Thursday, December 20, 2007

Squeaky's Circus

from the Andy Devine's "Andy's Gang." Just watch it. But only if you're cool...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

...The Snow Turned Into Rain

Dan Fogelberg died today. Fogelberg is a great songwriter. Often ridiculed for being too soft rock ("why don't you try penning "Longer", Leary?), he could rock with the best of the 70s crowd. Here's a favorite of mine; I've still got the 45: The Language of Love.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This Just In: Bush Still Full of Shit

Why won't he shut his fucking mouth?

Oh, yeah, I remember -- he hates America.

As Costanza says, "It's not a lie if you believe it."

He believes it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


From his TV programme, Stuff. I remember PBS used to show episodes of one of his series, which I very much enjoyed.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Fixx - One Thing Leads To Another

This song survived the eighties. I dare say it's timeless. Cy Curnin certainly cut a bowie-like swath through their videos, most of all in this one.

Evel Dead

Evel Knievel died today. I had one of these toys as a kid. It was awesome. I can still feel that power generating in the wind-up of his wheel. He was a hero and he wore a white jumpsuit. Sort of Like Charlie's Angels.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Toys for the Children of the Damned #1

Be the first kid on your block with the creepiest f-ing toy of the season!

Season in Hell's Greeting,


Saturday, November 10, 2007

The White Negro Splits

Norman Mailer died. You know, Mailer -- what else is there to say? He was here in Portland last year at our literary festival called "Wordstock." I started to write an article for a contest whose winner got to meet Mailer. I wrote like a paragraph, then never got around to it. I think it was about stabbing Mailer. I thought it was funny. I've got a few of his books. Yeah, I should really get around to reading them.

Anyway, he's a GIANT of contemporary literature. Shakespeare with a stadium pretzel. Ran for mayor of NY once, too. Here's his obit from the New York Times:

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Abandoned Columns 1.0: Dispatches from the 202 2.0

The conclusion of my two episode column "Dispatches from the 202":


Soundtrack: “Possession” by Elvis Costello & the Attractions

You lack lust/You’re so lackluster
Is that all the strength you can muster?
At first I could only find a live version of it on my iPod when I did a search. Maybe I didn’t have the original. Though I thought I had all the reissues. Maybe it’s from Taking Liberties. So I looked it up on It’s on Get Happy, which I have. Turns out it was spelled with only three esses. I mean, huh huh, it’s crazy, you know…

“Love for Tender.” Musically, it’s built for the classic Costello dance. The jerky limb jutting.

Had my first haircut in Sellwood on Sunday. In my bathroom. I cut my own hair. Obviously. That should be part of my official bio:

Developer of Wet-Nap Suit
Namedrops Susan Lucci
Owns extensive Nikki Sudden Collection July 19 1956 - March 26 2006
Dreams in Spectracolor

and then…

Cuts own hair .

Soundtrack: “Fox in the Snow” by Belle & Sebastian

This morning I finally learned what Chrissie Hynde is singing in “Brass Pocket” – the line goes “Been driving, Detroit leaning.” I think the Detroit Lean is comparable to the Bensonhurst Slouch. Hynde said she wasn’t crazy about the song because the lines are too obscure.

“The pain of being a hopeless unbeliever.”
Wow! Well, it was a great run. A highly successfull column. It'll be out in book form from St. Martin's Press on the fifth...of never! Ha, ha... oh, Johnny Mathis!

Abandoned Columns 1.0: Dispatches from the 202 1.0

I've started and stopped a number of written columns in my day -- they're all the same, but with different names. Maybe I began each one with a certain set of parameters I meant to follow, but that never happened. I write one way and one way only -- my way, jack! Here's one of them


I flip through my LPs looking for something to help me write. I’ve already got a beer, an 18 oz Shakespeare Stout, but music’s always the real trigger when I want to write.

I’ve chosen Lou Reed’s Mistrial. So don’t expect much. I still think it’s got some great songs, but it was 1986, when even the best succumbed to crappy staccato bass lines and the worst of what a saxophone is capable of. This was clearly not the Ronnie Ross riffs of “Walk on the Wild Side”, but a sound more akin to Eric Carmen’s post-Raspberries dross.

There’s also the electronic percussion. The bane of mediocre Top 40 during the Reagan-Bush years. While it’s great for Kraftwerk, it’s not so hot for Reed. Who trades in Michael Suchorsky for a drum machine?

(If the crickets weren’t so loud, I could hear my sister-in-law rolling her eyes.)

As I write this, however, I’m paying very little attention to the album. Except when I had to turn it over. The same songs that stuck out 20 years ago are still the only ones registering with me tonight. Reed did follow-up this fiasco with New York three years later, returning to his post as statesman for the dark edge of the light of New York. He’s been churning out great music since.

20 years ago, I was still living on Long Island, from whence Lou Reed too hailed. Freeport, New York’s where he’s from. I did a little student teaching there back in the early 90s. Reed had long excised himself from those streets by then. Flavor Flav’s from there too. Well, that’s all I got.

But the last track on Mistrial is pretty good. “Tell it to Your Heart.” I wonder if there’s a live version of it. That friggin’ production stinks!

Wait, I listened to it again. It’s great. It even rises above those lousy synsonic dums. Beautiful words. Fuck you, Lou Reed.

Hey, there is a live version of it. I just downloaded it from iTunes. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that I’m just sitting here drinking a beer and listening to music. The writing is tertiary. Which is a problem I should work on.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sesame Street - How Milk Is Made

Hey, Cow, I see you now... A pretty song about an uneasy process towards dunking my cookies. Good times? Great times!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Incidents on Long Island 1.0

The Malibu Invite. That's Malibu in Lido Beach and the West End of Long Island. Shit, I used to spend a lot of time out there, in Oceanside and Long Beach. But I only went to Malibu a few times. This is from I think maybe 1992, around the last time I would have gone. I'm sure I didn't actually use this invite, but got picked out of a hat for signing one of their cards a previous time I'd gone. It was a far drive from my house and I've never been a drinker/driver type (unlike all you swell and capable drunks out there!)

What was Malibu? Just a club like any other club on the Island in the 80s and 90s. With much more of a "new wave" bent than say Spit or Industry. Are those places still there? WLIR and then WDRE promoted the club a lot. I might have even seen a show there once. All the usuals of those various generation played there at some point: Squeeze, Matthew Sweet... I don't know -- Blancmange, maybe?

I was always intrigued with going to clubs, but rarely did, deciding that listening to music at home was always, and is still always, preferable.

But I've always loved a party!

Hey, did WLIR hold their Party Out of Bounds there? Psaur?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Some Imagination, Huh?"

I'm back! Probably didn't even think I was gone. Just thought I was being sloth-like again. Well, I was both.

Zee honeymoon is over! (vacation-wise, at least). Where've I been? Disneyland, you cheerless jackass! My wife and I drove down to Anaheim then back up through San Francisco, where we stayed for a few days as well.

Here I am, levitated by sheer joy, in front of the Toon Town library (curiously, it wasn't open...)

What else did I do? Why, the happiest frigging stuff on earth!

Now back to my Optimator Spaten. Gotta catch up -- there's no alcohol in Disneyland (crap, I had to walk 100 feet over to Downtown Disney for some booze!)

Friday, July 27, 2007

You Got No Time for the Messenger

I've never consciously listened to Spoon before, for whatever reason. But holy shit what a song! Extraordinarily uplifting! You got no fear of the underdog, that's why you will not survive." Greatest line in rock since the Feebs' "Now that they've got their hands on you, do you think there's anything they wouldn't do" from "Rock is Dumb." It's got a touch of Thin Lizzy. And well-recorded handclaps!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Blogger and the Deftly-Marketed Pt. 2

Sometime amidst the gaggle of muggles and possible nargles at Borders at midnight, the color Silver was called and Urn picked up her copy of "...The Deathly Hallows."

We got there around 9:30pm, and I immediately made a bee-line for the record department. Unfortunately, Potter-related activities were taking place (a spelling bee and of course the Great Snape Debate). So it was a bit loud and there were the local gentry in the aisles, like this guy I spotted near the True Crime section:

Also, the store record dept. has the most horrendously bright spot-lighting which left me itchy and dripping cherry-sized beads of sweat on a Buffy Saint-Marie anthology.

So while I imagined a midnight browse through a book store would be blessed, I soon found myself muttering at all the young jackanapes, battery-powered wands twinkling, whizzing past me by the Pop/Rock Music Bio shelves.

Oh well. Still, it was a literary event, and that was enough for me. A few minutes before midnight, the store employees rolled out the unopened boxes of the book.

Some mild hooting and wooing followed, but the customers emitted only a low-level of vocal enthusiasm. So Urn's reading the book now (last night read from 12:30am-4:00am, then 9:30am-1:30pm, and now from 9:30pm until she finishes or falls asleep).
I mean, it's not like she can leave the house again before she finishes it -- some ill-mannered Deatheater or uncultured muggle might spoil the ending for her!
To all Harry Potter fans, enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Blogger and the Deftly-Marketed Pt. 1

So tonight I'm going down to Borders for the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Not on my own! Jesus Christ, no! Going with Urn and Turv, the true fans. Should be quite an event. Like Halloween, I suspect, absent a certain nostalgia. Mostly, I'm excited about being at a bookstore at midnight. Especially a bookstore with a record section. Mmmm.

We saw the 5th movie twice last week. It was good. I joked that I was anticipating the x-rated rip-off, "Hairy Twatter and the Odor of the Penis." Well, it was funny the first time I said. Maybe it was the way I said it. Uh, yeah.

Well, a few more cups of coffee and off we go... dominus vobiscum! Or some such spell!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Elevator to Space

Holy shit! Have you ever heard about this? I guess the idea's been around since the 60s, but somehow I've never come across, nor even considered it. But I love it! Let's do it, America! Here's more!

Monday, July 16, 2007


Mackenzie Philips on the Jackson Variety Show (1977). She and the 5 sing "Junk Food Junkie". Hmm. Remember this song? I do. Maybe life wasn't better back then, but things were.

Left is Right and I Love You

A song with signs from The Electric Company. You can really hear the New York when the kids sing "All."

Let's Learn About Seven

Sesame Street's "The Alligator King." It's how I learned about seven.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Follow These Blogs

The Feeb has launched his new blog Follow the Sound. The Feeb loves music the way you should if you could. And maybe you do, or you will. It's the best music blog ever.

For more right-on essaying on music (and so much more), you must read MOoT's A Man Out of Time. Marcus, Meltzer, MOoT... the finest in contemporary music journalism!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The classic animated film by the late Ryan Larkin. I was watching a documentary about him this morning called "Alter Egos" on community television. I'd seen it a few years ago, and just chanced on it today. Public access is the best/worst thing on TV. Anyhow, I learned that Larkin died this past St. Valentine's Day. His story is worth researching: the artist turns to cocaine, turns his back on the industry, ends of panhandling in Toronto for years, and is then rediscovered. Oh, and dies. As far as animation goes, one could not unreasonable consider him a genius. Watch!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


A man described as "clearly deranged" attempted to jump on the Popemobile yesterday. He missed. And was taken down by a number of suits and the police.

Pope Benedict doesn't seem to notice -- no sign of Christian forgiveness or compassion as the overfervent fan (maybe he just wanted a kiss) is pummeled by his bodyguards.

Jesus had apostles. The pope had stooges. Well, sign of the times, I guess...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Real Rock is Back!

Shirtless. Drunk. 7:40pm. Wolfmother on the stereo.

You know that you're a woman
You got to be a woman
I got the feeling of love

What's to be written after that? If it was 1988, I would've thought the great Paulie V. wrote it. But, no, it was Wolfmother. I picked up their debut today. It's f-ing great. But maybe it sucks as well. The cover is a Frazetta painting. Yeah, it's f-ing great!

I just sauntered home from the Muddy Rudder, a new pub down the road from me. Guinness on nitro. Nitro! I don't know. It tasted like every other Guinness I've had. Meaning fantastic.

Friday night. The future Mrs. is out at her parents, which would explain the Wolfmother blasting out into the Southeast Portland evening...

Oh, apparently, yr not supposed to brush yr teeth with toothpaste from China. Word from the FDA -- it may contain anti-freeze. Sounds like another urban legend in the making. Still, I checked my toothpaste (I was a bit concerned since I got it at the Dollar Store. No worries -- it's from Jersey. Hmmm...

Subscribed to the New York Observer. I like the Culture section. I love New York. Moreso since I left. I don't know. I'm haunted by a certain unattainable nostalgia of it -- Ezra Jack Keats books, Sesame Street short films, Uncle Genie's Carvel Shop... (Hey, did you hear that Tom Carvel's neice thinks her uncle was murdered? Maybe Cupie the Chocolate Nut did it!)

More Carvel here!

And Captain Carvel here!

Shit. Fucking Rex Reed writes for it! Rex Reed! Talk about flashbacks! 'Member when he was in Superman?

Are you God? Are you Wad? Are you Bill?

Also, I've been reading Teenage Hipster in the Modern World, a collection of articles by New York (among other publications) scribe Mark Jacobson, who may be my favorite journalist ever.
I'm playing Camper Van Beethoven II now. A bowl would be nice.

I've heard it enough that I'm a great writer (present blog disqualified) that I believe it. Wouldn't you?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Song-A-Day #31: Hey, Do the Mouse

You can do it in your house! One of the best dances ever (along with Costello's "High Fidelty" jerky moves). Soupy sort of gives up on the moves half-way through the song (some people just can't lip-synch and do the Mouse at the same time). Still, Soupy's the only one doing the true Mouse -- those fancy-pants dancers are a bit too B'way for such a simpleton's groove.

Oh, and worst song ever, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Song-A-Day #26b: The Right to Robot Arms

"Arms Aloft" by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. "May I remind you of that scene / We were arms aloft in Aberdeen." A summoning of the power of the early days of the Clash. How you needn't merely reference the past, but burn it as the fuel for the future. This song inspired by today's phone call to Psaur (yeah, sometimes we use the phone...)

Radio Shack's "Armatron" was spotted by our mothball-and-cobweb-fueled nostalgia field guide, Psaur, at an estate sale this morning. It could pick up stuff two feet out of your reach. Why do we even still have to go to work? Why have the robots not followed through with their promises?

Song-A-Day #26a: Did I Say Nipple?

"Private Eye" by The Nips, Shane MacGowan's pre-Pogues band (when he was known as O'Hooligan). A punk rockabilly outfit (supposedly the descriptive "punkabilly" was coined for them) who never quite made it (no surprise, what with hundreds of other London bands going punk in the wake of the Pistols, etc.). Good song though. A slight hint at the sound to come from Shane and the Pogues.

Mostly, I thought of this song because I saw this sign on Hawthorne Blvd this afternoon. I love Hawthorne.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Song-A-Day #19: I Don't Care That Your Mother's a Thoughtless Pain in the Ass

"I Don't Care" by The Boys, ostensibly the first UK punk band to sign an album deal. Released on April 9, 1977, the single coincided with their first tour, supporting ex-Velvet John Cale.

I never had a hope, never had a chance
Nobody ever taught me to begin to understand

Why so glum? I miss the days when you believed the singer believed what they were saying.

Know who don't care either? Baldwin -- that's who. Just ask Dora...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Song-a-Day #17: Drugs and Wine and Flattering Light

Dammit! My monkey swizzle stick fell out of my margarita glass onto the keyboard! Now I have to lick the keyboard. Instead of the screen, which is what I usually do, especially when watching this 1984 Carvel commercial for the Cupie the Chocolate Nut ice cream cake for Valentine's Day. Tom gets a bit of a chuckle out of its name. They accept most major credit cards. Hey, remember that Tom Carvel joke? About taking a shit?

Today's song? I don't know yet. I'll get back to you after I knock out a few more swizzle sticks. I also have to finish the next installation of my Food column for the Bee (serving the Sellwood/Moreland/Woodstock area). Well, Urn creates the recipes and cooks it, and I eat it. I totally eat it!

The song? Not yet. The drink? Well, number three...

Wait! I've got it! "The French Inhaler" by Warren Zevon. Someone wrote of its thinly-veiled reference to Norman Mailer and Marilyn Monroe: "And your face looked like something Death brought with him in his suitcase." Mailer has wrote extensively about Monroe: a book, a play, and some text for a calendar my grandfather once had. I don't know what it's about, but the lyrics are fantastic! I'm listening to the studio version, though I prefer the live take, although it's not the best recording. What? Mmm...muddled pineapple and gin! "So I drank up all the money,Yes, I drank up all the money,With these phonies in this Hollywood bar..."

Hey, I'm back. It's Thursday now. What was I talking about?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Song-a-Day #6: Well, That's Tough Shit

Yeah, I didn't post anything yesterday. But that's just because I only had one song running through my head all day, "Jesus Was a Cross Maker", and I already wrote about it. Well, anyway...

Just downloaded an old favorite that holds up very well. Yeah, the lyrics are dated, but that good ol' american fuck-you-jackass attitude still prevails. It's a pretty good political song, too. Not as douchey as I feared. Cool as shit, pal!

"Storm the Embassy" by the Stray Cats, from their album Stray Cats, a UK import Jimmy bought in the eraly 80s. I can't remember if he still has it. You got it?
A rockabilly protest song! What the fuck happened to FM radio? Here's the lyrics (No offense, Iran!):

Fifteen man taken captive in a hostile foreign land
Scorchin' sun beaming down onto miles and miles of sand
A mideast country being ruled
By a man who thinks it's fun
To hold our people in return
For a shah that's on the run

I think it's funny
Freedom takes money

It's a heartache and it's hard luck
Well that's tough shit
Man it's no fun
Storm the Iranian embassy
Before they start shootin' down you and me

Scourge of suits in control
Of the diplomaticness
While the nations of the world
Look on and can't care less
The Soviet Union won't agree
To an economic plan
And then they laugh and march their troops into Afghanistan

Orders from Moscow
Invade Teheran now

It's a heartache and it's hard luck
Well that's tough shit
Man it's no fun
Storm the Iranian embassy
Before they start shootin' at you and me

A nation worries and reads the papers
Hoping that no-one has died
Hearin' rumours that the hostages
Will soon be tried as spies
Demonstrations on the street
Saying that the end is near
The man from New York Times on vacation
Wants to know what happened here

Aggressive acts now
We want the best now

Fifteen moms crying
Is my son dying ?
It's a heartache and it's hard luck
Well that's tough shit
Man it's no fun
Storm the Iranian embassy
Before they start shootin' at you and me
Massapequa rules!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Song-A-Day #4: Dial "C" for Cool!

I picked up this Geraint Watkins albums at Borders on a whim a couple of years ago. There was a time when my choosing music "on a whim" (say, because I liked the album cover or the title), I'd usually end up with crap (i.e., the Rainmakers, and my classic faux pas, Black Tape for a Blue Girl).

But in the mid-nineties I hit my stride and most of my random pics have panned out well. Case in point, Dial "W" for Watkins, his 2004 release. I had no idea who he was, just liked the cover and some song titles. Turns out he's been around for quite a while as a session man for some of the greats (of which he is indeed one), including Dave Edmunds, Rory Gallagher, John Martyn, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney. Nick Lowe is a huge fan, playing bass and singing on the album. The Dave Edmunds connection led Watkins to record with the Stray Cats on their album Rant n' Rave with the Stray Cats. That's his piano playing on "Look at that Cadillac."

Oh yeah, the song of the day is "Soldier of Love," written by Watkins (there's a few other same-named songs out there ).

How to describe? A song to roller-skate to on Valentine's Day. Slow and lovely, so hip it's perhaps beyond extrapolation, made only for listening and absorbing into your psyche. God damn, the whole f-ing album is royalty!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Song-A-Day #3: Incredibly Drunk on Music!

Memphis' "Incredibly Drunk on Whiskey" from their 2006 release A Little Place in the Wilderness is today's selection. I don't know much about the band, except that it's a side project of some other bands, Canadians, you know. An obvious choice for a drinking song mix tape (I've been compiling a playlist on my iTunes for months), the song is one of the more cheerful odes to being tanked on mash (ha, like Hawkeye!).

The Chorus:

You looked at me
Pointed out that I was drunk on whiskey
You looked at me
Said, “let’s get incredibly drunk on whiskey”

That's gold, Jerry! But my favorite part is the opening verse where his sister drives him to the Megaplex. I think he's singing from a youthful viewpoint. Either way, it's funny.

It's jazzy! A touch of the Smiths, Gypsy Jazz, etc. Torquil Campbell, musician, actor, and member of indie-pop-canuck chamber combo Stars, fronts Memphis, with Chris Dumont, who may or may not be related to Allen B. DuMont, ostensibly the inventor of network television.

You can listen to the song on their MySpace page or can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Song-a-Day #2: Sill the One!

I heard Judee Sill's "Jesus Was a Cross Maker" for the first time the other day on KBOO and instantly declared it the greatest song I ever heard. I make such declarations often (I continue the legacy of Irish hyperbole...) But really, it's a brilliant song, both in composition and performance. As I listened I tried to guess who was singing. Sill sort of sounds like Nancy Griffith, or vice versa.

Judee Sill's debut album, Judee Sill, was also the first release on David Geffen's fledgling pre-Geffen Records label, Aslyum Records. She'd release only one more album in her lifetime, dying of a drug overdose at 35 in '79.

A singer in the vein of Nyro and Mitchell, but quite on her own in style, Sill has become an immediate favorite of mine. Rhino Handmade re-released her albums a few years ago, and they're now out of print. But they're on iTunes. So I downloaded her first album.

Recommended. No shit.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Pstealing from Psaur: Song-a-Day for the Month-of-May

In solidarity with Psaur's resolve to post to his blog every day for the month of day, I reciprocate in kind with a daily post myself commenting on one song a day.

May 1: "The Lights of Cincinatti" by Scott Walker.

Before he started going Krupa on a side of beef, Walker recorded this Macaulay/Stephens composition, drenched in syrupy echo.

Tony Macaulay & Geoff Stephens also collaborated on The Hollies' "Sorry Suzanne", and "Smile a Little Smile for Me", immortalized by Flying Machine. All three songs were hits in 1969. The pair wrote a number of other songs together, including "Silver Lady" for David Soul in '77.

from "Silver Lady":

Here I am a million miles from home
The Indiana wind and rain cut through me
I’m lost and alone
chilled to the bone
Silver Lady

Macaulay & Stephens kept the 70's casual!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

They Warned Us. We're Doomed.

These last few years (2005-2007) have been rough on Common Sense and Brave Insight.

All dead:
Hunter S. Thompson (February 20, 2005)
Robert Anton Wilson (January 11, 2007)
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (April 12, 2007)

Ye gods! Save yourselves! Read Psaur! Read Feeb! Read Qner! Read MooT!

(If you're one of the above, then read me!)

The Greatest Song Ever Written?

Quite possibly. Listen to "I Am Sorry For Everything" by The Feebs. Anyone reading this already knows the song, but put your Don Ho memorial on hold for a moment and listen again.

Friday, April 13, 2007

In Dreams Begin Actualities

Thanks to Boobay for this article:,0,2571014.story?coll=ny-linews-headlines

Didn't I read this in feeb's dream journal?

But even better than the article are some of the comments left by readers, like this one from "Plainview Gman": "...that parking lot is one pain in the butt and NOT just from elderly drivers."

or this one from "Artie": "...whenever I get out of NYC, I always make this a stop! So people go in and support this business. Oh yea you can even get Devil Dogs on the side and wash it down with Hi-C!

Ah, home sweet home!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Like Chilton for Breakfast

Every morning should begin with "Loose Shoes and Tight Pussy." You know, that Alex Chilton album, released in the States as "Set" but everywhere else with the former title. Necessary especially for work mornings, which I'm living through right now. Chilton eases the early hours of toiling ennui. Buy it...if you's a viper!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Clark Lives!

'Christmas Story' Director Dies in Crash
By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ, Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES - Film director Robert Clark, best known for the beloved holiday classic "A Christmas Story," was killed with his son Wednesday in a car wreck, the filmmaker's assistant and police said.

Clark, 67, and son Ariel Hanrath-Clark, 22, were killed in the accident in Pacific Palisades, said Lyne Leavy, Clark's personal assistant.

The two men were in an Infiniti that collided head-on with a GMC Yukon around 2:30 a.m. PST, said Lt. Paul Vernon, a police spokesman. The driver of the other car was under the influence of alcohol and was driving without a license, Vernon said.

The driver, Hector Velazquez-Nava, 24, of Los Angeles, remained hospitalized and will be booked for investigation of gross vehicular manslaughter after being treated, Vernon said. A female passenger in his car also was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and released, police said.

In Clark's most famous film, all 9-year-old Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle.

His mother, teacher and Santa Claus all warn: "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."

A school bully named Scut Farkus, a leg lamp, a freezing flagpole mishap and some four-letter defiance helped the movie become a seasonal fixture with "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Notes on the Lesser Necessities of Survival

(My latest published article for the local! Hello, $50!)

Notes on the Lesser Necessities of Survival

1.0: Surviving; Overcoming Indifference Towards

Survival. (Cue “The Best of Morrissey.”)

So you’ve survived – now what? Back to the grind, eh?

“You know, I made it off the sinking Titanic!”

That’s great, Grandma. Get back in the kitchen, and check the roast.

The above exchange with my grandmother did not, of course, occur – she was on the Andrea Doria.

But it does illustrate the snide remarks often batted about by a few ranks of our cold, bloodless, fellow citizens who “just don’t wanna hear about it.” And why don’t they? Fear, I suppose, of the challenges thrust on the human spirit. Or maybe the present survivor, although a veteran of a most inspirational occurrence, has an annoying voice. I don’t know. I’m not a ‘trick cyclist’, as the cockney say!

2.0: Surviving; Exploitation of

Trouble remaining alive or in existence? Suffering from persistent sturm und drang? Well, now you can rest easy. In fact, you can rest anywhere, any time!

Survivarin® knocks you right on your basket and keeps you there for a full 24-hours. One dose a day is all you need!

Let’s face it – life’s hard. Or maybe you can’t face it. Well, now you don’t have to.

Survivarin®, not a “sleeping pill” but a “hibernation mimicker.”

Sleep through the “storm and stress” of life… with Survivarin®

3.0: Surviving; Obstacles in the Course of

Beyond dire situations unfit for mockery (war, tyranny, disease, and other personal tragedies), we the people experience numberless calamities we barely survive, psychically and spiritually speaking. Like what? Glad you asked.

These experiences require the parameters of short-term survival. As in, “If I can get through this moron’s story for the next two minutes, I going to get myself a patch that reads ‘I survived 120 seconds of half-witted drivel,’ and it would have, like, an eagle with earmuffs flying away from earth.”

Other patch-worthy encounters are with the following:

Actors in commercials who pretend to be your friends.
All country music recorded after 1973.
People who start sentences with the word “basically.” Basically, anyone who pads their statements with empty terms.
Tapered jeans.
Waiting for your windshield to defrost.
How you still can’t listen to AM in a tunnel.
Those pop-ups that float across your computer screen.
Commercials at the beginning of films Now in Theaters

Oh, and all observational humor.

4.0: Surviving; The Callback


I feel weak just writing about it. I don’t know how I’ll survive…

Wait, I know!



Monday, February 12, 2007

I Want Tonta the Indian!

Lenny Bruce's "Thank You Masked Man" bit, animated. Another favorite from USA's "Night Flight" programme of the 80s.

"Get your goddamned hands off me, you barbarians!"

Saturday, February 10, 2007


JacMac and Rad Boy - Go!

Wesley "Wes" Archer's (of future "Simpsons" fame) classic college animation film. I know it from USA's "Night Flight" of the mid-80s. It's up there with "Thank You Masked Man", based on Lenny Bruce's bit, as greatest cartoon ever!

Try never get drunk outside yr own house

Still one of my favorite tips for writing. Very popular among the "new pagans" in early 90s.

List of Essentials

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr wife
5. Something that your feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from the bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement of yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the hold contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr monrning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In Praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazzier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven
as ever,
[By Jack Kerouac, exerpted precisely as published [sic] from a letter to Don Allen 1958]
from Heaven & Other Poems, Grey Fox Press, San Francisco 1994

Monday, February 05, 2007

Aargh! Aye've Been Pooblished!

...sort of. Well, my name's on the cover, as a co-writer with four others. I provided dialogue to a project that morphed into an historical novel about pirates of the Oregon Coast. It's called "Pirates of the Oregon Coast." It's available here and here.

It's no "Fearless Brewing," but I like to think of it as my "And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks" to Qner's ferocious "Howl."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Against the Special Viciousness


"The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government.”

The “ends” referred to in the Declaration are the equal right of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” True, no government in the history of the nation has been faithful to those ends. Favors for the rich, neglect of the poor, massive violence in the interest of continental and world expansion—that is the persistent record of our government.

Still, there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the President to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Musician, Heal Thyself

from today's local paper's special section Healthy, Wealthy & Wise (the prodigal son returns...)

When I Get That Feeling, I Want Musical Healing
Michael O’Shaughnessy

“You know her life was saved by rock and roll.”
– Velvet Underground

(Note: The author is in no way to be confused with a certified psychologist or anyone else with the least bit of mental health qualifications. Those individuals typically offer sound advice, not advice on sound.)

Maybe your life was saved by rock and roll. Or baroque chamber songs. Or Tuvan throat singing. Or even the sound of a guy banging a frozen cod against a wheelbarrow. Who’s to say what music is anyway? Regardless, you may be one of us human beings, of such tender emotional receptors, for whom music seemingly offers salvation. Or at least, salvation of the moment.

Can music “save” your “life”? What do I mean “save”? What do I mean “life”? What do I mean “mean”?

I don’t really know. But you know what I mean. All these questions! Can we get started? I’m dying to hear some music!

Instead of a primer on the healing properties of music (a subject I believe long researched, preached and practiced), let this serve as a bibliography of musical therapy, or a Suggested Listening List for both the moods you are in and those you wish to trigger.

These are songs for times when your “heart” tells your “brain”: I’M IN A FUNK! PLEASE SEND FUNK! (I couldn’t find any funk songs listed here – ed.)

Because sometimes when you’re sad, you want to stay sad for a while, and listen to sad music. Or else you’re tired of being down and need some happy songs to get you out of bed to eat something and rinse out those wine bottles.

Part I:
“Nothing’s gonna happen. Nothing’s gonna change.” – Randy Newman

Ah, sad songs say so much! So let’s wallow. What’s worse than someone telling you to cheer up? Please leave me for a minute in my deep rut of hopeless despair! Right? Lost love, a change in weather, or the sudden and inevitable realization that mankind is a flea on the universe’s scruffy withers may be culprits of your present lowery emotions. I think the reasons are less important than the willingness to overcome them. Once you’re alone in your room, where the solitude too can be such a healer, spin these solemn singles for the morose topping on your pity pie.

I’ll not comment on these songs, short of offering a lyric. These are weighty, depressing songs. You think you’re in a bad mood?

1. Living Without You – Randy Newman
“Time to face the dawning gray of another lonely day”
2. My Curse – Afghan Whigs
“Temptation comes not from hell but from above”
3. Chorus 8 – The Feebs
“Love comes in many forms that you may find so distasteful”
4. I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore – Dusty Springfield
“The talk is so loud and the walls are much too thin.”
5. Trouble – Cat Stevens
“Trouble, oh trouble can't you see, you have made me a wreck, now won't you leave me in my misery”

Part II:
“Get me away from here I’m dying.” – Belle & Sebastian

And then there are those times when you feel you’ve mined the core of sadness of all its wealth and need to cheer up already (yeah, that’s right, what about it?). Positivity! Unbridled jubilation! Release the hounds of adrenal! Escort your endorphins to the surface in the chariots of rock! Dance, all right? If you can’t dance, dance anyway. But please stay where you are – dance alone, behind closed doors. You don’t need to bring anyone else down with your rhythmless jerking and that thing you’re doing with your arms! Herewith, odes to joy! Loud, lively songs of unstoppable momentum!

1. Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
“Remember your dreams are your only schemes, so keep on pushing”
Two knocks on the snare, then POW! The horns burst to life! The performance is so strong, the message isn’t even necessary, but Mayfield doesn’t care, and his commanding falsetto overwhelms all resistance!
2. What is Life? – George Harrison
“I’ll try my best to make everything succeed”
From George’s first solo album, loud and moving, with Phil Spector’s signature production sounding more like a “ball” of sound as it rolls your heart from hell to heaven.
3. You Are the Light – Jens Lekman
“Yeah, I got busted, so I used my one phone call to dedicate a song to you on the radio.”
Lekman throws this vehicle straight into gear! The trumpets bleat and punch, with a Funk Brothers steady beat pulsing under handclaps and terrific reverb!
4. Mo Money Mo Problems – Notorious B.I.G.
“I’m bigger than the city lights down in Times Square”
For the purpose of positive soul-jarring, I require songs that tear the silence. This song accomplishes the task with an immediate crashing wave of cymbal, bass and piano, courtesy of a remixed sample of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out.” Rushing to the shore with Nile Rodger’s choppy guitar, Mace, Puff Daddy and B.I.G. swallow the world for the next four minutes. Take a deep breath!
5. Birdhouse in Your Soul – They Might Be Giants
“My story’s infinite, like the Longines Symphonette, it doesn’t rest”
Epic, majestic! With lyrics that very well might contain the history of mankind, “Birdhouse” tickles as it rockets you on a journey through the comet’s tail, before dropping you into the sweet midnight of a satisfied dream. Try it – this is an over-the-record-store-counter medication.

“Despite all the computations / You could just dance to that rock 'n' roll station.”
– Velvet Underground

Music: An aural aspirin. We run to our radios in our frustrations, knowing the salve of moody vibrations is some mighty juju. And we utilize it subconsciously as well, turning on the stereo as a diversion while we seek ways to examine our momentary predicament. But the diversion seeps into our thinking and indeed “soothes the savage breast.” The petty irritants of our day-to-day lives are lost in the music. The tunes, the lyrics, the performances, even the idea of music can heal our wounded psyches.

“All clear, wail the sirens / Sunshine on the wasteland.” – David Bowie

My emotional altitude of choice, when the soft mallet of ennui descends, coasts between the former choices of musical healing. Between the wallow and the wound-up, I find comfort in the ironic and the absurd, in the songs that celebrate the doom and hopeless of it all, or better, live beyond it.

1. Subspace Biographies – Robert Pollard
“I am quail and quasar, I pick you up on radar”
That’ll jar you from reality for a few minutes. Darn right I’m a quail!
2. Little Private Angel – Jack Logan and Bob Kimbell
“My little private angel says ‘Don’t take it so seriously’”
OK, I won’t. At least, until the song ends. Hit repeat!
3. New York City Rhythm – Barry Manilow
“[S]omehow I survive / It's got to be the New York City rhythm in my life”
An ex-patriate from the Empire State, I get all nostalgic while this song distracts my attention from my current blues period.
4. Wonderland – Big Country
“I am a working man / I feel the winter too”
I love any kind of “I am” song. They fit me with an armor of confidence, not to be confused with a suit of greater-than-thou, which will win no hip fashion show.
5. So What’cha Want – Beastie Boys
“I’m as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce”
Mike D., MCA and the King Ad-Rock will not fail you in your climb to a higher mood. Unless you hate rap, which so many do. Hey, your loss. But how can you resist Hammond organ, Bonham bass drum, and grinding horns cranked to aim “the beat” at enemies of life? The words pour from their mouths like pool water rushing past the curbs of defeat.

Flow on.

And keep the music at your fingertips. Or fresh in your memories. The weight descends without warning, but we can find strength and healing in song.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

White Stuff in the Valley

No, I'm not talking about a new Radley Metzger opus, but rather the Winter Storm of 07 that hit the other day. Tuesday, actually, and I did not go to work. Nor did Urn or our other neighborhood friends. So we had a little coffee in the morning, watched "Young Frankenstein," and then went sledding on a ginormous tube meant for water sports. Which would later account for its ***SPOILER*** bursting on what would therefore be our last run of the day. Still, before than disappointing moment, we had quite a good time. But it was fucking cold, and I'm like 50, so that bramble tear happened at just the right time. Look what I did while you woked, you poor bastards!

Elsewhere, the city seemed to be plagued by sled-related injuries and death. We survived, although, looking back, we could have reconsidered choosing a hill that lead to the train tracks. And beyond that, the river. And between those two, more brambles.

Here, snow fallen gently on the nautical-themed strip club. I can't recall it's actual name, but I've dubbed it "Snatch o' the Day."

Here I slip downhill for some bottoms-up photography. I swear this has nothing to do with Henry Paris!

Finally, here's J. getting totally douched on his run.

Good times.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Non-Expository Writer

I've never been able to describe the book I've read or decipher the song I've heard. As such, while excelling almost heroically in English at school, I was decidedly a failure at book reports or my impressions of a story. But neither do I wish to exclude myself from the envious province of the critics' suggested reading list. So, briefly, ever so vaguely, are two recommendations from the music & literature sections of my home library:

Hip: the history by John leland. And that is what it clamins to be, as Leland sees it. Tracing the origins of "hip" from the early american slave trade, through the transmogrifications of blues to jazz to beat to hip-hop, and all manner of hipness in between, Leland touches on all my faves in music and lit. Buy it, borrow it or buy it!

Well, what a surprise! Me suggesting you listen to a Tom Waits album. Actually, it's a triple album: Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards. Most of you pricks I know are all three (except for brawlers -- you pussies...), so you will enjoy this collection of unreleased, b-sides and film work by Waits. Unless you don't like Tom Waits, in which case you can all go screw!

Well, that's all I got for you now. Come back soon.

You bastards.

Monster in the Box of Wine

I was eating my Mac & Cheese Spirals, drinking wine (WAWA, twist-off, tasty yield) and caught the end of "Monster in the Box", the filmed monologue of Spalding Gray's wherein he discusses, among other things, his role as the Stage Manage in Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," a play that I also performed in, with the Pius Players in the late 80s (I was Howie the Milkman, or something). Anyway, Spalding Gray, dead these last few years (and still so), is fascinating to watch. And while it's him I'm watching, he's so skillful in speech that it is his imagination that engages me. I've been watching his movies for years and they so perfectly scratch that proud intellectual humorly itch of mine, like Woody Allen's films, but in an even friendlier way. I'm almost tempted to refer to him simply as "Spalding," a practice I typically find repulsive where celebrities and other strangers are involved.

But what is a stranger? I'm prompted to contemplate this issue when considering artists with whose work I am so familiar. And by extension, am I so familiar with the artist as well?

Yep, there's that wine, one glass away from empty...

When I came across the film on IFC, I was like, "Excellent, Spalding Gray...", and then, "Ah, Jeez, he's dead now." But now, that's Spalding Gray: another favored writer of mine whose work is done but whose influence remains.

I think then of those most influential artists in my life: Lenny Bruce, Charles Bukowski, Philip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, Spalding Gray, Robert Anton Wilson. All dead. There are others, of course, some dead too, others, not so much...

I find Spalding Gray the most pleasant of the bunch, though I hesistate to even gather them all into a "bunch". Outside of my "favorites" list, I would certainly spare them the indignity.

Indignity? Have I ever written that word before? Is it even a word? What word am I thinking of?

It's 8:45pm. Urn's asleep on the couch. I'll have a headache in the morning. But perhaps I'll be a little lighter in my view of the day. Because when I freshly read my favorite authors or watch them on TV or DVD, I'm lifted slightly and I see over the pettiness of humanity into the possibility of people, and then see them as persons. The world becomes a bigger place, as crowds are dispersed to groups, and groups to individuals. I prefer this as I believe I can explain things better to you than them...

Wednesday Wine. What? Anyway, I don't think I even had a point to make. I just needed to take my fingers for a walk. And Spalding looked like a perfect path tonight.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Monastic Goodbye

Alice Coltrane, wife of John Coltrane, has died at the age of 69. I bought "Journey to Satchidananda" a couple of years ago. To oversimplify the importance of her life and contributions, let me just comment that it is far-out!

Are You Havin' a Laugh?

Holy shit, yeah! Extras Season 2 began last night. That's all. Best show ever right now.

"Willy Wonka? Johnny Wanker."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cosmic Trigger Pulled

I believe Robert Anton Wilson has passed away after a long illness stemming from post-polio complications. I just happened to visit his website after a long time and there was a message stating:

Robert Anton Wilson Defies Medical Experts and leaves his body @4:50 AM on binary date 01/11.
All Hail Eris!
On behalf of his children and those who cared for him, deepest love and gratitude for the tremendous support and lovingness bestowed upon us.
(that's it from Bob's bedside at his fnord by the sea)
RAW Memorial February 07 date to be announced

What a coincidance!

While perhaps not a sad day, it is a day to be sad. I can't even begin to explain the influence of his thinking on my interest in exploring some far-out topics and how they relate to everyday living. Coo-coo!

Anyway, he's terrific! You should read all his books. Slowly. He often cites a quote about how dangerous it is to learn new things too quickly. A difficult task in a post-modern world.

A Lily for Lily

Yvonne DeCarlo, Lily of "The Munsters", died on Monday at the age of 84.
She was preceded in death by Herman.