Sunday, December 03, 2017

Songs About Treating Women Right

Everyone coming forward with your testimonies of sexual abuse and harassment, I honor your courage and thank you for helping all of us to make a better world for women (and men) going forward. Speaking out is so hard, but as painful as it is, it seems to be having more of an affect than at any other time in our history.

This is a story that happened when I was 16 years old in 1980. I was bussing tables at a somewhat fancy little French restaurant in Clayton, California, where the prices were high, the food  sub-par, and the owners not top-quality people. It was only one in what would become a series of shitty jobs of my youth, but at the time I didn't realize that. It was my third job though, and they were all turning out to be awful experiences due to unscrupulous, sexist, cruel and unlawful creep bosses.

My co-worker, another teenage girl from my class, who I'll call Joanne, came running out of the kitchen one night, and into a dark hallway that led to the dining area, chased by the scuzzy old chef who all gave us the creeps and looked like a decrepit wax image of Keith Moon from the demon universe. He was, as usual, very drunk, and proceeded to chase her down to do something horrid to her. He cornered her and kissed her, trapping her with his hands, which Jesus, the horror, especially because he was oily and three times our age. She screamed and slapped at him and managed to escape his clutches, marching through the dining room to the bar, where our boss was pretending to be a jolly proprietor alongside his brittle wife.

There at the bar, shaking and white-faced, Joanne told our boss what had just happened, ignoring the stares of the diners around us. Our boss listened, expressionless, while she squared herself and shakily described her assault, finding her strength by declaring, "And THAT ISN'T RIGHT!" I was standing there, probably holding a plate with escargot shells rolling around, my mouth hanging open. Joanne's bravery in the face of grotesquely inappropriate behavior really froze my feet to the floor. I had already learned, at age 16, that there was little to no recourse for such things. I had internalized and surmised that we were supposed to take it for the rest of our lives if we wanted to have a job.

Rudy told Joanne he'd take care of it. Hah, I thought, I bet. Keep in mind my boss had once told me that "sure, Hitler did some bad things, but he did invent a car that most people could afford." And he had been sued by a former busser (always teenage girls at that restaurant—they never hired boys) for back wages after our boss and his coworker friends had kept all the tips for themselves. He had already reneged on this lawsuit, within a year of losing the case, by keeping all of our tips now that the original busser had moved on to greener employment pastures. So I wasn't expecting much other than the chef would get a scolding, Joanne would probably quit, and we'd all continue to be terrorized by the lech in the kitchen.

But I was wrong. our boss returned from the kitchen, assuring Joanne that he had fired the chef. Right then. He was gone. Wow, I thought--that was decisive. He also apologized to Joanne. He did the right thing, out of sudden moral imperative, or fear of another lawsuit. We went back to work, and didn't get any tips still, but at least the chef was never to return. It was a powerful moment for me, knowing even a crumb-bum like our boss could step up and do the right thing by firing the miscreant immediately.

But mostly I was impressed by Joanne for not hesitating one instant to report the abuse. She went from being attacked to reporting it all in one swift motion, channeling her anger and indignation for the greater good. What a brave girl. I salute you, Joanne (not her real name), and wish you the best, as I wish the best to all people who come forward for yourselves and for the rights of all of us. Hail.

Let us pay tribute with song.

Lesley Gore - "You Don't Own Me" (1963) The classic "Back off, Jack, I'm my own person and don't you forget it" sentiment from waaaay back in 1963, predating the second-wave feminist movement by nearly a decade. Nice work, Lesley Gore.




Jeannie C. Riley - "Harper Valley PTA" (1968) Jeannie C. Riley is not putting up with hypocritical small-town values judging her. It doesn't matter what she wears or who she dates. You can hear it in her voice.




Aretha Franklin - "Do Right Women, Do Right Man" (1967) There should be a statue if Aretha Franklin in the Public Mall in Washington D.C. and as comedian/social-activist Greg Proops has rightfully proposed, our National Anthem should be a different Aretha Franklin song every day.  I concur.




Pat Benatar - "Treat Me Right" (1980) Pat Benatar! She burst on the scene, her husband and collaborator Neil Giraldo playing gnarly guitar leads behind her onstage, showcasing the crazy-wide vocal range coming from her petite but mighty presence. She's always had one of those voices that cuts through a lot of bullshit in the music biz—no breathy little-girl vocals for Pat Benatar. Her new song "Shine," inspired by the Women's March 2016, is priced at 69 cents to highlight the wage gap for women. Proceeds benefit a nonprofit that supports women going into public service and government. Give it up for Pat Benatar, people.




Donna Summer - "She Works Hard for the Money" (1983) Donna Summer was a huge star on the dance floor during her long run throughout the 70s and early 80s, but she never got the critical acclaim she deserved. I remember one reviewer stating her voice didn't "have much of a range." I'm still livid. Her phrasing was Sinatra-like in its understated manner. When you heard a Donna Summer song on the radio, your brain immediately perked up and you knew it was her. She was distinct, soulful and commanding. Someone kindly uploaded her Grammy performance of "She Works Hard For The Money" with the dance line of working women. I admit that I may have slightly teared up a wee bit the first time I saw this video on MTV. I mean, its theme was rare. It still is. Thank you, Donna Summer.




Queen Latifah - "U.N.I.T.Y." (1993) Who is the most charismatic personality of the 90s? Queen Latifah, that's who, and she lives up to her name, looking regal whether hanging from a crane, leading the neighborhood down the street, riding a motorcycle in leather, or demanding respect from men in no uncertain terms. I love her.




Janelle Monáe - "Q.U.E.E.N." feat. Erykah Badu (2013) Janelle Monáe wants to be her freaky funky self in sci-fi history-referencing black & white menswear, without being judged, thank you very much.





If you need help, the National Domestic Hotline is a resource. You can also report abuse to your doctor and get a referral for services.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

From Hell It Came - Hieronymus Bosch Butt Music

In 2014, a major milestone in music and art history was reached when a music student named Amelia Hamrick attending Oklahoma Christian University took precious time out of her study schedule to transcribe the musical notation written across the butt of one of Hieronymus Bosch's hell-dwellers in his Medieval triptych and master work, "The Garden of Earthly Delights." Hamrick plinked out the tune on piano—written in a book in the painting and finishing across the posterior of the sinner in question in a section of the painting that historians call "The Musicians' Hell"—and posted to her Tumblr, for all the world to celebrate.

Here's a section of the painting known as Musicians' Hell that Bosch enjoyed putting together (do you see the bunny?)



This guy's having an okay time in Club Hell with his jazz hands.



But not so much this guy, his butt exposed, a demon writing notation with its weirdly dotted tongue across this sufferer's cheeks.



Now we can all listen to this 500-year-old butt song from hell, as featured on Anderson Cooper 360. Enjoy!



Hamrick's review is that it's a "really bad" Gregorian chant. But that didn't dissuade Will Ascenzo from posting his chant version on his Tumblr.


Ascenzo's inspiring lyrics:

Butt song from hell
This is the butt song from hell
We sing from our asses while burning in purgatory
The butt song from hell
The butt song from hell
Butts


But hold the phone! We're not done yet because Jim Spalink has posted his version of "Hieronymus Bosch Butt Music" on lute, harp, and hurdy-gurdy. Let's listen:



These butt-music composers are legion, but not to be outdone, guitarist Buckethead has recorded and animated his take on Bosch, "Spokes for the Wheel of Torment." If ever there was a band in hell, this is it.



When your muse is 500 years old, that's old-school.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Heavy Metal Moments - Congratulations to Danica Roem on Your Win

Congratulations to Danica Roem, journalist and first openly transgender candidate to be elected as a state official in Virginia, U.S. of A. She beat Robert Marshall, a 26-year incumbent who once referred to himself as the "Homophobe in Chief" and who introduced a bathroom bill that would have forced people to use the bathroom based on the gender listed on their birth certificate. What poetic justice! And she sings in the heavy metal band Cab Ride Home. An epic win.

Take it away, Danica (grand entrance at 0:42)...



Danica's acceptance speech, November 7, 2017: "I believe in building up our infrastructure instead of tearing down each other ... discrimination is a disqualifier ... No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify, and yeah, how you rock, that if you have good public policy ideas, if you're well-qualified for office, bring those ideas to the table because this is your America too ... We are stronger together."



You rock, Danica.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I'm a Little Trump-bot - illustrated poem

Hi all, including the hundreds of Russian bots who swarm this little blog whenever I Trump it up. I'm offering you this poem with a delightful illustration. Please feel free to *right-click save* and share on social media or wherever Trump poetry is needed. Poetry is underrated in the U.S. as a political tool, but I'm here to remedy the situation. And you can act it out too, with hand gestures—fun for all.


Friday, October 20, 2017

The old stuff of Omaha, Nebraska - Plus the incredible kinetic art of John Buck at KANEKO

I ended up in Nebraska last month, technically my first visit to the Midwestern United States. A family wedding brought my extended family together in Omaha and it was good.

What is Omaha like, I wondered. I figured at the least it would be:
1.) old
2.) authentic
3.) American

But it's all those things and so much more! Case in point: downtown. Every old American City has a downtown, some shiny, thriving and gentrified, others sadly crumbling into ruin. Omaha's got one of those transitioning downtowns. It looks like it might have died on the vine a couple decades ago as everyone moved out to the new suburbs, but now all the youngsters have moved into the big empty warehouse lofts, they're setting up stores full of old Americana, brew-pub bars with interesting pastas on the menu alongside famed rib-eye steak, and making and showing art—quite a lot of art.

View from our window at the beautiful old Magnolia Hotel

What's in downtown Omaha? Bricks—so many bricks. Brick warehouses, apartments and galleries, but also brick streets. Don't wear your spike heels to the Old Farmer's Market unless you like wobbling around like a broken marionette, 'cause you'll be walking on many bricks on the wide, wide boulevards of Omaha.

My cousin Steve takes in the Old Farmer's Market

Why are the streets so wide? Could be because it's a former agricultural/cattle town and there must have been a lot of hauling of large vehicles full of America's homegrown bounty, heading toward all those former grain dispensaries and slaughter houses. What's the traffic like now? Non-existent. Enjoy the quiet solitude of wide brick streets as you criss-cross your way from antique mart to book store to record store with aplomb.

My brother Steve checks out some cool brick buildings

You know what else Omaha has that slicker now-gentrified west-coast cities don't have anymore? Fonts. Lots of great old fonts.

A great old building font in downtown Omaha

Case in point: wandering around the Jackson Street area, we came across the Fairmont Mercantile building, home of Hollywood Candy. If you like candy, especially old-timey candy that you can scoop out by the bagful from candy jars, this is your candy nirvana. The entire building is a seemingly endless labyrinth of narrow halls and antique stalls, full of the stuff vintage childhood dreams are made of. There's a small theater for renting out to show 16mm movies, and an ol'-fashioned soda fountain. It's a dreamlike time machine. Plus there's candy.

CANDY RESCUE (plus antiques)

I think this was a former slaughterhouse

Here's some vintage finds, all featuring excellent fonts. Whoever designed these toy and game packages, I salute you.

My friend Jill had this Easy Curl set. I don't know how well it worked. I think it heated up with a light bulb, but don't quote me on that. I remember this packaging from my childhood (probably up in her closet on a shelf) and I'm sure it was at that point that the desire to become a tomboy was cemented in my brain forever. It didn't matter if I excelled in sports or not (I didn't—but that was required to be an official "tomboy" in those days), I was just going to go for it. Now I appreciate this feminine, flowered approach, even if the hairstyles really tank.


Although that little girl on the right is rocking a beatnik look

the GAME of ESPIONAGE - the mix of lower-case, upper-case, black, red, purple and pink (with green sub-header: FILLED WITH THE SUSPENSE OF AN INTERNATIONAL SPY HUNT), plus the collage of spy stuff and travel icons—this is a heavenly board game packaging concept. No, I didn't buy it (or any of this). I'm over 50 and I have too much stuff. I'm just a vintage appreciator at this point.



GIRDER and PANEL BUILDING SET - for that boxy characterless modern look.



Happy Puppet Play - Peppy Puppy Marches and Dotty Duck Walks. That's what I'm talking about...



I didn't know Parcheesi started out as "Pachisi." But apparently it did. Look at this design. Wow.



QUIZ kIDs OWN GAME BOX - for the J.D. Salinger appreciator in us all.



Let's play the board game of TAG—which began the syndrome of "Kids these days just want to sit inside playing board games, instead of running around in the fresh air and sunshine."



There was a wide selection of old metal Aladdin lunchboxes, some with their original thermoses. This thermos was on its own, unfortunately. I'd love to see the hippie love-child lunchbox that it originally came with. Enjoy all three views of adorable peaceniks on a thermos that was probably full of Kool-Aid and Tang, back in the day. I hope the child who used this wasn't too ostracized by his or her more conservative schoolmates.



Do you like PEZ? I hope so, because there is SO MUCH PEZ in this place.


Check out that realistic bat-head PEZ next to Speedy Gonzales - terrifying


After escaping the warren of past consumer purchases, return to the present time zone with some delicious homemade ice cream at Ted & Wally's across the street. I had chocolate garam masala one day, and ginger the next. Both exquisitely flavored and made in old bucket ice cream jugs with rock salt and heavy cream. Also: there's an old Pepsi machine as you walk in the door (more fonts). Out of service, but still: the fonts.

Served IN CANS

A simple direct marketing approach

Walking around the old warehouse district, you see flyers and street art and are reminded of simple pleasures from cities of the past, only this is happening in Omaha, today. Our west-coast metropolises have gotten so slick and monied. It's refreshing to see this stuff, especially SoCal surf-punk band Agent Orange playing a show. PUNK WILL NEVER DIE.

Stuff to do and see in Omaha

And now for a special treat—the John Buck sculptures at the KINETIC Exhibit at KANEKO Gallery. All hand-carved from soft woods, featuring current and past politicians, explorers, money-men, artists and their muses, corruption, incredible beauty, abject cruelty, space and time. And with the tap of a floor button, they move. I took a little video throughout our tour as we stared in wonderment at Buck's incredible prolific vision of humanity and our foibles. He also makes prints and drawings. He's a mad man. The KINETIC Exhibit is dismantled now, but if you get a chance to see this Montana-based artist's work, I really think you should do so.




Most of the images below are featured in the video, but here they are in case you don't have time to see them moving to a weird She Mob soundtrack because your Internet life has become so busy of late (I understand). Incredibly this entire surreal experience was free of cost. We walked into the museum (a city block's worth of warehouse conversions) and into a guided tour, which meant we could see every sculpture in motion. We also learned that all the works had arrived in Omaha in pieces and none were labeled. Buck and the curators worked together to put them all back together for the exhibit. Kudos to KANEKO—you're the real deal.

Manifest Destiny personified

Frida Kahlo and her pets make an appearance

45 holding onto the love of his life — wads of cash

Trapped in a burning church

Picasso and Einstein with muse in the background

Power, corruption and satire are some of Buck's major themes

The former Presidents' waltz — FDR in a tutu because he never got to dance in his adult life

JFK has Marilyn Monroe on his mind

Teddy Roosevelt and General Grant have a dance confrontation

Nixon's tape head confronts a shuttered Lincoln — dream stuff made real

Europe's explorers ready to conquer and exploit the "new world"

Lady Liberty about to clobber an Aztec god

The tears of the Madonna on a ship heading our way

Creatures based on the 14th-century Travels of Sir John Mandeville
Omaha is a fascinating city, obviously

The entire world and Trump's hair

What else can you do in Omaha? Why not walk over to Iowa on the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge, where you can straddle two states at once for a state-border out-of-body experience.

I am in TWO STATES AT ONCE

I stay behind in Nebraska while my cousin Mary Ann checks out Iowa. Her husband Steve balances out the geographical scales. Yes, there were three Steves on this journey, making it extra-special. While crossing the bridge, my cousin Gary and his wife Barb emerged from Iowa, coming our way. We didn't even know they had been out of state, but they had been, for around ten minutes or so.



My cousin Mike married his beloved Anna at the splendid Orpheum Theater where they first met, both working musicians in the touring production of The Lion King. They even had their names on the Orpheum marquee and we all gathered onstage to congratulate them. Anna grew up in Nebraska and now we all want to visit again. Sorry, Anna, prepare yourself for a bunch of brand new cousins, aunts and uncles showing up in Omaha on a semi-regular basis from now on.

Surely one of the finest productions at the Orpheum to date

Monday, October 09, 2017

Get Ready for Impeachment (postcard to download and send)

Hi, everyone. A message to our majority-House GOP: It's beyond time to impeach our horrible so-called president—the corrupt, inept, insulting, racist, misogynist, conman and sexual predator Donald J. Trump. It's not just an opinion, it's a point of law.

Here's a postcard listing a few of his impeachable offenses. I feel confident that special counsel Robert Mueller and his crack investigative team has compiled a more detailed list, which seems to be growing daily. Find your House Rep HERE.

Feel free to *right-click save-image-as...* to share across social media, especially with your elected Representatives (all of whom have twitter and Facebook pages). Or be extra-active and send to all the Republican Reps. Consider it a public-relations move that affects the entire nation:



If you're feeling ambitious and snail-maily, here's a four-up version to print, trim and send by U.S. Post. Everyone loves getting mail—think how rewarding it must be to hear from constituents from ACROSS OUR FAIR LAND. Thank you, fellow Americans for looking out for public health, safety and sanity.


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

She Mob LIVES

She Mob is the house band for the art opening of Bride of Monster at Creativity Explored Gallery tomorrow night, October 5th. It's not a typical She Mob eardrum blowout, but a more ambient weird-ass affair. Come see some magnificent monster-inspired artworks while we sit on the floor nearby, making bizarre noises. It's a happening.