Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hi, Froghouse

The Secret Creeks (and Lakes, Springs, and Swamps) of Los Angeles

Today I had another conversation with another native Angeleno who stated flatly that L.A. is a desert. It got me going all over again about the untruth of this, and how I know in my body that our city is run through with water, secret and not-secret, lost, and extant.

I thought you'd enjoy this fabulous map created by the Ballona Wetlands people, who seem really swell, which shows all the historical water that enriched this land: creeks, lakes, ponds, wetlands, marshes, the works. If you click on the right toggle and overlays, you can see your own street. Most likely, there was once a creek nearby!

This wonderful article also describes it all in marvelous detail.

Love and swimming, Kate
Ballona Creek, in the day

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hello, Jello

Enjoyable clip for any Beastie Boys' fan: Jello Biafra, Tipper Gore et al. discussing the Beastie Boys and censorship. I miss smart punk rockers.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Happy Friday

Hey, Bread:

It's finally feeling like summer's coming. I wonder if we'll have any June Gloom this year at all. The May Gray was minimal. I don't expect any July Why at all.

I'm going to see the Beach Boys' reunion this Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl. Worst seats in the place, visually, but best seats aurally. The seats at the top of the Bowl have immensely full sound, cognitively supported by the sight of thousands of people gathered in the night, before the illuminated Shell of Wonder.

I think these seats will be great for the Beach Boys. I figure, with the Beach Boys, at their age, it's all about the sound. Actually, having recently watched the astounding TAMI Show from 1964, I can attest that with the Beach Boys, it has always been about sound. They've never been an attractive group, just barely reasonable-looking. The obvious exception would be Dennis Wilson, who is currently smoking hash with James Brown.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

I (Still) Feel Love

It seems as soon as I started blogging again, rad people started dying. I don't feel like writing about Donna Summer, you know. I mean, I do, but not in any context having to do with her not being alive. That's too much to ask. Just too much. She was too alive and still is in my heart. I love you, Donna Summer.

Here's a shorty Q&A with her from LA Weekly days. Even in just a little phone interview she had such joie de vivre, it made you feel like everything was happy and fine. She must have been an incredible mother. Like so many genius females, she took time off from her professional life to raise her children. What a life.

5 Questions with Donna Summer

When did you realize you had a voice from God?
I think I write about that in my [2003] book, Ordinary Girl. I heard God speak to me when I was 8. It happened while I was singing — I heard this voice say, “You’re going to be famous, this is power, and you’re never to misuse it.” And I’m like, whoa — what was that? Instantly tears just started coming out of my eyes, almost uncontrollably crying.

I heard John Lennon flipped for your work with Giorgio Moroder — what’s the story?
When he got the single of [1977’s] “I Feel Love,” he went back home and listened to it over and over again, and he said to someone who knew him very well, “Listen to this, you’ve got to listen to this song — this is the future. ”

You’ve been out of the spotlight a long time — is this a comeback?
When [my youngest child] Amanda graduated from college two and a half years ago, I was sort of set free to go be myself again. I thought, what am I doing with the rest of my life here? My husband always laughs at me: “You go from housewife/mom to, like, Donna Summer!”It’s kind of a bizarre feeling sometimes for me too.

Is it like riding a bike?
Yeah, it is. I’ve put on a few pounds and for a long time I was really afraid to go out. I thought, I’ve got to be perfect all the time. [But] you’re gonna get older and things are gonna change. It took me a minute to just figure out, okay, this is who I am now — like it or lump it!

And little human things play such a big part in your perception of what you can accomplish — now, performing in 5-inch spike heels kills my feet! One day I thought, well, let me wear flats onstage — and no one noticed the shoes. They just noticed I could dance more.

Who’s your performing role model?
Judy Garland. When she was onstage, I couldn’t see the orchestra. All I could see was her — every motion and eye flutter. That’s my goal. Not to be where Beyonce is now — where it’s about the clothes and the girl and blah blah. I want it to be about me and my music.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What's Up, Professor Booty

Since Adam Yauch's passing last week, I've been thinking a lot about the album that converted me into a real Beastie Boys fan. As a teenage girl, I didn't find what I was looking for on License to Ill, or in their pseudo-fratboy "antics." You know, giant inflatable penises onstage and a generally metallic attitude toward females. I was probably a little afraid. Definitely too young to grasp any of the knowing humor behind a giant inflatable penis.

I think at some point, someone should make a documentary about the Great Inflatables of rock. Off the top of my head I am thinking of the giant inflatable cobras I saw at Aerosmith and the giant inflatable mouth & tongue when the Stones played Dodger Stadium several years ago. Giant inflatables are not to be taken lightly. They can be a huge hassle. At the Stones show, the tongue wouldn't unfurl and inflate properly, so it was sort of flaccid and weird for much of its appearance. I believe giant inflatables are like fireworks—the two really go hand in hand—in that they give roadies and crew a huge headache and can be downright dangerous, but when they work, they turn even smart audience members into complete idiots. This is a kind of liberation.

In any case, if I had known then what I know now about giant inflatables, I would have probably realized the Beastie Boys were geniuses. As it was, their music didn't appeal to my ears as much as other pop music and even other hip-hop of the time, although we didn't call it hip-hop. We called it rap. (And they didn't play it on KROQ. The first girls heard singing "Brass Monkey" at Immaculate Heart High School were African American, because they were listening to KDAY.)

All the obituaries I read for Adam Yauch mentioned Paul's Boutique as their seminal album, their Sgt. Pepper. But I think that's probably, at the deepest level, not true. (I don't even think Sgt. Pepper was the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper.) 

The Beasties' most expansive, intriguing, and thematically meaningful album was not mentioned in any of the obituaries I read. That album is Check Your Head, which also represented the Beastie Boys' return to recording and playing as a real band. Importantly, Check Your Head also contains as many pop thrills as any Beasties' album besides License to Ill, of course. Those pop thrills are what makes it work. I love the way that "Something's Got to Give"—which comes off as a meditative premonition of the impending L.A. riots—seques into the silliness of "The Blue Nun" ("Mmmm... It does go well with the chicken.")

I have a lot to say about Check Your Head (and its spinoff, The In Sound from Way Out) an album that was recorded in Los Angeles—specifically, Atwater Village—using instruments found through the Recycler. But now I am going out into the great, wide world.