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!