Minstrels Anonymous on Bandcamp

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blog Post #300

I’m not one to toot my own horn or celebrate myself incessantly like most people on the internet do, but today marks the publication of my 300th blog post. “Out Demons Out” has been running on a weekly basis since 2007, and it’s come a long way from what it once was. When I first started the blog the majority of my entries consisted of song lyrics, random food & nightclub reviews, old short stories and bizarre memoirs of a disturbed adolescence that wouldn’t go away.

Since then three serials have been published with more on the way. What makes my blog different from many is that I’ve almost avoided any topics that are too popular or obvious, like photos of Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield. It kills me to see people blogging pics of those overexposed whores and then thinking they’re actually doing something creative. To add insult to injury these bloggers think they’re celebrities and actually have a following. It’s only a blog, asshole, come down to Earth.

And speaking of following, I think it’s funny that I only have 35 followers (and by the way, thanks all 35 of you, you guys are great) and yet an average blog gets about 200 hits. Somebody’s reading this shit whether they want to put their name to it or not. The walls might have ears but the web has eyes, invisible ones at that.

As of December 2012, the three most popular blog posts on “Out Demons Out” have been:
1. The Parker Posey birthday tribute, which makes her a bigger movie star than many people think.
2. The GTO’s tribute from Rolling Stone Magazine. I liked that one, too.
3. The New York Dolls – Creem Magazine glam tie-in from 1974. That one had a lot of style.

Ironically the next biggest blog post was the “Bibles And Blueprints” serial chapter from “Crash Walker” which was about Crash visiting his estranged father, a former aerospace industry designer who has clearly gone insane. Apparently there are people who assume the title somehow refers to certain religious sects that need diagrams of weapons for some form of malicious mischief. Sorry! It’s just about April Van Winter singing “Talk Talk”.

The purpose of a blog should be one of two functions: either to serve as a sort of online diary or progress report on someone’s accomplishments, whether it’s in art, writing or music, etc.; or to serve as a journal of favorite movies, photographs, books, etc. As far as my blog’s concerned, my reviews are simply a fan’s notes and shouldn’t be seen as anything particularly factual or educational. It’s just me talking about what I like. Pretty revolutionary, huh?

One of the great things about writing a blog is that you can express yourself freely without bearing a rainfall of shit as you would on a message board, where very opinion is fair game for attack. After several years of being ripped open on message boards I finally took the hint and avoided them for the rest of my life. There isn’t enough self-hate in the world to get me back on a message board on any website.

As long as we’re on the topic of reviews, I just wanted to say that the best album of 2012 was “12 Bit Blues” by Kid Koala, a brilliant postmodern amalgamation of old blues styles – Chicago blues, Delta blues, Ragtime blues – and turntable cutting and spinning. It’s a brilliant accomplishment and worthy of everyone’s attention.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The File On Trixie Andersson

After the final, legendary show Garbage Truck played at The Glitter House the disappearance of Griff, leader of the band has been fraught with weird rumors. Many have said that he simply vanished from the punk rock scene after that last show along with his girl friend, the equally legendary Trixie Andersson. We sat down and talked to her about life after Garbage Truck.

Ms. Andersson looked happier than usual and was dressed in her favorite outfit of leather jacket, GBH t-shirt, leather mini skirt and black patent Doc Martens boots. She also had a button on her jacket that said, "Hell No I'm Not Rosario Dawson".

I: “Thanks for sitting down with us, Trixie. How’s life, or more importantly, what’s that bright, shiny stone doing sitting on your finger?”

TRIXIE: “Well! Andy, I thought you’d never ask. My hot boy Griff and I married about a week after the show and we’re both now living in semi-agoraphobic seclusion. Of course, this hasn’t prevented idiot scenesters, assholes like the guys in his band and that tired, old queen Dead End Kyle from spreading slanderous bullshit to sully MY GRIFF’S reputation”.

I: “Wow! Whatever happened to those guys in his band? Did they stay together after he supposedly disappeared?”

TRIXIE: “Ugh! Lady Godiva’s Operation, the sub-Sub-SUB-standard flop band run by dumb Bradley, Bert and ugly Bobby went on a tour of small-town colleges under the name of Garbage Truck. Can you believe that shit? Obviously a last-ditch attempt to cash in on Griff’s reputation, loyal fans demanded their money back when they realized Griff wasn’t performing - and those jerks only played two Garbage Truck songs, anyway. When Fritz-Franz Klein complained about the band’s lame decision to tour under a bogus name they coldly kicked him out of the tour van, dumping him and his drum set in the middle of the Mojave Desert. What a bunch of assholes!”

I: “Let’s talk about something far more interesting, like your career”.

TRIXIE: “It’s high time, Mister! Thanks for asking!!!! I’m now a pretty damn successful clothes designer in Hollywood, employing my hot new husband Griff as my assistant. Together we design cutting edge fashions we sell on Melrose, we’ve been on German and Italian TV and, and, AND, we’ve put on high-profile fashion shows on the fetish circuit, much to the ignorance of stupid fuzz guitar lovers”.

I: “I heard Dead End Kyle of Paint It Black Records badmouthed Griff saying that he’s living out on the street like a homeless bum”.

TRIXIE: “Yeah, did you ever hear anything so stupid in your life? If my Griff is homeless that what am I doing living in a nice apartment with a working, constantly ringing phone? The scary thing is that there’s people retarded enough to believe that moron”.

I: “Well, life hasn’t been the same since his wife divorced him after catching him having sex in a Jacuzzi with one of his garage band discoveries”.

TRIXIE: “And it wasn’t one of those untalented Japanese girls he’s always hawking, just some garage rock boy with pimples. HAW!”

I: "Can you give me a brief rundown on where you guys live and what it's like?"

TRIXIE: "We live in a one bedroom apartment in the Miracle Mile District, so very black career girl-type area. The so-called living room has my sewing machines, power tools, art supplies, so on and so forth stuff. The bedroom's more like Griff's laboratory with guitars, a synthesizer, amplifiers and his cool-ass trumpet. And of course, our comfy sofa bed, TV, videos, toys and crap. I have my own vanity alcove for make-up and glam fashions. Not bad for an allegedly homeless guy, huh?"

I: “Some people said you guys wouldn’t last. What do you say to that?”

TRIXIE: “What do I say to that? Those wrinkled old hookers Kitten Claws broke up last year,okay? Java The Hut closed down after the owners had a drug-dealing hissy fit but Griff and I are still together, maaaan. Add it up, folks!”

I: “Well, the bigger the hype the harder the fall. Didn’t Dale Cryer become a big star for five minutes?”

TRIXIE: “Andy, it was the most boring five minutes of all time! After he burned everybody in Hollywood and then weeped like a baby for having Hepatitis-C the whole town dropped him like a smelly, rotten potato!”

I: “He wasn’t much of a singer anyway”.

TRIXIE:“No, he’s just a thief and a born liar. He told everybody in town Griff was homophobic. Talk about sour grapes! Go steal somebody else’s small change, Cryer. There’s a 12-pack of beer with your name on it, if they make beer called LOSER-BRAU”.

I: "What's with the Rosario Dawson button on your jacket?"

TRIXIE: "I was at a club minding my own business, i.e. drinking a beer and listening to some raging hardcore when these two white heshers with tattoos and piercings, a Henry Rollins crush couple, came up to me and sheepishly told me I looked like Rosario Dawson. Before I could say anything they ran off like a pair of scared rabbits. What the fuck?"

I: “Thanks, Trixie, it’s been great talking to you. You’re still the coolest punk rock girl I know”.

TRIXIE: “Thanks right back, Andy doll. I made this rad studded belt for you, and Griff made this blue patent leather bracelet. Hope you enjoy them. Loyalty has its privileges and you’re the best friend we ever had! Our pals are the best and fuck the rest”.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nitro (French Canada, 2007)

You can't beat a nutty action film, and it doesn't get nuttier than French Canada's Nitro. Directed with verve by Alain Desrochers, Nitro is a super-charged action film from French Canada spoken in Froglish (French-English, mostly French. Like most action films if your park your brains at the door you can still have a good time watching this nutty high octane opera.

Julien (Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge)is a former street racer (with the racing sobriquet “Mad Max”) gone straight with a wife and stepson, now working as a construction worker. When his wife Alice goes into a coma needing a heart transplant he decides to re-enter the street race game to scare up the big swag needed to get her a heart transplant.

He enters an exciting late night race hustling all the young dudes who don’t remember his champion race past. When someone eventually remembers and outs him as the legendary Mad Max they deny him his cash winnings and a baseball bat battle ensues. He gets the dough, of course. But it’s not enough.

A hospital friend tells him that Alice is so far down the list for heart transplants with hearts being so scarce, anyway that she’ll never make it long enough to live. Of course, French Canadiens don’t know about artificial hearts because then there wouldn’t be a movie. So, Julien comes up with a great idea: steal a beating heart from a living person.

Julien returns to the strip club where his ex-girlfriend Morgane (Lucie Laurier) works. Morgane was also a street racer like him, but they broke up because he caught her making it with the sleazy club owner, Avocat (Martin Matte. Julien strikes a deal with Avocat in front of his gang for a heart. Avocat tells him that a heart can’t be supplied without a proper blood type. Julien feigns stupidity so he can hear the entire gang recite their blood type. When one unlucky bastard cops to being A Positive (Alice’s type, apparently) Julien kidnaps him at gunpoint, giving us a pretty exciting chase scene, highlighted by a fistfight inside a car while Julien keeps his pedal to the metal at 90 miles an hour.

Julien drags the thug to the gangsters’ doctor, a disbarred veterinarian, who extracts the poor bastard’s heart out and hands it to Jules in a red biohazard case. He dashes away with the cops in hot pursuit, and for good reason: the thug he killed was an undercover cop that infiltrated Avocat’s gang.

Julien hides out in Morgane’s flat, much to her scorn. Who can blame her? He dumped her for the dull Alice, who is mostly seen in the hospital making boring New Age speeches about the molecules and tout la planetes. Morgane helps him slip into Alice’s hospital courtesy of her T. Rex, a three-wheel motorcycle car that has to be seen to be believed. The Campagna T. Rex is worth the price of the movie.

To make a long story short, one girl dies and the other doesn’t – yup, spoiler – and even though the movie is silly it’s still a fun action film. Ironically the two best characters are the scumbag gangster Avocat with his shaved head and Abe Lincoln beard (yuck) and the awesome Morgane, another great bad girl added to cinema history. Lucie Laurier is definitely a star and hopefully will be seen from again.


When I first heard about "Broken Flowers", the Jim Jarmusch film starring Bill Murray, I feared yet another dreary, tired old guy movie like "Lost In Translation". Thank hebbin I was wrong!

“Broken Flowers” puts a new spin on the tired old joke, “I don’t have any kids that I’m aware of”. Bill Murray plays Don Johnston, a successful software developer who gets a mysterious message from an anonymous ex-girlfriend that she bore him a son. Murray subsequently goes on a cross-country odyssey (in a 1996 Ford Taurus) searching all his exes in pursuit of finding out which one had his son.

What follows is a spin on the old “What A Way To Go” formula, where we meet his exes and how different they are apart from each other: Jessica Lange is a pet psychiatrist, Sharon Stone is a NASCAR racer’s widow, Frances Conroy as an ex-flower child turned Stepford wife and Tilda Swinton looking more like Patti Smith circa “Horses” (1975) than Patti Smith ever did. The resemblance is remarkable!

Just like “Lost In Translation” we have a few Lolita moments here, in fact Stone’s daughter Lolita walks around naked for Bill’s enjoyment, and a young florist named Sun Green who medicates his bruises. Although everybody in the film is great it’s clearly Murray’s show all the way, exhibiting the best deadpan humor he’s exhibited since “Ed Wood” (“I’m stalking people in a Ford Taurus!” he complains to a friend). The scene where he tries to hammer down Conroy’s awful boiled julienne carrots is classic, too. Well, this is hands down Jim Jarmusch’s best work in years and, The inside joke at the end is awesome and yes, even Sharon Stone actually looks like she’s enjoying herself. It’s after the end of the world!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Electro-Swing Hanukkah

This week - Saturday night, December 8th -brings the arrival of Chanukah, Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is an 8-day festival represented by a candle lit for every day on the Menorah, the candelabra used for this special occasion. The Menorah is used to commemorate the miracle of a single day’s portion of olive oil lasting eight days, the olive oil being important for lighting the candles in the newly rededicated Second Temple.

One of the most significant aspects of Hanukkah is that it reflects an image of Judah and The Maccabees, Jewish rebels that fought against the tyrannical Antiochus Epiphanes of Greece. In light of the tragedy of The Holocaust it was important to remember that there were times in Jewish history when Jews have risen up and rebelled to reclaim their right to be Jews.

Jimmy's Gang - Parov Stelar

For the next eight nights candles will be lit and added each night on my Menorah (pictured above). Buying Hanukkah candles has always been pretty cool. Nowadays you can get candles in silver, gold, or multicolor with weird little wax appliqués on them. I get a different color and design each year. The wax is usually in a braided shape with the appliqués hanging off them like moon craters. You can find them at Bed Bath & Beyond in addition to any religious store.

Rock It For Me - Caravan Palace

No Jewish holiday is complete without a seasonal delicacy to make the holiday more fun, and that’s where latkes come in. Potato pancakes with either apple sauce or sour cream on the side, even non-Jews enjoy eating this all year round, but they’re the official delicacy for Hanukkah.

Be-Bop 2 Hip-Hop - Jem Stone

Another festival custom is spinning the dreidel, a diminutive spinning top that we played when we were kids. Each side of the dreidel had a different letter, which in Hebrew has a numerological value to it. When the dreidel stopped spinning and fell on the letter with the highest number value the kid with the highest number would win all the chocolate coins or bubble gum coins the other kids would put up in the betting pot. I always preferred the chocolate coins to the bubble gum coins because the bubble gum was always too hard and made your jaws ache!

The Gasworks Gang - Jem Stone

After all is said and done you can’t beat an awesome holiday season, and growing up in snowy Providence, Rhode Island in 1961 was the best. Predominantly Roman Catholic (a lot of Italians lived there) even my family loved going to downtown Providence and looking at the great department store displays with Christmas toys and electric trains and the humongous Christmas trees all tricked out with billions of lights. It was pre-zactly just like Bob Clark’s classic film “A Christmas Story” with all the elaborate fancy toy displays.

Hotel Axos - Parov Stelar

After we checked out the great store displays all over the metro area we drove through the residential areas to see who had the most extravagant display in front of their house. Some people went all out with an elaborately built manger (like in “Diner”) or a Santa’s Village that would make Walt Disney blush. One manger showcased statues painted and lit so ghouly grotesque the Three Wise Men looked more like Dracula, Wolfman and Frankenstein. Scary. I guess the bottom line with this holiday season that it’s all about THE LIGHTS, Christmas or Hanukkah. The snow might be falling but it’s all about THE LIGHTS.

The morning after this Xmas phantasmagoria had us bobsledding down the hilly streets of Taft Avenue, Rhode Island Jewish kids sledding in the snow with the starry spire of Temple Emanuel standing tall at the top of the hill like a sentinel protecting us from any further Antiochus Epiphanes in the future.

And all I want for Hanukkah is lots and lots of Burberry Prorsum clothes for men, or at least the dough to buy it with!

Parov Stelar will be appearing at The Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Friday, December 14, 2012 at 8 pm.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Junkies For Obama

Well, the election is finally over and thanks to the hard work of every shrill liberal white girl on the planet President Barack Obama has been reelected for a second term. His fans are dancing in the streets because their hero will be around for another four years of rising unemployment, forced insurance payments, rising gas prices, a heavily censored administration and not one, but two concurrent wars created by Americans for Americans. Black Superman promised us four years of change, we definitely got change for the worse and the next four years will be more change for the worse. Thank you, Black Superman.

No one’s saying the other guy was better but it’s weak to think that Warbama was the better alternative. Either way everyone loses, and if you don’t believe me check the national suicide rate. It’s at the highest level in decades, in fact the highest since the Eighties when Ronald Reagan was President. Was the rising suicide rate what Warbama had in mind when he talked about change?

A lot of Black Superman’s fans rallied on Facebook, protesting Genetically Modified Foods. Many of these people are already taking steroids, taking ecstasy at shows or just doing drugs of all kinds to maintain their hipness quotient. I didn’t know there were such prioritized standards in harmful elements you could place in your body. Some of them even cried about Hostess Twinkies getting phased out(!). Talk about Genetically Modified Food. Change!


Drove by the El Rey Theater the other night and saw the marquee announcing the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion playing. When I saw them play there it was the mid-Nineties and there was a line going down the block waiting to get in. Fast forward to now and there were, at best, maybe twenty people standing in line. Sad, I know. I pulled into the supermarket a block away and as I walked up the staircase to the market a tiny mob raced out with Mr. Spencer holding a birthday cake in his hands. His entourage acted very important and almost elbowed everybody out of the way. I just thought it was a whole lot of fuss over a fading star. Sad!


There's something simultaneously exciting and surreal when you make outfits for celebrities and it shows up on TV shows like TMZ and tabloid magazines like The Star. Rebecca and I were hired to make Halloween costumes for stars Alexis Denisof and his wife Alyson Hannigan and their kids. They wanted outfits that looked like sea horses, which was right up our alley since I already wore a sea horse pendant around my neck.

Click on the next line to see the UK Daily Mail pictorial on their costumes made by us:
Alexis and Alyson Sea Horses

The project took a few weeks since we were dressing four members of the family of varying sizes (one was a newborn so that was a good challenge). They were very easygoing and open to our ideas so they were a pleasure to work for, plus they liked our choices of multicolored sequin fabric. They were not only a hit for the holiday but garnered tons of publicity from the "paps". It's one thing to let your clothes speak for themselves, it's quite another to turn jaded Hollywood heads around, but that's what makes Rebecca such a genius.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dig That Crazy Bird

The Scooby Dooby sisters, Millie and Ellie were oblivious to the fact that it was the third Thursday in November. Millie industriously painted a stiff, wooden chair with Duco house paint. At first she applied a red coat but then decided to go abstract and add small slashes of yellow and green, making the Jackson Pollock scene. Ellie busied herself brushing her hair 100 times, a favorite pastime particular to blonde girls.

Millie found herself stuck to her paint brush as her hair got stuck to the quickly drying paint on the brush. "Ow! Not cool! Sis!!"
Ellie found herself in a similar predicament when her brush got deeply tangled in her hair and she couldn't pull it out anymore. "What a drag! Sis!!!"

Millie raced over to her sister with a big paint brush dangling from her hair like a clunky ear ring. "Help, my branches are all stuck!"
"Mine too!"
Ellie began pulling the paint brush out of her sister's hair as Millie reached over to pull the hairbrush out of her sister's head. Both of them twisted and cussed as their groovy crash pad door opened and their rich, fat, gray-haired mother strode in wearing her customary pill box hat, silver fox mink stole and Cartier pearls.
"Oh, girls, what foolishness are you up to now?"
"Mother!!!" they wailed at the same time.
Mother Huntington rolled her eyes and grabbed a rusty butter knife from the kitchen. "How many times have I told you girls to cut that monstrously long hair of yours? Oh well, I suppose this'll do. Once I cut your hair and you change out of your rags you're coming home for Thanksgiving dinner".
"Mother!!" they both wailed.


Although Millie and Ellie were hip, card-carrying beatnik sisters they were strictly trust fund brats and had to put up with occasional inconveniences like family get togethers, i.e. Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner was held at the Huntington family's stuffy Park Avenue penthouse with the gray-haired squares sitting at the large dining room table and the youngsters sitting at the tiny Japanese-style table.

"Hubert's closing a highly lucrative account in Tokyo, even as we speak. They're selling low after that terrible war", Mother Huntington told the guests. "We're doing our part to help those unfortunate little Buddhist peasants". The guests nodded, grunted with a few "here heres" and sipped their expensive wine. There were several candelabras at the table even though the dining room had the brightest chandelier money could buy.

"Bodhisattva bebop", Ellie whispered to Millie. "Dad's making the Buddha scene".
"I dig, chick. I'm just jazzed Mom didn't get a chance to slash all our weeds".
"Zilch, baby. As soon as she copped my locks off that crazy brush I split out of the pad".
"Me too, baby. And she didn't get a chance to flip our threads, either!"
They both giggled, but Millie quickly frowned when Grimly the butler placed two heaping plates of Thanksgiving dinner in front of them.

"What's with the feast? Maaaannnn!"
"Hold the banquet, baby, I don't dig".
"Thanksgiving dinner", Grimly announced, "Per Lady Huntington's request". He dashed away, disgusted by the scruffy debutantes sitting Indian style on the floor by their meals. He looked back and caught a sight of Ellie taking off her moccasins and shivered with disgust, dashing into the kitchen.

Millie began industriously building an abstract sculpture out of her mashed potatoes and stuffing, building an upper tier of yams and stacking the rooftop with slabs of turkey.

Lady Huntington glanced over at her daughters' kiddie table, did a horrified double take and stopped her dissertation on Coco Chanel's latest collection.
"Millicent, what on earth are you doing?" Everyone at the adults table stared at them with smarmy disdain.
"I call it 'Ode To A High Rise'", Millie tossed her hair proudly. "Isn't it the most?"
Lady Huntington turned three shades of red and roared, "Child, you'll be the death of me yet!"
"Must they be here? The air has a faint...aroma...of narcotics", a silver-haired man with an enormously red face burbled.
"That's patchouli, Gramps!" Millie purred.
"Oh, alright, get out. Oh, these unruly children!" Lady Huntington poo-hooed.

"LET'S SPLIT THIS WAX MUSEUM!" Ellie grabbed Millie's hand and they promptly walked out the door, but not until Millie stopped at a bowl of fruit.
"Wax fruit!" Millie smirked, "You cats must be putting us on!"


Millie and Ellie made a detour home to their favorite coffee house, The Pony Espresso, where coffee, chess, and their hipster crush Scruffy worked. Dave Brubeck was blasting on the hi-fi and a few scattered beats were sitting around reading poetry and sketching with plates of food by their side.

"Dig that grocery store rebop, Sister", Millie whispered to Ellie, "Is today Food Day?"
"Gadzooks", Ellie scratched her head, "Foodarama, like feast-a-rooni".
Scruffy ambled up to them as they sat down at a table.
"Aloha, chicks", Scruffy brought over a tray with two espressos, the way the girls liked it, hot and strong. They thought Scruffy was hot and strong, too. "Got some atomic bomb juice, on the house".

Millie grabbed a chess board from the book case in the corner as Ellie asked Scruffy, "What's with the food scene, Daddy? I don't savvy, Pappy".
Scruffy stroked his groovy goatee and said, "You don't dig, Baby? Today's Thanksgiving Day. We give thanks for giving and today I'm making with the banquet scene".
"Coolness! Lay it on me, Hepcat".
"Grab a plate and pile on some grub - it's on the pub".

The two girls ambled over listlessly to the buffet table. Ellie put two cubes of yam, three teaspoonfuls of cranberries and half a slice of pumpkin pie. Millie piled on a tablespoonful of bread pudding and half a slice of mince pie. She grabbed three pecans for later if she got hungry.
"I'm gonna get so stuffed", Ellie mumbled.
"I dig, like my plate is jammed like Grand Central Station", Millie peered at the meager helpings.

They put their food down and started playing chess. Scruffy walked up and said, "Happy Thanksgiving, chicks".
"Yeah, like Happy Thanks for Giving, Scruffy. You're the most and squares are toast".

An old math professor came in and started reciting some way out poetry about the Mayflower and Pocahontas being a real gone squaw and the pilgrims wearing those crazy toppers and the two girls felt warmer than they felt in months. The food grew cold on their plates but they couldn't guzzle their coffees fast enough! Like, Endsville.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Smell Check 2012

If I can toot my own horn I just want to say this is the fifth year I've written my annual "Smell Check" blog post, and the scents gets smellier and more adventurous with each passing year. Some designers have made it perfectly clear they don't give a hang whether this cologne makes you smell too girly, and I say fuck-eeennnn ay!

Christmas is coming like a money magnet on wheels so if you're looking for a way to spend your money on your man and make him smell good, too, here's my perfume smelly Two Cents:

L'Homme Libre (Yves Saint Laurent): "The Free Man" smells like citric attorney smell verging on raid insecticide. By the way I'd like to know who green-lighted the cityscape behind the model. It looks like Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy hit it. How about something a little more exciting and upbeat? You're only trying to sell 4 million units of mediocre odor.

Sexual Pour Homme (Michel Germain): Cheekily advertised as "Passion inducing aphrodisiacs", I didn't exactly org over the scent however I did find it rakishly impudent in its blending of honey, cinnamon, scandalwood (sic) and cardamom. I think I smelled cardamom (???). Tres sensuale. BTW, this smelled better than Sexual Fresh Pour Homme. Vive la difference.

Mont Blanc Legend (Mont Blanc): Mont Blanc is known for making quality pens and watches. Their fragrance is okay for guys who like to watch THE GAME, play POKER and smoke CIGARS and think Las Vegas, "Frank" and strippers are faboush. I will not elaborate.

Euphoria (Calvin Klein): One of Calvin's muskiest efforts yet, okay in my book, I like a good musk husk on me. The container kind of looks like a liquor flask, and hits flavorful notes of Chilled Sudachi, Ginger Pepper Cocktail, Raindrop Accord, Cedar Leaves, Black Basil, Sage, Brazilian Redwood, the ubiquitous Patchouli, Suede Note, and Amber. Whew! Calvin wins again, damn it.

Mark Ecko Blue (Mark Ecko): Cologne makers are rockin' the accent marks like I haven't seen since the hoary days of Heavy Metal. Ecko with an accent grave over the "O". What did I think of it? Stay away from bees when you wear this or you'll turn into a pin cushion.

Amber Pour Homme (Prada): Touted as "a rich, complex amber intermingles with the clean, fresh scent of barber's soap". I think I smelled some tabac, too, always a winner in my book. Macho without being numbskull obvious, I liked this a lot. Amber Pour Homme Intense, on the other hand, totally lost me because it added patchouli, bergamot and vanilla to the mix, smelling like an olfactory car crash. What a mess!

Burberry Touch (Burberry): This is the vanilla-cum-bubblegum scent that expands if you sweat, but I'm getting nauseous just thinking about it. Burberry make great clothes but their colognes are underwhelming.

Spicebomb (Viktor & Rolf): I don't care what this smells like, any cologne bottle shaped like a hand grenade about to explode looks awesome. But if you want to be a baby about details, here goes: Bergamot, Grapefruit, Cinnamon Leaf, Pink Pepper, Lavandin, Chilli, Saffron, Elemi, Vetiver, Balsam Fir, Tobacco Accord, White Leather Accord. I don't even know what "Balsam Fir" or "Elemi" are supposed to smell like but I'd give this one a go anyway because leather and tobacco scents are on board. So am I!

Terre D'Hermes (Hermes): Hermes takes a break from making pony saddles and pocketbooks to give you this manly cologne. It smells like leather - what a surprise! - and burnt wood. If you're a fireman you'll either love it or it'll remind you of work. Back to the riding crop drawing board for you, Hermes.

Serge Noire (Serge Lutens): If I combined the finest smelling incense, the tastiest curry dinner and dynamite sex it would be Serge Noire. Even if you're not from Morocco you'll probably cave in to this musky Mediterranean melodrama.

My taste in colognes isn't for everyone, but even if you don't agree with my opinions always test a cologne before you buy them. A lot of people buy these things because they're popular, throwing caution to the winds as to whether they're actually nice to breathe in. Make a point of testing these things before you drop $75 on them. Sephora has the best testers and no irritating sales people breathing down your back (Hello, Macy's!) so you can make your own decisions. You'll be glad you did, Stinky.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Bittersweet Life (Korea, 2005)

"A Bittersweet Life" from Korea might very well be one of the most beautiful ultra-violent films ever made. The cinematography and art direction are so sumptuous while displaying scenes of painful violence are impressive in a weird way. Nevertheless, it is an excellent action film, the kind you just don't see very often anywhere.

Directed by Jee-woon Kim, A Bittersweet Life is a crime film that strides through different tones of romance and glamour before it descends into a maelstrom of brutality and torture. Byung-hun Lee stars as Kim Sun-Woo, a sort of clean-up man for a crime boss and casino owner named President Kang (played by Yeong-cheol Kim). Because of his close proximity to the inner cricle of President Kang, many of his peers are insanely jealous of him.

The trouble begins when Kang assigns Sun-woo the task of killing the man his mistress is having an affair with. Sun-woo not only doesn't carry out the task of killing the man but develops a crush on the girl himself. Although he doesn't proceed with romance he somehow enrages Kang with jealousy, who now has decided to take out his anger on Sun-woo instead.

What follows is an unrelenting stream of double-crosses, terrifying brutality and gunplay that builds and builds, culminating in a twenty-minute shootout at the nightclub. Beautiful but bloody as hell, what makes it even more bizarre is the introduction of a hitman who shows up out of nowhere just in time for the final scene. Weird!

The centerpiece of the film is the scene where Kang's goons beat the crap out of Sun-woo and then in the dead of night during a thunderstorm bury him alive under six feet of slimy mud. After a miraculous dig back up to terra firma, the gang are sitting there waiting for him so they can finish him off in a dingy werehouse. They don't: Sun-woo's escape scene might be one of the most exciting action scenes I've ever seen and has to be seen to be believed!

The ending to the film is pretty strange and almost felt like a cop-out and has been talked about among the movie's fans over and over again. I'll let you be the judge of it, but at any rate "A Bitterseet Life" is one of the best action films ever made and Byung-hun Lee delivers an outstanding performance.


Robert Altman may no longer be with us but as long as films like "The Anniversary Party" are being made his spirit lives on. Acted, written and directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming, the film is a sharp and vicious satire about boorish Hollywood lifestylers. The anniversary party is for a newly reunited couple who are celebrating a mere six years of unstable marriage together.

Just like the best Robert Altman film there's lots of guest stars from Kevin Kline to Parker Posey to Jennifer Beals, the party bitch to Jane Adams from "Happiness" with surprise appearance from Phoebe Cates (who almost takes the film) to Gwynneth Paltrow, who plays the hot young actress who's been cast as the Leigh character Cumming has written in his novel.

Leigh turns in her best performance ever and Cumming is brilliant, especially in the bizarre ecstasy scene - the ecstasy referred to as "dolphins" with the partygoers responding by manically diving into the pool. It ain't a party until somebody tries to kill themselves and John C. Reilly is the unlucky bastard that tries it. There isn't a single false note in this picture and I really wish I could see it again right now.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Rubber and Leather T Chronicles

When you’re discussing fashion you don’t hear the word “mystery” come up very often, but if there was any way to describe my sense of style in the mid-Seventies it was pretty mysterious. I was the kid in high school who wore a leather jacket and jeans on Monday, suit and tie on Tuesday, and just to confound my teachers and classmates wear an industrial shop apron the next. And we didn’t have a shop class in my school!

While my dress sense came off a little confused, it was more eclectic than anything, a teenager’s refusal to be categorized and filed away in the social index of teen cliques.

It was 1976 and the era of glam rock was slowly fading away, my elephant flares and fluorescent six-inch heeled platforms losing their spark. I was looking for something different, and it came in the form of the new phenomenon coming from the United Kingdom: Punk Rock.

I saw exciting pictures of The Sex Pistols and their wild fashions, featuring ripped t-shirts held together by safety pins, tartan bondage pants with buckled straps, and those three-inch soled brothel creepers (again with the elevated footwear!). Since my twentieth birthday was approaching my father asked me what I wanted for a gift, and I asked for a plane ticket to London. After all, it was Bicentennial Summer in America, so what better way to celebrate than to visit our forefathers?

I read that The Sex Pistols had their clothes supplied from a boutique called “Sex” on King’s Row in Chelsea. I made it one of my first destinations for cool rock wear, something to replace my now-archaic Gary Glitter togs.

The “Sex” staff looked pretty wild but so classically British (i.e. very polite) like Jordan, who was great. She introduced me to the head designer and co-owner of the shop, Vivienne Westwood. Ms. Westwood was a very small, delicate woman with short, white hair spiked up high dressed in black leather trousers. She was one of the nicest and friendliest ladies I’ve ever met; for all her punk appearance she was absolutely charming and easygoing, no attitude whatsoever.

I spun around in circles in Malcolm (Maclaren) and Vivienne’s shop looking for something I could wear which would stand out anywhere, especially back home in America. Decisions, decisions!

Would it be the “Cambridge Rapist” t-shirt? No, not my style. Would it be the one with the two gay porn cowboys in a clutch? No, nyet, nope. One last look before I give up, and there it was: the most amazing thing I saw in “SEX”: a black leather t-shirt.

The black leather t-shirt was made of cowhide, not lamb or pig skin, and had thick metal zippers on both sides to help slide the thing on. Jordan recommended I put baby powder inside the shirt to make it even to slide in. One try and I knew I found my Vivienne Westwood original.

In addition to the leather t-shirt I also bought a great silver rubber t-shirt, also awesome, and both sporting the immortal pink label with “SEX” written in big black letters. What becomes a legend most? Clothes like these.

I wore these shirts at the two Sex Pistols shows I attended (the leather at an all-nighter at Islington Screen On The Green and the rubber at The 100 Club). I met Malcolm and tried to get him interested in a band I knew from LA, but he politely declined. They were called The Motels, so I think things worked out well for them, anyway. I also saw Vivienne, who remembered me and noted my new acquisition from her store.

Those days were about so much more than just punk rock: I look back on that summer of leaving my teenage years and entering adulthood with my leather “SEX” original. Thanks, Vivienne. By the way, I still have the shirt and I also now design my own rock clothes, all fabrics, leather a specialty.


High Heel Realness: Recently I drove to Lucha Va Voom from the wilds of Hollywood to Downtown LA on a Friday night, the only catch being that I wore my new Fluevog Prince George boots that sport 4-inch heels! It was a little scary, not just because traffic was so heavy but that I never drove in heels before. It was a real acid test, but I learned a lot from the experience.

When driving in high heels your heel is already in an elevated position with the sole of your foot bearing down on the accelerator. Just as you walk slowly and carefully in heels you should also be delicate in the application of your sole on the gas pedal. In other words, don't stomp it unless you want to get killed!

The foot should never stray too far away between the accelerator and the brake pedals, because once you get lost it's going to be a bitch getting that grand funk boot back in position. God forbid it could even get caught between both pedals, in which case you need to decide what kind of flowers do you want over your grave, roses or tulips?

Driving in heels should be approached as some kind of fine art, attempted with sensitivity and finesse, and even getting in touch with your feminine side.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Jim Steranko

This year’s annual Scorpio birthday tribute goes out to comics legend Jim Steranko. Along with Neal Adams, Steranko brought a maturity to comics in the late Sixties that completely changed the way people saw comic books, Adams with DC’s Deadman in Strange Adventures comics and Steranko in Marvel’s Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jim Steranko brought graphic style in a medium that was still mostly stuck in exaggerated, cartoony caricatures. Steranko’s art style brought comics into the Swinging Sixties, incorporating elements of Pop Art, colorful psychedelia, and cinematic images mostly influenced by Mario Bava films (ref. Black Sabbath, Danger: Diabolik, Blood and Black Lace, etc.).

A Jim Steranko comic book cover leapt off the stands every month; no other comic on the newsstand even looked like his or even came close. Steranko’s first work for Marvel was Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., a poor cash-in on the James Bond spy movie craze featuring a post-war Sgt. Fury with a few of his Howling Commandos on board (Dum Dum Dugan and Gabe Jones). The series was barely breathing oxygen providing support to the superior Doctor Strange in Strange Tales Comics. Steranko originally drew layouts for Jack Kirby in the series but eventually took over the art reins, then taking over the writing reins from Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, gaining complete control over the series and taking it places not seen in comics at the time.

One of the best examples of Steranko’s graphic genius is the legendary cover to Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4, often imitated to the point of even The Simpsons comics doing a tribute to the cover. In addition to Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Steranko blew minds with his work on Captain America, X-Men, and a cover for The Incredible Hulk that has to be seen to be believed!

A new Steranko comic release in 1967-68 was as eagerly anticipated as a new Beatles single, in that it heralded an exciting new way of seeing things. A lot of other kids must have agreed with me because they were some of the fastest selling comics to fly off the stands. It took me years to score Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 because it instantly sold out on release.

Jim Steranko, born November 5, 1938 in Reading, Pennsylvania, grew up working in carnivals as a fire-eater, magician, and later resorted to burglary. He also got heavily into playing guitar in various local bands. After a period of commercial art, Steranko moved over to illustrating several short-lived superhero series for Harvey Comics.

Steranko’s legendary work for Marvel gave him artistic control that included splash pages in the middle and end of the comic, sometimes even taking up two pages, unheard of at the time. He also colored his own comics, a first at the time. All this artistic freedom eventually came to a head when Marvel big kahuna Stan Lee began heavily editing Steranko’s previously untampered work,creating major friction between the two men.

Steranko’s next move was to start his own publishing company Supergraphics, which produced the Steranko History of Comics in 1972, one of the earliest academic studies on the history of comics. By the 1980’s he published Prevue Magazine, an aggressively heterosexual movie magazine that always managed to plug in a few photos of Sybil Danning and Steranko clutching some hot, new young blonde action movie starlet.

Jim Steranko was inducted to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2006, and continues to this day to be a major influence in comics art. Like a Sam Fuller film, Henry Moore sculpture, or Captain Beefheart album, once you’ve seen a Jim Steranko comic you know you’ve seen something incomparable and unforgettable.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Batman Por Vida

In his autobiography “Back To The Batcave” Adam West remarked that the three pop culture phenomena of the Sixties in America were “Bond, Beatles and Batman”. While I never engrossed myself in the marketing of the first two icons I always had room for buying all the 1966-era Batman stuff I could get my hands on.

A major factor in the Batman TV show’s success can be attributed to the way it was so deeply entrenched in the sonic boom of Sixties teen culture. Villains like The Joker and The Riddler had gang molls that looked more like go-go dancers than Virginia Hill, wriggling like they just jumped out of their discotheque cage, The Batmobile was Kustom Kar Kulture at its wildest, and Batman himself hit the discotheques in an early episode doing a bastardized Watusi called “The Batusi”. Batman showcased more teen hipness than Patty Duke, Gidget, Dobie Gillis and every teen TV show combined. The only show to match it for teenage grooviness was The Munsters, but Batman had one thing The Munsters didn’t have – COLOR.

No matter who the villain was – Penguin, Riddler, Joker, etc. – they never dressed in black, foregoing it for comic book shades of purple, green and hemorrhage red. Batman’s cape and cowl was a cool midnight blue, a visual respite from the dreary black rubber nightmare he’s been draped in for the past twenty years. Next to G.I. Joe no other toy captured my imagination more in the Sixties.

I stayed away from textile based souvenirs like sweatshirts and towels and focused more on the vinyl-based toy media. There was the Batman soaky, a figurine that held bubble bath for dirty kids, the Ideal hand puppet that eerily resembled Adam West, or the vinyl Batman wallet with the brilliant Carmine Infantino artwork. There was the Colorforms art board where you could move plastic cut-outs of the Dynamic Duo around, and the great lunch box which shows Batman and Robin fighting the nefarious Penguin.

Then there were all the paperback cash-ins, some were silver age reprints and some were cheap novelizations. There was the 3D comic book, again with The Penguin seen fighting them (what’s the deal with The Penguin?). I also owned the View Master of Batman, a portable slide show you could watch, the series showing stills from the great Catwoman episode.

There were all the cool exploitation records I had, like the 45 rpm of The Spotlights rockin’ out on Batman & Robin, written, performed and produced by Leon Russell. There was the “Jan & Dean Meet Barman” album, which transposed Gotham City over Surf City (big surprise!).

Thirty years after the Sixties Batman craze died out Bruce Timm, a former animator from the Ralph Bakshi Animation studio (New Adventures of Mighty Mouse) helmed the Animated Adventures of Batman in 1996 for Fox Television and a whole new onslaught of great Batman merchandise returned. The artwork and designs were far more stylish than its earlier predecessor due to Timm’s brilliant eye for design and excellent makeover of tired and long-forgotten villains (Scarecrow, Clayface, Poison Ivy) and short-lived heroes (The Demon, The Creeper, etc.).

It was back to the toy store in the Nineties to grab all this awesome swag, which included cool figurines, a Bat signal night light, toy Batmobile and Batgirl motorcycle, plus a new Nineties soaky and Nineties lunch box. I hit the Warner Bros. store on an almost weekly basis to catch the latest merch on Batman, The Joker, Harley Quinn, and all the rest.

The ultimate book on this merchandising craze that’s spanned several decades is “Batman Collected” by Chip Kidd, (Watson-Guptil), an eye-popping collection of images and details that doesn’t leave any stone unturned on all things Batman.

There are basically two kinds of toy collectors out there: one, the kind that want bragging rights for owning a collector's item, and two, the kind that love their toys and treasure the memories that they bring. I’ve only acquired the things I really can’t live without and enjoy looking at day after day. Happiness can’t be bought but it can bring a few smiles now and then.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Man Of The Year (Brazil, 2003)

The Man Of The Year, aka O Homem Do Ano, is a remarkable film that’s equal parts crime melodrama, political satire and Brazilian erotica seamlessly combined by director Jose Henrique Fonseca. Murilo Benicio delivers an electrifying performance that stays in the memory long after the film’s bizarre climax.

Man Of The Year is the story of Maiquel, a Brazilian dude who loses a bet and pays the price by having his hair dyed bright blonde, embarrassing to his circle of pals because it makes him “look gay”. The penalty backfires because Cledir (Claudia Abreu), the colorist at the beauty salon is a hot babe and hooks up with him.

Returning to the bar where his boys hang out to show off his new locks, everybody gets a good laugh except for asshole Suel, who won the bet but resents Maiquel’s cool attitude. The next day Maiquel evens the score unfairly by shooting Suel in the back on a deserted street, the only witness to the murder being Suel’s teenage girlfriend Erica (Natalia Lage).

Suel was such a scumbag and neighborhood terror that the police refuse to take Maiquel in even after he confesses to the murder, commending him by sating “Good work taking the scum off the streets”. Neighbors and local merchants leave food and gifts at his doorstep, the ultimate gift being a pot bellied piglet Maiquel names “Bill Clinton”.

Things get complicated when Erica shows up at his door needing a place to stay now that her thug boyfriend is dead. Erica is a steaming mass of budding nubile sexuality, staying at Maiquel’s crib and putting a cramp on Cledir’s play time with Maiquel. Cledir wants to marry Maiquel but Erica is mentally more in Maiquel’s league, showering with the door open and playing with the pig, who Cledir resents.

Maiquel caves in and marries Cledir (with Erica sulking in the background), getting a job at the local pet store. His toothache sends him to Dr. Carvalho (Jorge Doria), a dentist who fixes his teeth for free for killing that black scum Suel and makes a bizarre proposal during the dental operation.

Dr. Carvalho and his businessmen friends will pay him a huge salary if he continues killing street thugs that offend them, who not coincidentally are poor and black. Maiquel accepts and systematically killing every thug he’s contracted to kill, filling up his pockets with more money than he’s ever seen. Cledir tightens the screws on Maiquel to give her a baby and kick Erica out.

Maiquel gives her the baby she’s wanted but Erica stays, banging Maiquel when the missus is away. Meanwhile Suel’s gangsta pals get their revenge by waxing each of Maiquel’s friends one by one. The trail of blood continues when Maiquel accidentally kills Cledir shortly after his birthday.

At first Erica is remorseless about dumping Cledir’s body but finally cracks and goes to church to repent for her sins. No longer following thugs, she’s now a disciple of a young, good-looking priest. Maiquel promptly beats him up. Losing Bill Clinton, Cledir, Erica and all his old buddies from the violence that he started, he finally decides to end the trail of blood by killing off the businessmen’s committee that put him up to the hit man job he grew sick of.

The film ends with Maiquel stripping the hair color worn like a phony halo and returns to his black hair color, leaving town and the deaths that haunted him behind.

Man Of The Year is based on a novel called O Matador by Patricia Melo and never gets boring. The screenplay has deft touches of sexuality, humor and menace. Breno Silveira’s cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, making even the most grubby and grimy Brazilian slum look like a colorful picture postcard. If you like wild movies with guns, girls and cute pigs that eat shoes then Man Of The Year will make you smile.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

YA Noir: Teenage Wasteland Lit

One of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made in reading lately is an increase of roman noir elements in Young Adult (YA) novels. Although they’re lacking in the familiar femme fatale theme commonly used in noir, these books nevertheless play the same old themes – crime, paranoia, and soul-wrenching guilt - once mined by such noir masters as Jim Thompson, David Goodis, and Cornell Woolrich.

If someone can lay claim to being the originator of this style it would be S.E. Hinton, author of teen classics The Outsiders, Rumblefish, and That Was Then, This Is Now. Rumble Fish was a cool movie that looked a lot like Robert Frank’s The Americans and had Mickey Rourke perfecting his Richard Hell impersonation with Tom Waits doing a Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe routine, whilst listening to Wall Of Voodoo and The Police jamming on the soundtrack…very new wave…totally Eighties. Then there’s the book.

S.E. Hinton writes more like a noir writer than a YA one, complete with flashbacks, delusional madness and death. Her uncanny ability to get into a teenage boy’s mind and do so with intensive insight is nothing short of remarkable.

Rumble Fish was written in the Seventies so I imagine more of a burned-out Motorcycle Boy fried by too many Boones Farm empties, dozens of Testors glue tubes, and scratchy Steppenwolf records. Whichever spin you put on Rumble Fish it’s one of the best tomes in the Teenage Wasteland bookshelf.

That Was Then, This Is Now is a coming of age story that's equal parts "The Hustler", "Rumble Fish" and the Jack Kerouac-Neal Cassady bromance legends. Two punks grow up = one goes straight, the other gets crookeder, the story's been told many times before. But S.E. Hinton gives it a fresh spin setting it in Vietnam War-era hippiedom so you get psychedelic painted Volkswagen buses and Roger Corman-style drug den crash pads. As is the case in all noir books everything explodes at the end because hip kids never win and squares always spin.

Another major voice in YA noir is the late Robert Cormier, whose tales of teenage despair are even darker, so much so that several of his books have been banned from school libraries for their bleak vision of youth gone mad. His most famous work was The Chocolate War, but my favorite work of his is Tenderness.

Tenderness might well be the pinnacle of YA Noir with Robert Cormier holding court as its master. An amazing work, it's the story of a lovesick teen runaway who stalks an unrepentant teenage serial killer with dreamboat looks after he's sprung from juvie. Ironically they met several years previously when she caught him nuzzling a girl who was about to be his next kill.

Cormier's work is extremely dark and complex. You don't need to be a pimple popper to dig this genius murder story, in fact, calling Cormier a YA writer is a lot like calling Cornell Woolrich a crime writer. Also recommended is a strange novel called Heroes, about a teenage war veteran (in by 16, out by 18) with a disfigured face who returns to his hometown stalking the pro-war motivational speaker that talked him into enlisting and stole his girlfriend in the process, with the intention of killing him. Crazy as hell!

More famous examples of the YA Noir genre would be Paranoid Park written by Blake Nelson and directed into a motion picture by Gus Van Sant. Paranoid Park is a brilliant YA noir about a skater boi from the 'burbs who accidentally kills a security guard at a railyard. The murder ironically creates a rite of passage making him question his existence, his values and everyone in his orbit. Tightly written with no room for chaff, this is the best noir I've read in ages and could teach those fedora wearing old farts a thing or two.

Also well known is Mysterious Skin written by Scott Heim and made into a motion picture by Gregg Araki. A flawed masterpiece that continuously treaded on fragile territory, sometimes making it through the high wire act and other times falling ass over elbows into the circus net below. The fragile territory is child molestation by a Little League coach with the aftermath as told by two different boys: Brian, who grows up somewhat asexual obsessed with UFOs and aliens, and Neil, a promiscuous teen hustler.

There's something kind of weird about calling a book like this beautiful but there are passages that are downright poetic and gorgeous. It's just that there are parts that will trouble many, like the fact that Neil the Hustler had homosexual urges prior to his molestation, so it's implied somewhat that he "wanted it". Maybe Mr. Heim thought this urge would somehow take him off the hook -but the whole idea is so shaky.

I actually bought right into the whole story until the last three pages when it's revealed that both boys engaged in a certain activity that no 8-year old would agree to without collapsing into spasms of hilarious laughter. The fact that it's told in such a drop dead serious and manipulative fashion - with Christmas carolers singing in the background, even! - turned the whole ending into an unintentional parody. It’s still a great book and worthy of your attention.

Older, less popular examples of YA Noir would be “Giveaway” by Steve Fisher, an absolutely brilliant Fifties noir about a teen runaway in Hollywood who falls in with an aging hustler, her daughter, and countless Vaudeville burnouts working the TV quiz show circuit.

“Giveaway” recalls Horace McCoy at his finest in depicting small-time chiselers seeking fame and fortune at the lowest rung in Hollywood. Corruption in the game show biz is in large supply here, too. The book's ironically timely in this age of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, and all the other migraine contest shows.

You’ll have fun guessing the thinly fictionalized locations in the book like Clifton’s Cafeteria, RKO/Desilu Studios, Sy Devore, Wallich's Music City, and the Hollywood-Highland Rexall Drugs. I’d say this is the best Steve Fisher novel, way better than “I Wake Up Screaming”. Highly recommended.

Then there’s The Fourth Angel by John Rechy, the toughest book about teenagers ever written. A pack of outcast teens dare each other to play vicious games with strangers they brutalize and degrade in a haunted house. The sexual lines are crossed and double-crossed by them. John Rechy outdid "City of Night" with this one, and that's saying a Hell of a lot!

While teen despair is nothing new these books serve up something extra-intense and daring to the show, and I don’t mean a bunch of B-movie vampires and werewolves falling in love. There’s a depth and maturity to these characters and the story they tell that’ll frighten all the grown-ups, case in point Mr. Cormier’s struggle to even get his books available to his audience. When literature poses that much of a threat to American society then it’s more vital and subversive than any punk rock record ever cranked out.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

No Excess Baggage

One of the cool benefits of working with Rebecca is the opportunity to create new things on the side. The focus this past month was on bags, different variations on them. This month alone we made four bags, and shown here are three of them.

Pictured above is a cargo bag, based on the All-Saints bag only enlarged and expanded for more items for loading. Actually, this bag is big enough to bear a load for a weekend’s trip anywhere. It’s made of crocodile-embossed cowhide leather, shown here dyed red. The same bag was made with dark blue dyed leather. Two interior pockets were sewn in for easy access to wallets, passports and cell phones.

Pictured above is a small accessories pouch for my iPhone. I use it to keep my phone charger, iHome music speaker and other things phone-related. It’s made of pleather (leatherette) from a pair of pants that a client left at our studio. The letters on the material was some sort of word jumble that looks like “SEX”.

Pictured below is a tote bag made of a fake reptile-textured cowhide with leopard spots. Again, two interior pockets were installed for easy access to the usual necessities of life. It’s based on a leather tote bag made by Ralph Lauren. This one really turns heads!

After a background of making wallets, purses and bags for Retail Slut, Tasty and Patricia Fields it’s cool to move up to fabricating large bags, almost suitcase-size and working on a larger scale. I’ve always enjoyed creating new things I can wear or use and fabricating these items and watching Rebecca and I use them has been pretty damn exciting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy New Year 5773

At this time of year the Jewish Holiday Season begins, inaugurated by the Jewish New Year, which is now 5773. Around this time I engage in thoughts both religious and secular, but as long as I’m discussing religion I want to talk about my favorite artist, Marc Chagall. The majority of Chagall’s timeless artwork is Jewish-based, mostly reflecting the streets of the European ghettos of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Chagall’s art style strikes an equal balance of fauvism, surrealism and naïve art that still presents a challenge to the viewer. The presence of animals in his painting, such as goats, chickens and cows is not necessarily intended for comic relief but is included because many homes in the pre-war shtetls (Jewish villages) had farms which housed these animals.

Most religious art is bound by tradition but Chagall’s depiction of religion is the freest ever painted, unencumbered by any pressure to follow reverence. While it isn’t irreverent by any means, there is a playfulness and humor that is absent in most religious work.

Whenever Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and its successive holidays come around I always look at my Chagall books and enjoy the works of a brilliant genius. His work transcends the folklore of any religion - if you’ve got eyes you gotta feel it.


I live in the heart of the Jewish hood on La Brea Avenue between a girls’ school and a wig store (heh!) and the school kids walk by under my 2nd floor window. It’s funny when I play my techno-swing records because a lot of them use clarinet, giving the music an almost klezmer-type sound. One day I was blasting out “Chambermaid Swing” by Parov Stelar, the lord high fixer of electro-swing, and I could hear a bunch of school kids hooping and hollering outside my window.

The Mojo Radio Gang - Parov Stelar

Who knew Jewish kids were into this Betty Boop swing shit? But it all fits, the music, the era, the culture, a lot of it has very Jewish roots (Afro too, of course, but this is really Jewish sounding stuff!). Just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things I played “The Mojo Radio Gang” by Stelar and I could still hear those crazy kids outside enjoying the music.

Princess Crocdile - Gry

After doing a little bit of research I discovered that electro-swing is pretty big in Europe, esp. in Britain and Germany, where they even have gigantic festivals dedicated to this hypnotic, insane dance music. Girls dress like Louise Brooks/Clara Bow flapperdoodle and guys look like old bootleggers, and it might all dress-up , but it doesn’t matter. The king of swing Parov Stelar looks like a male model so you don’t need to re-enact “The Sting”.

Chambermaid Swing - Parov Stelar

Just to raise the Betty Boop stakes some more I played “Princess Crocodile” by Gry, a bizarre ballad about a woman who travels through graveyards as a swing band of ghosts vamp on "Sweet Georgia Brown". By the way, the kids didn’t leave until I stopped playing all that crazy electro-swing. Never mind the lame American punk revival, electro-swing is the very next craze. The kids have spoken. Loudly!