Thursday, November 23, 2017

How I Learned to Stop Worrying (And Love Industrial Dance)

Sometimes when you're sad you drown out your problems in booze, sometimes in food, drugs, sex, and sometime you drown out your problems in music. Getting over my broken marriage, I gorged on listening and watching music videos on You Tube. On that particular evening I chose a bunch of electro swing videos, not just the music but watching some insane guys dancing to these tunes.

My favorite dancer was a guy from Canada called Take Some Crime, whose dancing to swing was part jazz dancing, part hip hop, some amazing mime as well as many new things he probably invented himself. There was another wild dancer called The Boogie Man (channel - Sly Mogul) who was also a lot of fun to watch.

Watching these guys dancing and feeling free with their bodies brought an indescribable happiness that's hard to describe, but bargain, the code word was FREEDOM. They looked so free in their movements and unhampered by whatever shit was floating through their lives. Their terpsichorean hijinx felt positively liberating. I instantly responded to them.

So while I'm window shopping all these dance marvels on video, You Tube in their obtrusive matchmaking style ("Other videos you might enjoy") offered several thumbnails of beautiful girls in fake multicolored dreads and leather face masks dancing. I couldn't resist.

What I saw were videos of industrial dance from every part of the world, from Argentina, Germany, Spain, Poland, and even Egypt. Every girl had her own style while still falling under the general template of industrial dance. The number of girls outnumbered the guys, whom I didn't think danced as well as the girls.

At any rate, most of the dancers dressed in cybergoth finery, some of which consisted of the aforementioned dreads, face masks, large creeper boots and tons of punk bracelets. There was even an instructional video on how to dance by Brioni Faith, who explains the dance moves in such a way that every movement falls in for a reason.

My two favorite dancers are Sayomi from Poland and Wendy Ailan from Argentina. The other ones are great, too, but these two have the most dynamic dance videos of the bunch. Sayomi seems to have a preference for shooting her videos at Comic Cons and cosplay fests. There's also a video at a shopping center and one at an aquarium. A real exhibitionist.

Wendy Ailan's videos largely take place in stark urban landscapes which give her videos a gritty, urban feel I like a lot. There's also a group of dancers called Das Klub who are fun to watch, too. What a great antidote to all those vile Dancing With The Stars shows crapping up television.

After watching these great dancers at work something very funny came over me. I WANTED TO DANCE, TOO. I began attending very dark goth dances (the darker the better) and began moving much like my new video heroines. I had nothing to be afraid of because every dancer was in their own world and didn't seem to care about what I was doing. That was great.

With every dance I got bolder and stronger in my dancing and even tried all kinds of new moves. I had several moves I used when I swam and incorporated them into my dance regimen, which blended beautifully. I even began buying leather face masks (I draw the line at those neon dreads, though. Not my style.). At this point in time I can go into any club and now dance without feeling nervous, which brings me to my next topic.

THINGS THAT BOTHER ME ON DANCE FLOORS

1. Some guys are really self-conscious about dancing, so they dance comically like the whole thing's a joke. It's not. Stay off the floor if you're too uptight to take dancing seriously. Don't make fun of the rest of us. Thanks.

2. People standing in the middle of the dance floor having conversations. Um, unless you're in a Rob Lowe movie like Less than Zero go have your conversation with your pals OFF the dance floor, okay? The rest of us are trying to dance.

3. Guys edging their way into me because I'm dancing too close to their girl friends. They throw their backs right into your face forming a wall between your and their girlfriend. Look, I'm not even paying attention to your girl friend, okay? Nobody's fucking anybody, it's only dance. Jealous fucking boyfriends. Sheesh.

4. I've also been to clubs where the club staff have made a point of walking through the dance floor - disruptive much? - when there's more than ample room for them to walk around it. There's also the club where the security guys have to keep shoving their way through the dance floor when there's nothing wrong going on. How very high school.

In spite of all this rebop I've felt a new personal freedom in dance that I've never experienced before. I've been dancing to darkwave, witch house, EDM, goth, dubstep, industrial and everything else. It may not sound like much, but I've discovered a state of exhilaration and renewal I never thought I'd reach, and I owe to the ladies in dreads and face masks.

Friday, October 13, 2017

May-December Continuum

One summer night I was driving home in my car, not paying much attention to the other cars driving by me. In the lane next to me was a car of about four teenage girls, listening to music and having fun. The car started driving side by side with me, not slowing down or speeding up from me.

When we stopped by the light one of the girls leaned out of her window.
"HEY!" she smiled. "What's up! D'you wanna hang out?"
I just smiled back. If she knew how old I was she wouldn't have started up, or would she?
"Hey! C'MON!" she laughed. She was probably drunk or something, but when they realized I wasn't interested, they pulled away and drove off.

This made me think of when I was younger and it wasn't unusual to see a 16-year old girl date a 22-year old guy. It was a generally accepted thing in my high school; it didn't seem like a big deal.

Around the time this carload of cooze happened I read Pamela Des Barres' memoir I'm With The Band, where she writes page after page of dating older rock stars even though she was hovering 16 to 18 years of age. Her friends in The GTOs shared similar relationships, and Frank Zappa even responded with songs like Motherly Love ("...you know it doesn't bother me at all that you're only 18 years old..").

While the male is always characterized as being a lech it's always been a fact that many younger girls are attracted to older guys, sometimes much older guys. At what point did this become viewed as some sort of dirty, sinister thing?

Altogether now...THE INTERNET. That's right, ever since social networking as dictated to one and all what's acceptable and what's not acceptable, we now have to listen to bluenoses proclaim any man dating a young lady as filthy and that immortal Internet word, CREEPY. The Internet loves that word, that and "disturbing".

Listen, if a teenage girl wants to date a rich, old crone I couldn't care less. She's getting what she wants and you know he's getting what he wants and who the fuck is anybody to judge either of them? By the way, if an older woman with stacks of cash wanted to cruise me I'd definitely let her dock in my harbor. Why not?

I fucking hate the Internet. I now have to read how Kim Fowley, a great artist, is a "rapist" (nobody said shit when he was alive...interesting), Woody Allen, another devil, etc. Every man, thanks to the Internet is now a pervert. It's boring and I don't care.

It doesn't matter that Charlie Chaplin, Steve Cochran, and countless other stars married or dating far below their age group and their women didn't give a damn, either. When do you think this whole shame circus started? You guessed it, social networking.

Look, I'm not going to hang around some high school tomorrow looking for ladies to hustle, but I'm not going to flip out over their lack of maturity. And see the average American nightclub keep an underage girl from getting in...please, everything's permitted and it's a consensual thing. Just stay off Twitter and Facebook or they'll stone you like an Islamic tribunal.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sounds Like The Turtles

In the world of Sixties pop music there have been a small handful of bands that have stood the test of time and trends, endearing themselves to people of all musical tastes, and one of those bands is undoubtedly The Turtles.

Originally a surf band called The Crossfires, they got smitten by The Byrds protest folk-rock bug and inadvertently created a bizarre hybrid of surf-folk. The band played protest songs like Let Me Be and It Ain't Me Babe with a surf-rock style that made the band stand out in a big way. It also didn't hurt that cheery Mark Volman always played a whimsical foil to Howard Kaylan's dramatic vocals. The band was a lot of fun no matter what the message was.

During their four-plus years in the Top 40 The Turtles had a long streak of hits which lasted longer then many of their contemporaries like The Monkees or Paul Revere & The Raiders. Why? Maybe it's because they didn't have a gimmick, just a very straightforward approach to producing sunny yet provocative pop records.

By 1970, The Turtles called it quits in spite of their unbroken string of hits because of signing with too many managers and getting wrangled up in an endless stream of binding contracts. There were also complaints of royalties not reaching the right people.

Three members of The Turtles – Mark Volman, Howard Kaylan and Jim Pons joined Frank Zappa & The Mothers and recorded five great albums together, some of Zappa’s best work: Chunga’s Revenge, Fillmore East June 1971, Just Another Band From LA (I attended that show!), the motion picture soundtrack to 200 Motels, and the released-much-later Playground Psychotics.

Although the music produced was terrific it was probably the worst season in The Mothers’ careers, as it was fraught with horrific episodes like a hotel fire in Montreaux, Switzerland (immortalized in Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water) and an attempted assassination of Zappa on stage at The Rainbow Theater in London, England, relegating Zappa to a wheelchair for the next 12 months.

During their tenure in The Mothers Mark and Howard recorded under the names The Phluorescent Leech and Eddie, which they used to call their new band, including Pons (drummer Johnny Barbata joined Jefferson Starship). They recorded about four albums, two for Warner Bros. and two for Columbia. The Turtles sound lives on in occasional reunion tours and the band has never lost their sense of humor in spite of a career loaded with speed bumps and brick walls.

If you're a success in music you're going to inspire a spate of imitators who are either influenced by your sound or simply want to cash in on your magic. Whatever their motives may be, this blog tracks down three records heavily influenced by The Turtles sound, largely written by the team of Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon:

Life Is Short - Billy Nicholls

Billy Nicholls was a friend of The Small Faces, and that was connection was put to good use with Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott playing and producing his album, Would You Believe? Would You Believe is an interesting album in that it's more Sunshine Pop than Freakbeat. Sunshine Pop didn't really hit England as much as Freakbeat did, so Nicholls' album is very different than the usual album coming out of the UK. Several of the tracks have a strong Turtles influence in them, especially Daytime Girl and this one, Life Is Short.

Reason To Believe - Skip Bifferty

Nobody sang a more heartfelt ballad than Howard Kaylan and you can definitely hear echoes of that in Skip Biffferty's great moody, romantic sing, Reason To Believe. Brief but touching!

You're Gonna Hurt Yourself - The Bystanders

You're Gonna Hurt Yourself was originally recorded by The Four Seasons but this version has more bounce. The harmonies recall classic Mark and Howard, too. Again, a good English tribute to the boys from Westchester, who obviously made a strong impact on the UK, especially with Marc Bolan, who used Volman and Kaylan as his backup singers on countless classic T. Rex hit singles, as well as on the Electric Warrior and Slider albums. Perhaps they were good luck charms for him, bringing him luck at every turn.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Little Hand Man

THE LITTLE HAND MAN

The Little Hand Man
swings a golf club too big for his tiny little hands
He stands on a scorched, blackened golf course
THE BALL IS ON THE TEE

SWING! He misses the ball
SWING!!! He misses the ball again
Little beads of sweat line the top of his blanched pink lips

The hair on the back of his head
flies to the front, makes a shape like an old Injun's canoe
His sturdy frame twists like a rusty turnstile

SWING! He misses the ball
SWING!!! He hits the ball...finally
The Little Hand Man curses
As the blanched pink men clap their little, pink, wrinkled hands

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Gridlock

Tourists, tourists, tourists. I'm making a drop-off up in the Hollywood Hills and I'm really flustered getting the gown out of my car and all, my ass is hanging out of my pants and my clipboard is falling down, and I turn around and there's this TMZ tour bus with these apple knockers with their fucking cameras and mobile phones taking pics of me pulling out a gown with my dick falling out my pants and I got THIS close to screaming, "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?"

But I didn’t.

I threw my back out towards the rubberneckers and kept it there until the tour bus finally trotted off, disappointed that I wasn’t about to march over to some celebrity’s doorstep with their clothes.

Truth be told, the delivery wasn’t even famous. Just a barely known film producer’s wife getting her gown for the night’s festivities. People make a big fuss about nothing, even my pants sliding down my hips. Tourists are funny; so many of them behave like boobs who paid their money see a freak show at the carnival.

Sometimes I feel bad about my job and how it looks to “normal” people, and other times I tell myself “this is where I belong” and believe it. I’ve been holding down this gig for about a year and a half already but it felt much, much longer than that.

It wasn’t hard work, it was pretty easy, but it was very exhausting running around and picking things up and then sitting in traffic all day getting to the delivery and dropping it off, repeating the cycle for ten hours straight without breaks. The repetition of it all is what killed you.

When I think back on my first day on the job it all seems pretty ironic. I was heartbroken at the prospect of finally succumbing to become a delivery person. I always thought it was the last resort for dysfunctional idiots who couldn’t do anything else. I was totally broke, flat busted. I didn’t have enough money to buy a loaf of bread and Karol was getting tired of it. She still lived with me.

Whoever tells you money can’t buy you love doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The money was gone and so was her love for me. Every day she yelled at me more and more. Sick and tired of being broke, I finally caved in and answered an ad for a delivery company. I sank to the bottom of the labor food chain. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die.

Karol didn’t really appreciate my effort taken in relieving my sad financial state. She simply told her friends, “My boyfriend’s a delivery boy”.

Without looking like I was moping too hard I went to the office of Style Runners and filled out all the paperwork. I showed my driver’s license, proof of auto insurance and my DMV driving record of the past five years, all necessary to qualify for the job. After doing so I was told to sit and wait.

I sat there in the waiting room feeling like a total loser, hating my miserable life and the shitty hand Fate had dealt me. My eyes burning a hole down at the carpet feeling shame, it was interrupted by the manager walking up to me with a very large black man in a Style Runners uniform.

“Okay, Tracy, everything seems to be in order. This is Cabernet, one of our best drivers. He’s going to show you the ropes and give you orientation of what we do here. So, off you go and good luck!”

Cabernet shook my hand as I got up. “How you doin’, man?”
“Fine”, I lied.
“You ever driven before?”
“Yeah, I did some drug store deliveries years ago. I kind of have an idea of what I need to do”.
“Good, this shouldn’t take too long, then. Let’s bounce”.

We got in a small car and he immediately radioed in. “Driver 124, standing by in West Los Angeles”, he turned to me and said, “That’s how you tell the dispatchers you’re sitting around waiting for something to do. You never say ‘give me stuff to pick up’, you say ‘Standing by and you give them your location’”.

The dispatcher radioed back in three minutes and he quietly wrote down several locations for pickups. He put the car in gear and began driving west. I thought we were headed to a dumpy area and pick up a bunch of crummy Italian food.

He made a few turns while interjecting a few boring pleasantries.
“Got any kids? Got a girl? My Lakers are letting me down…”

The scenery changed and it changed radically. We moved into Beverly Hills and went up Rodeo Drive. What gives? I thought. Is this a joke?

“Okay, first we’re going to Burberry and then we’re heading over to Cartier to pick up a delivery”. My face lit up and forgot about my self-pity.
He pulled into the Rodeo Drive alley and swung the car into the Burberry parking lot.

We walked down a clean, well-lit staircase to the basement where an attendant stood by a bank of closed circuit cameras and a few rails of garment bags all bearing the Burberry symbol.
“Cabernet!”
“Marcel, picking up a bag and training this new guy here”. Marcel appraised me as if I were some new species let loose upon the world.
“Ah, good luck, my friend”.
“Grab the bag, dude”, Cabernet instructed. I picked it up aggressively.

We got back in the car and Cabernet told me, “Okay, now record the time you picked up the bag on your trip sheet. That’s it, now let’s head over to Cartier”.
We went over to Cartier, where we had to show ID and sign a few papers. Security was pretty tight there and after a few more hoops jumped through we were finally given the bag with the jewels.

“We’ll have to drop off the jewels first”, Cabernet said once we got back to the car.
“Get your belt on, here we go”. We headed over to Coldwater Canyon and pulled up to a high walled estate. Cabernet got out of the car and walked up to the intercom by the tall gate.

“Style Runners delivering the Cartier”, he spoke into the little talk box. A moment later the gate slid open a few feet and a big man in a suit, dark glasses and an earpiece stepped out and took the bag. He quickly jotted his initials on the trip sheet and Cabernet returned to the car.

“Okay, that’s done. Now we gotta go to Jimmy Choo’s”. On and on it went like that all day, my mood elevating from despair to elation at the romantic delivery jobs assigned to us all day in Beverly Hills.

Burberry, Cartier, Jimmy Choo continued on to Hermes, Neiman Marcus and Yves St. Laurent, picking up from glamorous designers and dropping them off at homes in Bel Air, Malibu and Benedict Canyon. Delivery work, yes, but pretty lofty delivery.

When I got home that night I tried to tell Karol about my new job, but she just goofed around on her cell phone talking to her friends. It was strange; we got along fine for years but overnight she hated me and treated me terribly. There was no explanation or reason why she decided to turn on me; she simply decided she hated me now.

I was happy that the delivery job turned out to be pretty good, but she seriously didn’t give a damn. She was non-plussed by everything I told her and communicating with her became impossible. I truly felt alone. One month later she left ne and moved back to her mother in Canada.

I continued to drive on weekends after that and it turned out pretty well. I made the rent every month and ate alright, so the poverty scene was forestalled again. Delivering cool fashion prevented me from feeling any shame at being a delivery person. I never did shame very well, anyway. I always liked myself in spite of the hate coming out of other people. It never really affected me.

I got the radio call to go to The Montclair Group, a modeling agency near the Laurel Canyon area. They were doing business out of a mid-century modern house in the rustic hills. My GPS compassed me to the house, the upper floor stuck out above a cluster of bushes. I pulled over to the side of the driveway and walked up to the entrance, hit the buzzer and identified myself.

“Come in. I have a few bags for you to deliver to a client in Laguna Beach”, a strikingly beautiful girl with big red hair in skin tight black pants ran around the room, all business, no smiles, nothing.

As I followed her to the studio I saw a dozen thin, stunning girls all dashing about every which way, buzzing around like fireflies. Some of the girls were blond, some were brunette, some black, some Asian, and they were all gorgeous. Thin. Ravishing. Like my hostess they were all very serious and stressed.

“Casey, what time is the photographer coming by with the proofs?”
“Excuse me! Are you delivering the Continental breakfast we ordered 45 minutes ago?”
Severe eyebrows pointed at me.

“No, I’m here to pick up some bags”.
“Tch!!”
“Bailey, did you call Armando?”
“No, Ashley, was I supposed to?”
“Call Armando. Like now. You were supposed to call him like a million years ago”.

As I stood around waiting for the bags more beautiful girls ran in and out of the room, making me feel like I was in a Room of Mirrors at the Fun House with ravishing women all around me. There were no men present at all.

“Are you from Geek Squad?” More severe eyebrows pointed at me. “I need to have my laptop defragged”.
“You don’t know how to defra-“
“Tch! He’s not from Geek Squad”, the Redhead heaved three bags at me. “Okay, here’s the bags. How soon can she get them?”
“Well, Laguna Beach is in Orange County so I’d say about an hour from now, at least, so-“
“GOOD ENOUGH! THANK YOOOOOUUU!”

She practically slammed the door behind me, but it was alright. As beautiful as the girls were, there was something demonically claustrophobic about being in that house. Besides, a beautiful girl that never smiles is as appealing as an ice cream cone with salt and pepper all over it.

“757, holding The Montclair order to Laguna Beach”, I radioed in.
“Ten-four, call clear, 757”, the dispatcher returned back.

I turned up the air conditioning and pulled out some gum and chewed away, slowly crawling up the ramp to the 405 Freeway. My mp3 player was playing the William Tell Overture by Wendy Carlos and I chuckled at the perky synthesizer music.

Traffic moved fairly smoothly up the 405, better than usual. As I went by I occasionally looked over at the shoulder on the freeway, noticing forgotten shirts and pants lying in a heap. A few miles later there was the torn off bumper, the decapitated fender, and the usual spray of broken glass.

As I drove further down I noticed deep, dark grooves burned into the asphalt by squealed tires, indicating sudden braking or wild last-minute swerves. At first I only noted one every few feet, but then there appeared to be more and more.

Traffic gradually slowed down more and more. The other side of the freeway was grooving at a pretty swift pace, but our side started creeping like a fly in molasses. It was hard to see what the cause of the slowdown was, but it didn’t feel right.

I heard a few sirens blasting behind me, faintly, then progressively louder and louder. Then an EMS truck ran down the shoulder I’d just stared at, followed by two police cars and a fire truck blasting its trombone horn to hell.

We crawled further and had to move two lanes to the left, but I got a good view. It was an accident, and it was a good one. There were four cars slammed into each other, radiator steam billowing out, as well as clouds of black smoke from burning oil. One had spun in the opposite direction, another had its front end completely crushed in, the third had the entire left side bashed in with a driver still stuck inside, and the fourth had its rear fender and bumper town off completely.

The fourth car’s owner was a fat, homely man sitting on the ground crying like a child over his car being destroyed. The car with the front end crushed in was a woman comforting her young daughter, a blanket thrown around the little girl’s shoulders. The man in the car spun around was unconscious behind the wheel. He may have been dead, but I didn’t care. I had a delivery to make.

We trudged further up the freeway through the smoke and steam and burned rubber odors. I hated to break it to The Beautiful Redhead, but I probably wasn’t going to deliver the fashion on time. There are times when Death trumps Beauty.