Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Gossip Only Means You're Popular

Seems gossip columnist Liz Smith had something to say about the little launch party I got to DJ last week:

SPEAKING OF THINGS L.A., there was a recent event that mixed the old and the new of Hollywood culture. A young woman named Lynda Keeler runs la.com, which is said to be the most fabulous online site about all things Los Angeles. The party to launch the site was held at Perino's, at 4101 Wilshire Blvd. This was one of the lush, glamorous star-spotting eateries during Hollywood's golden age. (Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford had a great scene in "Mommie Dearest" barking "Perino's is my place!")

Well, that Internet party was the last gasp for Perino's. The next day, bulldozers flattened the restaurant. I guess la.com can cross Perino's off its list of places to go in Hollywood.


Hmmm... there was no mention of the fabulous DJ spinning great tunes, but I'm sure they are all aware of that anyhow. It's a trade secret.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

L.A. Woman

The other day I was talking to my dearest friend Doug... we talk every Sunday... We're Cancers; we like routine.

Anyway, we grew up together in San Diego and eventually both wound up in Northern California. I was in the cosmpolitan San Francisco/ East Bay bit; he in the surfer stoner enclave of Santa Cruz. For a couple of years we had what he refers to as our "dark period" when we didn't talk much, but otherwise we have always been waaaaaaaaay tight.

He was bummed out when I bailed on the Bay and went south to LA. This is an unforgiveable offense to most Northern Californians, and Doug has become a proud resident of Pacific Grove (in the Carmel/ Monterey area). However, he has forgiven me for coming to this land of sin, and now claims that I have acclaimated well to the area without losing my identity. Perhaps because I have no desire to be an actor... It's amazing how often I'll chat with people, only to have them say: "You're so nice. You're not from here, are you?"

Anyway, I've had many adventures since being here. And LA really allows one to indulge themselves... since I'm a music junkie, I've had plenty of Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll moments here in LA that just didn't happen in SF. (Oh, there were adventures there too, but not quite on the same scale.) So as I rambled on to Doug about some strange thing that happened in the back of a bar the other night, he said to me, "Your stories are reminding me of the Doors."

"Why is that?"

"They are just so... Sunset Strip. They sound very... you know... 'Come on come on come on come on come on now TOUCH me baby!" This made me laugh like crazy. It's true, maybe I'd been telling him about a particular musician offering to jack off in front of me (name withheld because I still know the guy) or being at someone's house and seeing Scarface style amounts of cocaine on almost every available surface or that one party I wound up at where there was an actual orgy going on in the poolhouse... but that's not exactly my life. I just always wind up in these situations. Thank God. Otherwise I'd be really bored.

And speaking of winding up somewhere, last night I got last minute free tix to see the Von Bondies at the Troubador in West Hollywood. They've been around for ages, but now everyone knows them as "the band that guy Jack White beat the crap out of is in." I went with a friend and I'd never seen the place so packed; they'd WAY oversold. The Von Bondies were actually good - I'd heard reports to the contrary, so I was pleasantly surprised. They were rockin' out and having fun with the crowd and they were nice to look at and people were gettin' down. They finished up, but of course had to come back for an encore. This included, during some sort of breakdown, Jason Stollmeister (the one who got smacked up) getting into a long semi-poetic rant: "Come on Los Angeles... do you have a heart? Does your heart feel pain, feel love; who understands what it's like to have a tired, battered heart?" Or something like that. He went on and on and drawled it all out in that "I'm-in-a-garage-band-from-Detroit" way and I started to get so annoyed that I leaned over to my friend and said, "This is probably why Jack White kicked his ass." And she goes, "It's very Jim Morrison of him. At least he's not talking about snakes and lizards."

Well, it wasn't the Sunset Strip, but the Lizard King has certainly been in the house.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

This Is Your Life

Actually, this is my life. Sad, sad... but really, I love it!

Friday, March 26, 2004

Make Way for the Bad Guy

Earlier this week, I had read an interview with Lynda Keeler, the President of LA.Com, in the Hollywood Reporter. She said she wanted to present "classic LA" via the website. When asked what was a good example of "classic LA," she said, "Our launch party this Thursday at Perino's."

Eeek! Why did this alarm me? Because I was asked to DJ this particular launch party. I DJ around town, usually at a great little dive in Hollywood called The Burgundy Room, but occasionally for other events. I had been asked by Amoeba Music (I'm an alum) to DJ this event, because the woman throwing it heard me DJ at the AFI Film Festival's opening party and liked the vibe or something. And because I'm still tight with my Amoeba crew.

The dress code was "glamorous." Fortunately, I own one glamorous red velvet gown and already am sportin' pretty glamorous Farrah Fawcett hair these days, so I could swing the requirements. I was safely tucked away behind two turntables and a microphone, as well as a couple CD players; but I wound up being my own roadie for a while so I was out in the crowd checking equipment and levels throughout the venue with regularity.

The space was an old restaurant called Perino's. It was, indeed, pretty classic LA. (And in classic LA style, it's being torn down in a week in order to build apartments.) There are stories about the days that Frank & Dean drank there, or when Tyrone Power tried to dump his wife for Judy Garland there, or any of regular patron Charlie Chaplin's adventures in the joint. However, the place as a restaurant closed many years ago and currently survives on rentals for private events or as a film location. (LA is full of buildings that are only used for filming - diners, houses, office buildings, theatres - it's kinda creepy.)

What I liked best about Perino's was its movie element. The only movie I'd ever seen that was filmed there was Scarface. It was that scene in the restaraunt where's he's bitching about how crappy life is and how he's a big asshole and how Michelle Pfeiffer's "womb is polluted!" The guy who was setting up the equipment had to take a minute to yell, "Make way for the bad guy!" because we were setting up in that very room.

Once you left the main area, you wandered into the unused hallways and upstairs portions and you suddenly had walked into The Shining. Way creepy. Half the place is nicely kept up, the other half has paint peeling from the walls, fuzzy mold on the doorframes, and loads of rusty, unused, cobwebby stuff crammed into corners of hidden rooms. (Yes, I was snooping.)

The party itself? It was okay. I especially liked that the bar in the room where I was DJing was essentially all ice sculpture. It was for whatever vodka brand was sponsoring the party. There were no celebs that I recognized, although I know some other industry scenesters were there. I'll have to read about it in the trades. People in LA rarely dance at these things, so even though I was playing some pretty cool stuff, only the freaky people got into it. But I am amused by freaky people, as long as they aren't being freaky to me.

I just got a kick out of being so close to Tony Montana.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Love Below

I wanted to mention that last night I met Andre 3000. Well, I didn't actually meet him, but we did exchange pleasantries.

I was at Amoeba Music in Hollywood to see 50 Foot Wave. After spending some quality time in the green room with Kristin Hersh and her kids talking about my teeth (it's a favorite subject for us, as I've never had mine fixed and have fangs as a result, and she had hers fixed and curses the day she allowed that to happen), I went back out onto the floor to rummage through some stuff. A friend told me that Andre was in the jazz room, and as I was looking for some Marlena Shaw vinyl anyway, I decided to go in for a peek. I sidled up alongside of him while flipping through the CDs so as to be able to geek out in a not so obvious way, but he caught me. Either that, or (most likely the actual reason) my tight sweater and push up bra got his attention. Anyway, he said, "Hello there," while nodding. I nodded back, "Hi. Dig your stuff." He said, "Well, thank you." Then I said, "Nice hat." (He was dressed in brown and beige checkered skinny legged mod pants, black shirt with a brown bomber leather jacket, and a sort of straw cowboy hat.) So he tipped the hat and winked.

Terribly sweet and not sleazy at all. Awwwww...

And 50 Foot Wave rocked.

Your Own Personal Jesus

THE GOSPEL OF DEBBIE
by PAUL RUDNICK
Recent works like “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Da Vinci Code” seek to illuminate the life of Jesus. Not long ago, an additional text was discovered in an ancient linen backpack found in a cave outside Jerusalem, surrounded by what appeared to be early-Roman candy wrappers and covered with stickers reading “I [heart] All Faiths” and “Ask Me About Hell.” A parchment diary found inside the backpack appears to contain the musings of one Debbie of Galilee. Many of the pages are still being translated from high-school Aramaic; here are some persuasive excerpts:


October 5

I saw him in the marketplace! Everyone says that he’s the son of God, but I don’t care one way or the other because he’s just so cute!!! O.K., he’s not hot like a gladiator or a centurion, but he’s really sensitive and you can tell that he thinks about things and then goes, “Be nice to people,” and I’m like, that is so true, and I wonder if he’s seeing anyone!

October 21

Everyone says that he’s just totally good and devoted to all humanity and that he was sent to save us and that’s why he doesn’t have time for a girlfriend, although I swear I saw Mary Magdalene doodling in the sand with a stick, writing “Mrs. Jesus Christ” and “Merry Xmas from Mary and Jesus Christ and All the Apostles,” with little holly leaves all around it. And I’m like, Mary, are you dating Jesus? and she says, no, he’s just helping me, and I’m like, you mean with math? and she’s like, no, to not be such a whore. And I said, but that is so incredibly sweet, and we both screamed and talked about whether we like him better when he’s healing the lame or with a ponytail.

December 25

I wanted to get him the perfect thing for his birthday, so I asked Matthew and he said, well, myrrh is good, but then Luke said, oh please, everyone always gives him myrrh, I bet he wishes those wise men had brought scented candles, some imported marmalade, and a nice box of notecards. So I go, O.K., what about accessories, like a new rope belt or clogs or like I could make him a necklace with his name spelled out in little clay letters? and Mark said, I love that, but Luke rolled his eyes and said, Mark, you are just such an Assyrian. So I go to see Mary, Jesus’ mom, and she said that Jesus doesn’t need gifts, that he just wants all of us to love God and be better people, but I asked, what about a sweater? and she said medium.

January 2

Oh my God, oh my God, I couldn’t believe it, but I was right there, and Jesus used only five loaves of bread and two fish to feed thousands of people, and it was so beautiful and miraculous, and my brother Ezekiel said, whoa, Jesus has invented canap├ęs and I said shut up! And then my best friend Rachel asked, I wonder if he could make my hair really shiny, and I said, you are so disgusting, Jesus shouldn’t waste his time on your vanity, and then Jesus smiled at me and I’m telling you, those last seven pounds, the stubborn ones, they were totally gone! And I spoke unto the angry Roman mob and I said, behold these thighs! Jesus has made me feel better about me!

March 12

Everyone is just getting so mean. They’re all going, Debbie, he is so not divine, Debbie, you’ll believe anything, Debbie, what about last year when you were worshipping ponchos? And I so don’t trust that Judas Iscariot, who’s always staring at me when I walk to the well and he’s saying, hey, Deb, nice jugs, and I’m like, oh ha ha ha, get some oxen.

April 5

So Mary Magdalene tells me that Jesus and all the apostles had this big party and that it got really intense and Jesus drank from this golden goblet and now it’s missing and the restaurant is like, this is why there’s a surcharge.

April 23

It’s all over. And it’s been terrible and amazing and I don’t know what any of it means or who’s right and who’s wrong but maybe I’ll figure it out later. Anyway, I’ll always remember what Jesus said to me. He said, Debbie, I can foresee that someday you’ll meet someone, someone wonderful, but for right now let’s at least think about college.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Video Killed the Radio Star

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognise, some that you've hardly even heard of.
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.
Everybody's a dreamer and everybody's a star
And everybody's in show biz, it doesn't matter who you are.

-The Kinks

Last night I saw the documentary, Mayor of the Sunset Strip. It's the tale of one certain Rodney Bingenheimer, a little guy who was somehow at the center of every important thing that happened in music over the last 40 years or so. I knew him as Rodney on the Roq, a DJ on LA's infamous KROQ - one of the first "alternative" stations in the country. I lived in San Diego, though, some 90 miles south of LA, so I couldn't really listen to the show.

I have friends who grew up listening to him, going to his clubs, befriending him. I got to watch the documentary with one of those friends, at least, and it was fun to watch with a sort of similar reference point. In one interview (a cavalcade of stars are featured) with Ray Manzarek of the Doors, my friend Tim and I both muttered "Putz!" at the screen under our breath, and then had to laugh about it. Because Ray Manzarek is really a wanker, even if he did produce X's best stuff.

Anyway, Rodney is a funny little guy who got dropped off at Connie Stevens' house when he was 15 or so by his mom, who then left him there and drove off to places unknown. Thus began his illustrious career in Hollywood, which included living with Sonny & Cher, introducing David Bowie to the American record companies, hosting a club so popular that Led Zeppelin came there to troll for babes, standing in for Davy Jones on the Monkees' set, and breaking new artists on the radio like Oasis, the Go Gos, No Doubt, etc... But really it's about what a sweet and peculiar little man he is, and how everyone in the star studded universe of LA loves him. He's like the hero you never knew about, because you were too busy trying to beat him up in school. And there's an innocence about him that is amazing in that industry, especially since he's been in it for soooooooo long in some capacity. The best part, though (well, for Tim and I), was that the closing shot was Rodney talking to John Doe from X after a performance, and John Doe is wearing a Snackcake t-shirt, which was a magazine I wrote for and Tim founded. We were more than a little exhuberant.

It gets released nationwide on April 9th, and for those of you abroad... well, find a way to see it. If you love music, you'll love this documentary. I was very jealous to have been too young to have taken full advantage of his heyday, but I dated a couple guys who were older than me who liked to rub that fact in. "Oh, I saw Roxy Music play in that little club when they were still doing music you could dance to" or "I was at a party with Rodney and the Go Gos in 1983 because he was dating my sister" or " I used to meet him for dinner at Canter's on Thursdays" or whatever.

It was a sweet film - try and find it. You'll love Rodney too.



Sunday, March 21, 2004

There's Magic Here

I Heart Kristin Hersh. Very much. She should be a role model for little girls everywhere, I've decided.

On this Tuesday, March 23rd, her new band - 50 Foot Wave - releases it's first CD and plays a free instore performance at Amoeba Music in Hollywood to celebrate. Oh, I'll be there. I've been lucky enough to have the new CD for over a month now, and it rocks. Really, really rocks.

"Yes, it will still be Kristin singing and writing songs, but it will not be Throwing Muses. 50 Foot Wave is meant to be harder, faster, more intense and built from the ground up as an overwhelming live experience." This taken from the official mission statement, as it were, of this band. Anyone familiar with Hersh's musical history will know that she is more than capable of rocking, and these guys are so not kidding this time. This new act has inspired headlines like: "The Thunder of Punk Returns" or "Faster Louder Harder" or (my favorite) "Mommy Is A Punk Rocker." Why? Because this stuff is pretty much a wall of sound coming at you. A friend once said to me, "She really sometimes sings as if she's spitting blood." Well, this time around, I think she's doing it on purpose.

Kristin Hersh started the Throwing Muses with her stepsister, Tanya Donelly, when she was fourteen. She was 19 when their first record came out (she started college at 16) and she also gave birth to her first son. (She just had her fourth a year ago.) The Muses were always like slightly agitated folk pop punk, um, I guess... with some country thrown in. You could hear the influences of all kinds of music, but no one else sounded like them. The songs changed progressions suddenly, as if you were getting two songs in one, something that Hersh has attributed to their enthusiasm to make as much music as possible. The melodies were beautiful. And the one-two punch of Kristin & Tanya's voices were a bit siren-esque too, in a Lolita sort of way.

The words, though, usually Kristin's, were always what grabbed me. It was always slightly desperate, kind of crazy, and totally powerful. Then she put out solo records, and I was completely and forever hooked. These albums were more acoustic and sparse affairs, and lyrically shone like diamonds. To me.

"I keep my nails dug into my half of the rug; I'm sorry now" ("Shake")
"Stop - you ruined all my memories... I'm falling into you, my hair's in your face, eyes on your eyes, hands on my back - I can't leave" ("Close Your Eyes")
"You go whole hog when you like someone - I go apeshit when you forget me" ("Cathedral Heat")
"You separate the good guys from disaster, and it's even sadder..." ("William's Cut")

Her song, "The Letter" was one that affected her so much that she claimed that singing it would make her throw up. I believe her. It's one of the saddest, most lost, letters ever put to paper, and I connected to it in a BIG way when I was going through a really, really rough period several years ago. Then, this summer, she performed it. She said her husband talked her into it, and she tried it, and it didn't make her throw up. I sobbed at my table though - kinda embarrassing, but it couldn't be helped. My friend was a bit worried about me afterwards.

So 50 Foot Wave rose from the ashes of the Throwing Muses, who put out a "reunion" album a year ago and did a brief tour to support it last May. The energetic CD was recorded over a couple of weekends on the East Coast, where most members live with their families. While they all had a blast recording it, bassist Bernard Georges and Kristin decided that they didn't want to give it up. Kristin and her family, who already lead a gypsy like existence, wound up here in LA, recruiting drummer Rob Ahlers and convincing Bernard to head west so that they could record in this new formation. When I attended a open rehearsal last fall, they set up and told us all that it was "gonna be loud, so grab some earplugs." She wasn't kidding. A recent interview in the LA Weekly quotes her : "I don’t understand why everybody my age isn’t doing it. Everybody should play louder and faster the closer they get to 40.”

The new CD is still Kristin, and she's sounding more aggressive and kick ass than ever. Not in a riot grrrrl sort of way, although a friend commented that it sounded like old school LA punk. I'm not really into punk, and I thought it sounded more metally - but that's not right either. Like Helmet meets Liz Phair? Hmmm... you'll have to hear it. But the lyrics are all there: "I don't feel so sorry and I don't feel so bad" ("Long Painting"), "I didn't use you, but I wish I did" ("Clara Bow") "And you - don't you wanna do nothing? And hey - can you say 'something's missing?'" ("Bug")

Anyway, get the CD if you're intrigued. They are only gonna make so many of them, although the Hersh clan is very much okay with filesharing. They just want you to hear the music. They are not terribly into the music industry, they just happen to play music. And if you're in Hollywood on Tuesday, check 'em out. Bring your earplugs.


Friday, March 19, 2004

Into the Ether

I ran into an old KALX acquaintance the other day, Drew Macaroni & Cheese... aka Drew Daniel, half of the experimental electronic outfit Matmos. I don't know that they approve or disapprove of the moniker "experimental," but when you've created music using the squeaking of a balloon, the slurping of liposuction, and the amplified synapse from crayfish nerve tissue, I'd think "experimental" is somewhat suitable.

Drew and his partner (and Matmos co-hort) Martin were in town for a Germs reunion show. When I met Drew back in our radio days, he was a musical tinkler working on his PHD in English Renaissance Literature. I believe he's still working on that, when they aren't doing remixes for Kid 606 or backing Bjork. The sounds of Matmos are like nothing I'd ever heard before, but unlike most "experimental" stuff, it was melodious and not annoying in the least! I can say this was a relief to me, personally, because I've never done well with the more abstract stuff, but I could really latch onto Matmos' music. And admire their creativity. Drew once told me that he & Martin wanted to come into the 7 story building which housed the radio station late one night, when no one was around, to record the slight sound of the air coming through the locked door and traveling along the basement corridor. It was a low howl you'd notice sometimes, but not usually. Those guys just have a different kind of ear.

That was something that Bjork noticed about them when she gave them a call in 1998 to do a remix of her Homogenic track, "Alarm Call." They had already done some work with the Rachel's and June of 44, but Drew was still surprised (in his nonchalant Drew way) when they heard her message on her machine. (I'm now going to paraphrase what he told me at the time... and imagine a very whispery little girl Bjork voice here) "Hallo? Is this Drew & Martin? This is Bjork, and I really like your music. I was wondering if you could please call me, and I would like to work with you. Thank you." It was the start of a beautiful relationship, which took them on tour with the Icelandic princess as part of her back up "band" and also to performances and production work on her Vespertine album.

But Matmos has done plenty on their own. The Matador artists released The Civil War CD this past summer to great reviews, incorporating sounds which coulda been pulled from field recordings of both the American civil war and the English civil war of the 16th century. Damn! Field recordings of cicadas and fireworks mixed in with Appalachian style folk songs and military drum pieces make for what turns into a very historical bit of electronic & atmospheric music. And this was the follow up to their A Chance to Cut Is A Chance to Cure CD, which featured manipulations of recordings Drew made at his father's plastic surgery clinic. Whoa.

The boys will be taking their act on the road soon, doing an instore performance at Amoeba Music in Hollywood in early May, before heading off to Europe for a string of dates which includes the Throbbing Gristle reunion/ festival. They have also been working on a project with the Kronos Quartet.

Like I said, whoa.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

It's A Little Bit Funny...

(Thanks to my fuzzy friend for passing this one along... Yes, it really is written by Mr. Martin!)

STEVE MARTIN'S STUDIO SCRIPT NOTES ON "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST"

Dear Mel:

We love, LOVE the script! The ending works great.
You'll be getting a call from us to start negotiations
for the book rights.

Love the Jesus character. So likable. He can't seem to
catch a break! We identify with him because of it. One
thing, I think we need to clearly state "the rules."
Why doesn't he use his super powers to save himself?
The creative people suggest that you could simply cut
away to two spectators: Spectator one 'Why doesn't he
use his super powers to save himself?' Spectator two
'He can only use his powers to help others, never
himself.'

Does it matter which garden? Gethsemane is hard to say
and Eden is a much more recognizable garden. Just
thinking out loud.

Our creative people suggest a clock visual fading in
and out in certain scenes like the last supper bit:
Monday, 12:43pm." or later, "Good Friday, 5:14pm."

Love the repetition of "is it I?" Could be very funny.
On the eighth inquiry, could Jesus just give a little
look into camera? Breaks frame, but could be a riot.
Also could he change water into wine in last supper
scene? Would be a great moment, and it's legit.
History compression is a movie tradition and could
really brighten up the scene.

Love the flaying.

Could the Rabbis be Hispanic? There's lots of hot
Latino actors now, could give us a little zing at the
box office. Research says there's some justification
for it. Is there somewhere where Jesus could be using
an IMac? You know, now that I hear myself say it, it
sounds ridiculous. Strike that. But think about it.
Maybe we start a shot in heaven with Jesus
thoughtfully closing the top? (Reminder: heaven is
timeless).

The studio is very high on Johnny Depp right now. Just
saw him in "Pirates." He was hilarious. Might be right
for Jesus? Not so straightforward. He could bring a
lot of pizzazz to the role. I think a meeting would be
warranted. Love the idea of Monica Belluci as Mary
Magdalene (Yow!). Our creative people suggest a name
change to Heather. Could skew our audience a little
younger. Love Judas. Such a great villain. Our
creative people suggest that he's a little
"conflicted." Couldn't he be one thing? Just bad?
Gives the movie much more of a motor. Also, 30 pieces
of silver is not going to get anyone excited. I think
it's very simple to make him a "new millionaire."
Bring in the cash on a tray. Great dilemma that the
audience can identify with.

Minor spelling error: on page 18, in the description
of the bystanders, there should be a space between the
words "Jew" and "boy."

Merchandising issue: it seems the cross image has been
done to death and we can't own it. Could the
crucifixion scene involve something else? A Toyota
would be wrong, but maybe there's a shape we can
copyright, like an ellipse?

I'm assuming "the dialogue is in Aremeic," is a typo
for "American." If not call me on my cell or I'm at
home all weekend. By the way, I'm sending a group of
staffers on a cruise to the North Pole, coincidentally
around the time of the release date. Would love to
invite your dad!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Darts of Pleasure

While I was taking my walk today, I noticed (between the hoots of Mexican gardeners and leers of rich old white guys in convertible Porsches) quite a few little girls on various neighborhood corners selling lemonade and/ or Girl Scout cookies. I think this means that spring is here, right?

So with the arrival of spring comes the crisp, clean air, blooming flowers, miniskirts, and raging hormones. And I am not immune, because last night I fell in love... with Franz Ferdinand! The band, silly, not the dead guy who sparked WWI (yea, who knows their history?). I had heard them, liked them, went to Amoeba to see them play for free, and then... LOVED THEM. There were many boys in the audience who loved them too. I think I have to admit now that I like just about any band that sounds like Gang of Four, cuz they do. And they were angular Scottish guys with short nerdy haircuts; what girl (or gay boy, I guess) can resist that? Anyway, I highly recommend them to anyone who is into that sort of angular dance pop with quirky vocals.

I was struck by the fact that they reminded me of pictures of my dad in 1966 or so. You know; skinny with cropped yet kinda floppy hair and buttoned up short sleeved shirts... All except for the one that looked like Kyle MacLachlan's little brother. I kept thinking that back in the day (whichever day, you choose) these guys would get their asses kicked. But they are playing cool music, so they have boys and girls fawning at their feet. I think they were just as surprised about that as I was, actually.

When I first started getting into what I think of as "indie rock," the bands were absolutely not attractive. They looked like they just got out of the factory, had been drinking since they were 5, lived in an apartment on top of a garage, and only fully showered and shaved if they had to go to a wedding or a funeral. Bands like Husker Du, the Replacements, the Meat Puppets, R.E.M., and of course - Throwing Muses. (The Muses seemed rather clean, though... I think they all still lived at home. They were in high school, you know.)

Husker Du were amazing to me, because they loved the rock and the pop, because they could take a Germs song and filter it through the Beach Boys. I was never one much for punk, but I love melodies and I also love anything remotely rowdy, and those boys did it for me. And their lyrics meant something too... I remember playing "Green Eyes" on my radio show for the green eyed indie boy who had broken my heart, and it is quite the love song . You see, the hard feelings hadn't set in yet.

And I'm a big ole fag hag, so I was pleasantly surprised years later when I found out they were gay. Well, I still don't know if all three of them are gay, but I remember hearing that Bob & Grant had a thing gone wrong, and that's where a lot of those lyrics came from. And Bob is definitely out & about these days.

I met him about a year ago, when the Throwing Muses were doing the reunion shows supporting their absolutely final album. They were doing an instore performance, and since I had helped set it up, I was dorking out in the green room talking with Kristin Hersh about something and he was sitting next to me. I didn't realize it because he was so thin and I hadn't seen a photo of him in ages. She introduced me and said, "Bob is my kids' favorite babysitter." I said, "Really? Why? Can you keep control over those rowdy kids?" And he said, "Yea, my partner (points to a hunky blond guy playing with one of the children) and I have a secret weapon." "What's that?" "Salsa dancing." Go figure!

A friend was kind enough to point me to Bob's blog. Turns out he & I enjoy the same tastes in blogspot too, as we share a layout. Great minds...

Monday, March 15, 2004

God Save the Queens

Okay, so it's old news that the Queens of the Stone Age more or less broke up last month. A very curious thing for the fans, especially since key members Nick Oliveri and Josh Homme have been buddies since they were little kids or something.

"You know what happens when a pure and original rock band gets polluted, poisoned by hunger for power, and by control issues? Things get really out of control. I'm noticing that people start fighting for control, especially when they realize they have no control. And what ever happened to loyalty?" This is from an official statement by Mr. Oliveri, and it really makes you wonder what the hell happened. And Josh and Nick weren't even on the same continent when all this went down.

Well, the hot gossip that's made it's way back to me (and remember, it's just gossip) is that there was a slight Yoko situation. The whole Josh Homme - Brody Armstrong (of the Distillers, who was still married - albeit unhappily - to Tim Armstrong of Rancid at the time) hookup was really a bummer to Nick, who disapproved of the thing wholeheartedly. After their joint Australian shows, I guess Josh got fed up with Nick's morality crusade, or jealousy... whichever. Needless to say, that was the end of QOTSA as we know it.

That's just what I heard, anyway.

I worked at a record store where QOTSA did a rad instore performance just before releasing Songs for the Deaf. Traditionally, after an instore performance, the band's new CD would get played in the store. This time, the guys were a little embarrassed to do that - they figured they'd heard it enough. So the store manager asked Josh to pick something out. He wandered around and picked out one of my favorite no-one-has-ever-heard-of bands from the 90's: a poppy Swedish outfit on Minty Fresh called Komeda. Absolutely made my day and I fell in love with Josh Homme.

Too bad love has torn QOTSA apart!

Spirits in the Material World

So the day after my cat Nessie died, my other cat, Jute, started freaking out. He wasn't especially chummy with Nessie to begin with - I mean, they beat each other up and played around, but I always got the feeling it was more of a tolerance thing. They were always doing battle for space on my lap, and it usually wound up being Nessie, the 7 pounder, on my chest while Jute, the 15 pounder, took up residence on my lap.

Anyway, that whole first night without Nessie, Jute curled up on the corner of my bed, one eye on the slightly ajar door all night. Well, as far as I could tell. When I got up in the morning, he stood on the edge of the bed and puffed up, Halloween style, and hissed, slowly backing up towards me and eventually trying to hide behind my head. This went on for a good ten minutes or so till I got him calmed down.

In the week that has passed, he's had more moments of kitty freakout like that, but I've also thought that I've seen Nessie - only for a second, out of the corner of my eye. Who knows? I grew up watching stuff like In Search of (the Leonard Nimoy version in the 70's) and still dork out with the X-Files, so I guess you could call me "a believer." My family has all sorts of stories about dead relatives coming for a visit and apartments with strange-goings-on and the like, so who's to say my kitty isn't cruising around? As long as she doesn't pee in the entry way corner like she did when she was alive, I'm totally okay with it.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight

"but i ain't ever gonna see you again
and i'm never gonna feel you again
so let this moment never end..."

"The Twilite Kid" by The Twilight Singers

That song is probably about a girl and some sort of messed up relationship, but I'm taking it completely out of context and dedicating it to my cat. I'm sure Greg Dulli won't mind - he wrote a song inspired by his cat that's on the same album.

Tonight my cat died in my arms. I found out she was sick a week ago, and knew that soon I'd have to put her to "sleep." (Uh, I just realized that I could quote Greg again here... "Sleep is the cousin of death; least that's what Nas says..." from the Afghan Whigs track "Omerta.") Still, Nessie seemed okay, just a little tired. Her kidneys were failing, and since there was no way to treat this due to her heart murmur, it was a sit back and wait situation. "Let's do what will make you and Nessie the most comfortable," said Dr. Allen.

Nessie was named after the Loch Ness Monster - a creature I have a particular affinity for. I have no idea why. Considering that this particular kitty was found hanging by a creek with a pack of dogs, I knew she'd be an original. She was obsessed with water and did this funny thing with her neck, as if she was saying "Oh no you di' n't!" all the time. If she could have, she would have done snaps while saying it. The cat was from Oakland, after all.

A friend and I snagged her, got her checked out by a vet, and she was mine. I had doubts at first, but my boyfriend hung out with her for an hour and said, "You should keep her. She's cool." She later proved her "coolness" with a maniacal addiction to catnip that had her leaping great distances with no visible means of leverage or knocking over heavy objects in order to devour the stuff. At that point we lived in Berkeley and, well... who isn't a stoner in Berkeley?

Nessie was a sweetheart of a nutcase, a tranny (I found out years later that "she" was actually a "he") with a heart of gold, and a loyal friend. I mean, none of my other friends ever happily brought me half dead birds. If I was sad, she'd be right up in my lap; if I was laying out in the sun, she'd lie right next to me; if I was gardening, she'd chew on my plants. Every day, when I would come home, she'd be waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs with a little meow.

Till Friday. That was the first day she didn't greet me. She started to hide, and had stopped eating. Saturday I had to go to a wedding out of town, and she was still hiding. I was terrified she'd die alone, so I asked her to hold on till I got back. She did. I came home and she was splayed out on my rug next to the bed, and she tried to lift her head and meow when she saw me. I held her for the next hour and a half, and then she died.

I am lucky to have a lot of wonderful, wonderful friends. I called one to ask him for a shovel so I could do an illegal burial in the back yard of my apartment building, and he offered his back yard at his home (which is basically Griffith Park). The main reason? A creek runs through it. So we buried her under the Hollywood sign, sprinkled some catnip on her, and said goodbye. Then we took a Commemorative Nessie Memorial Dip in his pool under the full moon.

Making the decision to put her down was difficult enough. The sense of responsibilty for my little girl was overwhelming; ugh - I could never have a kid. But losing her... It's a heartbreak worse than with love, but it's so much easier to understand. So I'll be fine. I still have another big husky cat hanging out with me, but I've just had a major set back towards my goal of being the Crazy Cat Lady on the Block. Maybe I'll have to rethink that. So here's a farewell, by, oddly enough, the Spaniels...

"Goodnight sweetheart, well it's time to go... I hate to leave you but I really must say:
Goodnight, sweetheart - goodnight..."

Friday, March 05, 2004

The Open Letter to Dr. Laura

This is something that was floating around the internet a while ago. It got started after Dr. Laura proclaimed that the Bible supported gay bashing. Well, she didn't exactly say that, but she might as well have. So here's the letter:

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Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

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If you'd like to see the annotated version of this (meaning you can actually read the Bible passages to which the letter writer refers), go here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Take This Job and Shove It

I work for a company that just laid off over 1000 of its employees. As part of the new Warner Music Group, the new owner claims this has to be done to make our company "agile and efficient." Whatever. I'm just bummed I wasn't one of the kids laid of - my job is borrrrrrrrrinnnnnng. And the severance package was pretty sweet, I heard.

One of my dearest (and now, I realize, oldest) friends did get the shaft though. He was kind enough to be bummed for me when I didn't get canned, but we were both bummed we couldn't go drinkin' at noon on a Tuesday. He sent out a clever farewell to folks, which I'm going to reprint here (hope you don't mind, Tim!).

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"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench; a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Dear friends, colleagues, acquaintances, et al, etc.

Today I lost my job, along with half of the Rhino/Warner Strategic Marketing A&R department, and hundreds of other Warner Music Group employees around the world. This is part of WMG's ongoing corporate "restructuring." This development was not unexpected. It's simply the reality of the recording industry ca. now.

I'm fairly certain that this will be a great opportunity for me to explore the myriad ideas that I've been mulling over on lunch breaks and long commutes for the two and a half years that I've been in the service of Rhino. My sadness is tempered with excitement over the possibilities the lay ahead. So don't cry for me, Argentina (or Cincinnati, or Norfolk, CT). I will survive and hopefully even prosper.

To those of you with whom I've toiled over the last few years (especially you freelance writers), you have my sincere gratitude and respect. My life has been enriched by your knowledge, professionalism and dedication to what you do. I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

And in the Shameless Self-Promotion category, I'll tell you that my band's new record will be released nationally in early May. We're called Actionslacks. We'll probably be in a town near you by year's end. Come say hello if you're so inclined - it'd be nice to meet you.

I'll leave you with perhaps the ultimate musical account of corporate downsizing, The Jam's "Smithers-Jones," a song that documents my morning with remarkable accuracy. As for me, I'm going home to have a stiff drink and a long sleep. I think I deserve it.

Thank you and good luck,

Tim



Smithers-Jones
Here we go again, it's Monday at last
He's heading for the Waterloo line
To catch the 8 a.m. fast, it's usually dead on time
Hope it isn't late, got to be there by nine
Pin stripe suit, clean shirt and tie
Stops off at the corner shop to buy The Times
"Good Morning Smithers-Jones
How's the wife and home?
Did you get the car you've been looking for?"

Let me get inside you, let me take control of you
We could have some good times
All this worry will get you down
I'll give you a new meaning to life."
I don't think so

Sitting on the train, you're nearly there
You're part of the production line
You're the same as him, you're like tin-sardines
Get out of the pack, before they peel you back

Arrive at the office, spot on time
The clock on the wall hasn't yet struck nine
"Good Morning Smithers Jones
The boss wants to see you alone
I hope its the promotion you've been looking for
I hope its the promotion you've been looking for"

"Come in Smithers, old boy
Take a seat, take the weight off your feet
I've some news to tell you
There's no longer a position for you
Sorry, Smithers Jones."

Put on the kettle and make some tea
It's all a part of feeling groovie
Put on your slippers turn on the TV
It's all a part of feeling groovie
It's time to relax, now you've worked your arse off
But the only one smilin' is the sun-tanned boss
Work and work and work and work till you die
There's plenty more fish in the sea to fry

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Oh those were the days... Good luck, comrades!

Monday, March 01, 2004

Mo's Mom Rates the Hits

I'll start by letting you know that this is a re-run. Granted, it originally appeared in a super hipster indie 'zine called Snackcake,which is now defunct, and went on to become one of my most popular pieces, but that was in, like, 1997. And since there is a lot going on in my life right now, I don't have the time to rant and rave as I'd like to, but I don't want to leave ya hangin' if you are one of the 8 people who read this with some regularity. Most likely, you didn't get that one copy of Snackcake... ha ha ha...

Maybe I'll get around to updating this by getting my Dad's opinions. He's a science teacher. Rad.

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Mo’s Mom Rates the Hits


“What’s this rubbish, then? Is that how you’re supposed to play a guitar? I can sing better than that little ape... you call that singing? That’ll make you deaf, you know...”
- Jimmy’s dad in "Quadrophenia," talking about the Who


One of the fun things you get to do while growing up is annoy the hell out of your parents. The best way to do it is by playing loud, obnoxious music. I did this to the best of my ability, and had the extra advantage of sharing a wall with mom and dad, so that’s where I put my stereo. It seemed to work. Actually, my dad didn’t seem to care one way or the other, but my mom would constantly ridicule my choices. “What’s wrong with him? Why does he cry so much?” she would say of the Cure. I’d play the Smiths and she would complain of Morrissey’s incessant droning.

Then it dawned on me: she could tell the difference. She knew who the Cure was, the Smiths, Berlin.

Now my mom isn’t your typical mom. First of all, she’s Colombian and was brought up with music and dancing as part of her home life. She fought with the priests in her Catholic school and was in the city ballet. She was one of the first Jazzercise instructors in the world (the fourth, I believe). When the other Jazzercise teachers got into silicone and speed, she started her own exercise program. My mom has a killer assortment of 45s collectors would die for, but I’ve inherited. (Remember that song "Popcorn" by Hot Butter? Yea, I've got the 7".) Once she started her program, she started looking for new music - which meant stealing some of mine. She thought the English Beat was cute, and loved ABC. She even started using New Order in class back in 1984.

Recently, I went home for a little visit with the family. My brother was listening to Mr. Bungle while he was in the shower and Mom started in: “Oh, that music he listens to is awful. Nothing sounds like it goes together, and the singer sounds like he’s hiccupping or something.” Then the idea came to me: my mom hasn’t heard my music in ages. Let’s see how we compare notes today!

So I grabbed a bunch of tapes and jaunted off to my mom and dad’s bedroom. She was surrounded by demanding cats; I knew she wasn’t going anywhere for a while. Here are the reviews my mom gave to some of the music we kids are listening to today.

The Geraldine Fibbers: “I can do that and I’ve never touched a guitar in my life. She’s whining. I don’t think I could listen to that more than a second.”

Belly: “She has a very nice voice, it’s just the music. You turn on the washing machine and that’s the sound it makes.”

Guided By Voices: “I like this. It’s happy. Kids would dance to this. I would put up with this all day. It’s cute.”

PJ Harvey: “What’s wrong with her? She sounds like she’s in agony. She’s scary.”

Blur: “I would not be afraid of this. Weird sounds, but good sounds. I think they’re probably musicians.”

Unrest:
“This music sounds like a train going by.”

Bjork: “You can become a millionaire doing that ?”

Sebadoh: “His voice is nice. The melody is not bad, as long as they don’t play the guitar. I hate the electric guitar.”

Liz Phair: “They were singing like this in the 60s. Carole King was singing like that but she had power - this one is powerless.”

The Chills: “This is the best stuff you’ve played so far. It’s really catchy and he has such a sweet voice.”

Other conclusions that my mother arrived at after our little experiment: the boys make nicer music than the girls - the girls are just too bitter and angry. And bands from other countries make better music than Americans.

She wanted to borrow my Chills tape, so I let her. Then she went to the living room to watch “Sabado Gigante.” Parents today - I tell ya.