Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rock & Roll Confidential, Part 3

Guitar Center (7425 W. Sunset Blvd.) - The last time I went to Guitar Center I saw a Japanese kid posing all slumped on an amp, playing Jimi Hendrix riffs letter perfectly on a Fender Strat, xerox riffs of "The Wind Cries Mary" and he was loud. VERY LOUD. There were twenty other guys doing almost the same thing, so the main room was almost as loud as a speedway in full tilt.

The only reason Guitar Center works for me is because it's a quick place to get guitar accessories, and they have a good selection of guitar stands, straps, strings, etc. Got a sweet Pignose amp there, plus my all-time favorite, the belt clip-on Marshall stack you plug your guitar into so you can jam dirty, distorted guitar in the kitchen, at the parking lot, in the crapper, portable boogie is all yours!

Don't waste your time and money on guitars or amplifiers here, they're overpriced at a ridiculous mark-up. Your better buy would be from an e-tailer like Music 123 (look it up, ya lazy) because they have a wider selection and sell at lower prices. You can get a cool Johnny Ramone Mosrite guitar for only $300, way cheaper than Guitar Center would ever charge.

Oh, and if you walk by Eddie Van Halen's handprints on the Rock & Roll Walk of Fame, do the right thing and spit on it. That turd took Kurt Cobain to task for having a black guitar player in Nirvana. He really ought to apologize to Pat Smear.

The Cinema Bar (3967 Sepulveda Blvd.) - Eve knew her apples. Adam knew his women (well, he only had one) and I know Culver City. Duller than dull, but here's tons of action at The Cinema Bar.

As everybody else has said the bartenders rule and last Friday my friend's band played, as opposed to the biker jug band fare they usually put on. The space was scary because the club is as small as a cat bed, add the bandstand, the bar and a few tables even! so racing off to the cool patio in the back was a good option.

The crowd was a mixture of aging chunky biker barfly, Ultramega OK metal heshers and confused creeps like me. There was a black tweaker with Afro pigtails trying to sell me crank and I said no. If he was taking what he was selling nobody wanted in. The brother was splayed.

I just wish they had the gigantor TV on with footage of the X Games with Travis Pastrana making with the freestyle MX jumps. It would have enhanced the hesher factor. But no matter. Culver City is redeemed by this cool saloon.

Carvin Amplifiers (7414 W. Sunset Blvd.) - Nice change of pace from the screaming in-your-face vibes of Guitar Center across the street. The Carvin store looks quite cave-like from the outside, craggy rock entrance and all. You step in and it's pitch black with little spotlights over the amplifiers on sale. It's like buying your gear at The Batcave.

The amplifiers sound sweet, better than Marshalls IMO, but they're damn pricey, but what the hell did you expect? You're buying your gear from The Batcave.

The Cat Club (8911 W. Sunset Blvd.) - "So, how's your love life?"
That's the greatest pick-up line I've ever heard. Not very clever, I know, but the girl that asked was wearing nothing but a baby diaper and cowgirl boots. That's the kind of memory you take to the grave. What does any of this have to do with The Cat Club? Absolutely nothing, but there's nothing terribly relevant about The Cat Club, either.

Saturday night: At the club we ordered drinks at a jaw-dropping $10 apiece. I didn't know a bottle of Bud was worth ten dollars. My Scotch and Soda was so watered down you could have poured it into Lake Arrowhead and the fish would have felt cheated. The bartenders were hard of hearing and surly because they were up past their bedtime. God, they were so old they probably pissed sawdust.

The band Goo Goo Deville acted like Eighties glam metal was still rocking like gangbusters. The singer was so ugly he looked like he fell off Ugly Mountain and didn't miss a boulder. He flipped the dirty bird at the audience every 30 seconds. What a repertoire. Look out, Tony Bennett.

While they were chugging into their most excellent power ballad my girl tried to use the ladies room, a sliding metal door with one toilet inside, but there was a line. Just to speed things up she banged on the door to wake the dead (or at least the geriatric bar staff, hyuk!) and two metal strumpets marched out with sheepish looks on their faces. They'll have to engage in their Free Clinic Frolics somewhere else.

A lot of the kids loved the band and had a great time, I must confess, sloppy butt dames shoulder shakin' and tossin' their hair like a Pat Benatar video. I drained my $6 water, ahem I mean cocktail and headed for the exit. Halfway out the door someone yelled, "ANDY FUCKEN SEVEN", and I thought I've been here for an hour plus and now somebody feels like yelling my name. WTF?

But that's The Cat Club for you. Everything about it's a day late and a dollar short.

Musician's Institute (6752 Hollywood Blvd.) - I don't know why, but there's a twisted symbolism in Musician's Institute being next door to the Church of Scientology...hmm, robotic lifestyles, robotic music, it all fits.

I don't know how these suckers cram for finals..."Dude, I got graded on a curve playing 'Crazy Train', I barely squeaked by" they realize the people that created these songs never took a class in music? It's weird seeing these kids from Sweden with their expensive, non-scuffed guitar cases studiously racing to class.

Musician's Institute started out as G.I.T. (Guitar Institute of Technology), then expanded to P.I.T. (Percussion Institute of Tech), and then B.I.T. (BASS! Institute of Tech), and then K.I.T. blahblahblah same S.H.I.T. different Hollywood money-making scam.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Speak Of The Devil

Every day when I drive home from work on the way home I see this teenage couple locked in a passionate embrace kissing against a fence, making out against the bars like its a matter of life and death. They're always at the same spot making out at exactly the same time, you could set your motherfucking watch to it, it's uncanny. It got me to thinking, what if they actually missed a day together, would one of them snap, would the boy snap first or would the girl snap? Will they eventually quit making out and marry, or will they just die like dried out flowers? But I digress...

There's a disturbing, violent piece of work by Gilbert Hernandez titled "Speak Of The Devil", which attains a nightmarish tone that never lets up once. A creepy Peeping Tom wearing a monster mask stalks the neighborhood watching the neighbors having sex. By Page 13 we realize not only is the Peeping Tom a teenage girl, but the local high school gymnastics champion! Beautiful, talented, and admired by her peers, she leads a perverse private life. To add insult to injury, the couple she peeps on is her father with his girlfriend, Linda! Another window she peeps in is her emo boyfriend Paul's house, watching her love getting periodically beaten by his bully father, constantly chiding him for being a "pencil-neck faggot". If he only knew.

Things get sicker, though: Paul discovers Val's secret obsession, and they make love in a cemetery. Soon after Val injures herself out of the gym championships (a reversal on the Samson and Delilah lovemaking turning to vulnerability?), hobbling around on crutches and cheering on her physically inferior classmate, Patty. If that isn't demoralizing enough, she comes home to catch Linda making it with her boyfriend, Paul! Val loses it and tries to kill them both, but they surprise her by attacking her. They decide to form a terror-laden menage a trois, the first victims being Paul's parents, blinding them before cutting their throats.

The trio decide to relax after the killing by hanging out at the beach, but not without killing an innocent woman and taking her wallet. They cut the eyes out of more innocent people just for kicks, hiding in a hotel and pretending they were abducted to cover their tracks. Val, jealous of Linda's control over her Dad and Paul, tries to convince him that she has to be killed before she turns them both in. Val, sensing trouble, leaves the couple and spins a yarn on the TV news about escaping "The Abductors". Paul begins moping about her absence, so Val flips out and stabs him to death. Don't worry, there's more!

Val decides to confess to her estranged mother about her crimes and quickly realizes her psychosis was inherited from, guess who? Brandishing a steak knife, Mom screams, "It wasn't that cow Linda who took your father from me! It was you!!" "From the day you were born he stopped loving me!" "I'll kill you to get him back!" Val, after a wild battle with her mom, using her best gymnastics skills, kicks her to death; out of guilt for killing her mother, comes back home and cuts her father's eyes out. Linda, believing she accomplished the murder, kills herself under the delusion the police are breaking down her door. Back at the cemetery, Val confesses all to Patty, her gym classmate, who strangles her to death on the spot. The story ends with a girl saying she's going over to Patty's house to see her, with the Peeping Tom monster mask sitting in her handbag.

This is probably the darkest thing Gilbert Hernandez has ever created, and that's saying quite a lot. I don't believe "Love And Rockets" fans in general like this sort of comic, but it's such a chilling and demented tale of familial unhappiness, almost like some kind of modern Greek tragedy with a suburban spin. Hernandez's use of light is highly expressive and adds greatly to the creepy vibe throughout. The lack of attention paid to this slasher epic is surprising. I loved the Herschell Gordon Lewis vibe "Speak Of The Devil" struck, and think that this particular tale of adolescent love gone psychotic will stay with you for a long time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There Are Monsters In My House

Rebecca made an appearance in an excellent compilation of female lowbrow artists called “Vicious, Delicious and Ambitious” a few years ago. A follow-up compilation on monster paintings was in the works, and Rebecca was asked to contribute. The book died on the vine, but fortunately Rebecca’s paintings didn’t. A few of her works that would’ve been in this most excellent comp (which would have featured XNO, Lisa Petrucci, and The Pizz, among others) are shown here for your enjoyment. They’re all on exhibit at our home.

Pick a favorite? I can’t, but I think Rebecca likes Medoozie more than the others, and party boy Sleazeball from the Black Lagoon (with gold tooth and herpes sore!) rocks the house. I like the fact that even though Rebecca’s monsters create havoc they never forget to party. Drinking seems to be a major component in horror. I agree!

To this day Rebecca thinks “Bride of Chucky” is the most romantic movie ever (next to “Beauty and The Beast”) and demands that we watch it on our Anniversary. I’m trying to get her to paint “Beauty and The Beast”, but I don’t think The Beast drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hey! Hey! Hey! It's Black History Month

The first time I saw Rahsaan Roland Kirk he was performing at Town Hall in midtown Manhattan. I ran out and bought "Volunteered Slavery" when it first came out (in 1969) and three years later I was going to finally catch him in the wild, so to speak. He was a chunky guy with an even chunkier pair of sunglasses on. A very young guy helped him towards the center of the stage. Kirk wore a dashiki and had several horns and noisemakers, even the joke shop variety, hanging from his neck.

"I smoked so much pot on the way here I was blinder than a bat's asshole", Kirk joked, killing any guilt over paying to see a blind man perform. He then proceeded to play three saxes at once and blow whistles out of his incredibly huge gorilla nostrils. When he got winded on the raunch he'd filter down to sweet ballads in the Coltrane mode.

Five years later I hung out on the Long Beach boardwalk after a punk rock show, and I saw a familiar guy being lead by his assistant to a car in the distance - it was definitely Rahsaan Roland Kirk !(he must have been to The Lighthouse). He was so stoned he probably was blinder than a bat's asshole.

I saw Sun Ra's monstrous big band at Myron's Ballroom in downtown LA, then at The Palomino in North Hollywood (a Country & Western music bar), and finally at Slug's New York. Slug's was the smallest of the clubs Sun Ra performed at, but maybe the weirdest. At some point in his set he turned and smiled at me like he knew me from the other shows. (I stood in the back at those shows!)

The very first Sun Ra album I bought was "Nothing Is" on ESP-Disk, a label as mysterious and creepy as Mr. Ra-Mr. Ree-Mr. Mystery was. I bought the record in 1972 when I was at a crossroads in my life, trying to grow up and look for some guidance. Sun Ra and his messages of escaping the white darkness of Planet Earth was awe-inspiring to me.

Shortly before my brother-in-law passed away he told Rebecca of a dream he had where an old black man in furs and a cape dressed in gold met him in the desert and told him that he had nothing to fear. I said that he met Sun Ra. "It's the RA! It's Sun Ra!" This was 1996, and Ra had already departed the atmosphere three years earlier. When I told my in-laws it was Sun Ra they thought I was insane. Some people have trouble accepting the vision of Ra.

Jazz music is the only art form basically built by telepathy: the musicians completely communicate via their instruments and know precisely when to come in and when to stop without exchanging any words whatsoever. It's uncanny; a look is all it takes for the tempo to change or a small sound from a string bass and the key changes. There are no other art forms as telepathic as jazz.

Being a Jewish teenager in the Seventies was intense. Black people were finally making some serious money and moving into our neighborhood, making everyone nervous. School teachers and neighborhood leaders were telling me that black people were insane, wild beasts, which was ridiculous. My heroes at the time were guys like Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, and Eric Dolphy, jazz geniuses who weren't even accepted by their own people because they were "so stretched out". But I didn't care: Their music offered me an escape from the bonds of my insane environment, and their personal philosophy was about elevating to a higher plane, not with drugs, but with an evangelical crusade of love for God via atonal music. The message was absolutely awesome.