Sunday, March 27, 2011
A quick one.
I had the good fortune to see the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in 1998 at a long shuttered club names Fat Daddy's, located on Boulder Highway. The club was a 21 and over club so this was a problem as I was 18 at the time. A friend of mine knew the owner, a guy named Chris Funk, and he put me in touch with him. it turned out that Chris was an avid taper of shows (bootlegger is what squares would call us) and he had missed the recent Morphine show at the Huntridge. I told him I had in fact recorded the show and ended up with a nice copy. He told me he'd sneak me into the Blues Explosion in exchange for a copy of the Morphine show. That seemed fair.
So Chris snuck me in through a back door and I found a nice spot to tape the show from. The Blues Explosion started off with 2 Kindsa Love and right in the middle of the song Jon Spencer calls out a guy standing right next to me for video taping, without even breaking stride. His exact words were "you betta turn that camera awff." The guy quickly did that, it was probably for his own good.
So after the show I waited around to get a poster signed by the Blues Explosion. I thought it was damn fine poster, replete with JFK assassination innuendo rendered in animation form. I went up to Mr. Judah Bauer and the guy had this to say to me: "So after you get this poster signed, how many Korn cd's do you think you can get for it" I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Apparently these guys had been backstage yelling at poor Chris Funk over the low quality of the alcohol they were supplied with.
I worked my way through the three guys that make up the Blues Explosion and it became apparent to me that just because a band is small time, playing small clubs, doesn't mean their incapable of acting like dicks. Which Jon Spencer and company most certainly are. But I can't begrudge only Spencer for that. Ronn Benway coined a term for when Michael Stipe treats you like a lesser being. Its called being "Stiped". Feel free to use that one freely. I'd like it to enter our lexicon, but it won't. It doesn't have the appeal of, I dunno, talking shit? or trash maybe?
For the record, when I met Stipe I wasn't Stiped. He was nice to me. But you know who is fully capable of Stipe-ing you? Perry Farrell. A friend of mine that worked at the Huntridge saw Porno For Pyros era Perry look at the label of a bottle of wine, blurt out "Oh this year (as in the wine's year of make) is shit" and throw the bottle against his dressing room wall. I guess if you wrote Jane Says you can hurl sub par bottle of wine. I guess that makes sense. Jane Says is a great song. Maybe one of the best to come out of the 80's.
Be good kids, and don't let anyone Stipe you.
Your non-Stiped friend, LMF
Friday, March 25, 2011
My friend Adam likes to throw what I call pop culture grenades in my lap then retreat. And maybe it speaks to the tick-like burrowing that bad pop music does to innocent bystanders and how that translates to commerce. I'm very much the old man next door who occasionally steps outside with his bathrobe sometimes regrettably agape, always wearing black socks with sandals, smelling of turkey soup and guessing how much a Spree scooter costs on the Price Is Right. My figurative lawn is my sanctity of musical travesty proof existence. And when I hear something like Rebecca Black's "Friday", my only course of action is to yell at someone to get off my lawn. Namely just the songs. But they won't and they don't and therein lies the prowess and cruel nature of pop music, both good and bad.
When something is popular for all the wrong reasons, like cancer or the NRA, then you know evil abounds and only then need to know how to exorcise the demons. I suppose what makes this song terrible is the refrain of "Friday, Friday, kicking it on Friday", adorned with copious amounts of auto tune. But consider that grown men write these songs before placing the blame on the mouthpiece. All those songs Avril and Brittany and Christina and now Rebecca assail your earholes with? All penned by men. Very wealthy men, who spend their money on furs and exotic cheeses and their time in clubs with other men who write for teenage girls.
But sweet Jesus, is this song terrible. And there's no glory in taking shots at a 13 year old girl, I'm sure she just wants her slice of the Fluff Pop pie, and its hers for the taking now. But now I find myself watching her video, along with the millions of other victims, and I'm still wondering what makes it so damn terrible. And all I can say to my friend that enlightened me to this unfortunate song is I hate you, I really hate you. Well I don hate him, he's just doing a variation of "wow, this stinks. Hey buddy, you gotta smell this." It's like he re-gifted something horrendous to me. Or passed along a disease that's not leaving my body for a few weeks. Oh it burns, it burns. There's no real moral or witty way to tie this one up grasshoppers, I think it was Abe Lincoln that said "When bad pop music is emitted from the phonograph, many things happen. An angel loses its wings. The Indian in those anti-littering commercials cries one additional tear. A man stuck in traffic in Los Angeles on the hottest day of the year finally snaps and goes on a rampage across the city where no one actually dies, except him and the Nazi, but everyone he meets is impacted for better or for worse. Wait that was Falling Down. Where was I...Oh right, but mostly, when bad pop music is created, everyone loses."
Oh it burns, it burns.
Monday, March 21, 2011
My friend Adam said I needed to be more topical. Ruminate about current situations and interests. That's not really what I do, but I got to thinking about Charlie Sheen and the wild interest in the man who seemed destined to live off the royalties of Hot Shots and Major League till the gods of horrendous tv programming smiled upon him and ushered him into the cosmos of hit television and further ascension into syndication. I'd like to tell you I have an explanation for why a show featuring Duckie from Pretty in Pink and Charlie struck such a cord with people. I just don't. Just like I'm puzzled at the continued interest in seeing a guy self-promote his self-implosion.
For me, the idea of rooting for Team Train Wreck lost a great deal of appeal a long time ago. I suppose you get older and the simplistic existence outshines the crash and burn, shimmer and fade collision course folks like Chuck find themselves on. When you're a young buck you think the great drinkers, risk takers, train dodgers are capturing the true essence of life. Grabbing their life bull by the horns and riding it till it bucks them. And maybe they all had a plan or the instinct to know that their own demons served them and served them well and they wouldn't have it any other way.
But I've come to realize that the true greats are the ones that are built to last. The hard to kill. Those that hunger to live. Guys like Chuck Berry, Keith, Jerry Lee Lewis, all the crotchety seniors of the world, my weight lifting 71 year old Uncle Vince, those are the people that merit a second thought. There's a fire in their bellies that keeps em going. All the rest, the Charlie's, the burn outs, it's all an empty story built on bottle rocket momentum, rapid acceleration leading into rapid combustion.
The real genius in all this is Jon Cryer (Duckie). He knows what he has, he knows a good thing when he sees it. And as great as 7 gram crack rocks and a (I'm not sure what the proper term for a whole bunch of prostitutes is, murder, gaggle, flock? Lets just settle on grip, keep it old school) a grip of prostitutes must be, gainful employment and not turning into a punch line seems so much more enticing. Not to discount the crack or the prostitutes, great men have sworn by both, and I'm sure they're both an equally great time. But i gotta say Duckie's playing it smart.
As for the whole "winning" business and what not. Something equally or more insane will come down the internet pike and you'll forget about Chuck and his "winning" attitude and his abysmal show. And then? Who knows. Who cares. I'm just glad Duckie has a job.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
A few months ago I was driving the street and noticed the lane to my immediate right was beginning to taper off, soon to merge with the lane I was in. No matter, I kept on keeping on. I didn't notice the hatchback family wagon that was apparently trying to speed ahead of me till the right lane was at a near end. The driver of this family wagon, now incensed that he failed to beat me to the next light, feels compelled to pull along side me while we both careen down the street, only then to roll down his window to convey his feelings about what he felt had transpired by extending his middle finger. But just one, because while he might suffer from road rage, he insists on keeping a least one hand remaining on the wheel. I could respect that, but both middle fingers would have really said to me "wow, he's really worked up".
I spotted an assortment of rosaries hanging from this man's rear view mirror. You could ascertain from this that the man: A. struggles with the enormous guilt gifted to him for being a Catholic, B. consults the lord prior to going batshit crazy about seemingly innocuous vehicular maneuvers, or the most likely C. Is driving his Grandmothers car, and thinks that while it might look cool when Lil Wayne wears a couple rosaries, he can't understand why Granny is always sitting around counting the beads on her rosaries when she could be doing whatever it is that the elderly like to do. You know, make turkey soup, talk about when bread was a nickel, how things would better if Nixon was still in office, things like that.
I took comfort in knowing that if Mad Max was driving with a fistful of rosaries, then he was a man of faith and thus, could weather the reciprocation of mankind's favorite go-to gesture when a situation arrises when you absolutely have to tell another human being to go fuck themselves in the shortest time possible. It is the closest equivalent to a red sheet in regards to contending with other bull drivers in the great motoring bullfight. So I did the obvious, I flipped him off.
Mad Max proceeds to speed ahead of me, then cut me off, then slam on his brakes. After putting his car in park, he gets outs of his car and reaches behind his back. I'd like to have thought he was reaching behind his back to give me directions to a bitching party, business venture he's excited about, or more likely in Las Vegas, pamphlets depicting REAL GIRLS DIRECTLY TO YOU!!!! Take out all the pesky business of getting out into the big bad world to commiserate and find your love, when you could just rent the girl of your dreams for, an hour? You stud you.
He reaches back only to pull out his right hand that had now been fashioned into a pistol. You know, middle finger's the barrel, another gesture of kindness that more or less conveys a message that says " I would very much like to kill you right now, but my glock is in my car, not my Grandmothers." Seeing how I had clearly decided to flip off the pissed off motorist that I day, I didn't wait to see if he might have a consolation weapon, perhaps a butterfly knife or molotov cocktail, so after he pulled out his fully loaded hand pistol, I swerved around him and sped off.
I was quite relieved to know this man wasn't carrying around a pistol this day. But at the same time, I felt I had been duped by Grannies rosary collection and it inadvertently had putting me in a real nasty situation. And it got me thinking that maybe those rosaries could be color coded to indicate just how strong your faith is, and where your convictions reside. Cause you know, the rosaries would lead me to believe that outside of the concealed indiscretions the church has been accused of, if you're rolling around with ol Jesus swinging from your rearview instead of a nice smelling little tree, or a pair of fuzzy dice, that you actually subscribe to that particular religions teachings. And you're not, you know actually on parole and driving your Grandmothers car.
Monday, March 7, 2011
(Disclaimer: I'm only writing this because a friend of mine asked me to as he found some sort of comedic relief in this matter. I guess you could call this a request, and the Beard takes requests. So now you know.)
A long time ago, in the land of Las Vegas, I befriended a drummer. We'll call him Ringo. Ringo and I had met in passing while I was shopping for metrosexual shoes at Aldo in the Desert Passage shops and Ringo was working a bicycle taxi, peddling drunken tourists around a faux-Saharan setting. We started talking and realized we both worshipped at the alter of Tom Waits and understood the value of Soul Coughing lying beyond their brief moments under the pop culture sun. Ringo told me that we was in fact a drummer, which I knew as Ringo had been a visible fixture of the Las Vegas music scene for sometime .
Ringo invited me to bring my upright bass to his house and maybe bring over a bunch of live records to listen to, so I brought damn near everything I could think of in my collection of rare records and thought nothing of leaving them with Ringo. Eventually, I started to see less of Ringo as our schedules differed and he found other musical ventures to involve himself with. I did however, leave some of my things, of both musical equipment and rare record nature, with Ringo. This was partially due to my regrettable superpower of procrastination but also Ringo had loaned some of the records to a local music writer with equally exquisite taste in music who made me fall in love with him when he played "Jockey Full Of Bourbon", easily one of Mr. Waits' finest recordings.
As time went on, I started to think it wise to gather my possessions from Ringo, so I called him up and he told me he was busy with a new band he was in and that hopefully he'd have some free time soon so I could get my stuff back. I asked him what the bands name was. He said the Killers. I said, "huh, I've heard of them". "Yeah", Ringo said? "You like them?" I said someone said they sounded like the Strokes. His response was wonderfully simple: "You dick".
Needless to say, the next time I called Ringo to retrieve my stuff, it was a little different in that Ringo had changed his number and his address. Sensing I was in the midst of a reaming at the hands of the man who would one day keep time on inescapable tracks begging inane questions like "Are we human, or are we dancer" or stating ponderous 4th grader prose like "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier", I thought to act quickly and get in touch with mine and Ringo's music writer buddy. The writer buddy told me to meet him at a pub where he played and he'd get in touch with Ringo for me.
This is more or less a breakdown of the sweet, succinct convo between the writer and Ringo, all from the writers end"
Writer: Hey Ringo babe (I guess when you get famous, a non-negotiable is that everyone calls you babe), I gotta ask you a question. Woah, Bono's doing what? Is that legal? Hmmm. Yeah, you're right, he did write Joshua Tree, I guess he can do whatever he wants. Well, you know the Irish, sometimes they don't wanna wear pants. Can't blame em, really. Well anyways, I got Luke here, and he's wondering if you can take a break from the euro trash hookers and cocaine to get an assistant to retrieve his stuff from your house Hmmm. I see. Yeah, hmmmm. Ok, I'll tell him. Later babe."
"Well, Ringo says he has no idea where your stuff is, and he's sorry for your loss".
I hit the roof and told the writer to tell Ringo I thought he was an asshole. I wasn't pushing a demo, a cookbook, a script, blue prints for a functional, affordable version of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. I just wanted my mother f'ing stuff back. Then the writer said something that absolutely floored me: "You know, you're kinda starting to bother and annoy Ringo".
Now you gotta realize, at this time, the Killers were inescapable. If you took a leak, Mr. Brightside wheezed out of the overhead speaker in the john. If you called the DMV, Somebody Told Me in muzak form assaulted your ears. I read that Island Records bought out the rights to many babies first cries and had All The Things I Have Done dubbed over them, yes the parents were compensated for the inconvenience. One time I went bowling with my brother, and though he was oblivious to my beef with Vegas' favorite sons, he kept leaning over to me and whispering in my ear "Hey man, I got soul, but I ain't a soldier". Around the fifth time I had to tell him to knock the shit off. I started to theorize that Jesus had joined the band and was manning the keyboards and singing background vocals as their omnipresence was undeniable. I awaited the day when I opened Rolling Stone to read the band had cured herpes and was working on leprosy.
In my darkest stage, I contemplated going to a Killers show with a sign reading "Ringo, give me my f'ing stuff back". Well not really, I'd have to buy a ticket to their show, and I wouldn't do that, I'd like to. And honestly, I think I shine my brightest when I'm pushed to the edge. Funny thing is, even when you're right in life, sometimes you're wrong. Me? I'm right baby. A thousand percent. Like my friend Ronn Benway said "Yeah, he's in the Killers, but he's still just a human in a band. That's it. What makes him better than you?" But from the average perspective, I'm embittered and holding onto a grudge. And you know, I have a gold medal in grudge holding. I water my grudges till they become mighty oak trees of disdain. Not something I'm proud of dear reader, really.
I eventually managed to chop my down my tree of disdain and embitterment. I tracked down some of the things Ringo took from me ( not from Ringo, mind you, I found them elsewhere) and in my mind, it evened things out. So in a sense, I shed the resentment about the stuff and can now objectively dislike Ringo's band on the premise that their core audience is mid-teen girls and all their gear has been beddazled.
And as a parting gift reader consider this: Sometimes in life a strange, inexplicable tear in the universe occurs and you find yourself on the opposite fence of sanity, leaning more towards "Here's Johnny" Jack from the Shining and less towards the typical you. And the only thing that placed you there was your insistence on maintaining principles. Its a strange, strange reversal of the roles when the magnanimous and the mild mannered morph into the calloused and the cold as a result of assholes like Ringo. But like the guy in Crowded House says "don't let them win". Well, he says that after he says hey now, hey how a whole bunch of times, but you get the idea. Don't let the future pop stars of the world steal your sunshine, baby. Vegas' favorite sons are Seigfried and Roy, not those other sonsabitches.