Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Birthdie 2 Me

Halloween’s here and I’m another year old today. Every birthday becomes more interesting lately because I’ve passed the half-century mark. I still look pretty young for my age: yesterday some old lady called me a “sweet puppy”. I don’t know how many 52-year old men have been called a puppy this week, but I’m willing to bet they can be counted on only one finger!

Living old and looking young can be a bit frustrating, though, because people assume you’re an inexperienced young whelp based on your looks. I’ve always referred to myself as “a man of experience with the face of inexperience”. It’s weird! You may still look young but things change inside. Like what?

1. You’re going blind. No matter how large the type everything looks like little ants running across a spilled packet of black pepper. Everything looks like dots and squiggles and it’s maddening.

2. You’re going deaf. Either you’re going to have to repeat what you just said to get me to react or I’ll just nod my head and pretend I heard you. I’m a dick, sorry.

3. Something’s growing inside of me and it will take my life away from me eventually when it gets bigger. Until then I’ll smoke another cigarette. Like I said, I’m kind of a dick.

4. Remember all the fun food you enjoyed when you were 25? Well, it’s over. Your constitution can’t handle it any more. Club sandwiches are just a distant memory, peanuts are history and potatocorntortilla chips, Cheetos, and the rest of that crap are out of the picture. Vegetables for lunch, maybe turkey or tuna. Eat light…for the rest of your life, or else.

5. Just because you look like a sweet puppy doesn’t mean you can lift things any more. The only thing you’ll lift from now on is a book or a guitar. Otherwise forget it. The simplest lifting of objects will make your body fold up like a cardboard accordion.

6. You’ll get so absent minded you’ll forget where you put everything, like your wedding ring you lost last December. Your mind will be a fleeting thing.

Now that I’ve depressed you to death, how do you stay young or at least halfway humanly alert and alive? It’s actually pretty easy:

1. Never obsess over an era. It’s scary the way my peers still talk about the old punk rock days of 1977, the way my college rock pals talk about 1988, the way my grunge pals talk about 1991, etc. Yes, Mr. Dullsville those were the good old days, no they don’t make them like that any more (thank God). Live for the next moment because it will be better. I promise.

2. You never stop learning things, keep learning. Get the latest gadgets, read all you can about new computer systems, stay ahead of everything. When you stop learning you stop growing.

3. The war is over. There’s nothing sadder than an old bastard trying to play the James Dean-Henry Rolliins rebel. Even Richard Pryor backed down after awhile. Old tough guys are pathetic, so just breathe deeply and watch the world undo itself in front of you. It’s somebody else’s battle now.

4. Never forget that 99% of everyone around you is younger than you, even the fuckers that look older than you. Be patient with them, they’re very loud and annoying, yes, but just remember you were a lot like them when you were a sawed-off punk.

I’ve kept my age a partially-hidden fact because people assume all sorts of shit about age. I’m also pretty vain sometimes, just like my dad. I think I held up pretty well for a guy my age, but the best thing about turning fifty-two is being able to say “I did it all, and now I don’t have to try so hard”. Growing old is easy, but doing it well takes work.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rebecca: Kween o' Kool Kards

'Tis the season for Rebecca to pull out her artistic armada of weapons: acrylics, pencils, inks, etc. and make me her wild cards. In the next six months I'll be getting my Birthday cards (October 31st), Hanukkah/Xmas cards (December 25th), and our Anniversary cards (February 12th). That's quite a triage, so there's tons of great art to look forward to! Go baby go!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Two struggling rockers lived together in Hollywood until they heard about this new hipster hot spot called Silver Lake, which they promptly moved to lickety split. They rented a house up the hill from Spaceland, and shit doggy, they had it made, well almost. They were in their late thirties going on forty and knew they were going to catch on like wildfire in the local music scene. They knew nothing of the new bands that were popular, but as long as they pulled out their old Neil Young and Velvet Underground albums they were safe.

There was Kim, who refused to eat meat for "political" reasons. He came from Chicago, where not eating meat was pretty rebellious. He dyed a blue streak down his chestnut brown hair, strong stuff that. He also chain smoked, drank his weight in beer and avoided using deodorant. He wrote songs that were political if you read "between the lines". Kim believed in going green, which was why he never washed his Buick Riviera. It stank of umpteen spilled coffees.
Steve was his roommate. After losing his girlfriend to a paralegal he started wearing dresses on stage after seeing Falling James wearing one on the cover of Flipside Magazine. His band was called Bag Of Ice and had songs about drugs, only he never took drugs in his life. He was scared of them! What a pair.

Steve and Kim worked at the same office every day. In between business calls, Kim turned to Steve and said, "You know, dude, people in the hood don't know about our cool sounds. Let's throw a party and invite all of the coolest scenesters we know".
Steve stammered because he was out of drag and it made him nervous. "Whoa, Th-th-th-at's an awesome idea. We can look up all the coolest people in Flipside Magazine!"
"Yeah! Bitchen! Let's get a copy of the latest Flipside!" Kim slammed down his coffee mug.
"I heard if you invite the staff of the zine they'll party with you and give you a big write-up."
Their boss walked by and barked, "C'mon, break time's over. You're on the clock, guys".
They picked up their phones and made separate calls. Kim dialed and spoke, "Hello, this is Mister Richards. Am I speaking to a Mister Dwayne Franklin? Mr. Franklin, you have an outstanding credit card debt of $5,500. You have a choice of making a lump sum payment at a lower rate or you can pay the full amount in installments. What would be more convenient for you? Hello? Mister Franklin?"
Steve spoke into his phone. "Hello? Is this the Martinez residence? Hello, honey, is your daddy home? Do you know what time he comes home? No, that's okay, I'll call back at 7:30 PM".
With their cold calls finished, Kim grunted, "It's gonna be a tough one. I'm gonna need a refill!" He hoisted up his stained cup of coffee.

About a week later after many cold calls to the Flipside Magazine staff and to every scenester photographed in the latest issue, Steve and Kim got the party started.
Kim, with cigarette in mouth, proudly announced, "Safeway had a sale on Gallo Port and Vernor's Ginger Ale. We're gonna have some bangin' punch!"
Steve beamed. "Sweet!"
Steve had some party recipes of his own: he took some Jiffy Pop popcorn kernels and threw them in a stained paper bag and stapled it shut and then threw it into the microwave oven, setting it past the 3-minute mark.
Steve picked up the ringing phone. "What?" Steve's eyes bugged out in excitement. "A Gun Club tribute band wants to play an acoustic set in our backyard? Yeah, dog, invite 'em over".
After 90 seconds of buttery goodness wafting in the air smoke began emanating out of the microwave. Kim noticed the smoke pouring out, and freaked. "Steve! STEVE! STEVE!!! Get off the phone, man!"
Kim ran over with a Rite-Aid fire extinguisher and doused the little oven with it.

Ten minutes later, after airing out smoke with all the windows and doors left open, Kim asked, "Dude, what kind of records do we have?"
"Well, I have a Japanese pop band record and a CD by that all-girl band from Nebraska who hate men. That oughta cover things".
"Awesome. What happened to my Pansy Division record?"
"Your brother stole it after he came out."
"Oh yeah. I'll have to give him a call. I'll pretend to be Mister Richards, heh heh".
"That's the way, dude".

Later that night the party was going and the Port and Vernor's was a-flowing. After numerous urns were thrown up in by various Flipside staffers and scenesters riffled through their medicine cabinet, the big Gun Club tribute band went into their acoustic set. During the middle of their passionate rendition of "For The Love of Ivy" the police showed up and broke up the party. Everyone was resigned to the party being over and 90% of them left. Kim was fit to be tied.
"This is a fascist police state, damn it!" he yelled in his best stern bill collector baritone, cigarette dangling from his lips and a loyal bottle of Fat Tire in his right hand. A cop was ready to rush him but the party left-overs held Kim back and shushed him down.

Kim, still fortified by his drunken rebel reverie decided to provoke a healthy political debate with someone, anyone. He planted himself in front of a Japanese girl and a mole-like Flipsider. They were busy discussing the club scene in Silver Lake.
"I think people who eat meat are no different than the Nazis who ran the concentration camps!" he blurted out at them, defiantly staring them down.
"What?" the girl asked.
"Am I right or am I right? You're from Japan, aren't you? Did you know that Kobe beef is from Japan? Kobe has done more to ruin the meat packing industry in America than any other country!" He puffed his smoke at her like a mad bull.
"Um, yeah, okay", she groaned and got up to walk away.
"Great party, huh?" Kim asked the Flipside mole.
"Yeah", the geek writer mooned, "we gotta go out sometime and get bent, bro".
They high fived each other and a bromance was a brewin'.
"My dress is killing me", Steve twitched nervously, obviously too big for a Miss Sixty original.

The next morning, both hung over, aspirins and coffees by their telephones, they looked at each other, and moaned.
"Fuck, was that a p-p-p-party or what?"
"Killer, Steve. Flipside's promised to come to our next gig if we put them on the guest list."
"Sweet, dude. They're gonna write a review of my s-s-single once I get it pressed."
"That party - shit, that was the best investment we ever made, you know?"
"Yeah. I think somebody from a Polish fanzine was there last night."
"Bullshit!" Kim looked incredulous.
Their boss walked by and barked, "C'mon, break time's over. You're on the clock, guys".
They picked up their phones and made separate calls. Kim dialed and spoke, "Good morning, this is Mister Richards. Am I speaking to a Mister Dwayne Franklin?"
Steve spoke into his phone. "Hello? Is this the Martinez residence? Hello, honey, is your daddy home?"
Surely, success was waiting in the wings.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Papa's Got A Brand New Sled

I never was in love with the look of the Toyota Prius, but when I heard about the great things it does I was pretty intrigued. Since my current car was on its last legs and my work offered a discount on hybrid cars it was time to take this bug-shaped apparition seriously.

The nearest car dealership that would honor my work discount (20%) was in El Monte. As I drove up to the car lot I saw seven Toyota Prius cars of varying colors parked below a blow-up Michelin Tire Boy six stories high. I picked the one with a GPS system, bluetooth, six-disc changer, mp3 player, and a leather interior.

Learning how to drive the Toyota Prius is like learning how to drive all over again: the system is so different than anything you've ever experienced before. The transmission is on the dashboard, just like a 1962 Imperial! I liked the fact that my key was a Smartkey. It doesn't warrant plugging into the ignition because the engine picks up the signal from the key hanging from your belt!

The first thing you do after you turn on the power (push button) is put your left foot to release the Emergency Brake and your right foot on the normal brake, just like an old Model T Ford. After you release the Emergency Brake you're ready to drive. Your odometer is an LED screen set all the way in the back of the dashboard.

As I pulled out of the lot I decided to phone Rebecca from the bluetooth, so I pushed the phone button from the steering wheel and called her, talking into the stereo speaker and her responding to me. A soon as the phone call was over the music resumed, but I didn't want to listen to jazz anymore, so I switched to disc 4 (Punk, baby!) by pushing the Next Disc button on my steering wheel, which also has Air Conditioning controls, too. There's no more leaning over to push buttons. Everything's done on the steering wheel now!

Since the 2007 Toyota Prius is a hatchback I can fold the back seats into extra cargo space so if I go on a big trip to Palm Springs I can load it up with tons of luggage, my portable DVD player, my laptop, guitars, amplifiers, videocams, beer chest and stuff.

I was going to post a pic of my real Prius but since my enemies have attacked my last car so much I'm keeping this baby under wraps for awhile. You're just going to have to take my word for it: the Toyota Prius is the future, and all other cars are as outdated as Herman's Hermits.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Stuff I Burned From TCM, Part 3

There are still a lot of great, super-worthy movies that have yet to see the light of day on DVD, and here are a few that I've been thrilled to rip and burn off the teevee set. Let's hope and pray these bad boys get released soon:

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (1967): Great psychedelic teen sex comedy from the UK starring the shrillest SOB in movies, Barry Evans. He dates a wide variety of "keen" birds, ranging from a horny church girl to a spoiled rich kid with a decadent upper crust family. Although his surroundings are drab the film gets kinetic the minute he hooks up with a new girl. The movie's notoriety exists from an excellent soundtrack featuring Traffic, the Spencer Davis Group and John's Children.

Manpower (1941): Directed by Raoul Walsh, this wild one's about two utility worker buddies played by Edward G. Robinson and George Raft, who bust up their indestructible friendship when they run across their co-workers' shady daughter, Marlene Dietrich. The movie's cool, but it's weird: all the power workers live in the same house together, just like the Monkees! Every time they need to fix power lines it's pissing rain outside.

The Man With My Face (1951): A guy returns from a business trip only to find his look-alike in his house, and his business partner and wife treat HIM like a stranger. The look-alike kicks him out and he turns to the ex-girlfriend he left behind to help him figure out how he got cut out of his own life! Weird stuff. The whole thing takes place in beautiful Puerto Rico, too, and features a hired killer who doesn't use a gun or knife but a killer Doberman Pinscher! Where do I find these nutty movies?

The Power (1968): All-star science fiction murder mystery produced by the great George Pal. George Hamilton works at a top-secret research laboratory where telekinetic killings occur to all of the members of his highly educated research team (which includes Michael Rennie, Suzanne Pleshette, Earl Holliman, Arthur O'Connell, etc.). There are some really amazing visuals that definitely titillate the psychedelic (there's that word again!) brain pan, especially in the last ten minutes, which have to be seen to be believed.