Monday, May 30, 2005

Blast Off!

My musical alphabet has reached R. Which means... Rocket from the Crypt!!!!!

I'm a San Diego girl. I was bored to tears there, though, and got out when I could. I've always been a big music geek, and there were never really any good shows that came through SD. There might have been some fun local bands, but there was mostly a lot of blues-rock and reggae, which I wasn't in the mood for.

Of course, a couple years after I left, the SD music scene got cool. One of the early bands to come out of that was Rocket From the Crypt. They sprang from the remnants of the glorious Pitchfork (the band, not the snarky site we love to hate) in 1990, spewing rowdy garage punkabilly - with horns. You could practically see the hair grease, tattoos, and sunglasses before you ever saw them live. They are a great fuckin' band.

Leader John Reis (also in Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu) hosts a radio show at a SD station called Swami Radio. I tuned in on a recent visit, and got to hear the Sonics, the Real Kids, Brian Eno, Delroy Wilson, the Saints, and Houndog Taylor. He brings listeners on sometimes and they all rock out together.

The swami looks an awful lot like another gentleman who has inspired Reis. Inspired many people in San Diego, actually. I don't know his name, but he is a dry cleaner... A dry cleaner with a need, a desire, to clean your clothes. He has named his chain of dry cleaning services Velvet Touch, and billboards and bus signs all over town feature a large grinning head of a man with a slogan proclaiming: THIS MAN WANTS TO CLEAN YOUR CLOTHES.

So if you own that first Rocket record, and you always wondered what the hell that song was about, there you go. Inspirational!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

White Supremacy

Last Sunday, some gal pals and I were discussing the whole white shoes thing. Like, when is it okay to wear them? I actually don't think I've ever owned any white shoes myself, except for tennis shoes, and anyone who knows me knows how often I wear tennis shoes. (Um, never.)

What I know about white shoes, I learned from "Serial Mom." (Remember how she kills Patty Hearst with a telephone receiver for wearing them after Labor Day, while Patty cries, "Fashions change!")

Technically, it's okay to wear them after Memorial Day. White shoes are a summer thing, apparently. I came across a whole article on it the other day. Not only are there rules about when to wear them, but there are all kinds of rules if you choose to wear them as well.

_ Accessories designer Kate Spade wears her white jeweled sandals or ballet slippers with white or black cigarette pants or jeans, an "easy and crisp" look for summer.

_ Victoria's Secret model Ines Rivero, who walks runways around the world in all sorts of footwear, owns three pairs of white shoes for her personal wardrobe. Her favorites are white satin Manolo Blahniks, which she wears with jeans.

_ Michael Kors says white shoes are OK for men and women as long as the wearer has kept up on his or her grooming. "They look best with self-tanner and a good pedicure, preferably not red nails."

_ Even though she's a fashionista, Suze Yalof Schwartz, Glamour's executive fashion editor at large, is not as big a fan of the white shoes as her stylish peers: "I'd have to agree with Mom. I think they (white shoes) are fine with a wedding dress or a nurse's uniform, or if you're on the courts playing tennis. I know people might be wearing them elsewhere, but they shouldn't."

Oh my. The eternal debate rages on...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Que Sera Sera

I've lived in California all my life, and it's an awfully big state. People move in, people move out. So I've gotten used to people leaving. It's a bummer to lose confidants, party pals, dancing buddies, movie partners and someone to lay around in the sun with, but I've gotten used to it. But I'm a good pen pal, and now I have crash pads all over the globe!

The latest loss to California is a New Jersey native who made it here by way of NYC and then Seattle, my roommate Kerry. As she heads to the Motor City, I wish her luck on the new chapter of her life and this: Thanks for the good times, the rambling stories (well, on my part), the allnighters, the TV loungers, the castoff clothing, the good music, and everything else that would take too long to mention here.

In honor of Kerry's departure, I present to you my favorite of all of her blog entries (perhaps you tuned in to So Says I during it's time?). California is always here waiting, until we fall into the ocean, anyway. Remember, we'll always have Neup's hot tub.

An Open Letter to the Producers of I Want a Famous Face:

Dear Producers of I Want a Famous Face:

Hey there. What’s up? Nothing much here. I’m just writing because I have been watching your show a lot lately. Did you know that MTV plays each episode 5 times a day? That’s 2 ½ hours of the same surgery every day. Considering I watch MTV seven days a week, that is… well… a lot of seeing the insides of strangers. But who I am kidding? They’re not strangers anymore. Jessica? The transsexual who wants to look like J. Lo? I feel like I've know her/him for years. Mia? The Britney look alike who just needed some fake breasts to complete the look? She knew exactly what she was doing by forgoing a career in marketing. I mean, Britney’s here to stay, while marketing is definitely a flash-in-the-pan kind of job. And who can forget Sha, the Pam Andersen want-to-be? Soon enough, Pam won’t even look like Pam because she’s getting up there in age so Sha can swoop in and take her place. That’s one smart naked model.

So I’ve been thinking… maybe I want a famous face. I didn’t even realize it until I after repeated viewings. In fact, I don’t want a famous face… I need a famous face. But who? I’ve thought about musicians and actors who recently have had an impact in my life and came up with an obvious answer. I want to be zombie #30542 from Dawn of the Dead. Zombies are timeless, and I hear they are going to be really in for spring. And I’m tired on having my insides on the inside, you know?

Ok, thank you Producers from MTV’s I Want a Famous Face for your time. I hope to hear from you soon regarding my up-coming episode.

Hugs and Kisses,

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

In A Hidden Place

Do you like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? Do you want to see them play before they head off to the UK for a tour with the Brian Jonestown Massacre? Read on...

BRMC LIVE from the NEW Little Radio Warehouse - Saturday May 28

There will only be 200 tickets sold for this show. The tickets will go on sale Friday at 12PM from a secret location in Hollywood. An announcement will be made on Wednesday thru the Little Radio email list where these tickets will be sold. To sign up on that email list, just click on the blimp at the Little Radio website. Once these tickets are gone, there will be no more! NO TICKETS WILL BE SOLD AT THE DOOR!

The Little Radio kids work hard to keep music evil and fun in LA. I know, I was one of them for a while. Damn dayjob! I'd be at the show too if I wasn't already going out of town for a looooong weekend. So go check 'em out if you can, and tell me how it was. I'm betting: pretty great.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A Bear

I bet you think I'm going to write this about my hairy gay friends, don't you? Ha ha! No - not today. But later this week, I promise.

This post is about the glorious advent of summer, which pretty much arrived here in LA the weekend before last. I am sporting a fabulous tan, courtesy of a friend's nearby pool and his tolerance of me constantly crashing it. We are two people with natural pigment, so we don't burn either. Yes, hate us. I've had maybe a patch of sunburn in a spot here or there a few times in my life (but I ALWAYS wear sunblock!).

Just a couple weeks ago, it was still raining here. In fact, I know that LA is about an inch away from having the heaviest rainy season EVER on record, and I'd love for us to beat that first record set about a hundred years ago. But you know what? I like the sunshine better. So when the rain went away and the temperatures jumped from 60 to 80, I was ready. And so was my pool towel.

This past weekend, in fact, was sweltering. Still nothing compared to the summer we have coming, but enough to make bears get into the neighbors' pools over in the valley. Really!

Okay, maybe it wasn't this bear, but a bear did do it! Check it:
Bear Takes Dip in Suburban L.A. Pool
Mon May 23, 4:36 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - A 140-pound bear wandered into a suburban neighborhood and took a dip in a swimming pool before being tranquilized and returned to the wild.

The female bear ambled into the San Fernando Valley's Porter Ranch area shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday, bumping into doors and windows before taking a few splashes in a backyard pool, fire spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

"It looks like it's possibly in heat," Wood said. "She probably just made a wrong turn and ended up in a neighborhood. She belongs up in the hills and that's where she lives."

Yea, I bet she was in heat. We all were. The pool is for everybody, man!!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Glycerin Queen

Q? Oh, I got Q. Quatro. Suzi Quatro.

Suzi put out her first solo album at the age of 23, after having played bass with her sisters in a girl garage band for many years. When she went solo, she was bad ass. Dressed in black leather, with shaggy seventies hair, playing a bass guitar about the same size as her, and growling along with the best of the guys... Suzi was who inspired Joan Jett and many other of the riot girls who came along a decade or so after her.

Unfortunately, Suzi didn't write most of her own hits, the guys who were writing for the Sweet took care of that. Hence her macho bubblegum power rock, which she delivered with as much bravado as any guy. She was also fond of doing covers and not switching the pronouns to fit her sex, only increasing the speculation about her own sexuality. (By the way, her husband was in the band, but this fact was overlooked at the time.) She was a glam alley cat armed with a bass, attitude and tough rocker delivery. She ruled.

And then she went on "Happy Days" and played Leather Tuscadero, bringing the tough chick act to the airwaves. Love it. She still does stuff today, but I like to remember her in skin tight leather pants, rockin' her bass and growling "Your mama won't like me!" into a mike the same size as her head. You go, girl.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May the Force Be With You

And also with you.

(Stolen from Planet Dan. Nice, huh?)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pull Up The People

As the squelchy boom boom of M.I.A.'s "Galang" started bouncing off the walls of the Echo last night, my friend leaned over to me and said, "Okay, can this replace that damn 'In Da Club' already?"

I got to see the hipsters' favorite daughter of a terrorist last night, with boyfriend Diplo on the wheels of steel/ sequencer/ whatever else they use to make up the music, and a cute b-girl back up singer. I had a lot of fun, as did most of the folks around me, and I'm happy to report that no one fell on top of anyone else in a drunken stupor (as reported earlier at the LCD Soundsystem show).

We knew she was coming on because the screen behind the bitty stage started acting up. Clips of a Bush & Blair press conference came on, with Blair continually getting interrupted by a slightly manipulated Bush repeating, "M.I.A." Of course, the crowd went nuts. Then she came out in a blaze of "Pull Up the People," and it was on.

The graphics running through the background were her 80's spray paint tag style, but animated. Helicopters and guns, faces and tigers, sprayed by this Sri Lankan civil war child straight outta London via New York. She presented everything you've heard: the third world girl, too smart for her poor surroundings, taken from her home with her family to escape the war (being fought by her Tamil Tiger father) to a shack in Madras, India and later to London, where racism made her tougher, where hip hop filled the street, where she got into art and hooked up with the likes of Justine from Elastica and Peaches. (This interview is especially great, and I stole their picture.)

She did all the hip hop hand waving and stage bouncing, but sang and shouted with a ferociousness that made my friend and I wonder if half the crowd knew how serious the whole thing was. M.I.A. has a very obvious agenda, but was anyone hearing it? "Semi-9 and snipered him... on that wall they posted him; They cornered him and then just murdered him..." or "Can I get control, do you like me vulnerable? I'm armed and I'm equal..." She's singing about either war or sex, it seems. And in such a style that if you played L'Trimm's "The Cars That Go Boom" right after any of her songs, it'd be an excellent segueway.

The story we got from the owner of the venue was that she wanted to do a headlining show in LA, and none were scheduled, so this got thrown together at the last minute. She played about an hour (including encore) and did most of the songs off the album (even the last "hidden" track), and was very gracious throughout the night. The cutest part was that she kept saying, "Hello Hollywood!" Which we weren't.

She especially seemed to enjoy saying "West Coast!" and throwing her arms in the air. I guess she knows the West Coast and East Coast have had some wars too, but she can teach us a thing about all that. So listen. AND dance.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Sound Of Philadelphia

The other day, I met Gamble & Huff. This was a HUGE deal for me, because these guys are totally GENIUS.

I'm sure the names sound familiar, but you may not be sure why. Or perhaps I am completely underestimating my readers, in which case, I apologize. It's just that as the day progressed, and I mentioned to people here and there that I had met Gamble & Huff, they usually looked at me funny.

Gamble & Huff wrote some of the best souls songs, ever. They are the leaders of the Philadelphia sound, something which was countering Motown and dominating R&B in the early 70's. Artists who performed their songs include the Supremes, the Temptations, The Three Degrees, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O'Jays, Aretha Franklin, and Lou Rawls.

Not enough for you? You know their songs whether you want to or not... "Back Stabbers," "For the Love of Money," "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine," "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "Expressway To Your Heart," "Don't Leave Me This Way," "Love Train," "When Will I See You Again," and what probably is my guiltiest favorite... "T.S.O.P. - The Sound of Philadelphia." You may know it as the theme for Soul Train. (Or is that... Sooooooooouuuuuuuuuulllllll Trrraaaaaiiiiiiinnnn!)

Some songs were sugary sweet, others sexy and funky. They weren't afraid to get political and preached peace. Their record label, Philadelphia International Records (which they founded in 1971) became the second largest African American owned company two years after its start.

The two men I met were kind, stylin' gentlemen, in town because they were being honored with an American Idol episode themed around their music. I told them I wasn't a fan of the show, and Mr. Gamble said to me, "Well, I appreciate that it's bringing back the singer, and also bringing back a face to the songwriters. I appreciate their spirit." What could I say? I felt like a dork. Then Mr. Huff pointed at my t-shirt and said, "Sharon Jones? [whom I had seen in a fabulous performance the night before] She's really good!" "Have you seen her?" I responded. "No, but I dig her version of 'This Land Is Your Land.'" I told them I was honored to meet them, and thanked them for the music. They shook my hand and Mr. Gamble tipped his hat to me.

I nearly swooned. Now that's class.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Second Hand News

I didn't get to go to the LCD Soundsystem/ MIA show last night, but I know someone who did. She got her ticket through a friend who works at a management company, who knows a music supervisor who is tight with a label guy who hit up the promotion person for the venue, or something like that. It seemed like that was the only way to get a ticket - squeeze it out of some industry crevice. I don't know anyone who bought one. Neither did she.

Which makes her tale all the more interesting. Let me paraphrase:

"When we got to the show, it was so oversold that they said they couldn't honor Jen's plus one, so I couldn't go in. Of course, we screamed bullshit, and after 20 minutes, they finally let us in. The guy taking the tickets didn't believe I had gotten one legally because it didn't scan right or something, so we had to get the person who brought it to us to get us in anyway. Lame.

We saw about 3 of MIA's songs, and her encore, and she was totally badass. People were chanting her name between songs, and everyone was dancing like crazy. My friend and I looked at each other... 'Are we still in LA?' (ed. note: LA shows often suck because no one in the audience seems to care. At all. Ever. In fact, I'm not sure why they are there half the time - except maybe to say "But I was there!" How appropriate for this particular show...) We'd never seen a crowd get so into an act, much less a crowd that was supposedly so industry.

Then LCD came on, and they really made everyone nuts. Most of the people there either couldn't dance but did anyway, or had never had a drink in their lives before and overdid it at this show. There was a big white guy next to us, just gyrating and spilling his beer all over himself while yelling, 'Yeah!' It was embarrassing. Then a big drunk black girl fell on the floor in front of us, and we tried to help her up and then the big white guy fell over on top of her. It was a mess. There were couples all around us grinding, and I realized that that's what people do when they can't dance - they grind. It was, at least wherever we stood, like a big drunk frat party. Which was really weird because I thought it would be hipster central and all the skinny boys would have their arms crossed while tapping a toe and the girls with Karen-O haircuts would be swaying a bit. But I didn't see too many of those people. It was weird.

But LCD sounded great. They were really tight musically and really had the place jumping. Too bad the crowd was so lame."

I guess that's the report from the show. I'm curious to hear others, but I'll have a taste myself as a friend who knows a guy who co-owns the venue where MIA is playing Tuesday night got us a pair of tickets. I TOLD you that was the only way to get them.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Smiles, Everyone... Smiles!

My dad sent me this joke. I love it, cause it's true...

Jack was sitting in an airplane when another guy took the seat beside him. The new guy was an absolute wreck, pale, hands shaking, biting his nails and moaning in fear.

"Hey, pal, what's the matter?" Jack asked.

"Oh man... I've been transferred to California," the other guy answered. "There's crazy people in California and they have shootings, gangs, race riots, drugs, the highest crime rate..."

"Hold on," Jack interrupted, "I've lived in California all my life, and it's not as bad as the media says. Find a nice home, go to work, mind your own business, enroll your kids in a good school and it's as safe as anywhere in the world."

The other passenger relaxed and stopped shaking for a moment and said, "Oh, thank you. I've been worried to death, but if you live there and say it's OK, I'll take your word for it. What do you do for a living?"

"Me?" said Jack, "I'm a tail gunner on a Budweiser truck in Oakland."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Have Mercy

Just because people all around me are having miracle tickets for the LCD Soundsystem / MIA show this Sunday night at the El Rey fall upon them like so much of this funny LA rain...I throw my need out there into the cosmos. I WANNA GO TOO! If you have a spare, drop me a line. Otherwise, tell me all about and watch me cry. Pitifully.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

And Now, a Word from My Sponsors...

I am not a fashionista by any stretch of the word, but I can dress ok. I try to find fun pieces to accent things, and a couple of them are SO fun that people practically try to buy them off me when I wear them. I'm not joking. And now my friends are selling them, so y'all can leave me alone.

Guitar pick earrings.

Evidently, these are pretty easy to make, but I'm lazy. A gal down the street has a handy little boutique (the wonderful Pull My Daisy) that sells these puppies pretty cheap, so I don't have to feel quite as lazy... Anytime I wear them, though, people get all ga-ga. And they're really light. Bonus!

Seat belt belts.

The first one I had is just a simple gray with a Cadillac belt buckle, so I've always referred to it as the cadillac of belts. Ha, ha, I know... My next was a black belt with flames and a Ford Mustang clasp. And my next will be the airline style. Not like I need any trouble staying locked into my pants or anything. Anyway, you can special order them from another shop up the street, the kooky Y Que.

Rose rings.

Women try to take these right off my fingers, I kid you not. A friend of mine started selling them recently, so I ordered 6 to show someone, because she wanted one. I met her in a little cafe, put the rings on the table, and within 5 minutes had sold ALL OF THEM to random women off the street. Oh, and my friend got hers. I used to buy these for about $8 a pop in SF, and I've seen them twice here in LA - for over $20. Dumb. Go to my friend's site and get 'em cheap - just know the ring size.

Now, let's go shopping!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dancing Queen

Oh, I'm fond of shaking my ass. Big time. I just don't like most places where you are supposed to do that sort of thing. Why? Well, because if a girl is dancing, she gets hit on. LIKE CRAZY. It's kind of a drag. This is why girls dance in groups, circled around a pile of their purses and jackets as if in some ancient ritual. "Girls must dance, girls must maintain eye contact with each other, girls must not break circle or boys will attempt to invade."

Pretty much.

This is probably why I've traditionally danced in gay clubs or at people's houses. Occasionally in the living room (but that's about as exciting a show as any neighbor of mine is going to get). Oh, I'll do that sort of shoulder/slap the steering wheel dance in my car too. In fact, I was doing that just this evening, running errands after work and groovin' to the M.I.A. jammy jams. I was listening to Missy Elliott-meets-Peaches-meets-L'Trimm goodness, and I said out loud to myself, "GodDAMN, do I want to go dancing!"

I got home to a sweet email from a friend who co-owns a nearby bar: "And guess what? Tonight is the first night of dancing at the Shorty in 2 1/2 years! Come on down and bring hotties." Mmmm... Lovely news. The sign put up by one of the other owners after the bar got shut down for "illegal" dancing (wrong type of license... how Footloose!) proclaiming "DANCING IZ DED" is hopefully placed in the VIP room as a quaint reminder of the non-booty-shakin' days of old.

And it just so happens to be co-owner Greg Dulli's birthday... there will be plenty of ass-shaking at the Short Stop tonight! Maybe Greg & Charles will re-instate their "Thursdays Become Dyslexic" evening (a diss perhaps on local DJ wanker Nic Harcourt's Morning Becomes Eclectic program) and the sweet sounds of soul and funk will return to that little stretch of Sunset Boulevard? But, once again, a fun place to dance with friends and be safe - but only because I know the guys who own it. Whew!

Tomorrow night, I'm gonna do plenty of dancing. I'm checking out Sharon Jones, and the last time I saw her, my friends and I did so much dancing I think we each lost 5 pounds by the end of the night. Sharon Jones bills herself as the female James Brown, and except for all that getting arrested biz he's into, she may be right. I'll check out the Shorty next week, since I try not to hit up the bars on weekends. Amateur night, you know.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Thing of the Past

In my musical recounting, alphabetically, I've reached P. Now, regular readers will say, "Of course! She's going to write about the Pixies." Shucks, I do that all the time. I thought about the Pretenders and Prolapse, Pucho & the Latin Soul Brothers... but I have to write about Phyllis, because she was a gem and not enough people know about her. If I can convince just ONE of you to go buy something from her, a little ska angel gets a new pair of checkered socks.

Ladies and gentlemen, Phyllis Dillon.

During the course of her barely 5 year career, spanning 1966-1971, Phyllis Dillon was discovered by Duke Reid, had a string of Jamaican number ones consisting of originals and covers, co-wrote and sang with Alton Ellis and Hopeton Lewis, and became one of the few rocksteady women stars ever. Have you heard of her? Read on.

Within 2 weeks of the release of her first single, "Don't Stay Away," Phyllis Dillon hit the top of the charts in Jamaica. What makes her such a wonderful vocalist is her soul. Phyllis is a contemporary of the likes of Marlena Shaw (whose "Woman of the Ghetto" she covered incredibly), Dusty Springfield, Tammy Terrel, Barbara Acklin... Um, contmporary artists? Alicia Keyes, but doing ska. Maybe. Beautiful, romantic, and dreamy rocksteady. Doesn't sound quite right, does it? That's what rules about 60's era ska - it's soulful, sassy, and sweet, and groovy as hell. Phyllis Dillion takes the rhythms of her home and sings songs so lovely you may want to cry into your pina colada. Not only is she a great rocksteady artist, she is a great soul artist and an amazing vocalist, period.

She released a string of singles (mainly on Trojan) and one full length, as far as I can tell, called One Life To Live. And as she passed away last year (after decades of working as a bank teller in Long Island after she ditched the music biz in 1971), her stuff gets harder and harder to find. She shows up on random reggae/rocksteady/ska and sometimes on northern soul collections, but a few years back Westside Records (out of London) put together a really good collection of her stuff. There's a track or two missing, but it's totally worth hunting down Midnight Confessions, for those upcoming warm summer nights. For sure.

Monday, May 09, 2005

All Of Me

Today I said two things to my best friend that he demanded I put in the blog. So here they are:

"Last night, I did something really interesting with asparagus."

"Well, right now I'm sucking on a Wheat Thin."

Sometimes I say things that I don't think much of at the moment, but the listener turns it into a big deal. Or I say something that may sound a bit crass and winds up being either hilarious or offensive. Like the other day at a party, I said, "Oh yea, I saw so-and-so at that show, but that was before I was fucking him." I was standing on a patio with a whole lot of people, maybe talking to two of them, but at least 10 shut up and stared at me. The two I was talking to laughed because they knew I was kidding, and everybody else was just eavesdropping so I had to yell, "KIDDING!" Jeez.

This is a story kinda like that.

A couple weeks ago I was the MC at a showcase for unsigned artists, and some of the proceeds were going to benefit my friend Dax. I knew one of the bands playing, so a bunch of friends and acquaintances were there. One such acquaintance is a guy who has always been a bit forward with me, heavy handed on the compliments and a little on the touchy feely side. Now he's a nice enough guy, very intelligent, really good looking, but just doesn't do it for me. I've known him for a couple years and we've fallen into our little routine with each other where we talk a bit, he gives me a thinly veiled pick-up line, I laugh it off, game over.

This particular night he was very touchy with me. Finally, with both arms around my waist, he said, "Mo, why don't you just let me take you to a nice dinner? I'd love to take a fine woman like yourself to a really lavish meal. Would you let me?" Now this was actually a legitimate request, not like his propositions of old. I felt kinda bad and a bit embarrassed, and I said, "Oh, that's very kind of you, but I actually don't date anybody." He said, "Really?" Then he leaned back and said, "Do you have a man, Mo?" "Oh, no." Then he raised an eyebrow, "Oh, do you have a woman?" "No, no, " I replied. "I like the cock." He nodded and said, "Well, I have a beautiful cock." I said, "Oh, I don't doubt that, but that's not for me to find out."

Yea... gotta watch what I say sometimes. Oops.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Babylon's Burning

Mmmm... I finally got my own copy of Kenneth Anger's book, Hollywood Babylon. So dishy! Mr. Anger, he of underground art films and a child actor himself, writes tabloidy bits about the Hollywood glamour days in as queeny a way as possible. Anybody living in LA (or with a love of Tinsel Town's dirt) should have this. It's even got pictures. Of course.

Here are some fun snippets:

About Errol Flynn's rape trial: "When Betty Hansen took the stand and testified that Flynn had taken off her clothes, Geisler (Flynn's lawyer) charged like the cavalry. First, he got her to admit that she had permitted the disrobing, then he thundered at her: 'Didn't you want him to take them off?' Betty's disarming reply won the day for Flynn: 'I didn't have no objections.' Flynn was acquitted on all four counts."

About Rudy Valentino's penchant for powder (from the Chicago Tribune): "A powder vending machine! In a men's washroom! Homo Americanus! Why didn't someone quietly drown Rudolph Gugliemo, alias Valentino, years ago?"

About heroin in Hollywood: "One of the town's leading dealers was a quiet, gentlemanly actor on the Sennett lot known as 'The Count.' It was he who offered to fix up Wally Reid's hangover during the filming of 'Forever,' who first put Mabel Normand, Juanita Hansen, Barbara La Marr, and Alma Ruebens on the junk."

About the suicide of Lupe Velez: "Then her periods stopped and she realized that her latest had knocked her up. Big deal? Call Doctor Killkare (the joke name for Tinsel Town's leading abortionist)? Forget it. Lupe, the gyrating cunt-flashing Hollywood party girl, was in her Heart of Hearts the snow-white virgin of her First Communion in San Luis Potosi, an awed adorer of Nuestra Senora dos Grandes Dolores, an on-your-knees girl! Devout Mexican Catholic. She could not bear to snuff out the gigolo's fetus within her. Rather, she would doom herself to Eternal Torments but committing Her Own Murder, by Herself." (ed. note: she staged a suicide room, throwing flowers on the bed and floor and lighting candles, but wound up drowning in her toilet after a dash to the bathroom while projectile vomiting all the pills she swallowed.)

Read Defamer lately? Ah, nothing's changed...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Computer Blue

I remember the first time I went to see an "electronic" artist at a club. We were all standing around a stage, and a chubby guy in a dirty t-shirt and glasses was standing at a table, occasionally pressing a key here and there on his computer or just fidgeting, while the club was filled with sound. At first, it was kinda neat. Then it got really boring. I figured I could have stayed at home and experienced the same thing.

Well, now you can experience the kinda neat part. Like right now. Click here for a bit of genius (thanks Kevin!) that is just as brilliant as any of those guys ever dreamed up. Maybe even more so, because there's also something to watch, and it isn't scratching its ass during the downtime.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Fire In The Disco

"You always dread the unfamiliar... We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other, then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man's mind. Who knows who might be the target of a well-read man? Me? I won't stomach them for a minute." - Captain Beatty, Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

Hmmm... people just keep wanting to give Bradbury's book-burnin' firemen jobs. Currently, it's the state of Alabama. Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle, and under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters. "I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children." (read article here.)

He wants to kick out works by Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Alice Walker, and some Shakespeare. Allen believes that these books have a homosexual agenda, which isn't healthy for America.

Groups of gay and lesbian voters have turned out in Montgomery to voice their opinions about this bill, expressing that the measure is essentially a manifestation of hatred.

"We're not all crazy people, doing crazy things. We are your brothers and sisters, your aunts and uncles. We go to church with you. And the message I get from you is, 'We hate you,'" Patricia Todd said during the hearing before the House Education Committee. (read article here.)

Rock on, Patricia. There is a reason why these works are considered classics and important. It's because they are thought provoking, creative, engaging and challenging. It's because THEY ARE GOOD. Not because they are "gay."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Life Imitates Art, or was that the other way...?

Love the movies? Love LA? Love seeing LA in the movies? I always get a kick out of identifying the places I've been to when I see films set in LA, or films set in some other city but really done here in LA. Soooooo... you should go to the beautiful American Cinematheque at the Egyptian on Thursday or Friday night and check out the documentary, Los Angeles Plays Itself. The director, Thom Andersen, will be there to talk about the clips he picked and the history of LA he depicts in the doc. The film will be showing through the weekend. Go see it and feel that secret thrill you always feel when seeing your town on the big screen.

(Hey, when I lived in Berkeley, I loved watching Berkeley in the Sixties too.)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Show Me Your "O" Face

An observant reader pointed out to me that I seem to have forgotten the alphabet. "So, Mo - did the letter 'O' stump you r have you given up on that whole musical alphabet thing?" No, I did not forget, ye of little faith. I present you with: OTIS!

There are lots of Otis-es out there. I'm only gonna write about two of them. Otis Redding and Shuggie Otis.

Otis Redding. Pretty genius - I mean, everybody knows "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" which came out after he died in 1967 (in a plane crash which also took along his back-up band, the Bar-Kays - funk legends on their own). Maybe you think that's the only Otis Redding song you know... well, it ain't. "Respect" by Aretha? An Otis song. "Pain In My Heart" by the Stones? Redding again. (In return, he did a pretty walloping version of "Satisfaction" which got him a bit of attention.) And if any of you kids saw "Pretty In Pink" (and I know you have, you John Hughes puppets you!) then you know "Try A Little Tenderness," because that's the song that Ducky lip syncs to in the record store and then sort of freaks out Annie Potts and Molly Ringwald.

Otis was well on his way to becoming a huge pop megastar when that plane went down. He was only on the scene for about 5 years (he was 26 when he died) and yet everyone knows his name and would recognize his voice, a smooth one that can convey grittiness or the sexy, depending on what he's trying to get out of you. Do yourself a favor and get one of his anthologies. Totally worth it.

Next up: Shuggie Otis. I don't have much to say about this guy except for the fact that he wrote "Strawberry Letter 23," which sounds really awesome blaring out of my friend's 1962 Buick Riviera. He's a guitar prodigy who played with his dad, Johnny Otis, and put out a couple trippy soul albums in the early 70's. The mod kids seemed to take a real liking to this guy, and I remember that in 2001 or so, Shuggie's records got re-released and hip kids went batshit. He did a little mini-tour, and a friend of mine got to DJ before the set at San Francisco's Fillmore. The report I got back was something like this:

"Man, Shuggie totally dialed it in, at best! He showed up all fucked up, didn't give a shit about anything that was going on, and played like crap. It was totally depressing and I have no respect for the guy." Whoa, harsh! Guess he was just doing it for the money.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

And the Walls came Tumbling Down

Los Angeles is a huge urban sprawl. There are all sorts of neighborhoods and "districts" if you will, just like there are in most major cities. The Westside, Hollywood, Los Feliz & Silverlake, Brentwood, Playa del Rey, Fairfax, Beverly Hills, Melrose, West Adams, Echo Park, West Hollywood, blah blah blah... And these areas are all marked by the community that lives within their borders.

But LA is big on the "gated community." And there are those little "House Protected By" placards in a lot of lawns in a lot of rich parts of town. When I first moved to LA, I lived in the swanky Larchmont Village area, sandwiched between the El Royale (where Jennifer Aniston was staying at the time, pre-Pitt marriage) and the Wilshire Country Club. A block up was Mae West's apartment building, the Ravenswood, and the condo where JFK stayed when he was in LA, a gorgeous green deco delight named the Mauretania. There's a big black "M" on the building in case you're looking. I didn't have a parking space in my building, so I usually parked around the block. I worked late hours at the time, and I remember the handyman and manager of the building worried about that since the "element" came into the neighborhood after hours and broke into cars and homes. Because it was nicer.

Of course, there is that fear in all American cities. The gated communities rise up. There are the pre-fab kind, like Park La Brea, or the ones that spring up on you like in Los Feliz across from Griffith Park. There's even the problem of rich folks walling of the BEACH, fer chrissakes. David Geffen recently re-opened "his" stretch of beach, after years of legal wrangling (like 18 years) with city and coastal commissions.

Heavy Trash, an anonymous collective of artistic urban guerilla types, recently placed big orange viewing platforms at three of these gated communities so that regular folk can peep in and have a look. A lot of people are a bit clueless as to what they are, or assume they are affiliated with road repair (bright orange wasn't the best color choice, guys), but I get their point. It's a point that gets made often in LA. Mike Davis, who famously slammed his adopted hometown of LA in City of Quartz, writes: "In Los Angeles, once-upon-a-time a demi-paradise of free beaches, luxurious parks, and 'cruising strips,' genuinely democratic space is all but extinct. The Oz-like archipelago of Westside pleasure domes--a continuum of tony malls, arts centers, and gourmet strips--is reciprocally dependent upon the social imprisonment of the third-world service proletariat who live in increasingly repressive ghettoes and barrios.... Even as the walls have come down in Eastern Europe, they are being erected all over Los Angeles."

I definitely live closer to the barrio. Would I feel differently if I had an investment to protect? Hard to say. But I do think if you're going to live in the city, then you should live in the city. If you want the walls and security gates, move to the suburbs. Right?