Saturday, June 29, 2002

Hi Butter Beans:

I am prolly gonna be out the loop for a few days, maybe.

Well, you probably already figured that out.

I'm having too much fun in Minneapolis.

There is so much more to do here than I remembered.

Some rock maybe, too.



Thursday, June 27, 2002

Hi Pop Rocks!

I have lost two posts and had the computer crash, so apparently this is not the time to blog you.

But I am here in Minneapolis and have much to tell. It has to do with Jim Walsh, First Avenue, Lucinda Williams, a whiskey and coke, and some ice.

It also has to do with writing the same song twice, inside-out, because you are obsessed-stalking in love.

Last night I discovered Lucinda Williams. I mean, really discovered her. We have a lot of talking to do about this. I know I'm sooper way late with this one, but whatever. I'm a late-bloomer. So sue me. (All you'll get is a bunch of Hello Kitty purses.)

Last night I discovered her.

I also rediscovered my magnetic rock-club home, First Avenue. In L.A., I often visit First Avenue in my dreams. In those dreams, I can fly off the second-floor railings and over the crowd. I am one of the ghosts that haunts the club. And it is haunted; you can feel it.

Did you ever think, maybe some ghosts are the souls of alive people, lost or traveling in their dreams?

First Avenue is full of ghosts. Real ghosts. And also memory-ghosts from my wasted youth. At First Avenue, I met my first boyfriend. After we broke up, we also reunited at First Avenue. It was a mistake. But that's how boring Pavement was that night.

I blame Pavement for pretty much everything.

Once I sang with a rock band at First Avenue. It felt completely foreign and weirdly natural. Like falling in love.

In First Avenue's Seventh St. Entry (minirock club), I reunited with the long-lost L.A.girl Tracy Spuehler, after 20 years. (And on July 20 she will play the Entry!)

I cried there once, the first time I heard the song "Scar Tissue." The Red Hot Chili Peppers were performing songs before Californication came out. Flea was really unhappy and he kept confessing how he was fucking up forgetting stuff. In my review I went, "Aw, Flea." I felt like I knew him or something. I wanted to tell him that it was OK.

But as I said, now is not the time to blog.

I have a Minneapolis out there to hug and French kiss. Can you French kiss a city? I think you can. You can breathe it down into your lungs, and then it becomes part of your blood.



Monday, June 24, 2002

Hi, Chicken Lovers:

I'm leaving Hollywood tomorrow for five weeks in Minneapolis, assuming work doesn't interfere along the way and bring me home early. I will blog from Minneapolis, so you will get a sense of the fertile cadences (?) of summer in Minnesota, where all is green lush moist and throbbingly alive.

So I'm running around trying to get everything done today, so that tomorrow I may luxuriate at the Beverly Hot Springs before my flight at 6 p.m. I am going to soak in the mineral waters and also get a shiatsu massage. I have never gotten shiatsu before. I hear it's a bit brutal. That's OK, we like it rough.

So that's why this is a short entry.

I have to go buy a "gig bag" for my guitar, "Sparkle Motion." They are expensive. Oh well.

love n stuff,

Hi Turtledoves:

So it's Sunday but I'm not doing Musical Six Degrees of Separation this week. That's going to have to be bi-weekly, because it's too much damn work. If I do it once a week I will burn out on it faster than you can say Connect Bessie Smith and Tiffany.

Did I just say that?

Aw, nuts.

OK, just this one. But it's gonna be short as hell.

So here goes.

One of blues great Bessie Smith's biggest hits was "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out."

Everybody and their crazy sister recorded this song, including, in 1970, Derek and the Dominoes, a.k.a. Eric Clapton Just Before He Got Totally Whack.

(He also did a yuppie dentist-office version on his "Unplugged" album in 1992, wherein he actually expected us to buy the line about "If I get my hands on a dollar again..." They shoulda suspended his poetic license for that shit.)

We all know the Clapton/Beatles connection, which contains as much GF-swapping as anything, but just to put a single concrete connection down: Clapton played the guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

He also played lead guitar on "Yer Blues" in the Rolling Stones' "Rock 'N' Roll Circus" supergroup (w/John Lennon [a.k.a. "Johnny Legthigh"] on lead vocals, Keith Richards on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums.)

The Beatles once wrote a little song called "I Saw Her Standing There" which you may recall.

Tiffany covered the song in 1988 but, chump-like, she changed the gender to a "him."

In rock-ish music, you can really separate the chumps from the champs on this single question. Example: Jack White does not change the gender when he sings Dolly Parton's "Jolene."

Minor Tangentialism:

Tiffany also covered Tommy James and the Shondells' "I Think We're Alone Now" in 1987.

Tommy James had a hit in '82 when Joan Jett covered his wonderful "Crimson and Clover."

Joan, who is a champ, did not change the gender.

The End.



Saturday, June 22, 2002

Hi Freakazoids:

Sorry for being all, "I'm so cool cuz I'm the only one who likes ELO except for some kool KXLU DJ."

That was kind of obnoxious. Out of the three and a half people who read my blog, I bet two of you love "Do Ya," and I bet the one and 1/2 don't care but somehow, in spite of that, are cooler than me.

Isn't it funny how some days, you really do think you're Mick Jagger? I mean, you honestly believe for three seconds that there is no one else on the planet that can overmatch your taste, aesthetic sensitivity, wit, spirit, style, and erotic genius? Even if nobody else gets it?

Then other days you feel like Stuart Smalley during an Oreo-fueled shame spiral: grandiosely mediocre. Physically grotesque. (BTW, you simply have to see the highly underrated "Stuart Saves His Family," by Al Franken and Harold Ramis.)

All your friends are fooling you because they feel so sorry for you. They don't really want to hang out with you but they just don't know how to get out of it.

Secretly they're having parties without you. Those nights when everyone says they just want to stay home and chill? They're really gathering at the Playboy mansion without you. They're snorting cocaine from Pablo Escobar's private stash. They're on the roof with Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku, looking at the Milky Way through a high-powered telescope. They're playing poker with Keith Richards and they're also in the basement, having an acoustic hootenanny with Paul McCartney. They're at the piano with Cole Porter and they're eating chocolate-covered strawberries.

Everywhere, everywhere, it's chocolate-covered strawberries.

Somehow, there are no fake boobs around and that guy who owns Playboy is out of town and your friends invite the Replacements c. 1985 to do a concert on top of a giant pool table. They completely trash the place.

Ah, paranoia. It's a wilderland, ain't it?

Fact is my friends are amazingly sweet and welcoming and I feel bizarrely graced to know them.

I'm jus' riffin. Now, this was funny: the other night me and Jake went to have roommate-drinks down the street, and afterwards we stopped in at the Daily Planet gift shop. They were playing the indie band Beulah (sp?), and something about it reminded me of Brendan Benson. So I asked the shopgirl, do you know Brendan Benson?

She's all, why do you ask?

I'm all, just because this song reminds me of him.

She's like, Oh! See, I went to high school with Brendan Benson in Detroit.

So I asked her as many discreetly indiscreet questions as I could. Turns out he used to be a huge ladies' man.

I hate it when a guy writes a bunch of torch songs about the girls who don't like him, and then it turns out that he's Mr. Hot Shit Stud. It's kind of disingenuous.

I still consider him a hero, though. I'll reserve judgment till I meet him. Sometimes former sluts turn into really good men, and they're happy and wonderful because they have sown their oats so thoroughly.



PS: I remembered another song Jenny Q. played on her last show: "Deuce" by Kiss, which is such, such a ridiculous song! :)

Friday, June 21, 2002

Hi Children of the Sun

Yesterday I had to go pick up my friend Ken from the auto body repair shop on Hollywood and Gower. I was sitting in the hot hot car on the hot hot street for 20 minutes with no A.C. at 5 pm. It was all OK, though, because I was listening to KXLU and they played Big Star's "September Gurls."

That song feels like walking through the sprinkler.

I thought it probably could get no better and then they played "Do Ya" by ELO.

I thought I was the only person who got that song anymore. Well, me and Moods for Moderns, a wonderful power-pop band from Detroit who covered it most awesomely (but unfortunately just broke up). It feels so good to know someone else loves "Do Ya" enuf to play it on the FM radio at rush hour, next to Big Star.

They also played a mysterious psychedelic song called "The Origins of Love." Does anyone know who does this song? It was fucking great.

So today is Poetry Friday.

I dedicate today's poem to the small mysteries. It is by Pablo Neruda.

Ode to Clothes


Every morning you wait,

clothes, over a chair,

to fill yourself with

my vanity, my love,

my hope, my body.


risen from sleep,

I relinquish the water,

enter your sleeves,

my legs look for

the hollows of your legs,

and so embraced

by your indefatigable faithfulness

I rise, to tread the grass,

enter poetry,

consider through the windows,

the things,

the men, the women,

the deeds and the fights

go on forming me,

go on making me face things

working my hands,

opening my eyes,

using my mouth,

and so,


I too go forming you,

extending your elbows,

snapping your threads,

and so your life expands

in the image of my life.

In the wind

you billow and snap

as if you were my soul,

at bad times

you cling

to my bones,

vacant, for the night,

darkness, sleep

populate with their phantoms

your wings and mine.

I wonder

if one day

a bullet

from the enemy

will leave you stained with my blood

and then

you will die with me

or one day

not quite

so dramatic

but simple,

you will fall ill,


with me,

grow old

with me, with my body

and joined

we will enter

the earth.

Because of this

each day

I greet you

with reverence and then

you embrace me and I forget you,

because we are one

and we will go on

facing the wind, in the night,

the streets or the fight,

a single body,

one day, one day, some day, still.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Awright Meshuggenas, so it's Thursday and enough with the moping and the history lessons.

It's Superhero Thursday once again. This week my heroes are....

John Fante and Brendan Benson!

Why, you ask?

Gold, I say.

John Fante should really be called Johnny Fantastic, not only because that's a cool name, but also because that's what he is.

He's this guy who I can't hardly talk about in the past tense because he's alive to me.

John Fante writes funny, clean sentences that draw you in, and envelope you in the sordid limitations and cosmic infinity of his own mind. You wanna know how it feels to be a writer? Read John Fante.

John Fante is not afraid of being considered a "small" writer. He writes about small things in a big way. He does not write sweeping war epics. He mostly writes about love and self-loathing and trying to get through the day in L.A. ("I wasn't starving. I still had some old oranges under the bed...")

Read "Ask the Dust."

I am reading "West of Rome" now, two novellas published after his death (he died in 1983). I'm almost done with the first novella, called "My Dog Stupid." It's about him adopting a big gay dog, whom he names Stupid. (Which makes me wonder if he saw Steve Martin's "The Jerk" when they showed it on TV ages ago--they changed the dog's name from Shithead to Stupid.) The dog is literally gay. This happens sometimes, as my friends Rick Royale and Paige can tell you. (Their dog throws a party every year just to watch the Tonys.)

Without making a great show of it, John Fante tells you exactly how it feels to be poor and alone in L.A. in the 1930s. Or to be semi-poor and raising ridiculous hippies in Santa Monica the 1960s. Wherever he is, he takes your hand and walks with you into the heart of it.

Skylight books has a pretty complete Fante section.

John Fante had a finanically rewarding commercial life as a screenwriter. But his real art did not get the love and money it deserved from the world. Much of it was never published during his lifetime, including two novels, 4 million short stories, and at least two novellas.

Still, he kept writing. And he kept writing his way.

This is the crucial thing.

I wish I could tell him how much he has given me. I can't even tell you about it, because those things are now quietly taking root in the dark way bottom of my soul. If I talk about them they will become annoyed and their growth will be disturbed.

Thank you, John Fante, for walking ahead of us.

The same courage is to be found in

Brendan Benson, the wonderful rock 'n' roll singer-songwriter.

Here's one of his lyrics:

Try to understand

that an oyster can only make a pearl

from a grain of sand

but from what I don't know makes a girl.

Brendan Benson is from Detroit. He has lived in L.A. and Oakland/Berkeley. I don't know where he lives now. On the road a lot, probably. I think he must be single these days, because he has the malnourished hips of a guy who doesn't have dinner every night. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, because I want to be his girlfriend.

Brendan had a lot of label trouble with Virgin, who told him he couldn't have his friend and songwriting partner Jason Falkner produce his first record, "One Mississippi."

These days Brendan is on a Brooklyn indie label. His album "Lapalco" is plain beautiful. Buy it and don't be scared of the listening-snippets on Amazon--they don't do justice to the big crazy sound of it all. Charlie Hornberger says you really have to hear it on headphones.

Though Brendan Benson is probably poor, at least he has creative control. And I believe he will soon have his day in the sunshine.

Brendan Benson will always stick to his guns, and he will always be gold.

"I've always been this way

Never known any other way to feel

Got the right of way

And all of the others must yield!"




Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Hi, Punkins.

A week ago today something very sad happened. First, there was DeeDee Ramone's death.

Then something else.

You see, there is a rock 'n' roll DJ in Los Angeles. There really is. I'm not even kidding. And when the Ramones sing, Do you remember rock 'n' roll radio?, I say, fuck that! I don't have to remember it, brother. I got it!

This DJ plays "Private World" by the New York Dolls--on the FM radio during the middle of the day. This DJ plays "TV Eye." Then this DJ goes and plays some new indie band I've never heard of that sounds like the Runaways crossed with Jonathan Richman. Then some T. Rex. Maybe a little Stone Roses for no reason. Then some more new music from some great garage band whose name I scribble on a receipt while driving and then totally lose.

This DJ plays about 30-minute sets without talking between songs. And during breaks, this DJ is always funny and charming, someone you'd like to be friends with, even on moody DJ trying-to-quit-smoking days.

Every Wednesday afternoon I am driving in Hollywood. Every Wednesday at the same time, for at least an hour. It's usually cranky-sunny and the air is fumy, the sky is white and I'm driving down Santa Monica in the poor Latin transsexual hooker/Magee's donut part between Vine and La Brea. I try to get through intersections by pulling into the far-right lane and speeding around all the lard-ass suckers when the light turns green. It sucks, really.

And then I turn on KXLU. I always know I'm the only person on the street listening to the Stooges. It's like KXLU is my little secret. None of my friends listen to it, either.

Nobody knows how good KXLU is.

And nobody knew that the best DJ at the best rock 'n' roll station in the supposed rock 'n' roll capital of the USA was Jenny Quitter. Jennifer, O Jenny.

Axel and I went to hear her spin at the Three of Clubs a couple weeks ago and she made Axel very happy. That's not so easy to do, as he is Axel. Plus, she was wearing a white vinyl jacket just like mine.

Sometimes you don't know someone personally, and yet you understand you are kindred souls, from the same tribe. This is how I feel about Jenny.

But there's a tragedy involved. You see, last Wednesday was Jenny Quitter's last show. Basically, she lived up to her name. Goddamn it.

O dear, the music she played that day. She played the Byrds' "All I Really Want To Do," which sounded real, and good, in this context. She played "Sonic Reducer" by the Dead Boys. "Holly Holy" by Neil Diamond. And I sang along, every word, and I meant them all. (And all the "yeaghh!"s too.) "I Want You" by Elvis Costello. She played a little live Iron Maiden, some Thin Lizzy.

And a long moment of silence for her favorite Ramone, DeeDee.

I called Jenny on my magic phone and said WTF?

She's all, I have to get on with my LIFE! I have to tour with my BAND! (The Orphans.) I have to finish SCHOOL!

I'm all, but Jenny, I need you to do this because you're the best DJ in Los Angeles.

She doesn't get it. Some people don't get it how good they are, and how much they're needed.

How much they're loved.

Her last song was "Don't Think Twice."

Jenny, did I waste your precious time?

Could I have done better?

Do you mind?

The really pathetic thing is, when she played "Don't Think Twice," I totally cried.

I don't think DJs understand what they do when they do it right: They make a world, and I dwell in it. And then I come out, renewed, fortified to face the Scientologists down the street; the music-industry A&R slimebuckets who get into all the shows for free and don't even dance; bad drivers; and all women golddiggers in this town who trade on their looks and give womankind a bad name.

And every single rat bastard who has moved here from somewhere else and thinks that he has to act "Hollywood" to get ahead. The only bad people I've met in Hollywood are people who aren't from Hollywood.

For a year, driving to and from my shrink, Jenny was my friend. In moments of fear, nauseating loneliness, urban ennui, elation, confusion, and joy.

Jenny never played bad music.

Jenny always had something new, and you knew, rock's all right. Rock's gonna be OK. And so are we!

So I got a right to cry.

I'll get over it.

If anyone knows a club or bar that needs a rock DJ who'll kick any silverlake muppet's ass, email me at



Monday, June 17, 2002

Hi, Wackenhuts!

It�s Musical Six Degrees of Separation Sunday!

I know it's Monday but, again, pretend.

But first, a little business. It is with a (slightly) heavy heart I report that Taylor Hanson, 19, just got married. Taylor is extremely smart and cool and of course his cheeks are of the god-kissed peach variety that make you feel like a lecherous Greek philosopher of ancient times just looking at him.

(All my Hanson interviews got lost when I killed my laptop with whiskey. Dang. Otherwise I could prove to you how smart he is.)

(Except he's apparently dumb. You just don't get married at 19 unless it's 1834 and it's the only way you're going to make it to the New World. Or maybe you're facing a stone mob in the street, holding tiki torches and rocks and David Hasselhoff CDs, and they all really want you to get married. Or maybe aliens come down with some hippies and they're going to read Noam Chomsky out loud and make you wear Guatemalan stuff until you get married.)

Secondly, anyone who loves Neil Diamond and the Archies has to check out this vewwy spooky site, which proves that Neil and Archies songwriter Andy Kim ("Sugar, Sugar" et al.) are separated at birth. Which is Very Important.

Now, on to the Game!

The Musical Six Degrees of Separation task of the week (courtesy Maggie) is:

Clara Schumann and Max Martin.

An intriguing inaugural duo! Schumann was a 19th Century German pianist/composer, probably the most important female musician of her era.

Martin is a 21st Century Swedish pop songwriter/producer, certainly the best pop songwriter of his era. (Britney, Backstreet Boys, etc. I was horrified to learn tonight that he is only 31 years old.)

If you need some kind of proof he�s cool to like--uh, whatever. You�re really just willfully unfun, aren�t you? (So go dig this and that, and then check out the new Eminem single and compare the opening to BSB's "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" and "We've Got It Goin' On," just for kix.)

So here goes!

The Short Version:

Clara Schumann-->Robert Schumann-->J.S. Bach-->

The Toys-->Charles Calello-->Barbra Streisand-->Max Martin

(This may be seven degrees. You could easily cut Robert Schumann out of this chain, but I think I�m in love with him. I am sure that if they had had junkies back then, he would have been one.)

The Deep Version:

Clara Schumann (b. 1819) was a German child piano prodigy with a hard-ass piano-teacher father. The guy meant business: She had her first major European tour at age 12.

Unfortunately for Dad, Clara fell crazy in love with another one of his students, Robert Schumann.

Dad blew a monkey nut--Clara was supposed to be a star, not a housewife.

So for four exquisitely tortured years during Clara�s late teens, Clara and Robert carried on a hot psychic romance, unable to communicate, bumping into each other painfully on the street.

Ach jo, c�est l�amor!

Robert wrote countless pieces inspired by her.

The day before Clara turned 21, they married--without Dad�s blessing! (Robert was 30.)

But Robert had his own family "issues"--his father, a bookstore owner, died when he was 16. And so Robert had been compelled to pursue lame shit he really didn�t want to do--basically, his mom had wanted him to go to law school.

He once said, "My life has been for twenty years a struggle between poetry and prose, or, if you prefer, between music and law.�

Eventually, music won.

One of Robert�s lovelier qualities was that he was a huge, unabashed fan. He gushed over other people�s stuff--Mendelssohn, Chopin, Brahms. Sometimes he felt too much to speak:

"I never wanted to talk about Schubert, unless it was to the trees and the stars.�

(hm. maybe that's why I still haven't been able to write you that White Stripes report.)

During his struggling youth, he visited the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, where Johann Sebastian Bach had been music director. Schumann wrote: "One evening I went to the Leipzig Churchyard to look for a great man's grave: for hours I searched up and down -- I found no J.S. Bach. And when I asked the gravedigger about this, he shook his head at the man's obscurity and said, 'Bach's a common name.'"

Bach�s music, especially the precise counterpoint in his fugues, was a great comfort to Schumann in dark moods.

Schumann was obsessed with sound. He began to hear angels singing to him, and he heard entire symphonies in his head. But eventually the voices grew malevolent, and he feared he was going mad. Perhaps he suffered from schizophrenia. After a suicide attempt he entered an asylum.

Clara wasn�t allowed to visit him for two years, until he was close to death.

Finally, sitting next to him in the hospital, Clara poured a cup of red wine. It spilled on her fingers, and Robert licked it off them.

He died the next day.

The uniquely comforting style of Schumann�s hero, Bach, is evident even in the teeny-tiny five-finger exercise, �Minuet In G� from the �Little Notebook For Anna Magdalena Bach.�

Anna Magdalena was Bach�s second and last wife, a singer, whom he married when she was 21 and he was 36. (His first wife had died.)

After his death, she wrote an open letter to the comunity at large, in which she recalled highlights of their life together:

�After we had been married a few years, Sebastian surprised me on my 24th birthday with a beautiful green leather notebook with my initials imprinted in gold on the cover. Inside were beautiful songs he had written just for me!...�

Bach made an OK living as a private teacher and music director of Leipzig�s St. Thomas Church, but he never �made it� on the rock-star level Beethoven and Mozart had to deal with. He didn�t have crazy tours and mad groupies.

As Anna Magdalena says, �Most evenings we had a family concert. There were frequent visitors in our home to hear Sebastian play. Once I overheard him modestly say, �I have had to work hard; anyone who works just as hard will get just as far.�"

Bach died in 1750 after a bum operation on his eyes. He died more or less in obscurity, without even a headstone. With six kids still at home, Anna Magdalena was flat-broke, though Bach had given 27 years to the St. Thomas Church.

She hoped that one day his manuscripts might �perhaps be priceless!�

She died one year later in a poorhouse.

And, decades later, Mendelssohn began the movement to recognize Bach.

But see, if the Bachs could have earned futuristic royalties, they would have been living large.

Bach�s �Minuet in G� for Anna Magdalena was turned into a pop hit in 1965 by three girls from Jamaica, New York.

Called �A Lover�s Concerto,� the minuet-with-a-beat made June Montiero, Barbara Harris, and Barbara Parritt--better known as the Toys--famous for about 40 seconds. So famous, in fact, people thought they would be the next Supremes.

�A Lover�s Concerto� was certified gold in 1965, peaking on the Billboard pop chart at #2.

The great jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughn covered the song, as did the ever-competitive Supremes.

The Toys� arrangement was by Charles Calello, a former Four Season who was becoming a successful arranger and producer. He apparently went on to arranged Neil Diamond�s �Sweet Caroline� (uncredited), for example, and also did the string arrangements for Springsteen�s �Born to Run.�

Calello also produced or arranged a weird collection of people who would make their own demented series of �Six Degrees� games: Ritchie Havens, Juice Newton, Merle Haggard, Janis Ian, Helen Reddy, Gloria Estefan, Laura Nyro, on and on.

Like I said, weird.

He�s one of these guys where, say, you randomly go to a party at his rich grandson�s house, and there�s a shitload of gold records or awards on the walls, and you�re going, �Who the fuck?�

One of Charlie Calello�s biggest collaborators was Barbra Streisand. He did a ton of work on her album �Streisand Superman.� (Remember �My Heart Belongs to Me�? Yeek!)

I remember when I was 9 years old and my friend Samantha�s hip young divorced mom bought the new Streisand album with Barry Gibb (�Guilty�).

We dug it.

We especially dug the big song, �Woman In Love.�

Do you remember?

I am the woman in love/and I�ll do anything/to get you into my world/and hold you within/ It�s a RIGHT I defend!...

Over and over again!

We so dug that, we were so singing along to it in the living room, even though I kind of feared and loathed the Bee Gees at the time. At Samantha�s house I could indulge my Bee Gees side without shame.

So imagine my delight a couple years ago when Britney came out with her second album, "Oops! I Did It Again" and, on the title track, writer/producer Max Martin had ripped off Barry Gibb�s "Woman In Love"! (Or try this clip--they're all a bit short.)

Two of my favorite pop songwriters, having ahistorical sex on Radio Disney!

Don't you live for this stuff?

The End.



Friday, June 14, 2002

Hey You Guys!

It's Poetry Friday!

So check it out, yo. Today's poetry is by magic Maggie Sullivan, my poet sister. I couldn't choose just one so here's a few, for different moods: crushes, confusion, and more crushes!

Just for background, Maggie grew up in Koreatown just like me and Ben and then lived in South Dakota, Minneapolis, oh heck, all over.

Maggie finds heroism in secret places all the time.


Thirsty Gulp

being 39 isn't a good enough reason to feel bad

take Donn for instance

he's 42 and still works at Borders

and gives a babe like me a boner

he knows you're supposed to put butter on the popcorn

he knows you're supposed to put salt on

he knows you're supposed to read slow

he knows you're not supposed to know

right now he's memorizing moves behind the register

from a book about wrestling in the 1800s

I'm dusting the mystery shelves behind him

wishing he'd use one on me

he speaks Old Minnesotan

criminy, he goes way back!

funnier than W.C. Fields and scarier

he knows how to say, "That was delicious. Thank you."

and he can be wrong

he ate a whole anchovy all at once

from my plate in the breakroom yesterday,

and then realized--

he is old-time punk rock music

he knows for a fact it's possible to break your back in two

and still walk

he's an expert on lite fare

although it doesn't help so much

Donn born with two Ns

even in big beige plastic grandma glasses

and corrective shoes

he's so in style

it breaks me



Here's to being very alone all the time!

To Charlie Rose!

To the bus!

Here's to office birthday cards

signed by temps who're gone now!

To a brittle liquor store notebook

with only one thing written inside--

the start of a letter to her!

Here's to unresolved anger!

To unresolved love!

Forget about turning out good at the end!

Forget turning out, at all!

Here's to the untrue and impossible!

To chords strummed only once a world!

To the sun!

Here's to the crack of a New Year's

morning beer, right here

on this trailer porch!

Here's to being very alone all the time!


Going to California

It's a windy night with fireflies

and I'm taking apart a guitar

and my sisters are upstairs fighting

about a brush. Sixteen lemons

have fallen since you were here.

I should send you one

so you can eat it in front of somebody

and impress him. (That is meant to be a joke.)

One thing you should know

is that you have extremely beautiful hair.

Those guys had been partying

too heavily for their own well-being

and were about to fall asleep.

They were more dreaming than seeing.

Add to this the fact that they

are not artistically creative.

I feel sorry for them, more than anything else.

Well you haven't written yet.

That's cool. I know how it is

when you don't feel like writing a letter.

You probably have more significant things

to think about, like school.

Could you send me your phone number again?

Unfortunately, Jennifer thought it was a receipt

and threw it away.

Well I'm back and look

you've driven me to drink.

I'm mailing this right after it's finished

so please make some allowances.

I had a dream about you last night.

Listen I wish you would come back sometime.

They put up a whole new building

for Maeder and those assholes.

You wouldn't even have to see them.


This Bus Is All Right!

This bus is all right!

Like me, it's late for History of Western Civilization Part Two class.

Actually, it doesn't bother.

It goes to the beach, really slowly.

Wherever you're coming from, for a dollar thirty-five,

it lets you deep inside.

In fact, the driver says, "Move all the way back!"

When you come out, you're in a completely different place,

without feeling invaded, dirty, inadequate,

rejected or regret.

You don't have to say anything on this bus.

You don't have to have a comeback, or explain.

You don't have to practice, or have traveled a lot.

You don't have to be able to see the pattern.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Hi Fluffernutters:

It's Superhero Thursday!

My superhero this week is very special and very brothery, because it's...


(my big brother)

You probably know and love Ben already, and if you don't love him it's only because you don't know him, because to know him is to love him. He's just aces, and that's a fact, Jack.

You also prolly love and rely on his daily columns/blogs, which synthesize all news in the worlds of technology and science: Ben Sullivan's Tech Blog, and IT Insider. I think he has maybe 57 other secret blogs, and apparently he has a column at FoxNews, which I had to find out about through Tony Pierce. (Fox is having problems right now so I'll link it later.)

Ben has so many incredible talents: He's a fantastic writer and reporter, great editor, super headline writer. He's also the most natural leader I have ever known. He cofounded Prognosis, the English-language paper in Prague, and among many things, he served as a kind of mother/father for the whole staff. If anyone was feeling underappreciated or misunderstood, they turned to Ben in a quiet moment and let it all out. Ben listened respectfully and always gave them an honest and useful answer.

I know this not because Ben ever told me, but because numerous people told me their Ben-stories over the years at Prognosis. The paper was a volatile fusion of exceptionally intelligent people with appropriately neurotic artist-temperaments, working like mad and drinking way too much and living in a world of freedom and music. Ben's presence kept that paper from exploding. How Ben managed not to explode is another question.

One of Ben's greatest qualities is the ability to walk into a room and naturally find the most intelligent, artistic, funny people present. Actually, they find him: He has an invisible Good-People Magnet in his heart, which means he is extremely gifted at gathering and nurturing fertile groups of people. Put Ben in any location for more than three days and he's got people around him and plans going--a newspaper, a magazine, a plan to help random people in L.A. Ben has the soul of a poet but the pragmatism of a handyman, and this means that he understands the moody confusion of creative people, and they find comfort in his can-do solidity.

Ben is the last person to toot his own whistle about anything great he has done. He has taught me so much by example. One Ben life-lesson is that it's much cooler to let people figure out the neat stuff you've done than to brag about it. (Obviously I'm still learning.)

Another Ben life-lesson is not to borrow stuff from your friends too much, and never to borrow money from friends. Basically, take care of yourself and, if anything, be the one to give. (Definitely still working on that one.)

Ben and I are very different, but he has taught me (again, by example) that differences are really important between friends. These differences allow us to complete each other, and to experience a wider range of things vicariously. He never makes me feel I should be like him. I think this is a supreme form of love.

As kids, Ben also tried to teach me that it's OK to fall asleep whenever you feel like it, to get up as early as you want, and to watch cartoons for as long as you want. Ben was kind of a Zen kid. He did what he felt like, and it was always right for him.

Ben understands something sacred and secret about Los Angeles, and he has been gravitating back to that secret ever since Prague. Toward the end of Prognosis, he began a campaign to get everyone to move here. Everyone, including me, said, Yuck.

Obviously, we were wrong, and Ben's instincts, once again, were right.

Ben also has an impeccable sense of ridiculous fashion. Ben made an art of mixing hideous Jams shorts with absurd footwear (slippers, flip-flops, all kinds of sneakers) and brightly colored hideous T-shirts. It's amazing.

Ben is also the most passionate fan I've ever known: He loves the L.A. punk band X with a love that knows no bounds. How much does Ben love his X? Ask the dust, my friends.

(Ben recently got me into the L.A hero-writer John Fante--which is another story.)

I could tell you about Ben for hours, because he's not just my hero this week. He's my hero every week. If you know him well, I know you feel the same way.

Such a wonderful Ben!



Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Hi Bagel Chips:

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: To avoid hangovers, barf before you pass out.

It's really as simple as that, people. Must I repeat myself endlessly?

I'm glad we had this little chat. Now, please, let's make sure this is the last time.

On to other news. The Shins and Mercury Rev last night at the El Rey.

The Shins were the not-ready-for-mainstage players, unfortunately. The wonderment of the harmonies on their perfect little album, "Oh, Inverted World" did not come across, and the singer/songwriter James Mercer seemed to be suffering up there from acute stage-fright. He couldn't do much beyond just getting the songs sung and finished. Poor kid.

Something about him reminded me of Stephen Hawking. Partly it was his 1974 math club-president nerd-glasses. But also: Do you know how Stephen Hawking has this secret sexiness--it's an echo of a former life wherein he was this bony, awkward genius fuckup with the crazy hair and Mick Jagger lips? This guy had something of that, with his thinning hair all sweaty stuck to his forehead like a little kid waking up from a nap.

Mercury Rev was just plain ridiculous, completely grandiose, proving that they are the missing link between '60s psychedelia and '80s new wave. It is poetically appropriate that this missing link should reveal itself so late, and only proves the time-travel theory of music. (I don't know what that is; I just said it.)

Basically, they had two full-time, full-on keyboardists--one playing new wave synth sounds and one doing dramatic, classically-styled Rock-maninoff; two tons of dry ice and fire-colored lights; and a guitarist who looks like Elvis and plays like Radiohead-lite. The singer looks like a young Eric Burdon and sounds a little like--well, you know how Neil Young sounds when he sings in falsetto? ("Helpless," say?) He has the same quivering-tender quality--nonstop, for two hours. It does get a bit overquivering.

He sings with extreme care and presents each song, each word, as if it were a perfect, tiny sculpture, a miniature snowflake spun from the most fragile sugar-glass. If I ever had to name someone who is precious about his music, this guy would be up there with the Creed guy. He spreads his arms wide often and even makes flying motions. I don't know how, but he gets away with it. Maybe because he grins like he's getting a soulful foot massage from God after every song. He is insufferable, but he also seems like maybe he's just a really nice guy.

After the show me and Little Lauren picked up Axel and some scrawny rock boy named Steve at their respective Hollywood dive apartments and went to Ye Rustic. Two great things happened at Ye Rustic, which is not unusual for Ye Rustic.

One, Kamal, the Polaroid genius, is back from India and his eye surgery was completely successful.

Kamal is a warm-hearted photographer who makes his living taking Polaroids of people at the Rustic and neighboring bars. He also sells long-stem roses. He is from India and has a pretty thick accent. There's another, younger Indian guy who does the same job but he's no fun. Kamal is all fun, all the time.

Kamal was very sad about a year ago because he had bum eyes and he couldn't see for shit, and he didn't know if the eye surgery would be successful. He was so sad, it hurt just to talk to him. He was going back to India for a while, I think for the surgery, and didn't want to leave Hollywood.

I didn't see him for ages. Only the replacement guy.

Kamal once took a picture of me and my roommate, Jake, that we have framed. It's so good, I gave it to my mother for Mother's Day. When Jake found out, he got really mad at me. "That was our picture!"

So I had to ask my mom to give it back. She made a copy and sent it back. That's how good this picture is.

But Kamal has taken several pictures of me and various friends and lovie-dovies at the Rustic, and all of them are unusually evocative pictures. It's a question not just of his eye and sense of placement, but of the precise moment when he presses the button. A couple of his shots, like the Jake one, actually reveal our souls.

So Kamal was back last night and in fine form and so happy. "Everything is perfect," he said, smiling. He took two pictures for us and gave me and Lauren roses. The pictures were beautiful as usual, revealing as always.

After, we all went back to my place and drank whiskey and talked about music. It would have been fine except that Steve was one of these near-fundamentalist types who believes that all music should follow his very narrow prescription for good music, otherwise it's dumb. His great golden standard is "the Perfect Pop Single." I worship this principle implicitly, but like anything it can be taken too far. Steve took it too far, eventually comparing Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray favorably with Paul McCartney.

"You have to admit, those songs have something," he said. "They're catchy."

I was too bored to say, "So's a McDonald's jingle."

I was also too bored to tell him I had spent shocking quantities of time with Mark McGrath once for a story, and that our greatest point of connection was our love of the Perfect Pop Single. The last time I saw Mark, he was sitting in his car and had just turned on the stereo: Wings' "My Love" began playing. He just looked at me and smiled as if to say, Witness.

But Mark would never put himself or his band anywhere near the Beatles, because even though he seems stupid, he's actually pretty smart when it comes to music. He knows exactly where he stands:

"It�s funny, I was reading this Entertainment Weekly review of us, and they said Sugar Ray is the Three Dog Night of the �90s. To me, that was the most flattering thing you could possibly say. Three Dog Night! My whole thinking is so fucked up that I took it as such a compliment.

"I look at a band like Herman�s Hermits, and maybe we�re akin to something like that--just a band that wrote some pops songs that maybe you�ll hear the rest of your life. And if that�s the legacy of Sugar Ray, thank the Lord. Because we are not worthy of that.

"If that�s your standards, to match Herman�s Hermits, to me that�s the greatest thing ever. If I could be like Peter Noone and singing 'Fly' at K-Earth reunion night, I�d be stoked! To me, that fills me with goodness. If I�m driving down Sunset Blvd. in 2015 and I hear 'Fly' come on the radio, and I�m with my kids, I�ll feel pretty cool, I�ll tell you right now."



Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Hi Beer Nuts:

I went this morning for free food and mimosas at the House of Blues for some weird "speshal" announcement (ok, they didn't spell it that way) from "Warner Home Video" and some other weird company. (You should always be careful when people call something special. Just a tip.) The announcement was really, really exciting for the "teams" at both companies and it had to do with "penetrating" the music DVD market. There were a lot of young white guys in expensive suits and we all had to wear these artificial leis. (If this is the closest I come to getting "lei'd" this summer I will just die.)

At first the leis seemed embarrassing: How sad that we're here at a fake-party wearing fake-leis and getting fake-excited about Warner Bros. making even more not-fake money, while the Mexican guys making the make-to-order omelettes are making play-money. But then I looked around the room at the savvy young suits in their sharply tailored uniforms, and I realized that the leis gave them an air of ridiculousness that made them seem almost likeable. You almost felt you could walk up to such a person and he wouldn't talk down to you, or ask "who you're with," or look right through you, or look at your body--because he was wearing flowers.

We watched excerpts from the forthcoming "Janet Jackson in Hawaii" DVD, which is the gayest thing since faux-finish paints, and I noticed that normal, cuddly Janet has once again become robo-Janet over the past year. She must eat paper and work out in her sleep, because we all know Miss Janet is not only Nasty, she is also Nasty Curvy. No more. Her six-pack is carrying its own six-pack. She looks great in a zoological, Olympic-triathlete way, but come on, people. There is no way in God's green flippy-floppy that she can maintain this physique and be a Real person with a Life.

I will just have to keep it real for her. Won't you join me? I think meatloaf would be a good way to start.

It is decided, then. Tonight, we meatloaf!

Then I'm going to Mercury Rev and the Shins tonight. I'm mostly excited for the Shins, who are an excellent Beach Boys-and-psychedlia-inspired indie rock band with poetic lyrics with a definite sense of place--farms, fields, trees and streams. I first got into them because of a 15-year-old boy with better taste than me, my cousin Joe, the future guitar hero. (That's another story.)



Monday, June 10, 2002

Hi Ladybugs:

I just wrote a long entry about Moby, Eminem, the White Stripes and Beck--and what they all have in common. (Copping black music.)

You are SO glad I just deleted it. It was deadly boring--oh my God, I thought I was back at UC Santa Cruz writing some bullshit PC essay on cultural co-optationationism--so here's something WAY more fun. Musical four degrees of separation!

Moby is on V2 Records

The White Stripes are on V2 records.

The White Stripes are from Detroit

Eminem is from Detroit

Eminem is a one-name star

Beck is a one-name star.

Moby is a one-name star.


Send me four other musicians and I will connect them. Or you could send me two and I'll do six degrees of musical separation, which is slightly more difficult. (

Once I told my friend to connect Blind Lemon Jefferson and Olivia Newton John and he did it via ELO--brilliant.

Maybe Sunday will become Musical Six Degrees of Separation Sunday!

(Now that we have Hero Thursday and Poetry Friday!)

I gotta run.

Stay gold,


Saturday, June 08, 2002

Hi Flippercasts:

(That's a Dutch word but I don't remember what it means.)

I promised you some hot girl-on-monster interview-action with the President of Viacom, Mel Karmazin, which would prove that corporate consolidation of the media is not the "natural" cost of a free market. It is purposely anti-competitive and thus anti-free-market.

Here you go. (See previous entry/s on media consolidation, which is the corporatist equivalent of when, like, the two groups of popular girls at school align themselves to take over the prom committee and make it really expensive and un-fun for normal kids, and OF COURSE rig the prom-king-and-queen votes.)

Lil background: Viacom/Infinity/CBS is one of the four major media conglomerates that controls radio. (Obviously they also own the MTV/VH-1 networks and anything CBS.) They own KROQ in L.A.

The reason four companies control radio is because of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. For most of radio's history a company was allowed to own only two radio stations in any given "market" (one each of Am/FM), and a total of 7 stations nationwide. These laws were written to ensure diversity of ownership and broadcasting, and to protect little-guy broadcasters from the Blob.

Back when radio was invented, you see, people had this goofy concept that the airwaves were a public resource, like national forests.

The '96 Telecom Act made it possible to own eight stations in one market and an unlimited number nationwide. Overnight, radio became the playground of the fabulously wealthy, and Mom & Pop radio station owners couldn't compete against the much deeper pockets of these mega-corporations.

Mom & Pop and small-fry broadcasters were people who were in the business not because they were going to become bazillionaires--because they weren't--but because they loved radio.

Since 1996, companies that own radio are not radio-lovers, or even broadcasters at heart. Clear Channel, the largest radio conglomerate, calls itself an "advertising" company. Viacom's Mel Karmazin says, "If we're going to be in the

*advertising* business, we want to be in radio."

The effects have been wide-ranging, but the one I care about most tonight is this:

Sucky fucking music.

My first question to Mel Karmazin was sentimental: "What's your happiest memory of KROQ?"

His answer: "Buying it."

He said his job was not stressful, especially since consolidation. "I have no stress. I create stress."

Why don't I let him speak for himself:

Mel Karmazin: Radio�s become today a better business than it�s ever been in history. It�s less competitive today than it was, because of consolidation. For example: Today L.A. may boast of having 100 stations. Probably in the 1980s, there were 50 owners of those stations. And what�s now happened is that now we [Infinity/Viacom], Clear Channel, Emmis and Disney, those four companies own a good chunk of the market today. And that makes it a better business than when you were dealing with an individual station.

KS: Has there been any downside to consolidation for you?

MK: There aren�t very many minuses to consolidation, in all candor. As an owner, there have been all kinds of benefits. I don�t know what the negative would be.

KS: Were you involved in lobbying for deregulation?

MK: We were very involved, and were the first to take advantage of duopoly. The first [deregulation] shoe dropped with the FCC when they allowed you to own two FM stations in the same market, so that�s when we bought K-Earth. We saw that that was an advantage. If you like the radio business, and we did, owning an LA station is critical. If you now own two stations, that makes it even better, and if you can now own seven stations, that makes it even better, which led to further consolidation.

We were very active in lobbying for the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Since we were one of the biggest beneficiaries of it, we were interested in it. We thought that the radio business needed more consolidation in order to compete with other media. We were saying, in order for us to be a vibrant business, we needed to take more and more dollars away from the newspapers, and the way you do that is to aggregate more audience. As good as one station might be, we only have a three or four share of the market. So what you needed to do was get up to where you had critical mass, so you can walk into an advertising agency and tell them you can deliver 30 or 40 percent of the audience in a market. And that�s what we saw as a vision, and why we were so aggressive trying to get the rules tilted our way.

And by the way, we think that there�s still a need for further deregulation, because it really seems silly that there�s a numerical number like eight--one company can only own eight stations [per market] and let�s assume, in L.A. if you just count the number of stations that are available to a listener, there�s probably closer to a hundred. Why should one company be limited to eight percent of the radio stations in the market?

I�m not suggesting this, but even if one company owned all the stations in a given market, there�s still newspaper competition, TV competition, billboard competition.

KS: What do you say to people who say radio has a different feel now, that it's not as good?

MK: To people who say that radio has a different feel than it used to, I say to them: Get a life. . Instead of bitching about it, just shut the radio if they don�t like it.


Um... question. How do you "shut" a radio?

i mean, does he have, like, a folding radio?

a book-shaped radio?

(not a bad idea.)

Secondly, if he were a fruit, what would he be? crabapple? ugly fruit?

Thirdly, what would e.e. cummings have to say about him?

of all the blessings which to man

kind progress doth impart

one stands supreme i mean the an

imal without a heart.



Thursday, June 06, 2002

Welcome to Poetry Friday!

(I know it's Saturday but just pretend.)

As Audre Lord said, poetry is not a luxury.

Sometimes, it's all you got!

I have been getting some responses on the ee cummings thing, so i guess

mood (am i)

little in MORE

listeningest floweringmore

to hear him.

(haw, haw!)

So here's one from ee, and it's kind of got a "Renaissance Pleasure Faire" quality to it, if I may be so bold. (see also: Lord of the Rings)

(dare i say: Led Zeppelin IV?)


open your heart::

i'll give you a treasure

of tiniest world

a piece of forever with

summitless younger than

angels are mountains

rivery forests

towerful towns(queen

poet king float

sprout heroes of moonstar

flutter to and

swim blossoms of person)through

musical shadows while hunted

by daemons

seethe luminous

leopards(on wingfeet of thingfear)

come ships go

snowily sailing

perfect silence.

Absolute ocean

Hi, Monkey Nuts!

It's time for.....

**************Hero of the Week!*****************

Two, again:

Studs Terkel and Margaret Bourke-White!

Each of these Rock Heroes was devoted to documenting the truth of individual Americans' everyday reality, in indulgent, lavish detail, with all the shadows, umbra and penumbra lovingly articulated, magnified, glorified. The people they documented had surely never been listened to or seen so closely by strangers--in other words, they had never been loved so hard.

The one thing I have learned in my so-called career of corporate journalism, the one gift that gig has given me, is this knowledge: People need to be listened to. For hours. They need to ramble freely, to free-associate and reminisce and expose themselves to someone who is interested. No one, not even bazillionaire rock stars, ever gets listened to really closely.

Or seen. And, as Georgia O'Keefe said, it takes time to see--just as it takes time to have a friend.

Margaret Bourke-White and Studs Terkel were lovers and friends of man, and woman, and they were true American patriots because they were not afraid to see America. Really see it.

For those who don't know, Margaret Bourke-White was the first female professional photojournalist. The first issue of Life Magazine featured one of her photographs on the cover. She was the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union, in 1929. She was also the first female war correspondent, and the first to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II. She was one of the first photographers to enter and document the Nazi death camps.

Bourke-White wrote six books about her international travels, and her book of photos of the depression-era South, "You Have Seen Their Faces," is a masterpiece. (Though I don't care for the fact that the writer, Erskine Caldwell--her future ex-hubby--INVENTED the quote-captions. No wonder they broke up.)

Thanks to the Women In History website.

As you prolly know, Studs Terkel (who surely has the coolest guerrilla-journo name ever, next to Lester Bangs) is the pre-eminent oral historian of America. His books are can't-put-it-down good, toilet-seat reading that will expand your soul. People's journalism.

He's a listener like no other.

(He also is known for dressing in red and white, much like a certain Best Band In The World I don't need to mention. Coincidence?)

He compiled about 40,986 books (give or take!) on subjects ranging from work (Working) to death (Will the Circle Be Unbroken?), race (RACE) and war (The Good War).

Of course, these two are only the greatest of a proud American tradition. If you wanna get your mind blown, check out the web archives of the WPA Federal Writers Project "Folklore Project," wherein thousands of "average" Americans were interviewed by broke writers during the Depression. Do a key word search and see what you come up with. It's as fun as a pinata, and you're guaranteed not to lose an eye.

To close, the words of Studs Terkel at 257 years of age. (OK, 80-something.):

"Think of what's stored in an 80- or a 90-year-old mind. Just marvel at it. You've got to get out this information, this knowledge, because you've got something to pass on. There'll be nobody like you ever again. Make the most of every molecule you've got as long as you've got a second to go."



Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Hi Noddy Blinkums:

A guy just wrote me to say, politely, that corporate control of the media sucks ass, but is the price we pay for a free-market economy.

This is sheer bloonky-wangle. Corporate media monopoly is a condition which was carefully, diligently, and very expensively maneuvered over the past 20 years by special interests. These groups paid vast sums of money to lobby Congress and the FCC to dismantle all the carefully written media anti-trust laws that were established years ago, and that served us well for decades.

Corporate media monopoly is proudly anti-competitive, and therefore anti-free market.

But don't take it from me.

Tomorrow, when I have time, I will post excerpts from a recent interview I did with the president of Viacom, who will explain it all in the clearest possible terms.

Make no mistake: This is not how it is supposed to be.


Hello, Lovers of the Mattness:

My friend, mentor and spiritual big brother Matt Welch posted a notice on his Very Hot-Shit blog about my tiny little not-shit blog, and so, in the words of the Mexican techno/cumbia/rap group Kinky, "Welcome to my world."

The song in which they sing this, "Cornman," is about an acrobatic corn vendor who performs somersaults. It is their best song. I would like to visit this corn world.

Why is it that non-Americans have a much more sophisticated sense of the absurd than we do?

Why are we so tragically literal?

Does it come from our freedom?

Does it come from our youth as a nation?

Our media?

Or is it something in the Coke?

In any case it is one quality which will surely diminish with the increasing colorization of our culture. My God, this country is amazing. And it's only going to become more so. To think that white people in L.A. were so scared of Mexicans 20 years ago, so threatened. And of Koreans. I believe that these two groups actually saved Los Angeles. I know they saved my old neighborhood.

The next great axe for me to grind is that of the sacred and endangered American Mom & Pop, which is thankfully alive and well in L.A.

The American Mom & Pop is the soul of this country. Not only economically, but culturally: Our greatest newspapers and radio stations were Mom & Pops. The deregulation of the broadcast industry was, at its core, an assault on Mom & Pop capitalism. The result? Shitty newspapers and radio, and corporate control of the news--i.e., a real live threat to democracy.

I believe that American Mom & Pops of all stripes should start their own Political Action Committee, if not political party, to fight for their god-fucking-given right to thrive. It's time to come out about the terms of this fight: It's about big guys versus little guys.

(And the Sexy People versus the Yucky People.)

How is this connected to the Rock? How is it NOT connected? How did punk rock happen? Mom & Pop rock clubs, number one. Mom & Pop record labels (a.k.a. "indies"). Mom & Pop radio stations like then-KROQ. Mom & Pop magazines.

I'll shut up now.



Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Hi, Pussy Willows.

To-Do List:

1. Eat more gummy bears

2. Turn my dictionary into a cute guy and then make it my boyfriend

3. Actually read all the Mojo cover stories I've been putting off (Stone Roses, Elvis, et al.)

4. Discover a whole bunch of secret, unreleased Badfinger songs that actually fulfill their potential.

5. Eat flowers, and not be afraid.

In reality I am eating more gummy bears but generally trying to recover from the emotional overwhelm of my White Stripes Weekend. (More on that later.)

I am also procrastinating on the last great big work-related task before my Summer Vacation begins. It involves radio history and KROQ and I'm plenty freaked-out and confused about how to do it. I saw Jed the Fish last night at the show and he said he thinks it's a good idea. I love that man, and I can't explain why.

I think maybe I have a particular affinity for ex-junkies. It seems like heroin users are the most delicate and sensitive sign of the substance-abuse zodiac. They don't need to feel macho, they don't need to be funnier or faster or crazier. They just need to feel like they're OK and everything's going to be OK.

Maybe that's a stereotype, though.

In any case, I would say we are at Procrastination Defcon 3. I went for a walk, took a nap, went grocery shopping, read Mojo, (which featured an endearingly upset letter from John Frusciante about an offhand slur against Yes!), and practiced guitar. But I have not yet done the dishes or laundry. I'll know we're at Defcon 1 when the bathroom floor is shiny.

Procrastination Haiku #1

Deadline near

Must write haiku about it.

Floor clean, page blank--shit.



PS: Not to be all smarter-than -thou, but if anyone can spot the ee cummings reference today I'll write a haiku just for them. email me at

Monday, June 03, 2002

Hi Love Buckets:

Off to the final Stripes show in a bit.

Tony Pierce's blog recently quoted a certain friend of his, who said most great women writers were crazy, and that it's not as impressive when someone crazy writes something great. (I.e., Boys are better than girls.)

I believe I know which crippled intellect produced this most contorted rationalization for its own bigotry. And yes, it is bigotry.

Here's what I have to say about that. First of all, it is highly questionable that most great women writers were crazy. If you doubt me, check out Molli's short list of 27 non-crazy women writers, which is just a starting point.(

Genius of the American frontier Willa Cather was as sane as rain. Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison? Please. Or my favorite genius of the moment, Jane Austen? Her brain was tight as a certain unnamed bigot's ass.

Furthermore, I very much doubt that the ratio of crazy/noncrazy women writers is different from that of male writers.

Finally, to say that it's not impressive when someone crazy does something great shows a gross misunderstanding of ways of depression, bipolarism, paranoid schizophrenia, alcoholism (and addiction in general). For every Brian Wilson, or Virginia Woolf, there are a hundred Joe Schizophrenics who can barely make it through the day, much less produce monumental artistic masterworks.

It's a fucking miracle when someone suffering from mental illness gets it together for extended periods of time to write a novel or record an album. And for it to be clear and good.

I am tired of small-minded creeps like Tony's friend spouting fear-based nonsense about my people, when it is obvious that women are alchemists with powers beyond the grasp of any man. Women are the gatekeepers to the Mystery, and you know it.

So shut the fuck up.


After three Stripes shows I understand a little better why I love them so. I will go into greater detail about this later, but it has to do with the sexual communion between them. It has to do with Meg's deep and strong female yin and Jack's scattershot, awkward masculine sexuality, and the way these two complete each other.

They are not just making love up there. They are, like, making flowers and trees. Great, broad, deep green trees. That's what I see when I close my eyes at their shows. I see all the trees they have planted.

This is the next step for rock 'n' roll: Crazy punk garage rock that is, at its essence, creative--not destructive. This is not music about tearing down and destroying. This is music about making things and having sex and making life happen.

And it couldn't have happened without girl.



Hi Magic Ones:

Second Stripes show. The energy coming off the stage tonight was enough to build a new world, to reforest the Amazon and restore the lost ozone, to replace all the lost limbs and fix all the broken watches in this sad old world. Two people in love can do everything, everything that matters. Two people who understand each other, and love each other, are the seeds of a universe.

I went to the Rustic afterward with Axel for whiskeys, and we talked about the power of creative limitations--and the necessity of bleeding. You've got to bleed. It is fitting that onstage at the MTV thing yesterday, just after the White Stripes finished playing, my uterus started contracting something fierce. You gotta bleed.



ps: more later!

Saturday, June 01, 2002

I saw zombies today, and they weren't a cool '60s psychedlic British band or a rap-metal beard guy, they were real, dead zombies.

I'm talking about the audience at the MTV Movie Awards.

Do you want to talk about people who are dead in the eyes?

Cold in the ears?

Asleep at heart?

Sour in the soul?

People who haven't the energy to get excited about a band anymore--or even to recognize the charm of those who still do?

People who just don't get it?

I'm talking about the movie stars, rappers, and lame geek dork-ass famous people who had front row seats to see the White Stripes and their 200 biggest fans freak out--and do the Robot!--and stared at us like we had unsightly eczema all over our bodies.

I'm talking about the Too Cool for School people, who are the ugliest people I have ever seen in my life.

If I ever start acting like one of those people, you must break a mirror over my head and then take me to 837 Third Avenue, where I grew up, and tell me to sit down on the back hall toilet for an hour, and stare at the chips in the paint on the back of the door, the little faces, and think about what I've done.



I'm running to the MTV thing, so just briefly: The White Stripes show last night was impossible and improbable and certainly a miracle. I never before let myself completely surrender to them, and now I know why:down there in the center of it are all the feelings I have known in my life, served up too hot, and it burns my soul a little bit. Still, I will marry them. "The union forever."