Thursday, September 30, 2004

Goin' Up To Country

I have a wacky yet endearing friendship with a certain movie exec type most people lovingly refer to as The Dude... You get a guy drunk in a bar once (and I didn't get him a single White Russian) and play some good music, and he's your pal for life. Well, he's doing what he does best: getting his friends to push his films for him! But this one means a lot to me, because it's all about re-defeating Bush. So spread the word. I know this movie is opening this weekend in LA, and a big showing will help it get to more screens when it's released nationwide.

You should know when GOING UP RIVER : THE LONG WAR OF JOHN KERRY was tested with people who were neither Kerry or Bush supporters-- 79% of them said that they were profoundly moved, they changed their minds about Kerry's character and ability to lead and they would definitely recommend it to a friend. This movie exposes the lies of the SWIFT BOAT VETERANS FOR TRUTH character assassination and much more.

It opens this Friday October 1 in theaters nationwide

For theaters across the country, reviews and more check out the website.
If it opens well it will go wide to many more theaters.
We also plan to give away free DVD's to people who may not go to a theater. Neighbor to neighbor in Akron, Ohio, Orlando, Florida, etc. Hundreds of thousands. Maybe more!
This all depends on what happens this weekend. You can vote now at the theaters this weekend.
This will make a difference! You can make a difference!
the Dude abides!



Okay, I've got a lot of friends who are artists, mostly musicians. Sometimes I am lucky enough to actually like what they do. Sometimes not, which is tricky. And sometimes, I think I'm not into their stuff, and this later bites me in the ass.

Take my friend's band, Cool Dry Place. I was very pleasantly surprised to see my friend do an acoustic show and liked his songs, but electric could be a whole different beast. I checked the website, gave a listen, and it wasn't bad. Didn't floor me, but wasn't bad. Then I got the demo and thought the same thing.

Cool Dry Place is indie rock, as we'd say today. If I were to guess what they listened to growing up, which later became the foundation for the music they created... Well, then I'd guess The Police (Ghost in the Machine era), Inxs, XTC and Talking Heads. Not that they sound like any of those bands, I just hear bits of it in the music. And the singer reminds me of Joe Jackson. Sometimes. So take that and funnel it through Archers of Loaf, maybe, and you've got something like Cool Dry Place.

So, like I was saying, I wasn't totally wowed by the demo, but I liked it. Then I saw the boys live again, all electric this time, and I really dug it. Like REALLY dug it. I realized the songs were creeping into my brain like that nasty worm thing that made people turn bad in "The Wrath of Khan." I started listening to the demo again. Pretty soon, I was listening to two of those songs on my whole hour long drive home. (FYI: they were "Leaving For Good" and "Saturday Night." And "Sick Twisted & Wonderful" is a lovely warped version of some song you slow danced to at arm's length in junior high.)

Give the band a listen and let me know what you think. I'm going to see them again at the Derby here in LA this Saturday, October 2nd. They need a crowd, so if you like what you hear, come down. Help me figure out why I'm starting to love them!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Rock Me, Joe

"Vamos a jugar por la playa..." - the Pixies

I can no longer speak, so it's time to write. For the last week, I have been on a pilgrimage. A Pixies pilgrimage, to be exact. 5 shows in 5 days. I used to do it back in the day, and ten years later I had to test myself to see if I could still do it... And yes, I was still leaping in the air (partially buoyed by someone else's shoulder, of course) as the refrains of "Gigantic" closed out the last show Sunday afternoon.

I'm not one of those people who notes every setlist of every show, although, considering I've seen approximately 35 Pixies shows in my lifetime, those setlists would be very interesting to compare. I generally don't even remember what they do from show to show. I like to think that I just get so into it that I'm sort of in a Pixies induced fog.

I went to the two shows here in Los Angeles, the drove up to Berkeley to catch the three shows there. The two shows in Los Angeles were great, the crowd SUCKED. This is often the case with shows in LA, as a lot of the people who go seem to be there so they can say they were there as opposed to wanting to rock out. There was a row of men standing next to me the first night, arms crossed, cupping their chins. Pondering, no doubt, what "looking like an erotic vulture" entailed. On the other side of us were two teenagers thrashing about like there was no tomorrow. Go girls! The LA show was also an assigned seats affair, with a small area right in front of the stage for a select group to stand around. And stand around they did. To the Pixies, fer chrissakes!

The Berkeley shows were completely different animals. Smaller venue, general admission, and a big floor area for people to mosh around in. The crowd sang along loudly to every song, and just about everybody I looked at had a huge grin on his/ her face. Lots of jumping around. I only got clocked badly upside the head once. Some bruises, not many.

I can, this time, tell you pretty much what they played... since it's still fresh (somewhat) in my mind. Sometimes they would start slow, sometimes they'd start rowdy as hell. Over the course of 5 days, I heard "Debaser," "Gouge Away," "Caribou," "Cactus," "Broken Face," "Bone Machine," "U-Mass," "Subbacultcha," "Nimrod's Son" (slow and fast), "Wave of Mutilation" (regular and surf - and they played both each show), "Planet of Sound," "Is She Weird," "Winterlong," "Mr. Grieves," "Into the White," "Tame," "Dead," "Isla de Encanta," "Crackity Jones," "Hey," "No. 13 Baby," "Here Comes Your Man," "Holiday Song," "Bam Thwok,""Velouria," "Monkey Gone to Heaven," "Ed Is Dead," "Something Against You," "Blown Away," "In Heaven," and of course, "Where Is My Mind" and "Gigantic." This was basically the setlist in some order or another - give or take a song or two.

I went with my best friend in Los Angeles. He & I used to see the Pixies all the time - we were together at the riot caused by a shoe hitting Perry Farrel in the head (the Pixies had opened for Jane's Addiction) at the Palladium which resulted in my broken foot. I went to the shows in Berkeley with my little brother. His first concert (which I took him to) was when he was 14 years old... we saw the Pixies in 1989, touring for Doolittle, with Bob Mould opening.

They sounded incredible. Like not a day or year or decade or hard feelings had passed. All I can say is... thank you.

And hope I get my voice back soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Happy House

The other night I went to see Siouxsie & the Banshees. But that's not all. I went to Disneyland too. And California Adventure. All in the same place, kinda. All within the "Disneyland Resort." Siouxsie was playing at the House of Blues, Anaheim - otherwise known as Downtown Disney. Really. I'm not joking.

I've been to Disneyland a HELL of a lot. My best friend works for the film studio, so pretty much his only perk is getting in for free and discounts on the food. (Not on the booze served in the California Adventure, mind you.) Disneyland is totally worth it for free and with discounts on the "food."

We rode Big Thunder Mountain, and lived. This is actually quite an accomplishment because a guy died on it about a year ago, and they've had two accidents since it reopened at the beginning of the summer. While it was closed, it was completely surrounded by a high wall covered with old western style drawings of horses and trivia about them. Total denial in the happiest place on earth.

Loads of stuff in Disneyland was closed because of its impending 50th anniversary, so we spent more time in the California Adventure park, which has a real live rollercoaster and actual alcohol. You can go upside down and get a margarita - no nos in Disneyland proper. Actually, the rollercoaster in this park is one of the best ones I've ever been on, and I'm an afficionado of rollercoasters. And the margarita is probably one of the weakest I've ever been served. Go figure.

There is also a ride in California Adventure called Superstar Limo, in the Hollywood section, of course. You are the superstar, and you are late to your first premiere! Heavens no! So the limo races past a sea of has been animatronic celebrities (Whoopee Goldberg, Drew Carey) until "If I Could Turn Back Time" era Cher waves at you and goes limp just as you approach her. Guess her timing is off... anyway, that ride, sadly, was closed.

We wound up at the House of Blues watching the happy goths enter to worship at the altar of Siouxsie. My friend and I were wearing yellow and beige with our jeans; I think there was maybe a total of 6 or 7 people out of the 500 or so there not wearing black. (We're such non conformists.) We also knew that we were most likely listening to Siouxsie before half the people there had even been born. Siouxsie came out in a very cool black and red chinese robe thing and her trademark eyes/ eyebrows and a nice feathery explosion/ hair clip kept her hair pulled back. She did some of her patented Siouxsie dance moves (lots of twirling and glaring) and at one point said, "Here we are... at Disssssssneyland. Disneyland. You know, we planned our whole tour so that we could play here at Disneyland. Welcome to the Fourth Reich!" Siouxsie is such a doll. She also dedicated the Creatures track, "Standing There," to any Disney employees in attendance. "Hey Creepos - I'm talking to you!" I didn't out my friend; I told him to feel lucky that she sang a song just for him.

The show was great fun; she looked and sounded excellent. They've been doing this for nearly 30 years, I'd hope they could put on a good show by now! She & Budgie were having fun and goofing around a lot. I think they take lots of happy pills these days, because there were no sad goths on that stage.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Twist & Crawl

I said “Pretend you’ve got no money,"
She just laughed and said “Oh, you’re so funny!”
I said “Yeah ? Well, I can’t see anyone else smiling in here..."
-Pulp "Common People"

Welcome to my life. Actually, welcome to a hell of a lot of our lives.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Spanish Fly

Oh man, I guess this is what happens these days if you just aren't in the mood. And you're Latin. Jail, baby, JAIL! Read on...

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Gabba Gabba Hey

"And then there was one."

About a half hour ago, I was stuck in traffic when I got a call from a good friend on my cell phone. "What?" I asked. "Somebody died," he answered. "Another Ramone?" I said. And I was right.

Why I said that, I don't know. Just popped into my head. The Ramones are one of those bands that people will be listening to forever, and they aren't even very talented. There is just something about them.

The Ramones are now considered classic rock, at least according to my boss who also happens to run a music licensing department. (This means if you ever hear a Ramones song in a commercial, I will know who to yell at about it.) That a man a couple decades my senior can sing "Blitzkrieg Bop" properly and then lump the Ramones into the same category as Cream and Led Zeppelin is a little freaky to me, because I listened to this band in high school. That's the way things go, I guess.

I loved that the Ramones couldn't really play, just couldn't really play well at all. But their hearts were in the right place, and there was a sweetness to their "onetwothreefour" approach. It made sense that they loved garage rock and girly 50's music, and it made sense when Phil Spector (now accused of murder cuz he's a NUTJOB) produced an album for them. They took pop music and ran it through a blender, and it was fun.

I can't believe there are more Rolling Stones alive at this point than Ramones. I guess the Ramones should have sniffed less glue and done more acid.

R.I.P. Johnny. Thanks for all the head boppin' and slam dancin'.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby

"Beauty is all very well at first sight; but who ever looks at it when it has been in the house three days?"
--George Bernard Shaw

I just watched about 15 minutes of a show on E! (the heights of culture, I know) about plastic surgery. I know these shows are on all over the place and all the time, but they freak me out too much to really pay them any attention. I saw two things on this program before I switched channels: a woman getting cheek implants, and a woman injecting collagen into the balls of her feet. Seems it provides a soft cushion, all the better to withstand hours of Jimmy Choo shoes. Yikes!

I have met people over the years who are too intimidated by Los Angeles to actually move here. Many people simply hate LA for the same reasons these people won't move here: too many "beautiful" people. Too much plastic surgery, implants, extensions, whatever. People who have to have a personal trainer and work out however many hours a day in order to look good - because that is their job. Or perhaps, that is the job they want.

And it's true. There are a lot of beautiful people here. People with glamorous hair and perfect skin and flat stomachs and great tans and pearly white teeth. But there are a lot of "regular" people here too. Los Angeles has a population of about 4 million, and although it seems like one out of three of those people has some sort of creative aspiration, that doesn't mean they are also intimidatingly beautiful. And those who are intimidatingly beautiful aren't necessarily the most interesting to talk to.

(I once ran into a horrifyingly gorgeous woman on the elevator in my building, and she was picking at a granola bar and hitting the 3rd floor button repeatedly. I told her that she needed a special card key to trigger that floor, and the receptionist at the front desk could help her out. She looked at me and said, "Oh. But I was just up there a second ago! It should still work..." She kept hitting the button. I know this is a bit of a stereotype, the dumb beauty, but I see it way too often in this town.)

I spoke with a woman once who was visiting from New York City, who said that she couldn't live here because she would never be able to handle the dating scene. She felt that there was too much competition, that the men are more conditioned to "perfect" women. Well, maybe that's true in certain circles, but those don't have to be the circles she moved in.

Anyway, you get used to it. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? I see beautiful people every day. Maybe not movie star/ model beautiful, but definitely beautiful in their own right. You never know who is looking at you, when you don't think you're all that, and thinking, "Damn. What a beauty." And then for those with "beauty," it is difficult to keep.

"Show me a beautiful woman, and I'll show you a man sick of fucking her." -- Frank Sinatra

(Not as sweetly said as Mr. Shaw, but you get the drift.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Girls Against Boys

A few months back, I asked some of my girl friends to tell me about pleasant and unpleasant experiences they've had with boys, in the hopes of enlightening some people out there. Maybe. Anyway, one of my friends wrote a really wonderful piece which I've been threatening to print, and now I am. Names changed to protect the innocent, cuz she knows who she is (thank you!).

I think the majority of the cat-call days are over for me, luckily. I don't know if it was just weird pedophiles or that I'm more confident now, but in recent years, I hardly get any cat calls.

Though creeps are ALWAYS staring at me. I think I instill awe, fear and sometimes obsession in men- always something off balance, and not at all appealing to me. I think since I'm intimidating (ed. note - she's a 6 foot looker, this one) or whatever, no guy that I find attractive has ever hit on me. I've played the look-at-him-look-away game millions of times in my life, but still the guys never approached me.

One time I was feeling really confident and after that little game I walked by the guy's table and dropped my name and number in front of him. He turned out to be a brainless pretty-boy. (But it was an exhilarating experience!)

I think because of the traumatic scarring of my psyche when I was 10 or 11 years old (the year that adult men started hitting on me - talk about pedophiles. Sure I was 5'8" or so but I know I acted and dressed like a late blooming dorky little girl. No boobs. My best friend & I played Barbies until 8th grade!) that I am so disgusted by any man talking to me in public that I don't seem to remember anything clever or amusing. Though I know I've laughed sometimes, so I've heard amusing things. Also, so much of anyone's opening line in the bar or on the street is regarding my height - so very unoriginal. Like I haven't been asked if I played basketball 5 million billion times before in my life.

Amusing incident: In New Orleans, on Bourbon Street, age 20, walking with my best girlfriend in the afternoon: some drunk, chubby overgrown fratboy type guy started yelling about the things he'd like to do to us. I yelled back at the top of my lungs "Fuck you, asshole!" He then said something like "Well, I didn't say I was going to LIKE it."

The most scared I've been was in Santa Cruz. I went to school there for 2 years right out of high school. That town made me believe in energy spots within the earth that draw people unconsciously to them because EVERYONE in that town is so f-ed up! I got followed on foot at least 3 times - a guy on foot, a guy in a Jeep just keeping pace with my walking. I had to walk around for a while so they wouldn't find out where I lived. One time an extremely buff, tattooed homeboy would not stop talking to me and eventually revealed he'd just gotten out of San Quentin after a long sentence (hello, murder?). He couldn't understand why I asked him to not touch my arm as he was talking to me. I was too afraid to tell that guy off. Another time I was waiting for the bus at like 7am to go up to campus and an old old man in a champagne colored American sedan drove by really slowly. Then he turned around and stopped in front of me. He rolled down his window and drawled really slowly "you're reeeeaaal perty". He'd probably been making women feel uncomfortable (or worse) for 80 years!

The funniest come-ons have been from young teenage boys. I just can't believe it sometimes. It's always black guys; I think it's an accepted art form that they start practicing young and hope to hone. (White teenagers have never hit on me.) One time on 6th street in Berkeley I was walking to the gas station to get cigarettes or something and these 2 boys, couldn't have been older than 13 or 14 (one had braces and their voices were hardly changed!) started hitting on me. Asking if I lived around here, could they get my number, etc. When I laughed and said I was much much too old for them, they were still friendly and continued to walk with me and chat. That was really cute. Some day they'll be smooth operators.

Here's something I've only voiced to myself but I think it's pretty true: I think often we create our own experiences by how we see ourselves and how much or little self-esteem we have. If I had an ounce of self-esteem or self-confidence growing up, I think that would have shown somehow in my face or posture and people might not have been such assholes to me. I think I looked like I would just sit and take it, you know? On top of that, I expected shitty things to happen to me and never expected hot guys to hit on me, etc. I try not to expect bad things to happen anymore and I have tons more confidence, but only because I've worked at it so hard. I guess I believe somewhat in self-fulfilling prophecies. Not entirely though, and I'm certainly not saying I or anyone else deserves crappy experiences. I wish I had a positive mental attitude (ed. & author's note - or PMA as our brilliant mutual friend used to say) at a younger age, then maybe I would have had more fun, or at least funny, experiences.


My super tall super hot super clever friend now lives with a super rad guy. You see? The PMA really does work!

Monday, September 06, 2004

Another One Bites the Dust

So it seems that the people of Nissan (some friends experienced horrible bigotry lately at the hands of a Nissan dealership) have a little common sense after all:


Dear Friends:

I have just been informed by Patrick Finley, the co-owner/general manager of Douglas Nissan Huntington Beach, that David Maxwell has been fired. Mr. Maxwell is the salesman who began and incited the homophobic remarks at the dealership on Sunday.

I take no joy at another human being losing his job but, in this case, I did not do it. Mr. Maxwell sealed his fate when he put his hatred on display and defied us to do something about it. With your amazing support, and that of untold others, we did just that. Mr. Finley is amenable to outside sensitivity counselors going into the dealership. The details need to be worked out, and I am hoping to find a volunteer attorney to actually dot the i's, cross the t's, and to monitor/oversee the carrying out of the still-as-yet written settlement terms.

I was interviewed by Laurie Kelman from KFWB Radio at my home today. Her calls to the dealership also had a strong motivational effects on the dealership. More as this develops. We cannot thank you enough.

Dave Russo
Greg Kamerer

Karma. It can be a bitch.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Do You Believe In Magic?

My alarm is set to a radio station, Indie 103, which I indulged in ranting about a few months back when it started. I don't hate it, I don't love it... It does it's best as a commercial "alternative" station. If I wasn't bred on college radio, I'm sure it would be my favorite station in LA.

Especially because this morning, when my alarm went off, they were playing "Hey Deannie" by Shaun Cassidy. Ummm... what? I haven't heard that song on the radio in... well, maybe never. Although it's by far my favorite Shaun Cassidy song.

Whoever played that (because Indie 103 doesn't really have DJs - only for specialty shows), thank you. I was so able to face my lame boss today because of you.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


A couple Fridays ago, I went with some friends to see another friend's band. I know a lot of people in bands, so I get out to shows quite often. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to actually like their band! That's always a bonus.

This particular evening was a project my friend does maybe once or twice a year. They always sell out our local hipster club, make a chunk of change and have a blast. They are called Infinity. They are a Journey tribute band.

The first time I saw them play was a couple years ago. The show was at a cool lesbian bar (the singer of Infinity is a woman - who better to do Steve Perry, really?) and they sort of did it as a joke. They were so spot on, however, that they began getting requests to do the show again around town, do some proper Hollywood gigs, become a REAL TRIBUTE BAND.

When I was explaining to some friends of mine what I was doing that night, there was a snicker. I tried to defend myself, "But they're funny! And they're really good!" I stopped, horrified. I was defending a tribute band. I tend to be the first to mock tribute bands, because I usually see them as something white collar types see to let off a little steam at the local bar on a Friday night, before they go back to their stucco'ed home and listen to the REAL band they just saw the facsimile of that very evening, drunkenly singing along with their hairbrush in the mirror. Because these types don't have the time or desire to get out and discover anything new, try out a band they have maybe heard a little something about, take that risk and maybe learn something. Instead, they revel in their drunken comfort zone of hearing Led Zeppelin or Doors knock offs.

I know, I know... I'm a total snob. And a total hypocrite. Because I Heart Journey. Maybe because I can sing along with them, maybe because they are totally non threatening, maybe because they are kind of nerdy and funny. And I spent my Friday night with a bunch of hipsters, pretending that we had nothing in common with the white collar types who would normally frequent these kinds of shows, wholeheartedly singing along with every word. "Oh I want to be THERE... in myyyyyyyy ci-tay-ay..." Oh oh oh. We love it.

There are some tribute bands that escape the classification I throw them into - Infinity, AC/ DShe, Mini-Kiss maybe (although they don't actually play, which would make them better)... but really, a tribute band is a tribute band, right?

Don't Stop Believin'.