Andy Seven, former rock star/male model/bon vivant, the man with the action-packed expense account, the fabulous free-lance creator of stories and images is available for your entertainment NOW! on Blogger.
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.
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.
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!
The show began with Rockette Morton playing a bass guitar solo that included the most vicious strumming of strings accompanied by a frenzied whirling dervish dance as he played. He brought a lot of magic to The Magic Band, believe me.
Don believed in giving the ex-Mothers of Invention work after Frank Zappa dismissed them, and pictured here is Elliott Ingber (aka Winged Eel Fingerling), Rockette Morton and Art Tripp III (aka Ed Marimba). Jimmy Carl Black also played that night, dubbed Indian Ink. On the next tour Roy Estrada joined the band on bass guitar under the moniker Orejon.
Don's probably singing "When It Blows Its Stacks" which the band would come out to, Zoot Horn Rollo's wailing guitar keening over Captain Beefheart's wolfman-like howls.
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.
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 Roped off Designated area
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.
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!
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!
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!
Every year I wish a fellow Scorpio a Happy Birthday; last year it was Alain Delon so this year I’m wishing a Happy Birthday to Parker Posey, one of my favorite actresses. A sort of modern day Louise Brooks (another Scorpio), instead of kids creaming over Audrey Hepburn they should be checking out every cool movie this nut ever starred in. She even put in an appearance in “The Coneheads” movie early in her career.
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.
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.
Here's Alice in body stocking and heels to the left, and tearing the poster to the "Love It To Death" album on stage to the right. Early footage of Alice Cooper performing live can be seen in Frank & Eleanor Perry's movie "Diary of a Mad Housewife" where chickens aren't killed, but pillows are ripped open instead and goose feathers are tossed around in a hail of pflug.
When my band used to tour the driver got to choose which cassette tape we had to listen to while they drove. I had three guitar players; when one drove we had to listen to Neil Young & Crazy Horse, when the other drove we had to listen to the third Velvet Underground album, the real terrible one with songs like “I’m Set Free”, “Jesus”, and “I’m Beginning To See The Light”, yuck, and the third one played a tape that had Alice Cooper’s “Love It To Death” on one side and “Killer” on the other side. Guess who played the best guitar?
Here's Alice consolidating his queeny image by having his hair done at the beauty parlor. He also had The Cockettes perform and appear at several events and shows around this time. I think Alice and Frank Zappa tried pretty hard to downplay any drug involvement because they were creepy guys from Laurel Canyon and at the time (1970-1971) every straight in LA thought if you had long hair and came from the Canyon you were Charles Manson, so eventually they went out of their way to brag about how average they were. Too bad. By the time "School's Out" was released (1972) our private party was over.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
In 1969 Rolling Stone Magazine did a cover feature on a heretofore unreported phenomenon in the world of rock, the emergence of the groupie (one of the first mentions was in The Mothers of Invention’s “Motherly Love” in 1966). Here are a few scans from that issue for your entertainment. Sorry about the yellowed paper, Photoshop and I can only do so much.
I met Miss Mercy from The GTO’s in 1978 when we were both extras for the filming of The Ramones’ “Rock and Roll High School”. She had a baby by guitar whiz Shuggie Otis named “Lucky”, and Lucky’s governess at the time was Linda Jones, eventually Texacala Jones of Tex & The Horseheads fame. If you hang around long enough you get to meet everybody.
Pamela Miller (Des Barres)
Miss Pamela, the future Ms. Des Barres, a very nice lady and one of the few surviving members of The GTO’s (Girls Together Outrageously), also known as The Laurel Canyon Ballet Company. She had the best song on The GTO's album, "Permanent Damage" titled "Circular Circulation, or Do Me In Once And I'll Be Sad, Do Me In Twice And I'll Know Better".
Plastercasters of Chicago
Cynthia Plaster Caster still makes casts of rock star’s pudenda: The Muffs, Demolition Doll Rods, etc. To date she hasn’t done Justin Bieber, Thurston Moore or Henry Rollins so she has a lot of catching up to do.
The spider eye make-up was a big deal at the time, and it has been reported that Alice Cooper copped that look from the groupies that were lurking around the scene. Frankly I think it’s a great look, especially given how gruesome Alice looks without his makeup.
I haven’t got the foggiest idea who she is, but if she rates a great Baron Wolman photo shoot then she has my blessing. Baron Wolman was Rolling Stone Magazine’s original photographer (along with Jim Marshall) and I still prefer his work to the Annie Liebowitz Seventies smarm photography that ruined the magazine.
Legend has it that Russell Mael from Sparks stole her away from Todd Rundgren while he produced their album. In all fairness Christine really got around, may she rest in peace (she passed in 1972).
The late Miss Sandra. The “Miss” title preceding The GTOs member's names was invented by Tiny Tim, who christened every woman with a “Miss” title, and even referred to his wife at the time as “Miss Vicky”. God bless Tiny Tim, and God bless groupies everywhere.