Monday, January 31, 2005
My favorite singer songwriter. From one of my favorite bands, the Throwing Muses. Still showing the world that rock is alive, with 50 Foot Wave. She's too scary to ever be in some Lillith Fair type thing, thank God. Over the years, I've met her and her family several times, interviewed her for KALX Radio, seen more shows (both solo and with her bands) than I can count, and was even able to book a show that she headlined. I once joked with her that every time she released a solo album, I was going through some sort of boy trauma and I related to her lyrics a bit too much. She's a wonderful person and a great talent, and kudos to her for still doing it, DIY and full-on. The full length 50 Foot wave album is due in March - keep an ear out for it.
And now, because I'm such a girl AND such a dork, I've picked my favorite lyrics from each of her albums.
It's four o'clock, I'm waiting; your face appears
I keep forgetting your name while I'm writing this, you... You crash through the wall... -Delicate Cutters
I tie your tie, set tables; I won't run your party, you can't run my life - But the waters run deep. -Mexican Women
I don't speak- I ramble he was a gamble... I just want to own something (young dirty street)
I can sleep with anything and more...
Stripped women stripped men, I fall instead of him - I'm useless in the light for the distance
I could break you for all the right reasons, I could hate you but what have I got? -Bea
That last one messed me up ; things look bad, things look tragic -
I keep looking in the mirror, afraid that I won't be there... -Ellen West
Hot things... Move him... I write on his wall: I have no heart at all. -Pearl
You can come back when you want - just know that I'll be here... I haven't left this step. -Me & My Charms
I'm so glad he's so charmed, that I'll walk him back home and I'll keep him in bed,
I'll walk out the door and I'll live there instead; I'll start at his knees and I'll end in his dreams... -Start
You can talk a blue streak, you can talk till you're blue - and we won't feel any finer than we do. -Night Driving
I broke me, I can break you too - Nobody tells me what to do.
I saw hope in my backyard, nobody told me this would be so hard... Not again -Hope
Faithful to the finish, I'm grateful to be in this with you
A fucker of a lifeline, a mother of a lifetime with you... with you... -Spring
How many times can you get fucked in how many different ways
To separate the good guys from disaster, and it's even sadder... -William's Cut
I'm so sorry I'm cardiac baggage, I'm so sorry you feel so bad... I'd do anything to fix you again,
I'm so sorry you feel so bad...Is everything feeling ok? -Pretty Or Not
You're gonna want to keep in touch with your silence, remember shy personal hell
I won't waste your mind with lies, and there's not much truth to tell... -Vitamins V
You already brought me to my knees - I'm cheap and here, like a souvenir... -Glory Weed
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Do you think I'll be different when you're through?
You bend my heart & mind and you warp my soul
Your stone walls turn my blood a little cold - Johnny Cash
Death Row has been on my mind lately. I lived within spitting distance of the place for nearly 15 years, and didn't think too much about it. For quite a while, I didn't realize it as close to as it was. San Quentin is just north of San Francisco on Highway 101, between Sausalito and San Rafael in Marin county.
I'd cruise with my boyfriend to Sausalito for a tasty pancake breakfast, go for motorcycle rides through Marin, have dinner in San Rafael. We'd drive right past San Quentin, which always looked to me like a military base on a piece of prime coastal real estate on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. I lived less than 10 miles from Death Row. Millions of us did (and still do).
San Quentin was established in 1852. It sprung up during the lawless Gold Rush period and used to house both men and women until 1933. Capital punishment was legalized in California in 1851, and the first execution at San Quentin took place in 1893. The original gallows have now become a gym, since all that executing action has moved along to the infamous gas chamber. Merle Haggard served 15 years there, and Charlie Manson spent quite a few years there as well. The names of some of the folks on Death Row are familiar... Richard Ramirez - aka the Nightstalker, Sirhan Sirhan, and Scott Peterson is on his way there. Undoubtedly, the crimes that put these people on Death Row are horrible, and their guilt, more often that not, proven.
But should they be killed? Richard Davis, the guy who killed Polly Klaas - a 12 year old girl snatched at knifepoint from her home and strangled - just seemed like an evil, dark soul. I have no problem seeing him gassed. The entire Bay Area was galvanized into action when Polly went missing, and I remember crying once the news came out that she'd been found dead. It was like a lynch mob; we wanted his blood. We're getting it, eventually. But at the same time, who are we to decide this? If killing is wrong, isn't state sanctioned killing wrong too?
This is something I've never been able to firmly take a stand on, obviously. Why does this come to mind now? The recent Metro Link derailment, which killed at least 11 people and injured over a hundred others and happened just a mile or two from where I live. The guy who caused it had parked his SUV on the tracks, wanting to kill himself. Then he changed his mind, got out of the car, and wound up harming a huge number of people. Then he wandered onto his landlady's porch, stabbing himself in the chest repeatedly with a pair of scissor after having tried to slash his wrists, apologizing for what he'd done. And now, this suicidal man is facing 11 counts of murder with special circumstances, which would mean that if he is convicted, he gets the gas. So - should we kill him, or let him kill himself? If he's found insane, then he can't be sent to the gas chamber. If he is simply despondent, he can. If he kills himself, he saves the state a pile of cash and people who want to see him dead are satisfied - unless they want to flip the switch. But wouldn't it be malicious at that point? Keep a suicidal man alive so you can kill him later? Evidently, there are quite a few suicides on Death Row already.
I was unfortunate enough to have a friend randomly shot and killed in front of his own home some years ago. There was barely a description of the guys and vehicle responsible, and "two black men between the ages of twenty and thirty in a dark Cadillac" fit too many people living in Oakland, California. My boyfriend and I just came home from a movie to find police tape around the house and our lives changed forever. But if these two were found, and the death penalty put to them (it was theorized that maybe they were trying to steal his car), what would it solve? Would it get their bad genes out of the gene pool? Would it bring Talbert back? No. No to both.
Is an eye for an eye every truly satisfying? I guess it depends on who you ask, because I don't think it is for me.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Australia is a wonderful country, although I've only spent time on it's east coast so I honestly can't speak for the whole continent. But I've yet to meet an Australian I didn't like, and yet to drink an icky Australian wine. And aren't koalas cute? Come on!
Australians (that I've encountered) are a sassy bunch, so today you get to read some real life questions and answers collected from the old Sydney Olympics website. I was in Sydney about six months before the event, while they were preparing like mad to bring the world to their doorstep. (After reading some of these questions, they may have had to rethink that. )
So here ya are, mate!
Here are some of the classic questions that were asked of the
Q: Does it ever get windy in
A: Upwards, out of the ground, like the person who asked this question, who themselves will need watering if their IQ drops any lower...
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (
A: Depends on how much beer you've consumed...
Q: Which direction should I drive -
A: Excellent question, considering that the Olympics are being held in
Q: I want to walk from
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, so you'll need to have started about a year ago to get there in time for this October...
Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in
A: And accomplish what?
Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed porpoise. (
A: I'm not touching this one...
Q: My client wants to take a steel pooper-scooper into
A: Why? We do have toilet paper here...
Q: Can I bring cutlery into
A: Why bother? Use your fingers like the rest of us...
Q: Do you have perfume in
A: No. Everybody stinks.
Q: Do tents exist in
A: Yes, but only in sporting supply stores, peoples' garages, and
most national parks...
Q: Can I wear high heels in
A: This HAS to have been asked by a blonde...
Q: Can you tell me the regions in
A: Yes. Gay nightclubs.
Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in
A: Yes. At Christmas.
Q: Can I drive to the
A: Sure, if your vehicle is amphibious.
Q: Are there killer bees in
A: Not yet, but we'll see what we can do when you get here.
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in
A: What's this guy smoking, and where do I get some?
Q: Are there supermarkets in
A: Another blonde?
Q: Please send a list of all doctors in
A: I love this one...there are no rattlesnakes in
Q: Which direction is North in
A: Face North and you should be about right.
Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (
A: Americans have long had considerable trouble distinguishing between
Q: Are there places in
A: Yes. Outdoors.
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
This is one of the weird things about LA - you get used to driving past photo, TV or movie shoots. Last steamy July, about half a block down the street from my place was transformed into a Christmas stroll: the lamp posts were wrapped in ribbon, the big antique store had artificial Christmas trees in the window, there were fake flyers up on the storefronts, and the storefronts themselves had different names. But the filming was done for the night, and I was walking through this tableau to meet a friend at a restaurant, and it was all a bit surreal.
But that's LA for you.
So I got a call from a good friend of mine while I was driving home from work. "Hey, if you come meet me out here in Pasadena, I'll buy you dinner and take you to a movie." "What are you doing in Pasadena?" "I'm driving my car in a Toyota ad being shot at city hall, and they don't need me again for about 4 hours, and I'm bored, bored, bored!" I hate to see a good friend bored (and I love a free meal) so I drove to Pasadena City Hall.
I already knew where the building was, but even if I hadn't, it would have been ridiculously easy to find. It was decked out in awards ceremony gear, and there were two sets of searchlights prowling the skies overhead for effect. Four coppery giant foam crossbreeds of the Golden Globe and Oscar statues flanked the main entrance, which was draped in red carpet. There were limos everywhere, and my friend's car: a black 1962 Rolls Royce.
(Yea, like that, just black.)
My friend has a fancy schmancy house in the Hollywood Hills often used for commercial and modeling shoots, and a past director remembered his car and asked him to do the commercial. Since this activity essentially pays his mortgage, keeps him plied in catered gourmet food and often brings attractive women to his house, he obliged.
When I arrived, they were setting up the "stunt." The ad was for the Toyota Tundra, and featured some race car driver dude showing up at the "premiere" in the Tundra, which is so forceful that it knocks the two limos ahead of it out of its way. The crew set the cars on casters, tied them to trucks off set, and pulled. And you know what? It was cool. Like watching a car accident where no one gets hurt, and you know how we all like to watch car accidents. And we got to watch it over and over again.
Basically, I was mesmerized. My friend said this was actually a pretty interesting shoot, so I told him we should skip the movie and check out this instead. Fortunately, the caterers brought us flank steak, shrimp, baby potatoes and Caesar salad so we wouldn't get hungry while we perched in the lovely leather interior of the Rolls watching the practice shots. I was all for commercial shoots at this point.
Then they were ready to give the whole thing a go. They decided to move us beside the limos , so now we were on the edge of the action. Since we were in the car, we didn't need to do any "acting" because all that could be seen of us were our shadows anyway. They did the commercial many times, blowing fog across the set and smoke from the Tundra after it's hefty "push." Afterwards, when we got to watch the takes, we noticed that we - and the Rolls, of course - were definitely in the shot. Alright! My first commercial! Unless our footage winds up on the editing room floor...
One fun part of the night was watching crew guys bite it because they had forgotten about the taut rope just in front of our car, attached to the limo and the truck in order to yank said limo into crash position. There were a couple cringeworthy spills, some spectacular near falls, and one good save.
And then a big crew guy stood on top of the set of spotlights, so he could get a good view of the whole set. He started to take pictures with his own camera as the spotlights swirled around him. One of his co-workers yelled, "Yea, that lights up your ass real good!" So then he started to vogue in the lights.
You haven't lived until you've seen a chubby, scruffy man in a thermal and turned down overalls vogue on a set of spotlights. Really.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Here's a picture of star crossed lovers. For some reason, these lyrics popped into my head when I saw this - couldn't tell you why.
"Now I see love, there in your car where I said those things; now I see love, tugging your skirt, singing please, please, please ..." - Iron & Wine
Sunday, January 23, 2005
*CASTING* New documentary TV show about “Rock Groupies”
Do you consider yourself a Groupie, Super Fan, or Rock Muse? Do you love local music and musicians? Do you go out to see bands around Los Angeles and Orange County? Is music a huge part of your life?
If so, an award winning documentary production company and Pamela Des Barres, bestselling author of “I’m With the Band,” are casting for a new television series about Rock Groupies.
We are looking for fun, outgoing, energetic, devoted female fans of local Southern California bands and musicians to share their stories.
Please e-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org , with the following:
- A brief description of yourself
- Some of the local bands and clubs that you like
- Your daytime and evening contact information
- A recent photograph
And maybe it helps if your photograph looks a bit like this:
Anyway, I would think that here in LA, these people would not have much of a problem finding groupies. Stalking tendencies have been well developed in this town. After you've lived here for a whole like, 30 seconds, you just sort of figure out where to go to see the rock star of your dreams misbehaving. Depending on what you're into. Hang out on the Sunset Strip for the rockers. Hang out in Hollywood for the punkers. Hang out in Silverlake for the indie kids. And for Scott Weiland, hang around the rehab center.
I have been accused of being a groupie. While I do love music, I have also enjoyed working in the music industry and have been fortunate enough to meet some of my favorite musicians. However, I lack the one thing necessary to be a true groupie: Sluttiness. Hey, I'm not knocking it, I just don't have fun being slutty. Doesn't work for me. Although I do have a bit of a habit of dating guitar players. Good ones, even. A couple of them were even the lead guitar/singer/songwriter/producer/etc... types. One of them was even enough of a rock star even to have girls showing up randomly on his doorstep, a thing for cocaine, and probably a bipolar disorder. But he was fun. For a little while, anyway...
That lifestyle gets old. Ladies, I don't advise dating musicians. And the first time it happened to me, it was totally by accident. I didn't even know he was in a band, just thought he had great taste in music (they always do). Most of the time when you date a guy in a band, you find yourself lower on their priority list than say, replacing their guitar strings, and that's just a drag. The guys I dated were really sweet and kind (we're all still pals), just self absorbed and very dedicated to their "craft." If he also happens to be a partier, then things just get repetitive. I could never be a "real" groupie because, for me, the same cycle of booze, porn, strangers and drug addled conversation just gets tedious.
When I was involved with manic-depressive druggie alcoholic guy, he used to say, "Mo, what I love about you is that I can talk to you without dumbing things down." I like talking to people without dumbing things down too, which is probably why the next guy I date will be an architect or something.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
When I was 2, my parents took me to Disneyland for the first time. I was so happy when I saw the (now non-existent) Disneyland sign that I threw up. I did this several times during the day, so we all had to leave.
When I was in high school, some friends of mine got taken to Disney jail for drinking champagne in the parking lot (now California Adventure). By then, we'd heard the rumors of a secret bar, located somewhere in Disneyland, where the super rich could go for a fancy meal and booze. It was the stuff of legend. Club 33, it was called.
And it's real! Never mind how I finally got to go to Club 33, but I did. And had, as my friend Fluffy put it, the Happiest Martini on Earth. Actually, that's what he had. We had other libations. And nummy food.
Club 33 is located in New Orleans Square, its door just outside of the exit of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Supposedly, there is a waiting list 20 years long to become a member, and some outrageous dues. If you are lucky enough to get a reservation there, you get free entrance to both of the theme parks as well. When your time comes, you buzz an intercom at the club door, give your name, and you're in. They take you up the French lift to the dining room, and more importantly, the bar.
Club 33 was originally built as a place of refuge for stockholders, celebrities, and visiting dignitaries. Hanging on the walls are framed sketches for Pirates and the Haunted Mansion rides. Even the original paintings (which grow in the elevator portion at the start of the Haunted Mansion ride) are here. It's chock full of gorgeous antiques, Mrs. Disney's touch. Outside of the dining room is a balcony overlooking the New Orleans and river portion of Disneyland - but what's best about it is that nobody down below can figure out how you got on that balcony in the first place.
Mickey's Dining Room (the area was called something like that) was filled with personal Walt Disney memorabilia: photos of the family, sketches by others, early Mickey drawings, Academy Awards... and the talking vulture. Would it be a true Disneyland experience if there wasn't something animatronic involved? Walt created this vulture to perch in a corner of the room. He was going to plant microphones at every table so that a hidden actor could eavesdrop on conversations and have the vulture respond accordingly. But Walt died before the room was finished, so the vulture stayed silent. So you can still talk dirty (quietly) in Mickey's Dining Room and the vulture won't rat you out.
So you CAN drink at Disneyland. They'll even serve you, if you get to the right place. "Cause if a mouse can be special, well so can you!" (Thank God for Sparks, man.)
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Uh, yea, like any good blogger - I went to see the Arcade Fire. They played 3 sold out shows at the Troubador in West Hollywood, and I went to the earlier one Sunday night. You've heard enough about them and I certainly don't want to contribute to the coming backlash, but it was pretty incredible. They made a believer out of me. They performed a track they claimed "is floating around out there on a scratchy demo" called "Cars and Telephones" and I really need to own it... if anyone's got a copy they can email me or something.
(One of my best friends called me after giving the A.F. CD a few spins and said: "These guys fly their influences like a freak flag and are working the nerd angle to get more attention. I'm not into it." Let the backlash begin! )
Since we got out of the show at 9pm, we wandered out to meet some friends for a moment down the street. West Hollywood was very jumpin', and the fact that a balmy 85 degree day had turned into an only slightly less balmy and crystal clear night made the evening out even nicer. On our way to the restaurant, we ran into most of the kids in the Arcade Fire, coming back from the grocery store with snacks and sodas and returning to the Troub for show number 2. We yelled "Great show!" at each pair as they passed, and generally received embarrassed giggles and "Thanks!" in reply.
After a quick stop to visit with friends, we were off to Hollywood proper and the fabulous Burgundy Room. I was supposed to meet the guy who owns the bar, a great friend, but he hadn't arrived. Luckily for me, one of his brothers - who owns the Hotel Cafe (a cafe and live music space) next door - walked in. "Hey, go to Hotel. Gomez is doing a surprise show." We walked in to see various members of the band doing solo bits, goofing around, and then playing altogether for a group of about 75 people. (For some perspective, the next two nights they played at a sold out House of Blues, then head up to SF for three sold out shows at the Fillmore. Yipes!) Turns out they were doing an impromptu tsunami benefit.
The next move was up the street to grab a slice of pizza before heading back to the bar. By then, my friend was driving up in his pimpin' 1962 Buick Riveria, and let us know about a theme party happening that night that we should stop by. I am not one to pass up a theme party, especially if I already happen to be slightly dressed for it. But before that, a drink. My friend and I made a pit stop in the Burgundy until we were approached by two very sweet and well meaning death metal cholo dudes. My friend is Argentinean, and I'm Spanish, but other than that, I'm not sure what made us appealing to the death metal cholo dudes. They talked our ears off for a good twenty minutes and then we were able to politely excuse ourselves and head back out into the Hollywood night.
Next was Apollo Star's "Pimps and Ho's" party. Now I was wearing a Catholic school girl thing, and my friend was more 70's drug cowboy, but we figured they'd let us slide. And they did. Apollo is a scene fixture: DJs in the right clubs, owns a vintage and couture boutique, window dresses at hipster shops, paints, films, photographs... He's that guy. The wanna-be Andy Warhol around town. He's really quite a kick.
My friend and I stood under the crescent moon (which had a coke spoon curled up to its nose) and watched the crowd a bit. She said to me, "Don't you love it when you come to a party and everyone's already fucked up? Then you can just watch." And that's what we did. It was certainly fun to watch.
We didn't last long there - we didn't feel "ho"ey enough. Besides, we'd seen two rock shows, had some booze and also some effervescent chatter with death metal guys. We were done for the night. Enough of Hollywood! Time for bed. Till next time!
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Last Friday at the glorious Hollywood Forever cemetery, home to the remains of Rudy Valentino, Alfalfa and Bugsy Siegel, a new memorial was set up in honor of one of our favorite kids with a bowl cut, Johnny Ramone. (Dee Dee is also buried there.) The place swarmed with close to a thousand people, listening to tributes from friends and family. Among the attendees, former son-in-law of Elvis and fan of the rock-n-roll, Nicholas Cage. Said ex wife was there too, but they were soooooo not together.
Hollywood rabblerouser and country punk Soda (without his Million Piece band) was hanging out at the lovely Hotel Cafe last week with his pal, friendly local resident and rock star since the age of 13, Tommy Stinson. Although folks at Hotel tried to get Tommy to play a tune for them, he nicely did a little thanks but no thanks. Tommy's last album, Village Gorilla Head, was recorded at Frank Black's studio here in Los Ang-E-lees (as Frank would say) just as the Pixies took off on their year long re-conquest of the globe.
Since we're having absolutely glorious weather (perhaps to make up for the beating the rain gods just gave us?) , there was alot of outdoor activity this weekend. Even yours truly - who has owned the same pair of Reeboks since 1984 (you know those "classic" models Mary J. Blige hawks on TV? I've got the real thing, baby! And they're white without a speck of dirt on 'em!) took a walk on the wild side. Who else was out there? Well, in Runyon Canyon (where every dog in Los Angeles has taken a piss) my best friend got to spy on Orlando Bloom and Kate Bosworth. He looked great, and in typical cute girl movie star fashion, she was really little with a big head.
Spotted at the over-sold out Arcade Fire shows this weekend? Spike Jonez and Beck. And a million industry types just standing there because they are expected to.
And since I have to mention my girl whenever I can, Kristin Hersh's band 50 Foot Wave is getting ready to put out their first full length CD this March. The icky thing is... well, their name. Technically, it refers to a sound wave. 50 Foot Wave has existed for about a year and a half, but now the name has new reverberations in the wake of the recent tsunami. But they're hangin' tough, keeping the name, and rocking on another day.
Ok, just a comment? The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" has an awful lot of similarities musically to "Born Slippy" by Underworld, don't you think? And it seems even more appropriate that the soundtrack which brought that song to the consciousness of a bunch of folks was for Trainspotting, and singer Brandon Flowers looks more than a little like Jonny Lee Miller as Sickboy (without the sexy bleach job of course).
So, have a look: Brandon Flowers:
Well, whaddya think? And play those songs right next to each other and let me know if I have a point.
Monday, January 17, 2005
The PLUG Independent Music Awards nominee list has been posted. Go here to vote. PLUG is an online community of boho types (musicians, DJs, artists, writers) from all around the country championing the cause of independent music, and they've had all kinds of input just to come up with the nominees. Of course, I care because two of my old places of employment (and favorite places ever) are nominated: KALX, Berkeley and Amoeba Music Hollywood. WOXY - one of my favorite stations - is in there too. Got your WFMU and KEXP as well. And check out the artists list (Mark Lanegan, Dios, RJD2, cLOUDEAD, Comets On Fire, Hot Snakes, Nick Cave) - crazy selection.
Greg Dulli, of the Afghan Whigs and more recently the Twilight Singers, has yet another project. The collaboration with Mark Lanegan (The Gutter Twins) has been put on hold for a while, so the Gringo (as I like to refer to him) got the original lineup of TS back, grabbed one of the Fountains of Wayne guys, and put together the Uptown Lights, a group that will be doing all soul/ r&b covers. If you're in LA on the 19th of February (like I won't be), check them out at Spaceland and watch Greg get his Marvin on.
I heard a funny story about Colin Farrell violating my favorite Hollywood hang, the Burgundy Room, this weekend. Evidently he was there last Thursday, hitting a few of the rougher looking the patrons up for coke. Not getting any, he set his sights on a pair of lovelies at the bar. He asked one if he could make out with her, and then made out with the other one instead. Turned out the two girls were sisters, and the rejected one was pretty bummed out. Guess Colin didn't feel like dealing with the paparazzi up the street at Paris' favorite dive, the Concorde.
More Hollywood tales to come... it was a three day weekend, after all!
Friday, January 14, 2005
It was the first (hopefully of many?) Defamer party, and, sadly, there were no gift bags. (I hear Hollywood is trying to phase those out anyway, unless you're getting an Oscar or something.) Although there were no free gifts, there was free booze, which is a plus in my book. And there was no food, to really make you appreciate all the free booze. Hallelujah!
And although I suspected it going in, it was pretty bloggerific. I kinda do this for fun, and so did everyone else in the room. Pretty much. I also hear that there were actual movie studio VPs and other celeb types there, but unless I've seen your face on a gimangous screen while eating popcorn, the chances of me recognizing you are slim. (Especially after all that free booze.)
But the Friar's Club... waaaaaaaaaaay cool. It wasn't that it was architecturally great, or even had terribly interesting decor, it was more about the sense of history. I think I only got to see about a third of the place, but when I walked in the door, I was greeted by three portraits: Frankie, Dino, and Sammy. There were two more off to the side; a couple guys named Milton Berle and Bob Hope. Upstairs were more portraits of well known members, like Larry King, Red Buttons, and Martha Rae (her Academy Award was in the case with her portrait). And right next to the bar? A life size portrait of Sinatra, tilted fedora and all.
The bar was very Frank worthy - that barkeep could pour a drink. I had one and a half before I realized that finishing that second drink would make me flammable. It was good peeps and good times, and definitely a classy joint.
(photo stolen from new blogger acquaintance, Boi From Troy.)
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Not much to say, except that he rules.
He started off in the early days of Motown, a session musician who later went on to write successful hits for others (like "Dancing In The Street"). He came from the ghetto of Washington DC, and music took him away from all that, but (there's always a "but," isn't there?) his life was marked by bouts of substance abuse and depression. During the 60's, he graced both the r&b and pop charts, entering a dynamic collaboration with Tammi Terrell which ended in 1967, when she collapsed onstage in his arms. (She died of a brain tumor 3 years later, and Gaye used to say he died with her.)
After some time in seclusion, the man who occasionally referred to himself as "the black Frank Sinatra" came back, reinvented, with the classic "What's Going On," which I think is a must have for every living person on the planet. A socially conscious and intensely groovy concept piece, the album is as relevant today as it was in 1971. Oddly, the topics (Vietnam, drugs, poverty, the environment, inequality) seem to echo our current state of affairs... It's like a funk gospel, a beautiful album. It gave new cred to Motown and re-established Gaye as a potent force in music.
Gaye continued to make records until he was shot, while on a violent drug fueled bender, by his own father in 1984. He was an incredible talent.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Californians are wussies when it comes to actual weather - I'll be the first to admit it. It starts to rain a little, and we drive 5 mph. The temperature drops below 55 degrees, and we're wearing wool trenchcoats and scarves.
But this has been pretty biblical. Ever since I returned from the East Coast, nearly two weeks ago, it has been raining. And not just annoying drizzle stuff... we're talking torrential thunderstorm action. The last four days here have been a non stop barrage of water, flooding just about everything in sight. I guess a house slipped off the hill a street over from me. The infamous Mulholland Drive partially fell into the canyon alongside it. (Rescue workers have been saying that if your address has the word "canyon" in it, you're in trouble.) Flash floods have swept away cars, mudslides have buried homeless encampments, houses have slipped off their foundations.
But we'll survive. We're mostly just wet, after all. I'm gonna have to move my extra books and clothes out of our garage because water is seeping through the cement walls, but that's about it.
And now, to get all politcal on you: Anybody in Cali complaining about this weather better shut up and donate to a tsunami relief fund. We've got it pretty good, flooded potholes and all.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Would it surprise you if I said that I was glad about this? I'd be lying. Because I really get a kick out of the magazine and free CDs, which I could always just stroll down the street and grab. I never bought a damn thing there... v-neck argyle sweaters with puffy sleeves and random patches weren't my thing, nor were pleated cordorouy skirts in neon green with scraps of denim hanging from the hem. You get my drift.
Besides, my roommate and I had a party once and the Vice store was having one the same night, and so they crashed and trashed us. It turns out this made us "cool." I know this, because an uberhip photographer was there taking scenester pix for the local rags.
So we had to deal with people like this:
So, yea. Bye Vice store!
Friday, January 07, 2005
Saturday the 8th would have been Elvis Presley's 70th birthday. I Heart Elvis. In fact, my very first real post on this blog was written about Elvis just in time for his birthday.
I don't know if anything is happening in LA in honor of this momentous occasion. The Burgundy Room, my favorite Hollywood hang, always does a tribute. Expect to hear "Kentucky Rain." Beauty.
Elvis spent lots of time here... He liked to meditate at the Self Realization Center (he was always on a quest for personal fulfillment) and ditched Priscilla in a house in the hills when he wanted to play with his boys in Vegas. Lisa Marie lives in the Valley. There is definitley an appreciation of The King in Los Angeles, especially at Palms Thai in Hollywood where the Thai Elvis (aka Kevin) performs on weekends. And well, I may add. Members of Elvis' backing vocal group from his Vegas days have been known to jump on stage with Thai Elvis (who I saw open for the Lords of Altamont once - radical).
Europe is doing all sorts of stuff, from a 3 day convention in England to a tribute concert at the "Elvis My Happiness" shop in Paris. Did you know that SIRIUS Satelitte has an Elvis Channel? Pretty cool. Anyway, on Saturday they'll have all kinds of guests ranging from backup singers The Jordanaires to Kissin' Cousins co-star Cynthia Pepper. AMC will be showing Elvis movies all weekend (of course) and if you stay up till 1AM PST, you can see "King Creole" which is seriously one of the best movies ever. Walter Matthau, bad guy! Elvis' girl, killed! The crap movies are on during the day, but catch "Easy Come Easy Go" for the original "A Little Less Conversation" and that goofy song about yoga. (I'm pretty sure it's that movie, anyway.)
Elvis is everywhere, as Mojo Nixon says, and that won't be changing any time soon. In fact, it may get worse. Lisa Marie Presley sold off the bulk of Elvis Presley Enterprises on December 16th to some guy named Robert Sillerman. In the deal, he gets all trademark rights to the name, likeness and image of Elvis Presley and all EPE-owned intellectual property, including its collection of photographs, archival documents and footage, and EPE's successful music publishing catalog, as well as the Graceland visitor center complex and Heartbreak Hotel across the street from the mansion and all other EPE real estate investments. Lisa Marie gets Graceland and her dad's knick knacks. Well, it's her money. And her kids.
It's supposed to rain this weekend, so I'll probably light my Elvis divinity candles and watch Nick Cage doing his best King in "Wild At Heart," cos he does it good. Catch the comeback special (Elvis in leather, yum!), play some good old rock and roll, have some fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Actually, I'll pass on those - thank you, thank you very much.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Wanna see the original Brown Derby? It's a parking lot. The Garden of Allah, the place in town for movie stars to get away in a private bunglow for some torrid adventures in the 30's? It was torn down in 1959 and there's a bank there. The Masquers Club? Demolished in 1986 for an apartment complex. Errol Flynn's house of sin? No more as of 1988. The Dude's Star Lanes bowling alley? Wrecked two years ago - supposedly a school is going up. Or Pickfair, the legendary home of legendary movie couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks? Well, once Pia Zadora got her hands on the property, she knocked down the 42 bedroom "lodge" in order to make something just a touch bigger.
Anyway... on to the latest in a long string of interesting architectural and cultural landmarks in line to meet with the wrecking ball... The Ambassador Hotel.
This hotel takes up a big chunk of land right on Wilshire on the edge of Koreatown and Silverlake. It houses the Coconut Grove, which was decorated with fake palm trees from the set of Valentino's The Sheik and entertained the likes of Jan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow, Gloria Swanson and Howard Hughes (who lived at the hotel too... maybe it's in that movie?). Bing Crosby started his career there.
It's also where Robert Kennedy was killed by Sirhan Sirhan in 1968 after his California Primary victory speech. In fact, Sirhan doesn't want the building torn down because he believes that there is evidence in the walls that could clear him. Never mind those pesky witnesses.
The building is also still used for filming. Charlie's Angels 2, The Mask, Blow, Almost Famous, Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, Pretty Woman, Catch Me If You Can... It was also used back in the day for the Academy Awards ceremony.
Well, the LA Unified School District bought the property a couple years ago and plan on ripping the deco masterpiece down and putting up a school. Seeing as how well that's been progressing over at the former all night bowling alley populated by the Coen Brothers and pals site, I can't wait to drive past this dirt lot every day for the next zillion years.
And still, the tour buses will cruise by. "And that lot is where the majestic Ambassador Hotel once stood... where Loretta Young was discovered, where John Barrymore lived, where the Academy Awards were held, and where countless films and TV shows have been filmed."
Like most of historic LA, if you use your imagination - or buy a book - you can still see it ...
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Anyway, since I have some things to share but don't want to spend the next year explaining why, I'll list the music I really enjoyed this year. One time, a friend of mine said that all music reviews could basically be summarized as thus: "Like the bastard lovechild of (so & so) and (so & so) in (name of place) on (altering substance)." I'm gonna give that a go. With a comment or two, I'm sure.
15. RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke
"Like the bastard lovechild of DJ Shadow and the Blackbyrds in Brooklyn on Valium." Funky and mostly mellow instrumental hip hop, super groovy.
14. The Concretes - s/t
"Like the bastard lovechild of the Velvet Underground w/Nico and Mazzy Star in Sweden on Heroin." Twee drug indie jams. Nice.
13. Rogue Wave - Out of the Shadow
"Like the bastard lovechild of The Shins and The Byrds in California on Sunshine." Pretty pretty.
12. Soda & His Million Piece Band - s/t
"Like the bastard lovechild of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Tom Waits in Sin City, shitfaced via Jack Daniels." Or Morphine and ZZ Top, I couldn't decide which. Rowdiness ensues.
11. Komeda - Kokomemedada
"Like the bastard lovechild of Siouxsie Sioux and Astrud Gilberto in Stockholm on Red Bull." Not as go-go pop as they've been, more biting lyrically while still twinkly... I even liked the guy songs this time out. Moody.
10. 50 Foot Wave - s/t EP
"Like the bastard lovechild of Throwing Muses (ha ha) and Metallica in Chicago on Speed." When you can hear the words - classic Hersh. A wall of sonics, that's what they're all about.
9. Actionslacks - Full Upright Position
"Like the bastard lovechild of Sebadoh and Wilco in San Francisco on Chomsky." The Gary Numan-esque "Close To Tears" is so beautiful it made me cry. Tim's wry lyrics are always the crux of this band's music for me, and the fact that they rock helps too.
8. Neko Case - The Tigers Have Spoken
"Like the bastard lovechild of Patsy Cline and Liz Phair in Nashville on PBR." I don't understand why the country world doesn't love Neko, because her voice is an instant classic of the genre. Opry snobs don't like her indie past - their loss. She's intelligent and clever and has a voice that cannot be matched these days. Great to sing along to in the shower - bonus!
7. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose
"Like the bastard lovechild of Loretta Lynn and Jack White in Butcher Holler on the God's Honest Truth." I cried three times when I first listened to this record - Loretta doesn't lie. Her warmth and talent just reach out and touch.
6. TV On the Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
"Like the bastard lovechild of Coil and a barbershop quartet in outer space on acid." They sound like nothing else, and in a good way. It's appropriate to me that they've done a well received cover of the Pixies' "Mr. Grieves," because these guys are just as out there and unclassifiable as the Pixies were in their day. An intense and interesting outing, comfortable and scary all at once.
5. The Arcade Fire - Funeral
"Like the bastard lovechild of the Talking Heads and the 3-Ds in Auckland high on life." It's all just so bittersweet, this record. It's fun but sad at the same time, orchestral and simple, joyous and mournful. There is a purity you don't sense much these days. (And you know that "Wake Up" sounds just like "Hittsville UK" by the Clash, at least that second part of it, right?)
4. Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days
"Like the bastard lovechild of CSNY and Palace in Savannah, Georgia (or Sodom?)... living on Memories." I suspect this guy may bore some people to tears, with his beautifully quiet tales of love and youth and intimacy and heartbreak and all that, his soft little 1970's AM radio voice, but I love him. Despite the beard.
3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Abbatoir Blues/ The Lyre of Orpheus
"Like the bastard lovechild of Scott Walker and Marlene Dietrich in Berlin on Religion." I'd kinda written Nick off, after all those bombastic balladeer type albums. But this was a thunderous and clever wake up call that Nick ain't gone, and TWO albums worth of great material? Who does he think he is, Stephen Merritt? I kid, I kid... Enthusiastic goth, ironic calypso, rollicking rock and painful ballads abound. I'd call it a comeback.
2. The Delays - Faded Seaside Glamour
"Like the bastard lovechild of the La's and the Cocteau Twins in Brighton Beach on Earl Grey Tea." It's sweet and catchy and beautiful and yes, the singer is a GUY. Doing his best Liz Frasier when she started singing actual words. Once I got over that misconception (like finding out Dusty Springfield was white), I completely fell in love with this record. Because sometimes you just like to have something really pretty and clean around, you know?
1. Interpol - Antics
"Like the bastard lovechild of Joy Division and Mission of Burma in New York City on Absinthe." I actually like this record better than the first. There, I said it. I think it's because Paul sings more. Or they sound tighter, more like a cohesive band rather than arty shy guys apprehensively creating songs. More like a fully developed self. (I know one other person who agrees with me, and I'm ok with that.) So, Rosemary, why can't we just look the other way?
There ya go. There were other things that hovered around the list which I really enjoyed too: Rick Stone's "Turn Me On, Turn Me Out" is lovely guitar electronica with sexy vocals. Mark Lanegan returned with his sexy vocals too - growling and rocking back to life (and away from the folksy stuff which has immersed him) with his new CD "Bubblegum." The beauty of the final Elliott Smith offering "From A Basement on a Hill" and dreamy indie pop of Earlimart's "Tremble & Tremble..." The super kool collection of original David Holmes tracks and groovy 60's Italian and French tracks on the "Ocean's Twelve" soundtrack... The Secret Machines album really demonstrates what happens if you listen to equal amount Echo & the Bunnymen and Pink Floyd, and it works... Oh! Franz Ferdinand's self titled debut was super fun - the best update I've heard on the smooth post Roxy Music era dandies so far, even though I could name most of the tracks they flat out ripped off. The Scissor Sisters debut was a very guilty pleasure, showing the world what Elton John may have sounded like if he was a really out trashy dance queen during the years he was actually putting out good music. Kasabian's self titled first effort was a spirited romp in a post Happy Mondays vein... Brian Wilson's bizarre pop symphony "Smile," the just aggressive enough moodswings on "Bows & Arrows" from the Walkmen... Camera Obscura's "Underachievers Please Try Harder" did for me what Belle & Sebastian haven't done for years... Junior Boy's electro pop on "Last Exit," and the roar of PJ Harvey on "Uh Huh Her" reminding everyone that she is, and always has been, quite a force.
And I liked that "Yeah!" song by Usher. Come on! Who hasn't been in the club with their homies when Shorty got down and said come & get me? Word.