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Friday, October 28, 2011

Slacks For Slackers

Unfortunately there won't be a big blog this week because I sliced my thumb open last Sunday. It's amazing how much power your thumb wields over the rest of your hand, especially your right one. The thumb is basically the boss of your fist, and the boss is severly injured, so once my six stitches have been removed and I'm back to normal I'll be back to type in more cool stuff. In the meantime here's a picture of a great new belt I created before the accident. The cool Frankenstein buckle was made by Lucky 13 Belt Buckles.

One thing I haven't exhibited much of are the dress slacks I've created. Dress slacks aren't terribly sexy, but pretty crucial. You need to wear them to work or the worshiping place of your choice. I tend to lean towards striped material myself because it means you mean business. A good, lean pinstripe should do the job, preferably with a black or dark brown background. In the pair shown below we have a dark brown pair with gold pinstripes in narrow, fine lines. Fat lines would look too comical, like a bad Ralph Bakshi cartoon.

In order to break the monotony of wearing something traditional like striped pants throw a few kinks here and there, so I designed a leather waistband with belt loops to this particular pair. It makes the slacks stand out a bit from the pack. The leather shouldn't be too tough or it'll fight the rest of the material, so a soft leather like lamb or suede will work best. By the way, I don't like to discuss politics, but I don't think West Hollywood's proposed ban on fur vending will succeed, given the poor economic situation in the country. Now isn't the time to place restrictions on what vendors can sell to improve the city's economy and raise sales tax revenue that can only benefit the idiots that run the City of West Hollywood.

The next pair is a cool black cotton material with solid purple stripes running through it. This material was so flash that even the cutter at Mood drooled over it. "Where did you find this???" His eyes were greener than the money I pulled out to pay for them. Needless to say, he's probably making a pair of his own slacks out of this awesome fabric. Now, normally, I would model these great pants as I always do, but I was a little torn about posing in them with my stitched up Frankenstein thumb. Then again, what could be more in the Halloween spirit?

BY THE WAY....that cool steak bag I posted pics of in my blog "Accessories Bought And Made" is now available at Etsy. Click here to buy if you're interested: http://www.etsy.com/listing/84890911/meaty-steak-bag

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baboon Dooley and the Hardcore Hall Monitors

One of the inevitable things to emerge in any pop culture phenomenon is the proliferation of serious scholars and experts, and even something as low-rent as hardcore punk was not immune. By the early 1980’s you couldn’t crack open a punk fanzine without a self-appointed expert running down their version of history of punk. Even worse, they would force their yardstick criteria of what was admissible as punk and what wasn’t allowed, so an entire subculture that encouraged anarchy now had these hall monitors throwing down restrictive rules.

The fun was squeezed out by these Nimrods, always espousing clich├ęs about supporting “The Scene”, whether it be by living a straight edge lifestyle, sharing everything you had to uphold some imaginary Socialist punk wonderland, or even worse, doing everything for free.

One of the few blasts of fresh air during this dark period were an indefatigable series of cartoons from a guy named John Crawford who mercilessly cut through all the punk rock double-talk and hardcore bullshit courtesy of a Neanderthal character named Baboon Dooley. According to ZineWiki, the punk fanzine Wikipedia, Mr. Crawford’s comic strip ran in over two hundred different fanzines, like Forced Exposure, Flipside, and Maximum Rock ‘N Roll, who eventually tired of his attack of said fanzine.

A typical Dooley comic strip would be titled a “Scene Report” and then satirize what was going down in Berkeley, D.C., Orange County, or any other hardcore hotbed. Dooley would come down there trying to freeload on free records, food, beer (unless he was fronting straight edge), or even a place to crash. Gimme gimme gimme, as Darby would say.

Other Dooley strips would flat out spoof popular figures on the published music scene, whether it be the self-titled Dean of Rock Critics, Robert Christgau, Bob Guccione, Jr., publisher of Spin Magazine, or even Mordam Records chief Ruth Schwartz.

Some strips simply showed a pair of simian-faced punks spouting inane rhetoric of punk rock principle in the most pedestrian form of didacticism possible. Needles to say, neither one bothered to listen to what the other one said. Speaking and not discussing, hearing but not listening.

Crawford's artwork was reminiscent of Edwin Pouncey aka Savage Pencil’s distinctive scrawly penciling style with a heavy-handed ink brush and screaming lettering. It definitely grabbed your attention in between the dull Homestead and SST Records ads.

While some of the humor may have gone overboard from time to time, I found a lot of these comics to be very funny and, dare I say it, punk rock in their efforts to burst the balloon of crushing self-importance and stuffiness that frankly ruined a “scene” that previously thrived on outrage and spontaneity.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

French Crime Time

It’s simply a matter of propinquity, but lately I’ve discovered a lot of great crime novels and movies this past summer, all produced in France. Nobody renders crime stories the way the French do. Their slant on noir is unique for two reasons I can think of:

1. They are the biggest fans of noir, bigger than America. Writers like Cornell Woolrich, Jim Thompson and David Goodis have enjoyed greater popularity there than in their home country. Many American noir novels have been adapted into film on a routinely regular basis, so as a result their influence on modern French crime writing is considerable; and,

2. The French have always suffused their noir with erotica, so in addition to all the cold-blooded misanthropy the story-telling serves heaping dollops of sex. Many of the books and movies listed below have strong sexual activity in them that serve the stories well.

One of my discoveries this past summer was the works of Sebastien Japrisot, a highly successful, award-winning writer who’s virtually unknown in the United States. That’s a shame, because he’s a brilliant story-teller and deserves to be read by more people. My favorite books by him are:

One Deadly Summer, the tale of a beautiful but amoral girl who moves into a small town and marries into a family that she believes played a role in brutally attacking her mother. In the course of her revenge there’s lots of Brigitte Bardot-styled sex shenanigans.

Trap For Cinderella, a tale of two girls, one rich and beautiful, the other poor and plain, trapped in a house fire in the South of France (where else?). One girl survives with her face reconstructed and her memory lost. Which girl survived the fire? An inheritance of millions is at stake, so if the poor girl survived she’ll require lots of training from an insane female guardian.

The Lady In The Car With Glasses And A Gun, a timid yet beautiful secretary drives off with the boss’s expensive American convertible, picking up hitchhiking gigolos near the South of France (here we go again!), having her way with them and finding a dead body in the trunk of the car.

Another great crime writer is Jean Patrick Manchette, whose novel Fatale is the bizarre tale of a female hitman losing her grip on sanity. She stops in a small upper-class village and foregoes the chance to blackmail the richest citizens after having a meltdown and simply kills them methodically, one after another. This one also had some surreal touches in them, as well, like the professor who serenely urinates all over the banquet room wall in one chapter.

Right around this time I also caught TCM’s Summer Under The Stars series on the day they highlighted crime star Jean Gabin. They screened Jean Renoir’s classic film, La Bete Humaine (Human Desire), a great noir with a brilliant performance by Gabin. The film has a recurrent theme of a speeding train during scenes of murder and lovemaking. The love interest is played by Simone Simon of “Cat People” fame, and she’s also very good in it.

Another Gabin film I saw was Georges Simenon’s The Night Affair, a hipster noir about a police inspector who falls in love with a strung-out jazz singer who frequents a beatnik night club. Made in the Fifties during Gabin’s older years, it has that weird French underground vibe with a TV detective show vibe (think “Johnny Staccato”) combined. I liked it a lot, and of course there’s lots of sexy Fifties gals like Nadia Tiller in it to keep it French and noir.

The French love for noir is the stuff of legend. Film critics have always professed their love for film directors like Anthony Mann, Robert Aldrich (“Kiss Me Deadly” being a big favorite), Sam Fuller, and many others, while upper-echelon directors like Francois Truffaut have directed noir classics like “Shoot The Piano Player”, “The Bride Wore Black”, and “Mississippi Mermaid”.

I really like the French spin on noir and intend to investigate more great stuff that hasn’t enjoyed enough popularity in our country. What we take for granted here in the States is a revered genre in France, and sometimes we need the superfans to remind us what an important art form it is.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fearless Food Faves

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not much of a foodie, but I know what works for me and what doesn’t. Poorly prepared Mexican food (99.9% in Los Angeles) always gets me sick with equally poor Chinese food running a close second. The best eats are the ones I discover at the market to prepare, and lately I’ve discovered a lot of great stuff I want to talk about.

I’m pretty fond of the Near East line of flavored couscous (http://www.neareast.com/#products/couscous). My favorite is the Mediterranean Curry flavor, but the Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil and Wild Mushroom & Herb flavors are excellent as well. They’re also the quickest cooking sides I’ve ever made. A full saucepan will cook in less than five minutes, pretty awesome.

Also on the Middle Eastern front is Tribe Hummus (http://www.tribehummus.com/) and Ralphs market Tabouli. You can probably get fresher and tastier from a specialty store, but for the folks that live out in the smaller cities this is the best option. Tribe makes a wide variety of flavored Hummus, but I’ve found that the regular classic recipe is still the tastiest.

Not being a big fan of salmon in general I found myself addicted to Trident brand Wild Alaskan Salmon Burgers (http://www.tridentseafoods.com/retail/products.php?id=537). They’re surprisingly easy to make and taste great even to a seafood hater like me. I think they’re formed firmly like a meaty hamburger so there’s no fragile flaking that you get with a standard fish fillet.

Gekkeikan Kobri Plum Wine (http://www.gekkeikan-sake.com/product.cfm?start=10&type=domestic) is a white wine that’s infused with plum flavoring and caramel so it’s the most golden-colored white wine money can buy. This plum wine isn’t for everyone, but it's so sweet and candy tasting it’s hard to resist. It’s got a fruity versatile taste that matches well with meat and fish alike. Dig in.

On the cooking front I’ve been using Armenian Cucumbers, aka The Snake Melon, because they stay crunchy longer than the average cucumber. I think this is due to the fact that it doesn’t hold as much water so it keeps longer. At any rate, I use these for my cucumber salads and I think they taste better than regular cukes, anyway.

These are a few of my favorite things I’ve been cooking and eating lately. It’s a great antidote to the eating-out blahs I’ve been experiencing. Cooking with these great products eliminates any kitchen nightmare you could possibly think of.

I leave you with a picture of some salt-stick rolls I baked last week. We couldn’t eat these breadly devils fast enough. Starch out!