Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hipsters Anonymous (every good boy DIES FIRST Chapter 2)

Garbage Truck were playing in Hollywood at a rapidly decaying joint called The Lounge, which was anything but. The band was unpacking their equipment on stage as the sound man was setting up microphones, and moving in between the musicians setting up mike stands. He glared at Griff, the leader of the band.

“What’s the name of your band?” he grumbled.
“Garbage Truck”.
“That’s stupid enough to be a band name”.
Fuck you, asshole, thought Griff. If the engineer has a shitty attitude then how good are we gonna sound on stage? We’re fucked already. The musicians finished setting up their gear on stage and stepped out to the bar, hanging out and having a pre-gig drink. Griff got ready to do the same until a huge black guy with a bright yellow jacket marked “SECURITY” waddled up to him.

“You the singer of the band?” the security guard asked.
“Yeah, that’s right”.
“Come down from the stage a second”. Griff did so obligingly, facing the yellow jacket on the dance floor.
“This is the Lounge: You have only thirty minutes on stage, DO NOT play over the time limit, if you do you will be cut off, DO NOT mess my stage up, I want a clean stage after you’re done, DON’T FUCK WITH ME!!!!” He jabbed a finger at Griff’s face. Griff stared at him blankly.
“ARE WE COOL???” the man barked.
“Yup”, Griff mumbled. The security man spun around and stormed off.

Twenty minutes later Garbage Truck played a scorching set and Griff blasted his trumpet a lot closer to the microphone than usual. The faux-groupie looking waitresses winced and yelled at their customers from the shrill horn action, and even the sound man mumbled a few words over the PA at the band, Griff in particular, but he turned a deaf ear to what the man was mumbling about.

Garbage Truck ended their set with “Sweet Sixteen Lucky Thirteen” and Griff finished his solo in the extreme upper register, making sure everyone’s ears bled. Even the monitors registered the torture as the guitarists looked around in pain.

“Well, that’s another benefit performance for us”, Griff told Trev, his bassist, as they both packed up, overlooking the full house in front of them. A benefit performance meant the band would probably not see a nickel for their trouble. The sound man will get paid, the security guy will get paid, the faux-groupie waitresses will get paid, even the janitors will draw a pay check but the band will go home with less money than they walked in with.

“I need a drink”, Griff said to himself as he went up to the dressing room. He was tired and sweaty after playing his ass off for half an hour, and instead of relaxing watched his two guitarists, Bert and Bobby having a heated argument.

“Dude, you don’t own her”, Bobby yelled.
“I met her first”, Bert yelled back. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“She already gave me her number. It’s practically a done deal”.
“What kind of a friend are you? I’m going out with her tomorrow!”
“Well, then she can decide who she likes more”. Oh boy, there they go again. Every time somebody meets a girl they all zoom in on her like a pack of vultures. Ridiculous!

There were a few fans and friends back stage, and some drummer in another band made the mistake of trying to talk shop with Ricardo, the drummer. He shut down the conversation quickly.
“I’m an artist”, Ricardo asserted, “I’m not really a drummer”.
Ricardo was getting increasingly more and more disgusted with Garbage Truck and what they were doing because it was “too rock”, in his estimation. He thought they were becoming “rock stars”, which was almost as absurd as him thinking he was an artist.

Griff turned around from the noisy dressing room into the graffiti-littered hallway to see a short guy with a stubble-topped head run up to him. He had a goatee and wore a big black coat. He double-fisted beers and handed one to him. “I can only handle one beer at a time, how about you?”
“One beer at a time sounds mighty fine. Thanks, stranger!” Griff smiled back.
“My name’s Bradley, by the way. Great set! Your band’s pretty awesome, only there’s one thing wrong with it”.
“What?”
“I’m not in it! What do you think of three guitarists? It would totally fill out your sound. Just think of it!” Griff scratched his head. “I’ll start thinking about it – hey, aren’t you friends with Bert and Bobby? I knew you looked familiar. How about going in there and breaking up that fight?”
“They’re fighting over that girl Jesti. I think they’re wasting their time”.
“You’re probably right”.
“Yeah, I dated her last month. They’re definitely wasting their time. So, how about that job in your band, man? I just floated you a beer!”
Griff handed the beer back to Bradley.
“There’s more where that came from, brother”.
Griff took back the beer, and killed the bottle. “I’ll think it over carefully”.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Griff walked down to the bar and noticed a scruffy-looking guy dressed in a bath robe and slippers hunched over the bar with his back turned from everybody, nursing some crappy regional brew. Everybody was staring at him, and a few brave souls sauntered over to talk to him, only to be turned away.

Trev was in the program so he had a ginger beer in his hand. “Hey, Griff, I have a few friends that are starting out a coffee house and they want to know if we want to play there”.
“Sure, any place is fine. Coffee houses, hospitals, circus tents…who the fuck is that bum tensing up his ass cheeks at the bar?”
“You don’t recognize him? That’s Chuck from ShangriLa”. ShangriLa were some band from Seattle who sounded like a bad Blue Cheer cover band with pretentious lyrics and insisted they were punk even though they looked like a bunch of ugly hippies.
“Why isn’t he talking to anybody?”
“He doesn’t want anybody to bother him, I guess”.
“Then why is he in a night club, a crowded one, even?”
“Ask him”, Trev laughed, knowing what would happen.
“Ah, fuck that hippie”.

Griff looked around the club and saw the fanzine writers, the fans, the girlfriends, the other rival bands on the club circuit, some kissing ass for a show and others trying to pick his brain so they can steal his connections, the horny photographers that’ll shoot any girl that played guitar, the fake record company moguls with their crappy seven-inch vinyl single empires, kids scamming for free records, free t-shirts, guest list comps. Standing in the shadows by the corner was Mykela and Pierre, bickering about who knows what.

Mykela stormed off and Pierre yelled, “Mykela!” Griff walked over to him. “Lucky Pierre”, he smiled.
“Not so lucky right now”. Pierre was a chicano punk rock guitar player and his parents gave him a French name because they thought it was classy. “Mykela’s so awesome but she’s always dragging me down, man”.
Griff didn’t see what other guys saw in her, but it wasn’t his problem. Maybe it was the way she held a guitar, but it didn’t matter to him.
“Still looking for a roommate? I think I’m moving out of my brother’s place, he’s getting crazy on me”.
“No shit? What’s up?”
“I don’t know. Every time I come home he finds something new to yell about to me. Everything’s my fault. I’m sick of his shit”.
Pierre put his arm around Griff. “Dude, my door’s always open. We can split the rent $200 apiece. I’m a messy guy but I’m cleaner than my cat”.
“Okay, I’ll call you in a couple of days before I come by. I don’t have too much shit”.
“Excellent. Talk to Mykela for me, willya? I know you won’t put the moves on her. You’re not a buddy fucker. All these other guys I wouldn’t trust, but you’re different, Griff”.
"Where did she go?”
“Fuck if I know”.
“Later!” Griff waved and ran upstairs to grab his horn and leave. Bert, Trev, Mykela, Pierre, all these kids in The Program, some making it and some really struggling. “It’s not easy”, thought Griff. “I tried it just for the hell of it and I couldn’t make it work. I love booze too much”.

The VIP Room was on the balcony of the club not far from the dressing room. Griff passed it and Mykela stood by waving at him. “Hey!” she smiled. Griff stared at her for a second. “
Well, come in, quickly!” she rasped quietly over the music booming through the PA system.
“Just for a second”, he stepped in. The VIP Room was much nicer than the rest of the club, a swankier bar, more stylish booths, stylish as in not trampled on by fucked-up rock stars and expensive as hell, etc.
“Hey, Griff, did you see who’s here tonight? Chuck from ShangriLa, did you talk to him?”
“No, but I got a good view of his back”. She laughed. She had a pretty laugh.
“Listen”, he smiled at her, “what’s going on with you and Pierre?”
“What do you think? Nothing!” she rolled her sparkling grey eyes.
“Look, he’s having a hard time staying straight, you know that. He’s really hung up on you”.
“I know, first he’s hung up on junk and now he’s hung up on me”.
“Pierre’s a good guy, you know that, just go easy on him. He keeps telling me how much he’s into you”.
“Never mind him, Griff. I’m speaking at a meeting next week. Can you make it?”
Griff made a face as if to say, “Are you kidding me?”
“Alright, asshole, I thought I’d ask anyway”.
“You need a ride home?”
“No, Linda’s taking me home after she cuts out”. Linda was the bartender at the VIP Room and was also in The Program.
“Okay, later”.
“Later, rock star”, Mykela sniggered, booting him in the ass as he walked out.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

When Griff got back to his brother Patrick’s apartment, the first thing he noticed was that the telephone, one of Patrick’s few Spartan pleasures, was gone.
“Hey, what happened to the phone?”
“Oh, that”, Patrick tried acting nonchalant, “there were too many calls for you and I didn’t feel like being your answering service, so I disconnected it”. Patrick stretched out on the floor where he slept in his sleeping bag and pillow.
“But it’s your phone line. What if somebody needs to get in touch with you?”
“It’s not your problem”, he replied, “listen Griff, I want you to start looking for a place cause I want you out of here by the end of next week. I’m tired of carrying you”. He ripped out a loud belch.

Griff quietly considered Pierre’s offer. He didn’t want to live with his brother anyway. He slept with a gun under his pillow since he left the Army and it made Griff nervous.
Patrick only made it up to Corporal in the Army but still had an attitude about it. He punched the floor hard with his fist and then twisted towards the wall with his back to Griff.
“And turn out the light before you go to sleep!” he barked to the wall.

Griff stripped down to his tank top and underwear and got under the blanket on the floor. He paused for a second and thought of the evening’s fun, the echoes of the loud music and the barroom smell of beer and cigarettes. He opened his trumpet case, pulled out his horn, turned out the light, and got under the sheets with the trumpet in his arms, holding it tight and dreaming of a better tomorrow.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Once Rock Stars Looked Like Models But Now Models Look Like Rock Stars

Talk about turnabout, we’ve reached it in rock ‘n roll fashion. It’s been a long time since rock musicians influenced style. In the past, rock stars as diverse as The Beatles, The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Debbie Harry, and even Kraftwerk resonated in the way kids dressed themselves. Kids always looked up to rock stars to check out The Cool New Look.

That’s all gone now: musicians fall into one of two categories these days: 1) American Idol-type puppets, trussed up and painted up by a team of style professionals that think tossing on a distressed New York Dolls bootleg t-shirt and forking their hair like a petrified parrot is rock style; or, 2) “Alternative” guys who dress like slobs and look more like roadies than the roadies themselves. Bands have ceased to invent cool new looks we can dig, and that’s depressing.

The great irony is that a small handful of models currently embody rock style better than anyone holding a guitar or microphone. True, they’re being dressed by high fashion designers and coiffed by fashion pros, but it’s what they’re doing with all those elements that look more rock ‘n roll than anything I’ve seen in the past twenty years.

Paul Boche is from Eisenach, Germany, and in the past five years has been one of the most sought-after models in the fashion industry. His resume reads like a Who’s Who of the most cutting edge designers in modern fashion: John Galliano, Ann Demeulemeester, John-Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli, Simon Spurr, Rick Owens, and Alexander McQueen. He’s currently represented by eight different modeling agencies (Holy Shit!), and was chosen to be the Face of Lanvin en Bleu in 2010. He’s already been booked to catwalk for 10 different designers this year on New York, Paris and Milan Fashion Week.

Paul Boche is a model who effortlessly emulates rock & roll style. When his hair is short he recalls David Bowie, Alec Empire, or a new wave icon from the Eighties, and when he wears it long he resembles a glam rock star like Mick Ronson or Marc Bolan. His rock star looks make you want to wear everything he’s photographed in, and it’s a refreshing change from the predictable look of models with short, chopped hair, bland faces and G.I. Joe bodies. If there’s a model I can follow like a rock star it’s definitely Paul Boche.

_____________ ___________________ _____________

If there’s a female counterpart look no further than Charlotte Free. Looking more like a punk rock star than a fashion model, Free has also been burning up fashion editorials and shows in the past few years. Just like the best punk rock, however, her arrival on the fashion scene was controversial, the reasons being: 1) She stands at only 5’7”, a shrimp by modeling standards; and, 2) fashion snobs think her multi-colored hair looks limit her to a “Hot Topic Princess” look. Her detractors, mostly jealous females, are outnumbered by a larger group of young girls that identify with her, raising her to heroic status. Just like the best punk rock, the formalists are pissed but the kids get it.

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Free has modeled for Vivienne Westwood, Jeremy Scott, Marchesa, and Moncler Gamme Rouge, among others. Whether she becomes the model of the moment or not doesn't matter, she’s one of the most unique faces in fashion since the heyday of models like Twiggy and Peggy Moffit. And of course, you gotta love a model that gets so many snobs upset.

At this point in time the most inspired rock star looks are coming from models like Free and Boche, and like the best rock groups make me look forward to seeing what they’ll do next.

Suggested web sites: Paul Boche: paulboche.livejournal.com, or fuckyeahpaulboche.tumblr.com

Charlotte Free: fuckyeahcharlottefree.tumblr.com

Friday, January 6, 2012

365 Days In The Hole



If there’s one thing every man, woman and child can agree on it’s that the year 2011 was a complete washout, a year in which everyone happily relinquished their privacy for the sake of social network superstardom, real or imagined, mostly imagined; a brutal internet undercutting millions of struggling businesses and big box ones, too, resulting in mass layoffs numbering in the millions, creating a new age Depression. Of course the rule is to never call it a Depression, but that’s what it is: when even rich fat cats are sweating bullets over their money it’s called a Depression, there’s no other word for it. Will there be a recovery? Well, as Jerry Butler once sang, “Only The Strong Survive”. Draw your own conclusions. This was the year that was:

January – Went to the NAMM (North American Music Manufacturers) show in Anaheim, a real feeding frenzy of rock lemmings practically walking over each other to get to the nearest BC Rich exhibit. I never heard so many slapback bass playing assholes in my life. The whole place sounded like the “Seinfeld” theme shoved in your face on an eternal loop. A sonic nightmare.

I shredded my thumb on the cheese grater. The cheddar cheese slipped and my thumb grated against the blades. Much bleeding and screaming followed. Reminded me of the joke about the blind man who bled to death reading a cheese grater. Don't groan, Wreckless Eric told me that joke.

Began my second serial “Red Coffee”, a dark horror version of the William Wellman Pre-Code films of the Thirties, and I enjoyed the direction that I took with it.

February – Valentines’ Day in Hollywood was pretty funny. I heard a lot of car brakes screeching, horns honking and drunks screaming at each other. It’s nice to know that people still know how to have a good time and keep it all romantic.

Helped Rebecca fabricate an exotic tablecloth for artist Gary Baseman. It looks really cool with images of Shiu-Shiu and other creepy crawly critters in the Baseman style.

Told the LA County Board of Supervisors to go shit in a hat and walked out on my nightmare job. Don’t be a bitch unless you want to learn how to be an ever bigger one from me. Fuck those bloodless assholes.

March – Rebecca’s on tour with KISS so I’m home alone and hanging out on the Sunset Strip (internet stalkers take note). Once she got back we went down to Sony Studios in San Diego to work on the “Twisted Metal” video shoot.

April – After having my personal effects Fed Ex’ed to me from the County, they sent two Sheriff’s Deputies over to my home to ask me to call my former supervisor at work (I didn’t, and since this event he has also left the Department).

Worked on an outfit for Nick Cannon on his TV show. Rebecca’s colleagues have been hustling her for work and they’re pissed that I’m in the picture. Too fucking bad.

May – Went to the American Cinematheque on Mother’s Day to see “Mommie Dearest”. If there’s anything better than Joan Crawford it’s Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford. Brilliant. I don’t even care if the whole thing is bullshit.

Saw Terri Wahl on TV talking about her organic restaurant, and read Steve Albini’s snobby foodie blog. Bloody hell, punk’s gone gourmet.

This month marked Vincent Price’s 100th birthday and Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday.

June – Worked on the wardrobe for two video games, “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Gotham City Impostors”. Grabbed material, fabricated wardrobe and fitted all the actors. Finally some work I can enjoy.

Helped Rebecca with a Cheese and Meat outfit for a Weird Al Yankovic video where he’s rippin’ on Lady Gaga, “Perform This Way”. The outfits turned out great and got tons of publicity.

Designed and sewed the Steak Bag I posted on my blog in June and then put up for sale on Etsy. It’s funny: everybody thought they had a shot at getting it for free, but once I put it up for sale they all shut up. Thanks for the support, bozos.

Watched a Logo TV Special on gay bars in Palm Springs and caught a former straight client of ours on the show frolicking in a lesbian bar. I guess she finally broke on through to the other side. We always suspected, heh.

Dressed a 10 foot tall statue for Comic Con; it needed a big black leather coat. Try making a 10 foot tall leather coat. It’s tougher than hell, but we pulled it off.

July – Ran into Marc Anthony Thompson at the opening of the Don Ville store. I haven’t seen him in over 20 years. He looked great, and I was happy to see him.

A friend from LA County told me that no one is allowed to mention my name at all in the office. It’s taboo, like invoking the spirit of Beelzebub, Beetlejuice or Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Reading a lot of rock biographies lately: Joe Boyd, Buffalo Springfield, Vivian Stanshall, and Patti Boyd. That’s what summers are for, reading about rock music while you’re listening to it.

August – Making all kinds of things this month: black leather aprons, tablecloths, silkscreened tank tops, and started work on some gold denim jeans.

September – Funny how I was sick all last year from work, and now that I’m away from the place I haven’t gotten sick at all.

Finally found a library that has the entire Mushroom Planet series books I enjoyed when I was a kid. Eleanor Cameron is the greatest, the O.G. science fiction writer for kids, not counting Victor Appleton, of course.

Worked on the David LaChapelle shoot for Smirnoff’s new Marshmallow Vodka. We created PVC marshmallows to cover classic statues. I think we made about 100 marshmallows altogether. Michelle Carr from Jabberjaw worked on the job, too, and it was great to see her again.

October – After writing a blog about the joys of smoking I had to quit because my body put up a weird protest (I’ll spare you the details). So I’m not puffing away anymore, but I’d be a liar if I told you I didn’t miss it.

“Lick My Decals Off, Baby” is finally available as a digital download, reasons for rejoicing given the way it’s been held up for over a decade making all Captain Beefheart fans miserable and anxious. What this world needs is a good 2 dollar room and a good 2 dollar broom.

Lacerated my thumb, bleeding profusely and requiring five stitches, prompting an emergency ride to Cedars-Sinai Emergency Center. This is the same one I shredded on the cheese grater. Fucking hell.

Pan Pacific Park held a Halloween carnival with rides and circus snacks. A lot of the guys working the rides acted like carnies: every time I took Rebecca’s pictures around the rides, they’d turn their backs or cover their faces, ho ho ho!

November – Started collecting my retirement pay, so this year ends with a happy ending.

Remixed the No Policy studio and live tapes, and they should be coming out at some point in 2012. Montreal hardcore at its finest.

December – Began laying down the groundwork for the new serial that’ll begin at the end of January, and it should be pretty intense stuff.

This year ends with some psycho pyromaniac setting fire to cars and carports all over Hollywood. Fire engines and helicopters echo around our house, setting the theme to an end of a very turbulent year.

Stuff I enjoyed this past year: I read a lot of Chester Himes, Patricia Highsmith, and the amazing Sebastien Japrisot.

Great music I heard this year: The Equals, Al “Jazzbo” Collins, and so many yodeling records my visiting father-in-law thought I’d gone insane. He’s probably right!