Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Little Richard Moment in Time

I've been having a lot of Little Richard moments lately. Driving to the hardware store, or cleaning the house, Little Richard descends on my consciousness wailing insanely and pitch-perfectly: A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom! And then: I got a gal named Sue--she knows just what to do... WHOOOO! (repeat).

God love him, Little Richard is the real deal. You can hear the entire coming of rock & roll, civil rights, and I'd wager gay rights, in his unparalleled, beautiful voice. Little Richard's singing style was a jacked up, trickster's bridge between worlds; the worlds of gospel, blues, R&B, rock, black, white, heaven and hell. He ushered in a new era of sound and fierceness. I have no idea why Good golly miss Molly--sure like to ball! is of the essence, but I'm just going to go with it. Some people have meditation to keep them centered. I have Richard Penniman.

Gary Busey Lives!

Happy birthday, Gary Busey--you talented, unpredictable live-wire! Making the world a more interesting place for 66 years now. Once I overheard a couple of hipsters standing in a movie line, talking about how Gary Busey has to die in practically all his movies. The one guy proceeded to list all the movies where Gary Busey dies. There's more than a few. He finished up his Busey thesis by claiming, "One thing's for sure, by film's end--Gary Busey must die."

This is not the case in real life. Here's to you, Mr. Busey.

Busey Beats from wreckandsalvage on Vimeo.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jason Mercier has a way with celebrity junk

Celebrity collage artist, Jason Mercier, has a new show, "Celebrity Junk Drawer," at 5 Claude Lane in San Francisco. After asking for and receiving two boxes of junk from Phyllis Diller (she's the coolest), he sent letters to several other celebrities, asking for their crapola. He then worked his tacky-glue magic and the result is more than ten portraits for your viewing pleasure.
Jason used to be in the pop-culture junk band, Enrique, and they went all out, making elaborate 70s-era-like costumes, wearing scratchy, acrylic wigs, and playing in small clubs around San Francisco ALL THE TIME. So it's nice to see him become such a established fixture on the outsider art scene. He used to work strictly with macaroni and beans--branching out!

There's still some question as to whether this is art or not. Oh, get over it, naysayers. Let's see you make an accurate portrait of Kathy Najimi using brown-and-serve sausages.

Early work made from food.

One view off Jaina A. Davis' Victorian stairwell, covered entirely with tens of thousands of pencils, erasers, various office supplies and one lone pen. She commissioned Jason to make it and it took five years to complete. They were both in Enrique together. That band spawned a lot of weird art. Any questions? There's a FAQ.

Clean out your house and help Jason by sending him your unneeded junk-drawer items. He explains how. I would love to see his workshop.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vuvuzela Time

Our new hamster, Fifi, has temporarily changed her name to Fifa, just for today, in honor of the U.S./Ghana match. Go for it, Fifa! BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWW!!!! Nice.

Vuvuzela your Web experience. Put in the URL for the Fox News site and enjoy the buzz kill: Vuvuzela Time.

YouTube adds vuvuzela button to selected videos. It seems to be on all of mine. Here's a video we made that features Jackson's toy trains. Try the soccer-ball button on the right of the tool bar. Delightful!

Annoying Vuvuzelas Explained

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Now you will never be depressed again

Well, I can't promise that, but it's very difficult to be depressed when viewing these particular clips. It's not that they're cheerful. It's just that they're so damn silly.

Here's to the healing power of silliness.

Never give up!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Clarion Alley Murals, San Francisco

Bloggers experiencing "blogger's block" simply need to walk around the Mission District in San Francisco. Don't forget your camera, like I did, and have to use your camera phone. I had to tweak these to get the contrast back. It was dusk but luckily just before summer solstice, so it was a bright dusk. Still: will bring the new-ish digital camera (with newfangled built-in flash) next time.

The Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) was started by a group of artists, featuring among others, Aaron Noble (who I used to play pick-up baseball with), and his roommate, Rigo 23, who's a great post-modern muralist. They both lived in a maze-like warehouse building in the alley, which has since been torn down for housing. The alley has changed much and the original CAMP organization has moved on, gathering new recruits over the years, but as far as I know--disbanded...? Correct me if I'm wrong. And hopefully I am because a muralist's work is never done (see note below at last photo).

I have ties to this urine-soaked alley between Valencia and Mission Streets. I filmed a music video at the warehouse for Barbara Manning, featuring our favorite no-hit-pitcher-on-acid, Dock Ellis. I played at a benefit for the alley in my band She Mob (wearing a devil hat and Spiro Agnew t-shirt--it seemed appropriate). I said good-bye to Aaron there as he prepared to move to Los Angeles. Bummer. But through all the hard work of the collective, the murals live on. And on and on.

Heartbreak: Greta Snider's charming Mission street scene has been completely tagged, wheat-pasted, and stickered. I hope someone helps restore this soon.

Shotwell plays at the Clarion Alley Celebration, 2006.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mant! and other William Castle-inspired art

The entire film within a film from Joe Dante's William Castle-inspired "Matinee." Curently NOT on DVD! What gives?! For God's sake, we need to see this film again. I am going to town with embedded video here.

Mant! trailer

"Matinee" trailer

Roger Ebert digs it.

"Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story" documentary

Hell, one more, for the title alone. "ZOTZ!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Showgirls - The Many Faces of Nomi Malone

After spending two weeks in the hospital with my son, who is now steadily recovering, there was only one thing that could snap me out of my freaked-out existence: Showgirls. I caught it one night when I was home, in between hospital sleep-overs.

The last time I saw Showgirls was when it came out on VHS. Somewhat wasted as I sat in a room full of bad-movie aficionados, I marveled at the misogynistic, inane, ineptitude for a solid two hours, eleven minutes. At the end, I turned to one of my friends and said, "I feel so dirty." My friend, who produced hardcore gay porn at the time, looked completely shell-shocked as he replied, "Me too." It was that kind of evening.

Time has not been kind to Showgirls. It still blows chunks. But it blows chunks in large, explosive, hard-to-fathom ways. And I'm glad I caught it again, if only to relieve myself of a little reality. There's nothing whatsoever real about Showgirls. But there's plenty of fancy manicures, mega-false eyelashes and stripey hair glitter. Also boobs. So many boobs, in fact, that by the second hour, I was completely numb to the thrill of it all. One scene follows another in glue-stick fashion, in Joe Eszterhas' crazy-quilt screenplay. And eventually I gaped at the screen, noting dully, "More boobs."

Elizabeth Berkley, stunt-cast as Nomi Malone (great stupid name), was completely savaged by critics. Her portrayal of a desperate drifter from nowhere, rising from the dregs of seedy stripper clubs to top-showgirl goddess status is not exactly legendary. More like a really bad hallucination. Not all of it is her fault. As directed by Paul Verhoeven, she's required to flip her lid every time anyone refers to her as a whore. Since there's plenty of whore-baiting, there's a lot of anger in her performance.

In contrast to her delicate sensibilities, she's savagely sexual in her workaday world. In fact, I'd say she's the most rabid sex worker who doesn't want to be called a sex worker in the history of big-budget softcore NC17-rated porn. She's either ready to cut a bitch or laugh giddily and hug a pink teddy bear. There's not a lot of middle ground with Nomi Malone. But that's what makes her so lovable, except she's not. With dead eyes and snarling features, Nomi Malone is not having a good time any of the time in Las Vegas. And neither are we. And now...

Whoo! Five minutes in and you know it's going to be a fun ride. Eszterhas seems (or seemed; he's all Roman Catholic now, apparently) to have a thing for blond women wielding pointy objects.

I love this title card which is completely unnecessary. All that's going on is that Nomi has a job stripping at a sleazy club and her roommate and brand new friend, Molly, ate all the chips in the trailer. Nevertheless, it is six weeks later than the opening shot of the film. Just so you know.

Close-ups of psychedelic manicures are always welcome around here. And it adds another layer to Nomi's complex personality. Yeah.

Molly gets Nomi in to see the new Goddess show at the Stardust. It's all she ever dreamed of and more.

Gina Gershon rises from an exploding volcano--the stuff dreams are made of.

The blankness in her eyes says it all.

Starry-eyed or dead-eyed, you decide

Backstage, there's an All About Eve vibe, but this shot in particular reminds me more of Valley of the Dolls. Except Valley has classic (if ridiculous) story arcs for its three main characters, whereas Showgirls kind of meanders along in a coke, boobs, violence, simulated sex kind of way. Nomi starts out as a fucked up girl with lots of problems and ends as a fucked up girl with lots of problems wearing a shinier, more expensive wardrobe.

It's unfair to freeze-frame someone in mid-snarl, but Berkley's expressions only range from this to blank moments of glassy-eyed emptiness, with occasional manic glee thrown in here and there. The many faces amount to three total.

This is a moment of Nomi Malone foreplay, since the guy she's kneeing (for daring to suggest she take dancing lessons from him) will stalk her for most of the film. Erotic city.

The guy bails her out of jail and she's furious. She's a lot of fun.

This guy, owner of Cheetah's, the strip club where Nomi gets her start, has the best line of the movie. When she ultimately lands a part in the Stardust show, he visits backstage, musing, "Must be weird, not having anybody come on you." That must be weird indeed!

"Mama" Bazoom is supposed to be (intentional) comic relief but she spouts the most misogynistic jokes of the film. A grotesque in a pop-off dress.

Nomi's big stripper scene. Everyone's excited, claiming she "burns" on stage. I guess if burning means "looking pissed off all the time," then yes, she burns.

But then, manic glee!

And new and disgusting ways of dealing with ice.

Offering coke like it's a stick of gum. Showgirls might be the most autobiographical screenplay ever written.

Getting down with Cristal Connors. Gina Gershon brings a campy relish to her negative-stereotype role of frustrated predatory lesbian.

That's entertainment!

Our trail-head to the infamous "porpoise" sex scene, full of splash and fury.

Nomi is about to be accused of assaulting the show's star attraction. Her reaction is electric (during a brown-out).

But all's well because she is now the Stardust's new firecracker Goddess. She burns!

Them's fightin' nails.

Here's how I best like to remember Nomi Malone--fierce, furious, psychopathic, and made up to the teeth.

All the film stills in the world cannot convey the lunacy of this filmic endeavor. It must be seen to be properly experienced, preferably with a fifth of champagne (for each viewer), a pack of ciggies, and a journal to record your feelings afterwards. Celebrate our cultural legacy with Showgirls.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The lost month (plus two weeks)

Well, we finally have a diagnosis. My kid's got Crohn's Disease. Look it up. I don't feel like linking to the scary Wikipedia page. Dr. F., the kindly pediatric gastroenterologist, has assured me that Internet information is five years behind the times. Therefore that scary Wikipedia page needs some updating. And less terrifying images. But anyway, there's lots of new medications available to control this badass autoimmune disorder, so we'll be learning more about this soon.

The important thing is that we have a diagnosis and now treatment is underway and symptoms are disappearing like...um...disappearing symptoms. Sorry, staying at the hospital for two weeks has done a number on me.

Here's some of my notes from the past few weeks from my little notebook that I carried around to all the doctors' offices, labs and pharmacies. Not entertaining, but kind of historical for me. May good health never be elusive, and may you have the good luck to stay in the pediatric ward in our local hospital with its amazingly kind, hard-working and nurturing staff.

Notes (with misspellings intact):
-stomach pain in April for 10 days.
-tired 4 two wks.
-fevers last wk-end & this wk-end.
-near fainting last wk & this.
-severe stomach pain, worse after 10 days (Mon., Tues. worst).
-right jaw hurts [we never did figure this one out--it went away on its own.]

protein--not absorbed
needs inflammatory bowel disease IBD genetic test, pending
Mono & Epstein Barre, pending
Wheat, pending
-not eating or drinking
-worse symptoms

Need Readi-cat: 12:45 - 1/2 bottle 2 hrs before test; 1:45 - 1/2 bottle 1 hr. before test.
No solids after 10:45 (4 hr. fast)

Ask about meds for appetite increase

-Appendix looks a little enlarged
-Less fat means more difficult to tell if it's appendix.
-She will talk to surgeon now and call back.
Surgeon: appendicitis
-no rush to treat
-might heal itself
-lab work--abnormal but not catastrophic
-if no symptoms: watch and wait

Emergency Room IF:
-abdominal pain
-not eating
-throwing up

IBD pending (blood test)
stool softener
white cell: normal
hemoglobin: normal
platelet: little high (inflamed)
Celiac disease - gluten, Thurs. results
seriacitive protein SED - inflammation getting higher
Albumin: low. Blood related. Could be leaking

Make ultrasound appt.

Colon - non-casiating grandaloma
terminal ilium -- ? (Crohn's likes it)

And there you have it. Except for the last three lines, these were all notes from before the two-week hospital stay. It's been quite a journey. The best news is that he's feeling much better and appears to be on his way to better times ahead. Today was garbage day--almost like Christmas for Jackson.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Esquivel! - Manicero

Juan Garcia Esquivel was a musical genius from Mexico who often referred to himself as simply, "Esquivel!" And well he should have. I cut this film to a 2005 recording of his orchestra that was made for Bar/None Records--"The Sights and Sounds of Esquivel!It was recorded straightforward and live in the studio--no over-dubbing or edited takes.

The footage is from the Internet Archive, most likely of a carnival in Suriname. I've never been to Suriname, but if I ever do, I'm definitely going during carnival. The home movie footage was probably shot by a family from the Netherlands. There's a bunch of that currently going on at the Internet Archive--which is always growing and is always fascinating.

Any typos--I apologize. Ditto for the long dashes in the write-up today. I've been living in the hospital with my kid most of the week while he recovers from his mystery ailment, which will probably be revealed soon. And then: treatment. This film is dedicated to my kid, who brings such joy to my life on a daily basis.