Thursday, December 30, 2010
I've been working on more baking projects lately, and while some have been successful some have been pretty, uh, different. I created a batch of choclate chip scones that also included fresh blueberries. The blueberries created purple streaks in the brown dough that made my scrumptious cakes look like cow brains. Check this out:
It tastes way better than it looks, and why not? It's chocolate chips and blueberries, what could be more awesome? On the other hand, I baked a pizza with pre-roasted garlic (a little too much!), mozzarella clouds instead of shredded - the clouds were large enough to cover Montana, and pesto sauce substituting the customary tomato sauce. To say the pesto sauce was oily is an understatement. I should have drained the oil from the sauce. It was a very greasy pizza. Rebecca thought it was okay, but I had to force this one down:
If the picture looks like a moon landing then you know how difficult it was for me to finish it. But if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, and I will.
I’m pretty proud of my YMCA membership and make the most of it by visiting the different branches around town, but the weirdest one by far was the Hollywood location. The first thing you see when you enter the facility are ellipticals in the lobby, look at me, look at me. The place had an exhibitionistic vibe about it, like some sleazy show & tell. The men’s locker room was strange in that they had huge fashion mirrors in every corner so patrons could check themselves out and probably get appraised by the other guys there. I hated it.
I went on a rainy afternoon and there were leak-catching buckets all over the gym. Either the heating was cranked or the air conditioning is virtually non-existent because the rooms were hot and humid with condensation, amping up the B.O. factor. I saw two old codgers sweating up a storm on exercise machines, not a big deal only they were too cheap to kick down for gym clothes. They were exercising in their underwear, yuck, simply fetching in stained wife-beaters and faded old boxer shorts. The work-out rooms didn’t have towels in the corner like other YMCAs, but Wet Nap tissues.
A lot has been said about YMCA not caving in to singles bar behavior but it didn’t disappear on my watch. Some old swinger in her Seventies did a weird high-stepping Scarlett O’Hara strut into the cardio room, stopping in front of me and began checking out her lipstick in the floor-length mirror. After that little routine she got on the thigh machine, yup, laying back with her legs up in the air, pumping up and down. After a repetition of only five she stopped with her legs still spread above her and made a loud aria of orgasmic panting noises. I had to leave the room to keep from busting out laughing.
As I was leaving the facility I caught a guy flat out leering at a group of girls working out in zumba dance class. What an obnoxious asshole, but that’s the whole creepy vibe about this particular YMCA. It has that whole bullshit Hollywood “Look At Me I’m A Star” attitude and makes both voyeur and exhibitionist guilty of lameness. I’ll continue to visit different YMCAs around town but it’s pretty safe to say that I will definitely leave the Hollywood location off my “Go To” list.
I'm all for progress, you just can't beat it, but there's good progress and then there's bad progress. If you buy a CD on Amazon they offer you a free music mp3 download hoping you'll give up this stupid fascination with microscopic band photos and CD art and even more microscopic liner notes (thank God for ancient magnifying galsses!). I love my two mp3 players, I do, but I love my album art to take me to the world that particlaur band wants me to inhabit, whether its The Rolling Stones "Sticky Finers", Miles Davis "Bitches Brew" or King Khan & The BBQ Show "Invisible Girl". Take away the album art and your reference point becomes hazy.
If you buy a DVD from Amazon, yup, sure enough, there's an offer for a free movie download, ouch, well I love my DVDs. Movie posters define the film, whether it's "Blow Up", "The Killing of Sister George", or "Lord Love A Duck". It's weird to say, but the most endangered species from the digital age is PACKAGING. Packaging is what makes everything appealing to the consumer, don't these internet Nazis know that? I've bought hundreds of products just based on the way they look, you mean to tell me you're doing away with that? From a business standpoint that's absolute stupidity.
I'm leaving the worst for last, of course, the horrendous Kindle and its numerous, vile e-book spawn. My eyesight's already bad enough, you actually want me to stare at a computer screen after a long, hard day of staring at a glaring monitor? I work at one of these awful places where if you're not perpetually typing away at a computer they think you're not working. Paging Charles Dickens! But seriously, I want my paper, I need my paper, I want my story on ink printed on paper. Fuck the trees, I don't care about them. I want to read my media on paper, not on some battery-charged monstrosity that will render me blind sooner than I care.
Oh yes, and I made a better pizza after all:
Thursday, December 23, 2010
In keeping with Viva Rebecca’s highly original approach to clothes design and fabrication her fashion shows have employed unconventional models to reflect her unconventional approach to style. In the past Viva Rebecca has used models with disabilities and life-changing injuries to illuminate her original fashion. So, in keeping with the Christmas spirit I present to you a short video of a Viva Rebecca runway show in 1995. Tiny Tim doesn’t need Scrooge to hoist him up anymore because he’s rocking Viva Rebecca vinyl & leather fashions.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
In early 1972 Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band released "The Spotlight Kid" and followed it up with a short tour that included a tiny movie theater in Long Beach. Since I was too young to drive my brother took me there and took these amazing photographs of the band in concert. Enjoy!
Pictured below is Don blowing his badass harp to "Click Clack" while Rockette Morton is doing his whirling dervish bass guitar dance. Zoot Horn Rollo is swaying like a fuzztone-fried California palm tree.
This was probably one of the greatest shows I've ever been to, and to say it changed my life would not be an exaggeration of any sort. Thanks for the music, Don and the band, and thanks again to my cool brother for taking me there and taking these awesome photos.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
On Friday, December 17, 2010, Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart passed away several weeks shy of his 70th birthday from complications from multiple sclerosis. Our Dalai Lama of avant garde, our Patron Saint to all uncompromising rock musicians who admantly followed their vision of a new sound is no longer with us, but let out just like the Big Eyed Beans From Venus. He is now the long lunar note that's out there floating.
ONE MAN SENTENCE
by Don Van Vliet (c1970)
Inside the tub-ette on the small duplex tile shadow of my hand made a movie wolf head the dangling cigarette made a long fire tipped tube resembling a smoking fang which curled from his mouth to my mouth then slowly into the peeled back tiny mouths of the flaky enamel ceiling above my shaggy head a test of endurance metered by what with things changing this fast I drown the soggy creature through his wet butt out of the bath tubette trembling as it was a small room with a very large open window he bounced and disappeared off the sill into morning aching and yawning like a neglected tooth that took root in both night and day.
THE BEEP SEAL
by Captain Beefheart (c1970)
The beep seal
I saw once as a child
So life like it almost made me cry
It started with its eye glass
and one glue bubble
Caught on its whiskers
Its mouth was closed
So as not to insult the observer
Its canine teeth were red plastic
N' its molars were stained green by straw
Excluding it from the carnivoris (sic) and
Putting it in the vegetarian bracket
All of this I viewed from the mistake in
The side of the jaw
By pressing my cheek up close
To the glass on the other side
Of the red felt roped off area
This side of the jaw was obviously not intended
For public observation
Or was the ripped stitch flipper
That was carelessly tucked under in a futile
Attempt to hide the careless workman ship
Which only added to the agony I felt
For the display that lived once again
Hurriedly put together...
There was a small crack in the glass that
Emitted the odor of string footballs
And formaldehyde And salt water
The mites balanced on the tiny feather collars
The red tinfoil hummingbird bones -
Siper neglected but one flower on the bush
This odor faded quickly with a feeling of torn
Muscle 'n a burning in my armpit as I was yanked
By a hard hand and told tears streaming down my face
magnifying my tiny shoes into shiny leather monsters
That I was only to view
Life on the other side
of the red felt
Rest in peace, Don.
Friday, December 10, 2010
If I were to paint a picture would it be about a roadside troll who hacks off arms that little boys hang out of passing cars on the highway? And keeps the disembodied arms in a sack?
Would I paint a masterpiece of a John Q. Public down on his knees and gripping a fire hydrant throwing up tainted oysters in front of the sketchy culinary establishment he ate at?
Has anyone painted unforgettable images of long-abandoned cafes, motor courts, juke joints and fast food burger stands as well as Robt. Williams?
Could I even conjure up the Tooth Fairy as some jaded beatnik slattern with a carny’s coin belt strapped in front of her stained leotard? Never in a million years. Robert Williams never fails to shock, outrage and amuse with his brilliantly painted images of mankind at its lowest ebb. His images remain in your memory long after you’ve seen them, whether it’s images of a banked racetrack in the 1930’s or a biker about to run through a glass truck.
Paintings of naked girls on cheeseburgers, naked girls on enchiladas, naked girls on tacos, primal pleasures delineated in acrylic, making men drool because life is FOOD AND SEX.
Before he became the notorious scourge of the art galleries Robert Williams scarred everybody’s minds in Zap Comix with his character Cootchy Cooty, a chain-smoking, whiskey swilling bug, and haunted us with stories like “The Brain In The Mason Jar”. Robert Crumb’s cartoons were benign in comparison.
Williams was the first to incorporate kustom kar kulture in comix by drafting faux chrome lettering in his stories. If you like Robert Williams’ art, I also recommend Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso and S. Clay Wilson, who are all from the same generation and phenomenal talents.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
In the world of advertising there’s the sizzle: the adman’s lure aka "come-on" to get you to invest in their product, and the steak: the actual product, once it reaches your hot little hands. More often than not the steak doesn’t even remotely approach the sizzle in terms of customer satisfaction. In terms of punk shows the sizzle was the show flyer, promising outrage, anarchy and hopefully wild sex, with the steak being the actual club gig itself. Pictured above is the sizzle (gig flyer) for a show at The Soft Machine, an alias for some disco in Little Tokyo.
The show started late on a Sunday night, a pretty stupid idea to begin with. It also didn’t help that my band, Trash Can School, was on the bill with an awful 10th rate Big Black rip-off called “Sandy Duncan’s Eye”. They hated us with a passion, dismissing us as a Hollywood glam band, ironic given that their band leader’s brother was the lead singer for Motorcycle Boy, one of the crassest Sunset Strip bands around. And by the way, the majority of Trash Can School resided in the Santa Monica-Venice district.
Anyway, this stuffy power trio played one of the longest sets I’ve ever had to sit through. We asked the promoters by the first hour of their set to cut it short, people have to go to work the next day, like our fans. They did nothing. By the time we played maybe a third of the club was left, and I was mad not only at Sandy Duncan’s Douche but the bullshit promoters, so I ended up trashing the stage while we were performing. The band was as furious as I was, no sound check, no real stage to play on, just a crummy dance floor to work with, we tore through our set with a blind rage that shook the walls and windows. Needless to say we didn’t get paid. The only thing that raised a smile for me was watching Ken All Night Rocker (a dwarf from the LBC) wheeling around the dance floor in his wheelchair.
It was a sad end to that weekend because the night before we played at Bogart’s in Long Beach with Clawhammer, The Muffs, and Olivelawn, three superior bands in a great club with a cool audience, and shitfire, we even got paid well that night. I was happy that night and didn’t trash anything. Long Beach was always more rock & roll than stupid DTLA, anyhow. So all I can say is that the flyer to our Little Tokyo show – the sizzle, was way better than the gig – the steak.
When I first heard Bad Religion I couldn’t get over how a lot of it sounds like the Jewish folk songs we’d sing in school = over-melodic, super-wordy little tunes about God’s eternal majesty. The members of Bad Religion are as Jewish to the nth power, too, so the connection seemed a little suspect.
All my suspicions were confirmed, however, the night I went to Westbeach Studios (aka Epitaph Records) in 1991 to mix some tracks with Donnell Cameron. I ran into Bret Gurewitz in his office and lo and behold, sitting on his desk was a copy of “Chasidic Zemirot (trans: Songs) for the High Holidays”. You could have knocked me over with a feather! Well, that tears it. But it's cool, I think it’s great that kids are moshing in a pit to some tunes an Orthodox Rabbi riffed out in Poland back in 1865. They're sort of the yiddish Fairport Convention.
Last weekend the Jewish girls’ school across the street from my home had a Chanukah carnival. A rockin' band at the playground played Klezmer core and the kids didn’t mosh, they danced the way Jewish kids do, boys in one circle, girls in another circle. All I could think about when I heard the Jewish jammin' was, “Did Bad Religion cover this one? Would this make a rockin’ Bad Religion song?” Music sure is twisted!
When I found out “The Psychomodo” was finally available as a download on Rhapsody I leapt at the chance to buy it. While I don’t count myself as a major Cockney Rebel fan I’ve always looked back on this overlooked glam classic with a certain degree of fondness, bringing back memories of rockin’ in brass-heeled platforms – “The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys” indeed.
If “The Psychomodo” was an a la carte dish you could say it travels well: time hasn’t decayed the music at all. Steve Harley’s use of electric piano with violin to helm the songs was not only innovative for its time but keeps the band sounding contemporary, achieving a great Brechtian flavor to songs like “Mr. Soft”. His Ray Davies meets Bob Dylan fey didactics are in tight rein here, better controlled than on his other releases.
Songs like “Cavaliers” sport a cubic zirconium Diamond Dogs Bowie sound, pretty cool; there are times when cheap imitations are more entertaining than the genuine article. Some people like Taco Bell more than real Mexican food, Geno’s pizzas than real Neapolitan pizza, etc. A lot of old Bowie doesn’t travel well so sometimes you have to make do with pot luck, and “The Psychomodo” fills that tasty void.
In 1985 when I was in Crowbar Salvation we were recording at Westbeach and our producers were Chris D. and Bret Gurewicz (yes him again). They were located in Culver City at the time and smoking in business buildings, restaurants and bars wasn’t yet illegal. While I was wondering why we needed two producers instead of one, Crowbar experienced some unplanned recording studio tension when our double producers had flame wars: i.e. to smoke or not to smoke.
Bret, who owned the studio liked to puff away while producing us, but Chris D., who was in the midst of kicking the habit asked him very quietly to stop. Bret entertained this request for a little while but finally fired up to Chris D.’s unhappiness. In fact, every time Bret lit up Chris D. would storm out of the studio. It was pretty amusing. In fact, Bret once started a take saying, “This song is called ‘This Is My Fuckin’ Studio And I’ll Smoke If I Fuckin’ Want To’”. Watching these two omnipotent titans of punk rock doing battle over the devil’s coffin nail was lo, a mighty Armageddon. It was like watching Galactus and Doctor Doom tearing up shit in the galaxy like Fantastic Four #50.
I haven’t seen Bret in years but I’m willing to bet he’s stopped smoking right about now. Me, I have one cancer stick a day. Makes music sound better!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Before there was Glenn Danzig, before there was Anthony Keidis, before there was Henry Rollins there was Joe D’Allesandro, the ultimate muscle-bound counter culture hero. Unlike those boys he didn’t parlay his Greek God physique to communicate badass violence and hate. He was more like an Earring Magic Ken doll on drugs or a homoerotic Jayne Mansfield, popping out with a cartoonish sexuality that seemed strangely innocuous.
Joe was “discovered" the night he and some friends cruised an apartment building looking for a drug dealer where “The Loves of Ondine” was being filmed. They accidentally walked in on the filming and Paul Morrissey talked Joe into filming a scene in the picture, which Andy Warhol called the best scene in the movie. Warhol seemed impressed with Joe in a big way, marveling at the fact he worked as a bookbinder in spite of the fact that he only read one book in his life.
More Andy Warhol movies followed, films like “Lonesome Cowboys”, “Flesh”, heavily based on his experiences as a hustler and nude male model, then "Trash", and doing his best work in "Heat", portraying a former Mouseketeer down on his luck, living in a cheap Hollywood motel and having gigolo sex with a faded starlet, a la “Sunset Boulevard”. The film even climaxed with a swimming pool murder scene. Lou Reed immortalized him in his biggest hit, “Walk On The Wild Side”, singing, “Hey, Joe, take a walk on the wild side”.
In 1971, Andy Warhol shot Joe’s crotch for the classic Rolling Stones album “Sticky Fingers”, giving Joe the most immortal crotch in rock history. Following that, Joe starred in “Flesh For Frankenstein”, where Joe reprises Tony Curtis’ slave boy from “Spartacus” flub by sounding very New Yawk in a European-based costume picture playing Dr. Frankenstein’s livery stable boy, speaking more Brooklyn than Bavaria, “Yass, Dawkter Fraynkenstoin”. Great stuff! Later, much later, Francis Ford Coppola cast Joe in “Cotton Club”, probably his biggest role.
Joe D currently manages an apartment building in West Hollywood, ironic given his coolest film, “Heat”, took place in a similar setting. Coming from a broken home he must be happy to have several children and grandchildren in his life. He still works in movies when the calls come in, like some Merchant Marine out of a Genet novel. Thanks for all the great movies, Joe!
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Call it a mid-life crisis, call it whatever you want, but I’ve been possessed by a new obsession and it’s baking. I’ve always loved freshly-baked bread and live right by one of the greatest artisan bread bakeries in California, La Brea Bakery. Consequently, the thought of baking my own artisan bread was exciting to me. I stayed away from supermarket mixes like Pillsbury but dabbled with Duncan Hines and Ghirardelli mixes just to get oriented.
Insofar as baking bread, I bought a Rosemary & Basil Ciabatta mix and it turned out okay but I wanted to get more radical. I went on the internet and printed out baking recipes from thefreshloaf.com, a site dedicated to artisan bread baking and has a pretty awesome forum where people trade bread baking tips.
My baking obsession continued with classes at Sur La Table at Hollywood’s legendary Farmer's Market. In the dead of summer I slaved over a hot oven learning how to bake focaccia, braided challah – which reminded me of The Wicker Man because that’s how a challah is designed, and pumpernickel, which is considered in some circles as an artisan rye bread.
You can buy millions of cookbooks but until you’ve attended a few cooking classes you’ll never really learn how to bake bread properly. At my classes I learned all the appropriate tools used for baking: the dough scraper, the standing mixer (for making dough), much faster and more efficient at mixing, egg wash, pizza stones, etc.
The classes also provided valuable perspective on the chemistry needed for successful baking, case in point being that yeast is a bacteria, so using iodized salt will kill the bacteria, so always use kosher salt. For the very same reason distilled water should be used and not tap water, tap water has fluoride, which also kills bacteria. You don’t want to fight yeast, you want to allow it to work in the production of baking.
PIZZA: Pictured above is a pizza that I baked with dough seasoned with basil and sprinkled with olive oil. I used a store bought pizza sauce (sorry) and topped it with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, mushrooms and lamb sausage to give it a wonderful Middle Eastern accent. I made enough for two pies, both of which were demolished in less than a week.
DESSERT: Pictured above are double fudge brownies with vanilla topping and semi-sweet chocolate chips to give it that Las Vegas dice effect.
Pictured here is a Punk Rock Spice Cake, where I baked a Betty Crocker Spice Cake mix and put in some blue food coloring making the brown cake mix turn green (!). I topped it with pink strawberry icing and even threw in some raisins to make it extra chewy. This one got chomped pretty fuckin’ fast, too.
The kick in baking your own stuff is that you can be as inventive as you want. My Lamb Sausage Pizza was a big hit and it still conformed to the classic pizza format. My next project will be a Green and Red Pesto Pizza with big buffalo mozzarella clouds and I’ll be baking that next weekend. Call for samples!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Born on November 8th, the daughter of a car dealership (“Posey Chevrolet”) mogul in Mississippi, Posey began her career acting in soap operas like “As The World Turns”. Tiring quickly of zooming tight shots before commercial breaks, Posey got small roles in movies, the most memorable (besides “Coneheads”) being in Hal Hartley’s brilliant “Amateur”, playing a punk chick commenting on the electrocuted state of a computer wizard. She looked more punk rock than most Lower East Side club girls, which probably explains how she got her big breakthrough role in “Party Girl” (1995), the funny film about a Lower East Side club girl who sets out to prove she can be a serious librarian. The standout scene is when she files all of her DJ roommate’s records in the Dewey Decimal System. (“100-200” is Jungle Music, “300-400” is Drum & Bass, “500-600” is Trance, “700-800” is House Music, etc.).
After “Party Girl” broke she became the unofficial queen of independent films in the Nineties. Other weirdo films soon followed, like “Drunks” starring Richard Lewis who tried to kick the sauce monkey by attending AA meetings, where Posey’s a member in group. “I wanted to slug whiskey just like Janis Joplin”, brags Posey with a silly, blissful grin. One of the most memorable aspects of the film was the way “I Must Be Mad” by The Craig kept playing through the movie. Weird! The cast was surprisingly star-studded for such a low budget production (Faye Dunaway, Calista Flockhart, Kevin Corrigan, etc.), but Posey steals the show.
More indie movies followed, “Dazed and Confused” (Linklater), “The Doom Generation” (Araki), and “Basquiat” (Schnabel). Her next really big picture was Christopher Guest’s brilliant “Waiting For Guffman” playing the girl from the local Dairy Queen who thinks “Red White and Blaine” is her big ticket out of town to Broadway.
Other films included “The Daytrippers” about a family who pile into their station wagon and plow through Manhattan trying to find Posey’s estranged brother-in-law and find out why he bailed on her sister (played by Hope “American Splendor” Davis).
There was also “Clockwatchers”, a great ensemble comedy co-starring Lisa Kudrow (hitting the indie movie circuit herself) and Toni Collette. The film is about a quartet of frustrated office temps waiting for something bigger to come along in their lives. The only one who appears to be a “lifer” in the temp game is Posey, whose jadedness and sarcasm gets her through the crushingly dull routine of temp work. This is easily one of her best performances to date.
She followed that with Hal Hartley’s “Henry Fool”, an utterly bizarre tale of a garbage man named Simon Grim who takes to writing pornographic poetry and finds his muse in the form of a drunken, philandering scoundrel named Henry Fool who in the course of staying at Simon's home manages to bugger both Simon’s mother and sister Fay, brilliantly played by Posey.
Big money-making movies soon followed for Posey, starring in high visibility jobs like “You’ve Got Mail”, “Scream 3”, and “Josie and The Pussycats”. By 2000 Posey was still starring in great indie pictures like “Best In Show” playing a neurotic yuppie dog owner. “Personal Velocity” was the brilliant story of a book editor who finds herself behaving more and more like the father she detested, realizing she has his arrogance and uses it to mercilessly step up in her career.
In “Fay Grim” she reprises her role from “Henry Fool”, now abandoned by Henry and notified by the CIA that his terribly written memoirs was really a code book for international terrorists, hiring her to track him down. A deadpan comic version of “The Third Man’ with Fay as the Joseph Cotten character and Henry as Harry Lime soon follows. This one was pretty strange, but again Posey turns in a stunning performance.
It’s hard to imagine catching all of Parker Posey’s movies, nine times out of ten you’ll end up finding them on IFC or The Sundance Channel, and when you do you’ll be watching an actress with her own unique sense of style, wit and humor. And, if anything else, she was the coolest judge in “Project Runway” history.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Looming above Crash Walker’s head was a sign with the banner of “BIBLE LAND – PREPARE TO MEET GOD!” There were problems reading the sign because most of the lights in the amusement park were out. A few light towers were on but they were scattered in remote areas around the park. The black-haired man in the cowboy’s outfit raced through the attraction nervously looking behind him. He was now running way from not one, but two psychotic pursuers: The California Committee with their Duffyland park staff and psychotic rogue cop, Sgt. Gene Kurlich. If he were to fall into the hands of either side it would mean his demise. The California Committee had him going there for awhile until he realized that if they could kill Bill Flagg and turn a blind eye to Billy Bell’s death, then he could be put out at any time.
Crash Walker ran through bulrushes illustrating the birth of Moses, then past a big ark with statues of elephants and giraffes in pairs, finally stopping to catch his breath. He could hear running towards his direction. He hid in a corner and ducked down even deeper when lights turned on and sad, weepy music cranked up, a robotic figure of Jesus rolling his tearful eyes to the sky as women in robes tossed roses at him and brutal robotic Roman gladiators nailed his hands to the cross. Whiny violins pumped shrilly through the PA with a tenor operatically singing, “A crown of thorns on haloed head, Jesus saves the noble dead”, over and over. Creepy.
“Hey! Do you hear anybody around the Bible Land section?”
“Nah, it’s just that crummy music playing when you switched on the power”.
“Maybe he’s in Atomic Land”.
“Hell, turn on all the power switches, he’s bound to turn up somewhere around here”.
Walker made a point to avoid Atomic Land so he ran in the opposite direction, and for once he tried to run as quickly as possible and as silently as he possibly could. The trick was to run on the front of his feet and not on the heels. There wasn’t time to take off his cowboy boots so he tried his best to be quiet like it was a matter of life or death. Crouching low and looking out for men dressed like funny cartoon animals wielding guns was not his idea of a good time. The only way he could get through it was by pretending he was acting in a TV show.
Duffyland didn’t suffer from lack of shrubbery so if he needed to duck into a bush he was covered, like now. A walrus and a giraffe stomped around, craning their necks looking for him.
“I swear I saw him running in this direction”, the walrus whined.
“You’re crazy, he wouldn’t head this way”, the giraffe grumbled.
“We gotta catch him, we’re already in trouble for letting that crazy cop get away from us”.
“Yeah, now we have to catch two whackos instead of one”.
“But, remember, no shooting at the cowboy. We can nail the cop but the cowboy gets dragged back”.
Great, crazy Kurlich escaped from the guards, thought Walker . What a bunch of incompetent bozos. So now I have the Funny Animal Nazis chasing me and the even crazier cop nipping at my heels. I wish I was dead already.
After the two Funny Animals ran off Walker skulked ahead to a large entrance with big gray banners with “Civil War World” emblazoned on them. There was something odd about a cowboy running into an area called “Civil War World” but everything about Duffyland was off-kilter.
He ran into the exhibition marked Johnny Reb’s Jubilee. He stopped to listen for footsteps and heard nothing. In the darkness were animatronic robots of Confederate soldiers with rifles. A switch turned on from somewhere in the room and bright lights turned on, banjo music cranked up with screams of “YEE-HAW!” while Confederate soldiers brandishing bayoneted rifles danced and sang. One of them, holding a jug of moonshine relentlessly chased a black slave girl robot, her clothes half ripped off looking terrified. “YEE-HAW!” “Clap yer hands and stamp yer feet!” The drunken soldier chased the half-naked slave girl around the room to the bluegrass tunes.
Crash Walker hoped the loud music wouldn’t arouse attention from his pursuers, but then it got louder. Gun shots rang out, the Dixie soldier’s face flew off his head.
“BANG! A WINNER!” A woman yelled.
Another shot rang out, Walker ducked and saw the bottom half of the black slave girl bullet holed to Swiss cheese.
“BANG! BANG! ANOTHER WINNER!” Walker saw a figure emerge from the shadows in the back of the room. It was April Van Winter dressed in black holding a Luger. “The South won’t rise again, not tonight at least”, she smiled.
“April!” Walker gasped. “Let’s get out of here before I get nailed”.
“Well, maybe I’ll have to nail you!” she pointed her Luger at him. “What with Daddums dead and all”.
“How did you know that?”
“I’ve been here all this time. Poor dead Daddums!”
“April, put the gun away!”
“THERE HE IS – GET HIM!” A Hippo guard raced in with a Cheery Chimp guard. Van Winter spun around and fired at the doorway by their side, pieces of door jamb flying off. The guards ran outside for cover.
“Let’s go out the back!” Van Winter waved her gun towards the back of the theatre. Walker looked nervously at her, sizing her up. Was she friend or foe?
They found an emergency exit and ran out the back. They looked around to see if anyone was after them and saw a few Funny Animals in the distance running after them. “Let’s head over there, the Drunken Fire Truck ride!” Walker pointed to a garishly painted building with a swinging fire truck on the roof and a mural of goofy, nutty firemen wielding bottles of booze and falling off their fire truck. “Come on!”
“Just a second, darling”, April grabbed him from running away from his pursuers. She wrapped her arms around him in a lover’s embrace, brushed her cool jet black hair against his face and kissed him tenderly. Walker stared beyond her at the Funny Animals catching up to them. He tried to struggle but she had an octopus grip on him, jamming her tongue down his throat and rubbing her slim thigh against his growing erection. He started moaning angrily, unable to break her grip.
“Get those freaks, they’re making out!” A wacky dog yelled to his partners.
April pushed Walker away, spun at her pursuers and opened fire. “Kiss this! My heart belongs to Daddums!” she yelled. Walker ran off but Van Winter stayed behind. He ran behind the Drunken Fire Truck ride and looked around for her. She was gone.
“How the fuck do you get out of this stupid place?” Walker wracked his tormented mind. “I can get out of Pacific Coast Highway, the Sunset Strip, a gay bar in Silverlake, but I’m going to get killed in some shit amusement park, damn it”. Walker decided to just keep moving, no matter what, never stop. He snuck over to a ride called “Doctor Monkey the Crazy Surgeon” covered with a huge mural of a demented chimp in a scapular with a stethoscope around his neck holding a hammer and saw.
He could hear shrieking monkey noises with jungle sounds in the background. He listened for Duffyland guards running around but heard nothing. Feeling tired, he crouched in a corner and wished he had a cigarette.
“In a way I’m glad she’s gone. What a nut, a piece of ass, but crazy as fuck. Fuckin’ Hollywood ”. He shook his head. “And what’s with those guys trying to prop me up as some Governor, ‘King of California’? They must be crazy. I’m not leading anybody, I can’t even lead my way to the toilet. They almost had me there for a minute. Crazy motherfuckers, they killed enough people to get me fried in the electric chair ten times over. I’m finished. I’ll never be a star again”. His paranoia descended into sulking.
He heard a faint stirring behind him, making him turn around. A terrific blow smacked him up the side of his head turning the dark night into a bright, blinding flash. He fell to the ground and looked up at Gene Kurlich standing above him with a fireman’s axe.
“Now I’ve got you, you killing movie star bastard, heh! Nice axe, huh? Drunken Fire Truck, my favorite ride. As soon as I get my cuffs out I’m taking you into custody, Pretty Boy”, he pulled out the cuffs from his belt. Walker was fighting unconsciousness from the blow. “Nope! Showbiz creeps like you aren’t heroes – I’M a hero! People need to worship policemen, firemen, WE run the city, WE’RE the heroes here, not you Liz Taylor assholes”, he said as he grabbed one of Walker ’s wrists, about to clink the cuffs. “If I could get my hands on Marlon Brando, boy, the things I would do to him”.
Walker lurched and punched Kurlich full contact in the groin, pulling his other wrist away. Kurlich doubled over and Walker grabbed the bat away and bunted Kurlich in the face. “Fuck you!” Walker yelled.
Kurlich went for his gun while Walker ran towards the Jet Train, running up the stairs to hide by the tracks. He fired shots at Walker ’s feet, who was racing quickly to the elevated platform. “You can run but you can’t hide”, Kurlich yelled. “I’m bringing you back, dead or alive. I am the law!”
He followed Walker up the stairs to the Jet Train. When he got to the platform and only saw the Jet Train sitting idly by the tracks. “Come on, Cowboy, the sooner you give up, the easier it’ll be on you”.
Shots rang out at him from a corner in the platform, one shot grazing his right thigh. April Van Winter smiled at Sgt. Gene Kurlich pointing her gun at him. “Looking for Mister Right? Don’t even think of playing the hero or I’ll plant your skull with these pretty silver pills”.
"Firing at a police officer, you one-eyed bitch? You’ll get pulled in for that and we’ll frame your father’s death on you, too, you rich cunt, what do you think of that?” Kurlich sweated profusely.
“I think you want me more than her, you twisted son of a bitch”, Crash Walker shouted from the top of the Jet Train, looking down on both of them. Kurlich lifted his pistol to fire.
“Uh-uh-uh-uh”, Van Winter sing-songed, still pointing her Luger at Kurlich. “Drop the gun, get up there and fight like a man”.
“FINE! NO PROBLEM! And after I’m done with him I’ll get to you, you fuckin’ whore! I’ll have you both suckin’ my balls!!!” He angrily climbed to the top of the train.
Van Winter moved over to a black box by the tracks with screaming red lettering saying, “DANGER Do Not TOUCH”.“Hmmm…what does this say? Danger! Do Not Touch! What does this do?”
Kurlich advanced towards Walker on the top of the Jet Train, the tracks elevated over the park. Van Winter saw that the box was locked and fired her gun at the lock. She opened the box and saw a large switch. “Well, I’ll be damned. Modern technology, brought to you by Aero Van Winter”, she giggled, and violently flipped the switch.
“GOODBYE, BOYS! BON VOYAGE!” She waved as the Jet Train started running at 65 miles per hour, both Walker and Kurlich barely able to stand on a rapidly speeding train above Duffyland USA.
The complete edition of CRASH WALKER will be available in eBook form on August 2015 via Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Barnes & Noble Nook and other eReaders. Don't miss it!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
In late 1971 Creem Magazine sent Lester Bangs out to write an article on the raging new rock force that was Alice Cooper, from which these pictures appeared. It didn't hurt that the band spent a short tenure in the Detroit rock scene - where Creem Magazine was located - sharing bills with The MC5, Stooges, SRC, and The Frost (whose guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter later joined the band).
Before Alice became a trailer park rock god he earned a lot of bonus airline points playing the drag queen card, wearing falsies, Dolly Parton wigs and just queening out. On the right is a still from the legendary "Ballad of Dwight Frye" song where's he's institutionalized in a strait jacket. In the next picture he's doing a bizarre Salvador Dali "Persistence of Memory" routine. He later met Dali who adored Cooper to the point of creating a hologram of him.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Well, break out the champagne and crank up the brass band. Marc Jacobs has dropped his first men's cologne in 10 years called "Bang!" Not a great name but what a cool package! A bottle that looks like the bashed-in front of a car hood, all bent and twisted metal. The ad campaign (speaking of packages) depicts our intrepid designer totally nude sporting the ugliest tattoos this side of G.G. Allin with his jacked-up looking cologne bottle covering up his private parts (thank you, God!). The wait was definitely worth it; a sneak preview of the scent is enjoyable and sexy, so bypass the ads and just get it. You won't be sorry.
Light Blue (Dolce & Gabbana) = More Dolce than Gabbana, this sweet-smelling EDT (Eau de Toilette) has the standard blue, cool odor we've come to know and love by now. Very fruity, light and airy, but nothing new.
L'Eau D'Issey Pour Homme (Issey Miyake) = A little cinnamon, a little musk, not a bad combination, I liked it much more than L'Eau D'Issey. Now that was nasty.
Eternity Aqua (Calvin Klein) = Bland and boring, skip it. The ad touts "a watery surge of cucumber, vibrant lavender and the warmth of sandalwood". Not an inspired combination of materials, and placed together didn't smell terribly wonderful.
Bleu De Chanel (Chanel) = Too many scents these days call themselves "blue" this and "blue" that, and frankly, they all smell the same. This is no exception. Pass.
Gucci Sport by Gucci (Gucci) = For those that have a fetish for sniffing the grass stains off some sweaty guy's pants after he's played Flag Football all Sunday. I'm not among them! Gucci makes great clothes for women, but men's fragrances is clearly not their forte.
Burberry Sport (Burberry) = A rather shrill, citrusy odor for people who want that Gatorade body aroma, hence the Sport tag. Me, I’d be happier with the Burberry Brit cologne line, which has a less strident scent to it.
Cool Water (Davidoff) = I went to school with a kid called Davidoff and he never used cologne, much less used deodorant. Again, any cologne or scent with the buzzwords "Blue", "Cool" or "Aqua" pretty much smell the same, and basically this pretty much smells like Bleu de Chanel and the rest of their peers.
John Varvatos Vintage (John Varvatos) = If you want a great combination, learn from the master. Varvatos Vintage showcases the combined scents of tobacco, suede and even patchouli. Sounds like my house! I'm pretty prejudiced towards this kind of musky business.
One of my guilty pleasures is buying cheap deodorant from the drug store, but this time something's gone pretty awry. A few applications of Axe Deodorant's new "Dark Temptation" reminded me of another scent in my bathroom, a far more expensive one: Thierry Mugler's Angel for Men deodorant. Not as strong, but so close it's as if someone stole the recipe and put their stamp on it. Just imagine saving yourself over $20 on Mugler's deodorant for the cheapie Axe brand. Why, it's scandalous! All's fair in love and cologne war.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
In the late 1960's Warner Bros. Records released a string of promotional song sampler albums featuring their best tracks, some of which were getting heavy airplay on the radio. They usually went for $2 and were in the double-album format. The line-up on a typical sampler would be The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, Tiny Tim (!), Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Arlo Guthrie, Deep Purple, T. Rex, etc. Not a bad deal for $2, and the artists you didn't like would even weigh in with a track that was halfway listenable. But formats begin to get stale after awhile and Warners began to play with it, releasing a sampler of easy-listening schlock called "Schlagers!" and going the extra mile for Frank Zappa's Bizarre & Straight labels with the best sampler ever (IMO) called "Zapped".
Released at the peak of Zappa's artistic powers and his impressive talent roster, "Zapped" is surprisingly eclectic, from Alice Cooper's haunted house metal (the genre he started), Tim Buckley's jazz-folk, The GTO's baroque minstrellisms, and vintage tracks from the Lord Buckley library. And the beast gores on. Liner notes were annotated by legendary rock critic John Mendelsohn, who deserves his own blog. A rogue critic for Rolling Stone Magazine in the Lester Bangs-R. Meltzer mode, Mendelsohn championed countless unknown British talents like The Move, Fairport Convention, The Kinks (when they were banned from performing in the States), and an unknown cross-dressing singer named David Bowie. He also had a great band called Christopher Milk, and I still own their excellent United Artists Records 7" EP with the gatefold cover. His liner notes are superbly informative.
Side 1 to "Zapped" begins with "Titanic Overture" by Alice Cooper, a solo pipe organ piece that recalls haunted houses and sailor shanties and quotes pop-schmaltz hit "I Think I'm Going Out Of My Head". Creepy stuff!
"The Blimp" by Captain Beefheart follows, a spoken word piece with a jumpy, jolting backing track complete with Zappa-style horns tooting. Beefheart's poetry is a joy to listen to, his affection for funny words ("Shadrach") is in the W. C. Fields tradition.
"St. Nicholas Hall" by Judy Henske & Jerry Yester follows. Frank liked to take hippie freaks and place them in stuffy, patrician settings for deadpan irony. Stilted vocals matched with an equally stilted harpsichord backing, The GTO's also used harpsichord on their album, too. The tuxedos worn by Yester and band on the cover were also employed by Captain Beefheart's band on the cover of "Lick My Decals Off, Baby". Maybe that's where the "straight" in "Straight Records" comes in.
"I Must Have Been Blind" by Tim Buckley is a nice song with some cool vibes backing him. Mendelsohn's liner notes indicate he didn't care much for this music, ha ha.
"Merry-Go-Round" by Wild Man Fischer is one of the earliest records that documented a street singer in his native habitat, warts and all. Many, many warts. This track features backing from the Mothers of Invention percussion section, Art Tripp III and Jimmy Carl Black.
"Refrigerator Heaven" by Alice Cooper comes from "Easy Action" and has a great Syd Barrett-style song construction with rabid guitars that play horror movie melodies in unison like some demented string section. And Alice's vocals rule the track. I love the final lyric, "I won't come back until the sun sets down on the moon".
"Little Boy Blue" by Tim Dawe is a surprisingly poppy folk track, catchy as hell. Tim Dawe was a founding member of The Iron Butterfly (!). The lyrics are very funny, too. There's mention of a woman dressed in black and busting out her whips. S&M folk? I love it.
"Governor Slugwell" by Lord Buckley is his version of a radio broadcast of a Gubernatorial fat cat's rally, with Buckley playing all the characters. His ear for people's voices is hysterical; the Irish cop, the crotchety politician hemming and hawing, perpetually clearing his throat, and tops himself with the Sun Shining Negro Drum Corps ("WHAM! PAM! WHAM! PAM! WUBBIDYBUBBIDYBOO!")
Side 2 to "Zapped" begins with "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up". Jeff Simmons was a Mike Bloomfield wanna be who played acid blues, and this track is great, featuring superb backing by The Mothers (who he would later join), and an even more superb Zappa superfuzzed-out guitar solo.
Captain Beefheart returns with "Old Fart At Play", another spoken word track which I find rather odd. There are better tracks from "Trout Mask Replica" that feature his wildman singing. I would have picked "Ella Guru", "Moonlight On Vermont", or at least "Ant Man Bee".
"Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown" by The Mothers of Invention follows, one of the airiest and prettiest compositions ever recorded by Zappa and his colleagues. It always puts a smile on my face, even the boozy "Thanks For The Memories"-sounding 1940's Big Band sax break.
"Circular Circulation" by The GTO's is a country tune about some outlaw called Muddy Guts. It's probably the most tuneful song on their album sung by Miss Pamela (she struggles quite a bit on it). The GTO's were really getting into country at the time because some of them were chasing The Flying Burrito Brothers, the only glam country band in recent memory. Loved those Nudies outfits, boys.
Of course the album ends with Frank Zappa and his swinging "Willie The Pimp", vocals by Captain Beefheart and wild electric violin sawing from Sugar Cane Harris. Anyway, I'll let Mr. Mendelsohn have the last word in his brilliant liner notes, who had this to say about the late Frank Zappa:
"Finally we come to the creep who started it all, the man who keeps digging up these perverts and encouraging them and producing them and foisting them on a defenseless public that he's rendered a pushover with his wild eyes and intimidating wit.
"What can one say, except that we have him to thank for opening up virtually countless areas of popular music and for infusing what we sometimes refer to as rock for lack of a more explicit term with the self-effacing wit that enabled it to survive as long as it did".
Friday, September 17, 2010
When Turner Classic Movies aired their annual "Sunmer Under The Stars" festival they did something unusual this year: among the 24 hour programming devoted to Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and Gregory Peck they devoted an entire day's programming to Thelma Todd. A true testament to TCM's dedication to esoterica when it feels the inspiration, a marathon of shorts featuring Thelma and her partners ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly were aired, amply demonstrating what a great comedy team they were.
The Thelma Todd comedy shorts produced by Hal Roach were brilliant because the comedy was always feminine. The girls never butched it up to prove they can goof it up like the guys. Many of the comedic situations were as ladylike as they get: they played department store models, switchboard operators, maids, airline stewardesses, etc. Shit Dean & Jerry, Groucho, Harpo & Chico, etc. couldn't do. And there was no skimping on the sex appeal, either. In the short "Show Business" the big punch line was Thelma having her dress ripped off her - steamy stuff for its time. Because Hal Roach produced the shorts they had the same script and production quality that the Laurel & Hardy shorts had. A few of their regular support players like Billy Gilbert starred in them, too.
In "Bargain of The Century" the girls duke it out with old biddies at a department store fire sale with hilarious results. They fight over clothes they don't even want, crazy chicks. "Asleep In The Feet" is also a great short where Thelma and ZaSu play taxi dancers stuck with geeky guys that have all the dance tickets in the world. Yuck! "On The Loose" has the girls dating the biggest losers with the short ending them on a blind date with two new guys - Laurel and Hardy.
By mid-1933 ZaSu left the team and Patsy Kelly took her place. Kelly was the opposite of Pitts' character: where ZaSu was passive in a Stan Laurel-kind of way, Patsy was cast as a fiery Irish party girl who never turned down a drink. In "Beauty and The Bus" Thelma and Patsy win a car in a movie theater raffle and drive it recklessly down the road, driving traffic cops crazy. In "Babes In The Goods" the girls work in the lingerie section of a department store, Patsy barely maintaining her cool with obnoxious matronly customers.
Two years later Thelma Todd died mysteriously inside a car parked in a garage with the motor running, death from carbon monoxide poisoning. To this day no one knows who killed her, but the garage belonged to the ex-wife of the film director she was seeing. Sounds like murder to me. She was only 29 years old with over 120 movies and short features under her belt.
ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly both enjoyed long, successful careers after working in the 38 shorts they made with Thelma. ZaSu was a star even before she teamed up with Thelma, and ironically may have achieved cinema immortality in her only dramatic role playing McTeague's wife in Erich Von Stroheim's "Greed". Patsy also did her best work in drama (!) playing a nurse in Sam Fuller's "The Naked Kiss" and a witch in "Rosemary's Baby". Take it from me, the next time you see a TCM listing for a Thelma Todd-ZaSu Pitts or Thelma Todd-Patsy Kelly comedy don't pass it up. It's the best unknown slapstick you've ever seen.
Friday, September 10, 2010
The groupie phenomenon was still going strong in the 1970's, still colorful because the glitter rock scene gave it a strong fashion base to work with. No offense to the girls pictured above but I only recognize the first girl (Lori Mattix) and the third girl (don't know her name) from the Rodney's English Disco days. The other two don't look familiar at all. Maybe the other two spent more time at The Continental Hyatt House on Sunset Blvd. where all the big budget hyped bands (Led Zeppelin/Roxy Music/The Kinks) stayed. The bands that didn't get a big promo push (The Stooges/Suzi Quatro) stayed at The Tropicana on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.
Johnny Thunders' #1 girlfriend from Hollywood was Sable Starr. She was very cool and seemed pretty loyal to him at the time (1974). They got a lot of publicity together. David Johansen's girlfriend was Cyrinda Foxe, another colorful blonde. Leee (three e's) Black Childers used to photograph them quite a bit for Rock Scene Magazine and Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine.
Here's the glam spread for Creem Magazine: click on the image to see it closer. This was a four page report, but on this page you'll see Sparks, Roxy Music, Little Richard, Michael Des Barres, Bette Midler, Gary Glitter, David Bowie, The GTO's (last month's blog!), The Wackers, The Harlots of 42nd Street, William S. Burroughs, and four guys from England who look like Ted Koppel.
I remember seeing Silverhead at The Starwood in 1974. The singer was Michael Des Barres, a very attractive Nordic looking model-type. His band got a lot of flack for their album cover, "16 and Savaged". They were okay, nothing special. Mr. Des Barres married Miss Pamela from The GTO's, later joined Power Station, and then embarked on a great acting career, starring as a villain on "Melrose Place" and appearing in cool movies like "Sugar Town" and "Mulholland Drive".
Alice Cooper did a fabulous photo spread in Creem Magazine touring all the hot spots of Hollywood. Here he is pictured in front of The Classic Cat on the Sunset Strip, which was formerly Jerry Lewis' club which he opened to compete with his former partner Dean Martin who had the more successful Dino's Lodge. The Classic Cat later became a Tower Records Video Store. Not much to say about Alice Cooper, other than his best work was about to be behind him, just like this marquee.
I remember when The Dolls played a top-secret show at Rodney's English Disco: first Jerry Nolan came in and was very down-to-earth, no rock star attitude at all. Great guy. A half-hour later Arthur "Killer" Kane came in with his people and damn, he was tall. Sylvain Sylvain (Isaac Mizrahi's cousin!) came in a little bit later and giggled a lot. BUT - BUT - When *** Johnny *** came in all the groupies standing around the club dropped everything, stopped talking among themselves and primped like crazy as soon as they saw him. You could have heard a pin drop. He was clearly the star of the band.
Friday, September 3, 2010
It’s ironic that a group of wholesome Catholic school boys from Arizona would form a band called Alice Cooper and manage to push every religious button possible. With song titles like “Second Coming”, “Hallowed Be My Name”, and “Dead Babies”, to this day they still render efforts from lesser talents like Marilyn Manson as ineffectual.
I caught Alice Cooper at The Hollywood Bowl on the “School’s Out” tour (1972) with the opening act being Flo & Eddie, the “200 Motels”-era Mothers without Frank Zappa. It was a great show and didn’t lack a milligram of drama, not always by the hand of Alice and his amazing friends. As my friend and I ran up the hill to get to the show there were scores of Jesus Freaks hanging around the not-so-pearly-gates of The Hollywood Bowl. Guys brandishing Bibles, grabbing you, “Please, I beg of you, DO NOT GO IN, Alice Cooper is Satan, an agent of evil, pray with me”.
“Gotta go! I wanna hear Under My Wheels!”
Next guy, this one with tears in his eyes, “Beware of false idols like Alice Cooper, you need Jesus Christ, The World’s Greatest Rock Star, as it is written in Corinthians 5:16, BLAHBLAHBLAH!”
“Let go, I wanna see Alice in a guillotine!”
“Jesus died for your sins, Alice Cooper will make you sin and sin again!”
“God bless Alice Cooper!”
“NO! NO! GOD DOESN’T LIKE ALICE COOPER!”
The show was so not evil, in fact it was silly, the band did a goofy “West Side Story” routine on stage pantomiming a knife fight, almost as gay as Russ Tamblyn with his pants pulled down. But it was still priceless rock trash!
One of the highlights of the show was a helicopter flying over The Bowl dropping more of those crazy panties you got with the album (made of the same material as Handi-Wipes). Jesus Christ on a helicopter!
In the late Eighties/early Nineties all the rock drama took place at Hully Gully Rehearsal Studios in Silver Lake. No night club or rock star hangout could compete with the overall dementia that went down there. My band Trash Can School rehearsed every Sunday night in Room 1 with The Nymphs in Room 2 and The Cramps in Studio B. I remember one night when The Cramps rehearsed “Shortenin’ Bread” over and over again. You’d hear them playing just the intro for half an hour, then the full song for another 30 and then they’d take a much deserved break and back to that cycle again. I think they threw in “Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?” and a fast version of “Heartbreak Hotel” and boom! they were out of there. Lux in sunglasses paced the office snapping his fingers while Ivy, also in sunglasses paid for the room and set up the next rehearsal booking. This was around midnight, of course.
Sam Kinison was a regular there, too, coming in with his entourage, some of them genuine metal guys, some struggling comics, and others just drug flunkies. Since rehearsal time is paid for in blocks of three hours it was safe to say that perhaps thirty minutes of those three hours was spent with music coming out of the room and the other two-and-a-half with partying. Since Hully Gully was an anonymous, unmarked building straight off Interstate 5 it was probably easier to party at than at his home. The struggling comics that would hang out with him were by and large the angriest, most humorless fucks I’ve ever met. And fucking ugly, too.
But it got darker, too. A very famous metal band I can’t mention, here’s a clue, it rhymes with M*gaD*th booked Studio A. The leader of the band was prone to getting into knock-down, drag-out fights with the other band members. You could hear them screaming in the other room and these rooms were pretty sound-proofed. This band leader, we’ll call him MegaPoodle Hair, had a tendency to freebase and hang out in the room after rehearsals. One night a new attendant went in to clean up the room and lock up when MegaPoodle Hair nervously approached him with a gun aimed at his head. “Fuck you man, get out, you ain’t rippin’ us off I’ll blow your fuckin’ head off”. The poor kid freaked out and ran out letting MegaPoodle Hair twitch it out for the rest of the night.
Of course this drama was eclipsed by the even bigger drama that was Jabber Jaw, the little coffee house that became a night club. The second home to Courtney Love, The Dwarves and Kurt (“I’m famous leave me alone”) Cobain, Hully Gully’s drama couldn’t stand a chance.
Silent movies mean couples, and lots of them. When I attended the Silent Movie Theatre in 1981 I was always greeted by The Hamptons, an elderly couple that ran the theatre. Mrs. Hampton took tickets and sold candy, while Mr. Hampton ran the films in the projection booth and occasionally checked the facility while the movie was playing. Another couple I always ran into was John Doe and Exene of X, fresh from the popularity of their album “Wild Gift”. We attended the movies every Monday night and sometimes they would drag Billy Zoom or D.J. Bonebrake with them. It was cool.
The Silent Theatre was one of the most primitive theater-going experiences ever: A crudely painted sign on paint-peeling wood –black on white, natch with a panel missing – spelled THE SILENT THE- and that was it. The front didn’t have lobby cards but a simple ink drawing of Charlie Chaplin with a few quaint stills of The Keystone Cops, Laurel and Hardy and Tom Mix. The front door had a little booth, you walked through and a tiny wet bar served as a snack bar. The staircase leading upstairs had a locked door because the Hamptons lived upstairs. On a clear day you could see their apartment window from Fairfax High across the street. The theatre itself was fairly Spartan: hard wooden seats, minimal lighting, and canned hot Twenties jazz playing during the movies unless it was a class picture, then they’d pipe in some Tchaikovsky. The bathroom in the “lobby” was a tiny water closet, only big enough to fit one ass at a time.
The Silent Theatre played the same program all week long except Sundays (closed) and admission was only $2, a steal even back then. It didn’t help much to bolster business, though, because the theatre was pretty dead on Mondays. The Hamptons’ film library was healthy so there wasn’t much in the way of repetition: a few silent cartoons (Felix The Cat – he didn’t talk and had no magic bag), some comedy shorts and then the main feature, Chaplin, Keaton, Gish, Barrymore, not a lot of oaters (cowboy movies) and not a lot of foreign shit. They might have played “The Golem” a week before Rosh Hashanah, but that’s it. Right before Christmas they played “King of Kings” and come Halloween you could count on Lon Chaney ruling the roost.
A few years later a new guy, Laurence Austin, showed up at the theatre helping out and running things because Mr. Hampton was in the hospital, and I remember him as a pretty friendly guy. He was also instrumental in getting investors for the theatre for some way overdue upgrades and had the admission price raised ($5 – sacrilege!). Nobody minded paying more because the theatre was much loved. I stopped going there after awhile because better prints were being shown at LACMA, The New Beverly Theatre, etc. VHS and DVD made the scene, too. In 1996 Mr. Austin was shot to death inside the theatre by a hitman hired by Austin’s projectionist/lover who was allegedly promised a $1 million inheritance.
Nowadays if I want to see an awesome silent film I’ll catch it on Turner Classic Movies. The last one I saw was a film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s “The Magician”, brilliant stuff and not available on DVD.
Friday, August 27, 2010
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this, and this time you’re not slipping away”, Valerie spat from behind a torn silver sequin dress, “This is one conversation you’re not running away from”.
Walker sighed, leaning further and further to the car door, wishing it would open up and toss him out.
“Are you gonna talk?”
“Fuck you, asshole. You picked a fine time to get quiet on me. You weren’t so silent when you talked me into leaving home to follow you here in Hollywood”. The cab driver briefly looked into his rear view mirror to note the couple riding the cab. “You lied to me! You made a lot of bullshit promises, mister, and this time you’re going to pay up!”
“I didn’t promise anything, you followed me around like a little puppy –“
The cab dropped down from Hollywood and La Brea to Sunset with traffic slowing down to a dead halt around Fairfax. Walker continued to sulk.
“You and your silver tongued talk, you just sweet talked me here to Hollywood and then you dumped me big time. Bastard! Fake!”
“The only thing fake is the way you swung from acting like a 12-year old kid to acting like a 24-year old slut”.
“You’re the bad actor!”
Several yards ahead were hundreds of long-haired kids in brightly-colored clothes yelling at policemen with paddy wagons lined up by the corner of Crescent Heights Blvd.
“What’s going on over there?”
“I don’t know, folks, but I’m going to have to make a law-abiding detour”, the cabbie announced. “Where are you guys going to anyway?”
“His house-“ “-a restaurant!” they both answered at once.
“Hmmm, sounds like dinner first, then back home”.
“Huh!” scoffed Walker.
“What’s your name, Sweetie?” Valerie asked.
“Hamlet, like the Shakespeare guy? Are you Danish?”
“I sure am! I’ll take you to a nice Scandinavian place, nice and romantic, just mention my name and they’ll take real good care of you!”
“Thanks, honey”, she smiled at the driver, and then turned with a sneer at Walker, “’take good care of you – where have I heard that before??”
Hamlet drove up Doheny Drive, going up the other side of the Sunset Strip, dropping them off at Scandia, the swanky restaurant. “Eat well, folks, and remember Hamlet sent you”.
“Goodbye, sweet prince!” Valerie shrieked.
“Jesus, is this some of that great acting she’s holding back on?” Walker thought.
They both stopped on the sidewalk and watched rioting kids march down the street by the dozens as riot cops looked on. Gazzaris was right across the street.
“Officer, is there going to be a riot? I’m so scared!” Valerie mugged her best Little Girl Lost face. The officer winced at the sight of her runny make-up on her face.
“Nothing to be afraid of, ma’am, just some disgruntled Beatniks making a lot of noise about the new curfew”, the cop answered blandly.
“Why we never see this sort of carrying on in Atlanta. With all that hair! How can you tell the boys from the girls, Officer?”
“Search me, ma’am”.
“Come on, Scarlett O’Hara, dinner time”, Walker grabbed her arm and led her through the entrance.
The Maitre D' recognized Crash Walker, smiling, but froze at the sight of Valerie with her smeared make-up.
"My sister, she’s blind”, Walker grimaced a fake smile. They were seated at a booth set all the way in back by the kitchen door.
“I thought you were connected, Mister Cowboy Star”, Valerie cussed, “We may as well be eating in Poland”.
“Here”, Walker handed her his napkin, “Wipe your paint off, you look like a billboard in a thunderstorm”.
“You look like shit with a dick attached to it, Crash fucking Walker!” she blurted, wiping the runny mascara from her face. “Just as well, now you can see my freckles. My sexy freckles. Guys go crazy over that, you know. Just like girls go crazy over guys with British accents, like English Derek. Whatever happened to English Derek?”
“Derek’s parking cars at Chasen’s. His British accent really opened doors for him”.
“And you’re the one with the TV career? Hah! I said ‘Hah!’” she yelled.
A waiter zoomed over to their table. “Will you please hold it down or I’ll have to ask you to leave!”
“I’ll have a Bloody Mary! Hamlet sent us here, he’s our friend!” Valerie gritted her teeth.
“One Bloody Mary”, the waiter rushed away.
“And speaking of opening doors, that name really impressed him”, Walker remarked.
“Let’s get back to facts, Buffalo Bill, you made me move here from Atlanta. You’re supposed to set me up with a studio, you’re supposed to hook me up with an agent, you’re supposed to get me head shots, it’s your job to find me an apartment to live in! Bastard!” She grabbed her cocktail as quickly as the waiter set it down and drank voraciously.
“You’re not my responsibility. Get that straight through your big empty head. Once you move here you have to do your own hustling”.
“But I’m just a young girl and you used me. You told me you wanted to marry me!”
“What? Are you crazy? I never said that shit, you crazy bitch!”
“”Where’s that fucking waiter? I want another drink! YOU LIED TO ME!!!”
A very tall, thin blonde guy in a turtleneck and sports jacket approached their table with a helpful look. “Excuse me, Miss, are you alright?”
“Well”, she smiled, hoping he’d catch those adorable freckles of hers, “I don’t know, I, uh-“ she glanced at Walker, then at him, then back at Walker, finally at the blonde. “I’m Valerie, what’s your name?”
“”I’m Rod, would you care to join me for dinner?”
“Would I, I just came in from Atlanta, and I don’t know anybody!”
Walker slumped in his chair, shaking his head. Rod gave him a phony dirty look. “Why don’t you join me for some Swedish Meatballs? I’m going to a party at The Hollywood Roosevelt right after. Some movie people, y’know”.
“Movies? Not crummy TV?” she sneered at Crash.
“That’s right, ma’am”, he put out his arm for her to link to his. She got up and joined him at his table, her turning around and sticking her tongue at him, just like a little girl!
“You and your freckles can go fuck yourselves”, Walker thought.
“Another drink for Madame?” the waiter came by and asked.
“No”, Walker smiled, “change of address. I’ll have the check”.
Walker stood outside Scandia waiting for a cab to pick him up, but then thought the better of it because traffic wasn’t moving a bit. By this time protesting kids were being hauled off into paddy wagons. Placards protesting the curfew littered the streets. He saw Peter Fonda marching with The Byrds down the street, admiring Roger McGuinn’s cool granny glasses and David Crosby’s big fur hat. Stephen Stills and Peter Tork weren’t too far behind.
His concentration was disturbed by the sight of a riot cop dragging a young girl by her hair and the other pressing his billy club against her chest in front of him. The girl was crying, scared out of her head.
“Hey!” Walker yelled at the cops. “Leave that girl alone!” He jumped towards them. The cop with the billy club took his baton and pointed it at Walker.
“Sir, I’ll have to ask you to step to the curb or we’ll have to arrest you for interfering in detention procedures”.
“Go easy on her, she’s just a kid”.
The cop nudged his friend and they loosened their grip on her, carrying her by the arm to the truck.
“Well, that’s very admirable of you, Mr. Walker”, a voice from behind him chimed. He turned around and saw a short, baby-faced man in a tuxedo. “A hero on TV and in real life”.
“Johnny Grant! How are you?”
“I’m doing great, kid. Love your show”.
“You watch ‘Wrangler’s Canyon’?”
“Damned straight. It’s good stuff. I like you, Walker, never did believe that Flagg bullshit. He was a bully. But just a word of advice to you, don’t get too involved in these hippie kids, they’re not worth the trouble”.
“Well, I couldn’t just stand by and see a girl get thrashed around”.
“Listen, I like heroes, they look good in the movies and they look better in Hollywood. Come visit my office sometime. I’m at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel”, he handed Walker his business card. “Hollywood Boulevard is always available for a real-life hero”.
“Well, I’d like to think that one over, Mr. Grant. That’s a hell of an offer”, Walker grinned, the wheels turning. As long as he dodged the placards, rocks and billy clubs he could probably be back home in less than an hour.
Off-duty Sgt. Gene Kurlich lay back in his easy chair jamming potato chips in his greasy face and watching his black and white portable television, taking in the 10 o’clock news. He still had a few bandages on his arms and a few across his face, which were severely bruised from the auto accident he suffered awhile back. The parakeets in their cage were whistling and nervously jumping around.
“Tonight in entertainment, all the stars were out tonight for the World Premiere of “Rodeo Man” at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre!” Thousands of stars were there and so was Crash Walker! Hahaha!” Close-up on Crash Walker smiling at the camera.
Kurlich stopped eating his chips, held his breath, and bugged his eyes. “Crash….Walker…” he grumbled. He changed the channel.
“Drug crazed teens are ruining Hollywood night life for merchants and responsible citizens alike. Even Johnny Grant can’t enjoy a decent night’s dinner at Scandia!” The camera focuses on Johnny Grant smiling at the camera with Crash Walker nervously lighting a cigarette behind him. Kurlich smashed the bag of chips in the palm of his hand. The birds started flying nervously around in their cage, making tons of noise.
“GOODAMMIT! CRASH! WALKER! MOTHERFUCKER!” Stomping his feet on the floor. He changed the channel.
A commercial for toy rifles starring Crash Walker, spinning pistols at the camera. “The authentic replica, Timmy! Looks real! Shoots real! Shoots greenie stick-em caps. Get ours today, little pardners!”
A six-year old cowboy missing teeth barks at the camera. “Boy Howdy!:
Hyperventilating, Kurlich ripped the bandages off his arms and face, exposing huge black and blue smears all over him. “CRASH WALKER! YOU COCKSUCKER! I’LL KILL YOU!!!!” He changed the channel.
Close-up of Crash Walker on a horse with a cheesy smile. “It’s time for Wrangler’s Canyon starring Crash Walker! Brought to you by Bryllcream, a little dab’ll do ya!” The birds were now banging their wings against the bars of their cage and shrieking. Kurlich strapped his gun holster on and screamed himself hoarse. “AAARGGGGH! WALKER YOU’RE FUCKING DEAD! I’M GOING TO RAPE YOUR DEAD BODY!” He pulled his gun out and emptied a dozen bullets into the wall and windows, glass shattering. He spun around and shot up all the bottles and glasses on the counter top of his kitchenette. Throwing his sports jacket on, his face every shade of red and purple, Kurlich smashed his door down and ran out of his apartment, thirsty for blood.