Thursday, October 31, 2002

Hi, Funny Punkins!

Happy Halloween.

Halloween is the best holiday of all because it combines three of the best things in life:

1. candy

2. crazy fashion

3. satan

Obviously, the booze is a-ok too.

I just finished carving my pumpkin. Now I have to go get stuff for my costume at the Hollywood Halloween and Costume Shop, which is the best costume shop in L.A., maybe the world.

I wish I were able to go trick or treating.

But for me, Halloween is really tomorrow, and Saturday.

After shopping I have to go see "Real Women Have Curves," which I am reviewing for City Pages.

I want to tell you about my costume but it may jinx it, so let's just say it combines rock music and pirates.



Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Hi Chunky:

I was in Portland for two days on an assignment. That's why I wasn't around. Portland has some interesting cab drivers. One was from Tibet. He was a total chain smoker with a crazy great high-mountain Asian sort of face. He told me I should go to India.

Two were Ukrainian.

Portland wore me out. Last night I saw "Spirited Away," and I have to say it's my favorite children's entertainment since the Harry Potter books. It's sort of a cross between Harry Potter and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," but Japanese. In my hotel room I got to watch TV, which I don't normally do, and all I wanted was to watch the Disney channel. I was feeling so violated by Grownup Reality, I couldn't even watch the last game of the World Series. (Yay Angels!)

Disney had a really cool movie about three kids (a smart, brave brunette boy, his less-brave red-headed friend, and their precocious deadpan girl buddy. ok. they don't get points for originality). The kids discover a mummy and have to help him return to eternity. In the process they also must fight off adults, who are all either idiots or evil, except for the supergeek who runs the occult bookstore and is almost acceptable. (I love all storytelling in which grownups are completely marginalized.) It was a cross between ET and Harry Potter and I loved it. There was a little neighborhood kid who's clearly insane and YELLS everything he says, and spouts accidental wisdom like the town fool/Cassandra in "Troilus and Cressida." He carries a security blanket but yells, "IT'S NOT A BLANKET IT'S A RAG I CARRY IT AROUND TO WIPE UP STUFF IN CASE I SPILL ANYTHING." I can so relate to that.

The Portland trip deserves more attention than I will give it at the moment, but let's just say that Oregon is OK with me. Know why? Well, downtown Portland has these very tiny one-way streets and old, old streetfront shops and bars, and reminded me of St. Paul crossed with downtown Lisbon, because it also has streetcar tracks and hills. It felt loved. They also have the country's largest bookstore.

Outside the movie theater, an old lady in a tiara had petitions to "Kick Enron's Lying Cheating Ass of of Oregon!" How awesome is that, I ask you.

Earlier, I was walking to the movie theater in the chilly dark, crossing a park of golden-leaved trees, and I saw a group of people huddled in a circle with candles stuck in paper cups (they make a pretty light). I asked someone sitting down if it was a memorial, and for whom. He said, Senator Wellstone.

Aw. Oregon's all right.

The people were maybe 40 percent transplanted Minnesotans. It seemed everyone had a "Paul Story" to share: One woman had taken his intro class on grassroots movements at Carleton in 1980. She said he had this manic energy, and said stuff like, "I don't want you to take my word for everything, I want you to think for yourselves!"

Another person said a friend's family had travelled from their rural area to St. Paul for the State Fair, and the mother tried to find Paul for two days at the DFL booth. Finally she caught him, and said, "I've been looking for you for two days!" And he said, "That's because every time I saw you, I went the other way!"

I told my story about meeting him at the San Francisco airport. It was exactly one year ago, on Oct. 27. The airports were crazy at that time with 9/11 madness. He was walking around with a woman aide, it appeared, and I followed him like a creepy stalker back and forth along these confusing ropes and whatnot near the baggage claim. Finally, he stood still, and I approached him as quietly as possible. He was such a sexy and open man, but he didn't make you feel small, the way that some men try to do. He made you feel like a real person, too.

I told him he was my hero, and the greatest politician of my lifetime. I could say that honestly, and without deliberation, because I had already been thinking about it. I have seen some good and great leaders in my lifetime, and people who changed the world. But nobody ever ever ever had the total package---until Wellstone. He had it all and then some, and he was the first politician I ever trusted--and probably the last, too.

He shook his head, "Oh no, I don't deserve that!"

You can take it, I said.

You're a hero, he said.

Oh, whatev! (I am so fucking sure!)

You are my hero forever and ever, amen.

Your life exploded all of a sudden, and I think it sent out fiery sparks in all directions. You may have started small fires in hearts all over the country. Your energy does not dissipate into empty air. We absorb it too, you know.

I want to see how you live on through other people. I want to know what happens when a great man dies. I want to witness the physics of love.



Saturday, October 26, 2002

Hi Kids

Had to take down previous post eulogizing the great Paul Wellstone. It's too early for that sort of thing.

It's a natural reaction to try and control grief and outrage and desperation by waxing eloquent about a loss, but it's bullshit. It's like those pieces in the New Yorker after 9/11. You don't get poetical like that so soon unless you're in denial. All I really feel right now is dumb confused grief and the need to be with my family, and to be in Minnesota. It's no good being here, when nobody even seems to care, or even know what has happened. Nobody understands what this means for the entire country, and the world. Paul Wellstone was Minnesota's but he was really everybody's. I won't stomach one more person ever saying Minnesota is hicksville.

I've said it before and it pains me, but Minnesota is far more sophisticated than L.A.

I walk around today and yesterday and I see working class Latino families, black teens, my lesbian neighbor and her GF, and I see myself, a young woman, and I think, you guys don't even know you just lost a true friend. If Wellstone had lived in L.A., he would have been the champion of the city that I know and love. He cared about making it easier for families to prosper. He was not a judgment guy. He wasn't an ego guy. He was a growth and action guy. He trusted the essential goodness of people.

Fuck, here I am babbling again.

Yesterday me and my old Minneapolis buddy Benno drove around in a daze, listening to NPR and stopping to eat. I needed to be with Benno yesterday. Benno and I go back a long, long twisting way, deep into our Minnesota indie-rock days, and he understands how it feels, because he's from Northfield, the town where Wellstone taught for nearly 20 years. He played soccer with Wellstone's son, who's a couple years younger than us.

With Benno, I didn't feel like I had to cry or not cry, or say anything smart, or not. Mostly, we talked about the Hives and the Strokes and punk rock.

I have to go call my parents. I'm going to Minneapolis in a couple weeks, coincidentally, and I just wanna go now, you know. I want to go where people are not acting like nothing's happened. I want to go where everything has stopped, and people are just being together and being dumb. It seems cruel to me that the planets keep going around the normal way. They should have taken a day off.

OK bye, kids.



Thursday, October 24, 2002

Hi Laffy Taffy!

Christina Aguilera is such a Las Vegas hotel room tragedy waiting to happen, it's not even funny. Poor kid. She has a newly acquired vacancy in her eyes that suggests the presence of very, very good drugs. On TV she said something about her new street-hooker look--something like, I'm not ashamed of my sexuality and I don't think any female should be.

Wow, Christina, I never thought about it that way. It's like a whole new world of liberation I'd never imagined possible. You are truly a thinker for our time.

Britney always says the same thing..." Wha's wrong wif' bein' sexy?"

It's so early Madonna.

In the bad way.

I bet that teens before MTV had way hotter sex than they do now. Imagine: two kids in rural Kansas in 1948, after school, in some abandoned Depression house way out on the Interstate. Two kids who don't know what "sexy" kissing is supposed to look like, who don't know how seduction is supposed to look, who're pretty much making it up as they go.

Sure, they had kissing in movies back then, but it wasn't real, sex kissing. And they didn't move their bodies.

I'm excited to see movies with women who are in the bloom and fullness of command of their sexuality, and who understand their own value. Like Kate Winslet. It takes time to get there. You're not there at 21. I think 40 would actually be the perfect age to be a woman.

Though every age in a woman's life is cool, because in every age, she gets to be a woman.

By the way, I have totally changed my vibe on J. Lo.

I didn't plan this, but J. Lo is becoming one of my very favorite icons.

I love J. Lo because she is a complete, over-the-top diva of a new stripe. Unlike all your usual gay-icon divas (or even your Lolita pop divas), J. Lo has no tragedy about her at all. She is triumphant and completely self-involved--doing, getting, and buying every damn thing she wants. Everything about her is stylish and expensive, and completely hilarious. She has no shame, and men are always secondary to Self in her life (unlike Madonna, Britney, Gwen, and even Mary J.). Everything is about Her. I have not seen this since my precious Spice Girls. (Also, her big-ass vibe is non-hegemonic: There is room in a J. Lo world for different sorts of beauty.)

(And yo, you may not get the Spice Girls, but there's a reason that when he met them, Nelson Mandela said they were his heroes.)

The Spice Girls and Girl Power are still superior to J. Lo, but that's OK.

J. Lo is a blown-out cartoon of self-indulgence, and I find this iconography inspiring. I cheer her on along her path to ever more opulent fabulosity.

Has J. Lo changed since I wrote about her almost two years ago?

Maybe a little.

Have I changed?

Maybe a little.

But really what happened is that I started to feel a kind of affection for her, probably because writing about her was such fun.

And then I saw it: I may not ever want to know her, or ever be like her on a personal level, because she's surely a nightmare. But as an icon, a Greek-style goddess of sorts, or a Catholic-style patron saint, she serves her purpose. The J. Lo principle is useful to me in my pursuit of fabulousness, as are Jane Austen, Hillary, the Beatles, Lester Bangs, the Spice Girls, Drew Barrymore, the Donnas, Jim Walsh, Faith Sullivan, and numerous others.

It is important to work to become fabulous--and it really works. People don't just wake up fabulous. They work really hard at it, and then they become funny, beautiful, insightful, and exciting to be around.

I don't think that Christina or Britney understand about this kind of fabulism.

And while I've changed my mind on J. Lo, my views of Rolling Stone have only become, um, more so. Because it has only become more so. (This made me so happy: In the new issue w/Christina on the cover, they have a blurb on the letters page encouraging people to go buy the new Da Capo book, because it contains a piece that originally ran in R.S. If anyone actually did this, they would also read my spittle-ridden anti-R.S. screed, probably first. This pleases me on too many levels.)

(By the way, I never figured this one out: How did R.S. manage to hyper-hype "Almost Famous," and the magazine's role in it, when the film's spiritual hero and conscience, Lester Bangs, was banned from R.S.? I don't get it, man.)

Now I must sleep or I will get very sick and it will be unfabulous.



Tuesday, October 22, 2002

hi nurds

just hafta say for the record...

"Be Not Nobody" is the worst album title in the history of the world. It's like sub-Alanis verbiagism. it's putrid. i hate it when people use words to be cute--and fail.

if you're going to exploit words that way, you should at least succeed.

ok bye


Hi Rock 'n' Roll Creation!

Sorry for not writing every day.

Look, I'm writing. See?

Not for long, though. I have to get ready to finally interview this local musician. It's going to be his very first interview ever. He said, should I bring anything? I said, you'll want your scuba stuff. He said, well, that goes without saying. haw! haw!

Maybe another chick out there can back me up on this. Sometimes, like right now, you're pretty blinking broke. You're using your savings to pay your phone bill, waiting for your next check, which may not come for a month. You're in no posiiton to spend money. And yet, and yet, and yet.... You are about to drive to the Larchmont Beauty Supply store and buy extremely expensive skin-care products, which are destined to change your life. Your apartment will become cleaner and suffused with an aura of graceful ease. You will become organized about work and no longer procrastinate. You will do laundry weekly, change your sheets every two weeks, and clean the bathroom every Sunday. Everything will come together and you will become more creative than you ever thought possible.

It could happen, right?

Got to go.



Friday, October 18, 2002

Hello, My Melody:

Is it just me, or are the hippies getting dirtier and dirtier?

I was in Berkeley last night and yo, Telegraph Avenue has never looked so cruddy.

Look. I believe in every American's God-given right to sleep on the sidewalk and sell beaded crack pipes, don't get me wrong. I think the cops should give poor kids a break and let them stink up the neighborhood and trouble tourists and roll the auric dice for spare change all night long if they want.

I even believe in the right to form sidewalk drum circles, if kids wanna go ahead and embarrass themselves and their families like that.

But strictly in terms of style, I gotta wonder where these kids are coming from. It takes so little money to be young and fabulous and interesting. So why would you do anything else? If you're gonna be broke and street-bound, wouldn't you want to put a little energy into it? A little flair? Wouldn't you want to make the normal straight people slightly jealous?

In my day, the street scene in Berkeley was colorful and energized. But last night, it seemed downtrodden and ineffectual.

People's Park was all fenced off by a black iron gate too. Weird, man. It's just a vacant lot.

What the hell is going on?

The saddest part is that the street just felt unloved, like the ghetto parts of Hollywood, as if the city had just given up its sense of civic pride.

Maybe it was just an off night, though.

Anyway, I was there for a really fun reason. I got to do my first book-reading type deal, at a really great place, Cody's Books. The reading was for the new Da Capo Best Music Writing 2002 book, which contains something I wrote. It's cool, cuz the editor, a sweet Brooklyn boy named Jonathan Lethem, put it third in the book, so prolly a lot more people will read it. What's exceptionally cool is that he also included the breathtaking Onion piece, God Finally Gives Shout-Out Back To All His Niggaz. You must pee before you read it and, if you're like me, keep your inhaler nearby.

I like my article, but I'm starting to feel a little like Right Said Fred. I mean, at a certain point, they probably felt kind of bad that they only had one song that everyone unanimously liked. The problem is, if they pull a Tone Loc and try to reproduce their hit--say, "Look Who's Too Sexy Now!"--it's bound to be gimpy. Plus, it won't be very interesting for them, you know--creatively, and all that.

Anyway, it was fun to be the only girl up there, and to get some recognition for writing in a supergirlistic style within the non-girlophonic realm of music writing. Jonathan wanted us to read from the book, but I just couldn't do it (way too nervous). So he read for me, which was an enormous relief. I was embarrassed that I actually laughed at my own writing while he was reading. He was reading this part about Video Hut, and the words "Video Hut" just killed me. My video store is actually called Video Hut. Can you imagine? For a while, maybe a year ago, I tried to start a new fad of referring to everything as a hut: The bank would be the Money Hut; the grocery store the Food Hut; church the God Hut.

The pizzeria would be... um, the Pizza Hut.

(haw haw)

I'm going to try and give this fad one more try. Maybe you can help me out.

One person at the reading asked us to each name our favorite song. Eric Davis, a sweet and complete metal geek, chose Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song." This touched me. It takes a big man to admit that "The Rain Song" is his favorite song of all time.

I wanted to say "Days" by the Kinks, but I didn't. A little voice said, Kate, this will pass. This is something to do with your past. Pick something timeless. So I chose "Here Comes the Sun," a song that is as familiar, and as endlessly surprising and delightful, as the sunrise. (Note to Self: This is how my husband will be, too; OK, got it.)

One great thing about Cody's is that every writer who reads there gets to take home one book from the store for free. Any book. Naturally, Eric and I were eyeing the $150 world atlases and 70-pound dictionaries, but that just seemed too tacky. I deeply wanted a book about Monet's gardens, but apparently this book of my dreams doesn't exist.

So I chose a really cool yuppie book on decorating called The Home Zone. (Rock it.) Just the kind of book I want to eat for dessert with pot au creme, but would never spend forty bucks on.

My special angel Jim Walsh came along, and afterward we went dancing at a college bar with a techno situation in the basement. I had all this funny cash in my pocket, so I bought us round after round of Bushmills shots and lemony fizzy water, and we broke the dancefloor with our heavy motivation. It was like the Jonathan Richman song, where he says, "They're all in my trance when I dance." We danced for each other and for the cause, and witnessed the Love that Loves the Love in a remix version of Nina Simone's happy new day song. Everyone in the room then remembered why the cavemen first invented the shim-sham-shimmy. There are parts of the soul that don't get expressed in any other way.

It's a funny thing, but in my experience, most music writers aren't very lively partiers. You'd think people so immersed in the mystery would be blossoming with joie de everything. You'd think they'd want to cut loose and "live the questions now," and give the music what it wants: movement, freedom, sexism (tee hee).

But so often they're trapped inside their skulls. Masters of walnut shells and all that.

I feel like an asshole for saying this, because as a writer and an Irishman I understand about depression. It's a demon that attacks the sensitive, the intelligent, the literary and the musical. It's no fun and if you've got it, it's not your fault.

Then again, some people just think it's somehow not rock-criticky to succumb to the music and the drama and glamour--you're sposed to remain objective-shmective. Which is, of course, an insult to the rock.

It's harder and funner to try and do both. It's like what Nietzsche said in "Ecce Homo": "Don't fear the funk. Live the funk. You are the funk."

Today I tagged along to Jim's Existentialism class at Stanford and learned about the risky mountaineering of Nietzsche.

Jim is completely psyched. He gets to take Existentialism by day, then sit in a hot tub at night and look at the stars. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Today me and Jim and Jean (Jim's fantastic wife) and her friend Lisa and their splashy youngsters all went swimming and hot-tubbing under the mild autumn California sun. The pool was heated to about 80 and I wanted to swim around in the depths forever with Henry, like merpeople.

Yo, It's midnight. Time to go.

Another fad I want to start, though, is for everybody to make up their own "J. Lo" name, the lamer-sounding the better. After the book reading, people asked us to sign their books, which seemed really cute. (Isn't that cute?) So I tried to give people names, like "T. Fo" and "D. Mill." One guy's name was Ian MacDonald or something, which turned into "I. Mac."




Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Hello, handsome!

I've been way stressed out about work stuff, which is why I haven't been blogging. Sorry dudes. I miss it like a drunk misses the bottle, like a killer misses the knife.


I don't know. You know what I mean.

Have you noticed that I have been completely acting as if there were no such thing as war? And no such thing as gun nuts?

Look, we all know those things exist, so you don't need me to remind you. Maybe you need me to remind you about ice cream. The Chinese doctors said "No ice cream--too cold."

The Chinese doctors are actually Japanese, Chinese, and, today, Singaporean. (?)

My fave by far is the Japanese guy. He's so fucking nifty. He makes me laugh like crazy as he's poking me, which kills. It feels like the needles are poking into my soul. (People always say, "Oh, acupuncture doesn't hurt at all--they're full of shit and I'm here to tell you so.) I give him shit in turn for being so violent and unprofessional. He gives me shit for staying up working till 4 am. He gets really frustrated with me because I'm bad.

He's 42 and he's a real classic-rock guy--he buys those expensive tickets to see Eric Clapton and the Eagles, junk like that.

Today the Singapore guy said, in Oriental medicine, the patient must work to get better, and if you don't, the doctor gets sad and becomes sick. So your job at a certain point is to make the doctor well again. We suffer!

He told me, when you're writing all the time, you're taking all the fire from your spleen, and you can't digest your food. (Tell me something I don't know!)

I love my new doctors. Today was the best ever. They did some gnarly tummy needle stuff and then the two guys sat at my feet with these yummy campfire-smelling sticks and held the burning sticks up to my toes and shot the shit. For like 20 minutes. I said I felt like a princess, and my favorite guy said, "And I'm the slave."

Anyway, it was another typical day in Hollywood for me--music, poverty, beauty. Took my first guitar lesson with Axel in months--we learned "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"--which, it turns out, is a blast to play--even though it's not much fun to listen to. I think George took all the fun in that song and funneled it into the finger stuff and there was none left for the listeners.

I locked my keys in the car at Mayfair Market and had to wait outside for a tow truck in the dark, with my tummy all tender from the needles and the damage done. There was a young woman with a little boy asking for change. We started talking and it turned out she was homeless and spare-changing for a hotel room. She was grateful for the stupid dollar I gave her. But after I asked some questions I found out she needed quite a bit more.

I believed her, although she didn't look homeless. In my (limited) experience with homeless shelters, most homeless people don't "look" homeless, whatever that even means. Most homeless people are temporarily homeless and not accustomed to the circumstance, and are well-groomed and have clean clothes. In any case, I've never seen a young homeless woman with a child before, as opposed to the lovable but chronic homeless guys who live in my hood. (There are two, and they're both really sweet, but they're both nuts I think and aren't really going anywhere.) She didn't seem crazy, and she didn't have the sketchy aura of a substance abuser. You can tell when someone has a monkey on their back.

The little boy was filthy and had peed on himself and left a little puddle.

The whole thing was just too sad. It reminded me of the Bible, when Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan. It also reminded me of Dickens. I always think of him when I meet homeless people, and I try to see the world through his eyes. It also reminded me of the general delicacy of experience. Lots of people don't have a safety net. The barrier between them and the world is paper-thin.

Everyone has a time in their life when they need some help from a stranger. Everyone has some time when they're really down on their luck, whatever the situation. Everyone has a time when they need to ask the universe to catch them. I believe that you can build up your emergency fund by helping strangers who are in that place, that universal place of need we all get in sometimes.

Really, a person is fortunate if they are given the opportunity to help people. Sometimes I feel like I don't get that chance enough with the people I love the most. They won't let me help them; they won't tell me when they're suffering.

Christina Ricci walked by when I was talking with the homeless woman. I finally had my Christina Ricci Mayfair sighting. Apparently she goes there almost as much as me. She's very short and beautiful and she has a funny kind of butt. I also saw John Oszajcka, this musician who I used to vaguely know through mutual friends. He dated Lisa Marie Presley and almost became a Scientologist, or maybe he is--I don't know.

This is Hollywood.

Yesterday I was having coffee on Larchmont and a couple walked by holding hands who looked quite unusual. The man had a tattoo covering his face and head that made it look as if his skin were a green-blue puzzle. The woman had a double-mohawk and tattoos on her legs of cheetah spots, and she had plastic whiskers sticking out of her face. She was a self-made catwoman.

The older gay man at the next table turned around after they left and announced to the general vicinity, "It just goes to show, there's someone for everyone. If you ever get down because you're alone, just think of them."

I drove through the neighborhood today where Beck grew up--it's so beautiful, the cacaphony of street markets and people everywhere. It all made sense. Beck was so right in a recent Spin interview when he said, sometimes there's more resonance in a 99 cent store than in an existential void.

More on that later. Got to sleep now.

I love L.A. way more than Randy Newman does, I promise you that.



Monday, October 14, 2002

Hi Svetlana:

The parking guys outside concerts are so sad. They stand in their satin windbreakers and wave red light sabers wildly, trying to attract your eye, get you to park in their lot. They want you to pick them. They are working for their money, and they don't get to go to the concert.

A lot has happened, and continues to happen, which makes it harder for me to blog. I need to go play guitar right now, too.

I did a thing for Spin with Dave Grohl the other day, which involved playing him a shitload of hits from the last year, and he said that he hates the Vines. He said it's "buy your angst at the mall" music. It's funny, because I agree with him, but that's also how I feel about the Foo Fighters, in a very different way.

Anyway, I told him about how I think he's the greatest drummer since John Bonham, but I didn't add on the part about how he's the secret superhero of Nirvana, as Ringo was in the Beatles. I wanted to, because I've been thinking about it ever since I blogged about it ages ago. But he's such a dewd, it just didn't feel normal to suddenly be all serious.

It was liberating to hear what he had to say about the Vines, because I really don't like "Get Free." It makes me angry and pukey. It's not so much that I think it's fake; I just hate the whiney-ass shitty sound of his whiny-ass voice. What the hell does he have to be sounding so pissy about?

Dave Grohl said something on the order of, You know, there's more to life than this sound. There's more to experience, there's more to music, period. He made a motion with his hands cupping his ears and then shooting his arms out wide. There's all kinds of music.

I think what he was saying was similar to what I was feeling about the new Nirvana single. In 2002, that song sounds kind of dead, to me, pardon the word choice. It's not very interesting musically and it's very non-interesting emotionally. It feels like a dead-end.

The one thing I really regret about him dying is that he didn't get a chance to expand into the universe of music, as I know he would have.

He would have, because he had such an open ear.

People with closed ears, who believe in a singular ethic and sound in music, are destined to be unoriginal.

None of the great pop songwriters were/are closed-minded.

And now, speaking of 6/8 time signatures, I saw the amazing local unknown talent I've been raving quietly about here and there on this blog. I saw him tonight, opening for a British band. Damned if he didn't have a bunch of that waltz stuff too, plus switching in and out from 4/4. Fudge, man, it's the best. Not to mention the elegant and twisted key changes.

I wish I could say his name, but I'm still superstitious. One good thing is that the night I saw him at the Hotel Cafe, when he blew my mind, I told Tracy, "This guy needs a makeover." He had the really bad-fashion/dirty guy look of someone long single. You could tell there was probably a cute guy in there under the beard and railroad-engineer cap, but he was trapped.

He has had that much-needed makeover and, as expected, it turns out he's a total hunk and a half. His hair is in a shaggy bob, sorta Cobainy.

gotta run,


Friday, October 11, 2002

Hi Wunderkinder!

Here's some pics to put faces with names. They're from the L.A. Press Club Party Manu (Emmanuelle) threw at the Standard downtown:

A troubling shot of Ken Basart, Matt Welch, and Ben Sullivan, my bro.

The cryptic wizard of wang chung himself, Os Tyler.

The Magical Fairy Emmanuelle Richard and her lovestruck courtier.

Me and Luke Ford, feeling no pain. (How much does his name sound like a porn star?)

Merci to Love Bunny in a Basket Emmanuelle for the snaps.



Thursday, October 10, 2002

Hi Mr. Food!

In a fit of dangerous optimism, I may have overstated my level of Petty-fandom. I think you'd really have to call it more like Petty-fiefdom. And yet there's something about him that is so real, you can't deny him.

Sometimes, in those endless stretches between actual thoughts, I imagine what would happen if I met Tom Petty. (Tragic, but true.) Probably, his honesty and good values would overpower my sense of taste and style, and I would get a good-values crush on him. The next day I'd be all, "Tom Petty is such a genius, oh my God. I love how he holds his cigarettes. Oh my God, why didn't I ever admit before how much I love 'American Girl'?" Then I'd be listening to my Traveling Wilburys CD all the time, pretending I was listening because of Jeff Lynne, but it would be a sham, I tell you!

Don't you ever get good-values crushes on people?

Or a good-voice crush?

Or a good-brain crush?

It's good to get crushes on dead writers.

I recommend having a crush on Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs. They're such rock stars, it's sick. They really make most humans look like complete rejects from the retard factory.

If you like women, I recommend Jane Austen highly. Her brain in so sexy you want to set the house on fire.

I am procrastinating painfully; can't you tell?



PS: I don't understand how Vanity Fair can have an entire issue devoted to music and not mention a thing about the corporate and government destruction of radio. Why don't they have an article on pirate radio? Why don't they have an article about SFX and Clear Channel? People really care about this shit, and hunger for writing about it.

PPS: Sorry the blog is so boring these days. Got to find the groove again.

Hi Spirographs

You want weird? Here's weird. The Chinese lady at the Chinese clinic today told me that I have something that I'm not expressing and doing, that I need to do, and that this is blocking my chi and my blood flow.

She said, you have a lot of energy but it is stagnating.

She said, you're young, you should be creative and do anything you want to do.

Don't you just love a doctor who tells you that part of the reason you had tummy problems is because you're not doing enough art?

This is a kind of doctor I can understand.

They're not hippies at all. They're proper doctors. They just have a different idea of how to make people well.

OK bye.


PS: I forgot to mention that Jim "the Doors" Ladd was the one playing the new Tom Petty record on the radio. He played the entire record, I guess. They have been friends since the '70s, when Jim first played Tom Petty on KMET--I think it was KMET. Anyway, I wonder if this record is sort of about Jim?

I wonder if he has a song about a DJ who only plays the Doors, the Black Crowes, Neil Young, and U2?

And calls women "long-legged ponies"?

I love Jim Ladd truly, but he drives me insane.
Hi Flying Fish

I forgot to mention: the other night I sat in the car outside the rustic to listen to a song on the radio till the end--it was so good and intriguing and old-sounding. I thought, how did I never hear this classic '70s political-rock vaguely Pink Floydy melodic harmonic delicately sensually textured bit of goodness?

Because it's the new Tom Petty record. It was the last song on the album, called "The Last DJ," a concept album about the murder of radio.

I only heard the one song but I am expecting great things, and I'm not a Tom Petty fan, much (though fuck I love his guitarist, who makes these deathless, classic riffs that are so great you really wish they were in a Rolling Stones song).

OK bye.



Hi Samurai Nut Jobs:

I just got the new Spin in the mail. There's a letter about the Chili Peppers article saying that there isn't enough stuff about the record.

Um, like, totally duh--Rocky, or whatever your name is. Do you want to know why?

Try writing an article about a 16-song career-topping concept album when the record label (WARNER BROS.) won't even give you a copy of the record. When you "get" to hear 9 songs--including three that don't end up on the record--ONCE, on headphones in a hotel room--out of order, not even finished mixing.

I was fortunate that the producer let me come to the mixing studio to hear it once all the way through, later--after the piece was mostly done--and I only wish I had been crafty enough to smuggle in a tape recorder.

I wanted to write the whole article about the soul of harmony, the brain of John Frusciante, and the heart of Flea. But you can only do what you can do.

It's never very good. I always hate it. It always hurts. But then a year later you read it, as Ken Layne recently said, and you say, hey, not bad. That writer's OK.

Sometimes I think I am wasting whatever talent they gave me back in Babyland, wasting it on bullshit. I am quite certain that I am.

But it feels like my path. Walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Bullshit eventually teaches you who you are, or, more importantly, who you want to become. It clarifies you. It does not have to taint you in any permanent way.

So fuck it.

I'm gonna do my column-esque writing here on my blog, if I can't do it for a newspaper or magazine. Maybe it'll even be more fun. Of course, I don't know if I can do any real reporting--if anybody would talk to me for a fucking blog. We'll see. It'll work out.

Whenever I eat a hot meal, afterwards I understand that everything will all work out. Food is good food.



Yo, Babees:

The lost weekend continues.

I wrote about the weekend but it got lost. So, to sum up: Friday night, Axel played his new songs at Rick Royale's, and then me and Ax and Os and some other freaks stayed up all night playing guitar in Os's garage, until the sky was blue.

It changed my life.

(for real.)

Saturday night I went to see Rooney, who are the cutest band in America, at the Roxy. I'm really not kidding about the cute thing. They are simply the cutest band in America.

They are going to be rich and famous, too, you can just smell it.

I'm not saying this is a good thing. Just true.

The guitarist is going to become a drug addict and get laid like way beyond his silliest junior-high fantasies.

I think that I would not want to really hang out with these boys. They're too young.

The show was great, and they write wonderful, Beatlesque pop songs with great hooks and harmonies and everything. But by the end, I felt hungry. This band is excellent at what they do, but what they do is incredibly safe. And when I hear young people play, and go to a show populated by high school kids singing along to every word, what I want is a little madness and danger, and perhaps even a touch of ugly-beauty. This band did not make me feel the slightest bit challenged.

And so I want to know: Why do young kids like it so much?

Maybe to them, having been raised on grunge and rap-metal, it sounds really fresh and different.

To my ears, these guys are one degree away from fitting in on Kiss FM.

Anyway. Judge for yourself.

Sunday was another beach revelation at Malibu with my GF Kristine. Kristine is gradually liberating me, taking me to the beach and teaching me that I can wear a bikini and walk around. Kristine liberates me in so many ways. She went to Rooney too. She is a lawyer but all she wants to do is party and rock out, get high and go to the beach, eat hamburgers and sushi and drink whiskey.

Aren't I lucky to have such a friend?

(Needless to say, she is from Minneapolis. But she loves living in "SoCal," as she calls it.)

Monday night Axel dragged me out to the Rustic.

There was a boy there I fancied, but I only met him on the way out. So after I dropped Axel off, I went back to the bar and hung out with him.

In the process, I also met a guy named Xander.

As soon as I met him, I knew it: Jake (my roommate) and I bought shrooms off him at age 17. The first shrooms I ever did. The legendary shrooms. Jake and I ate them and then turned on the radio, and heard Lenny Bruce for the first time, probably on KPFK.

Back then, my high school GFs were all dating drug dealer musicians: One was a jazz musician drug dealer/junkie (BAD); one was a hippie drug dealer/ticket scalper girlfriend-hitter (WORSE); one was a junkie rock star sociopath (ICK) who probably would have been a drug dealer if he wasn't in a successful band.

I never fit in with this crowd but they had their uses, especially when me and my normal sweet Jewish high school boy/friend Jake and I wanted to be hippies and shroom.

You don't forget your first shrooms. And you don't forget a name like Xander.

Xander was wasted on Monday night and not at all attractive, but I liked him for his honesty. He said many ugly and controversial things and spoke candidly about sex.

It turns out Xander is in the Circle Jerks.

You would never guess he's a punk rocker by looking.

Xander was OK but the cute boy was way cuter and he had a freshness I liked. Freshness is not a matter of age, mind you. I know young people who are just terribly damaged and worn, and older people who have an ageless spark of curiosity and hope that will not die.

Last night was the LA Press Club party, which was pretty good. We ended up once again in Os's garage, singing and making up songs. Os and I started a song for Molli and Greg's baby Sean, who was born yesterday.

Happy birthday, beautiful baby Sean!

Welcome to our planet.

Congratulations, Molli and Greg and best wishes for a happy new-baby time.

I have to stop typing because my wrist is fucked. So I'll make this brief.

Tonight I went to the Doves show by myself. Wow. I had never really heard them before, and man alive, was it a beautiful, romantic, heroic, unpretentious, fun show. I love them now. I especially feel a kinship because they played no fewer than three songs written in 6/8, my favorite time signature. Another song is 4/4 but with triplets that give it a waltz feel.

I love them.

They write new-wave riffs that feel like the Jam, or the Cure, but the music is very Manchester guitar rock. It's lovely.

At the end, they had everyone come up onstage and dance and throw chairs around. It was fucking glorious.

That's how you do a show. You don't taunt your audience for being in Los Angeles, and make them feel like assholes. (Many bands do this. The White Stripes kind of did it. i hate it. I'll write about it later.)

The best part was that I ran into my beloved and special Rivers before the show and he bought me a vodka and 7-Up, which I forced him to share with me (who the hell wants to drink alone? I'm so sure) and we got a chance to catch up. We watched the band from the very top row of the balcony for a while, which reminded me of the night I first met him, when we sat at the balcony of this wonderful theater in downtown Detroit--the St. James?

Anyway, Rivers makes me happy. His smile makes me happy. Their next album sounds really fun and way cool, as always. All I'm going to say is, Rivers has always liked Limp Bizkit a little too much. I think they appeal to his trashy-metal roots. But if anyone can get away with anything, it's Rivers. Maybe Rivers and Beck.

I asked him about the exotic-massage deal (I mentioned it earlier--something he said in Rotting Scone, I mean Rolling Stone) and things of this nature, and he filled me in. Men are so weird.

After the show there was a party backstage that was actually fun. It seems like backstage parties are really boring and lame and uptight (clearly, I don't know any cool bands), or else spiritually corrupt, and I always just want to go home and hang out with my real-people friends, like Axel and Ken Basart, who know how to drink proper and talk smack and let loose and be normal.

But this party was great. I think it was the influence of the English people. There was one guy there who I've had a distant crush on for ages, the singer of the Charlatans. I guess he lives in L.A. It was nice to his his crazy wild face up-close.

I met a wonderful English woman who is doing a film about an inner-city music program in a high school in South Central--specifically, a teacher whose work is literally saving the lives of his students. All the kids in his program have a 100 percent graduation rate, and they all get scholarships, apparently.

Needless to say, as soon as I heard about this, I was salivating. This is precisely the kind of thing I wanted to cover in my column.

I feel so sad that I can't do this kind of good, helping-people writing as easily now. This is 90 percent what I want to do. (The other 10 percent is glamorous dumb stuff for fun and profit!)

I want to celebrate the humanity and surprise of the real L.A.

Anyway, blah blah...

Today the fundraiser on KXLU was hilarious. I love it when DJs abuse their listeners and call them phony assholes for not contributing. You'll never hear that on KCRW or KCET.

I donated enough money so I could get the KXLU lunchbox and boxers. There's a boy I want to give the boxers to for Christmas.

I don't know if they read my article on KXLU in the New Times, but I think they must have, because this one DJ said exactly what I said about Jim Ladd--he said he's so sick of Jim Ladd claiming to be the only freeform DJ in L.A., and he wishes that instead of playing so much Doors, Jim Ladd would play Doors-related music such as Iggy and the Stooges, Velvet Underground, and X.

When he said that, I thought, wow, I miss my column.

Today I heard Queens of the Stone Age on KROQ and had to admit, it's fucking awesome. This one song is, anyway. I had a prejudice because one time I was interviewing Ulrich from Metallica, and he said he was obsessed with Queens of the Stone Age. I was like, "Note to self: never listen to Queens of the Stone Age." Also today Jed played A.I. for his Catch of the Day, and that was nice, with a strong Jane's Addiciton vibe.

My wrist is on fire so I have to go, plus I have acupuncture tomorrow and if I stay up too late they'll give me shit again for partying too much, and tell me my pulse is too lame for words.

I'm sorry for namedropping so much tonight, but sometimes it's just fun. Like tonight.



Monday, October 07, 2002

Hi Lug Nuts!

I'll write soon, I promise. ToDAY HAS been a major t.c.o.b. day after the best weekend in recent memory. i'm doing laundry, which means walking out into the dry Hollywood afternoon to the back of the apartment courtyard. there are bottle-brush trees everywhere back there. at night skunks are back there too so you have to look out. and scary opossums. boo!

another perfect beach day, but i already went yesterday.

if i lived at the beach i could go all the time. fuck.

if beverly hills had allowed a freeway through it, i could live at the beach and still go to shows in hollywood all the time.

last night i went to bed at 2 a.m. and i could hear the hollywood freeway as if it were the ocean outside my window. when i really think about it i realize that i live one block from the freeway. and then i feel sick in my tummy. it ain't right to live that close to the freeway. no wonder my place is always dirty.

it's the freeway's fault.

and all those cds and magazines everywhere, and the dirty dishes? that's the freeway's fault.

and my zits, and my sucky boyfriends?

the nightmares and the war?

those might be the opossums' fault.

more later,



Hi Pudding Pops

I just wrote a huge entry about the past three days--whiskey, guitars, sunrises and sunsets, the beach and seafood, the war and fashion--but it got lost when my computer crashed.


more later.


Hi Funnel Cakes

Friday night my buddy Axel played at a party at our friend Rick Royale's loft. Rick lives on the edge of south-central, near the railroad tracks downtown. This is where we used to buy our Christmas trees when I was growing up--auctions at the railroad tracks.

Anyway, Axel played his new songs with his bassist, using the band name the Luxus. I haven't decided about the name, but who cares--the songs are beautiful.

The party was cruelly hot and many of our friends left before Axel played. Shame. You missed out on something sweet and real.

Axel writes very stylish, schooled rock songs. But because of the intensity of his soul, they still sound heartfelt and distinctly him.

Paolo De Leon also was showing his new series of paintings, "Children of the Revolution." It's a concept-series of paintings of stylish friends and associates. The paintings are done in shades of blue, like the crazy Mexican bride and groom on the wall outside the L.A. Times in the '70s (a five-story mural for Monarch Bridal and Tuxedo painted). My fave was the one of Axel. Something about the angle of his hips and his hand pointing to the stars really captures Axel. Axel is one of my favorite people in the whole world. I wanted to buy it, to have it forever and ever and inspire me to rock, but it cost $1800. Oh well. Next lifetime.

After the party, me, Axel, Os, Frank, and some other people stayed up all night in Os's garage playing guitar.

It was

After he finishe

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Hi, Queen Bitches!

So Jed played the new Nirvana single, "You Know You're Right."

It was fucking hysterical because as soon as it came on I said, Oh fuck, Bush has another goddamn single. He sounded so much like he was copying Gavin Rossdale it was not even funny.

And then he was totally mimicking Eddie Vedder, of course.

And then I was like, you know what? I think I'm glad the grunge era is over.

He was the only one that was any good at it, really. And I'm sure if he hadn't been such a gunhappy idiot, he would agree today that the whole vocal school he started is just so totally over.

It's so 1994.

Anyway, as far as the song itself goes, all I can say is, "Another One Bites the Dust."

And, "Children of the Revolution."

Historically Kurt Cobain has been crafty in burying his influences but in this case he just out and sings this nifty little descending vocal line that you hear in slightly altered form in the aforementioned songs.

Unfortunately the song isn't as gay as those songs--and I mean "gay" in the good way. Kurt Cobain needed a lot more gayness in his life.

I think the gays could have saved him.

I am quite serious.

He needed gay men around him to say, Look, sweet cheeks. You think you got problems?

He needed gay men around him to put lipstick and furs on him.

He needed gay men to make him feel the funk.

Wow, i'm deep as shit today. Not! must be all the good news. fuck it, i'm going to the rustic.



hi snapdragons

so on the one hand i am bummed out, because the village "fancypants" voice ate my paper, the la new times.

editor's correction: the new times ate its own baby. so did the voice. (it's complicated.) just think of these sorts of companies as giant, overgrown feral hamsters, like in The Nutty Professor II.

specifically, i am bummed because i really loved my editor, dan reines. he was good for me, because he really liked my writing, and he trusted me enough to let me flail and wobble and figure it out on the go, on the page. he held my hand the whole time and said, you can do it!

and he let me say "grok" twice in two months, which he really shouldn't have.

the other great thing is that dan made me laugh every day. he has a dry sense of humor and he always tries to be funny, so that even when it's not very funny, it's still funny.

i'm also bummed because my next column was going to be my first profile of an unknown local musician with flaming flames of talent shooting out of his ears. i was going to interview him tomorrow at the 101 coffeshop near my house. now i don't get to do that.

i am bummed because i had my dream job.

oh well. the buddhists have that story about the farmer that i can never remember right. his son breaks his leg and everyone says, how sad, and he says, who knows? then there's a war and the son doesn't have to go and everyone says, how great, and he says, who knows?

who knows? i have three other blueberry pies that I have put on the back burner for this column, not to mention all the exciting new rock bands that Spin is finally starting to cover which I've had to pass on.

One of my blueberry pies involves doing radio!

One involves writing about radio!

One involves sticking a radio in my eye!

(not really!)

Guess what else. Tomorrow a puppy baby named Lola is coming to my house and we are going to see if we make a love connection.

Don't you fucking love her name?

If we make a love connection, then I will get to call her Lolita sometimes.

It sounds like I'm trying not to sound sad. I am sad. But I'm also old enough to get kind of excited by radical change and to know that turns of event are pretty much never what you think.

But I always feel angry whenever a paper dies. I was on the other side a few years ago when the voice killed the twin cities reader. i felt sickened then too. and i was on this side when prognosis died. i think all papers are sacred beings and should not be killed unless they suck total ass. but it seems that usually good ones die.

in this case, though, each chain agreed to kill one of their own papers, so it doesn't seem quite so brutal.

still. i have never been comfortable with the fact that newspapers are run by businesspeople, and that businesspeople have it in their minds that it's a good thing to kill the competition. they always think they're doing you some big fucking favor by killing your competition, like they're some kind of winners.

they do not not understand that from a writer's perspective, this is the worst thing. writers--well, i'll speak for myself anyway--do not care about money. i don't give a shit which paper sells more ads or pays more or any of that. all i care about it, which is the cooler paper? who's funner? smarter? funnier? braver?

these qualities are not nurtured in a monopoly.

i don't think of the l.a. times as competition. they're like apples and oranges. i believe in dailies and i think people will always rely on both dailies and weeklies, and we need both.

anyway, so i have a lot to do before Lola comes over. Like eat and clean and go to my shrink. yesterday i went to asian men in koreatown to fix my tummy, and they stuck needles in me, and laughed, and told me things about myself just by looking at my tongue and taking my pulse. they said:

"you like to drink warm liquids.'

(true: I drink hot coffee even on hot summer days)

"you are very emotional!"


"you have cold feet and hands."

(yo, double duh)

they also told me that it's good for me to eat red meat!


i love this sort of doctor.

now i have to go.



ps: Matt Welch just explained to me that it's even worse that both chains killed one paper, because it means more papers died. and now i see that this is true.

i repeat: newspaper businesspeople have it all wrong in their tiny little brains about what is good for newspapers. not to mention what is good for readers, for jiminy crockett's sake.

pps: the big three killed my baby is a white stripes song, yo.