Friday, November 23, 2007
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) bored me when field tripping there in the 4th grade and to this day still bores me to death. Ancient pottery, coins and tapestry a good art museum do not make. As big city museums go, LACMA is a poor specimen – stack it next to the Art Institute of Chicago or the New York Museum of Modern Art and it looks pretty damn sad. There are only so many times you can trot out poor King Tut to boost ticket sales, so they went for the sensational this winter. They gave Salvador Dali a great show that combines his artwork with his movie work (not too much, but fascinating).
Dali masterpieces hung in several rooms with short films he collaborated on through the years (the show was titled “Painting and Film”). In addition to the inevitable shorts “Un Chien Andalou” and “La Age D’or” there was a computerized reproduction of a Walt Disney-commissioned work called “Destino” which looked a little tampered, if you ask me. The heroine shown in the clip looked a little too much like Pocahantas!
The room which knocked me out was the “Spellbound” room. The Gregory Peck dream sequence Dali directed for the Hitchcock classic played on a large screen (still shown above). Instead of storyboarding it he painted variations on the sequence in various works displayed throughout the room. The best part was the original back drop from the dream sequence occupied one wall of the room. I kept turning my head from the movie to the backdrop and then back again to the movie. It was positively surreal!
Other highlights: Discovering how small “The Persistence of Memory” is. It must have been 16 x 20”, maybe smaller. And any guy who paints giraffes on fire is a genius.
While you’re at LACMA go upstairs and discover an amazing artist from Germany named Ludwig Meidner (sample painting shown below). In 1912 he painted a series of Expressionist works that depict Berlin on fire and people dying in the streets. Imagine a man who pictorially predicted World War I and the fall of the German empire two years in advance. Some of the eeriest art I’ve ever seen. LACMA almost redeemed itself on Meidner alone.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I forgot to put the bobby pin on my yarmulke, so the skull cap kept slipping off the back of my head again and again. I had to keep readjusting it on my head to keep it from falling off. I walked down Pico Boulevard doing this as the carnival of the damaged and depraved passed me by.
There was Mr. Exploded Eye, the Dog Lady, even old Moe Howard, decades away from Three Stooges fame. He’d hang out by the news stand and talk to the battered old vendor in his frail voice, a small, meek old guy with the spittoon haircut, all white now, too tired to throw a pie or poke a Shemp eye to save his life.
Mr. Exploded Eye had a severe case of conjunctivitis that was never treated, so he had one eye that protruded from his head like an enormous fried egg that exploded. He always wore a baggy suit with a crushed hat and looked like an old baggy pants comedian straight out of a burlesque show.
The Dog Lady was a gnomish woman of indeterminate age who always wore a heavy coat regardless of the weather. She continuously walked four mongrels on a leash. The dogs were so tired and inbred they didn’t resemble any identifiable breed to anyone.
Advancing towards the large intersection of Robertson Boulevard one could hear the shrill wail of Morey Branovan’s alto saxophone. Branovan was an insane little Jew with platinum blonde hair and a baby face who hated children and teenagers. And we hated him. He would play “Hatikvah” in an excruciatingly loud bray that sounded like a horse being tortured. In between notes he’d scream “HEY!” He’d wear a Hawaiian shirt with rotting old leis around his neck and have a sign in front of his sax stand that said “I LOVE GOLDA MEIR”. Even the Rabbis avoided this no-talent creep, stepping around him as you would a big dog turd.
Naïve idiot that I was, I tried to talk saxophones with him. BIG mistake.
“Hey, man, what brand mouthpiece do you use?”
“#@xT&%!” he mumbled insanely, clearly not interested.
“Do you double on tenor, also?”
“Kaftaferogoondoolabob”, he hacked in my face, a loogie just barely missing my pan. I was getting kinda steamed at his phoney crazy ass act.
“Did you blow your Daddy to get that horn, you old freak mother?” I leaned into him.
“GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE MOISHE DAYAN SHIT PISS HEBREW NATIONAL!” he roared, his fat pugly face turning beet red.
“Oops!’ I kicked his sax case over, causing nickels, dimes, and quarters to spill out onto the sidewalk, coins rolling into the gutter and further out into the street.
“I’LL KILL YOU!” he screamed so loud everybody stopped in their tracks and turned around. “YOU DAMN KUGEL MATZO BALLO VOOTY BASTARD FUCK SIDNEY MENDEL KATZENBERGER!”
I strolled down the road and felt a little bit better than I did ten minutes ago. I turned for a sec and saw Branovan chasing his change into the street, shiny new Cadillacs almost plowing into his stocky frame and honking angrily at him. The world was crazy and I didn’t care anymore.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
“HANDS UP! WHO WANTS TO DIE?” – Nick Cave
We have all gathered here today to pay respects to your dead body. What, you’re not dead yet? Well, admit it, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Confess, you’ve tried to kill yourself once or twice, haven’t you? Who hasn’t? And let me guess – you want to die because she didn’t love you any more, right? You dumb bastard. You tried to flush your life down the toilet because some spoiled idiot chose someone else over you. And you held such small value over your precious life. How sad.
Here’s my consolation for you, you idiot. The guy you lost out to is probably dumped now, too. And HE’S probably thinking about killing himself while YOU’RE reading this. Over HER. Now don’t you feel like an asshole?
“But nobody will make me smile the way she did”.
Of course, of course. How many girls have you ever met?
“She was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen”.
You’re joking, right? This is California. If you can’t find a pretty girl within a one-mile radius then you need a seeing-eye dog.
“But she’s the only one that really understood me!”
Then why did she leave you? Why am I standing over your grave staring down at you?
“It’s easy for you to say – you’re good looking”.
You gotta be putting me on. Good looking people have more mind games played on them than anyone, either out of jealousy or insecurity. You really think some stupid girl with no sense of loyalty towards anyone is important enough to stop your life and make me throw dirt over your coffin?
Give yourself a break. After all, there’s lots of gorgeous and mentally unstable fish in the sea…or try Whole Foods Market.
Friday, November 2, 2007
I've had two experiences with the horror named Long Beach Traffic Circle: In 1991 I was visiting Long Gone John my record company chief to discuss my newest record we were going to release. After all the business talk was done we decided to celebrate by heading off to a cool bar somewhere. We went in his car, a junky Volkswagen station wagon (1972 hatchback) where the floor heats up badly, it comes through your shoes, and the engine is so loud you can barely hear what the other person is saying.
"I'm pretty excited about the cover concept."
"I SAID THE CONCEPT FOR THE FRONT COVER'S PRETTY COOL!!!"
"THE CAR HOOD'S ON FIRE?? NO WAY, DUDE!"
En route to the bar I saw this weird little roundabout that reminded me of that nutty circle near the Arc De Triomphe in Paris. I think Piccadilly Circus has a weird circle like this, too.
It was the Long Beach Traffic Circle and cars were merging into it and others were flying out of it. There were metal signs all over but no traffic lights, so basically nobody paid attention to the signs at all. It was anarchy!
We got on the circle just barely getting broadsided by a car that didn't give a tinker's fuck about us getting on. BEEP! "HEY YOU FUCKING SHIT FOR BRAINS!" somebody yelled at John.
"Fuck-in A", John cussed angrily. He was now trying to switch lanes to get closer to the exit at the other end of the circle. Nobody was letting him get through. He had to cut someone off to get into the exit lane, but not without somebody merging into the circle as he was switching lanes. John slammed his brakes hard, barely smashing into a dented Cadillac. HOOOONNNNNNNK!
"YOU BLIND FUCK! WAAAATCH IT!" some angry little dog turd of a man yelled.
"Fuckin' A! Fuckin' A!" cussed Long Gone. We finally got off the circle barely getting smashed and maimed by passive-aggressive John Wayne men manning their shit sleds. We finally hit the pier and had a good drinking sesh. Good times.
2002: I got a job offer from some investigators in Long Beach to be a part of their team. I wasn't really interested, you know, staking out insurance frauds outside of their houses in my car for hours holding my pee in didn't sound like fun. But they said, "We'll show you our spy HQ plus WE'LL BUY YOU LUNCH!"
Okay, well, I'm down for free food. I drove into old Long Beach and had trouble finding their unmarked mystery HQ (no street number in front) but I had the street name. I drove all the way down and didn't find the building, so I called them on my phone.
"Hey, I can't find the building where are you?"
"Are you on the corner of T________ and W_________?"
"W_______? How do I get to that street?"
"Oh", the secretary said, "You have to drive through the Traffic Circle to get there".
I looked two blocks down in front of me and there it was like a waiting devil's mouth. Long Beach Traffic Circle. Packed. With cars. And there was something 2002 had that 1991 didn't have: SUVs. So the cars were bigger and pushier than before.
There was no other way to get to the HQ so I had to merge into the unyielding flow of traffic. Nobody knew how to slow down but they knew how to get pissed off.
BLAP! "GET THE FUCK OFF THE ROAD!" a skinny girl shrilled with a cell phone in one hand and a venti latte in the other.
I had to switch lanes to get out, and no one was yielding to me again, so-
HONK! "ASS-HOOOOLLLLLE!!!!" some piece of crap with a shaved head and a goatee hooted.
Well, I finally got off the Road Hog merry-go-round in one piece and got to the Insurance Inspector's HQ. I saw the lay of the business, all cool ex-cops smoking and showing off their gadgets and tricked out car trunks with spy gear. We had lunch at Denny's cause they're cops and that's what cops eat in their 1965 disc jockey hair styles. The food was okay (Denny's, man) and I told them that I would think about being a Worker's Comp spy for them (heh-no way!), so... Long Beach always brings back crazy memories but Long Beach Traffic Circle...is the stuff of nightmares.