me that saber tooth tiger skull? Well, as Bradly Field used to say, Cant is a coward too timid to try! But just in case, heres another notion, if youve read this titillating nugget:
Airborne Soldiers Charged With Making Gay Porn
Raleigh, N.C. The U.S. army has charged seven paratroopers from its elite 82nd Airborne Division with engaging in sex acts in video shown on a homosexual pornographic website, authorities said Friday.
Three of the soldiers face courts-martial on charges of sodomy, pandering and engaging in sex acts for money, said a statement released Friday by the military.
JUST GET ME THE TAPE! Or at least show me the website! Bareback Mountain indeed.
YE OLDE PUNQUE ROQUE OF YORE
Whether youre the Sex Pistols trying to maintain cred by refusing the invitiation to their own RocknRoll Hall of Fame intitiation, or youre Blondie ambivalently accepting that you've been seduced by the fluffy charms of the recognition, albeit with some hedging and with inarticulate disclaimers, there is one thing you cannot deny: the mainstreaming of what was once punk. Just look at the Beverly Hills ad above. What does it mean when a society matron can barely invoke a titter of disbelief in the Polo Lounge sporting the taming of the skulls? Get your Misfits tee shirts here, skate punks! What, or whom, is there left to outrage?
Unless you can get some some kids to wear the neu-Dansk Turban-bomb party favors to church, will Swastikas and KKK garb soon be the neu-punque accessory available at the mall? Will these once inflammatory crests that could reduce grown men into slimy puddles of seething defensive fury be defanged into shower-curtain-appropriate signifiers of generic prefab retro teen angst, like the CBGBs logo? I cant wait! That is truly bed bath and beyond! And more importantly, will they have that cultural MSG of ye olde 90s, irony? Or is that just a little too, um...layered to be easily digestible by today's uber-informed hipster shoppers? And in the red states I guess theyre still worn with "meaning" - is that the more honorable stance?
But maybe the above skull and cross bones is NOT actually a punque-lite/Harley John Davison/SS reference, but merely yet more merchandising for the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Who knows? Who cares?
THE DEVIL OF TODAY.
I should just skip to the ending
Yawn. Yes, I still read, darn it. Cant sleep? Try these predictable nuggets. It would be nice if the lamentably obvious were stated soon enough to do us any good. Meanwhile, its just another tired verse in the Bush saga. That's bad poetry! I'm so bored I can't even rant! I wish theyd go on more hunting trips.
This evening, the Associated Press released secret transcripts and video footage showing President Bush being personally briefed the day before Hurricane Katrina hit land. The predictions he heard were shockingly precise and accurateincluding the failure of the levees. He knew exactly what was coming.
The article is a smoking gun on Bush's unpardonable failure to keep us safe.
Oh yeah, and....
As President Bush travels to India this week he'll be hoping for a brief respite from the political firestorm over the port controversy. But if members of Congress truly want to blow the whistle on business deals that impact issues of national security, they ought keep a close eye on the president as he visits South Asia.
The problem with the deal is crystal clear: making an exception to the nuclear rules for India makes it incredibly difficult to encourage other countries to play by them. These rules, established by the international community over twenty years ago, were designed to cut off the path to new nuclear weapons development. President Bush's plan would reopen that path, and likely speed more countries along it.
Pretty In Pink!
1. No more God told me to excuse - all wars would be revealed to be petty disputes over property and resources.
2. No more hereafter excuse - people couldnt use the excuse of heaven or paradise for killing people, taking their money for the church, or just being downright mean spirited because of some non-existent future reward. It would also make dying for some stupid cause seem a little less attractive if this life were assumed to be all we have.
3. No more bible excuse - People who believe in Intelligent Design would be revealed as just plain stupid. People quoting scripture to back up their baseless theories (like breeding striped goats by showing their mothers striped sticks!) would be thought of as clueless hicks.
4. No more blasphemy excuse - pictures of swarthy guys with beards in turbans would be meaningless. Drawings would be revealed to be..well...drawings. And words like Fuck America! Burn the flag! Marines are stupid assholes! would turn out to be....just words.
5. No more freedom of religion excuse: schools would have to get funding based on academic performance. Jesus would have to make better furniture to compete with Ikea and stay solvent.
6. No more icky excuse: All marriages would be pragmatically civil cohabitation social and legal agreements, without spiritual resonance, and thered be no excuse for gays not to have equal rights even though their semen sometimes swims in feces. (Please refer to February 14 Diary entry, Section 2: "Care and Concern For a Little White Sperm", paragraph 5, for quotation source.)
7. No more procreation excuse - People could have condoms! And abortions! And sex!
8. No more entitlement excuse: The Weisenthal Center wouldnt be able to claim religious exclusion for building its Tolerance Center on an ancient burial ground in Israel - theyd just be digging up graves.
9. No more Allah excuse :Suicide bombers would just be violent thugs who have a stupid method of protesting that alienates everybody. Hurting innocent people would be revealed to be...hurting innocent people.
And on and on: Burkahs would be revealed to be a lame but perfectly acceptable fashion fad for those who enjoy that sort of thing.
Chopping hand and stoning would be revealed to be deplorable lapses of etiquette. As would torturing prisoners.
Burning private property and embassies by students, even those in Pakistan, would be revealed to be simple acts of vagrancy.
In fact, no one could claim the imprimatur of their God for ANY act. This would kind of leave Bush with a lot of explaining to do. He and Cheney and Rove and Pat Robertson and all that other pack would be revealed to be stupid greedy rich people who dont care about poor people, nor their responsibility to improve the quality of life for all American (and by extension, world) citizens. Which I guess means theyd be fired. because youd sort of have to do your job.
Angry Ayatollahs and Sheiks in other countries would not be able to inflame their subjects passions by quoting lines from some dumb book. Theyd actually have to convince them with...reason? Mormons would have a few logistical problems too. Burning churches with black congregations would be meaningless, because no one would be going to them anyway.
And it would save me a lot of research when I feel (occasionally) bad about being a historical and informational skimmer, and actually look something up so I can be informed and nuanced. Fuck that loser shit! Just remove God from the equation!
Now Im not saying this would automatically make anybody any smarter, (although that could be an unintended side effect) but it could have this cheery result:
Basically, killing people would become inexcusable. For anybody! Wouldnt that be nice?
The new secular bible would be:
So lets just try it - even if just for a day or so: Chant it to your children, scream it from your Mosque turrets, broadcast it from your stealth bombers and write it in black goth lipstick on the mirror in the Lincoln bedroom:
Remove God from the Equation!
Thats math that even an American student can do! Its like cultural and spiritual Febreze!
I love you - I kill you
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY
I know every late night talk show host has already made a comic feast ad nauseam out of Cheneys Shotgun mishap, with the deplorably and monumentally unfunny Jay Leno somehow managing to extrapolate it into a completely non sequitur but typical insult to Clinton. Ha ha? Fair and balanced? Whats with this guy? Remember when he was the outsider leather jacketed comic often seen as a guest on Letterman? I guess his deal with the Devil went like this.....Well, youll never be funny again, but youll get to sit and smirk from behind Carsons desk.
But it was absolutely a glorious Valentine gift to have that slap-happy Cheney incident grace the news all over the world. The actual news reportage in real time was so much more absurd than any comic take could possibly be - especially when they kept repeating the film clip of Cheney at an NRA meeting, handling a vintage shot gun like a goofball lovestruck teen . Hes certain to be their new poster-boy spokesmodel against arms control! Plus the whole fact that they managed to delay reporting it for 24 hours - they cant even manage a decent cover up, those losers! Well you know the story by now. Classic. What a buffoon!
Even the fact that it added to the grim lore of the most embarrassing regime in American history, which somehow implicates all of us who accept it without forcing an impeachment or running wild in the streets in protest, even that could not dull the glow! You shall know them by their deeds! These warmongers, who claim a wisdom they have never known, are shown to all the world to be incapable of handling a shot gun without shooting their best friends in the face. Thats not even a metaphor for their reprehensible behavior on the world stage - its a literal transposition. And what the fuck was that moron doing on a quail hunting trip anyway? Isnt there something hes supposed to be doing? Like his job? If only hed had the heart attack that his own private ambulance is there for 24-7. Then wed really be having a party!
Oh, and the cheery 78 year old lawyer supposedly isnt in any real danger, in fact hes in pretty good humor about his face getting peppered pretty good. Heres a Valentine-appropriate sentiment: What about that one pellet that just sort of migrated to his heart (be my valentine!), and will stay there like shrapnel for whatever is left of his life (forever!), and caused a heart attack? Oh - that wasnt a real heart attack, and that durn uppity pesky varmint pellet! Migratin to where its not wanted! Didnt it see that big Artery - No Trespassing sign?
Anyway, just gotta luv the big fat dopes for showing once again that they are willing to try to manipulate the news in hopes of misleading the American people and the world at every lame-ass senior moment opportunity. Theyre about as subtle as they are with torture and surveillance - its like a delicate gossamer ballet, only they shoot the durn swan with a shot gun instead. Right in the (Valentine) kisser!
CARE AND CONCERN FOR A LITTLE WHITE SPERM
More Valentine fun - this from Rolling Stone magazine. The only reason I tell you is because Im the only person I know who admits to reading it! Yes, theyre fairly clueless when it comes to music, but, as Ive said before, theyre a top-notch fun-filled information-packed knee-jerk leftie news source, and not quite as academic as Harpers. Heres the latest tidbit. Its from a fab feature on Sam Brownback, a Kansas senator who is an unapologetic evangelical, no - make that catholic, wait youre both right! flip floppin fundamentalist who admits he wants the US to be a theocracy. OK, so thats not news. BUT:
He is deeply involved in a Christian organization called the Fellowship which uses as its model the terrorist and/or communist concept of cells. The groups consist of senators and generals and corporate executives and preachers - and their goal: to make the government Jesus plus nothing - a government led by Christs will alone. Love that phrase! I see t-shirts! I see lunch pails! I see Christians - theyre everywhere.
Within this organization is yet another group of cells called The Values Action Team, or VAT, which is dedicated to altering public policy. Thats right - a Christian advocacy group working behind the scenes in Washington to secretly influence public policy based on a terrorist template - sounds like a game show, doesnt it? But these people are SMART - and ORGANIZED - theyre like a Twelve Step Meeting - they look at the terrorist template and, take what they like and leave the rest.
Theres a lot of stuff in the article thats pretty disturbing - and believable, and not unlike the mission they claim is so damnable when pursued by those of other faiths, i.e. yer durn Jews and Muslims. (Theres much consternation about the alleged Judaizing of the new testament! Sounds like a fabric softener.) It begs the old hippie vs.pigs, man vs. aliens-from-space question: Are you just being paranoid about the religious right? Or are you not paranoid enough?
But really, Im doing this prolonged set-up so I can get to the good stuff and share this tasty morsel as a special valentine, um...truffle? Brownbacks chief of staff is Robert Wasinger, who spent college days in Cambridge trying to get gay faculty booted out of their jobs. Heres his delightfully picturesque spiritual focus:
He was particularly concerned about the welfare of gay men; or rather, that of their innocent sperm, forced to swim in feces.
Omigod - That is so hot - such a poetic flair! Swim in feces! Is that the title of Eminems new CD? Or a new childrens book? I hope he didnt copyright it - it could really be a companion to the classic Incredible Journey. A new Margery Sharp sequel: The Rescuers Afloat - on a Log! Its good that the would-be spiritual leaders of our nation have such vividly literal imaginations. Im definitely volunteering to illustrate, should this hoped-for volume ever come to.....pass? Or possibly a sequel to Dances with Wolves? The marketing possibilities are endless. It could start a whole..um...movement.
I THINK THAT I SHALL NEVER SEE A POEM LOVELY AS A...
On a different but still festive note, theres always Bushs new proposal of selling off public lands (some nice protected forest to some kindly public interested timber companies for instance - about 170,000 acres of Forest Service land, and in the west, 500,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management lands) for infrastructure maintenance and education.
Isnt that a little bit like selling your house for 20 cents so you can patch the sidewalk in front of it?
La Boosh hopes to raise about 1 billion $ for this fire sale - about the amount we spend on the war in Iraq - oh - very day or so. Of course we couldnt POSSIBLY cut any money from THAT budget. Anyway, you can see that billion sure will last us a while, and well get a few of dem pesky pot holes patched, and some book-learnin too! Until we get some new forests to sell. Oh, there wont be any? Theyre irreplaceable? And they belong to the taxpayers anyway? Not a problem - could you just go and flush that covey of quail out of those bushes over there?
MUMPS ON NETWORK TV......NOT!
Heres a little Valentine disappointment in the Now it can be told department:
Yes, there WAS a scene in the recently cancelled CBS series Love Monkey, unfortunately in an unaired episode, where a girl and a boy discussed the Mumps, while actually holding the new Sympathy For The Record Industry single and discussing the importance of Lance Loud as the first reality TV star. Then they take it out of its sleeve, go, Ooh - pink vinyl!, and play part of Waiting For The World to catch Up. It was apparently supposed to be aired as a Valentine Special!
But even better, there was a scene in the same episode where some characters go into a night club and the DJ is playing Dogs In Baskets, and a discussion ensues wherein the song is mistakenly attributed to the Almond Lettuce, and the DJ corrects them: No, its the Geranium Pond!. Guess who gave them the info for that scene? Yes, it was moi, in my autumn visit to NYC, and I was counting on a heaping helping of music good karma for getting those revered and unfairly neglected bands into a mainstream major network TV show.
But no - it was not to be! Not for me to make a critical assessment of the show that would have been Mumps first network moment - theres a gift horse whose mouth Im not checking for halitosis! And Im still clinging to the faint hope of a summer replacement showing for the unaired episodes. But the cancellation was not surprising, especially in the current network climate where airing one episode of a new series is usually all the nurturing infant care they get. I dont think theres even any bath water - they just throw the baby right out the window.
Afterwards I went to the much feted pandora.com on a lark. I felt so bad about karmically failing my faves that I typed in Geranium Pond just to see what happened. They didnt have any apt suggestions , and just sort of blindly searched through titles with geranium in it.
But this is key in a website that is supposed to help you make up your ultimate playlist:
I typed in Sparks. They asked artist or song title? I got over my shock and said (obviously) artist, to which came the reply, We dont have any Sparks but here is a song by a similar band named Sparks.
That grammar was somewhat confusing to me. Especially when they proceeded to play Young Girl, by (you guessed it) Sparks! That song is admittedly one of my favorite mid-career Sparks songs, from the relatively dry period after Whomp That Sucker. But they gave me the option to ask why they were playing it, and Pandora replied, as she opened her empty box, that it was because it was "disco flavored and had a male lead singer". Oh, that is why Sparks is similar to Sparks, I guess. I wonder when theyre going to get anything by Sparks? Or Sparks?
Meanwhile, I'll be trying out some "disco flavored" bon bons, while lying in satin sheets that are NOT satin sheets but similar to satin sheets which is why they're called satin sheets.
CALL THE FIXER
Meanwhile, look to Bush to take some OTHER two year old non-story about a non-attack on L.A. or some other town, and gussy it up with a bunch of fearnshit (nfecesnsperm too!) and send it out on the road whenever the t-word seems to be falling out of public consciousness for more than twenty seconds, or someone starts finding out that Bush is in fact guilty of myriad constitutionally criminal acts or whenever he just wants to shoot someone in the face (and heart)! Maybe if hed been a writer on Love Monkey it would still be on the air. Happy V-day!
Turban party up-date: Just thought I'd share this cute icon I was working on as a symbol for my music, before all this turban shit broke. It's sort of stolen from a very politically incendiary place - the back of a Kingston Trio album. Of course this turban IS of the Mystic Ouija Magic Castle Psychic Swami variety. Is there a difference? And apparently he shaves. Or maybe he was involuntarily shaved as a humiliating torture to belittle his religious tenets, the American way we do it with our prisoners of war? These turban parties are so darn COMPLICATED now! Bullwinkle: "Eeny Meeny, Chili beanie, the spirits are about to speak!" Rocky: "Are they friendly spirits?" Stay tuned for more fractured fairy tales!
Friendly? Just Listen!
What the Danish Bog Folks are wearing this Spring
Oh boy! Who am I kidding? I have about as much right to hold forth on this Danish Cartoon Controversy as, well, any of the nakedly slanted mainstream reporters who write articles about it for their arcane stealth agendas. Darn, I wish for ONCE I could be arcane. Wouldn't that be cool? But I am delving further in to the realms of apology for being such a loud mouth know nothing, (even though that is my birthright as a citizen) by offering up a FUN LINK!. Darn, and I always thought I was different - just like everybody else!
Since I have, perhaps willfully, been so easily manipulated by the half-truths ( perhaps too generous an estimate) in our western media, and of course my own self-interest (I'm an American!), prejudices (ditto), and laziness when faced with the prospect of actual research (ditto squared!), into writing a bunch of stupid shit about those darn Danish cartoons, I thought I'd give anyone who's interested a chance to exploit someone who actually DOES seem to be doing some research.
It's cleansing for me, at any rate. I do have a lot of fun ranting - you may have noticed. I love to get my ire up and get a righteous mindfuck high on my dudgeon, and make bad puns, and point fingers, and swear. But there is a tiny generally unexplored part of my soul that squeaks in an irritating "The Fly" falsetto the tired but admirable Rodney Kingism, "Can't we all just get along?" And I occasionally remember, from my Mother's peace acitivist years, that what that usually entails is looking at more than one side of the story. Oof!
It's tres weird, but sometimes I think that most people all over the world want to be happy, feed their families, live in relative comfort, and just peacefully pursue their secular and spiritual interests about the question of life. And collectibles.
So, as a sort of apology , as well as a fun read, here's a link to a site where the guy actually seems to be doing some research, seems to be trying to look at both sides of the coin, seems to actually have read some history, and seems to welcome alternative view points. You know, a guy who's completely different from me. Of course, because I don't know ANYTHING, I could be as wrong about him as I usually am about EVERYTHING! Sometimes math is just that simple! But I had a great time browsing his site.
So, here's his take on the much ballyhooed Islamic ban on depictions of animals, man, and Gods, which had some of our middle eastern pals in a tizzy tap dance with grenades and tear gas earlier today: with his conclusion - "There is no such ban." Refreshing! He calls it Literalism .
And here's his homepage where there is loads of cool stuff : Segovius .
Meanwhile, I'm going back up to my room to celebrate my Danish heritage by raping and plundering, discovering America first, writing in runes like the Lord of the Rings (can we Vikings sue for copyright infringement?) drawing some under-researched pictures of Ali Baba in the style of my Danish illustrator forbear (and one time next door neighbor - it's true!) Kay Nielsen (he designed the Fantasia "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence - match that to YOUR lineage) and having some Rod Grod Med Flode (fruit pudding to you).
2005 DIARIES ARE HERE: diaries2005.htm
2004 DIARIES ARE HERE: diaries2004.htm
2003 DIARIES ARE HERE: diaries2003.htm
2002 DIARIES ARE HERE: diaries2002.htm