Kristian Hoffman's Diaries


Kristian Hoffman

December 14, 2005: Still Alive In 2005
December 10, 2005: You'll Like My Mother
December 7, 2005: Burnt, Beady Eyed, and Abrasive
November 2005 Tardy Meanderings
June 30th 2005 Mumps Release Party
2005 Mid-Year Round Up, Odds and Ends, and Missed Entries
March 19 Rant
Kristi at Bricktops, March 11
Carolyn Edwards, Spacelands Reunion March 10
Nomi Song Premiere, Feb. 4
End of 2004 Round-Up

December 14, 2005: Still Alive In 2005

Greetings from Liz Swope of Beirut Slump

Well, dear readers (if any!),

The time has come to wish you a wonderful holiday! I also pray that next year will see all your dreams come true, especially the one about a peaceful caring world where all God’s myriad creatures live in a wonderfully conserved “green” environment of butterflies, and wee hummingbirds and twee fairy sprites; a world with fabulous educational and career opportunities; a world with high regard for artistic pursuit; and a world where the worst imaginable problem facing anyone is a moderate tussle with slight obesity (that’s why they call them love handles - I personally was never interested in sleeping with a scarecrow!). Or maybe a world where the only problem you’ll ever have to face is the minor headache of where to fit the wonderful antiques you’ve gotten with the disposable income which a class-free, religiously tolerant civilization bestows upon every one of its citizens. I believe this can happen! Of course I was just watching Max Reinhardt’s gorgeous and fanciful 1935 version of “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, but personally I think a little fairy dust befits this season just as aptly. If they could only have recast that darn Mickey Rooney as Puck with, say, Kenneth Anger?

But, bar what is to me the completely credible possibility of that particular Christmas wish for you all, if you dwell in the stark realm of pragmatism (unlike myself), then just use 2006 to have some fun, and live to complain another day!

Why this early Christmas/New year’s sign off? Just getting ready to go on my holiday travels, after doing the last few recording sessions of the year for Ann’s fabulous CD. So I’m going to miss bitching and kvetching to you all about whatever half-baked over-emotional response I have to just about any barely digested, completely questionable factoid I chance to skim!

The news is coming too fast and furious to keep up with anyway - the Bush “30,000 Iraquis and 2, 140 American troops” death speech - sacrifices he finds “justifiable”! Maybe we should kill his children and see if that’s as “justifiable”. A little hearth-side personal sacrifice on his part might not do any harm! And likening the Iraq war to our revolutionary war - Oh, I’m like totally gonna vom! I’m not even going to go into how misguided that tragically, criminally facile flag-waving comparison is. And it’s weird that Bush could possibly be misguided, because he himself just said on NBC, with his usual fanciful approach to syntax, “ I don’t feel in a bubble. Every morning, I look at the newspaper.”

Now mind you, this is the Most Powerful Man In The World speaking. I guess a country gets the leader it deserves! If I consider this declaration with some unwarranted charity, even if the Most Powerful Man In The World is telling us he stays in touch by “looking at the paper”, I think he may actually have meant to say. ‘ I don’t feel like I live in a bubble,’ referring to the perception he is out of touch with public opinion.

But instead, his scattershot folksy style of speaking led him to an alarmingly true confession: “ I don’t feel in a bubble.” “I don’t feel....”-that’s right! He has shown himself incapable of the human empathy generally understood as “feeling” - “ a bubble.” That’s right as well! He doesn’t feel BECAUSE he IS in a bubble.

Fortunately, even the slow oafish amoral thrust of what passes for “public opinion” has done enough hectoring about willful misrepesentation of the purpose of this war, lack of WMDs, no connection to Al Qaeda, no connection to 9/11 , billions of dollars wasted ($122,000.00 a minute - wasn’t that the figure?) - so I feel no urge to repeat all that sorry stuff. You’ve heard it from me before. So that’s my Christmas present to you. Momentarily, I will opt for brevity in my Bush rant - and you know how HARD that is for me!

And there have actually been very eloquent complaints in all public forums that we are the only industrialized nation in the Western World that still finds the death penalty acceptable. I’m sure that decision against clemency for “Tookie” caused Schwarzenpatsy a lot of soul searching - but search as he might, he couldn’t find one! So I’m not going to add to the chorus belaboring the obvious: that the death penalty doesn’t work, it’s unevenly applied, and it is morally, spiritually and emotionally repugnant to any civilized person. It’s a GOOD Christmas this year! Look at all the cyber-space I’d generally waste that has been spared! That’s kind of like saving literary wetlands and natural preserves from ugly developers! I am pro-environment after all!

You’re spared from the commentary ( which of course I would intend to be wry) about the French informing the CIA repeatedly, before the war, that the allegation that Iraq wanted to buy nuclear weapons material was bogus. Or from further whining about how idiotic it is for a “free” country to support torture in any form. Omigod - the argument that Max Boot used to support the U.S. systematic use of torture as an interrogational tool - that torture was merely similar to military boot camp! Somebody stop me! Don’t people actually enlist for boot camp? Oh, I’m gonna let it go. Besides, there was actually a paraphrase of one of Justin Tanner’s best lines from his fab play “Wife Swappers” in the Letters to the Editor column of the newly and unforgivably “centrist” (read: “conservative”) L.A. Times: Elizabeth Broyles said, “If these people are truly Christian, the only question that truly matters would be ‘Who would Jesus torture?’ ” That made my day! (The original line was “Who would Jesus kill?”)

And I’ll refrain from bemoaning how heinous a transgression against everything we as Americans should hold dear, indeed have fought and died for, is that demonic screed hiding under the mocking misnomer “The Patriot Act” is. Or that we’re supposed to expect and accept high oil prices for...50 years!

Yes, what I’m trying to do, for the first (and probably LAST) time this year - is SHUT UP and GIVE IT A REST! But what about Senator Larry Craig’s (Republican - Idaho) contention that “Fraud is in the culture of the Iraquis. I believe that is true of Louisiana as well.”! God give me strength! I’m SHUTTING UP! Or, as Bobby Swope sang in that classic Beirut Slump song, “SHUT UP WITH A KNIFE”! That is my gift to you all!

Besides - there is much to be cheerful about. What about those exciting beautiful new Mayan mural discoveries! And I’m so glad to have my line of religious thought confirmed - the most powerful God of all is the “ Maize God” - the God of Corn ! There’s a religion I can get behind.

And I’m having such a wonderful time working on Ann Magnuson’s new CD. All day on Friday, and some of Saturday too, we had Heather Lockie in Mark Wheaton’s studio, overdubbing violins and violas until she was a one-woman Montovani Orchestra. Dazzling! And she not only took the directions I gave her, like, “ Couldn’t you make it sound more like there’s a mouse running across the strings?” with great good humor, but what’s more, she DID make it sound like there was a mouse running across the strings! I think this CD is going to be an excercise in one of my favorite genres: the unrepentantly GRANDIOSE. More is more!

Off to Earle’s studio today to “lay tracks” with the core “jazz” combo of Ann’s album - the wonderful William Bongiovanni, the irrepressible nimble fingered Jonathan Lea, and the artistic genius Joe Berardi. What a gift to work with these mad men! There IS a Santa Claus - or at least a God of Corn.

But just in case I don’t get to any of my intended diary updates before the New Year (I never told you about Bryan Lee Brown’s prize winning “Glory Hole” pumpkin at my Halloween Pumpkin Carving party, did I?), I just want to say two words that my mom used to use, that are far more succinct than anything I’ve ever attempted, and cover just about all the necessities imaginable: “Peace and Love”.

Yeah, the God of Corn is smiling, but it’s the truth! I’d add, “.... and beautiful music’, but I never COULD leave well enough alone. Hmm.. does well enough really WANT to be alone? Find out, next year!

December 14, Long Long Ago

December 10, 2005: You'll Like My Mother

There are so many who claim their dynastic right as songwriter emeritus or at least an eminence griselle (or Grizelda) through genealogy - you’ve got your Dylans and Cashes, and (gulp!) Onos and Lennons and Phillipses and Wilsons and even of course the poor little Wainwrights, however often I am inclined to shamelessly abuse the admittedly modest relationship I share with them.

So I thought it was high time that I claimed MY dynastic right - which is to be a confused Diva-centric Bowie-file who doesn’t know whether to be a shrill Joan Baez type nag, or just settle for doing boogie-fied Sweet covers - that is the legacy and entitlement of MY lineage! If you don't believe me, witness what MY mom was doing, before she became the saintly Quaker peace activist taking tea with Tich Nhat Hanh: She was playing “Night” in “The Magic Flute”.

If having these pictures to addle my poor pate all through childhood doesn’t earn me the right to compose a middling rock opera about gay misfits bursting inappropriately into bombastic glam rock anthems on grimy street corners in a Felicity-lite urban setting, I don’t know what does!

"Go Forth, Young Man, and Cross Dress!" Kristian's Mom Elinor Gene Knudsen in "The Magic Flute"

December 7, 2005: Burnt, Beady Eyed, and Abrasive


First off, just letting you know I’ve abandoned all hope of ever getting this diary back into shape with an actual consecutive chronology. I’ll just blather on about whatever I can recall at the moment, and let the pieces fall where they may. Anarchy!

God I’m SOOOOOOOOO over Iraq. Can’t they just give it a rest? Maybe reconvene after Christmas when we’ve all gotten a few Christmas cookies and some ipod updates? Sure, I feel bad about those people over there - I really do. No one deserves to die in a war, or have their country lie in ruins around them while they try to gather what’s left of their lives and give hope to the children that survived.

But really, how much of my attention can they expect? Johnny-one-note, learn a new tune! It’s like if George Harrison was the only Beatle - God love him, but I’m glad that it wasn’t ALL sitars and karmic transcendence, no matter how exotic! Left-leaning vigilance can be so tiresome after a while - even my own, and even for me! I think it’s high time for something new to take over this hit (and run) parade. Like the “Magnassage”.

Have you seen that new device in the wee hour dream state info-mercials? I don’t know exactly what it does, and it looks a trifle klunky for something that is supposed to ease you into sensual nirvana. It’s sort of like doing a back rub with a Panzer tank. But it sure would be a good title for an Ann Magnuson LP.

Oh well. Iraq fatigue aside (and if I’m tired of it, imagine how THEY feel!) - back to the important stuff! Let’s see- recently I played the dreaded Key Club for “Baltimore In Hollywood” night.


The Sunset strip has become such an unendurable mindfuck traffic logjam, with nary a trace of the pungent beat/hippie atmosphere that made it head shop legend, that it’s like having a mini-flu relapse even considering going over there. It should just secede from L.A. and become a free port. Take my strip, please! Pay-to-play may be gone (or is it?) but even so, that mod-prim-by-numbers rock-boutique cul de sac doesn’t hold any shamanistic sway over me any more. Especially in the shopworn industrial-not-so-chic 80’s grey and wood panel austerity of the Key Club, which has all the tactile warmth and outsider cred of a business class lounge in a small Eastern Bloc airport.

As for the show - it was Christopher Graham’s, the sweet natured willowy promoter, first major evening - and it showed, mostly in good ways, but there were a few lessons as well. He was super attentive, and the gift bags were outstanding; I should know, because Jackie Beat and Mink and I raided them for all the chocolate flavored rice crispie treats we could consume. They also had adorable little “Make Your Own John Waters Moustache” razor packs, and copies of Susan Lowe’s portrait of John Waters, among other ephemeral goodies.

But really!I just use eyebrow pencil like El Vez taught me

And the line-up of artists - what can I say? Jackie’s purple glitter lip gloss made a Galaxy Quest oval from his chin to his nose while he reimagined Patsy Cline’s “I’ve Got Your Picture” into something involving .... well, anal sex was the least invasive of the lyrical redirects. And all sung in the diva voice of the decade - I wish someone would just harness the power of that crystalline intonation, and we could do away with electricity altogether. Someone give this guy a rock opera! Can I write songs for you, dear?

Mink, ever ingratiating, greeted the crowd with her French rendition of “Bang Bang”, and then my song “God If Any” - she has a way of delivering the line “God, comma, if any” that hammers home her boundless knowledge of syntax - and probably of sin tax as well!

And Susan Lowe , with her eyeball ear bobs, was all charm and beat glam, as she fielded questions with good humor and innuendo about as subtle as the dildo protruding from the waist band of her pedal pushers.

But it was - how you say - just a bit under-attended. And being a veteran of Mink’s sold out week-ends at the Cavern Club, and many of Jackie’s packed shows, it wasn’t the celebs that were wanting. Add that rare showing of “Desperate Living”, and what more could a self-styled decadent want? Maybe it was location? Promotion? Timing? All I know is, the intimate but assiduously dedicated audience screamed and appluaded and hounded and cheered and laughed and cooed and praised enough for a sports arena full of lesser devotees. So the evening was fun after all. And actually the feeling of being insiders at a hush-hush event celebrating deviant sexual adventurism and foul loud mouthed trash-baiting was very Baltimore-ish after all! Less is indeed (Balti)more!


In between every recent live appearance I’ve been slaving away at Ann’s record “Pretty Songs and Ugly Stories”. We did all the basic tracks out at Earle Mankey’s super fine studio in the far reaches of Thousand Oaks. His prim appearing early tract develpoment suburban ranch dwelling hides an expanded garage retrofitted with every techie tchotchke and Jetson’s styled doo-dad to dazzle even the most digitally demanding MacDJ-come-lately. But, best of all, it has a prevailing atmosphere of a super comfy Brady rec-room - AND an acoustic parlour grand, AND Earle on call as a guitar player. AND Earle’s unflappable good nature and can-do attitude. AND he’s an ex Spark! AND he recorded the incredible classic Quick LP (does pop get any better than Steven Hufsteter’s classic “Hillary”?) with Kim Fowley, AND he released that masterpiece of sonic bravura “Mau Mau”! It’s a palace of song!

So Joe Berardi, Pierre Smith, Ernesto Garcia, Dave Bongiovanni and of course Ann and I were suitably inspired by company and ambience to bull-doze right through eight or nine basic tracks in no time flat. Of course the Rock Gods are always dependable to come through, but I think I dare risk the word “inspired” on the outcome of these sessions.

Since then, I’ve been laboring in Mark Wheaton’s fabulously appointed little Echo Park studio, doing all the crimping, and primping, and fairy dust glitter application of obsessive little over-thought keyboard gimcracks and gewgaws. Mark is definitely O.E. in demeanor (Other Earle) - patient with no apparent judgement, no matter how much rinky-tink stuff I added - and it couldn’t have been the hourly rate, because it was low, and I was fast!

In fact, it’s scary how after all the weeks and months of plotting, planning, rethinking, lollygagging, and dilly-dallying (plus the rare actual compositional session, where “work” was done) that went into preparing to take this plunge - the album just comes together in a trice! We’re already at lead vocals on those 8 tracks - and have only a couple of other songs, and a few patent Ann type adventures in psychedelic spoken word with dream music accompaniment, and we’ll be done! Exciting!

But meanwhile, this week-end we have the fabulous Heather Lockie of Listing Ship in for Violin and Viola detail, AND I think we’ll be having “Children of Nuggets” legend Jonathan Lea in on electric sitar as well.


"A Mensch and A God"

O.K.! I Give! The hook on Rufus Wainwright’s Christmas song “Spotlight” (included on the Elton John Xmas CD AND the MacGarrigle Xmas CD) is SO STELLAR! I can’t stop playing it! Over and over - I LOVE IT! Although the words - what are they about? A splash of textbook ironica? Well, after some opaque ruminating about poor little rich kids, it does at least contain the classic Rufus line “Don’t forget they were quite odd - a mensch, a virgin, and a God” - to describe the first family of crucifixion. But other than that you’re on your own. And I think he actually means “the spotlight shines on us” literally in the chorus - referring to his stage hound celebri-peers. But every time the chorus hits, it’s like an aural visit from Santa Claus - it has all the irresistible tuneful joy of a real holy manifestation (nude with six pack abs of course). I’m converted!

As an aside, the McGarrigle Xmas LP has all their traditional minor key pristine warblings that give one chills, even in this resolutely folksy setting. Concertina and pipe whistles, and some dubious spoken word. Smells like rum toddies in Canada. But the Elton John Xmas party CD has the Pet Shop Boys “It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas”, which is giving Rufus a run for his spot on the Christmas playlist in my house!


Been reading the Rubaiyat - ooops, does that make me a towel head terrorist? Maybe I’ll strap it to the inside of my coat and visit the Christian Science reading room!

But it’s easy reading, and there’s loads of pictures - my kind of book! You can choose one of the three thousand Willy Pogany versions, whose illustrations are variously spiritually inspiring pirouettes of paint brush genius or the cheezily salacious lustings of a second string Vargas. Or try the proto-Disney racist-adjacent bug-eyed exotics of Rene Bull, or the Serene Classic Beauty (if somewhat academic) of Edmund Dulac’s lovely pictures.

Anyway, while actually reading it, besides all of the expected excuses for becoming a wino (a la ‘life’s too short’, ‘better to be happy than sad’, ‘why be sober when you can be drunk?’ not even thinly disguised as a metaphor, although I’m sure academics mistook it for one), I came across this timely passage:

One Moment in annihilation’s waste,
One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste-
The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing - Oh, make haste!

Darn, I knew Cohen had a progenitor. “Starts for the Dawn of Nothing” - Bush, are you listening? I was literal at first, mentally going back to Iraq, of course. But it was easy to extrapolate to the mess we’re making of the entire world in prosaic ways Mr. Khayyam could never have imagined - it could be our last sip at that desert well indeed. No wonder he likes wine! Now Omar, where did I leave that Chateau Neuf De Pape? Here’s to you - hic!


I finally reduced my thoughts about religion down to such a brief notion that I really won’t have an excuse to write any more songs about it. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet! I’m sure I’ll hide it from myself , or conveniently forget, or just go into complete denial and keep adding to my dubious oeuvre. I can’t help it!

So first I concede that, historically at least, at one point religion had some use as an arbiter of social contracts, a textbook for reasonable etiquette, helping communities prevent unpleasant interaction, and sometimes appealing to man’s higher self and even on the (very) odd occasion encouraging him to selflessly better the lot of others, and the world around him.

But I think I’ve boiled it down to its modern essence in this rather pedestrian but efficient wording:

Religion is just an excuse to be mean to other people.

Merry Christmas!


Last summer , John Easdale invited me to be one of his guests at a special appearance at the new Cinegrill at the Hollywood Roosevelt. What a generous guy! He said “I’d like to have some of my favorite local songwriters with me for this show, and do a couple of their songs” and of course I was all purring and rubbing his leg with my tail in an instant. I’m easy!

I was also thinking of how fantastic the restored lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt is - I’ve taken people there just to look at it and have a drink, thinking of what truly Pickfair Hollywood should be like. And the great time I had there years ago at the premiere party for Elvira’s movie (all those chocolate covered strawberries!), and another time visiting Rufus (and his traditional bevy of lust-acious hangers-on) when he was staying in one of the poolside cabana type rooms. And the time I saw Ruth Brown at the Cinegrill and got a big wet kiss from her. I love that place!

But as I parsimoniously found some grimy street parking, and made my way into the back entrance, I caught a whiff of the “new” Roosevelt. The Amanda Demme Roosevelt. Now this was before - barely - Courtney’s notorious poolside attack of the vapors, but the fetid scent of neu Hollywood overkill was already there.

I had to force my way through the immobile pod faced hordes of uber-trashy wannabe Hollywood Extra types, all scanning beady laser eyes for any trace of any Hilton, or Hilton type, or any Hilton employee, no matter how lowly or tenuous the connection. It was all there - the unfortunate exposed midriffs that are such a sorry mode du jour among those who have had a little too much a la mode. The Beverly Hills Mall pseudo chic so ill served by the sad Jessica Simpson cast-off sexual brashness. All of this predictable E-channel cultural miasma, strangely interspersed with a few low rent exotica Bollywood types dripping with the cheap glamour of so much Indian jewelry that their faces were obscured like the gypsies in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”.

Of course as much as I snootily condescended culturally to these now people, these same people couldn’t be bothered to condescend to me! To them I was just invisible. These people were decidedly not fighting to get into the surprise John Easdale Cinegrill gig with special guest Kristian Hoffman - they were hoping against hope to get into the new Tropicana, AKA Torporcana. And, in a way, it was perfectly apt.

Just because I was into the ancient cult of pre-code celebrity of the OLD Roosevelt, and would have been slavering boorishly at the sight of any Talmadge or Bennett, it was somehow right that these Latter Day Of The Locust goons should slaver after their Kutchners and Farrells.

But that didn’t make me feel any better when I saw the venue - somewhere in the basement between security, custodial maintenance, and the lockers for the kitchen staff.
This was not the legendary etched glass deco jungle chic dining room of Michael Feinstein and like standard butcherers. In fact they had fashioned a small windowless auditorium that resembled nothing so much as the cinder block characterless screening rooms at Cal Arts, out of some undesignated underground antechamber. It was hung in suffocating grey drapery and had raised seating in mini stadium style. It was like an audition room for the Gong Show.

I bit my lip and looked to John for inspiration. As usual he was not exactly oblivious, but just more focussed on the game at hand. The trappings of retro Hollywood frippery or lack of same didn’t seem to faze him. He just wanted to play a good show. I don’t think that thought has ever occurred to me!

So he and his wife took my hand, and with Cosmo Morley Topper in tow - the man who brazenly plays keys without the crutch of a sustain pedal, who was also appearing on the bill - we hopped into the family van and went to eat at the Baja Fresh across the street from Amoeba records, and get in some hard core impulse shopping. John reappeared with a clutch of 99 cent Laser Discs, and I think I upgraded my copy of the Sandpipers doing their languid version of Jennifer Juniper. It was so refreshingly suburban, I felt completely cleansed of my brush with new Hollywood. I was also gratified to see the new Mumps CD/DVD in the top row of the Amoeba employees’ “music we like” section.

We got back to the venue just in time to catch the plumpish tattoo-sleeved Motley Crue damaged emo-rocker. He was stuffed uncomfortably into some uncooperative leather trousers and a black pentagram studded tee shirt a couple sizes too small, as he shook his L’Oreal black thinning bowl hair cut and contorted his pudgy asymmetrical face in angst while growling an unlikely bearish yet painfully anthemic take on Tom Petty’s “Free Fall”. He looked for all the world like a fat lesbian prowling for a scissor lock. Mute Nostril Agony indeed. I only wish that nostril was mute!

Next up was a prototypical Hollywood pretty boy brat with exorbitantly gorgeous bone structure and carefully tended three day stubble, exuding Maroon 5 actor/model confidence (I bet he bartends on Thursdays at the Opium Den!). His studiously assaultive Richie Havens “challenged” style thrumming on his acoustic with the jazzy open tuning was redolent of how lost one can get looking through retro cue cards for a hip template to align oneself with - it’s so hard to have just exactly enough “character” to stand out, so you can get management, and then be the same! He had that MTV buzz bin octave jumping earnestness down pat, and he furrowed his gorgeous brow with an approximation of what some one who actually felt something might do. Don’t hate him because he’s beautiful!

It was a peculiar line-up - I was getting queasy and wanted to go home. Even though I genuinely felt alienated by their horrible music, and besides, they didn’t even have any friends that showed up to see them, I was intimidated as well. I was never gorgeous, and never would be, and was often inexcusably earnest, and now I was OLD too! That combination was just making me sick!

Finally John went on, and was typically commanding. A few of his peeps had actually discovered how to get to the venue, and the applause was thunderous, as people yelled out requests or gazed with worshipful adoration, mouthing the words of his songs along with him. He’s like a strange parallel mini-industry. He should somehow be a big rock star - that’s what his genes are designed for. But instead he’s sort of this...legend? Whatever it is, he inspires a sort of working man’s poetry quasi-religious loyalty. And he’s a nice guy! And can sing! He has one of those voices that’s masculine and gruff, so you think it’s low, but it’s actually in the Paul McCartney range - very suited to pop.

Anyway, he did a few of his favorites from his last couple of CDs, and got through the segment with Morley, and then asked me out onto the little stage. He had asked me to do some songs so I was hopefully opting for easy uptempo stuff, when he said, “No, let’s do ‘Scarecrow’ ”. I hadn’t played that since the record release party gigs, and even though I’m proud of that song, it doesn’t mean I can actually sing it. But John encouraged me, and in rehearsal I flattered myself that I didn’t do too badly on the falsetto outro. On such flimsy foundations dreams are built.

But we muddled through it - like I said, it’s very nerve-wracking to be earnest! Just because every asshole in the world attempts it, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Don’t try it at home!

So I was getting nevous and losing my place on the key board, but John was really selling the song and we hadn’t lost ‘em yet. But as we plunged into the outro, a mysteriously hyena-like wailing seemed to be creating some weird feedback in the microphone, and I looked around frantically - this is supposed to be the pretty part! Well, of course it became rapidly apparent that the hyena was me!

I do have SOME stagecraft however. Just as I know the most important part of the key board is the volume pedal - so you can just turn down as soon as you hit an uncertain chord, I also know a great showman can always back off of the mike! And I am a man of olympic prowess in that sport. Watch me - it’s like a snake! Animal planet here I come.

So the visit to the hyena lair notwithstanding, we didn’t fumble too badly.

We got through “Anyone But You” which John has really made his signature song of mine, even though on piano it sounds unfortunately more Billy Joel than Randy Newman. Anyway, I actually liked that single “Allentown”. So there.
And the response was welcoming enough that John insisted we do another song, so I borrowed a guitar (!) and we did “Crocodile Tears”. Of course I had to hum a solo, during which I think John did the defensive “rock star squint” (very useful when there’s nothing comfortable to look at and you don’t really feel the de rigeur “groove”), and tapped his knees as he sat, Shirley MacLaine style, on the casual black 50’s stool.

He closed the set with a very poignant song called “Curtain Falls”, and I remembered why I really really love some of his lyrics. Moving.

In fact the whole set made you almost forget that in the weird basement room next to the closet-like dressing room, where there were monstrously huge dusty looking heating apparati like a set from “Saw”, there were these strange imposing bright alarm yellow plastic boxes on the walls, kind of like the window wash dispensers at a gas station, only these had the scary hazmat icon emblazoned on them.
And they had some sort of liquid in them, and said, “In Case Of Accident, Be Sure To Soak Hands In Here”. Hmmm. Did anyone say “Silkwood”?
A Christmas carol


He Spoke Not A Word, But Went Straight To His Work

Around this time of year, there’s always a pfeffernuesse scented revival of the moth-eaten classics to distract us from the glum day-to-day realities of, oh, you know, all that war’n’poverty’n’shit. Cup your hands around the mugs of warming mulled cider while you enjoy those adorably inept little dancing mice attempting the “Nutcracker” from grade school ballet class - oh, I forgot, we don’t coddle children with pointless art instruction anymore!

But it’s still Christmas! And our Stocking Stuffer this year (which always sounded like a condom, making Xmas even more subliminally arousing)? Why it’s John G. Roberts Junior! Oh- you forgot about him? That’s part of his craft - being forgettable. Like an old tweed reading chair next to the pipe rack in dad’s study. But we’ve still got to get one of these Krissmiss Pageants up to bring joy to the wee ones!

So yes, it’s going to be a Dickens Christmas! Uriah Heep wasn’t just a bad 70’s band! He was the original slime-man (very X-Files), slithering into place in the World of Law on a friction-free Kiwi Flavored body glide Wet lube coating of insinuating ingratiating smarm. And who will be bringing new life to the role traditionally monotoned into a coma by the dreary Shakespeare-lite one man readings of Patrick Stewart?

That’s our man John J. Roberts Junior! He has a smirk that’s evah-so-much more inclusive than Mister Bush’s (that’s Massah B to you!) cloven-hoofed imp sneer - it’s almost Greg Kinnear in its bland affect, although he doesn’t give off that “bossy bottom” vibe that has stalled Mr. Kinnear’s romantic lead career.

And now that the Pres has been somewhat sidelined from his own Punch’n’Judy show (which of course continues apace) by the industry moral arbiter of falling ratings, we need a family-friendly Andy Griffith face more than ever - and not the one from “A Face In The Crowd” either! George already tried that homespun style - I think we’ll have to give Larry Rhodes a momentary rest.

So it’s back to a Seasonal Disney fantasy take on olde England - Enter John “Unflamboyant , civil , and kind - a regular guy” Roberts (except when it comes to hungry twelve-year-olds, women seeking legal abortion, or endangered species)! In fact, he’s just plain “ ‘umble”! Even the name is comfortably bland. Anyone whose name is actually composed of two first names puts you at “Cheers” drinking buddy ease with the guy right off the bat. Confirmation? Faster than you can say “Master Copperfield”!

Still, one’s inner nay-sayer does fear a stealth neocon at every step. John presents himself as affable, and as the pundits say, he has kept his own reputation shrouded in the positions of his employers so he remains somewhat....inscrutable, but only in the most comforting soft ball coach way. Those weren’t HIS views - “Oh, nevah evah Master Copperfield; I’m far too ‘umble!” - He was just adopting the view of others. Hmm - smacks of the fabulous Lynddie English “stupid” defense! He just seems to want to please his bosses! Could anything be more commendable? And what bosses they were! “Of course, Master Reagan!” So that’s how he became at partner at Wickfield’s...I mean a Supreme Court Justice, deserving of our deference and faith. Because he’s stupid and doesn’t have any opinions of his own.

Also, classic Heep statements like “I come with no agenda” and “I approach the law with a certain humility”.... that’s so darn ‘umble!

But is it supposed to mollify us that this guy has no point of view, like a clone waiting to be imprinted with someone else’s dna? Or does it just smack a little bit of Eddie Haskell kiss ass and tell later? Will that work for a supreme court Justice? I think if we’re a really ratings-based society, pitching a series combining the timeless charms of a Heep (excuse me, an “ ‘eep”!) with the crowd-pleasing “Grease” stylings of a Haskell just needs a Frankie Valli sung Bros. Gibb composition to really nuke the ratings. Just wait ‘til that Busby Berkeley number with Condeleecha, called “Pussyfooting (the Torture Dance)”, with music by Men Without Hats, natch.

Already, the Heep non-agenda is sliming into place. Since being “confirmed” (did he have to wear one of those cute little white lace dresses? I missed that!) John has taken the ‘igh road. There was this little problem - school campuses are supposed to only allow employers that pledge not to discriminate to recruit on campus. But that makes it hard for the military to recruit there, because they openly and systematically disciminate against gays and lesbians. Oops!

So did ‘umble John pledge to uphold the restraints against discrimination which are written by so many precedents into the gospel of our Supreme Court? No, he picked ANOTHER law to uphold, the fancifully titled “Solomon Law” (because of Solomon’s great wisdom? or because of the salivating possibility of slicing a newborn down the middle? At least it’s got a church’n’state biblical name) which says federal funds can be withheld from schools that do not allow military recruiters, and John did it with this succinct and nuanced line:

“If you want our money, you have to let our recruiters on campus!” There’s some Christmas ‘umility before the law, and in the game of hide-the-agenda, I hear a Haskell-ish retro chortling from the distance: “Olly Olly Oxen Free-Oh!”

And the affable Mr. Roberts left plenty crumbs left on the trail to this security-hardened gingerbread house even before his jolly comfirmation, which include:

1. Upholding the notorious arrest of a 12 year old girl for eating a single french fry at a D.C. metro train

2. Co-writing a brief to overturn Roe V. Wade, calling it “wrongly decided”. Superficially “responsible” news outlets are still calling his “personal” position on Roe V. Wade “unclear”. Let’s see - as a practising Roman Catholic with a staunch Roman Catholic anti-abortion rights wife, who is a member of the ludicrously named “Feminists For Life” - apparently because she’s a “special” feminist who “cares” enough to rob other women of the right of self determination - kooky!

SIDEBAR RANT: Am I saying we should bar Roman Catholics from seats in American Halls of Justice? Well,.......duh!

I mean anyone who would actually believe (or worse, merely profess to believe) that some creepy moron in the Vatican has the direct line to God because of some naked land and power grab a few centuries ago (when the blatant forgeries of a clerk named Christophorous declared the “pope” superior to Emperor Constantine - all so Christophorous could “ride a white horse and wear white shoes like senators”? - sounds pretty glam!) mixed with some blurry implied relation to one of the apostles, whoever THEY were, has to have a pretty cheesey notion of the glory of God to begin with. That’s even stupider than REGULAR Christians! At least Jack Chick knows enough to call the red robed gilded Vatican the “Mother Whore”!

But personally, I really think Catholics are very cool as long as they stick to charity work and folk masses. They just don’t seem to nominate many of those peace activist nuns in Nyack to the top judiciary somehow. And those Reliquaries! Where would the Addams Family be without them? Collecting finger bones and putting them on display in little glass jars - it’s very Mutter Museum! Catholicism - the father of goth! Gotholocism! How else would the cruelly taunted pimpley cast-off overweight social misfit kids in High School get it into their heads to defiantly unite in black velvet capes and flakey white pancake at Echo And The Bunnymen reunion tours? It’s Heaven Up Here!

Other than that, banning Catholics from seats of justice is a no-brainer. Catholics (sorry, all you well meaning Kennedys! Maybe there can be an exemption) should even be precluded from holding any governmental office whatsoever. In fact, in the name of the truly original American concept of separation of church and state, only card carrying atheists, or at least avowed agnotistics, should be allowed to hold government office at all! But I guess that’s a battle for another day.

Back to our Mr. Heep - I mean Master John Roberts.

3. He argued against protection for the Arroyo Toad because the poor humble beast happened not to have traveled out of state. That toad should get out more! Let’s see - you can’t protect an endangered species against interstate commerce because it’s habitat has grown so small it doesn’t cross any state borders! Stupid Toad! Oh, I forgot, that slur won’t hurt its feelings - it actually IS a toad. Oh, fuck the Toad (John did, and it was HOT!) La Roberts just thinks the whole darn endangered species act is unconstitutional! Agenda, schmagenda!

4. He argued for warrantless searches to convict a bank robber - and he’s against the Playboy Channel! He also doesn’t like those icky retro tired Miranda Rights!

5. He helped Republicans with the “legal” work arising from the 2000 Florida election book-cooking, I mean “recount”.

6. He drafted a legal brief defending prayer in schools. That’s a good sign in someone who has vowed to defend the constitutional separation of church and state, but John has actually argued for the disintegration of the spearation of church and state. That way people can hold nice harmless religious ceremonies at high school graduations. Party!

Now if they’d only encourage children to pray for funding, art classes, health care, and the re-instatement of the free university system, I’d be all for it! That would be a nice, if somewhat hopeless, prayer. But I bet the answer would be, “No, darling, they have to save SOMETHING for heaven - like adequate food, and house-calls from doctors, and nice pictures - Otherwise no one would want to go there.”

But anyway, I’m sure it would just be prayer to that nasty default American in the sky, who apparently approves of Republican machinations to bring about an environmental and cultural Armageddon (at least for dem po’ folks down in de stadium). I can think of a couple of Satanic rituals that are kinder and more character building. Anyone for a game of “Naked Movie Star”?

Now John-boy (did you see that Brady Bunch college ‘do?) says he was just a good lawyer arguing the cases of his employers. Maybe so. But then why are the Republicans so happy with him? I mean there is one ultimate litmus test. If Bush nominates him, he must be evil. There’s no two ways about it. It’s really just that simple. If the forked tongue fits, he must be shit!

Senator Sessions from Alabama argued against allowing “invasive” questioning into the viewpoints of Roberts when deciding whether to uphold his nomination. And I guess it worked!

Cause now we’ve got a Supreme Court Chief Justice, who’s supposed to be an incredible legal genius, and he couldn’t handle a few questions from a bunch of lame-ass sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiightly left-leaning wimpy politicians who couldn’t even get the election back from Bush when he transparently stole it? What was there to fear from those dopes?

Besides, shouldn’t it be his job description to be able to handle the most brilliant yet hatefully partisan question with dignity, honesty, and effectiveness? What else should we base our estimation of his capabilities on? His ability to cower in the shadows and keep secrets? His ability to make demonic pacts with George Bush behind closed doors? Oh - I forgot - that plan WORKED! I bet he’s not feeling quite so ‘umble anymore!

We had our chance to employ some much needed bitter partisanship - what other ammo do we have left? But we muffed it!!! When should we be self-righteously, bitterly partisan, if not now? When was the time to ask the most rigorous invasive questions about values and personal convictions? Didn’t you want to know?

Or do you prefer a judge who is more like one of those surprise crepe paper party favors they used to hand out at birthdays, which upon unravelling reveal a pathetic assortment of cheap charms and plastic toys, and usually not many of those? Is that how you view your supreme court justices? “Goody - maybe there’ll be a plastic cross of Jesus or a li’l mini KKK symbol in here too!” “Why Master Copperfield, who COULD have put THAT in there?” knowingly smiles his ‘umble self.

But is it really too late to grind this horrible regime to a halt with a rash of pointedly liberal and unabashedly slanted arguments? Hmm... What’s Alito up to lately? Whatever arguments we espouse our “personal views” with - the very views Supreme Court Justices engage in the weird double negative double speak of A. Not having any and B. Never letting them influence a decision (do you really want a justice whose personal values will never influence a decision? Is that Orwellian? Or just Looney Tunes?) - anyway, OUR personal views can’t possibly be as slanted as the neo-con world view - we have to grant them that peculiar genius! So lambaste them with impunity, castigate them with malicious opprobrium at every turn! Better to have a hobbled government incapable of crossing a “t” or dotting an “i” than one bent on destroying the world! And it could be fun!

“Please sir, could I have some more?” In the immortal Christmas words of that proto-socialist Tiny Tim, “Tiptoe Thru’ The Tulips” no - make that “God Bless Us, Every One!”

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November 2005 Tardy Meanderings


Sigh. Groan. Yawn. Oh yeah, I forgot - things are looking up. Aren’t we happy that the seemingly impregnable uber-Bush empire is under assault and his imaginary “mandate” seems to be crumbling? The short answer is Yes - hooray! And isn’t it miraculous that all of Schwarzenegger’s ballot proposals went down in flames? Bravo, me hearties!

But - Do we really believe it will make a much of a difference? Hmmmm...Could be! However - call me a sourpuss (you won’t be the first! and I am a cat enthusiast) but experience says no. Remember convicted liar/sometime Noriega pal Oliver North - who somehow managed to retain his status as gap-toothed queerbait Brolin look-alike best-selling national hero, even though he was proven in the public arena to be a bottom feeder criminal moron patsy who called the Iran-Contra scheme a “neat idea”? Remember the fact that Ronald “Captain Destructo” Reagan is hailed by a disturbing amount of people as the greatest president in the history of the United States?

But still, I guess it’s as good a time as any to temper our usual despair with a little sprinkling of hard-earned optimism. It’s probably good to re-boot the immune system occasionally with some orange flavored chewable children’s aspirin, even though the headache is probably a brain tumour. So party on motherfuckers! Oh, how I love that word. That’s a fun word! A freedom word! A party word!................... .....motherfuckermotherfuckermotherfuckermotherfuckermotherfuckermotherfuckermotherfuckermotherfuckermotherfucker......oops, in the middle of all this motherfuckin’ frivolity, the literalist butterfly in my brain alit on the notion of actually fucking my mother - yuck! There goes the buzz!

But yes! CELEBRATE the delightful flaming anti-Bush riots in South America that had me grinning like a lunatic - wheeee! This is better than Burning Man! Take heart at the wonderful peace rallies; thrill to the miraculous folk-heroism of the refreshingly charm-free and stumble-tongued but spot-on righteous Cindy Sheehan! Indulge in a clatter of merry castanets at the Scooter/Rove Turkey Trot Follies! (And isn’t special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald a silver fox? Hot!)

Oooh, Patrick! That Counsel is Special

And, as the celebration continues, dance a lederhosen jig to the crumbling of Clay Foot Arnold! The dust from his fall is a better special effect than anything in “End of Days”! And Toodles, Harriet Iscariot Meiers! They don’t let the help in the front door!

But just as Poe describes, there’s someone at the party that we didn’t invite - grim (is there another kind? No wonder I love the Peter Max 60’s) reality. And this red-death masqued marauder strikes back quickly, loaded with goodies! Here’s a typical party favor just for starters: federal officials propose cutting 82% of the red-legged frog’s protected habitat. That’s right - just a little number like EIGHTY-TWO PERCENT. This is about “fair and balanced” after all.

Perhaps you still scoff at the loss of a silly mini species like the li’l ol’ American beloved Mark Twain red-legged frogs. Who needs ‘em? But there is a bigger picture, and those wily Republicans see it, even if you don’t. When I was in third grade (O.K. groaners - gramps loves to tell war stories!) we learned to spell the following word: e-c-o-s-y-s-t-e-m. All these li’l critters, even the frogs, need to work together, or the whole thing collapses. Duh!

But I think the Bushmen have figured out that the contemporary “eco” in that word stands for economics: particularly the economic killing (literally!) they’ll make with the new powers of eminent domain to take away private property and give it to developers! Fun! And the clangor of possibility of all sorts of development in previously protected areas - if cash registers still had bells, they’d be ringing! No-bid contracts! Strip mining! recreational off-road vehicles! Lumber! Oil-drilling! Cattle grazing! With just a smidgin of off-season wild life hunting!

Meanwhile, back in frog country, the Ribet College assures us that this unassuming li’l critter’s losses of habitat will only be...oh, just 150 million acres. Is that a lot? It’s just a dumb frog after all. Where’s that aspirin I scoffed at five paragraphs back?

Perhaps that effective cheap over-the-counter remedy has been withdrawn by the fear mongers pushing the Avian Flu (about 62 victims worldwide so far - since 2003 - eeek!) as the new bait’n’switch distraction to enrich the coffers of the pharmaceutical companies by, oh....just about $7 billion? With the added side effect of once again distracting everyone from Bush’s original stated plan of corporate cronyism, the destruction of your standard of living, and the failure of all of his policies. I know Conan O’Brien, bless him, has done the Bush Bird Flu shell game thing to death, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working! Americans love to buy the adrenalin rush of unfounded fear with every meal. It’s like spiritually endorsed poppers! And it’s Atkins friendly!

Plus! News of secret CIA interrogation jails in soviet era compounds in Poland and Hungary - crafty! It’s nice to discover that “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” was a documentary. Or would you believe “get Smart”? no - getting smart was never acceptable with this crowd. I saw this great show on PBS where centuries ago the Chinese emperor proclaimed that the people would only be allowed a five note musical scale, because complex music inspired complex thought. Those who dared use one of the blacklisted notes in musical compositions were beheaded. Why aren’t you laughing?

Plus! Alito - right wing idealogue or fair and balanced? I don’t know about you, because I can smell the fetid stink of his evil shit from here, but why not take a look at the salesmen who are hawking this used car? Lemon! Either way, it’s the end of YOUR liberties - civil and otherwise. Can you spell Patriot Act Renewal? I know the word “Orwellian” is tired - but so am I! Tired of all this motherfuckingmotherfucking motherfuckingmotherfuckingmotherfuckingmotherfu ckingmotherfuckinmotherfuckinmotherfuckinmotherf ucking oh you get the picture.

Besides, maybe I’ll get used to having the Republican monitoring devices in my bedroom next time I’m enjoying a little fag sex. This Forbin Project voyeurism might even be a turn-on eventually! Well, for those doing the monitoring, anyway - you know the peeps with their peepers glued to the screen will be the same Congressional figures who dabble infelicitously in a spot o' literature now and again (and again and again). Maychance it will figure in one of the sexually charged “novels” the Republicans continue to release as an outlet for their less Christian impulses. They may be repressed, but they’re sassy!

Hmmm.....“Senate Passes $35 Billion QuaJillion Spending Cut”. Congressional fiduciary responsibility? That’s a familiar tune. But as usual, that faux “practical” news (cough, cough - ‘til you examine the Byzantine corporate-friendly details) has a plethora of rancid stealth measures attached. Miraculously the House had to drop (for the nth time - they’re just waiting ‘til we blink - because they can) the attached paragraph authorizing oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Artic Wildlife Refuge - but give them points for trying! And they had to drop re-opening the coasts of for oil exploration. Take one giant step backwards, Red Rover! Let Taste of Honey come over! Back to the party! Boogie,oogie,oogie! In the immortal yuppie aspirant words of Chic, “Clams on the half shell, and roller skates!” But don’t count out the tired old “attached provision” hoodwink yet!

A quieter, less quip-ready provision was NOT dropped - to open up the sale of public lands to private developers - not just for mining, but for other development as well. Yes, this means they can sell YOUR national parks and forests to THEIR friends, the billionaire investors. Heads up, Halliburton! Oh, and just in case - the Senate retained the Artic Refuge mining clause in THEIR version of the “spending cut” for a bargaining chip in a potential house/senate compromise! Can I get the onion dip with that chip? This IS a celebration after all! Caribou flambe, zingy Peregrine Falcon fingerlings, Polar Bear Cub Sate. I didn’t know that tundra creatures could taste so Pacific Rim - Mmmm-mmm! Is that recipe on the box?

Nor is it a surprise that gas profits have hit their highest EVER margin. Oh, it was that CRISIS (read: c-a-n-a-r-d) that fueled the spike in at-the-pump prices that made this last quarter so darn profitable! Good for the stockholders - I was worried about them for a minute! Those executives deserve their 6 million dollar bonuses! Party!

But wait - what were we celebrating? Bush’s imaginary mandate, that is supposed to have evaporated, sure seems alive and well if these outrages are still happening when he is reputedly reeling, battle scarred, brow beaten, and desperately flailing about for some polarizing issue to grab back his brief “Mission Accomplished” high of a few years back. Ugh.

So time for the party entertainment - the court jester! I guess I’ll insert a neu-classic “lest we forget” quote-of-the-year bit of...well it’s not exactly levity, but it is out wildly outRAGEous! Just to keep perspective on the mindset of these gracious people: “So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this (chuckle) this is working very well for them” - Former First lady Barbarian Bushwhack, upon thoughtfully contemplating the impact of the Hurricane Katrina Distaster. Can’t wait for the musical - try sweating to THAT oldie! Don’t those rockin’ guys listen to Robert Plant: “ If it keeep awn ray-nin’, duh leveeeeeez gawna bray-ache...”? Not unless it’s on their cadillac SUV ads I guess.

Party Activity Suggestion: storm the palaces and pull these monsters from their seats of power, drag their naked disemboweled, fancifully mutilated and castrated corpses through the streets of Washington, that their tattered remains might be spat upon and ridiculed, and, finally, their heads mounted on pikes at the city gates to warn away evil-doers. Guaranteed an ice-breaker. Can be played by parties from one to whatever. Suggested prize: Laura “Poses-With-Dreadlocks and Doesn’t Wince” Bush’s (her Sioux name) freeze dried nipples, flattened and tattooed with happy face grins, ironed between sheets of wax paper and glued into the Bush family bible. That’s some good readin’!

Whew, after that I’m out of breath. But still I caught myself indulging in the grim smirk of chilly victory over Schwarzenbumbler’s embarrassing belly flop. Darn if it don’t feel a little hollow though, when the margin of victory still means that 40 - 49 percent of California voters were stupid enough to vote FOR his proposals - AND stupid enough to vote down the one good anti-corporate pharmaceutical proposal that would have helped them! That’s a darn whiskey barrel full o’ stupidity amongst people who actually BOTHER to vote! Waste of whiskey in my estimation, consarn it.

So barely squeaking by in a momentary majority doesn’t offer much comfort - this state is full of people who voted FOR the election of this darn media friendly Hitler-lite after all. Where was our celebration then? I hope the Missus (Maria Shrivelled) is the most conscience-stricken conflicted Democrat in history - the sex with the bloated steroid cadaver that is Arnie can’t be that good.

And even this marginal triumph is only in trumped up battles we should never have had to fight; these proposals should never have been entertained, and this special election should never have occurred. Tactical distractions! Even when you win, you lose! It’s the old mathematical principle that Lewis Carroll proposed. How I would love to be entranced by Einstein speed-of-light fluffy Star Trek sci-fi possibilities! But it’s the glum speed-of-dark equation we’re stuck with: it takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place. And even ol’ Chuck Dodgson had a problem with optimism - because with all the running we tired witless fogeys can do, staying in the same place is a blazing glory unattainable. Moving backwards more slowly is what passes for progress as the earth, civilization (a quaint notion!), and mankind (oh well, fine me but I can’t resist: manunkind) are losing ground inexorably, inevitably and geometrically. Give me another bite of that mushroom, or at least a toke on that hookah.

So while we celebrate our modest wins on the tetherball court of inconsequence with Trader Joe’s microwave meals and two dollar cabernet, the real battle continues taking place elsewhere in closed corporate boardrooms with further cuts in healthcare (healthcareless? health-I-don’t-care? stealthscare? wealthsnare?) and food stamps and other minor social follies (not-so-safe-ty nets) of the white picket past.

So - another darn rant. Another screed. Another harangue. Another snide aside. Just call me Hector Harrumph! Barnacle Bilgewater! No wonder I’m snooooring at my own party! But what should we do, when the glittering pedestal of your hard-won quarter gram of optimism (read: denial - and the buzz is over as quick as cheap coke) is beaten back into the adjustable time-worn Morris chair of despair?

Why, just leap into the wayback machine and talk about what’s REALLY important! Old pop psych records!

I AM A DJ - For once

So - Let’s see - I never wrote about being a guest DJ with the fabulous Stella at her Stray Pop show on KXLU Loyola. This is really just a slim excuse for me to just list some of my favorite records. Boy, I slay me!

BTW, as a DJ, I’ll just say that right now, while I’m trying to search my dubiously retentive memory files for trivia even marginally worth noting, I am listening to the LP “Gordon’s Buster” by Gordon Alexander. A somewhat legendary folk/psych amalgam, side 1 is a disappointing rote attempt to posture as a breeder Dylan-lite (without the hooks - just bad meandering poetry about beer and Memphis), and the vocals have that irritatingly gruff bland jock/macho “I’m not really a singer” affect that ruins so many transitional records of the era.

But side 2 is a different story altogether - it’s a crazy patchwork of cheap effects, awkward left turn switches in beats and tones, strings, inept fuzz guitars, and even some of those “Oonka Chaka” backing vocals lifted from Jonathan King’s classic re-imagining of “Hooked on a Feeling” from his “Bubble Rock Is here To Stay” comp, so ably covered by Blue Swede. In short - magic - even with Gordon’s sub-Gary Lewis sports bar vocal. Of course, Curt Boettcher is involved - but just barely, on two songs.

Also enjoying “Karen Beth - The Joys of Life”, a weird cross between Skeeter Davis and “Goodbye and Hello” era Tim Buckley. To say nothing of the underrated “Stained Glass Crazy Horse Roads” - a more Beatle-y and less disciplined Buffalo Springfield wannabe band. In other words - Fab! The Ojays made the important qualifier motto: “I love music, just as long as it’s groovy!” Stick to that, you can never go wrong.

Anyway, back to the DJ experience. I’d been invited to do a show on Tuesday night June 28 to promote the Mumps record release party, so you know this is OLD news. Loyola Marymount Law School is a lovely if generic campus in a somewhat desolate unincorporated but beach adjacent section of West L.A. .

The neighborhood has that Cronenberg look of massive indistinguishable Navajo White stucco condominums under construction since the 80’s, to take advantage of the slo-flo middle class bump expected in L.A.’s exploding population. The campus proper has the bland well maintained atmosphere of a quietly religious retreat with just a hint of Mormon deco redux “White Castle Burger Stand” style, in keeping with their avowed “Catholic Intellectual Heritage” (contradiction in terms?) which sees a “mutually fertile relationship between faith and reason” (!). In which century are they living? In other words - creepy! Which begs the question: why they have given long time dedicated punkster extraordinaire Stella Stray Pop such a comfortable 20 year musical platform at this establishment? Because they have to, motherfuckermothefu......ooops!

But I find the building which houses the radio station without too much trouble, and Stella is there with a couple of central casting type college radio extras - young guys who are a little dumpy and studiously disheveled, but definitely cute enough for a split second cruise. So I go into the little broadcasting booth and Stella starts me off, but ultimately just lets me do whatever I want - so you can guess what THAT is - unabashedly HOLDING FORTH. Blah blah me this, blah blah me that - this is fun! Stella only interrupts to remind me to play my own music, whether it be Mumps, Swinging Madisons, Bleaker Street Incident, Klaus Nomi, or whatever - stuff that I would be too embarrassed to play otherwise.

But other than that, I just get to select from timeless favorites like:

The immortal dog triumvirate: The Almond Lettuce - “Tree Dog Song”, The Blossom Toes - “The Incredible Saga of The Frozen Dog”, and The Geranium Pond - “Dogs In Baskets”.

Wheeeee! No one told me this would be such a fucking high! Foisting my personal taste on the (maybe 2? possibly 3?) listeners to this obscure but legendary station - at least the listeners that didn’t call in to request the Dead Kennedys or ask when I’d be off the air so they could return to playing “real” music. But I think just putting these records out into the ether has a sort of spiritual quality - uh-oh, it’s catching! It IS a religious University!

So I played the Herd doing “Something Strange” - the one where the newly married husband leaves his girl in their honeymoon resort hotel to go off and have a liason with “strange” natives (“Gay voices beckon to some new delight”) - why hasn’t Morrissey covered this? The Cowsills doing their classic Armageddon blow-out “Six - Six - Six” - this was no Partridge Family! The inevitable “Lavender Popcorn” and of course “Tell It To The Laughing Man” by Russ Alquist; “We Are The Moles” - forgive the first timer for the obvious stuff I had to get out of the way because I’d never gotten to do this before. The Hullaballoo Singers doing their inimitable diet pill conga line take on “Satisfaction”. Edith Massey doing “Hey Punks Get Off The Grass”; Jack Carter’s “Jailhouse Rock” (the unattainable screaming template for all Cramps insanity); “Poisons In My Body” (a song that served a similar template purpose for the Contortions) by the International Theater Foundation; Frances Faye’s classic Vegas foghorn take on “Hard Day’s Night”- you know the drill. David McDermott doing my fully orchestrated ode to racial brotherhood, “I Do”, may have made its radio airwave debut that night!

I found out later that Kenny Scharf actually heard me on the radio and was so excited that he called Ann Magnuson to clue her in, so apparently someone was actually listening.

Anyway, by the second or third song I KNEW this was THE job for my golden years! I’m sure I have enough embarrassingly obsessively twee stuff and outre Kay Martin semi-pornographic Christmas songs to fill about 100 shows, and there’s always more coming my way through Andrew, Steve Stanley, Arthur Brennan, or the vagaries of e-bay.

So even driving home at two in the morning (while listening to Stella generously closing out with a few MORE Mumps songs than we’d already played) I was just abuzz with the certainty that there WAS meaning in music - an aphorism you can come to doubt when you’ve been attempting to eke out a creative existence in that discipline for as long as I have. And I was even invited back with Paul Rutner to do a post-Mumps re-match show that Friday!

On Friday, still glowing with post Mumps party effervescence (which is draining at my age), Paul and I made a brief pitstop at the Diddy Bops show at McCabe’s, where we talked trash with Frank Infante for a while, and then we headed back to the station for a more sustained “historical” Mumps show, which meant less Lords Of London and more appropriate context type stuff. A little Milk’n’Cookies, some Screaming Jay and Standells because Mumps covered their songs, etc. Tame.

But we did get to play Candy Johnson’s version of “Fever” which, along with Frances Faye and the Bell Notes’ Everlys-on-speed version of “Shortnin’ Bread”, were the sources for many of the Swinging Madisons’ dance/rock appropriations. The Bell Notes and Candy Johnson, along with a nice Georgie Fame LP, were impulsive gifts from one Mr. Bryan Gregory early in my obsessive relationship with the fledgling Cramps of yore - little did that future “Beast” realize the unseemly rawk gesticulations his gift would spawn.

I also got to play something by every guest singer who helped out at the Mumps party, including Carolyn Edward’s “Wrestling Match”, Andrew’s wowsville cover of Grapefruit’s “Round Going Round”, and the wonderful John Easdale had the dubious honor of me dedicating Lance’s and my seldom-heard home version of Dramarama’s “Last Cigarette” to him. Now there’s a demo that makes a disconcerting racket - I hadn’t learned about tape distortion yet, and it features my own live drumming - not for the squeamish! It sounds like a thunderstorm in a dishwasher.

Even this somewhat more staid loose-ends tying show had me flying though - especially because giddy with fatigue, I insisted on singing the chorus from “Tree Dog Song” every three minutes or so - just for continuity’s sake of course. So, Little Steven, call me - I’m ready for satellite now! Is there a distant enough orbit in the space trash equivalent of Cannery Row for me?

Speaking of DJ’s, it’s heartening to get the news that the world’s greatest DJ Steve Jones just saw fit to play “I Like To be Clean” by Mumps and yours truly AGAIN! That is heaven!


You’re probably familiar with those little oblong comics that deal with the grim retribution that comes to everyone who does not welcome the saviour into his life. The ones forced into your hand outside of George Romero shopping plazas and cafeterias by people whose eyes you instinctively don’t want to meet because they seem to be on speed, homeless, crazed and possessed - and possibly in need of a facial. The tracts don’t actually celebrate a life of loving brotherhood attainable through the miracle of Jesus’ humanitarian teachings, so much as revel in the horrors and eternal tortures that will befall you if you invoke God’s wrath by the slightest (probably pleasurable) misstep. In short, they concentrate on the good stuff! The sin and the downfall! They make “Constantine” look like the “Polar Express”. If they came as DVDs, I’d be salivating in line for the unrated director’s cut. The one with the gore, the unexpurgated rough sex, the burning screaming torture victims, and the dancing demons.

Well, THAT version of the legendary Jack Chick “witnessing” pictorial tracts probably won’t be available at the Cineplex any time soon. Yes, I’m talking about Jack Chick Publications of Rancho Cucamonga (!): the little gospel comics that vilify any one who thinks, studies science or evolution, cares, listens to rock music (?), is Catholic (well - on this one subject, when Jack calls the “mother church” the “great whore with a counterfeit God (the pope)” - My homie Sinead O’Connor an’ me got his back, bro) or has sex of any sort.

But, even if you can’t expect to get the CGI version on DVD, an infinitely more sassy-ass docu-drama style version is coming your way via the unique gifts of legendary outsider filmmaker Todd “New Women” Hughes. He and his friends have taken it upon themselves to film every one of the fabulous Jack Chick booklets, word for word and frame by frame, starting with the ones that Jack C. himself has seen fit, for his own inscrutable but undoubtedly spiritually evolved reasons, to discontinue.

“Wounded Children” , unfortunately for you readers and collectors, is just such a rare and permanently discontinued issue - although I’ve spotted it once or twice on e-bay, where they haven’t thrown the money-changers out of the temple yet. But why bother with the book, when soon you can see the movie?

E-bay search alert!

I should know, because through the good graces of God, ‘n’ Todd, ‘n’ possibly the manipulations of one dear Justin Tanner, I was invited to be IN that movie.

“Wounded Children” is one of several “gay” themed installments, and of course the “gays” that do not renounce their sinful ways to be reborn in Christ end up being tortured in hell for eternity , usually after ending their miserably unhappy lives in some tragic accident, or a well deserved gay bashing that they undoubtedly called upon themselves by their flamboyant sexuality, or being felled by that disease that is obviously their own damn fault, AIDS.

The strange thing about these is that most of the “gays” as drawn look like admittedly cheerless but steel-jawed all-American versions of Steve Canyon or similar 50’s comic book action heroes, usually with manly beards. Yet the intrepid Jack almost always manages to get Nambla into the story somehow, as if that is the logical end point of all maneuvering by the dreaded “gay lobby” that he speaks so fearfully of in his articles on his web site. I must assume that La Chick’s conclusion that it’s difficult for any self-identified “gay” to pass a perambulator without getting an embarrassing erection is because Jack has been studiously keeping a close watch on baby-adjacent crotch tumescence phenomena. Crotch-watchin’ Jack keeps his eye on the prize!

Anyway, I committed myself to my acting gig with my usual discipline: since I was busy rehearsing with Mink’s band the day of the filming, I didn’t even look at any scenes but my own. Didn’t read the script. Didn’t bother to get the gist of the thing. I was just like a devil-may-care doomed classic Chick character. It was just a cameo after all!

But what a cameo: I’m a suicidal alcoholic gay (what other kind is there in a Chick publication?) who sits at a table weeping buckets while two semi-nude lascivious demons giggle and cavort suggestively behind me. Then I think I was to be saved by some earnest if lisping and hi-pitched Redirected Fag Neu Xtians. A part a more dedicated actor might get something out of.

But I was too busy munching on the craft service peanut butter pretzels and chocolate malt balls, while examining with unrepentant envy the unbelievably extensive Ebersole/Hughes collection of fanciful Italian Designer Alessi kitchen utensils, all in blazing Sunkist orange. I have the yellow brashly outre coolie orange squeezer which I bought in the airport in Tuscany daaaaahling, the item that looks like a hi-style dancing mushroom from Fantasia, if that’s cross cultural enough for you - these are the dubious totems that end up being inexcusably important to real “Wounded Children”. But this power gupple had that, and EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE ENTIRE ALESSI CATALOG, and it was all tauntingly on display, making it difficult for me to concentrate on my “craft”.

I can't think of an excuse.

...or maybe I can.

So when I got called in to be filmed, I was completely unprepared for my two minimal lines, or the miraculous facial transformation that should come with the relief of my unexpected salvation. But apparently I got the weeping part right, even getting some compliments from more seasoned thespians who had actually graced the legitimate stage in many of Justin’s productions. I also got invited to the screening party a few weeks later in an imposing Beechwood Canyon Deco Streamline Moderne manse, but I was so horrified and embarrassed at the prospect of seeing my face on the screen at all, and worse still, contorted in some uninformed approximation of “acting”, that I sought a Jack Chick worthy spiritual outclause, with just a hint of Diva: I thought “What would Aimee Semple McPherson do?” And I promptly took a “stress” nap on the upstairs couch and missed the whole thing. Thank God! See Jack? I do have religion.

Typecast again!

For oodles of Jack Chick fun, go to:

or Google: Jack T. Chick Tract Online Archives

They have hilariously succinct synopses and reviews of every Jack Tract, and for most of them they have direct links to the actual tracts themselves - although unfortunately NOT for “Wounded Children” - which makes me feel special! Thanks again, God!

Fun Jack Fact : What a scholar! Get the obscure reference to the “vomitous” ruins in the Canaanite city of Gezor in “Gay Blade” - if you word-search Gezor you will find out simply that it is an “Ancient and forgotten kingdom destroyed by the toad people” - at least in the on-line game Elyria!


Andrew, who besides being our local Colin Blunstone Incarnate is possibly the world’s most noted Monkees expert, was doing several gigs around town promoting the release of his shiney new book, the definitive Monkees Day To Day Diary - which exhaustively scholarly yet fun-filled tome has everything you’d ever want in a Monkees book, except glossy full color studio portraits.

Brief sidebar prayer: O Great God Taschen, Thou Lord of the Budget Vintage Ephemera Reproduction Explosion, I challenge thee: if ever there were a vacuum waiting to be filled for the target market pop nerds who faithfully buy negligibly re-imagined re-releases of their faves over and over and over for each skinflint paltry bauble unearthed and trumpeted in “special features” promo stickers, it is this: A coffee table book of the commercial promotional color portraits of all the 60’s bands that appeared in 16, Tiger Beat, Rave, Eye, and like pop tabloids, simply reproduced, sans graphic overlay, in beautiful living 60’s color.

The few times these sort of pictures have been included in releases, they are impossibly small due to the eye straining CD format, not reproduced in color due to budgetary constraints, or spoiled by the depraved graphic sensibility of delusional designers thinking they’re “improving” the photos by tired Warholesque color distortion, blaringly ugly faux “period” fonts, or “kooky” icons and montages - YUCK! BIG GLOSSY UNSPOILED SIMPLE COLOR REPRODUCTIONS - that’s what the kids want, Lord Taschen on High! At least scrillion-year-old kids like me! Even the very few issues of 16 magazine I have - fortunately for my pocketbook, that’s not one of my obsessions - have great color pictures of the Beatles in crazy get-ups that I’ve NEVER seen reproduced elsewhere. Andrew - you and me? Book proposal?

Meanwhile - back at the promo fun fair!

One of the more sensational promotional events Andrew was holding was a theatrical screening of Head at the American Film Institute right across the street from Amoeba Records in Hollywood - indefensible impulse buys AND a free movie! Andrew had managed to get Peter Tork to put in an appearance at most of the bookstore appearances around town, and La Tork was going to co-host this showing and do a Q&A as well. The pop nerd (that’s Mister Nerd to you!) a-list was all there - Brian “Moog Cookbook” Kehew, Bill Inglott, Steve Stanley - the tribe was out in force! We settled into the uncomfortable seats surrounded by film students who were disturbingly...well...young.

By cracky, I recall when I was just a stripling young’un in my knee britches and saddle oxfords, and I saw this film when it was new - YUP! I’m not jes’ joshing here! And Land o’Goshun if I weren’t purty durn confuserated.

I knew it was funny, but even at that age I already also felt bad that the Monkees were just TRYING so darn hard, trying to disown the smothering mantle of teeny-bop unhipness that had muted their achievements and turned their musical legacy into the cultural equivalent of white-washed lawn jockeys. Trying so desperately to act like even THEY knew they were fake, and they thought it was COOL to call them fake, so couldn’t they attain “cool” by calling themselves fake?

In effect, it played out my own fears of unhipness across the screen, and along with the emotional coloring that my emerging sense of that “other” sexuality which kept you uncertain of whether you would be ridiculed and shunned or just beaten to a pulp, I think it was a little too close to the bone. Add to that their nightmare of losing what was left of their audience to the lobotomized nasal affect of Bobby Sherman! So no matter how wonderfully dreamy the “Porpoise Song” sequence was, the over all effect was spiritually stultifying. But also the film was also guilty of a far more damnable sin - in their hopeless grasp for the Grateful Dead power ring of hip credibility, I thought: “Are the Monkees BORING?”

I hoped to see it in a new light - hadn’t my love of all things Monkee survived far beyond the tasteful boundaries of my pre-pubescence right into my dotage? That’s gotta count for something! So I came and sat next to Andrew’s wife Wendy and listened while Andrew introduced quite a celebrity catch: it was one of the producers - it couldn’t have been Bob Rafelson could it ? - who unfortunately held forth in a typically (for the poor maligned Monkees) self distancing and, at the same time, self applauding fashion - it was the usual “The world thought they were crap, but it took ME to make something hip out of them!” disclaimer. That crumb is still what often passes for a compliment in their world - the absolute joyful masterstroke of “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.” - and so many other songs! - notwithstanding.

But then the film started and I was so wonderfully surprised! Of course I was comforted by the expected light show mottled Peter Max colored party sequences, the de rigeur faux Indian stylings, the Cost Plus love beads and Penney’s Nehru jackets and the buckskin boots, the incense, the playfully non sequitur Beatle-besotted hi-jinks, the campy Victoriana, the lounging beach bunnies, the aging teen idols and mild corporate product satires, the Zabriskie Point Lite politicizing - I knew that would happen. This is my nostalgia comfort zone, so I know I have no perspective - I’m Austin Powerless. But what I was unprepared for was that it was actually so...outrageous ? It was so willfully saturated with casual violence that it was actually disturbing! Isn’t that - could it be - is that, HIP?

Omigod, their use of the famed Eddie Adams 1968 photo of the execution of a Viet Cong by Lt. Colonel Nguyen Ngoc Loan over and over again - it was just wild and unsettling. And the Monkees themselves were always carrying guns and dressing as soldiers - they seemed to have a queerly ambivalent attitude toward violence. It really made me remember what it was like to be raised in the first truly televised war, where images of disorienting violence were everywhere, so unfiltered, not yet photo-shopped into religious sloganeering. There was a distant confusing war, with its graphic images burning, taunting on television screens and the pages of Life. There were your classmates carted off - some clueless brutes eager to go, and some not returning. And you might be next, in the thing called the lottery! Shirley Jackson for sure! Facing the draft board at 17! There were riots and civl rights murders. It was the babyhood of domestic information control, and our society was sick to its very children on a feast of blood. We bathed in it. It polluted our Betty Crocker meals with a sour after taste of iron and sand. Mad cow disease of the soul. And it was IN that movie - it was the sound stage the movie was made on. In between the poorly timed jokes, kooky shenanigans, the mop-top song fests, there was the flavor of burnt flesh and grim accountability. No wonder we were confused. The W-A-R chant - that wasn’t just posing to please the hip - that confusion was legitimate. The Love Generation wilting on a soggy battleground. I had forgotten. The Volkswagen “soft sell” Ads. Slicker by Yardley. Twiggy. Hogan’s Heroes! No wonder the Nazis seemed like comedy, Colonel Klink! They dressed in uniforms so you could tell them apart, declared their intentions, were transparently bad, and they lost! What did we have now? Oh yeah. Napalm. Add to that the horrific discussion of actually using The Bomb - boy it sure was different then.

After the movie was over Peter Tork got up and engaged in a surprisingly erudite question and answer session, peppered with literate wisecracks and astute observations. I was surprised - the one public performance I had seen him at was years before, circa 1978, when the punks dragged him out of the woodwork to perform at CBGBs - the Monkees were commonly hailed and loved as Punks’ forbears for being unrepentantly crass, bubblegum was the preferred punk single format, and “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” had been given the seal of approval by no less than the Sex Pistols.

At that point Peter still seemed somewhat hobbled by his Monkees experience - he was a little ground down, still apparently giving some shame-faced credence to the loudmouth detractors, doing a gruff little apologist act of “I really knew we weren’t hip” - “If we’d only stuck together and played some REAL music it might not have been so bad” - that sort of thing. Trying to distance himself from the very reason we had all come to see him. He resisted playing much Monkees music at all, instead rather poignantly trying to prove himself by playing the “real” stuff - he did some indifferent clumsy simplistic Bach on the piano, a little blue grass banjo - he was just spotty and all over the place. Worse still, he seemed like a dazed stoner who was inarticulate and vague, and had no idea what this CBGBs scene was about, or why we would care, and wasn’t interested. He had a rather condescending paternal air, as if we were the know-nothings and he could show us what good music was. It was a peculiar evening.

This was completely different. I had been excited by the movie, and was inspired by Peter’s ready intelligence, and held up my hand a little timidly - almost hoping he wouldn’t pick me. He was all the way across on the other side of the theater, across three long rows of chairs. I thought almost hopefully, “Maybe he didn’t see my hand.” I wasn’t really sure how to pose my question. But he DID call on me - after all the cute girls in the audience had been exhausted, to be sure - so I bumbled: “Well, you’ve probably seen this more recently that I have but..after all these years....isn’t it a little surprising movie is...?”

The response was immediate and shocking. Peter leapt up and over the first line of chairs, rushing toward me in a mad indecipherable blur, pushing people out of the way until he found a clear aisle, and then he barrelled straight up to me - and he stuck his face right into mine, and screamed “FUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOU!”

There was a silence - for maybe a second. It seemed longer. Then he pulled back - he had been so very close I could smell his breath, see the craggy lines in his fair skin and the discolored parts of his teeth - and then he laughed. “Ha ha”. The crowd laughed a little too. I got it. It was a play on the question - which he never actually addressed, just casually moving on to the next riposte. Ha ha. In a way it was very punky -! In another way it was quite stand-up comic. But I had to be motherfucking proud of him. He toyed with my expectations. He fooled me. And he made me uncomfortable. That in itself is an accomplishment! And sometimes that can be very rewarding.

Still, the vulnerable part of me - the Monkee part of me that had always been afraid to be outed and ridiculed - felt used. There was never really an acknowledgement that it was a long depleteing unsung WAR for those of us who stood up for the Monkees, at least until they became retro trivia. The same war that made us feel “outside” in so many other areas. In art, in love, at the game, at work. The nerd war. The not-beautiful war. The unhip war. The loser war. The artist war. That little tender spot was bruised again, just like old times. I wasn’t really WITH Peter in his moment of comic triumph. I was outside him. I knew he’d get some milage with it with the hippie chick he was trying to pick up after the show. We were adults now, and it was cool. I got it. But I was reminded about “outside”.

Even as a little kid, I knew Peter was the least talented Monkee. But he was my crush - maybe my FIRST crush. He was the cute one. I always hoped he’d be in the episodes more. When they put “In This Generation” on for the closing theme song, I defensively thought my love for Peter had finally been proven right all along. “Look - he wrote a cool song!” When my little brother and sister and I wrote our fan letters, mine was to him. We didn’t get a reply. It’s funny, but I don’t want to kiss him anymore. We’re old and icky! But I’d probably never get closer to being able to do it than that night when he breathed into my mouth and said “Fuck You!”.

Signed: CBGBs 1978 Appended: AFI 2005

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June 30th 2005 Mumps Release Party

June 30

As the date for the Mumps record release party neared, I had started thinking about it from the sadly predictable Kristian “Glass-Half -Empty” perspective. Surprise! The mini-arc of every story I tell could be described thusly: “Bummer - this is going to be horrible! Relief! It wasn’t so bad!” I’ve really got to get a new template for the not-so-great American novella I’m always threatening to bleaguhhh - I mean blog. Until then, this will have to do:

The party was set for June 30th - unfortunately the start of the July 4th long week-end, so any lucky person who COULD get out of L.A. absolutely WOULD! Or they’d be PREPARING to leave and wouldn’t want to go out on a Thursday evening right before a big four day (in all likelihood, quite drunken and impossibly over-indulgent) blow-out. The group designated “lucky” in this regard included several of my regulars - the very people who, in my mind, would have made the show more of an “Event “ (note capital “E”).

Stew was somewhere being feted by the Public Theater in New York or taking a meeting with Robert Redford in Sundance - in other words having the career peak I was supposed to have! Bee-yotch! So he couldn’t sing the Mumps song he’d absolutely made his own:“Anyone But You”.

Michael Quercio was also going to be out of town, so he was unavailable to lend his angelic voice to the Mumps’ early ballad “Just In Time” (even now, still unreleased, except in my “&” version - I remember writing it after hearing John Cale’s “Paris 1919”, thinking - “Wow - John Cale isn’t afraid to just let the melody meander.” I hope that’s a compliment!).

Alice Bag, who would have been PERFECT to give “Gimme Gimme” that punque roque authoritative reading it had really never yet received, and who said she’d LOVE to do it if she could, was going to be moving her whole home and family ( and out of my neighborhood too! boo hoo! To some uncharted region called “The West Side”) that very day. So she wouldn’t be able to show.

Even Mumps stalwart Ann Magnuson, who actually helped Mumps move equipment (!) back at Irving Plaza, resulting in a legendarily rubber-legged tumble down the precarious marble stairs, wasn’t going to be there.

As a result, I was feeling all introspective and Dickensian, wondering how Lance’s spirit would feel about me taking over all these vocals on songs that were so much HIS. I wanted someone ELSE to help. I couldn’t take all this ectoplasmic scrutiny alone! I was SPOOKED.

But of course things started looking up before I even had a chance for a good albeit typical long faced wallow. The absolutely lovable Paul Rutner agreed to fly in from Austin especially for the show, so I would not be the only “real” Mump on stage.

John Easdale agreed to lend his “Jimbo-of-the-KROQ-set” rock STAR presence and vocalese to “Anyone But You”.

Andrew was going to give “Just In Time” his patent Blunstone treatment.

Carolyn “perfect pitch” Edwards and Steve “Harmony On Tap” Stanley agreed to make “Could This Be Art?” as good-timey and new vaudeville-y a romp as a song about cancerous tumours and epidemic starvation could be.

Kristi Callan showed up to revitalize “You’re Ideal” as my soul cooed “Karen Carpenter - we hardly knew ye!”

Lisa Jenio braved the Sparks-ish vocal obstacle course of “Before the Accident”, and Mink Stole, bless her superstar heart, showed up to sing “Waiting For The World”.

What Passed For Swag

So as I labored to learn my new craft of home button making for the (somewhat pathetic) free give-away portion of the “party”, I knew that with this fab roster, at least a fairly good time was guaranteed for all.

While I pushed and prodded the buttons into shape, I mused nostalgically on a time when every slimey bodega in lower Manhattan had these terrible frosted ginger bread cookies that tasted like acetone, but were fancifully named “Rock And Roll Stage Planks” with a 50’s pastiche of dancing musical notes all over the package - those would have been the perfect party favor!


Or what about when you could get actual pink bubblegum shaped like records in tiny cardboard reproductions of “Aladdin Sane” or “Eat To The Beat” covers called “Chu-Bops” - why not those? But I must admit my “flaming world” buttons came out beautifully.

The button maker is three bits of primary colored hard plastic - very Hasbro toys - it was weird to discover those precious Bowie and Mumps buttons I’d salvaged from 30 years ago were so easy to make. Pop! Another collectible! Just what the world needs. I think I could make a good twilight years business forging bootlegged fake vintage Bowie memorabilia - but don’t tell that litigation-happy alien wannabe!

So the day came and I showed up at Tangier in my fantastic purple glitter Nudie styled jacket - every single person was green with envy - including the sound man (Josh? Steve? I’m so terrible at that). People were all over the restaurant like a festive high school reunion - Theresa O’Donahue of the fabulous O Sisters and many a Todd Hughes film, Ann MacLean of Lotus Lame and the Lame Flames and her wonderful escort Goyo.

There were Liz and Ruth Seidman - who not only were the “Disco Lolitas” of James White and the Blacks fame, but also had their “pretend” band “Cardiac Arrest” mentioned in all the English weeklies just by talking it up at CBGBs. In another contemporary incarnation, Lydia Lunch conscripted the legendary “vodka sisters” to stand on either side of the stage during Teenage Jesus’s tastefully brief sets, sternly telling everyone who dared to flash a camera “No Photos!” as gruffly as a gorgeous 15 year old Catholic School girl could - even going so far as to grab the camera out of the hands of one Bob Gruen.

They had also gained some notoriety when, on a flimsy excuse to their mother, they had managed to accompany Mumps in the usual windowless, airless, bald-tired van to a Washington D.C. gig. It was all innocent enough, but Lance had the brilliant idea of having these 14/15 year old lovelies pose in bed with him for a large L.L. profile in the “style” section of the local paper - and a friend of Mrs. Seidman happened to see the imposing picture and send it to home to Mrs. S.

The repercussions then were fairly mild - as they should have been - but imagine what would happen NOW if a notorious sexual outlaw in a punk rock band were to pose in a rumpled bed with two underage girls he’d transported across state lines? Are we really better off? At the time we thought it was much more after school special - a lark, like sneaking down to Tadpole Creek when you were supposed to be emptying wastebaskets on chore day.

Also attending were Brendan Mullen, Craig (Billy Wisdom/Decoupage/Stupor) Roose, Kim (The legendary “countess” and one-time member of Flap - an L.A. band that played vacuum hoses!) Solomon, and Robert Lloyd and his sweet sister Alison who used to protest against being called “Peanut”, but not tonight. Paul Zone and Claudio Camaione were there. Aaron Taps from Paula Kelly’s band was there - I think this may have been my informal “audition” for them - because shortly thereafter I was invited to perform with them. Even elusive tastemaker Jonathan Lea of the fabulous Jigsaw Seen put in a congratulatory appearance, and left his scathing ripostes at the door, being uncharacterictically effusive. Maybe he was on some new drug! Long Gone John brought a box of CDs to sell, which turned out to be barely enough, and the buttons were quickly gone too.

As I took the stage for the light psych drone of guitar feedback that heralded the opening song “I Like To be Clean”, I saw a strange apparition. The way the club was lit, the entire floor where most of the people were seated was dark and murky - barely visible. But lined up in a row against the far wall in a raised banquette, under the site specific recessed lighting which made them glow like regimented statues of inscrutable Buddahs, or at least stern judges at an amateur ice skating competition, were Pat Loud, Michele Loud, Delilah Loud, Grant Loud, and Bill Loud! In fact, the only faces I could see at all was this highlighted row of dear departed Lance’s family, whom I’m certain wished me only the best , and were obviously there to celebrate - but as I automaton-ed my way through the first verse of “Clean” - my mind raced with thoughts of “Pat’s son is DEAD! They’ve lost their dearest relative! Here I am picking the SCAB! And maybe Lance’s ghost is looking down and thinking, ‘How Dare He?’!”

Fortunately these thoughts didn’t linger - I felt so supported by the wonderful playing of Pierre Smith, Dave Bongiovanni, Ernesto Garcia, and Joe Berardi that it was like I was floating on a warm flannel security blanket, and my usual florid and self indulgent self doubt was held in abeyance for most of the set. The songs just flowed effortlessly. I got through a servicable vocal take on Lance’s professed favorite “Just Look/Don’t Touch” and then the fab guests took over, with Lisa Jenio and Kristi Callan doing harmony duties for each other on their songs. John Easdale gave a marvelously intense and earnest reading of “Anyone” - it was a real highlight! That darn ‘cutest couple in pop’, Carolyn and Steve, had their way with “Art”, and Mink did her patently stirring “Waiting For the World” schtick - a bit of Cher, a lot of Piaf, and just a whiff of stentorian Hitler!

Then Andrew came up and made some sentimental remarks about our long friendship and musical sharing, and referenced his recently released Monkee’s Day Book as a smart way to segue into a little Lance story. As the words started to emerge from his mouth, the direction he was headed dawned on me, and I was mentally pleading with an unheeding God “Oh NO! not THAT story!” And suddenly my entire psyche was just swallowed up by the Loud Nuremburg Panel, with the Leni Riefenstahl lighting, back on the “harsh judgement” platform.

Andrew and Wendy were lucky enough to have met Lance a couple of times, and of course were completely seduced by his effervescent charm. But as I got to know Andrew better, I ended up sharing with him (as friends do) some of the complexities of my relationship with Lance. I had used an old old story from when we were living together on 8th Avenue circa 1976 to illustrate, and that was the story Andrew chose to share:

“Once when Lance and Kristian were living together in New York, Lance came home and showed Kristian a truly remarkable thrift shop find - one of those red ‘official’ Monkees shirts with the buttons down both sides that they’re wearing on the first Monkees album. Kristian was so excited - Lance knew that Kristian had much more of an obsessive passion for the Monkees than he did, and so Kristian innocently asked, ‘Oh, is that for me?’, knowing that Lance didn’t really care about the Monkees at all and would never wear it. Lance held the shirt up in Kristian’s face and retorted, “I’d rather RIP this shirt into a thousand pieces and throw it into the garbage than EVER let you have it.”

I believe there was a little appreciative audience laughter at the end of this tale, and Andrew launched into his most beautiful pitch-perfect rendition of “Just In Time” ever - truly lovely - but my mind was stuck in “OH ---- MY ----GAAAAAWWWWD!” mode, wondering if I would ever be spoken to by the Louds again - and what tragic tears this barbed anecdote would bring to Pat’s (aka OM - “other mom” to you) once adoring supportive eyes. Why? Why? Why? It also brought back to me some painful memories of Lance - how, just when you’d think you were really getting along, he’d engage in some unfathomable battle to gain some cruel, apparently purposeless, victory without triumph. He was a little .....indirect? confronting you about what your REAL offense was.

But then the song was over, and we moved back into the Rock portion of the evening, and “Strange Seed” sounded so delightfully bubble prog that I have since made it a regular part of my own set. Oh - and it’s actually in my range - that helps! But it really is one of my favorite songs I ever wrote, and Pierre really shone in the wild psych “grow!” outro, where the ascending chords really do sound like a horde of Triffids attacking. It also made me realize that one of the themes I tend to revisit about how intellectualism and deliberation are considered somehow fey and suspect(i.e. in Gapers Club “I watched the criminalization of the pause it takes to form a lucid thought”) - started WAY WAY back. Maybe a new theme will occur to me one day. Oh well.

Then I did a passable version of Gimme Gimme. At least the band gave it the hot Sex Pistols “fat guitar” sound that Johnny Rotten seemed to disdain the minute he formed P.I.L., only to rvert to it a couple of L.P.s later on “Rise”. “Gimme” was always meant to be a BIG rock song, and finally it was. But Alice bag could have sung it so much better than me - and there she WAS - right up against the stage, dancing in one of her beautiful form fitting 20’s revival beaded gowns! She and her handsome husband Greg Velasquez DID make it after all! I was at once delighted, grateful, and peeeved that she wasn’t up there making this darn song shine!

But you couldn’t keep her off the stage for long. Paul Rutner had come up with some original vintage “Rock And Roll This” EP release posters (really big and fabulous) that we had saved for this moment. We staged a Cowbell Contest in the middle of a lengthy breakdown in “Crocodile Tears” where we invited members of the audience up to bang away and win a poster.

Jackie Shepard & Billy Rich Play Cowbell!

At first they were reluctant, but then a friend of Ernesto’s broke the ice, and Jackie (most famous eyebrow plucker in LA, AND fantastic painter) Shepard and Billy Rich got up and did a mad cowbell duet. But Alice had to one-up them all - she grabbed the cowbell and aimed for the spotlights, writhing suggestively, and then her punk genes took over and she headed off the stage, out for the table tops, ready to kick over drinks while flogging the unsuspecting cowbell in a particularly Madam Wongs fashion. But she hadn’t counted on the fact that these were pedestal style tables, offering no balance, so she no sooner stepped out in the audience than the table tipped over and she sprawled, flailing arms and flying drumsticks, onto the floor! Paul kept the drum beat going, but there was a sharp universal intake of breath - that looked PAINFUL. And I’m sure I was not the only one thinking that it’s possible that we first generation punkers might not be quite as resilient as we once were. Ambulance? Lawsuit? There was a long hushed moment of frightened concern, but then Alice popped her head back up over the top of a table, got up and dusted herself off and came resolutely back on stage to collect her poster - which she deserved! And we thus brought the set to a delightfully “punk legend of yore” close.

As a delightful addendum, amid all the hugs and congratulations and cavorting that followed the set, I was standing next to Andrew when Grant Loud came over to him and laughingly said, “I’m glad someone finally came out and told a REAL Lance story!” So all was not lost after all.

2005 Mid-Year Round Up, Odds and Ends, and Missed Entries

Jan 22

Played two songs at Pierre Smith’s fabulous birthday party - it was a surprise coordinated by his wife Lisa and their friend (and multi-octave operatic vocalist and star of “White Trash Wins Lotto”) Chrissie. Boy, Pierre has a lot of friends! Everyone from the legendary Monitor/Romans/Human Hands Eastern LA art rock coalition was there, plus scads of other Pasadena/Glassell Park/Hollywood artsy types.

It was hosted by Dave Foley (yes, THAT Dave Foley - the fabulous “Kids In The Hall” guy, and Pierre’s close friend), who got progressively cheerier with each passing imbibement, as his jocular inroductions got progressively racier. It was in his back yard on a makeshift stage with borrowed equipment. By the time I finally got up there to stumble through “Little Brother”, my half satirical, half worshipful ode to Rufus Wainwright - Dave’s patter was down right scandalous! I don’t think anal sex was mentioned literally, but the double entendres somehow sounded nastier than the real thing!

I picked that song because Pierre was the guitar player on one of my tours with Rufus, and I think his hands, as well as mine, may be the only “band” body parts that were ever visible in the video for “April Fools”- which we were all flown to Canada to appear in, and then summarily cut out of. But we were pretty full of ourselves for about five minutes! There was also a set by the reformed Human Hands with Pierre strumming away on guitar and Juan Gomez looking unconscionably young.


Then there were loads of gigs with Mink, and a couple of Mata Haris, and I think a Carolyn Edwards gig or two, but just about this time I was taken to a lovely steak dinner at Taylor’s legendary downtown Steak House to see my old friend and cohort El Vez. El Vez was a little late (as Eloise would say, “D’accord!”) so I was sitting with my friend Ranney next to this nice guy who seemed inordinately interested in the fact I was once in the Mumps.

I didn’t take it too seriously - I’m used to being a conversational asterisk - a sort of trivia question of just enough historical interest to keep the superficial chat from dying out until the first round of drinks arrives. But this guy was actually REALLY interested. With very little in the way of a prelude he said, “I really want to release all your Mumps recordings!”

Then I knew for sure he was kerrrr-ay-zeee - who could possibly take a statement like that seriously? And just who WAS he, anyway? But it’s almost impossible NOT to have a good time at Taylor’s, so by the end of the evening we were all best friends and I casually gave him my phone number, assuming (from hard bitter experience) that of course he’d never call.

So imagine my surprise when the very next day Long Gone John of the legendary L.A. independent label Sympathy For The Record Industry (The Muffs! The White Stripes! Candypants!) called me back and said “Let’s get started!”

That radically and immediately changed the course of the next 5 months of my life. I fell out of contact with absolutely everybody. I was saturated - no drowning - in Mumps and Mumps alone.Who knew there was so much work in what I imagined was a simple make-over of an old release? But corralling all the new pix for the booklet from all over the country, wading through hours and hours of nearly decayed fan cassettes from a dusty basement box to find releasable live tracks, trying to find any and all usable video footage (with the indefatigable help of Alan Raymond, who ended up providing almost everything we used), learning by lengthy exhausting trial and error how to author baby’s first DVD, and doing intense remastering sessions with sound genius David Cheppa (whose name was sadly, embarrassingly left off the package) - I thought of nothing else for about 13 hours a day.

All the people who made the project end up being so fantastic - Dave Markey, Steve Stanley, Jenny Lens, Theresa Kereakes, Mark Wheaton, the aforementioned Dave Cheppa (in Arleta yet - a sere industrial flatland peppered with decaying uninviting G.I. bill ranch homes), and Long Gone John himself - well, those who were nominally in THIS town lived all over the greater Los Angeles basin. So I got unwillingly familiar with the commutes that have made more stable minds than my own derail in an implosion of exasperated primal hostility - almost every day.

Then of course there were the rehearsals and endless preparations for the darn record release “event” (including learning how to work a button machine - very craftsy. Next - decoupage!), and the press mailing and on and on and on until I just sickened myself with my own shrill burnt whining!

So by the end of it, after last Thursday’s tremendously fun and successful record release party, I could barely remember a life before Mumps, or what I had ever done that wasn’t related specifically to this project, or what, if anything, I’d thought about or done in the last six months at all!

But now I’m going to make a valiant attempt to pull some mental weeds out of the dry back lot of my mind, and see if I don’t uncover a few feral germs of thought or memory, festering under bits of dry bark and seemingly sandy untillable soil.


Let’s see - oh yes - The Scissor Sisters! That ubiquitous and urbane charmer Richard Barone was generously trying to pimp “Total Eclipse” for a Nomi Song DVD Extra remix to the Scissor Sisters - that’s right! THE fabulous SCISSOR SISTERS, whose name is on everyone’s lips as the new saviours of revisionist 70’s dance pop.

It’s been a long time since someone stole from Sparks AND Tumbleweed Connection era Elton John with such precision, panache and class. It’s been even longer since that sort of experiment actually sold any records! But here they were, the toast of England and Europe. And me having seen them closerthanthis, standing right against the lip of the stage, at Spaceland, though only weeks before, seemed a distant memory now that they were headlining the Wiltern!

It would be harder to nurse my unrepentant crush on the house “bear” in the band, Babydaddy, from that distance. But being further away in an assigned seat would allow me the emotional disengagement to forgive him for that horrible stage name. Also, could he be the S.Hoffman in the songwriting credits? A distant relative? Kissing cousins are hot!

So anyway, Richard B. did one of the many things he does best: he worked at eroding the degrees of separation between me and these tres au courant international faves. I was floored that they would even consider the remix of my aging chestnut, but it turns out they were confessed fans of all things Klaus - which seemed to have a vague trickle down effect to yours truly. So with back stage passes in hand, courtesy of La Barone’s skilled wheedling and conniving, Ann Magnuson, Robbie D (No slouch in the glam revisionist pop dance arena himself), and I headed down to the glittering Art Deco Wiltern concert hall so I could present myself - hopefully as a viable “remix” prospect!

I have to confess this guest list thing is my LEAST favorite scenario. You’ve heard me whine about guest lists before - in the face of the most infinitesimal raising of a questioning eyebrow, I’m of the “Hurry Scurry and Flurry” squirrely dash-back-home-and-weep school of saving what’s left of my ravaged self image. But this was my career, man! I was steeling myself for the big cold “NO!” all the way down there, and putting up imaginary foppish dukes in the projected jockeying for Scissor-Sisters-adjacent positioning.

So we get in and it’s going to be a while before they go on - I think, “Well, now or never!” and go down to the dressing room door, backstage pass in hand. You have to stand in line and wait behind a velvet rope with other “Who the hell does he think SHE is?” wannnabes, where everyone seated on that side of the arena can see you and sense your discomfort like a shark senses blood, waiting hungrily to feast on your shame and humiliation when the back stage door is slammed in your face. Grim moments pass, as the couple ahead of me in the striped Cat in the Hat 80’s-by-way-of-the-Costa-Mesa-outlet-mall groupie garb are turned away in ignominy. The titters from the crowd are raw and cruel.

I fumble with my pass, and the security guard eyes it with disdain like it’s a post dated dry-cleaning receipt: “That’s no good for tonight!” he says with a roughly dismissive English accent. But the ugly American rises within me like a poorly digested burrito, and out of my mouth come the steaming Mighty Mouse pipsqueak words of somehow brutal gauntlet tossing: “Let me speak to the Scissor Sisters manager!”

Richard, with some foresight, has armed me with a NAME (which of course I now forget) and I think I say it three times in ever rising pitch and hysteria, like a poorly written “Charmed” incantation that should really scare no one but the corporate sponsors of that witless show.

But it works! Some harried guy comes forth from backstage, and distractedly ushers us through to the inside-the-door backstage security (if they had this kind of beefed up security in Iraq, things would be different!) - where another magic word weaves its spell on otherwise itntractable foes: “Ann Magnuson!” We’re lucky that the taste of the Scissors Sisters is so determinedly eclectic that Ann’s name could be Moad’Dib from Dune for the power it wields here - people kneel and beg for mercy when it passes the lips of those brave enough to invoke it.

Suddenly we’re up two flights of grey iron stairs and in the doorway of the Sisters’ personal dressing room. Jake Shears, the lead singer, comes to the door himself, shirtless and buff and adorable and obviously preoccupied with the set they’re about to play. It took longer to get up here than I thought, and they’re just about to go on stage. Still he takes time out to greet us - obviously much more impressed with Ann than with me - she is the FACE between the two of us, and I’m not sure he even knows why I’m there. Then Ana Matronic alights behind him all aglow like Glinda the Good Witch, her face beaming with comforting welcome, and murmurs some restorative words like warm honeyed milk. And Jake wants to make sure we’ve gotten something to drink, and offers us their dinner buffet stetched out behind him with a sweeping gesture - What a gentleman!

We of course tastefully demur, because we insist on running out to see their entrance (as I ruefully eye the cabernet, and wish Ann wasn’t QUITE so polite), but Jake and Ana promise us no trouble in coming back stage for the after party, so we go watch their energetic show which has people jumping up and screaming from the first song.

The response is predictably delirious, but as you might guess, my mind is only dwelling on the me-Me-ME aspects of the moment - I don’t know if I even listened to them at all. Time rushes forward to their 3rd or 4th encore (or millionth for all I know), and it’s over and we as a party (by now we’ve picked up Matt Amato and his artist boyfriend Andrew) grandly waft our way backstage with nary a peep of resistance.

As you can imagine, this is not an intimate audience-with-Kristian setting. There are two carvernous rooms packed with bustling hordes of glamourous well-wishers, all in intimidating buzz club fashions. There are generous buffets of the expected crudite and chips and beer and wine, and one whole table seems to be solely devoted to butter cookies, so you know where I take out my nerves with rapid fire chomping!

The band is of course taking eons to enter, and I’m talking myself out of doing anything productive, and I must admit, my argument with myself is pretty convincing. But Matt strong arms me into an A-list position, with Ann firmly in tow, near the door from which I see Ana emerge just as I’ve given up all hope.

A strange slo-mo moment ensues. I see Ana coming towards the crowd, beaming with inclusive good cheer, and I realize there is a semi-circle of people just taking form between me and Ann and her. I look from face to face and they slowly morph into recognizable icon masks: Paul Williams, a frighteningly waifish (but her head is still huge!) Kelly Osbourne, Alan Cumming (in an incredibly tight all white outfit, revealing a teensy incipient celebrity paunch), and, um......Fran “The Nanny” Drescher! So she really IS a fag hag after all! This Hollywood Extra vision seemed to solidify like a sort of feudal palisade, but Ana’s arm reaches right through like a scene from Stargate and she pulls me and Ann to her side: “I’m so glad you could come! I hope you enjoyed the show! I love ‘Total Eclipse’ and the film was so wonderful! And Ann, I saw ‘Rave Mom’ three times! I don’t know if you know this, but I actually used to ‘do’ you at a Tranny Club! I WAS Ann Magnuson!”

After this jaw-dropping confession, there is a blur of enthusiastic conversation, and I think facile flippant promises about all sorts of things are exchanged before Ana has to move on to her other guests. I feel so relieved - this was EASY - that I engage in a long conversation with Paul Williams about how much I love his first band , The Holy Mackerel, and he listens receptively, asking me what I do, and behaving as if her were actually interested in the answer. When the “&” conversation gets around to Rufus, a decidedly fey young man next to us, in over-designed color-wheel garb that even I consider outlandish, lisps, “Ohhhhh! I LOOOOOOVE Rufus!” And I’m thinking - is that Paul Williams’ son? That’s the vibe I was getting anyway. What an artistic family. Like my own!

We leave on a wave of mission-accomplished warmth, with Paul Williams’ e-mail in hand! Boy, this networking thing isn’t that hard! And those cookies (many of which made it into my pockets during our exit) sure were good! Yum!

Of course the let down (of sorts) is soon to come. Despite many notes to Richard Barone that they’re still interested in the “Total Eclipse” remix, constant touring has prevented the Sisters from committing enough time in the studio to get the project done. Then Ana does do a nice disco-ey remix of “Mon Coeur” for the DVD - but really, that’s NOT about me-Me-Me, no matter how you look at it. And I didn’t get to meet the house Bear either!

But still - the Drescher/Osbourne/Cumming/Williams quadrumvirate will haunt my dreams for years to come.


When was this? Abby and I prepare by getting pretty darn dolled up, and Abby’s BF Randall (always a rockabilly glam vision and never in anything less formal than a pin striped drape coat) pulls out the white suicide door Lincoln to ferry us over. We’re going early to avoid the crush, and hopefully get our “Blood And Glitter” Mick Rock books signed.

At the last second, as Randall doubtfully leaves his vintage ride in the hands of the parking valet, we look at the line and lose our oomph quotient - “Am I really going to carry this darn book around all night? It’s so big!” Abby and I think in a hive mind moment. So we chicken out and leave the books in the car.

Of course Bryan Rabin is standing at the head of the crowd, and he ushers us to the head of the line and into the tented bar area as if we were the celebs we used to dream we’d be by now. But real celebrities probably don’t feel bad or embarrassed about the people they’re being pushed ahead of. Fortunately, the bar is clear, and this misguided empathy for our fellow scenesters is soon dissolved with a couple of corporate sponsored name label shots of top shelf liquor.

Oooooh! It’s empty in here! At least we can see the picutres. For some reason there’s only about twenty of them, inside a tiny converted bungalow that must have had room for perhaps two munchkin extras at the time it was built. The few pictures that are there are suitably iconic - THE famous Queen II portraits, the Bowie/Ronson guitar blow job picture, the Iggies and the Lou Reeds, the Johnny Rotten High Times cover. Everything to make you lament the small size of Abby’s purse. No five finger discount here! Only the stunningly small number of “works” makes it have an underwhelming veneer of subtle disappointment.

The other odd thing is that in the rail road way the little bungalow is laid out, as you pass through the gallery and out what must have once been the back door, the stoop almost forces you past the two sad potted ficus trees onto the stoop of the other tiny bungalow next door - wherein there is a clothing shop of.....hipster children’s clothes! Yes, that decidedly “contempo” business that women of a certain age and leisure, at least those who do not go into animal rescue, seem to inevitably end up exploring.

Somewhat dazed by the cultural disconnect, we revisit the bar, and find that the crowd has thickened appreciably. We confabulate with Clem Burke and Frank Infante (not in the same room, mind you!); Pat and Michele Loud (this is the first opportunity I’ve had to tell Pat about the Mumps W.I.P. - which I end up screaming in her ear over the din in the most unseemly manner); wonderful photographer Fredrik Nilsen; Holly Woodlawn holding court with a bunch of fetchingly sleazy Euro quasi-aristocracy; and last but not least Rodney Bingenheimer. Rodney and I even had what might be loosely classified as a “conversation” - at least he inserted his somewhat distracted giggle at appropriate places when I thanked him for all the support he’d given Mumps in our formative years.

Then we saw Mick Rock himself - who was wonderfully approachable. He just seemed like a talkative down-to-earth “bloke” - “randy” in the old Whisky/Roxy back-stage-pass fashion - with no pretensions whatsoever. Suddenly the fact we’d left our books in the car made Abby and I sigh in a wheezily poor-me collective crestfalling. But Randall to the rescue! He somehow negotiated the books out of the valet parked car in no time flat - how did he do that? And, as Mr. “Randy” Rock was mesmerized with the famous curves of Abby’s womanly profile, it was all too easy to sidle up to him and hazard a few minor mots that were hopefully bon, while he signed our books with a flourish and he chattered amiably away as if we were old pals. In fact, his personae was so dramatis that when he signed mine that the pen ripped right through the page. Very punky.

So it was a happy little coven that stood outside on the curb with our books waiting for the Lincoln, exchanging pleasantries with Holly and her Interview style escorts - gentlemen with a little too much bronzer, of intriguingly questionable sexual bent and age, wearing suits that could be high thrift store or low fashion. I’m sure you know the type. Anyway, that was fun!



Once in the past months, as I came up for air mid-Mumps mania - I hazarded an indulgence that had been so refreshingly avoided for days, even weeks - due to exhausting double booking and mini-micro-Mumps-managing ad nauseam: I took a peek at the paper.

It suddenly struck me, as I looked at the chaos of religious wars and women in Pakistan being punished because they dared to enage in a co-ed foot race, that 95 percent of the world is truly medieval. It isn’t just us! The veneer of medium-tech unrecycled plastic casings (riddled with impurities and rapidly evolving cure-resistant bacteria, with the cheap faux chrome adornments and label queen corporate logos) that we’ve managed to dress our barbarianism up in with lap tops and cell cams is really very thin.

And that gave me new insight into Bush - he really wants to go back there! He’s not interested in space travel - he’s interested in time travel! The first truly feudal president!

Bush-baby probably collected those little plastic knights on horseback as a child, and if he didn’t actually read Ivanhoe, I bet he looked at the pictures in between bleary puffs on Acapulco Gold while listening to a Rick Wakeman Camelot concept album - perhaps at the very moment our speed addled first lady was galloping her 20th century five million horse power steed through that stop sign and, with the elan of any Galahad a-questin’, killed that darn peasant (whose name was...Michael Douglas!).

Yes, George is OUR own Professor Peabody, and he’s really just trying to turn the U.S. into a great big Wayback Machine. As the Appletree Theater liltingly intone on their Verve LP, “I removed myself from time, and found it interesting!”

But the romantic era dragon-slayin’ sword-wieldin’ George pines for is not the one he pretends to represent - it’s not the false calm of a Norman Rockwell Christmas with the spicily peevish nutmeg frisson of a little MacCarthyism thrown in to keep the adrenalin up. No! It’s actually the Crusades and the Inquisition he longs for, when men were men, women were chattel, and racks were racks, anyone with a question on their tongue had that tongue summarily cut out, the church and state were in bed together like a torrid bodice-rippin’ affair between Herpes‘n’Aids, and you didn’t have to deal with actually stealing an election, because you were “noble” by birth!

Speaking of Laura, who would have thought she was the one member of the Bush cabal (I hesitate to demean the word “family” by applying it to that ill-starred congregation) who was capable of honesty?

But when I was watching the horrifying Bush “roast” during which the smirk that refused to die threatened to become a strange new religion, Laura took to the podium with of witty levity:

“George’s answer to any problem at the ranch is just to cut it down with a chainsaw, which is why he and Cheney and Rumsfeld get along so well!”

This remark was met with uproarious laughter that signalled identification and universal accord with the observation. That’s funny?

But it made me think - they DO sometimes speak the truth! It’s just that their proclamations are so completely beyond the pale of recognizable human behaviour that we mistake them for jokes, and then are taken by surprise when the “chainsaw” goes buzzing through human rights, buzzing through what’s left of the environment ( who said “The only war that Bush is winning is the one against the environment”? That got a brief rueful snicker out of me), buzzing through the sovereignty of nations, and buzzing through any sort of pact they may have laughingly made with the American people, or any people for that matter.

Watching PBS, I saw a wonderful commentator (whose name I have conveniently forgotten - could it be Naomi Klein?) who made an observation I wish were my own. She said that the rash of “extreme makeover” television “reality” shows were not just a coincidental happenstance - it was sort of big brother cultural training to prepare the citizenry of this fair country for America’s new policy: “Extreme Makeover” of the world, with Iraq being the first example.

She also said that the whole country of Iraq is now suffering from textbook post traumatic stress disorder - a condition which practically guarantees another 9/11, rather than preventing one. Well, she’s preaching to the choir there! I certainly don’t feel “safer” since our “war on terrorism” began.

And my Mom made the similar observation that Israel was a country with untreated post traumatic stress disorder from their WWII experiences, and were, as a nation, desperately in need of some counselling and perhaps anti-depressant chemical stabilizers back in........1976? So this notion isn’t new to me - it’s just obviously the truth!

Naomi (?) also said the only rebuilding going on in Iraq is in the military bases (the so called ‘green zone”). Hmmm.

And that the only purpose of invading Iraq was to experiment with the most extreme version of a free market in the history of the world, where there is absolutely no governmental, judicial or humanitarian restriction of corporate exploitation whatsoever. Sort of an HO scale Tonka Toy version of the Bush vision for the world. Run Wild, run free, young corporate honcho! There’s gold in them thar conquered peoples!

Then an Iraq War veteran got up and made a very moving speech that to join the armed forces in this country you have to take an oath against all enemies foreign and domestic. And he said, “The only real enemy I see right now is domestic - the current administration!”

Heartwarming! Even if it’s the moral equivalent of masturbation for a by-the-book pinko liberal such as myself, sometimes masturbation can be quite a delightful release!


Here’s a press release by Vaginal Davis for the show I did with Carolyn Edwards at Bricktops, which will have to substitute for actual memory:

“Subject: Rodgers & Hart Johnny One Note Party, this Friday at Bricktops

“Hey Dolls!

“This Friday at Bricktops we're going to sing out with gusto with our 2nd annual Rodgers & Hart Johnny One Note party. Tiny, ugly Lorenz Hart, the expressive, homo-hapless bard of the urban generation, during the interwar years, could never really get his proverbial "gnut". Much of his work---slick, breezy and yet mordant, -- reflects cunt-tartly disillusion.

“With all his moody unreliability he found his destiny as lyricist to his more stable, yet dull friend Richard Rodgers. Their collaboration began in 1918, when Hart was working for the fussbudgety Schuberts translating German plays and Rodgers was writing varsity shows at Columbia. The two contributed to the Broadway musical "Poor Little Ritz Girl" (1920), and by 1925 they had their own success on Broadway, "The Garrick Gaieties," an intimate revue sponsored by the Theater Guild in revolt against huge, flossy "girlie" productions.v “Our cynical celebration wouldn't be complete without that sexy no wave legend Kristian Hoffman, the songwriting genius responsible for the commercial success of Klaus Nomi. Joining Mr. Hoffman in a Rodgers & Hart deathmatch is gorgeous songbird Carolyn Edwards. Adding to all this super talent and good looks is the Cleveland Ohio one-man band Creekbird. DJ's Pirate Jenny, Bernice Bobs-Her-Hair and Audre Beardsley of Clapton Pond will be spinning the le haute jazz nuggets you've grown accustomed to, and taxi dancers Cory Marie and Mary, Mary will lead the frenzied dark town struts.”

I thank Professor Vaginal for his generous appraisal of my charms, because I certainly couldn’t EVER figure out how to get that word “sexy” so close to my name without making a direct quote. This is an opportunity that may not be repeated in my life time, so can you blame me?

Can’t remember a lot about the gig, but I can tell you what we sang: I played piano for Carolyn while she sang “Can’t Be Bothered With No Sheik” and “To Keep My Love Alive” (sample line: “Sir Thomas had insomnia, he couldn’t sleep at night. I mixed a little arsenic and now he sleeps all right”). Carolyn played piano for me while I sang “You Took Advantage of Me” and “Ev’rything I’ve Got belongs To You” (Sample line: “I’ve a powerful anaesthesia in my fist, and the perfect wrist to give your neck a twist”). And then we sang a duet of “Thou Swell”. I DO remember this as being fun. So who is to doubt me?


So......... I ran into Moon Unit Zappa, now happily married to the drummer from Blink 182 - or is that Matchbox 20? I was always bad at math - but anyway, Paul himself is no help because he always just refers to his band as Walmart Music. But what an adorable happening pop couple they make!

At one point a while back, there was some pretty serious talk of me illustrating a children’s book that Moon wrote. That would be a dream come true! I’m just dying to break into the illustrated book “racket”. But a new family and the cares of Motherhood, plus her burgeoning career as a film director, seemed to have gotten in the way of Moon’s appreciation of the wonderful “me-ness” of me! Oh Well.

And then the following happened - a criminally artless happenstance guaranteed NOT to win her back over to my side of the usually fairly artsy tracks.

I see Moon, and run up to her all warm and excited, because I know she’s had a beautiful baby. To be honest, we barely know each other - some of our circles merely overlap slightly once in a social while. So I haven’t seen her in months, and I don’t know when the stork dropped the lucky little bundle of joy onto this fair planet into the laps of these media mavens and rock nobility.

But Moon is - how do I put this? Well, maybe my remark will give you a clue! “Wow! I didn’t know you’d plan on having another baby so soon!”

Oooops! No, make that a big capital OOOOOOOPS! This was not the robust figure of expectancy. This was merely a stopgap moment on the return from same.

As I stood there chewing on my own bitter foot for what seemed like an eternity, I had time to notice that although Moon’s entry into this business we choose to call “show” had been on a wave of good-natured flippant humor and parody, this was not a moment that seemed to have any levity for anyone involved. A sort of grave sterness including much pained creasing of brows lingered like a grim jail term in Riker’s.

I made a half hearted attempt to paint myself as the dolt trying to pass for a clown, and beat a hasty retreat. I don’t really see much competition for “The Water Babies”, much less Harry Potter, in our collaborative future. Unless we do a parable about stupid assumptions and lack of etiquette. My bad!


So, some apparently highly respected German Opera singer/performance artist/composer (actually, I’m not quite certain what she is - most of her on-line info is in German) named Olga Neuwirth sent me a “Catalog of Works” with the request that she be allowed to do a tribute to Klaus utilizing “Total Eclipse” in some fashion in a work called “Hommage A Klaus Nomi”. I of course said yes! Then I never heard from her (or her people) again. Who knows? Sounds interesting.

Another fun Klaus happenstance:

I am now on-line pen pals with a young multi-talented multi-media glam prodigy (get a load of those Bowie Pix!) upstart named Tyler Henry, who has seen fit to cover two of my Klaus songs for his website and his friends!

Go to


In one rehearsal with La Stole, she generously let slip that should would entertain doing material written by members of her current combo, in addition to the Grillo heavy catalog we already performed. Having nothing really Mink-appropriate in the can, and being too Mumps-addled to come up with anything new, I brazenly offered up “Waiting For The World”, an old Mumps tune that is the special non CD B-side to our new (pink!) 45.

The magic of Mink is she doesn’t pause in interminable mock consideration - she doesn’t torture you with an agony of self doubt while you await her answer. She just sort of lovingly but succinctly says what’s on her mind. So she said, “I like it. Let’s do it!”

So we rehearse the (simplistic - but catchy!) tune and guitarist Dave Foster lights on a perfect gypsy/Electric Prunes guitar style for the solo, Mink gives it her outsized gestural Edit Piaf best, and we’re off!

When we debut the song at Mata Hari at Tangier on June 15 I’m just all proud papa and chills and gooseflesh. Mink raises her arms like an Egytian princess condemning 10,000 slaves to death, starts the interpretive rubato intro with imperious authority, and then we’re off into Bo-Diddly-by-way-of-Cher rock heaven! Having this legend sing MY song - well now you can tell how ME-centric I am. As if you didn’t know. It’s great fun - and an honor - to be in her band, all the guys are fantastic, and of course I’m in LOVE with Mink, but there’s just something about her lending her charismatic stage craft and glamor to this little trifle I churned out 30 years ago, and having her really make it WORK all over again - I was in unabashed triumph mode for days afterward, just patting myself on the back, buying myself drinks, letting myself lounge unashamedly with expensive chocolates, and telling myself what a great guy I was, like I really actually liked myself! Oh, and the words are pretty funny, too.


Tragic. There’s no other word for it. And of course, since I’m white, and was raised in an upper middle class environment, and have been to London several times, and am a Brit-pop fiend, and like beautiful old buildings, my simplistic world experience makes my identification with this particular nightmare immediate, acute, and tearful. In effect, these are my people, on my soil, having their lives disrupted and their families torn apart and their loved ones killed by some fanatic. I’m just heart sick. So that’s all a given.

In fact, having the victims be from the seemingly more measured civilization of Europe, Tony Blair notwithstanding, makes me feel even worse. Somehow, given that most Americans are corrupt bullying uninformed unreasoning vigilantes who believe in violence as a viable way of resolving cultural differences, it seems like if it happened again on American soil, we would somehow, almost, deserve it more. But not the land of tea and crumpets, Noddy and His Friends, Princess Di, and Siouxie Sioux! Not the land of the Geranium Pond and the Blossom Toes! Not dear old blighty!

The response here in LA has been strangely revealing. First of all everyone of course is astounded and awed by the famed and much remarked-upon British steadfast resolve and determination.

But this is what I found to be particularly interesting. Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton said in the Los Angeles Times, “This effort in London went after a very basic system in that city, not to Big Ben, not to Parliament, not to Buckingham Palace - not to symbols like the World Trade Center certainly was, like the USS Cole was, like the Pentagon was. There seems to be this new movement toward replicating what’s going on in Iraq, inflicting casualties wherever they can.”

Even though superficially this seems like a very concerned condemnation of the bombing, there was a naked subtext I haven’t heard before. I was dumbfounded at this possibly inadvertent coinfession - a confession that the violence in Iraq is so constantly devastating that this bombing would merely “replicate” what Iraqis go through on a daily basis.

If this is indeed a “replication”, then this sort of senseless violence and death must be a given and inescapable part of the Iraqi civilian journey through what must be a very hazardous and complex attempt to eke out an existence in an indescribably volatile situation.

If this is indeed a “replication”, then this sort of bombing could possibly be considered a response to our war-like incursions into their country, not merely a lone madman’s unprovoked attack on innocents.

The word “replicate” and its contextual use also seem to inadvertently further concede that these are not just faceless monsters doing random acts of unreasoning fanatical violence - these are people - fellow humans - living in desperate conditions and driven to these acts that, while reprehensible and morally insupportable, are the acts of real people with real families and real lives, living in tragic circumstances of which we Americans can only have the vaguest notion.

The fact that these “terrorists” are attacking civilians who are highly unlikely to have any direct influence on the governmental actions taken in Iraq makes the word “replicate” seem to quite logically imply that many of the people who have died in Iraq, by happening to be in the way of the machinery of war at the precise wrong moment, were also civilians with little or no say in the policy of their own government, or ours.

In fact, by using the word the word “replicate”, Bratton implies that we have regularly killed innocents, perhaps just as innocent as these work day Londoners, in their own countries, as a tragic bi-product of our invasive measures.

It’s hard to imagine that this remark was made just as a slip of the tongue during a casual coversation. It was made during a very measured formal interview, right after the bombing, about the specific implications of this London bombing for the safety and well-being of Americans. Mr. Bratton was being asked as an international expert ( he previously worked in London himself for a year as Consultant for Public transport) to give reasoned context to help Americans decide how to respond to this very incident.

So to have an official representative of a large and conservative American agency of law enforcement, in a moment of the most heated emotional response to an act of almost incomprehensible terrorism ( the type upon which Bush would usually shamelessly leap, as a political opportunity, trying to inflame the self-righteous unquestioning ire of his hysteria-prone constituents, saying “Storm the windmill with the torches and bring the brute monster down!” - even if it’s the wrong monster in the wrong windmill in the wrong country!) - to have this American government official and international security expert concede that maybe the terrorists are trying to let us know the living hell they and their countrymen are attempting to survive through seems like something new. Something important. Something huge - finally putting a human face on the easily demonized generic boogey man “terrorists” and their life experience, and giving a reason for their behaviour other than inscrutable religious fanaticism of an unknowable “other” who is beyond human thought, redemption, or rehabilitation.

Though obviously not the means of communication I or indeed any person I would call civilized would have chosen, and in every sense an act that was inhumane and monstrous, the fact that it was conceded that this terrorism just may possibly be a way to air grievances that would otherwise go unheard, from a people we probably wouldn’t usually care to listen to or acknowledge, in a part of the world we ourselves have done untold unthinking damage to, was amazing to hear from a...Sheriff!

I said “Wow!” I don’t know what else to think. I can’t solve this. I can’t really figure out what it means. I can’t stop crying for those people on that train. But it seems like a step - a tiny step - in a better direction - a way of looking at things that we, as the self proclaimed more “civilized” nation, have the responsibility to pursue.

I often hear people saying, “Really, our abuse of prisoners is minor compared to what the other guys do! What are you whining about? Why are you making trouble for those saints out there fighting for us?” Well, you fucking moron, that is a no-brainer, but I guess even without a brain you can’t figure it out: WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE GOOD GUYS! WE’RE THE ONES WITH STANDARDS AND MORALS! WE HAVE TO BEHAVE BY OUR OWN CODE, NO MATTER WHAT THE OTHER GUY DOES! THAT’S WHAT MAKES “US” DIFFERENT FROM “THEM”!

And I just get so darn mad!

But with this minor, brief remark by one of our own civil “protectors”, I wonder: is there a small candle of reason in this world? Can we look upon one another as human beings, and really ask what deprivation would bring anyone to commit an act like this? Can we cautiously follow this flickering light while searching for a new path?


This just in: the Los Angeles Times says that Pfc. Lynndie (now that’s fanciful spelling along the “Caitlin” fancy-ass name follies lines of Kathrynne) England’s statements to army investigators about her actions at Abu Grahib prison cannot be used against her as evidence.

The judge, Col. James Pohl, ruled that Ms. England, who appeared in some of the most notorious photos from the scandal, didn’t understand the consequences of waiving her rights against self-incrimination.

The ruling came after an expert witness testified that Ms. England tended to try to please people in authority, and that she had trouble understanding complex language! Basically, that means they can’t use her testimony because she’s STUPID!

Wow! That’s a wonderful defense! People in the military shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions because they are STUPID, and they really want to PLEASE THEIR BOSSES! Oh, and they can’t understand complex language...hmmm...I wonder what the criteria are for hiring people to these highly sensitive positions of international responsibility. What are the criteria for hiring people who are trained to be the most advanced military force on the planet, people who are trained to defend our country and our lives, people who take an oath “against all enemies foreign and domestic”?

Oh, I forgot! It doesn’t say anywhere that they actually have to UNDERSTAND that oath before they take it! Or understand anything! That’s why they do all that heavy recruiting in the most poverty-stricken areas of the United States where the educational system has been systematically dismantled for the last 40 years, and people almost without option live in such daily desperation that those glossy advertisements of impossibly glamorous army spokesmodels, rappelling like weightless sports heroes across vast aerial shots of dramatic sunset-gilded mesas to uplifting Rocky IV music, shown regularly during the previews at the movies actually begins to look like a way out! Deprive targeted recruits of any realistic means of financial self support, any health care, any hope for higher education, and then offer ALL those things in the guise of a “career” - a career learning to be STUPID and kill people! Keep the recruits ignorant, poor, desperate, scared, and paint intellectual discourse and questioning of authority as the dubious pasttime of lily-livered pansy unAmerican rich useless faggot liberals! Deprive the targeted army class of all tools for reason, and then paint reason itself as unpatriotic, and you’re well on your way towards preparing the STUPID defense!

So now I wonder - Can I go out and commit any heinous crime I that catches my fancy, and as my defense I’ll just say, “Well, I was so STUPID I thought I’d get away with it! I was so STUPID I thought it was the right thing to do! I was so STUPID it looked cool and fun!”?

There are a couple of assassinations I have in mind first, but after that, who knows? There are a few collectible psych-pop LPs over at Rockaway records that I think are a little overpriced. Really, the STUPID defense could net me all sorts of goodies for which I’ve STUPIDLY been waiting ‘til I could actually afford them! Let’s hope this trial goes the way of the STUPID!

See you at the looting party! Don’t forget to rape and pillage! Oh, and those pedophile priests - don’t you think they’d have to be STUPID to do that? Especially if they do it again! Wow, they’re STUPID! Set them free! Last one to stab George Bush in his glottal goiter is a rotten egg! Hey, want to pose for a photo holding what I dug out of his chest with this rusty trowel - oops - there’s nothing in there. Guess I was STUPID to think there was a heart in there! Darn! Oh well, pull out the camera - say cheese! Snap! Gee, I’m sorry officer, I guess this proves I was just STUPID! Wheeeeee! Get out of jail free!


Rush out and buy the Nomi Song DVD right now! Here are the reasons:

1. It’s a great, fun, kooky yet moving film

2. It’s really inexpensive (it would make a wonderful, eminently affordable gift for just about anyone!)

3. Besides being full of the great and wonderful Klaus, there’s even MORE of the ME-NESS of ME!

It actually took me a few days to get up the nerve to check out the DVD extras, because the tragic arc of the film is so overwhelming, and it was such an emotionally fraught part of my life. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to revisit the film at all for those reasons.

But when I finally made myself check them out, it was great. There is so much cool stuff on there. The full musical performances, uninterrupted by interview snippets, are wonderful! The historical background to the fab Nomi Robot Statue! The key lime tart recipe, courtesy of Lisa Jane Persky! (A brief aside on Lisa - though she is a legitimate actress who can be seen to great advantage in Copolla’s “The Cotton Club”, she was also a punk photographer extraordinaire, and wrote one of the very first articles on Mumps, and went out with Gary Valentine, and gave me a beautiful satin ascot that I still have, appeared as the lead in some after school specials AND the Kiss made-for-T.V.-movie, and her mom was the actual real live model for the Campbell’s Soup Kids!)

Back to the DVD: Not least of the other commendable additions in the extras, the extra footage of ME ME ME brought the welcome relief of seeing me do something other than whine about not getting paid! I’m also shocked at how I appear to be fairly articulate in discussing the intent of the songs (because during the filming I was terrified!), complete with my notion of how they were meant to confer upon Klaus the OB (“Other Bowie”) status which I thought would be so helpful in getting his artistry out to a bigger audience, and give him the cachet and commercial success to pursue any and all of his wonderfully idiosyncratic visions.

I also enjoyed being in an admittedly minor but self congratulatory snit at Page Wood’s completely misguided description of my aspirations for Klaus, as being “Broadway”. Oh, that darn vaguely dismissive all-purpose universal catch-phrase, used so regularly by the musically unadventurous (and breeders in general) to describe something with a little melody, a little moxie, and hopefully a lot of hooks! Or just about anything they perceive as slightly “fey”!

Of course far less artistic men than the very gifted La Wood have used that term with far less imprimatur. But REALLY! The clue to the limitations of his vision for Klaus came in the same DVD extra, when he openly admitted that what he saw in Klaus’ future was “Las Vegas”. Of course, in current culture, that does not hold quite such an artistically damning patina. But back then, it was as good as screaming“loser” in a theater full of insecure wannabes! Whereas I, deluded as I was, saw nothing for Klaus short of absolute world domination! That’s not Broadway!

Thank God that even though Page and I had substantially differing view points, we were both allowed to bring what was best of ourselves to the divine Klaus Experience. Page Wood’s designing genius is all over the legend that is Klaus, making it shine! But Page, you really should have invited me to go on one of those limousine rides with you. I could have used the mood enhancers, and the dose of transient glamor. I say this only with the limitless affection of hindsight, because you and I had a lot of laughs ( and I’ll always LOOOOOOVE your drumming on my unreleased solo version of “Society’s Child”) but...darn! You were occasionally one self-involved! Just like me!

I was also reminded of certain shortsightedness on the part of the producers. I remember when they brought me in to arrange “Ding Dong” during the second recording sessions, (and there was actually abject begging on their part - little did I know how clever they were!) when I was already on guard because of my first experience with this excitable and sometimes devious crew. I thought doing “Ding Dong” was a really stupid idea, kind of shoe-horning Klaus, once again, into an unfortunate cultural corner as an oldies act - sort of a revisionist joyless New Vaudeville Band.

I knew this was a direct result of the success of “Lightning Strikes” - so it was indirectly my own fault. But that was a song I chose for Klaus not only because it showcased his incredible vocal range in a pop milieu, but also because it was “on message”. It was Klaus’ first pop cover, and we certainly intended for lightning to strike!

Similarly I chose “The Twist” because, in a time when disco was really spreading like a virus, I thought it would be interesting to arrange a dance song so that you couldn’t possibly dance to it. This was also “on message” - the message of “The Twist” was to encourage you to accept - indeed to demand - cultural experiences that the mainstream would deem “twisted”. It was a sort of “Twisted Liberation” song - an anthem for cultural, sexual, and emotional outsiders. We would welcome “the twisted” as our new tribe.

But the producers (and I’m not sure exactly who it was) seemed to think “Klaus can do his classical thing, and then he can do campy oldies!” Hence the limp generic ska-lite stylings of “Just One Look”- the listless backing track was already recorded before I was asked back to “save” the 2nd album. I tried to at least salvage SOME minimal artistic credence for that song by adding a couple of back ground counter melodies to take advantage of Klaus’ melodic gifts. Don’t get me wrong - I love Doris Troy. But this song, like many others foisted upon an apparently somewhat indiscriminate Klaus, added NOTHING to the Klaus lexicon. It was artistic dead wood - especially with the unimaginative rote bar band interpretation. There was plenty of inspiration in the world to preclude wasting Klaus’ precious gift on pap like that.

But since they were bent on covering “Ding Dong” ( a really uninformed BREEDER choice for a performer they think of primarily as QUEER) , and they gave me the opportunity to try to “save” it, I thought we could take the song into a really drum-heavy disco-friendly yet wildly orchestrated symphonic place, so it could be perky, yet dark at the same time.

I had actually designed that arrangement to go around a huge Big Ben type of bell of doom, announcing a grandiose tympani style rollicking drum hook. I dutifully brought in my earliest Steve Lillywhite re-mix 12 inches among other adventurous new wave experiments of the time, and said “Can’t we overdub huge drum sounds like this?” They looked at me dubiously, and said that weird statement that I know, from personal experience in many a studio, is always absolute fallacy: “No, it can’t be done!”

I knew, even then, that if we just got a couple of floor toms and distorted the shit out of them it would have been better than nothing, and with some reverb might actually have done the trick, but the clock was ticking, I was completely unsupported in everything I was attempting, and so we settled for Manny’s twinky skeletal synth drums. They were innocent enough - they just were never intended to be the back bone of the arrangement - just the click track! Oh well. Anyone care to let me do a re-mix now? Then we can get rid of those horrible giggling Munckins too!

Now that I’ve flaunted my own bee-yotch stripes, back to the DVD. I also loved the East Village Slide Show. Oh, let this old coot wax nostalgic for a minute more! It did remind me that for that one brief moment during NYC’s bankruptcy, when the East Village had been basically abandoned by the powers that were to the few Ukrainians still brave enough to live there, a group of college age (and younger) artistic neophytes were really able to move in, take over, and make the whole area one big college dormitory: a non-stop five year party where everybody just went from corner to corner, making some goofy project with everyone they met , and rarely bothering to even use the word “art” - it was just FUN!

I don’t think any poor to middle income generation will be able to conquer and completely dominate Manhattan as a whole in quite the same way, ever again.

That’s why my lament about being abused in the film, though true, and in some ways unforgivable, was really cushioned by the ridiculous cultural epiphany we were living through at that particular moment.

I really didn’t have a whole lot of time to mope about being ripped off by Klaus - the same Klaus who gave me one of the most rewarding aritistic opportunities of my life - because we were ALL busy doing so much stuff all at once! The very moment I found out they’d released the record without my knowledge or assent, I was walking down the street in beatiful Amsterdam during a fantastic fun-filled tour in Europe as Lydia Lunch’s drummer ( a fact that still seems bizarre to this day).

At home, I was playing regularly in Hoboken and Manhattan as the drummer for Lydia’s blues band The Devil Dogs (with songs chosen from Robert Quine's incredible collection of 78's). At the same time, I was already in the Swinging Madisons, touring all over the east coast with them and going back and forth to California all the time. I was also in Bleaker Street Incident, who were also becoming a bi-coastal nite-club phenom, as well as doing constant one-offs with Ann Magnuson like our tribute to Miss Vicki at the Pyramid, and DJ-ing for the Ladies Auxiliary at Club 57 , plus singing Doris Day songs at the Mudd Club, playing slide guitar in the Contortions all over the U.S.A., recording vibes (!) on Art’s first 45, just on and on!

I was in the middle of a wild and tempestuous relationship with Teenage Jesus drummer Bradly Field and we were running a rehearsal space in our sweat drenched cinder block Chinatown basement, which was regularly used by people like Sonic Youth and the Hi Sheriffs of Blue, while having a wonderful eccentric best friend Liz Swope (of Beirut Slump and Vivienne Dick’s fabulous film “Too Lazy To Live”) as a house mate.

There were always long term house guests like Brian (Kid Congo) Tristan, Bryan Gregory and his new band Beast, and Pleasant Gehman whom I was delighted to try to to entertain with all the decadence I could muster, while Bradly had bridge night with Glenn O’Brien! Or was cooking incredible home made blueberry pies to share with all our friends in his purple fright wigged character “Badine”! Then we’d all run over to the Pyramid to be in Glenn’s new film “Downtown 81” starring Jean Michel Basquiat. And I was also taking oil painting lessons (!) at the 1890’s French Academy based New York Academy of Art. There was just always some new East Village bauble to tantalize us!

So, in that context, even though I was bummed by the Klaus machine betrayal, and of course I could have used the money, I certainly wasn’t weeping in the gutter on the Bowery.

I was actually busy doing ridiculously marvelous things like writing “I Do” for David McDermott to sing with an orchestra at the Holly Solomon gallery while a Polish Contortionist cavorted atop a parlour grand piano, and buying myself the self-promised treat of a new Japanese robot at a little store in Chinatown every week after playing Anya Phillip’s Little Devil Club at the Squat Theater.

Andy Horn’s slide show reminded me of the gift of that context, and I’m really grateful!


I have a great idea for a new album by Britney Spears - and she can have it for free! Why doesn’t Britney do a new LP called “Miscarriage” - the word just resonates on so many levels!


I ran into Clem Burke at our neighborhood “adult”restaurant Camilo’s ( They actually have a wine list. And it’s delicious! I’ve dragged Carla Bozulich and Kid Congo there before and they found nothing to complain about). Clem was exhausted after he and his friend had crashed the Renovation Hardware warehouse sale, by cutting in line sneaking in through the shipping door. Old punk attitudes never die! I asked him for his current address to send him a Mumps CD, and he wrote it on the back of a Dodger Stadium Astros Fireworks Night ticket stub. This whole exchange seemed so unlikely, it was just.......Classy!


Another exciting tale of the “Exactly what American tradition was it that we were fighting to save?” variety. I’m too lazy to comment on this. It just speaks for itself. Taking on the mantle of being outraged is darn exhausting in a regime like this. The workload is so heavy! All Quotes are from the Los Angeles Times:

“Justices Back Forced Sale of Property

“Cities now have the authority to clear land for redevelopment even where blight is not an issue.

“The Supreme Court gave cities broad power Thursday to bulldoze homes and small stores to make way for business development, a ruling that dissenters said put shopkeepers and homeowners at the mercy of revenue hungry governments.

“The 5-4 ruling goes further than ever before in allowing goverment to invoke its power of ‘eminent domain’ to seize private property from unwilling sellers.

“The ruling is likely to encourage more city-backed plans to clear land for office complexes and big box retailers. Local governments that are strapped for tax money to pay for redevelopment can now turn to developers to finance the projects, confident that courts will not stand in the way.

“Supreme court dissenters accused the majority of sacrificing the rights of ordinary homeowners to please well-connected developers.

“ ‘Under the banner of ecomnomic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner,’ Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said. ‘Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.’”

Bummer! And she’s the one that’s retired. Oh well. Wonder what will happen in the NEXT six months. But there’s always hope as long is Rove is on the coals!

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March 19 Rant

Another predictable snit-filled rant - these are fun for me! At least undiluted self-righteous outrage passes for fun in this fun-free era. I put the “high” in high dudgeon!

Let’s see- call me conspiracy theorist (again! can’t you think of a new slur?), and you’ll be right. But:

1. Ford recalls the last of its no emission electric cars to be destroyed and recycled (citing easily soluble “safety standard issues” like the omission of a drivers side airbag - who thought of THAT convenient out excuse? Planned obsolescence anyone?).

2. Alaskan Wild Life Refuge oil drilling , attached in the classic stealth manner to a huge budget proposal to prevent the minority party’s only tool of the filibuster - nice! - passes in the GOP (read E-V-I-L - I do!) controlled senate, in spite of the fact that the conservatives’ own estimates (and that of even their “Scientists”) say there is barely two years’ worth of gas there at best. They’re willing to destroy the wilderness for all time and impact native flora and fauna in ways that obviously can’t be calculated - because has an environmental report EVER accurately calculated unforseen impact? Can you spell redwoods (I think there’s three of them left) or salmon (I saw a plastic one in a museum on the wildlife channel a couple of years back)? It’s like history - environmental reports are written by the victors.

3. But - Here’s where the Conspiracy comes in, as I wait in the Spy V.S. Spy shadows of a seedy noir crumbling brick street corner, my Bazooka Joe turtleneck pulled up over my mouth and nose, my eyes narrowed to wary nervous slits as I crouch behind the rusty mailbox and the remains of what was once - what did they call those ? - Oh yeah, a public phone booth - for cover, I stage whisper my secret thought:

Who WHO WHO is REALLY manipulating those darn oil prices to make this criminally and morally outrageous act SEEM to take on the patina of what passes for reason, in this reason-free time? Oh yeah - it’s gotta be those swarthy Arabs in their weird sheets with their harems and k-mart palaces - in between fucking their camels (or was that goats? When is “Mandate” Bush releasing his report on THAT excuse to start another 20 trillion dollar war?) - it’s them dern ferners that’s bin manipalatin’ oil prices to hobble the American economy even further and make us all hate them even more! Cause that’s what they want! But...according to whom? Is this an extra on “The Road To Morocco” DVD?

Once again, I posit my traditional question you’re all getting really really REALLY tired of: WHO PROFITS?

Do you think those folks who made the Enron killing (I use that word advisedly) or the Halliburton killing are really suddenly penniless? Sure, they hung a few sorry second-string execs out to dry - who knows what tactical boardroom errors and cold blooded cronyism led to these small-fry sacrifices? Please watch the corporate documentary “Devil’s Advocate” (Keanu Reeves IS my Oracle of Delphi!) if you need a refresher on how this works. But I think the “in’n’out” financial killing plan always helps the back room boys in the real seats of power set themselves up with a trust fund that will last generations, so who cares that they destroy their lesser partners, wildlife preserves, or the global economy, or your ability to get transport to your slave wage job forever? Ya darn tree huggin’ pie-eyed lefty!

They say a smart parasite strikes a balance with his host, which is why mega plagues are not smart. They kill their host and then die out themselves. I guess the Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with this fact, because they seem to delight in toppling what they vampirize.

On that note - wouldn’t it be nice to see a real unbiased report on how the quality of life in Iraq has improved or worsened since Saddam was deposed? Maybe the report should also take into account the years long economic sanctions the country was going through before the war, denying them food and even medicine from a cabal of forward thinking western countries. I’d bet before the war there were more children in schools, more doctors treating patients, more food on the tables, and less killing on the streets, more flowers in the gardens. Oh - but there were probably fewer boutiques selling boom boxes and computer games. That’s how I measure quality of life!

At his last press conference, they say the devil - I mean Bush - (sorry! I forgot - remember in Rabelais the devil was dressed as a monk - I used to think THAT was apt) was “buoyant”. Is there ever a mental picture more likely to make you vomit than that of a “buoyant” Bush? Buoyant like a float in an American Standard toilet tank? Ugh - that grotesque goblin grimace of his! A jubilant cockroach! Let me go back and watch the Alien Quadrilogy as a mental palette cleanser! Anyway, Bush was actually described as “Bouyant” after his last press conference. God! I was trying to re-read the text for fact checking, but his evil tissue of naked lies made my stomach churn so painfully that I just couldn’t do it - and he had the GALL to cite Franklin Roosevelt! Isn't that illegal? It was reported in the L.A. Times that more people were "thinking favorably about the Iraq war", and it has proven to be a "wiser move" than first thought. Who are these (morons) people? Does that actually pass for thinking? Proven to whom? Who profits?

Anyway, I’m using all this as an excuse to get to the fact - I GIVE I GIVE! Conor Oberst IS the new great songwriter of his generation. Yes, I used all of that rant as a preface to what’s really important - POP MUSIC! Of course my opinion has to be completely suspect, because I am my mother’s son. So maybe it’s just comfort music to me.

I was raised on sixties folk protest music. Not like I had a choice! But it was an ear-opening experience. We were even singing a family round of “We Shall Overcome” in an inappropriately secular context as we were being evacuated from the 60’s Coyote Fire that claimed our house and those of about 150 of our neighbors - you could sing about “overcoming” just about anything in those days. I did my time being dragged by my mom to countless sparsely attended candlelight anti-Vietnam War “vigils”, standing with about six other staunch protest mavens in front of the Santa Barbara Art Museum, one of whom was often my thickly accented Aussie expat Junior High science teacher, the redoubtable Mrs. Cronshaw. Her name sounds as avian as she was - a watchful Peter Pan coiffed square-faced alert crow of a woman, in a sensible white laboratory jacket and black flats. So I have to confess there is the comforting ring of the familiar in this music that skews my perspective into an elder codger’s sunset yearnings for the perceived pleasures of a wayward youth. But, I’m confessing - even with all his flavor of the month critical cred - CONOR OBERST IS (ahem) IT!

I liked the last two “Bright Eyes” Cds I bought (at full price too! Rarely am I so artist-supportive in this sound scan driven economy!) although I found the unruly vastness of la Oberst’s ambitions at once exhilirating and exhausting. What happened to the discipline of three verses and a bridge? Not that the copy-fatigued Bob Dylan template ever subscribed to that either. Now, Dylan is an overused excuse for all sorts of unpardonable excess, so I was naturally suspicious. But I’ve fallen for “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning “ in a big way. No - his voice isn’t pretty. Yes there are some rote folk based melodies. Yes the lo-fi conventions can get a little predictable. But there is such a spare beauty and poignant intelligence to the direct and mournful perspective, and such felicitous turns of phrase that have me burning with admiration (the burn comes from the hot sauce of envy with which that dish is liberally spiced) - and of course: HE’S AN UNABASHED LOUD MOUTH LIBERAL! HE’S SO FUCKING ANTI WAR! (There’s nothing couched in opaque metaphor to let you take it both ways and guard his sales quadrant - like so many mealy mouthed writers.) HE’S SUCH A FUCKING (dare I say?) POET! Yes, I fell for it again. Maybe this time it’s worth the fall.

I AM SO BORED WITH CELEBRITY TRIALS! But I did love Robert Blake’s quaint claim that he’s so poor “I couldn’t buy spats for a hummingbird”! That’s a fetchingly haiku phrase from a kinder, gentler Baretta. So even though it’s my contention that we are fed this “news” to distract us from all the real damage being done, and keep us heated up about ghost-like enemies like predatory child molesters (yawn) so our futures can be stolen while we’re depleting our emotional reserves by suspecting some poor struggling single man down the block until his life is utterly destroyed, and our children have been trained in the delights of unfounded hatred (keep ’em divided against each other - who KNOWS what damage you can achieve!) - but that little moment of sassy Hollywood back talk brought a (proverbially wan) smile to my face.

Ditto those boring STEROID debates - SNORE SQUARED! Why don’t they just legalize all drugs for professional baseball players once they’ve reached the majors? That would really be an even playing field! Then it wouldn't only be the people who didn't get caught who won. Everyone could have fun! They wouldn’t have to pretend they weren’t taking them (duh!), and it would be a fun-filled perk reward for achievement, and we could bet on who was going to pass out on the field or die of an OD! And then the AMA could really measure scrotum shrinkage and the advantages or drawbacks of meth use in a controlled environment. Who gives a fuck about those freaks anyway? Oh, I forgot - I do! - 'cause baseball players have the cutest asses in sports! And steroids might not be healthy, but they sure make those guys look darn fuckable! That’s how I judge MY bimbos, I mean sports heroes. I do hope (pinky raised) that they’re as flattered as they should be by my salacious objectification of their curvaceous posteriors. But beyond that, it isn’t interesting enough to distract ME from the rest of the news the Republicans are trying to bury!

Or that other NUMBINGLY TRANSPARENT bait’n’switch, the darn Schiavo coma case. Look - I don’t want to make that decision, and I can’t even pretend I know her family well enough to know what their motives are, but better them than the darn lying ass faux-compassionate Republicans! Who would you rather have with their hand on the plug of your life support? It’s obviously about abortion, which makes painfully clear what the Rubuplicans care about: controlling your BIRTH, and controlling your DEATH. It’s just the darn part in between that they have a problem with. They don’t want you to eat well, have adequate housing, job security, nice clothes or things, access to medicine, parks, schools or libraries - now they don’t even want you to have bankruptcy protection! In fact they’re AGAINST anything that has to do with the immediate quality of your life, unless it radically enhances THEIR bank account. But they’re right there with their sleeves rolled up to drag your placenta covered foetus out of the bloody womb, check for a heart beat, and then toss it into the gutter! That’s real sport - and Christian too! And at the other end of your life span, they’ve got some easy cash for hospitals who refuse comatose people, possibly in unimaginable pain and torment, the right to die! They should just rephrase: “This is about ‘The Culture Of Life - Exit and Entry’ - cause they don’t seem to have much grasp on what it’s like to actually be alive. Oh, I forgot - Who profits?

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March 11, Bricktops

Kristi and I spent the time leading up to our appearance on one of the comfy worn Brady Bunch sofas (that you’d NEVER want to see in daylight - cootie alert!) in the back lounge, engaging in a sort of nostalgic memory sharing/bitchfest, prompted by Rufus’ “Matinee Idol” which was playing on the sound system, re: Dave Davies, Rufus, Love, etc. Lovingly unkind and bitter words were said about just about everyone! That’s what I call warming up.

Abby Travis was ravishingly busting out all over with her handsome drape coated BF, and Gwynne “Nipper” Kahn showed up (two nights in a row - in L.A. that’s unheard of!) in another great sequinned outfit with an emerald Bollywood style tiara, confessing her unironic love of Botox. “Look around my eyes!” She commanded in the flattering amber half-light where not a single flaw was visible. “That would never happen if I’d kept up my Botox regimen!” It’s another world for some people - one person’s pop reference punchline, another’s lifestyle! Her BF Kerry sported a plush Velveteen top - you just wanted to pet him like a kitten!

Kristi was wearing an incredible knee length black flapper gown with intricate patterns of shiney black beads from top to bottom - with that and those God given cheek bones, Carole Lombard’s ghost was in the room applauding.

However, it was the sultry Alice Faye whose voice was channeled when Kristi commandeered the microphone. What a glorious instrument! We played Alice Faye’s canny show stopper “Nasty Man”, and revived the more well known pleasures of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Lullabye of Broadway”. Kristi’s achingly pure instrument caressed the usually slightly jaded crowd and they were (inevitably) enchanted.

But the high point of the evening for me was when Kristi premiered a composition of mine - one that I’d worriedly tried to talk her out of doing: “It’s far too slow! They’ll rush to the bar! Believe me, I’ve played for this fickle camp-buzz-demanding crowd before!”

But Kristi insisted, “Let’s just do it for US!”

So we brazened into “That’s Something New” - a languorous (read: "slow") bittersweet ballad - OK, I admit it’s just bitter! And I’m so glad she did - her gorgeous rendition gave me chills. I admit, I was aspiring to writing a “standard” (Costello’s unreachable challenge of “Almost Blue” comes to mind as a wishful template) - and that’s why I knew that I personally could never sing it. Maybe, with a little fairy dust from Kristi, it managed to get a toe in the door of that hallowed pantheon. Then again, imagining that sort of acheivement, maybe I was just drunk!

Vag was in an unusually comely frock and delicate shoes - on some weeks, he seems to have raided the 20’s themed thrift store drawer but only come out with a retro laundress outfit barely suited for wearing while ironing in dingy servant’s quarters - but this week he could have been right out on MGM’s burnished ball room floor.

Mixed in with the Carol Lombard projections were some new home videos with that faux “aged, pocked, distressed and scratched” look that must be available in every bargain basement photoshop now. But at Bricktops they used this tres fatigue olde tyme device on a video of a huge B&W close up of Vag’s face grimacing in outraged Margaret Dumont matronly distaste in front of a highly abstracted Viennese Secession background, as a huge dildo entered the right edge of the frame, and stayed there mocking La Davis until he chewed on it mercilessly with her immense gleaming set of perfectly straight incisors. Ouchy! Men of all sexual persuasions in the audience felt their scrocti involuntarily retreat to a prepubescent position.

Of course when Kristi and I were done, Vag held forth in a history lesson just shy of harassment, revealing every tired peregrination of our ye olde punque roque “careers”. “Who remembers the Paisley Underground ?” Vag yelled, to stunned and disinterested silence. Gotta respect the guy as a scholar, but does he have to take the entire reluctant audience hostage while he lets YOU know that HE knows EVERYTHING you ever did? He accused me of running away - which was true! I was at the other end of the bar, begging for the oblivious opiate of free manhattans, which they kindly supplied a little too easily! Hic! But Kristi stayed right in front with a smile that became progressively more frozen as Vag talked about sitting next to Kristi’s mom at some funeral (I think - I was in hiding)! Double ouchy! But at least somebody cares.

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March 10
Carolyn Edwards, Spaceland 10 year reunion

I guess Carolyn’s old band Spindle was a regular here, and that’s why she was invited for this crazy week long event, and I (the usual poor me sniffles!) wasn’t. But it was a great night.

Why, there’s Abe Lincoln Story’s hilarious and charming Steve Moramarco - bon vivant and unstoppable front man - in a beautiful gold sharkskin tuxedo! He’s sort of James Brown as imagined by Dwight Frye in a Rick Danko acid nightmare. I also spotted drummer extraordinaire Dan Joeright, and there’s Darian Sahanaja. Darian has been on a shocking sort of glad handing compliment jag - first at my show at The Scene, as he handed me that cool Corn Palace snow globe - thanks! - when he actually said, “I can’t believe you are such a total rock star!” And then here at Spaceland he said “I’ve never seen a band with so many geniuses on stage!”

Thus I think I can just about forgive him for being so good at what he does that he’s begged by major artists and fans to go all over the world! Nick Walusko was there too (still NOT producing my new album - come home Nick!), and Nipper Sea Turtle (explaining at length her fab idea for a Musical which I won’t go into here because you all know about intellectual property!) with her sartorially adventurous BF Kerry, and loads of other pop peeps. Gary Stewart, who said he came because he thought I was headlining (how sweet), Jim Freek, birthday boy Jim Laspesa. Jeff Spurrier from the Team Loud Benefit. Silverlake was on fire! This is where it all started man - where is that dang Beck memorial cornerstone? Man, they’ve even got some girl handing out Jameson Irish Whiskey faux back stage laminates! Finally, we’re worthy of product placement.Very MTV2.

Carolyn’s band included the delightful Heather Lockie on viola, Nelson from Now People and Brian Wilson on drums and percussion, Kristi Callan and Susan West (the octave-vaulting singer for Sparklejets UK) on very ambitious vocal harmonies, and Steve Stanley on guitar and bass. Steve also got to show off his new bass harmonica, quite an impressive novelty item!

A couple of the songs were also blessed by Pedal lap Steel genius Paul Lacques, from Double Naught Spy Car - also home to the handsome and talented Marcus Watkins, now a Velvet Hammer regular, and Mark Doten who was there too helping with the sound. Every time Paul touches that guitar it’s like an eerie prayer from a ghostly muse whispering the secrets of life in your ear. Angel tears! It’s just that evocative.

We covered the 60’s Swedish band the Jackpots’ lovely chestnut “Tiny Goddess” at Steve’s behest (Omigod, the Jackpots’ “Jack In The Box” is the best fake Idle Race song ever!). “Tiny Goddess” was perfectly suited to the angelic four part harmonies managed by all these alt-songbirds. Remarkably, Steve, generally pop’s Captain Know -It -All and Rev-ola ambassador designate, actually didn’t know that Tiny Goddess was written by the 60’s lite psych Britsh Band Nirvana, nor that it had been covered by no less than Francoise Hardy! I had to tell him - it’s so rare that I have ANY information to impart to these experts that I had to lord it over him mercilessly, like I am now! Nya Nya Nya!

Spaceland armband

Just to show you I care, I’m including a scan of a Spaceland VIP armband (very minimal I know) so you can bootleg them and get all your friends in for free - FOREVER. This is Silverlake, maaaaaaaan!

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February 4
Nomi Song Premiere Nuart

He came from outer space “Whiney Whiney Whiney” went my little pony! Yes, I am tres tres fatigue of being the “guy who didn’t get paid” in this story - even though it’s THOOO TWOO! I THERTAINLY THWEAR!

On the Friday before this opening, a perfectly lovely L.A. Times journalist called to interview me for a nice feature he was doing to promote the film. We had a wonderful conversation, even after I short-temperedly lambasted him for something he didn’t do.

I had been asleep when he called, and I mistakenly thought he was asking me what exactly I had to do with Klaus - he didn’t even seem to know that I wrote Klaus’ pop songs! It seemed like he thought I was some groupie-ish hanger-on who might have met an insider once. Well, I wasn’t too sleepy to get insufferably snappish! Of course as my head cleared, it turned out he hadn’t asked that at all. Ooops!

Thankfully he was miraculously charitable and forgave me right away, so a fun interchange ensued during which I got to touch on all the things I felt were left out of the film - how proud I was to be part of the Klaus phenomenon, how much fun it was to record the songs, where the inspiration came from, what I thought Klaus’ message was, what it was like playing live with him, how I came to invite the other musicans to be in the first band, the thoughts behind the arrangements of the outside pop material, and blah blah blah.

But in the article, I was not only once again relegated to one short paragraph as “the guy who didn’t get paid”, but I was also “the guy who didn’t visit Klaus on his deathbed” - BUMMER! That is certainly another role I’m no longer that into - especially as a solo turn, Mr. Editor! I’d like to say for the record - even though I have carried this painful shame with me for decades, and learned a hard and valuable lesson from it, and from then on valued my friend relationships with a determination I was too young to have back then - I was the guy Klaus FIRED! There were a lot of folks still in his intimate circle of “friends” when he died who didn’t visit him either! I’d love to pass the dubious honor of this grim tiara to any one of those infinitely more deserving folks! I guess it all happens in the editing room! You think you’re the romantic lead, but you’re not even the comic sidekick - you’re the butler’s cousin who farts at the Mom’s funeral! Did I already say - Whiney whiney whiney!

But still I was astounded and proud of all the hubbub the film seemed to be creating - this big flattering feature in the L.A.Times Thursday Calendar magazine section, and a nice big positive review of the film itself in the Friday Times, and one in the L.A. Weekly as well. It seemed like Andy’s film was validating our art to new generations in a way that had never been done before, and that felt great! Not only can I whine, but I can puff out my chest like a scruffy old barn yard rooster, and emit a garbled caw of pride that I managed to scratch my initials on the pig pen of history!

So when I went to pick up the ever lovely Ann Magnuson and her husband John Bertram to head way out west to Santa Monica’s Nuart Theater, I was feeling a little full-of-myself-glow. As they said in Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, “This is my happening baby, and it freaks me out!”

The regular plugs for the movie on Steve Jones fabulous 103.1 show hadn’t hurt my pride by proxy either. Of course when we finally made it through Friday rush hour traffic, the expected line of rabid Klaus-o-philes in triangular vacu-form Tuxedos and tri-tip hair-dos had not manifested itself.

But we were met by the lovely Marina, press agent for the film, who’d fought that horrible flu we’d all come down recently with to be there. And she had her photo-documentarian there to blind us with flash bulbs just as if it were the REAL premiere. Of course my ego deflated a tad when he rudely pushed me out of the first set of photos - “We taking Ann’s picture now!” All of my poor-me nauseatingly defensive hackles were raised and I was ready to storm off into the indifferent West L.A. night into an orgy of strident whiney whiney WHINEY indignation. “O.K., You know-nothing fuck, she IS more famous and beautiful and successful and FAHHHHHHH-BEW-LUSSSSSSS than I am, but this is MY FUCKING EVENT YOU MYOPIC IGNORAMUS! I AM KLAUS!”

My thoughts were so loud in my head, for a second I thought to my horror I’d involuntarily screamed them out vocally. But evidently, though my mind was contorted into a spasmodic pretzel of inchoate rage, I’d kept a blank look on my face. As I eased back into our space time continuum, I heard the photographer politely saying: “Now for your solo shots if you please, Mr. Hoffman.” Just as if I hadn’t just mentally cursed him to the ninth generation. OOOOOOOOPS!

Cossack shirt and boots I was so glad I’d worn the blue satin Cossack shirt I’d had Pilar Limosner make for me all those years ago and my fabulous new $20 beatle Boots, courtesy of “Out Of the Closet” thrift stores. I’m ready to be their spokesmodel!

So Ann and I “made cute” in front of the fab Nomi poster in the terrazo tiled lobby for what seemed like rolls and rolls of film (which I’ve never seen - and I never got a darn poster either - whiney whiney whiney!).

All sorts of people walked by that we knew and tried to get our attention, but NOOOOOOO, I’m sorry, we were TOO BUSY being photographed, dahling. I basked in that ridiculous moment knowing it might never happen again unless I paid someone to fake it.

Finally we went into the lobby and waiting for our cue to be ushered down the aisle to introduce the film. All the staff were uniformly gracious and enthusiastic, and I actually started to get a little nervous.

Originally when I was asked to do this, (and they hadn’t conscripted Ann yet) I had a hard time getting in touch with press agent Marina personally, so I didn’t know what they wanted. So I wrote a little five minute pep rally prelude to the film, and previewed it with Ann, and edited it, and had it printed in notes big enough for me to read, just in case.

But when we got there, it turned out Marina really didn’t want an “introduction” per se - just a quick sentence to say who we were and announce the film, and say there’d be a Q&A afterward. That was at once a relief and a disappointment, and my notes were quickly crumpled into an unreadable mass in the pocket of my ochre and tourquoise pin striped swinger out fit.

Ann went to the mike first, and eyed the crowd that had looked disappointing from the back of the theater. The seats on the side sections of the theater were not particularly full, but from this vantage it was a surprisingly cavernous establishment - and there were a lot of people there! She said something eloquent and impassioned - I was too nervous to listen. Then I got up to the mike to a pleasantly warm shower of light applause, and went completely blank.

But something popped out of my mouth anyway:

“When we were all youngsters oh so many years ago, we had carefully rehearsed our jaded, ever-so-slightly amused, unshockable and unflappable Bohemian pose in front of our respective East Village mirrors. Nothing in the New Wave Vaudeville show, or in any of NYC punk and post punk culture for that matter, was ever able to shake us from that comfort zone, no matter how great it was, no matter what punky tactics of outrage or camp it exploited, or how much we enjoyed it. We had perfected the seen-it-all droop, even if we hadn’t seen it all.

“Then came Klaus - and the urge to dismiss his gnomish alien drag get-up might have prompted a knowing titter - had not that Voice emerged. We had to go off book into unscripted silence. For it was the first time in our willfully artsy experience that True Beauty had been used as a shock tactic! I don’t think we ever recovered.

“Here is the movie that documents that moment!”

That seemed to do the trick. The movie started as Ann and I ran to the very back row, and watched a little bit of the credits, but after that draining experience I wanted a drink, so Ann and I wandered out onto Santa Monica Boulevard. I also didn’t want to see myself WHINING WHINING WHINING again, nor being “the guy who didn’t visit Klaus on his deathbed” - I’d already be pummeled into bitter tears by that experience once!

Shockingly, the only liquor-serving establishment within walking distance was a numbingly loud flourescent-lit Japanese fast food sushi/sports bar with filthy tables, disheveled beer drinkin’ clientele, sticky floors, and clerks that resolutely ignored you under the blare of football scores and college brass bands. This must be the ONLY strip of Santa Monica Boulevard that does not have a single regular bar on it! And so close to UCLA too! Those poor deprived college students. Where DO they go for their rape dates?

So we sipped our lukewarm Sakes, and reminisced as best we could in the deafening cacophony, and soldiered back into the theater. I was pleasantly surprised (the “Sake Effect”) that my part wasn’t quite as one-note as I’d feared, and of course was seduced anew by the fabulous live footage, the interview with Klaus’ aunt, and the moving tragic arc of Klaus’ story.

Then the lights came up and it was Q&A time. Most of the questions were typically respectful “What was it like?” “How did you meet?” queries, peppered with enthustiastic pleasantries. Fortunately I wasn’t trapped in the whiner’s corner again - they were fascinated with all aspects of the life of the time.

But then an assertively nasal cutting voice rose above all others, with an insinuatingly bitchy tone:

“So - WHY wasn’t Joey Arias in the movie?”

Oh! Bryan Rabin is here! Leave it to that handsome charmer to find the discomfort zone and tickle us there!

I tried to cede the floor to Tony Frere, long time Klaus associate, back up singer, dancer, and conceptual partner, and also the leader of Strange Party, Joey’s post-Klaus band. But Tony would have none of it: “I don’t really know.”

So I lamely said, “Um...because he was smart?” Which got a kind titter, but didn’t win the round. So I postulated: “I think Joey had legitimate concerns about how the story would be shaped. As an artist it’s very hard to cede control of your story to someone else, and being Klaus’ most long time intimate friend, he may have felt he wanted to tell his story in his own way, outside of this vehicle. So we may be lucky enough to get a sequel.”

That blind speculation seemed to work, and the Q&A morphed into a session of glad handing and long lost friend type greetings.

Joseph Brooks, long time L.A. tasetmaker, actually complimented me at length upon my outfit. When I recovered from that unprecedented shock, I noticed I was surrounded by Rocky Schenck and Marc Weiner, Howie Pyro, Craig “Billy Wisdom” Roose, Kim Solomon, Michael “Cher’s Chain Mail” Schmidt, Abby Travis and her wonderful BF Randall, Michael “Sylver” Uhlenkott, Arthur Brennan, Bryan Rabin, video director Matt Amato and his artist consort Andrew, and all sorts of punk era well wishers with high school reunion smiles.

There were even two adorable girls who came up to me and showed me the Klaus earrings they’d made themselves just for the premiere, and I’m assuming a pretty good time was had by all!

Then came the real treat of the evening: as Ann and John and I walked out of the theater to go meet Matt for a post event meal, there was the line around the block we’d been expecting when we arrived! I guess it IS just plain hard to get to a seven-thirty showing in L.A. gridlock rush hour on a Friday evening - and lots of the people in line recognized us and thought we were going to introduce this showing too. These were the people we’d hoped to see, in teetering sequinned platforms, glitter spandex and lycra, wild goth make up, feather boas, rainbow hair and clicking bakelite bracelets. If Rocky Horror had cast Bowie in the leading role, this would have been the crowd. We gaped appreciatively, and suddenly I felt underdressed! And of course there were loads more people we knew in that crowd as well - including East Village film making pioneer Scott B. So we went into the warm night feeling all cuddly and appreciated, with just a faint Shalimar whiff of poignant post glam introspection.

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2004 Round-up


Well - let’s get this out of the way first! I guess 2004 will remain (like a scar or a mildew stain) the year in which GWB rode back into town like Quickdraw McGraw, only not that smart (or realistic). It was the year we found a product which was faulty, dangerous, and likely to cause cancer, stored in a container that was not childproof, and we were given a rare chance to return it to the manufacturer for a full refund - but instead bought it all over again! ‘Cause that’s right - we’re Americans. Sticking to our guns! Get Baba Looey out here!

That darn president, cont.: I was one of the doubters campaigning against Bush, not FOR Kerry - who is just a guy who was decent enough to probably have started some superficial repairs on the horrible damage wrought by Bush, but not enough of a visionary or rock star to start a real path towards a safer loving caring world.

Hopefully the Kerry fiasco will help us remember this: settling for less got us nothing! Except a second term with a president who can’t pronounce NU - CLE - AR!

And is it only me, but is GWB's good ole boy accent getting even MORE impossibly homespun in direct proportion to the unseemly screechiness of his Social Security rant - another transparent tissue of bald lies that somehow is considered worth “debating”? Whatever you think of la Bush, he’s a pro at bait’n’switch! De-baiting!

But the bright side is, as I whined already, when you've got nothing, you can DO anything! Cause there’s nothing to lose.

So here we are. Secession awaits. And harsh words, and truth telling and angry exchanges and civil disobedience and great art!

How many times will YOU be arrested in the next four years? Let's start planning now!

Better start rounding up a few events from 2004 that I am actually thankful for or don’t want to forget - ‘cause you know I’m bound to come back to that one plaintive Bush note before you know it!

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First, I was lucky enough to be invited by Darian Sahanaja to the “Smile” DVD taping at a faceless cinderblock studio in Burbank.

What a scene! It was (cattily) observed more than once that if someone had a grenade, every pop nerd in L.A. would be wiped out, and there’d be no one left to attend the next Emitt Rhodes come-back concert! It was an IPO jungle there! I was trying to creep into what little shade there was in the blistering asphalt holding area with the Jigsaw scenesters, Andrew et al, Baby Lemonade, Brian Kehew, Steve Stanley, Carolyn Edwards, Kristi Callan with her BEAUTIFUL kids in tow, Dave Nolte, everyone who had ever accompanied Dave Davies, Bill Inglott, you know the story. The Shakes, Jim Freek, on and on.

After finally being herded into the studio and juggling for seats where we wouldn’t be filmed, while eyeing Van Dyke Parks in the far distance being surrounded for what looked to become at least a year-long gladhanding orgy, we settled down to enjoy the Laugh-In bold graphic type Olde Timey projections.

I remember when you could go to the pharmacy and get a clothes hanger with W.C. Fields’ face on it - or a post card with a reproduction from an old Sears catalog. This was very much like that - Dover type copyright-free vintage clip-art of unicycles, cigar store Indians, steam boats, flivvers, Gibson girls, and circus posters in fields of day-glo colours revolving around the white backdrop and the ceiling. Very “Small World” acid-lite.

Then the opening “feel-good” warm up acoustic set begins, and I have to say this is an outsider moment for me. I’ve never liked this hoedown/Lettermen aspect of the Beach Boys, and the earnestness which which they rendered even the few passable early career songs into Kingston Trio mediocrity was unfortunate!

However - mine was a lonely perspective. People just seem to love to squeeze that pastry bag of prefab jollity. But I personally never need to hear “I Get Around” sung in Kokomo harmonies with a bunch of foot stompin’ acoustic git-tar pickin’ hootenanny hootin’ and hollerin’ again!

Then the “Smile” cycle began - and with it chills of respect and admiration - spiced liberally with raw naked gig envy! Seeing Darian and Nick and Probyn up there as they transmogrified from local pop nerd veterans into LEGEND right before my eyes was a bittersweet pill for someone who’s been on the oldies circuit but never quite made a steamroller A-List event like this.

Brian was wildly energized sitting in front at his little keyboard - not the teleprompter somnambulator “ghost” Brian I’d seen at some come-back concerts.

He was smiling and gesticulating so excessively it was a little scary - every word was acted out in hand-signal mime (sort of baby-talk signing), eyes a-poppin’ and mouth a-gapin’! It was very James Cagney (not generally a model of restraint) doing George M.Cohan in that biopic called “Yankee Doodle Dandy” - which was appropriate, because the theme of celebration of Americana was much more saturated in this version than even the extensive bootlegs that everybody has been listening to for decades.

It’s odd though, because it seemed like this America was seen through the same head shop prism as the projections - the subjects were all the America you could glean from watching late night T.V. in the 60’s when there were only three channels and they all showed re-runs of Mack Sennett and Betty Boop cartoons and thirties movies about the Wild West and 30’s Adrian-clad stars with glamourously improbable problems into the wee hours.

It seems like that is where the cultural investigation began and ended - it wasn’t a symphony of experience - it was a symphony of filtered uninformed naive experience-by-proxy. I could imagine the pre-Landy Brian of the burgeoning gut, reefer in hand, clad in a loose striped “hoe-daddy” t-shirt and digging the last crumbs from a bag of Fritos, prostrate on a worn olive tweed Castro Convertible Sofa in front of the rabbit-eared Magnavox, going “Wow! That Chicago fire montage was cool! And what about that cow?”

But even so, this nostalgia FOR nostalgia was affecting - it did seem like a celebration of innocence, and of the joyful forward looking “Wonderful Life” America of egg creams and phosphates and elixirs and main street promenades- before we were able to eclipse the earth with a single misstep.

Van Dyke Parks’ spirit seemed to flow through the entire composition with his more informed Foster / Copeland expertise, bringing intellectual and poetic depth to Wilson’s often cheerfully puerile sandbox self-observations. Brian always seemed to just be reporting whatever gentle thriftstore coloring book image entered his mind: “Now I’m thinking about fire men - no! Now it’s tikis and Hawaii! Choo-choo trains! No! Surfer girls!”

I’ve never been quite able to believe that Brian and Mike Love did the wonderfully evocative “Blossom World” lyrics of “Good Vibrations” without the troubleshooting ghosting of a Tony Asher or a Van Dyke - and Brian’s apparent side-swipe at La Love by returning to the “original” lyrics for this performance did nothing to deflect this theory. It was jarring to listen to those ungainly Tweedle-dum couplets in what is one of the most lovely verse structures in all pop history, and they made the “Good Vibrations” conceit of the chorus even more dopey sounding that usual.

But coming from Brian’s mouth in his wobbly voice (however ably supported on a wave of eerie voice doubling by - was it Jeffrey Foskett? in an incredible feat of unsubtle mimicry) even these tetherball mumblings seemed like a rapt call for irony-free celebration.

There was a naked “Ooonka-chacca” “Hooked on a Feeling” lift in the wooden nickel moment, an unnecessary "hardening" of the lovely spare "Wind Chimes" into a "real" song, and the BIG RAWK ending of instrumental flourishes was a little embarrassing, but over all it was a mesmerizing event - especially in the scope of its ambition.

The “Fire” section was absolutely AWESOME in the pre-dude meaning of the word - the resonance of that wall of atonal fuzz sounds rubbing against each other with a friction that surely could set Laurel Canyon ablaze had my skin goosefleshed and tingling - musical magic that built into an unprecedented climax of sound. It was the SMILE legend made real! And the combination of indelible melodic moments and orchestral arrangements that went from the wistful to the spiritual was amazing. I loved detecting Darian’s trademark Wondermints diminished ninth type segways in some of the passing chords - it was like he was returning the gift of the inspiration he once took from Brian’s work into his own, and somehow wedding them to make both artists more complete.

So all in all, what a privilege! And I even got to see Steve Stanley in action, aggressively insinuating his way into Roger “Small Circle of Friends” Nichols’ frame of reference. Can an extended Revola re-release of this tasty lite psych bon-bon be far behind?

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How lucky am I to have two one-man art shows in one year, when I’ve never had one before in my life? This unprecedented outpouring of support for my pen and ink and colored pencil doodles was so overwhelmingly touching, I almost detected a misty droplet of modesty forming in the corner of my left eye!

But then, if I were so moved, when Johnny and Doug from Eastside studios offered me an October show way back in January, WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY did I not start making the work ‘til oh.........September? Do I like to give myself a heart attack? Is this that old “I work better under pressure” excuse? Or am I just stupid and lazy? It sure wasn’t because I was too busy making my new album!

Needless to say, by the time the hanging rolled around, I was inexcusably crabby to everyone, on the verge of a nervous breakdown from drawing 13 hours a day, and hated EVERYTHING I’d ever done.

I was actually finishing the peacock coverlet on the “Happy Ending” about a half an hour AFTER I was supposed to be at the gallery! I had so many flowery plans to wow whomever was into being wowed with an unparalleled EMBARRASSMENT of NEW WORK! Thank God the gallery was so small!

Now I was going to have to back down from my pledge to NOT to show anything I’d had in the January show, with the only partly lame rationalization that the show had only been up for one night (the truth) and it was my first show ever (the truth) and maybe people would like the opportunity to see some of that stuff over the coming month (a reasonably likely possibility).

Still, to me, it gave me the luxury of being angry at myself, calling myself a failure, and indulging in all those other artsy histrionics that make Kirk Douglas’ Van Gogh look sedate.

But once the show was hung, I looked at the wall with my five major new “pieces” (am I allowed to use that word?), next to an old one that hadn’t been shown before (“Who Invited You?” generously lent by Stephanie and Pete Foley), and I thought (perhaps with the aid of the Trader Joes $3 Cabernet that Johnny supplied) “Hey - these are pretty cool!” Suddenly I felt all fab again. Even the old work was wowing me!

With that, Johnny asked me how I wanted to price the pieces. Eastside Studios is directly across the street from the hyper-trendy Soap Plant Gallery, where tired derivative Robert Williams wannabes regularly sell Tiki and Mud Flap Girl infested canvases for $4,000.00 and up. With that in mind, I mentally added up the diminishing value factors of pen, ink and water color as a medium, with the irreplaceable Victorian frames I’d collected and the fact that now I was (drunkenly) in LOOOOOOVE with my own work and wasn’t even sure if I wanted to sell it, I ventured timidly, “$850.00?”

Johnny snorted amiably and said, “The way you paused, I thought you were going to say $5,000! You have to take your art more seriously! If you don’t value it, who will? Your respect for it will inspire the respect of others! COME ON BABY! PRICE IT UP!”

“Wow - and he OWNS a gallery! He must know SOMETHING! What a morale booster!” I thought, before coming back to earth with, “But it’s a gallery that doubles as a casting agency lobby, where the work is almost always exclusively photography, and the last show they had nothing was priced over $100. Hmm......”

But I rethought my fire sale approach, and priced all the big new works in the $1,200 range - “cause man, I (hic!) luv ‘em!”

So came the opening. The usual L.A. arrival ettiquette was observed - where you sit chewing on your fingernails and imagining you are unloved, unwanted and alone in the empty gallery - “What if they gave an art show, and nobody came?” - because even though there is NOTHING to do in this God forsaken cow town, everybody religiously shows up two hours late for everything! I should have remembered my LAST opening - but two openings does not a professional make!

So I nervously drank the cheap wine offered like kool-aid, and by the time the crowd of well-wishers I arrived I was blackout adjacent. I was told I continued to make complete sentences well into the night however.

Mink Stole; Lisa Jenio; Carolyn Edwards; punk photog Jenny Lens, Vanity Fair regular Brad Dunning , artist Donald Kreiger and his artist BF Carl; Dickies’ muse Rosemarie; Akbar magnate Scott Craig, artist, life-stylist and bon(er) vivant Jamie Bair, the world’s most notable eyebrow stylist Jackie Shepard; Lame Flame Ann MacLean; Andrew and his wife Wendy; Stephanie and Pete; Abby Travis; writer, renderer and Monkey Bucket hostess Erin Quigley; Professor Ranny Draper; Pierre Smith, Ernesto Garcia, Jo Mama Nitzberg - all manner of ghosts from my past and present and current Silverlake mini-celebs, and loads of people who’d been to my first show and were enthusiastic enough to become repeat visitors helped turn the room into a rollicking topsy turvy Toad Hall, and I remember standing next to the new work and burbling to everyone in turn, “I just LOOOOOOVE my drawings! Don’t you? Aren’t they beautiful?” - beaming shamelessly like a big fat dope!

Mink'n'Me:I Won't Tell If You Won't

It was a measure of the success of the evening that no one disagreed with me - at least to my face! In fact some responded with even more rapturous assessments than my own. As the wine forced the fear from my brain, my faculties clouded somewhat, but I could still sense a similar drama as at my first opening. Although everyone was generous in their praise for just about everything, the actual buying frenzy was centered around a single piece. In the first show it was “Miami” - a fat rabbit in a beach chair. At this show it was “What’s Cooking?”, a mer-cat getting ready to fry his own tail.

I guess it was a combination of the bargain prices for the black and white works, coupled with the anthropomorphic “cute” factor, and other variables I’m uncertain of - otherwise I’d bottle them and be a millionaire. But it was a little disconcerting to see that out of all of my “greater” works, only one per show could inspire that inexplicably rabid hunger for possession.

Patti Astor, a noted former gallery owner herself, who single-handedly practically invented the East Village Art Scene, was the quickest to get the owner’s attention, and thus walked off with this peculiar prize, much to the chagrin of about twenty patrons, who couldn’t be convinced to adjust their desires to any one of the many other commendable pieces. I’ve got to work on this - more cute animals? Or just lower prices?

Much as I LOOOOOVED all my new works, and had actually picked out places for them to hang in my home, where they look perfectly lovely, I couldn’t help indulging in a twinge of disappointment that not one of them sold - it was the black and white stuff that flew off the walls. Darn that Johnny and his “respect yourself” homilies! Was this his fault? Or do I just need richer friends?

But at any rate, as I drove off in the night in Patti Astor’s smokin’ (literally) 70’s muscle car (thank God I knew better than to drive home!), to invade Mike Glass’s DJ booth at Akbar and engage in all sorts of illicit but celebratory activities, I believed Art was pretty good, and so was I, and thanked God for Johnny and Doug (and of course Tom Cannon, who started the whole thing by curating the January show), and especially Berol (nee Eagle) Prismacolor Pencils!

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Another thing I got to do last year that was a wonderful privilege was go to dinner with Rufus Wainwright and his Mom Kate McGarrigle. I know it sounds silly, but I AM counting my blessings - and this is one of them! Even though Rufus RUDELY got Antony (whom I’ve felt sort of proprietary about ever since he sang at my record release party, his own career and his gig with Lou Reed notwithstanding) to sing on his record before I could get him on mine (hands off, bee-yotch!).

But Rufus steadfastly calls everytime he comes into town, so my date for the evening, Pat Loud, and I found ourselves stumbling blindly towards Woo Lei Oak on La Cienega. We had misjudged the distance to the restaurant, as is easy to do on that broad windswept avenue, and Pat nearly wore down her heals in the rough sidewalks (and construction sites - sorry!) we had to negotiate to get to the grand entrance of this palace of Bok Choy. Pat and I had unilaterally dressed as visions in beige, (why?) and just as we feared, when Rufus stumbled in all fashionably disheveled from his swamped in-store at Barnes and Nobles, with the usual coterie of beautiful black clad youth, he accused us of planning our outfits together.

I’m sure we giggled like morons, and nothing clever was said. Thus it came as a surprise when Rufus indicated that we were to have seats in the “royal box” area of the table, at his side, between him and Kate, and directly across from Sally Parks. Even the lovely Bernadette Colomine was relagated to the middle of the table. I am not too old to be star struck, so I was suitably stricken. (Striked? Stroked? Oh, forget it!). There really isn’t much to say except that to get to hear Pat and Kate literately debunking the Da Vinci Code and then discussing early American composers, while the effervescent (as usual) Sally interejected all sorts of fizzy bon mots, and ordered for everyone in a motherly fashion, and Rufus laughed his famous laugh and told wonderful ridiculous stories, and seemed to genuinely care what we were all up to - it just felt like a wonderful honor and gift to be included in this musical family. They really ARE a family - it’s very warm and cuddly and you get high off the familial warmth, however seldom you get to bask in it. Isn’t that special? Well, I think it is! Meanwhile, Antony - shape up, and come to California, and make a record with ME for God’s sake!

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Didn’t seem like much of a year for transcendence, but between my e-bay bids for things like “Fisherwoman” by The Collectors, here are some current CDs I’m grateful for:

Delgados - “Universal Audio” - it’s not their Sgt Pepper, but it is their White Album

Blue Nile - “High” -Comfort music for the 80’s tolerant romantic

Matthew Sweet - "Living Things" - a lovely listen, as usual, and “You’re Not Sorry” has my favorite hook of the year that I’m trying to steal

Candy Butchers - “Hang On Mike” - something of a spotty disappointment, but he’s usually good for two great songs per album - this year they’re “Unexpected Traffic” and “Painkillers”

The Vines - “Winning Days” - maybe the most underrated (admittedly, middlebrow alt-rock-by-numbers) Cd of the year. I keep returning to its joyous pop/punk pleasures. It sure beats the Hives' sophomore slump - and I LOVED them.

Must buys: Andrew Sandoval collated and notated, Steve Stanley designed Rhino Handmade “Hallucinations” and “Come To The Sunshine” : scholarly but fun raids of the Warner Brothers hitherto under-explored pop psych archives - a few old gems and loads of new ear candy

And of course I can’t live without my Rufus or Morrissey! And any year the majority of Jobriath’s collected works finally get a proper CD release is a banner year indeed!

Curiously, in the manic preparation for my art show, during which the lines made by my rapidograph blurred maddeningly in front of my exhausted red spiderweb eyeballs, none of these records figured very largely in my listening canon. The Cds I kept playing endlessly were k.d.lang’s completely uninspiring “Hymns of the 49th Parallel” - a record I don’t even like! - and Marianne Faithfull’s chestnut “A Secret Life”, a record I do. I sure wish I’d written:

“When I let my hate pervert me
And there’s no more tears for crying
I’ll just kill you if you hurt me
I’ll kill you!”

I’ve long thought about exchanging the Bela Lugosi quote currently gracing my voice mail for Marianne smokily intoning “I’ll kill you” - one of pop’s great moments.

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LISA JENIO/Bricktops

It was also my privilege to back up Lisa Jenio at Bricktops (I think you’ve heard about this club from me before). What a wonderful songbird she is! It’s no wonder her pop rock peeps showed up in droves. As she lent her sensually provocative warble to “Am I Blue”, “Button Up Your Overcoat”, “Let Yourself Go” and “Keep Your Nose Out of My Business”, the Shakes and Jim Freek and Pete Magdeleno, and members of all manner of local bands were swooning. Again - it’s on the things to be grateful for - great club (might I reiterate for the Nth time - Vag is a genius), wonderful songs, and one of my favorite artists. Yes - that’s special too.

I bet you’re getting MIGHTY TIRED of all this power of positive thinking mumbo jumbo. Well, fuck you! This is my memory book too!

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But here’s a brief respite with a more traditional rant:

POETRY LESSON (December 9th)

It is the province of liberals to doubt - to doubt everything, and above all ourselves. It is our “evolved” predisposition to wince at the hallmark moment that passed for wordsmithery in our youth, to cringe at the naive hippie dream posited by “All You Need Is Love” or “Imagine” or “C’mon People Now, Smile on Your Brother”. Our mature overview reeks of hard won “perspective” and “context”, and we blush with shame that we were ever foolish to have believed that a song - nay, a POEM - could change the world. Now we KNOW BETTER!


Poetry CAN change the world. We were just looking in the wrong place.

NOT GOOD poetry!


“Moral Values”; “Compassionate Conservative” - even single words like “family”, “caring”, “respect”, and “religion” can be so abused, twisted, and manipulated - or is it so artfully arranged in a construct of carefully selected verbiage - that they are freighted with a meaning that is not their own - that they become CODE! They elicit an emotion that is amplified geometrically far beyond their simple distilled text! They evoke! They inspire!


It’s just we didn’t realize that in this sorry culture, the only poetry that truly resonates is BAD POETRY!

This poetry is not about truth, or the search for light. It is not about disabusing words of unwanted implications to find their essence, their purest meaning, their greatest human impact.

No! It is BAD POETRY! Cleaving the words to powerful magically channeled emotional response. Turning simple phrases - even single words! - into potent deconstructed injections of Mesmer-like suggestion. This is the strength of POETRY - to inspire emotion, reaction, identification, vision! To take simple words which are neutral when considered separately, and forge them into such highly crafted emotional jewelry that one is TRIGGERED (I use that word advisedly - this is poetry class after all) into the Poet’s intended emotional state. In this case, fear, distrust, hatred, and a will to ignorance.

That is the song of America!

Who would have thought that we are a nation of poets?

But where is MY song?

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Tribute to Dave Markey at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood

Got to meet the ever fabulous Abby Travis (an original Love Doll, no less), at this film festival showing all sorts of crazy films from Dave’s impressive oeuvre. Of course the part of the event I was most invested in was one that had some me-ness factor - which was:


Because La Markey, in recutting and revitalizing this adored sequel to the cult classic “Desperate Teenage Lovedolls” saw fit to use a couple of my original music cues on the soundtrack. What a thrill and privilege to see Jennifer Schwarz, bent on revenge, scowling her teen babe way down a weed infested alley to the tune of my ridiculous 4-track “Kitty Ballet”!

Once again it is brought home that if you survive long enough, suddenly your most obscure work will somehow end up in a bizarrely glamourous setting, so going to the premiere of this new version a no budget punk rock film at the legendary Egyptian Theater, where it was no only attended by post-punk obsessives, but film scholars and oodles of press, doesn’t seem that surprising anymore.

The “restoration” of the Egyptian Theater is one of those pathetic “multi-disciplined” architectural mistakes disguised as troublingly 80’s deconstruction. Instead of actually restoring the theater, they turned the interior into a hideous “piece” “about” the restoration, with half restored columns lit by ugly pin spots against deep blue dry wall, and monstrous industrial baffling which raises and lowers to reconfigure the room. Sad. But the exterior of the theater is a grand Cecil B. DeMille folly, and the fact that this is the American “Cinematheque” with the imprimatur of Spielberg all over it makes it all seem very hifalootin’.

In fact it encourages a certain unseemly sense of entitlement - as if what we did, and are doing, was “important” instead of just resolutely in poor taste. Either way, it certainly is a lark - as was sharing Manhattans afterwards with all sorts of punk rock suspects including Jennifer herself, and the director who traded his favored Bear-adjacent duds for a comely tuxedo - very handsome, and quite red carpet! - in the Pig and Whistle. That is a beautifully restored, magnificently tiled bar in the Egyptian complex, whose 20’s ambience is absolutely destroyed by immense Sports T.V. monitors and sub par rave lite music. Oh well - maybe that’s what our new found entitlement gets us - an awkward neck straining peek at a lovingly restored past over the blare of a cheesy sports bar.

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This year I’ve been lucky enough to record with Paul Cilione and Claudio Camaione loads of times - usually on records intended for celebrities I would otherwise have infinite degrees of separation from - like Robert DeNiro’s daughter, Yoko Ono, even Madonna. In the cut and paste world of “dance” music, you just make brief loops of sound. They usually have little use for any particular skill, just the jolt of the moment. Since the loops are so interchangeable, you never know where your contribution is going to end up. So far, none of my noodlings have ended up on records for the above celestial creatures (with the possible exception of the one note I insisted be stealth injected into a Madonna remix). But the sessions are always laugh filled, with numerous fun detours into the Abba library for inspiration, and there’s always a steaming plate of Paul’s delicious garlic-y pasta, or some of Claudio’s home made cake (mmmmmmmmmmmm).

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DECEMBER 11 Play with Andrew at Fais Do Do

Andrew is always ready to put his best foot forward with each of his prodigious releases, and this was no exception. He recruited musicians from all points of his recorded history and some wonderful string players to accompany him on this fabulous record release outing for his charming new disc “What’s It All About?” on which I am gratified to appear on the cover of Grapefruit’s glorious “Round Going Round”.

Andrew is always the witty self deprecating ring master at these events, and a delight to play with. And Fais Do Do is a fantastic “Devil With the Blue Dress” era deco-tinged old Hollywood night club with a great stage, checkered floors, gilt columns, and wooden booths. If there were a Cotton Club West, this would be it.

But getting people to go there is another story. Angelenos are accustomed to alotting 45 minutes for a drive across the street, so it isn’t the distance so much as that it seems to be that Fais Do Do is in a vague, slightly seedy faceless unincorporated neighborhood, which which no one seems particularly familiar. It’s often weirdly foggy there too - as if it’s in some direct corridor from San Pedro and leeching a little noirish industrial seaport rat ambience from there. It’s just darn tough to get anyone to go there! And it is notoriously difficult to get the pop posse to support each other anyway. So attendance was light, but raucous and loud - these were the friendliest and savviest of die-hard pop enthusiasts. It was more like a private party - and one I’m grateful to be on the guest list for.

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I was watching a Korean language television show that, in my ignorance, I assume is a music trivia show. Five youthful, bland-looking Koreans squat crosslegged on thin cushions. They are in a claustrophobic pastel pink and white striped tuck and roll vinyl padded cell, about 7 feet square (if that), with brass buttons in the quilting, and cheap strips of x-mas lights up the corners. Behind them over the lower portion of the padded wall is a horizontal frieze of puce psycho daisies(!). The girls are dressed in Sailor Moon sailor tops and Catholic school skirts, and the boys in Good Guys Salesman/Scientologist maroon sweater vest, slacks, and tie combos. One girl has tuff Chinatown lesbo attributes and one boy is bordering on the gender indeterminate with no facial hair, droopy eyes, and dangling earbobs. They are given pink tissue notes that look like chopstick wrappers, and they open them to high pitched chicken like squawks of apparent shock at the challenges posed therein, as they try to do accapella renditions of h’n’r puf’n’stuff type songs or ( I’m not kidding) “Here Comes The Bride”. Over each of their heads dangles an aluminum pizza tray on a thin string, and apparently if they flub, the trays come crashing down and smash on their heads as they squeal with laughter and dismay. I’m howling, obviously.

Now blend into this cross-cultural pastiche the “jump” button on your T.V. remote going to the CNN coverage of the Alberto Gonzales confirmation hearings. It’s no secret that Bush has made a demonic mockery of the proverbial rainbow coalition, somehow finding persons of every race and hue and ethnic background who will abandon not only their own people but all of humanity in a blind quest for power and visibility. You’ve got your Rices, your Thomases failing upwards like Uncle Ben, your Powells - all engaging in acts of unspeakable moral turpitude that would make even a privileged silver spoon white massa' fear for his soul if any.

So I’m watching Alberto “Geneva Covention Is Obsolete” “A President has the Right To Torture” Gonzales holding forth in that flat affect free monotone that is the earmark of a late night mattress salesman or, in a less happy era, a whitehouse spokesperson, and flipping back and forth on the jump button and all of a sudden I muse on the “future” as we believed it would be in the “past”.

In the “past” we thought in the future we would be able to give input through mind reading and affect the outcome of our favorite sitcoms as they were shown. Sort of like Tivo by ESP. And we would also be able to use this "future" power to make characters or situations from one show on any network to just wander through the stations and be deposited in another show to interact with those characters.

Well, in this particular future, I was hoping that I could get those Pizza trays to wander over from channel 19 (Adelphia cable - the cable owned by career criminals) and just appear over the heads of these various - I guess they’re people? Villainous beings whose entire lives seem to be devoted into actually becoming a cartoon villain. BONG! Gonzales gets hit on the right temple! Sailor Moon is bummed and cries foul - she KNEW he didn’t know the words to "Honky Cat"! Where is Puffy Ami Yumi (and their race-blending puppeteers from Jellyfish, damaged by the Idle Race, "informed" by ELO, destroyed by downloading, and not even accorded the respect of Pearljam - am I rambling?) when you need them?

Clarence Thomas weighs in against affirmative action. When you look at the tsunami victims, you don’t say - better not help them rebuild their homes - it might cripple their ability to assimilate in the business world. And yet what were we if not a cultural, physical, spiritual and emotional tsunami that came and wiped out the slate of human opportunity for every slave we caught, sold and enslaved? So now we’re not supposed to make up for it? Is the playing field even? But this is the future! Clarence Thomas mistakes a karaoke version of "Shortnin' Bread" for "My Little Grass Shack"! BONG! Bush? BONG! Powell? BONG! Sharon? BONG BONG BONG!!! Shwarzenegger? DER BONGLE! Oh Korea - land of visual genius!

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Bill Moyers , October 20, 2004, Palace Hotel: “For years now, the corporate, political, and religious right - this is documented from 1971 on - the religious and political right has been joined in an axis of influence whose purpose is to take back the gains of the democratic renewal in the 20th century, and restore America to the rule of the elites that maintain their privilege and their power at the expense of everyone else.”

Kristian says; “Duh! But it’s about time someone took this information out of the shadowy dismissive realm of X-Files fans and Tree-hugging alien abductees and ackowledged it as obvious fact - so thanks.”

Bill: “For years now, a small fraction of American households have been garnering an extreme concentration of wealth and income while large corporations and financial institutions have obtained unprecedented levels of economic and political power over daily life.”

“Take note”, Moyers continues. “The corporate, political, and religious conservatives are achieving a vast transformation of America that only they understand because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries. In creating the greatest inequality in America since 1929, they have saddled our nation, our states, our cities, and counties with structural defects that will last until our children’s children are ready for retirement, and they are systematically stripping the government of all its functions, except rewarding the rich and waging war.”

Kristian: “Duh squared! It’s so nice you’ve decided to own up to what my MOM has been saying since 1979! But nicely put, Willy! Encore du cabernet?”

Gay activist, muckraker, loud mouth, and shrill gloomy grump-in-general Larry Kramer adds, hectoring gays in America: “In other words, our country has been taken away from us by a cabal that includes all the people who hate us.”

LK continues: “60 million of our so-called fellow Americans voted against us. Indeed 23% of self identified Gays voted against us, too. The absoluteness of what happened [ in this election] is terrifying. On the gay marriage initiatives alone: 2.6 million against us in Michigan. 3.2 million in Ohio. 1.1 million in Oklahoma. 2.2 million in Georgia. 1.2 million in Kentucky.”

LK: “George Bush won his presidency of our country by selling our futures. Almost 60 million people with whom we live and work every day think we are immoral. ‘Moral Values’ was top of many lists for why people supported Bush. Not Iraq. Not the economy. Not the war on terrorism. ‘Moral Values’. In case you need a translation, that means us.”

Kristian: “That seems to smack of over simplification and poor-me moaning, but it’s still pretty creepy! Even if the vote didn’t turn on red state’s red-necks puppeteered fears that their disgusting posteriors might be found remotely attractive to any self respecting fag, SOMEONE bought this line of malarkey and voted accordingly. And it was someone who wasn’t rich, and never would be, and was just being spoon-fed his own fears by the people in power whose only plan is to exploit him to death and feed his children to an insatiable war machine.”

LK: “It is hard to stand up to so much hate. Which of course is just the way they want it. Please know that a huge portion of the United States hates us. I do not mean dislike. I mean hate. Not only because they refuse us certain marital rights, but because they have elected a Congress overflowing with men and women who refuse us just about every other right to exist as well.”

Kristian: “Well - I LOVE a good rant! But isn’t it possible that the deception is actually us being manipulated into believing that a ‘huge’ portion of America ‘hates’ us? I think it’s more manipulative trumpet blowing and snare rolling - there has been much evidence that the ‘gay marriage’ issue did NOT affect the outcome of the election as much as the Christian fag-bashers want us to believe. The problem is more that there is a bully pulpit for this regime to CLAIM that a huge portion of America hates us - thus fanning the fears of those who’ve been brainwashed into the belief that in this ‘hateful’ ‘fearful’ world, the only reasonable option is to burrow, feudalize your security system, and regard everyone with suspicion.”

LK: “ ‘Moral values’ is a misnomer; it means just the reverse. It means they think we are immoral. And that we’re dangerous and contaminated. How do you like being called immoral by some 60 million people?”

KH. “Icky!”

LK: “This is not just anti-gay. This is what Doug Ireland calls ‘homo hate’ on the grandest scale. How do we stand up to 60 million people who have found a voice and a President who declares he has a mandate?”

KH: “Maybe that fey little bubonic chipmunk-faced imp GWB is just trying to come out - ‘MAN date’. Oops - a groaner!”

LK: “The new Supreme Court, due any moment now, will erase us from everything possible in no time at all. Gay marriage? Forget it. Gay anything? Forget it. Civil rights for gays, equal protection for gays, adoption rights for gays? Laws and regulations that protect us now will be repealed and rewritten. Please know all this.”

KH: “Well, Larry always was a drama queen. Actually gay rights continue to make incremental strides forward in the face of all this trumped up moral tussling. I think deep down, America doesn’t really CARE that much about gays, as long as it’s not in their face - which is why it’s the right wing’s avocation to keep it there! But............have there ever been a group of bigger idiots on the Supreme court? And dangerous mean-spirited idiots at that? But the puzzling thing brings us back to the old question - Who Profits? What do these grotesque ‘justices’ get out of blurring the line between church and state, declaring the U.S. a Christian nation, and dismantling all the human rights progress of the last 40 years? I don’t get it.”

LK: “And Mary Cheney is a lesbian!”

KH: “Which cannot be overstated. Let’s yell it again like a high school pep rally: MARY CHENEY IS A LESBIAN! L-E-S-B-I-A-N! Cunt lapping, muff diving, dude scorning lesbian! Good for her!”

LK: “ Even her mother is hateful! That Cheney must be one fucked up kid to stick around that family. I hope she doesn’t want to teach school. One of the re-elected congress persons vows to make it illegal for lesbians to teach school.”

LK: “Anyway, what Moyers was talking about has already happened. On a scale of such magnitude that it is difficult to see how we can ever take it back. It’s all in place now - this cabal of power. It almost doesn’t matter who is president.”

KH: “Bummer!”

LK: “You want to know why AIDS was allowed to happen? This is your answer. There are now more than 70 million people who have been infected with HIV. In some dream world we are going to get treatment into 70 million people. It is never going to happen.”

LK: “You want to know why gay people have no power and are unlikely to get any? This is your answer.”

LK: “At a time when 265 people are billionaires, 32 million people are living beneath the official poverty line.”

KH: “Ouchy! But - but whose facts are you quoting?”

LK: “The inequality gap in the United States is the highest in the Industrialized world.”

KH - “Bummer squared - and DUH! And we’re the only modern industrialized nation that doesn’t have some form of universal health care.”

Back to Moyers:

“ We are experiencing a fanatical drive to dismantle public institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that have shaped public policy for social harms arising from the excessses of private power.”

“That drive is succeeding with drastic consequences for an equitable access to public resources, the lifeblood of every democracy. From land, water, and natural resources. to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medical breakthroughs, and even to politics itself, a broad range of American democracy is undergoing a powerful shift in the direction of private control.”


Larry Kramer suggests you google Lewis Powell, Powell Manifesto, 1971, to read the origins of the well-planned right wing long range agenda followed by the Coors foundation and the “Nine Families” that has led us to this moment, which is so utterly disastrous for the once fluffy concept of a government by the people and for the people. I don’t need to read it. I believe it all ready. I’m my mother’s son.

So I just skip to the part where Larry Kramer whines: “They took this plan from 1971 and have executed it relgiously every day and night for the next 35 years initially with some 400 million dollars and hours of backbreaking, grinding unglamorous work. And they took the richest and most liberal nation in the history of civilization and turned it hard right into a classist, racist, homophobic imperial army of pirates.”

Kramer continues griping re HIV - and this is absolutely KEY for gays in terms of hoping to regain acceptance from the “red” Americans: “The continuing existence of HIV is essential for the functioning of the totalitarianism under which gay people now live. It works out like this: HIV allows ‘them’ to sell us as ‘sick’. That kills off our usefulness, both in our own minds, thinking we are sick, and in the eyes of the world, everyone thinking we are sick. All of this obliterates the consciousness of those who should help us and don’t. This liquidates and incinerates our individuality and our spontanaeity, our abilities to fight back, to hold our oppressors to task. They want to keep HIV going as long as they can! [That way] their media, their newspapers, and their networks can see to it that our good qualities are invisible. They want to make us superfluous.”

“This president has refused to allow already approved generic drugs to desperate Africa and elsewhere. Of the huge Congressional approval of many billions for HIV around the world that Bush brags about, less that 2% has left Washington in almost four years since its approval. Does this sound like a president and a government and a country that wants to help?”

“I have now come to see it thanks to Bill Moyers: INTENTIONALITY is the only word to describe the genocidal treatment the world is drowning in.”

KH: “Unfortunately, even from an avowed fact skewing hate-spouting drama bee-yotch like LK, that sounds TRUE!”

LK: “There is never a single hour that a disenfranchised minority does not have to fight to breathe and stay alive. Once, out of all our many millions of gay people in this country, about 10,000 of us got angry enough to accomplish something. We got drugs. We got AIDS care. We got enough that we could continue fucking.”

LK: “That, in the end, is all it amounted to. As soon as we got the drugs, you went right back to what had gotten you in so much trouble in the first place. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? The cabal can’t believe their good fortune!”

LK then challenges: “How do ‘we’ market and sell our wishes and our needs as ‘they’ have been able to package and sell their wishes and needs for the past thirty-five years? How do we claim the God that they have subsumed into their own ownership? If they have been able to convince this country that the Republicans are the party of the people, surely so many sons and daughters are smart enough to find a way to sell our parents permission to co-exist.”

LK: “You might say ‘We are human beings as much as they are, and their God is the same as our God, and he simply cannot be allowed to be as punishing as they are requiring Him to be.’”

LK: “But this is perhaps to honest and reasonable to say to those who are neither. Reasoning like this has not worked in the past.”

KH: “ It is frightening that the power of reason, logic, and compassion seems to hold no sway over these people. But I think reason, logic and compassion will, in the end, prevail. It’s important to judge the way WE choose to behave by OUR standards, even if we’re the only ones doing it. BUT - I disagree heartily with La Kramer’s ghettoizing of gays into the ONLY subgroup in our culture that acts out unwisely in sexual terms. Or as the only subgroup that seeks release in widely available mood elevators.”

KH: “What feel-good diversion, what entertainment, what exercise in human power and gratification is one of the few things allowed for people of poverty or cultural disenfranchisement universally? Why it’s SEX, dummy! And drugs are cheap for every stressed out individual who wastes away in the bottom level jobs that corporate/Christian zillionaires wouldn’t even have their maids consider.”

KH: “This is not a “gay” problem. It is a HUMAN problem.”

KH: “And gay men don’t hold the patent on indiscriminate sex! It is a pattern of western culture to give men the prerogative to act out sexually - it may even been instinctive from a time when it was necessary for one male to mate with many females to insure the survival of the species. But I’m no scientist!”

KH: “But haven’t you watched “Regency Dating” (or whatever that highly entertaining PBS show is called)? The male has historically always assumed rights to act out (can you spell prostitution?) in a culture where females, denied a voice to cry for justice, are bound by all sorts of male friendly sctrictures.”

KH: “And I don’t buy into the gay shame about orgies, drag shows, bath houses or any of that shit. I’m certain they make up as marginal on contingent of OUR populace as they do of ANY group - it’s just that we as a unit are identified by our sexuality, and are fighting for the rights to be accepted in all arenas despite ingrained cultural prejudices about our sexuality. So it’s easy to project a cultural overlay of shame on us, because western culture is so faux-prudishly uncomfortable with even DISCUSSING sex (they’ve never had a problem HAVING sex - have they, JFK?) - and we’re forcing them into a frankly sexual discussion - about sex that disgusts them! So don’t buy that LAME SHAME they’re selling!

KH: “So in this fight specifically about sexuality and how it can be acted upon, we are bound to be identified by our sexuality. The fight for gay rights is a fight about SEX (DUH!) - just as the fight for latino rights is a fight about race! Double Duh! So, by extension, isn’t part of what we’re fighting for the right to fuck around, just like any idiot? Isn’t it a fight to be seen as sexual beings without the rest of our character being judged by that? We don't want to have to pretend to be asexual genitalia free cuddly "Close Encounters" aliens, do we? Isn’t it SPECIFICALLY a fight for the basic right, as SEXUAL beings, not to have our SEXUAL predisposition marginalize us from free society?”

KH: “I have sat next to heterosexual couples in a restaurant having a romantic meal, and been moved and touched by their humanity and my empathetic hopes for them. “

KH: “I have also sat next to heterosexual couples in a restaurant making out with arrogant unsophisticated abandon, and thought, ‘Disgusting!’ But does that behaviour limit this couple’s social opportunities? Their career options? Their constitutional rights? Their very physical safety as they leave the restaurant? Does it lead to their arrest?”

KH: “I want the right for the same rainbow of behavior AND misbehavior, and the right to be held to the same standard! I want the right to be equally restrained or equally boorish! I don’t want to say I am not sexual, or that as a ‘good’ evolved gay, I will hate or judge any other ‘gay’ who takes meth, or goes to a bathhouse, or cheats on his lover, or has unprotected sex, or lisps too loudly, or wears leather or drag as my ‘ambassador’ in some stupid parade. Has a straight person ever cheated on his wife? Or taken drugs? Or worn stupid fashion? Or acted in a way that reflects poorly upon himself? Do we by extension condemn ALL straight people for the behaviour of one rude restaurant customer? One idiot with a blue painted pot belly at a football game? One redneck murderer? One child molester? Do we condemn all Catholics for the misbehaviour of one priest? Wait - don’t answer that!”

KH: “I want the right to make the same mistakes anybody does! I want the right to be as disgusting in public as a goddamn heterosexual, or to CHOOSE not to, yet not have it threaten my rights to a fair trial, or the ability to walk down the street safely, or to visit a hospitalized loved one, or to be present at the reading of his will!”

KH: “I want the right to be just as fucked up as straight people are! And believe me, in that arena, they’ve set the bar pretty high!”

KH: “And I want the right to expect a HUMAN response. Feel free to look at me and say ‘Icky!’, or ‘Wow! Hot!’ But don’t feel free to define my aspirations, my soul and my worth by the fact that I am a sexual being with the same merits and flaws as any other sexual being.”

KH: “You don’t talk about race relations and say, “Pardon me! I’m ready to have a dialog with you, if you could just stop being quite so black?”

KH: “Kramer’s having AIDS possibly smacks of him having indulged in the very practises he now finds so reprehensible, the same way your hippie parents don’t want you to try drugs, even though they had fun with them, survived them, got jobs, bought houses, and made a life they thought was ample enough to bring you into the world.”

KH: “So the benefit of his LK’s experience is inspiring - the benefit of his shame and self loathing, and his judgmental quasi-Calvinist attitude is not.”

KH: “Kramer’s rant does hit one undeniable point, and hits it true: It is time for organization and action, not denial. WE need to be as dedicated as ‘they’ are.”

KH: “ And, unfortunately, Kramer’s conspiracy theories are backed up by Moyers infinitely more measured, and in all probability, better researched claims. So does this mean I’m actually going out to FIX anything? Um.........can I do that without missing a ‘Law & Order’ rerun? I’ll get back to you..........”

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2006 DIARIES ARE HERE: diaries.htm
2004 DIARIES ARE HERE: diaries2004.htm
2003 DIARIES ARE HERE: diaries2003.htm
2002 DIARIES ARE HERE: diaries2002.htm