Friday, September 30, 2005

"But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." – William Bennett, former Education Secretary, former Drug Czar, author of The Book of Virtues.
This comes from logicgrl and is well worth the effort...
Fifty years ago today James Dean died near Paso Robles as his Porsche Spyder poughed into Donald Turnupseed’s ragged Ford, and the actor from the edge of the world became an icon and we kids thought we might ride to freedom on his doom.
Too many half centuries bear down – the dawn of Elvis, the death of Charlie Parker, Miles and John Coltrane, "Be-Bop-A-Lula", Night of the Hunter...
How much...
How much...
How much longer
(I had a pony, his name was Lucifer)

My TV proves that LA is on fire yet again, and I may have to ponder all this mortal history through the smoke-filled night.

The secret word is Conceivable

(Over on the mighty comments board, Billy Oblivion has a point, and hipspinster blogs on the fires

Thursday, September 29, 2005

While the Gulf Coast is under water, LA is now having a late September 100F heatwave, and Chatsworth (porn capital of Planet Earth) is on fire. No George, the jury is not still out on global warming. They have come back and pronounced you guilty as charged. Do the decent thing and resign.

CRYPTIQUEWhen strippers talk about agriculture and animal husbandry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Could it be that House Majority Leader Tom Delay (the man I’ve always though of as Bush’s loudly born-again Martin Borman) will really wind up as someone’s bitch in a Federal joint? Maybe not, but I can hope.

And talking of hope, I hoped this was a joke, but I’m not so sure...

Some mornings the smoke screen is so thick you can’t see the hand in your pocket.

Which reminds me that I should let those you know who are still interested that I continue to battle the king size nicotine jones. I had a bit of a lapse through my last couple of days in Tokyo, but hell, I was smoking Mild 7s and a poor boy can hardly taste those suckers.
I’d pray for strength but...

(from Wonkette )
According to a study published in the Journal of Religion and Society, heavily religious democracies such as the United States lag significantly behind less pious, more science-friendly nation states in most key quality of life indicators. The study, conducted by social scientist Gregory Paul, gets this bracing executive summary in the London Times: In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies. The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from " uniquely high" adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates.

The secret word is Dogbreath

Monday, September 26, 2005

(With the right translation, nothing is ever lost)

Kaoru extends his index finger and, almost without hesitation, the bug alights on it and sits passively. The bug is tiny, but strangely cartoon-Japanese with tiny bobbles on the ends of its antennae. I ask Kaoru if this is a trick. Is the insect attracted to, like, the sweat on his skin? Or is it magic? He grins. It’s magic. But much magic had been performed during the seven days in Tokyo. Earlier in the week, I had given Kaoru a Sopranos t-shirt which he didn’t understand, David Chase’s NJ crime-family saga not having penetrated Japan, but he wore it proudly to the show in any case. It seemed, in a minor way, symbolic of how we handled everything from food to cultural fusion. Don’t quite understand what something is all about? What the fuck? Go for it anyway. It has to be interesting. And isn’t going for it the first function of art?

That I am in Tokyo at all is nothing short of magical, maybe even miraculous. That I should be flown in to read poetry, perform some rock & roll, and, as a postscript to the show, participate in a group discussion, for just one night and one night only, under the auspices of something called Tokyo Hipster’s Club (ambiguous initials THC) was hardly a run-of-the-mill occurrence in the first place. I would say that I wanted to go back to Tokyo so badly that I willed it to happen, except that would be a diminishment of all the good work put in by the formidable Gaku Torii and his partner Maki Fujimoto, the amazing Yukiko Akagawa, Ken Matsutani, the Marble Sheep and everyone else who worked so hard in reality to make my grandiose subjective illusion possible.

On the second hot, humid day in town, the phone rang. The entire two-day THC show had to be moved. An elderly geezer who dwelled near the venue had complained about noise potential and seemingly obtained some kind of legal injunction. I have heard messages like this, all the way back to Phun City and beyond. Old geezers with lawyers are simply a part of outlaw rock & roll. I will not panic, believing instead that all will ultimately be well. I mean, I have to believe all will be well. If it isn’t, my life will become temporarily untenable at a modest five thousand miles from home. And, hey! A few hours later, the problem has been solved. The entire show has been moved.

And the move is truly magical. The replacement venue is a cavernous, high-tech sound stage in the TV studios under the Tokyo Tower. Smaller than the Eiffel Tower, on which it seems modeled, the Tokyo Tower is nonetheless awesome. On the way into the studio complex, I notice a gift shop selling little five-inch models of the tower. Decided I wanted one, and cursed, when on leaving, I discovered the gift shop was closed. Maybe I should have made the purchase earlier, but there was so much to explore. The studio came with lavish TV-star dressing rooms and a green room fully stocked with beer and food. All conspired to enhance the feeling that I was doing was somehow of validity and importance. Although I am just one among the kick-ass band Slunky Side and star-veteran headliners Sheena and the Rokkets, my dressing room, maybe on a account of the presence of marijuana, becomes the party room.

On a trip to the green room for more beer, I peer, with a private eye gesture, through the blinds of its huge picture window. I find the window overlooks old buildings with elaborate tiled roofs at the edge of a park. I ask Ken what they are. He tells me a temple. Out back, temple ladies in identical trad costumes (nuns? I dunno) are taking a cigarette break.

The stage is all Jim Morrison could have hoped for. Lights, back projection, ample space. I commence with the now accustomed anomaly of reading poetry in English to a Japanese audience. This time, though with the band of Marble Sheep, plus Nabeji of Slunky Side, rising and falling, free-form, behind me. Then we get down to some old school psychedelic punk and all is well. After a super-rapid change into a dry shirt, I return to the stage with Gaku as moderator and translator Yusuke Inoue for a question and answer session that is, to say the least, a little strange until I take matters into my own hands and launch into an impassioned rant in a fervent but translatable monotone. There’s no point in any specific rhetoric about Bush, Blair or Koizumi. I talk generally about how we all live on an increasingly damaged planet that we must nurse back to health. As I write, Tokyo’s thirteenth typhoon of the season is spiraling in, New Orleans – home of the blues – has drowned. The war in Iraq drags on for Japan, Britain, and the US alike. And what is yet to come? The politicians are too self-interested to act for anyone but their corporate masters. We all, as artists, must hone our skills as weapons and get back into the fight using music and the visual, verbal and electronic arts as tools of change that transcend international boundaries. It’s maybe our only chance. The words seem now to connect as totally as the music. And afterwards I am treated as something of the hero.

Or maybe I’m just delusional, but I don’t think so. Sure I was rabble rousing to my own gratification, but I was also telling the truth as I saw it.

But the fun is not entirely over. The following night, I find myself on a street in Kitazawa (I think), a heaven of bikers, artists and hustling, high-heeled B-girls. The mission is to see Ken Matsutani play solo guitar at a tiny record store/performance space, that reminds me of the places like CafĂ© Bustello and Downtown Beirut on New York’s Lower East Side that I used to play with Henry Beck and Johnny Collins back in he 1980s as Tijuana Bible. Ken finishes a long and lyrical improvisation, and then invites me up to add some "satanic" words to his swamp guitar. I assume the stance of Victor Renquist and my Sunday-best-but-throat-ripping Beefheart delivery and launch into a lazily menacing amalgam of the off-the-cuff couplets, all I can remember from "Long Walk With The Demon", "Solitaire Devil", "Dogpoet" and more. The tightly packed crowd loves it. Wow! How much validation can a poor boy take.

Going back to the top of the story, Kaoru’s bug trick takes place during an improvised picnic on Yukiko’s roof in Shinjuku. Later a huge full moon rises over the corporate towers like a manga panel. Even though I have to fly back to LA the next day, magic really does fill the air, and I am extremely happy.

And there’s even a postscript. After my rant at THC, Yukiko tells me that my old friend Wayne Kramer, whom I haven’t seen in a long time, is expressing the self-same sentiments, and I should check out his journal. I do, and find the this is perfectly true, as in...

"I have wonderful friends all over the world. Indeed, we are all part of a new world order, a new global tribe of artists and doers and thinkers and creative people who are trying to do things that matter. The Internet allows us to stay connected. We're always conspiring on some project or another."

The secret word is Together