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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Joe D'Allesandro For Dummies

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!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs

It's that time again, and Uncle Bill is here to say grace.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kiss The Cook, Bang The Baker

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!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Parker Posey

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.