Saturday, February 04, 2006
AL LEWIS -- RIP
When I lived in NY, back in the roaring 80s, I would often see Al standing outside his restaurant, Grandpa’s on Bleeker Street. Sometimes he could be seen in conversation with Fred Gwynne who also lived in the Village. And that stopped traffic.
The secret word is Gone
Friday, February 03, 2006
THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
I can’t say enough good things about Clive Thompson’s Collision Detection. He comes up with such good stuff. Like the above pic of the dark side of the Moon. Or the news that, "on Feb. 8, the best play in the history of the universe will open in Manhattan: Heddatron. It's an adaptation of Hedda Gabler in which half the parts are played by live robots onstage. The description of the plot, from the theater group's web site: Les Freres Corbuser continues its irreverent massacre of historical icons and academic esoterica by taking on famed playwright Henrik Ibsen, the well-made play, and contemporary issues in robotics. Ibsen is thwarted by August Stringberg and his kitchen slut throughout his fevered struggle to write the great feminist drama, Hedda Gabler, while a contemporary housewife in Michigan is abducted by robots and forced to perform Ibsen's masterpiece over and over again."
WANNA SEE A CLIP OF THE MC5 FROM LIKE AROUND 1970?
Actually, for you sticklers, it’s the MC4 plus a substitute bass player whose name I don’t recall, but I’m sure Yukiko will tell us. (Link provided by MrMR)
TODAY BUDDY HOLLY HAS BEEN DEAD FOR 47 YEARS
Whoever imagined I'd live so long. I still remember the chill that went through the school when we heard the news. (Oh boy.) The teachers, at least, knew enough to keep quiet.
The secret word is Process
Thursday, February 02, 2006
SO WHAT DID GROUCHO REALLY SAY?
On Tuesday we were discussing the legend of how Groucho Marx supposedly threatened the life of Richard Nixon. MrMR pointed out that it was Abbie Hoffman not Groucho who said "The only dope worth shooting is Richard Nixon." Which left me in something of a quandary. What had Groucho said that had brought him to the attention of the FBI? Fortunately MrMR then came up with chapter and verse from Paul Krassner...
After our acid trip, I had only a couple of contacts with Groucho.The first concerned a rumor that he had said "I think the only hope this country has is Nixon's assassination.. I wanted to verify whether he had actually said that. "I deny everything", he joked, then admitting he had indeed said it over a luncheon interview with a now defunct magazine, Flash.
"Uh, sorry, Mr. Marx, you're under arrest for threatening the life of the president. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed A Night at the Opera. Here, now, if you'll just slip into these plastic handcuffs...."
I wrote to the San Francisco office of the U.S. Department of Justice, asking about the status of the case against Groucho, particularly in view of the indictment of Black Panther David Hilliard for using similar rhetoric.
For the full story...
But if you think this was a fiasco of yesteryear, this story is hot of the presses. Seemingly the focus has switched from venerable comedians to schoolboys...
The Secret Service is investigating a seventh-grader who wrote a school essay that authorities say advocated violence against President Bush, talk show host Oprah Winfrey and others. The boy's homework assignment for English class was to write what he would do on a perfect day. In addition to the president and Winfrey, the boy wrote that violence should be directed at executives of Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart, police and school officials said. "His perfect day would be to see the destruction of these people," Schools Superintendent David Raiche said.
The Secret Service investigation is ongoing, but the essay may have been a "cry for help," said Thomas M. Powers, resident agent in charge in Providence. Threatening the president is a felony, he said. Authorities would not identify the boy or his teacher or release a copy of the essay. He was not arrested, police Detective Sgt. Fernando Araujo said. "It wasn't any detailed, minute-by-minute plan," Araujo said. "It didn't meet the criteria for a criminal charge."
The boy has been temporarily barred from school, but as a mental health rather than disciplinary precaution, Raiche said.
(from Doug the Bass)
SAPPHO KORNER – RIP
(Sappho was the daughter of the legendary Alexis Korner)
AN OBITUARY FOR STEW ALBERT...
I have a piece in the new La CityBeat on fitness and how to avoid it.
BUT I ALSO HAVE TO CONFESS I FUCKED UP
In the January 5th, issue of LACB, I wrote a cover story on the current condition of the media, (Humanity v Technology). In passing, I mentioned the supposed purchase of the blog bundle Gawker Media by the New York Times. As it turned out this never happened. Turns out the story was a phoney, planted by Russ Smith at NY Paper, but being Xmas and all, I was well suckered. Then Fishbowl LA got all over my ass, but what can you do? They don’t seem to like me too much anyway. JFK always maintained it was better to admit a mistake and move swiftly on. It makes you more endearingly human, as long as you don’t fuck up too much. Unfortunately they no longer teach that JFK class in President School.
The secret word is Fool
Doc40 All-Time Icons # 10 – Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps
("Because I’m the one in the black threads, motherfucker. That’s why.")
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
GROUNDHOG DAY, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
Doug the Bass sent over the following...
"This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fall on the same day. As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog".
And damned droll for the Al Franken Dog and Pony Show except that the State of The Union was yesterday, and Groundhog Day is tomorrow.
The secret word is Phil
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
SOUTH POLE NEUTRINO DETECTOR COULD YIELD EVIDENCES OF STRING THEORY
HCB, who is seemingly concerned that the world (indeed everything) is going to end in 2012 as predicted by the late Terrence McKenna, contributed this link. I am not going to make the wholly preposterous claim that I, in anyway, approach grasping String Theory, but a half-baked non-understanding does yield a highly colorful vocabulary and all kinds of handy excuses for multiple dimensions of reality that are invaluable tools for the science fiction writer and the advanced tinfoil-hat schizophrenic.
AND TALKING OF TINFOIL HATS...
Valerie forwards this link to the BBC who report that "the US military seeks the capability to knock out every telephone, every networked computer, every radar system on the planet." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4655196.stm
COGITO ERGO DRUG TRANSIT
I maybe stand corrected. With reference to last Saturday’s "Mad Dog Coulter Post" MrMR writes, "‘Avoid all needle drugs. The only dope worth shooting is Richard Nixon.’- Abbey Hoffman". So if it was Abbey who made that remark, I have to ask myself what did Groucho say to get the FBI in an uproar.
AND TALKING OF THE FBI,
Some cat called bellaciao figures he or she has all the dope (ahem) on how all the 1960s radicals were really working for the Feds. To which I can only respond by raising bellaciao one whole Grassy Knoll.
CRYPTIQUE – The King is never boring.
"Ann Coulter said fascism would be fun."
(I think I’m now therapeutically working my way through the use of this caption. It will be over soon.)
Monday, January 30, 2006
TALES OF BEATNIK GLORY
Doug the Bass sent over this tale of yesteryear which seemed somehow to align with the sad news that Stew Albert just died of cancer.
HOW HISTORY ALMOST HAPPENED AT THE PAGE THREE
By Dave Frishberg
Around the time I first came to New York, during the late fifties, I got a call from a piano player named Johnny Knapp. He asked if I would be interested in replacing him with the band at The Page Three. It was a two piece band--piano and drums.
"You have to play a continuous show," he told me, "the hours are 9pm to 4am, and the pay is seventy-five a week." I told him I would be interested. The Page Three was a cabaret on Seventh Avenue a block south of the Village Vanguard and, situated there, it was an ideal gig for me. I was living right across the street on Waverly Place, and I could dash out of my apartment five minutes before we hit, and even dash back and forth during intermissions. I took the gig. I thought I was hip, but I wasn't ready for The Page Three. When I first walked in it took me a while to realize that most of the staff and many of the customers were dressed as the opposite sex. It was like a museum of sexual lifestyles. I knew nothing of this. The musical part was equally intimidating. The policy was continuous entertainment, and although we must have been provided with intermissions, my memory is that the drummer Jimmy Olin and I were never off the stage. Six entertainers did three shows a night. They rotated out of a stable of ten so that each entertainer worked four or five nights a week. This was a hell of a lot of music and paper to deal with, since everybody needed rehearsals, and some of the performers came with thick books of arrangements. Kiki Hall was the MC. After the first rehearsal I had to take Kiki's music home and work on it. He did risque patter an naughty lyrics, and there was a lot of ad lib accompaniment and stops and starts, and it all went by very fast. Kiki did Noel Coward material like "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and "Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington," and some Dwight Fiske material, and other stuff I had never heard of. He was ruthless about the piano part, tolerated no mistakes, and demanded extra rehearsals during the week. He was a pain in the ass. The hostess, Jackie Howe, was a solidly built woman with a big friendly smile who always dressed in a tweed business suit. She liked jazz musicians, and she sang obscure songs like "Mississippi Dreamboat" and "Like a Ship in the Night." I was learning a lot of unfamiliar and interesting material.
The rest of the cast was a jumble of characters, talented and untalented: There was Kerri April, who dressed in a tuxedo and made up his face to look like a woman, and Laurel Watson who was a terrific rhythm and blues singer, and Bubbles Kent, a female body-builder who did a strip dance to "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails." Tiny Tim, who was just beginning to do his act, was from time to time a member of the cast, although during the months I worked there he appeared only a couple of nights, subbing for one of the other acts. I remember the occasions chiefly because of the fact that Jimmy Olin and I were able to get off the stage for a cigarette or two while Tiny accompanied himself on the ukelele or whatever it was. Jimmy and I would listen from the front bar, and we had some good laughs, but the fact was that in the context of The Page Three staff, entertainers, and clientele, Tiny Tim didn't seem all that bizarre. The Unique Monique was especially unrewarding to play for. She was a beautiful blonde Viking who was apparently buffaloed by the prospect of singing a song, and seemed to have borrowed someone else's hands and feet for the ordeal. She sang "Guess Who I Saw Today," and at the end she would jab a finger toward some poor guy sitting at a front table and give him the "I saw YOOOOO," on the major seventh, dismally out of tune.
What Jimmy and I looked forward to each night was Sheila Jordan. Sheila was magic. The customers would stop gabbing and all the entertainers would turn their attention to Sheila and the whole place would be under her spell. She was doing "If You Could See Me Now" and "Baltimore Oriole" and some of the other material that she subsequently put on record. During my time at The Page Three I began to grasp the fundamentals of how to be a helpfulaccompanist and by the time I was ready to move on even Kiki Hall was pleased and confident with the way I played for him. In fact when I told him I was leaving to join Sol Yaged at the Metropole Kiki threw a tantrum. "Oh, no! Who's going to play my Noel Coward material?"
"I got just the guy," I told him. About a week earlier I had met the pianist Herbie Nichols, who was a unique jazz stylist, very advanced and adventurous and as unorthodox and original as Thelonious Monk. But I heard Nichols play in a conventional situation, and I immediately understood that this guy could be musical and appropriate in all kinds of contexts. I sounded him about the Page Three. He was interested. Sure enough, Herbie was a hit with the cast, and became the new pianist. I stopped in one night to dig him, and Jackie Howe gave me the big smile and the OK sign. Herbie sounded like a million bucks and everybody was happy. A few weeks later I dropped by The Page Three after my gig. When Kiki Hall saw me he began hissing "It's your fault!", and Jackie Howe had to restrain him from going for my throat. The Unique Monique was on stage, and she seemed even more lost than usual.
"I saw YOOO.." she sang on that dismal major seventh, and the pianist resolved the chord a half step down so Monique's note became the tonic. It was shocking and unearthly, and the customers began to laugh. Monique stumbled off the stage in tears. I looked at the pianist and I didn't recognize him. Herbie Nichols had sent a sub. The other singers were sitting in a booth, all very upset, and the were refusing to go on. Kiki was climbing the walls, and Bubbles Kent had gone home. Sheila Jordan greeted me with a big smile. "You really missed something tonight," she said. "You should have heard Kiki's show. You should have heard "Mad Dogs and Englishmen." It was really out there! You know who that is on piano, don't you? You don't? That's Cecil Taylor," she told me. "Herbie sent him to sub. He's been here all night, played for everyone. You've never heard a show like this in your life." I thought that over for a moment, wishing I had it on tape. Then a thought hit me. "Sheila," I said. "Dare I ask? Could it be true? Did Tiny Tim perform tonight?"
"No, damn it," she said. "Wouldn't that have been priceless." "Well, Tiny Tim doesn't use piano anyway," I said, "so it wouldn't have happened." Sheila said, "Oh yes it would have happened. Cecil would have played. Cecil would have insisted on playing." Herbie Nichols came back the next night and assume all was forgiven. Herbie died not long after this took place.. My path and Sheila's path still cross once in a while, and naturally I go into my Page Three routines. I can still get a laugh with my Monique imitation, but the Page Three survivors list is dwindling, and there are few of us left t share the memories, real and imagined.. But I keep the stories going, and I have been known in weak moments to announce that I once saw Cecil Taylor play for Tiny Tim. So. let the word go forth now that it never happened. Of course, I'm assuming that they never gottogether privately.
STEW ALBERT – RIP
Of course, my own major aventure with Stew was when we disrupted the Frost Show back in the day. For an account...The secret word is Mortal
Sunday, January 29, 2006
I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT AN ELVIS WEEKEND THIS WAS GOING TO BE
Until I couldn’t stop myself lifting this from Miss Templeton who in turn lifted it from Spicy
McHaggis. But let’s watch how Opus Dei react...
The secret word is Metaphysical