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Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Mechanical Museum SF

One of the big highlights of my late summer vacation in San Francisco was visiting the terrific Musee Mechanique in the Fisherman’s Wharf District. It brought back childhood memories of going to the penny arcade at Lake Arrowhead in the Sixties and having fun. A lot of the attractions appear to be from the 1930’s and 1940’s, some even older. I find it interesting that attractions back then were more adult than they are now: one machine was called “Opium Den” and showed little puppets lying around blowing pipes and passing out (no kidding).

There were many different machines showing various forms of execution (hanging, guillotine, electric chair, etc.). And I loved all the fat, tipsy drunk puppets. But one of the best features was the crying baby who looked more wizened than his hapless Dad unsuccessfully rocking him back to sleep. Frisco still holds that creepy Vincent Price/“House of Wax” vibe for me and this consolidates that psycho carnival atmosphere.


Special thanks to Kris Casler for taking us to this marvelous slice of trashy Americana. Next time the quarters are on us!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

History Hysteria

Washington Square Park (1 Washington Square East/New York City, New York)= I remember going to Washington Square Park when I was 16 years old with my Terrified Young Man face and enjoying the beautiful scenery. I made the serious mistake of staring at a tore-up black derelict counting his money, and he freaked out and screamed, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE LOOKING AT, BOY??” He didn’t stop there, he just kept yelling and spitting up on himself and vomiting in his gray beard. Uncle Rufus was madder than a wet hen.
The following night I walked by the park and saw two drunken NYU students punching the snot out of each other, no doubt battling over who created the greatest foreign silent film of all time. “Battleship Potemkin”, maybe? “Pandora’s Box”?? Fucking film school students. But it’s alright, Washington Square Park is a real action kinda place. “Action” is the park’s middle name.
“Good for kids”? Sure, especially when NYU film grads are stompin’ each other's ass.

Beverly Gardens Park (North Santa Monica Blvd./Beverly Hills)= Everybody knows about this park. If you’ve ever seen a movie that takes place in Beverly Hills there’s always a scene shot there. Elliott Gould jogging by the thin trail circa 1971 with his mutton chops sideburns and Zappa cum Borat mustache and here comes Dyan Cannon jogging up to him and you can hear the lilting Burt Bacharach theme played by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, softer than a roll of Charmin TP to tickle yr. tense bunghole.
On one end is the glamorous Electric Fountain where Wilshire and SM Blvds. meet with lights shifting colors like a kaleidoscope, and I’m sure Elliott and Dyan will gesmeckt some witty Neil Simon patter as soon as the fruity trumpet music is over. It’s funny for a park, there is no swimming pool, no tennis court, but on Sundays there’s a grand funk Arts & Crafts Fair with all the landscapes of Newport Beach your eyes can handle.
Beverly Garden Park is a mere strip of a parklet, a mobius strip of sorts, but if you dig flowers, jogging and Bev Hills motor congestion you’ll feel like royalty.

Golden Gate Bridge (Lincoln Blvd/San Francisco, CA)= When I think of the Golden Gate Bridge a very distinctive memory comes to mind. My band toured in a van built for maybe four and there were six of us with tons of equipment and countless duffel bags of clothes jammed in. It was the dead of summer and there we were, racing up Interstate 5 to play some shows in San Francisco. We had just plowed through the Mojave Desert sweating like pigs, stripped down to t-shirts and tank tops with all the windows cracked open. The van stank of B.O. that hummed so hard it could’ve stripped paint off a battleship.
The temperature inside the van must have been 250 degrees and we were coated in greasy, grotty sweat. The sunlight from the desert was a blinding gold death ray. In the distance we could see the grand Golden Gate Bridge looming up ahead. As if in a sci-fi movie there was an enormous gray cloud hanging in the middle of the bridge, sitting there waiting like a big, fat bug.
As soon as we got on the Golden Gate we drove through the ominous cloud and everything changed from gold to gray. The chill hit us like an ice bath and we quickly slammed the windows in the van shut. Our dicks shriveled up quicker than a Minutemen song and we threw on our sweaters and coats. Suddenly we had to pee really bad!
By the way, the shows went great and Frisco has the best food (next to Chi-Town). I’ll be back next summer in my Long Johns. Yummy!

Will Rogers Memorial Park (9650 W. Sunset Blvd./Beverly Hills)=
This is one of those spots everyone treats like a well-kept secret, so it’s a pretty popular “well-kept secret”. It’s a little block in the middle of residential Beverly Hills on Sunset Blvd. that exudes old Hollywood with its skinny skyscraper palm trees and Art Deco water nymph statue with fountain.
Although it’s gorgeous in the daytime it takes on a transcendental mood at night – you’ll think Chaplin, Swanson and John Barrymore are going to show up and sit next to you on the park bench. If you want a taste of old Hollywood it’s right here.

Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (411 Elm St./Dallas, Texas)= The creepiest, most chilling thing on television isn’t some Freddie Kreuger bloodfest but a mini-series on A&E called “The Men Who Killed Kennedy”, an exhaustive study on the assassination of President Kennedy. The first thing my band did when we got to Dallas was go to the Book Depository and see the Lee Harvey Oswald exhibit. When I looked out the window over the grassy knoll and the overpass I got chills. In the dead of summer. To get the whole Kennedy assassination effect do what I did:

1. Go to the Book Depository.
2. Lie down on the grassy knoll, take photos, and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
3. Check out the fence by the railroad tracks where “the hobos” (assassins) all filed out.

After that walk around downtown Dallas and hang out in the old department stores, some have soda fountains. You’ll get an old Sixties vibe from that. It’s a creepy experience.

Statue of Liberty (Liberty Island/Staten Island, New York)= I love tall girls, the taller the better. The real stone fox is this girl from New York City, she don’t say much but she’s easy. She says, “Give me your tired, give me your poor”, doesn’t sound too choosy to me. Munchkin chicks go home. I luv her tall ass.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

American Stars and Scars

Never say never. You think you’ve got your mind made up but you never know, that day will come when “never” becomes “possibly”. I’m referring to tattoos, of course, some people have them and a lot of people have too many of them. I've always liked tattoos but the thought of wearing a permanent illustration on my body seemed daunting to me. If I’m going to wear a picture on my skin it better be something completely timeless and phenomenal.

While all my friends were getting tattoos I would try to envision what I would be wearing. What would I want left on my body even when I’m dead? It wouldn’t be Dudley Do-Right getting a blowjob from Bettie Page, that’s for sure! I had a problem: I couldn’t decide on what to get, years went by, friends got ink, my wife got ink, the postman got ink, grandmothers in the neighborhood were getting inked and I couldn’t decide on what stamp to rock with. I finally told myself if I couldn’t decide on an image I probably didn’t really need one. Shite!

The answer was right in front of my face. I owned a club kid shirt that was actually purty ugly but I loved the mesh arms with stars running down. It was the only reason why I kept the shirt in the first place! There was my answer, it was my destiny to have stars running down my arm.

I've been friends with Ace Farren Ford for twenty-five years when he came to Crowbar Salvation shows and told me about the LAFMS (Los Angeles Free Music Society), and his other bands The Child Molesters and Smegma. He also worked at Purple Panther Tattoo on Sunset Boulevard and did a great job on my friends and I knew I could trust him to do a great job on my stars.

Initially it started out with only one star tattooed on my left arm. The reason I chose my left arm rather than my right is because I wanted the surprise element in the discovery of my tattoo. Having a tattoo on my right arm would be too obvious and would be calling too much attention to it. After two weeks of seeing that one, lonely star on my arm I decided I needed a veritable constellation of stars, or at least six more to run down into a cool-looking sleeve.

Since Ace keeps all his images on file he already had my star ready for multi-carving. He put a gel on my arm and then slapped a tracing paper photocopy on my arm six times in descending order for placement of my star sleeve. I decided to go for just black as opposed to multicolor because the thick lines would be stronger than thin colored lines. It would be the prettiest motocross sleeve, ever. After taking a few aspirin I sat down in a barber's chair and relaxed.

The sensation of getting tattooed is not unlike a swarm of bees settling on your arm and stinging you non-stop for however the duration of your session lasts. Not comfy, but the ends justify the means, or as I like to say, tattoos are like sex: it ain't good unless it hurts. The reason for the unpleasant sting-pinch sensation is because basically the tattoo artist, in an overly simple layman's explanation sort-of-way, is carving pictures into your skin with ink. Hence all the blood that seeps out of your bandages after the session for the next four hours and the eventual scabbing that develops four days later.

Leah had a few tattoos herself and advised me to keep pumping sugar into my system to keep my energy level high in order to survive the shock to my system. She loyally sat by me handing me Altoids Raspberry Sours every three minutes.
While I quietly endured the buzzing of the tattoo needle two bimbos in "AMP UP" tanktops marched in with a case of "AMP" power drink.

"Hi, are you guys interested in a free complimentary case of AMP?"
"Well, we like free, especially when it comes from beautiful women", Ace happily grumbled.
"Thanks. Our drink uses only the most natural of minerals and vitamins, like Ginseng, Taurine, and Cystine".
"Is this drink like Monster?" asked Leah.
"Better! Is there anyone here who'd like to model with our favorite drink?"
Leah jumped up and posed holding a can of AMP. After the picture snapped, Ace said, "Come in anytime you girls want to bring in anything free."
As soon as they left Leah mumbled, "Tastes like Monster."

People ask me if the elbow star was the most painful, and yeah it was bad, but equally painful was the wrist star. At one point the vibration of the needle hit the bone on my wrist rendering my fingers in an almost paralytic state. In other words I couldn't move my fingers for a few minutes because my wrist was totally numb.

The tattoo artist by the next booth was working on two guys from Portugal who both wanted tiny pirate skeleton keys tattooed on their left wrist. They ran outside to take a cigarette break, then one would get his ink staring at my sleeve getting done. He looked like he hated getting his little flesh carved and would peer over at me to see me take my session. He looked like he wanted to cry but didn't want to, his boyfriend, I mean partner coldly staring at his cell phone texts. After he was done they raced out for another cancer stick orgy and then ran in so that Boy #2 got his little key etched in. When they weren't staring at me they were staring at Leah. I guess those boys would have swung either way!

Anyway, two hours later my arm was inked completely and I ended up smiling. Ace did a great job and quicker than I expected, too. The stars look beautiful, as you can see in the pictures, and I didn't pass out or feel dizzy. Leah said I had to eat protein (meat) in order to recover quickly. Looking over at my bloody bandages I went in the trunk and threw on a long-sleeved t-shirt and we went to Jan's Coffee Shop for dinner.

Normally I like Jan's but I only wanted a salad, but no, I had to have meat. I ordered the Lamb Stew but shit, it was awful. The lamb was so undercooked it was redder and bloodier than my arm! I had my protein but it was gross. I picked at it and ate maybe 15% of this hot mess while my right arm, all swollen and throbbing, felt like it recovered from a traumatic automobile accident.

For the next few days I'll wash and dab at the tattoos on my arm. Once the smoke clears and the scabs fall off I'm gonna look like Jasper Johns' brown-eyed boy. And if you don't know who Jasper Johns is you've got some serious art edjimication ahead of you, baby.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gene Simmons' Lucky Strike

After toiling, sweating and bleeding for the Knights In Satan’s Service (KISS) and getting prime time exposure on A&E’s “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” TV show it seemed only natural getting invited to Gene Simmons’ 60th birthday party, held on Saturday, August 29th at Lucky Strike Bowling in Hollywood, California. The event was organized by Simmons’ life partner, ex-Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed, and lifetime rock partner, Paul Stanley.

The party was pretty cool considering Simmons doesn’t bowl or drink, and there was plenty of both going on. There was an open bar by the front door (once we got past a quickly departing Michael Des Barres) and stacks of chicken satay with peanut sauce on gourmet plates. The PA was booming loads of Baby Boomer classics like “Brown Sugar”, “Highway To Hell” and Stories’ “Jackie Blue”. I felt like I was back in High School! If you were holding your breath waiting for The Horrors or The Raveonettes to get played you would have turned blue and died. Oh well, fuck it, it's his party.

Adding to the age factor was the extremely heavy presence of former Playboy Playmates (circa 1970s-1980s) aka blonde cougars in their den. Because I was the only soul who looked halfway “rock” – all the guys looked like salesmen from Circuit City – I was getting severe fuckhunt leers from the cougars. Rebecca stayed close, tee hee. Now I know how you girls feel on Date Night.

Lucky Strike had some pretty rockin’ lanes, I must say; I would definitely return again just to knock a few pins around. Over the lanes were video screens showing extreme sports videos, which stopped to play birthday wishes to old Gene. The best videos were from Joe Perry standing in front of Mount Rushmore, Bill Maher actually saying something funny for a change (“When they told me an old Jew in high heels and makeup was celebrating their birthday I thought cool, Joan Rivers is having a birthday party.”), and Carrot Top was also busting some funny for a change, pouring a tiny hotel bottle of Crown Royal into a Gene Simmons puppet head, forcing him to drink.

Just when you thought the cougar contingent owned the night I played a few bowling games with some supermodels and their dates. One was seriously plowed but pretty cool and funny. The other one was 6’5”, extremely thin and just came from Russia and never bowled in her life. It was wild, and every time I got a strike I jumped up and down. The weird thing was that the supermodels kept asking me to bend over and bowl even when it wasn’t my turn (?!?) to the point of one of the model’s dates taking off in a huff for awhile. After twenty minutes of hopping and dancing in the lanes I reached back and noticed that my leather pants rode down pretty low and the back strap of my jock (BRIGHT ORANGE) was popping out of my pants. No wonder I was getting all those free turns! A little later the Russian model asked me to head off to the patio and have a smoke with her. Rebecca mysteriously appeared on cue, and we went home.

Happy birthday, Gene Simmons, thanks for the great party, the next time I get invited to your shindigs I promise to wear a darker jock.