Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Report: Fairy Falls, Sweltering Heatwave, and Jesse Sykes Too

Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter played a fine show at the Doug Fir Lounge this weekend. Shades of Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Emmylou Harris (both Harris and Sykes have great hair), and Sykes' own raspy unique folk-rock style combined with Phil Wandscher's dreamy jam-space-rock guitar made for a sweet evening. Laurie loved the Doug Fir, and said it reminded her of Frontierland at Disneyland. I agree--with its log-cabin aesthetic and acoustics, the Bear Country Jamboree would sound great in there.

Like, Love, Lust

Station Grey

We were slightly Popsicled(tm) by the high-powered central AC, which is saying something considering Portland weather was in the high 90s. The next day, the Columbia Gorge was over 100 degrees as we drove along the Historic Columbia River Highway to visit some cold, shady waterfalls.

After visiting the rugged spectacular weirdness that is Latourell Falls, we decided to trek the mile up the Wahkeena Falls Trailhead to see Fairy Falls. This was ambitious on such a hot day, with a six-year-old along for the walk, but Keith had good directions from Michael Skourtes' Oregon Foto Blog, so we went on up. It was HAWT. But as you climb you do get a really great view of the Gorge, and then to the top of Wahkeena Falls, which is like a giant, fan-shaped shower that sprays you with the most wonderfully cooling mist. We along with a dozen other hikers just hung out there, smiling blisfully as the water crashed around us.

Continuing on, you finally enter a forested canyon that's probably at least 15 degrees cooler than the rest of the trail. Here you walk along Wahkeena's rushing creek. It gets really rocky and you can finally peek up at Fairy Falls through the fallen trees across the rocks and water. One more switchback and you're there:

Fairy Falls, ORI didn't bring my camera this time. The photo is from Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest. Fairy Falls is truly a magical place and we stayed there quite a while, splashing around and staring at its fountain-like beauty.

I told Laurie that the last time we visited the Gorge, we came across the film crew that was finishing up their shoot of "The Road." They were helping hikers down the narrow, muddy path to Latourell Falls between takes. When we got down to the viewpoint at the bridge, I realized that the star standing in front of the falls, behind bushy beard and homeless-guy attire, was Viggo Mortensen. It was the closest moment I'll probably ever have to living in Middle Earth, with Aragorn standing in a most New Zealand-like setting. No such vision at Fairy Falls, but watching Jackson dance around like a pixie in the water was pretty fantastical as well.

Multnomah Falls was completely over the top with humanity as usual, but the view from the bridge was even more spectacular due to the sun shining through the walls of mist, creating not one but two giant rainbows to the left of the falls. Bliss! And ice cream from the concession stand at the bottom.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

80s Divas Want Your Ass on the Dance Floor

Laurie and I arrived too early to see Rollerball last night which meant we had to watch the two opening bands. They ranged from insufferable to tolerable in presentation. By the time Rollerball got on the Someday Lounge stage, my ears were TIRED. But I knew right away we were in very good hands. This is a really tight, flowing, jazzy, groove-laden band, collectively led by Mae Starr, lead singer and keyboard player (she plays a mean red tambourine stick too).

I wanted to see Rollerball because their jazzier stuff reminded me slightly of forgotten 80s band, Weekend. But live, they more resemble a grittier version of Romeo Void if Romeo Void were an art-rock band. Mae Starr is such a confident musician and her voice is powerful, dark and dare I write: compelling.

Here's some strong women performers from the past. We could use a bit more of this if only to have more fun with music.

Grace Jones - Pull Up To The Bumper, 1981. A style-maven who made androgyny so pretty. Even though her voice was criticized by some as not technically proficient, no one could ever deny her supreme star power. Plus she looked like she could deck you one, but good.

Nina Hagen - Zarah, 1988. I don't use the word "bitch" lightly but Nina Hagen is one fierce bitch. She can really sing too.

Danielle Dax - Big Hollow Man, 1988. I'm not familiar with Danielle Dax's tunes but she was a big deal in Europe after singing in The Lemon Kittens. Only in the 80s could someone's solo career fail due to being too pretty, but I sense this is what happened to her. She was a fine Goth performer as well.

Lene Lovich - New Toy, 1981. Nobody seemed to take Lene Lovich seriously, even Lene Lovich, but she's wonderfully wacky. I liked her braided hair aesthetic--not everyone can pull that off. I didn't realize her big hit Lucky Number was from 1979! The same year as Patrick Hernandez' Born To Be Alive. Great year for music.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday Night - What To Do?

Laurie's visiting from SF and I'm trying to figure out what we should do tonight. Choices, choices.

At Holocene: Nudge, Extra Golden, Coprascrescent.
Extra Golden - Obama. Composed after Obama helped Kenyan members of the group enter the U.S. (is there nothing he can't do?)

Doug Fir Lounge - Tea For Julie, Crosstide, The Turn Ons
Tea For Julie - Snow Globe (perhaps one Coldplay in the world is enough...?)

Someday Lounge - Rollerball, Vialka, Powernap
Rollerball - live at Cita' Del Capo Radio Metropolitana in Bologna (Rollerball has released 11 albums--#12 gets released tonight. I'm leaning toward Rollerball...)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Political Ringtones For All

Keith showed me Slate's political ringtones today. Go to Slate to for the text codes. Now your cell phone can serve as a sound-byte reminder of all the ongoing glories of Campaign 2008. I couldn't resist posting these here. Good for some laughs. Have someone call you so you can all go: heh heh heh.

John McCain "my friends" compilation.

McCain's a name-caller.

Hillary Clinton shames Obama.

Reverend Wright damns America.

Clinton laughs.

Barack says we can.

McCain doesn't believe it.

photo from

I'll Miss You George Carlin

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Heavy Metal Moment: Scorpions - "Animal Magnetism"

Scorpions bring the rock.
So there we were, Martha and me, sitting in the East End in Portland, waiting for her band, Amber Asylum to go on. Martha plays a very cool-looking and sounding electrified cello but we had some time before her set to hang out and catch up on each other's lives. I had just been mentioning what a real dive the East End was and I liked that, when Martha ordered a beer with something floating in it. The bartender peered in the glass and announced it was a blade of grass before she got Martha a fresh brew. At that point I modified my description of the East End: a real dive in Oregon (no grass, twigs or bugs appeared in any other drinks as of this writing).

At one point, I was babbling about how music is such a strange, unknowing current in our lives, dredging up all kinds of things we don't quite understand, when Martha mentioned that Amber Asylum has a bit of a heavy-metal-kids following. "Isn't it weird," I said, "that you really liked Black Sabbath back in high school, and now you have a heavy-metal-kid following?" She agreed. At that point the DJ, who had been playing the most evil-sounding mix of death-metal (that particular genre that sounds like chicken's blood is about to come spurting out of the digital mix and land all over you), suddenly switched gears and put on the 1980 title track of Animal Magnetism. Martha gave me a knowing smirk and a shrug, since we used to listen to this 25 years ago. In fact, I don't think I've heard it in 25 years. What an ominous treat.

Since the cover of Animal Magnetismalways reminds me of that Spinal Tap sexist/sexy exchange, I put World Wide Live image here instead (hey, it's better than a photo of a guy with forks in his eyes). Kind of a demonic ode to lust (see fan-made video below). Although I always pictured the Devil listening to a lot of Sinatra, or John Coltrane (sorry Saint John Coltrane Church).

Amber Asylum did a haunting lullabye of a set. They really belong in an abandoned cathedral, but I enjoyed the evening anyway. East End employees: very nice. Crowd: Very respectful, good listeners. Amber Asylum: soothing answer to lack of Dead Can Dance in our lives. They'll be playing the Autonomous Mutant Festival tonight, then going back to SF to play at The Hemlock Tavern on 6/26, before recording a new album. Martha: looking and sounding good.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Amber Asylum Brings the Ambient to Portland

I just found out my friend Martha is playing in Amber Asylum tonight, June 20th, at East End in Portland. Martha and I survived high school together, only to move into decrepit 60s-era dorm rooms at SFSU, where many memorable people were boxed in all around us. We have been through a lot and have come through to the other side. Martha played cello in Shiva Dancing during the San Francisco underground-music hey-day, then played in Amber Asylum for ten years before taking an extended break. Now she's not only playing again, but touring. The world could use more cello, especially when you can plug it into an amp.

William Rafti's video of vintage blotter art, set to Amber Asylum. At first when I started watching this I thought, is this like, antique stamp art, or something? But then I realized it's blotter-paper art with the multiple designs and perforations (cue trippy music). I can't believe this wasn't all dissolved on numerous tongues over the years. What a delicate thing to collect.

Same line-up (Lair of the Minotaur, Amber Asylum, Trees) will be playing in Seattle tomorrow night at Comet Tavern.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCall's Needlework & Crafts Magazine - Fall/Winter 1959-60

How I love my scanner. Today whilst dusting, I dug out an oversized McCall's craft magazine from the bookcase and thumbed through it, puzzled by its appearance. Why did I keep this?, I thought. I tossed out some other, better (although moldier) 50s-era home decorating magazines before we moved last August. Why did I hang on to this one? Then I really looked at it more closely, especially the ads. Oh yeah, I remember now: because it's such a demented little 50s time capsule.

Who knows if our current crafts craze will puzzle future generations. Will Etsy ads illicit the same stunned reaction as this? Doubt it. Because while our current advertising is certainly more hip and knowing than the agencies that helmed the 50s, it's also missing a key element: mad effervescence.

If you look at this ad, you might feel quite mad, yet excited by possibilities of Gay Needlework Accessories: Handbags and evening bags! Eyeglass cases and sleep shades! Even doorstops and pincushions. Did I read that right--PINCUSHIONS? When's the last time someone made and gave you a pincushion, or an eyeglass case with bejeweled cat-eye glasses (and eyeballs) on it? The case--it''s staring at me...
gay needlework ad - 1959-60
Glamour for only pennies... I want to sprinkle an affordable waterfall of bejeweled rhinestones, sequins and spangles from hand to hand, until someone puts me on medication.
glamour for pennies ad - 1959-60
Here we have the target demographic for McCall's Needlework & Crafts. Caucasian mannequins feeding a taxidermied squirrel. The ad copy proclaims: Fast & Foremost! Quick Hand-knits by sweater fashions you can wear forever! Like, when you're a corpse! Encased in wax!
knits with squirrel ad - 1959-60
One thing you can say about the 50s: those models knew how to pose. Look at this woman. She's so severe. Do you think she stood around like that at cocktail parties? If so, I'd zero in on her like a heat-seeking missile, just to find out what makes her tick. I bet it's not kit fashions by DRITZ, that's for sure.
Dritz fashions ad - 1959-60
You know what I think of when I see this be-sweatered gang? Republicans. Not Republicans of the 50s. Republicans NOW. If you can't WAIT to support war, torture, offshore drilling, the end of abortion rights, while banishing gay rights in the name of morality and religion, then chuckle smugly and join this gang! Taxidermied squirrel not included.
the whole knitted gang

Congratulations California Newlyweds

Now more than ever before, people in love can get hitched. California Supreme Court for the win. Weddings make me cry--I've been tearing up all day. Here's a little collection of love songs to celebrate state-legalized l'amour.

Elton John - Your Song

k.d. lang - Constant Craving

Erasure - Always

Joan Armatrading - Love and Affection

Magnetic Fields - Busby Berkeley Dreams

Phranc - M-A-R-T-I-N-A

Sylvester - You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jello Biafra Hits The Big 5-0

Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that Jello is turning 50 this week. Happy birthday Jello. Happy birthday to you. The Dead Kennedys are rare in that their 30-year-old songs still sound fresh, raw and good. And since their angry yet dynamic power-punk was so tinged with dark humor and satire, it's still relevant. Way to go, DKs.

Two personal anecdotes (it wouldn't be a blog with them): When I was briefly living in Mexico in the late 80s, my friend Rosanna and I befriended a punk band in south Chiapas (the only punks we could find). The Swiss bass player had lived in San Francisco for a time and he asked me what Jello Biafra was up to. "I think he's a collage artist now," I said. The guy suddenly got spitting mad and sneered, "Like every FUCKING asshole in San Francisco!"

Aaaand when I worked at the SF Art Institute (as a lowly receptionist/data-entry drone), Biafra called one day to talk to one of my overlords in public relations. "Sure!" I said, "Can I put you on hold?" He said something that sounded like a cross between "yes" and "uh" in the most annoyed voice ever. I gleefully punched the button and ran into the p.r. office where I hung on the door frame and laconically announced, "I just put Jello on hold!" We all cracked up for no reason at all. When you're the receptionist you have to take your fun where you can get it.

Holiday in Cambodia - live. Love East Bay Ray's atmospheric guitar; like a film soundtrack. Jazz pianist Michael Udelson used to play a lovely rendition of this on the grand piano in the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel.

Let's Lynch The Landlord - live at the Mabuhay Gardens, 1980. My favorite DKs song and one of the reasons I can never picture myself becoming a landlord (other reasons: laziness, lack of funds). Great Klaus Flouride bassline throughout.

Viva Las Vegas with photos from the archive. Sar-DONIC.

Nazi Punks Fuck Off - take 3 in the studio. Despite (many) shirtless moments for Biafra over the years, as far as I was concerned, D.H. Peligro was the babe in the group. People think punk-rock drumming is easy and requires no finesse (just ask Marky Ramone), but Peligro is quite the well-timed powerhouse. The real reason punk rock songs are under three minutes: so your drummer won't implode. He's an African America punk rock pioneer; featured in the 2003 documentary, Afro Punk.

California Uber Alles - video by rp61wasinnocentok. I sang this on the day Schwarzenegger was sworn in and yes, it's still working for me.

- Because the DKs and Biafra can't stand each other, he will be celebrating his 50th with The Melvins and a bunch of other guys at The Great American Music Hall tonight and tomorrow.

- Usually Aidin Vaziri of The Chronicle asks some off-the-wall and borderline offensive questions of his subjects. Not this time. Saturday's Jello Biafra interview is, as my six-year-old would say, "Ho hum, bo-ring, so dumb." But there's a helpful Jello timeline for those of you working on your Dead Kennedys thesis over the summer.

- Afro Punk official site.

- Another failed CWW business venture: DKs sports socks.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th is for Luvahs

Friday the 13th is usually a good day for me. It's Tuesday the 17th I always have trouble with. Have a good one--try not to be so very superstitious.

13th Floor Elevators - You're Gonna Miss Me

The Renegades - 13 Women

Elliott Smith - Thirteen (Big Star cover)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Glamorize Your Home With Celebrity Homecrafts

I've been trying to come up with a plan where I can explore my artistic side within a crafts context, AND cash in on the current celebrity-worship culture. Bingo! Celebrity Homecrafts was born on this day. While I'm calling my lawyer to work out the licensing deals, be sure to peruse these prototypes. I'll be stitching as fast as you can order!

Amy Winehouse Tea Cozy
Amy Winehouse Tea CozySpot of tea guv'nor? Nothing says "British" like tea time. Now you can let the sassy visage of Ms. Winehouse keep your beverage of choice piping hot. Perfect for those long, gray afternoons when you need a little pick-me-up. Your teapot will look positively undressed without it!

Handmade Brangelina Coasters (first in a series)
Handmade Brangelina CoastersTheir every move is recorded for our intense scrutiny. Brangelina: thespians, working parents, worldwide do-gooders--now they can help protect your furniture from unsightly water stains. Perfect for any get-together where you plan to serve multiple drinks. And now you can celebrate their ever-growing brood when you join the Brangelina Coaster-of-the-Month Club. With four easy payments, you will receive a new coaster for every new Brangelina family member. Add to your growing collection, which may include pets if they're allowed in their new 35-bedroom French palace. 35 bedrooms--that's potentially a lot of coasters in your future!

Kardashian Family Throw Pillows
Kardashian Throw PillowsWe've been TRYING to keep up with the Kardashians but they're so much in motion, it's almost impossible! At least these plush velour throw pillows will help you relax while you watch America's favorite reality family. They will add a touch of style and elegance to any decor--from dorm-room to living room. Choose from Kris, Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie, Robert, and of course, Bruce Jenner too. How can you choose? Just get the whole set! Machine washable.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's Never Too Late To Create Something Great

Tim Hunkin is a writer, engineer, sculptor, cartoonist, and television personality. He takes old arcade games and reinvents them into whimsical art pieces that reflect our banal existances. Hunkin's work is available and playable at The Under The Pier Show on Southwold Pier, Suffolk, UK--delightful.

For Amusement Only - documentary on The Under The Pier Show by Tracy Island TV

Is It Art? - The arcade critic will tell you if your object is art or not. He reminds me of a guy I unfortunately dated once.

Tony Duquette (1914-1999) was an amazing artist and designer who created fantastical jewelery, sculptures, rooms, structures, sets, and landscapes, well into his 80s.

When he was in his 70s, he bought an abandoned synagogue on Geary Blvd. in San Francisco (the building had had once housed the infamous and tragic Jim Jones People's Temple) and created what he called a "celebrational environment" dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. I used to admire this building while visiting The Fillmore next door. Unfortunately and also tragically, the building burned down in 1989. All that's left are some beautiful photgraphs of Duqeutte's work.

He was once quoted as saying, "Decorating is not a surface performance, It's a spiritual impulse, inborn and primordial." He would go on to create a new installation, "The Phoenix Rising From His Flames," in Los Angeles, to celebrate his 80th birthday.
Tony Duquette - Saint Francis, San Francisco

Saint Francis installation photos from the Tony Duquette site.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) created paper cut outs for the last fifteen years of his life. He had survived cancer but was in a wheelchair and could no longer physically paint. With the help of assistants to paint the paper, Matisse did the cutting and worked on various compositions until he was satisfied. I like his cut-outs even more than his paintings. And his paintings are incredible. Here's a little film of an exhibit of collages for the Jazz series he created in 1947. Some of his paintings and drawings are on hand as well. Miles Davis playing in the background.

Le Gerbe by Henri MatisseLa Gerbe by Henri Matisse, 1953 (collage from Matisse: Life and Painting site)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Girlschool - Hella Cool

Way back in 1980, Girlschool actually got airplay on MTV, usually late at night during the heavy metal moments. I confess, I was intimidated by these British lasses. Their videos were dimly lit, local-dive atmospheric affairs. In that mysterious hard-to-explain way that music can give you an emotional punch in the gut, I always felt that if I pissed these girls off they might hit me with pool cues. Like when you hear Smoke On The Water and can't help feeling like a badass; Girlschool made me feel like a potential victim of some unnamable violence.

I think several factors kept them from making it big in the States. For one thing, they were an all-girl metal band: unusual. But they didn't play really satanic, sludgy metal--they were more in the classic, hard-rock category. So they got kind of lost in all the other hard rock of that era (although not in Europe as far as I can tell). They shared lead vocal duties, which was democratic, but probably lost them media attention that traditionally tends to focus on singular charismatic singers. Weirdest of all, Girlschool didn't glam it up. Ever. They were tough-looking chicks who weren't playing up their femininity one bit. If you didn't like that: tough shit. I suspect that in 1980, we tended not to like that.

With her sleeveless T's, stretch pants, and fantastic rocker-chick hair, lead guitarist Kelly Johnson was the girl your eye went to every time, although she didn't overtly do anything to cause this to happen. That's the power of charisma. Tragically, she died last year of cancer. Her song C'mon Let's Go is my favorite--straight-up anthemic punk. She didn't need to glam it up--she was glam, naturally.

Girlschool is still going and has been with various line-ups for 30 years. I guess they're not going to quit it, 'til they hit it.

C'mon Let's Go - German TV, 1980 (bad sound quality but awesome, nonetheless)

Screaming Blue Murder - The Improv, Westwood, CA, 1982

Race With The Devil, 1980 (cover of a 1968 song by The Gun)

20th Century Boy - performing on some UK children's show; sorry, LOUD (T. Rex cover)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday Is For Zombies

I love zombies. I love their shambling gait, incoherent groans, single-minded hunger for human flesh, and ability to become walking metaphors for almost any modern, mass-produced social ill. As archetypes go, they're handy. Years ago I got to play a zombie in my friend Bill Gridley's super-8 film (which I have yet to see). We car-pooled to various locations around San Francisco and Bill drew circles around our eyes with burnt cork (he prided himself on being super low-budget). Then we we were instructed to shuffle around en masse with our arms sticking out in front of us. No other motivation was given. One thing about being a zombie--you never walk alone. It's a social monster movement.

Shaun of the Deadtrailer. This is one of the best zombie films ever. Definitely in the top two. It's got the zombie social commentary: is your modern existance turning you into an unthinking automaton? But it's also very funny and is a love story. It's British and it's perfect.

Zombies Doing Yoga. Zen of Zombie sent out a bunch of Internet e-vites to do zombie yoga in the park. Here is the result. Apparently zombies and yoga go together really well. Much better, than say, zombie rugby, where heads and limbs might not remain intact.

Butthole Surfers - Graveyard. Saved by death edited the 1932 Bela Lugosi film, White Zombie with 1987-era Butthole Surfers--genius. Paul Leary plays one of my favorite guitar leads ever in this song. It's the only lead I ever attempted to master on my student-grade acoustic guitar. I got it about half down--I'm half rockin'.

The Zombies- Tell Her No (1965). 60s pop with exquisitely haunting qualities.

Classic Zombie Film Trailer Links:

- I Walked With A Zombie (1943) - Moody, atmospheric, beautiful film with a Caribbean-island zombie theme and love story. Directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Val Lewton, partners in classic B-movie psychological horror films.

- Dawn Of The Dead (1978). George Romero's long-awaited sequel to Night Of The Living Dead. This time the heroes barricade themselves inside a 70s-era shopping mall (always the cost-cutter, he used a mall that was slated for demolition as his main set piece). The living dead as a symbol for rampant consumerism? Why not! Excellent dark satire. I haven't seen the 2004 remake--the original is great so why bother?

- Night Of The Living Dead (1968). Shot outside of Pittsburgh, PA for about $14.78 (actually just over $100,000), this film scared the bejeebers out of us with nothing more than a bunch of unknown actors, an abandoned farmhouse and copious amounts of raw meat and Bosco chocolate syrup. Racism is more destructive and devastating than zombie-ism and it's still scary. Remade twice--a zombie cash cow.

- Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) - Bela Lugosi died before finishing the film so Ed Wood's chiropractor doubled for him (with a cape across his face). Tor Johnson could barely haul himself out of his grave to walk the Earth. That's about all you need to know going into this $1.98 bargain-basement special. Some choice lines are featured here.

More Zombie News:
R.E.M. covers Roky Erickson's I Walked With A Zombie.
Zombies invade San Francisco--what else is new?
Toronto has an Annual Zombie Walk. The photo gallery is amazing. There's just something about zombies...

Friday, June 06, 2008

George Kuchar - "Wild Night in El Reno"

We've been having some crazy-ass weather this week. There was a storm the other night that actually woke me up several times and caused every gutter on our roof to waterfall like something out of Disney's Tiki House ride. The wind blew our homemade teepee down in the backyard, and for the first time in my life, Florida is actually looking good as a destination (since I can't afford a visit to the Galapagos Islands). So here's George Kuchar's Wild Night in El Reno. A little slice of his obsession with midwestern weather patterns.

George Kuchar is a national treasure of independent filmmaking. He started making deeply personal gonzo films as a teenager with his twin brother Mike in the 60s and never stopped. As far as I know, he's still an associate professor at the SF Art Institute, where I used to work. His class consists of making a video with his students in a windowless SFAI studio with an occasional outside location. I love his low-budget creativity, found-muzak soundtracks, compulsive sexiness, and all-around weirdness and humor. John Waters owes a lot to George Kuchar, as do we all.

When I lived in the Mission District in San Fran., I used to cross paths with him, walking his dog at twilight on a regular basis. I was ignorant of his film output at the time, which is probably good because had I seen his films then, I would have been all over him like a cheap suit (in a "fan" kind of way). As it was, we always gave each other the polite eyeball before he sauntered away, a hulking yet gentle presence that made my neighborhood seem just that much more interesting.

- You can see a bunch of Kuchar's older films on UBUWEB. My favorite by far is Hold Me While I'm Naked (1966). Wacky, demented, funny and poignant (NSFW, but really, you shouldn't be watching George Kuchar films at work, generally speaking). Starring George's 60s muse, Donna Kerness, and George Kuchar.

- Here's a great little documentary by Ronaldo Barbachano Spring 2006 called EC - Docs - Camera Tricks: This is George Kuchar (you know, some people are really talented at naming things; others...aren't). George directs his video, Queen Konga at SFAI. All locations are at the famous SFAI building, which makes me slightly nostalgic for my old job and life there. Only slightly.

- Buy George and Mike Kuchar's book, Reflections from a Cinematic Cesspooland read about their adventures in the cinematic underground (or just look at the pictures; forward by John Waters).

- George Kuchar is known for his annual treks to El Reno, Oklahoma where he attempts to film tornados and other extreme weather phenomenas. Here's a really impressive amateur video of an El Reno tornado. And another one.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's On!

Obama vs. McCain - it's on!Ding!

What an insane campaign. An overview of Captive Wild Woman's (glib yet giddy) coverage:
- Obama is Portland's Mr. Popularity
- Barack Gets That Dirt Off His Shoulders
- Amigos de Obama - ¡Viva Obama!
- Barack Obama - A More Perfect Union
- Good vs. Not-So-Good
= Washington State Says Hell Yes to Obama
- Express Yourself

Through The Scanner Darkly

I finally replaced my scanner since moving last summer, and what's the first thing I scanned? Jesus! Well, really we first scanned a bunch of photos that Jackson took of our neighborhood garbage trucks (at his insistence). Then I scanned Jesus. Don't ask me why. Who knows why we subconsciously choose to replicate the things we did decades ago? Patterns: patterns of behavior; obsessions without explanations. And just a lot of crap that I wanted to archive, I guess. I found some of my old photos and postcards and thought they made a nice grouping. As always, Blogger has shrunk it all down here, so click on it for a closer look.

This first one was taken in a religious shop, back in the late 80s in Guadalajara. That centerpiece Jesus is impressively big. You would only purchase that if you ran a rather large church or cathedral. This looks a little like a car lot, doesn't it? (An icon lot?) And much of Mexico still worships what I call bloody Jesus. He's everywhere and quite realistic at times. I guess it's all that Azteca/Mayan blood-sacrifice history seeping through the long-ago enforced Christianity.

This won a photo contest at the Contra Costa Times, but one of the judges told me he he couldn't print it in the paper because they were afraid it would offend people. A whole bunch of bloody Jesuses for sale--offensive? Never! At least not in the households I frequented while growing up.
Jesuses For Sale

Here's something different. The exterior of the Dante's Inferno ride at Astroland, Coney Island. Astroland's future is up in the air, after being sold in 2006. For now, it's still open through 2008 and so is this ride. I would have ridden it at the time but I was there in the off-season. This was also taken in the 80s. I was probably working out some of my weird religious issues back then.
Dante's Inferno Ride, Astroland, Coney Island

My favorite David Letterman bit was when he went to Coney Island with a videocam and asked people what they liked better, Dante's Inferno: the book, or the ride. A guy with a baseball cap and thick Jersey accent stared at him angrily and said, "Whatta ya talking about--BOOK? (gesturing behind him) It's a RIDE." Whoo, I'll say. That's worth the $4.

This next photo is NSFW. But if you walk by the Dante's Inferno ride, it's right there, being NSFW in your face. But if you're at Astroland, you're not actually at work, so I guess it's OK. And if you happen to work at Astroland, then it's definitely safe for work. I'm glad I worked that out in my head. What a book! What a ride!
Dante's Inferno Ride detail

Aaand we're back to Jesus. This is a 3D postcard I've had for years. I just wanted to see if my scanner could capture its lush essence. I've always liked that Jesus is praying amongst some sword ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata). It's nice to see him in a moist environment for a change.

I've never been able to decide who to send this postcard to. It doesn't really "match up" with any of my friends or acquaintances. It's very thick and heavy--does it need extra postage? If you received this in the mail, would it freak you out, if only to see Jesus in a rainforest-like setting? In 3D? Well, stay on my good side and you might be the lucky recipient.
3D Jesus Postcard

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

They Left The World A Better Place

Some very talented people died recently--all who have added their fabulous essences to the pop culture brew. My condolences to their families and friends.

I admit, for me Bo Diddley was a name from the distant past. I only appreciate his amazing rhythm guitar and super badass energy now that he's gone.

Harvey Korman looked like a guy in middle management who turns out to be absolutely insane at the after-hours office gathering. I used to beg my parents to let me stay up late to see The Carol Burnett Show, which was not just a vehicle for her very funny antics (the catharsis at seeing a woman make fun of herself on national television has never left me), but a weekly ensemble showcase of satiric lunacy. Much of it due to Harvey Korman.

In the 70s our household was a test market for early HBO cable and so we got to see a lot of films as often as we wanted (thus building their "cult" status). One that we still revere: Blazing Saddles. Still funny! Still offensive! Much owed to Harvey Korman's humor of frustration as Hedley Lamarr. He seemed to be channeling every rogue villain ever created in U.S. entertainment history into this one dastardly and ridiculous character.

Earle Hagen composed and whistled the theme to The Andy Griffith Show. How many of us have found ourselves whistling this tune while taking out the trash, sweeping the front porch, or just trying to get to the Oakland Airport at rush hour? Countless many.

Alexander "Sandy" Courage penetrated our minds as few composers have by creating the original Star Trek theme song. He worked on hundreds of other projects, but this one stands out: eerie, spacey, 60s-ish but still effective.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Flaming Lips/Aaron Spelling Production

Over the years, I've tried to appreciate The Flaming Lips. The fact that they've held together for 25 years is commendable (and difficult to fathom). But their aesthetic has always been, "We're weird!" and I find myself asking, "Is that all you got?" If I want weird, I can call up some of my extended family and have a brief discussion about almost anything. Weirdness achieved.

But the Lips have a fanatical following and sometimes that's all it takes. Except apparently in the 90s, it might not have been enough because The Flaming Lips went where few weirdos dared to tread: the revamped Peach Pit of Beverly Hills 90210. I think it was the Peach Pit. I had stopped watching around the time Shannen Doherty's "it" girl, Brenda Walsh, left Los Angeles to become a successful actress in London. This plot twist made about as much sense as any in the show's decade-long history. Shannen also had a fanatical following, maybe because she always seemed consistently annoyed with her costars, her character, and the entire Beverly Hills 90210 universe itself--the only emotion that made sense in that environment.

So anyway, here's the gang (except for Brenda--never to be seen again, by the way), all hanging out as usual, waiting to find out who the "mystery act" will be.

OMG! Did you see that coming? But wait, they weren't through with us yet. Some years later, the three witches of Charmed (once again, minus Shannen's character Pru, who was killed off--do I sense a pattern here?) would also enjoy an appearance by the Lips. No Wayne Coyne in a ball, unfortunately, but it is entertaining to watch the cast try to act with only their eyebrows.

I can only speculate that Coyne needed extra money for costly ongoing creative activities. I find myself liking the band more now--I like when disparate worlds collide. Do you think the 30-year-old undergrads of Squaresville 90210 really couldn't wait to rock the house with Lipitude? Let the record show: no.

And yet, I'm sure it was a fun time for all: craft services, no Shannen Doherty annoyance-factor to deal with, and decent paychecks at the end of the month. Aaron Spelling, we miss you and your wacky, entertaining television worlds.

David Silver dances courtesy of fschalk.