Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's Happening!!

It's hard to rattle me. I've been through enough fires to have a pretty high tolerance for stress; the proverbial grace under pressure. But the last few days have been testing me. For some reason, none of my emails, dozens of important ones, have arrived at their destinations today...nor do they appear in my SENT folder. There's a demon in the machine and he's waving all my emails down the wrong exit ramp into a black hole. The office bathroom is out of order so we've been going to Bruegger's. It adds a whole new dimension to the use of our "Bottomless Mug" cards. It's been weirdly hot out. Then there's this swine flu which seems to be feeling its oats. This Google "Pandemic" Map has filled up quite a bit since yesterday. There's a lot of rapture-esque shit going on. Should we be buying frog strength umbrellas? The government is lying about "stress testing" banks and about the market being up, or at least distorting the significance. It's an insult and a racket. And then there's the 747 that buzzed New York yesterday to which the response has been essentially, "WOOPS!" Conspiracy theorists on the extreme end are saying that it was another inside job attempt at a 9/11 type event that went (DOH!) awry and the "photo op" explanation was the backup alibi. My hunch, utterly uninformed, is that it was done without Obama's knowledge deliberately (by whom I won't speculate) to make it appear he is not in control of things as sensitive as, say, the airspace over New York City. Or maybe he's not. And why are they saying that when this plane is not being just a regular old 747, it's Air Force One? Isn't Air Force One its own plane? They don't just slap a big "Air Force One" magnet on the side like a pizza delivery car do they? With the plane and the flu incidents is it the population the government is stress testing and not the banks? I feel like Dominique Dunne at the end of the movie Poltergeist when she arrives home to find all the caskets popping up out of the ground and she screams, quite reasonably, "WHAT'S HAPPENING!!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Greatest Moments In A Girl's Life circa 1920

The Proposal. The Wedding. The Honeymoon. The First Dinner at Home. (Click for full glory.)
Our culture sure poured it on thick reinforcing subservient female roles back then...and still does, despite the conventional wisdom that we're in a post feminist world. And in other cultures? Consider the plight of Afghan women in the news recently as an extreme example. Genital mutilation elsewhere. This planet is still a much more dangerous place for women than men. The mindset in the picture above hit its zenith in the late 50s and early 60s, as well documented in the journals of Sylvia Plath and the TV series Mad Men among many others. What would the greatest moments in a "girl's" life be circa 2009?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Shu-Fix Makes Me So Very Happy

It's so damn gorgeous outside today. I was walking down the street listening to a delightful voice mail message on my cell phone and then bursting into a Blood Sweat and Tears song at the top of my lungs. Bill from the Elevens caught me singing Good Day Sunshine on the way back. Back from where? Shu-Fix on Hawley Ave. The before and after shots below tell the whole story.
So what if they can't spell shoe. The father son operation is everything you could want in a shoe repair shop. It's like your grandfather saying, "gimme those things, sonny" and heading out to the garage with your shoes, a hammer, and a bottle of rye.This is Miranda LaPolice's tattoo and sneaker. Miranda is my best friend whenever we hang out. We can go months without seeing each other and then pick up where we left off, mid-conversation.
Daydream image of Jena.Katie in the winelight at Sierra.This is a collage I made for my mother on her 70th birthday. She's used to getting confusing presents from her son. "So, what does the fish represent, Jimmy?" "Well, it's pretty much just a fish, I think. I mean, who knows really, but it seemed to make sense coming out of the Victrola after a few glasses of wine and some gluestick fumes, mom."

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Great Photo From My High School Friend Caleb Fischer and Some Memories about Rock and War

Caleb took this great photo (left) and I stole it from his Facebook page. Adam Wolf, Caleb Fischer and I all went to see KISS at the Springfield (MA) Civic Center in 1978. The ALIVE II tour. Adam and I, in the months before the concert, debated the relative merits of Ace Frehley's vs. Jimmy Page's guitar skills. Adam played me the solo in "I Stole Your Love" as his proof. I played him the exquisite introduction to the studio version of "The Song Remains The Same" and rested my case. I tried to hear it. To get excited about a KISS concert. I was skeptical. I was in 9th grade and I smelled bullshit with KISS. They looked fucking great and dangerous, like they would make the best rock you'd ever heard, but I didn't feel that thing kick in on KISS "Alive"or "ALIVE II" that happened when I listened to The Who "Live at Leeds."
This album is still the standard for me. Skip the reissue with the full concert. Find the original on vinyl with all the inserts intact. Especially the iconic black and white Maximum R&B Marquee poster, folded in quarters. This is the only poster that has remained relevant in my musical decor through every period of my life. Only now am I remembering the amazing photo of Pete Townshend in the air in his white painters overalls with what looked like the entire population of the world in the audience and the early 8x10 glossy promo shot of the band looking very serious. Yet teenage. Rock businesmannish boys. Plus all the official paperwork for the business of rock; an incredible glimpse behind the scenes...a bill for smashed equipment among the most memorable documents. Here is a link to all the inserts. "Live at Leeds" was a spoof of a bootleg album. Bootlegs were a recent development. 1970. In the days before the internet, or even CDs, the notion of any music beyond the official releases was unheard of. Unimaginably desirable and unattainable; in the days before the word "download" would destroy the magic of record shopping and tape trading, ironically by making everything everyone wanted instantly available.

There was The Rolling Stones 1969 boot that you had to ask for from behind the counter. It was in a white sleeve with a blue stamp that said "LIVEr Than You'll Ever Be." It blew the official live album "Get Yer Ya Ya's Out" AWAY. It implied that albums were just the tip of the iceberg of rock. I think Rolling Stone magazine made the renegade decision to actually review "LIVEr"...in the days when it was still an "underground" paper on newsprint. Of course it would be subversive and review the boot. Total cred assurance and an insolent pffffft at the stars. My dad had this record. He gave it to me. I lost it in "the fire." There was also "Wooden Nickle" (a great name for an illicit product) from a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young concert. Also a Dylan one...I think it was called "The Great White Hope." Led Zeppelin "Live on Blueberry Hill," a gorgeous document of the band just prior to the release of Zep III.

These bootlegs were often of negligible audio quality but were incredible as voyeuristic documents of these sacred rituals called rock concerts that pre-teen kids like me could only dream of. At that age, I didn't think of rock concerts as gathering of kids. They were a society of cool adults. Like my dad's college students. The people who knew the truth and smoked pot. They made me want to smoke pot as soon as I could get away with it. The whole scene, as I imagined it, was the more authentic version of society that existed behind the one associated with the man, the word "NIXON," and the version that made me feel proud that my parents had a McGovern sticker on the van, even though I didn't know it was a man's name. I thought it was a snide inside stab at the squares. A combination of Ronald McDonald's frivolity and the anti-cool force that was government. I realized it was a man, a candidate, running against Nixon, when I witnessed an argument between my dad and my uncle who was home from Vietnam for Christmas. We had a "peace tree" in addition to the regular tree. It was decorated with white doves and white lace. My uncle had issues with it. He needed to believe that he was doing something meaningful and saw the tree as anti-war, even though it was his sister's idea. My mom. He and my dad argued about the 1972 campaign. Things don't change much do they? I recall asking my uncle matter of factly if he was going to be killed like the soldiers on TV.

I finally did smoke pot in 1977 with Craig Sandler. The Kiss show would follow in 1978. It was my first concert, not counting Iron Butterfly at 6 years old which I don't recall and David Bromberg which I slept through at 11. After worshiping the KISS ticket every morning and night, a pink background with actual embossed glitter on the raised letters- KISS- with the those jagged NAZI S's, the day of the KISS concert finally arrived.Yeah, I got baked beforehand. And the show was life-changing. But Caleb was almost trampled to death.

To be continued.
Above is a photo from the KISS tour we saw. Gene tripped over his dragon boots coming on stage and two roadies had to pick him up, well before Spinal Tap came out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Too Many Popsicles, 70 is the new 30, Too Many Tootsie Pops, A Woman Carrying A Man's Head

Eve and Ceilidh in polka-dots, jacked up on popsicles on a Northampton porch in broad daylight. They blew a 1.15 which is .75 above the legal limit for popsicles.
Jena in Matt's car; Brendan at left before we all left for Boston. They were kind enough to give me a lift to the city for my mom's 70th birthday party on their way to see Flight of the Concords in Boston.
My family minus my dad outside Upstairs on the Square where we had the birthday party. Someone always blinks. My mom said that your 70s are your young old age, your 80s are your middle old age, and your 90s, well, heck, it's time to stop bullshitting yourself by then. But at 70, that's a long way off.
To prove her point, my 70 year old mom takes a wack at a pinata...filled with nips. Sorry I don't have the little squiggly symbol for the a in pinata but this pinata probably doesn't deserve it anyway. It cost $8. It was just glued together cardboard from beer cases on the inside and thus didn't have the desired explosive effect provided by a proper papier mache pinata when the bat really connected. It finally got knocked off the string and the kids set upon it like animals; tearing at the carcass, tossing the nips away, annoyed, and scraping for the Sweet Tarts and Tootsie Pops. Young Theo, a nephew, was later found to have eaten 8 Tootsie Pops. He had the naked sticks to prove it. My sister Sarah said 8 Tootsie Pops per kid is pretty much the norm with a pinata as we all looked on with concern at Theo as he shook and smiled.
Our childhood friend Kristen Ingersoll and my sister Amy. I recall once we were sitting around talking about our futures when we were about 9 or 10 in Maryland . Though Kristen was a "country girl" (a demographic designation coined by nasty Nelly Olsen on Little House on the Prairie) she said she wanted to travel the world, untethered and free, and be kind of a big deal. She's the fashion and entertainment director of Hearst Magazine International now. I think I said I wanted a BB gun or a mini-bike or something. I was into immediate gratification, not vision and goal-setting.
Nephew Noah takes out a passerby with one shot.
Scooter and Scout, my sister Sarah's cats in perfect balance.
Patty was camera shy but I did take this self portrait of me thinking of Patty in the bathroom mirror of a North End bar. This is hardly a satisfactory alternative to a photo of her for you the viewer, believe me. In fact, I look a little sketchy. I remember the picture of her I had in my head and this isn't the facial expression I would associate with that. It was a ripping spin of an evening with great North End Italian food and a statue of Paul Revere to boot. We were pretty tipsy and I think we yelled "Anthonyyyyyyyy!" I bet that never gets old for the residents and shopkeeps of the North End.
Below; Boston/Cambridge candids. Skylines taken from bus window.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Life or Something Like It

The blog Life or Something Like It had a nice post about Friday in Northampton so I thought I'd be lazy and post it. Besides, I'm in Boston for the weekend and as much as I love Noho/Hamp it's nice to get away for a while. That's Philip Price and The Maggies this afternoon at Turn It Up. They're onstage at the Iron Horse as I type this from my sister's house in Watertown.

Upstairs Downstairs

Two very different shows took place simultaneously at Pearl Street Nightclub tonight with the physical and political fervor of World/Inferno Friendship Society downstairs in the Clubroom and the (altered) mindset of the Gene Ween Band upstairs in the Ballroom. Here's Gene and the boys.Here's World/Inferno Friendship Society, visible somewhere in there amidst the thrashing masses.
I like the connection between the World/Inferno fan's tattoo: "The Only Day is Today"....
....and the Ween merch girl's book, The Power of Now (by Eckhart Tolle, recommended by the way.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bricks and Brains on the Wing

Workers sit atop the building on 77-79 Pleasant Street that started unexpectedly shitting bricks a few weeks ago. It's all scaffolded up for now. The brick parapet crumbled in one corner of the roof and some bricks fell on some cars. No one was hurt but the incident reminded me of an old Nurse With Wound album title. When I lived at 245 Main Street, right at the corner of Masonic and Main, I rented from Alan Scheinman and he and his co-owners actually took preventive action and had the parapet of that building removed for just this reason. To avoid actual masonry landing on Masonic...heh heh.
Inspect your parapets, people!
As a testament to the random disorder and beauty of life, London's Nurse With Wound (Steven Stapleton) functioned outside the normal musical channels for a decade, experimenting with tape collages of disjointed phrases, improvised music, electronics and found sounds on a series of intriguing, provocative, humorous and frequently entertaining self-released records. Between 1978 and 1988, Stapleton collaborated with such likeminded sonic adventurers as David Tibet of Current 93 and Tony Wakeford of Sol Invictus to produce a prodigious body of work that embraces surrealism in both content and graphics. Brained By Falling Masonry (1984) was an EP that bristled the coarsest of hairs with scratching and horror dungeon screams including the demonic voice of Clint Ruin (aka Jim Thirlwell, Foetus) in a cameo, yet it contains a movement that could accompany an underwater Cousteau documentary. Over time, however, the group's usual organized chaos gained a certain predictability. At the end of 1988, Stapleton moved to a farm in Ireland. (Trouser Press)

This is my friend, magician, and psychic (that's the short list) Craig Browning and a newly purchased palm tree. Craig and I both have some roots in Los Angeles, as do many palm trees. I had an 80 footer in my front yard. I think it was 80 feet. I'm guessing. I never took a tape measure to it. Craig is a great guy and I'm in awe of his upbeat demeanor in the face of some of the medical treatments he's going through. Never mind the mini-stroke thunderstorms that roll into brainville once in a while. I wish him well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pushing for Peace in Pajamas

All we are sayyyying, is no turn on red.

Phil Spector's Mugshot

I wonder what Phil will do with himself in prison. Read? Write a memoir? Conduct the chorus? I wonder what the policy on wigs is? I'll never understand those weird assignments he got to produce "Let It Be" and The Ramones album "End Of The Century."