Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Farley Granger - 1925 – 2011

Farley Granger is gone and he was a cool, interesting guy. Got fed up with the studio system and ran off to the theater (and Italy). He always did his own thing and he looked good doing it. He was bisexual and ultimately didn't seem to care who knew it.

Granger was great playing off the incredible Robert Walker in Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train." They had chemistry! Steve Hayes reviews the film, praising Walker's great sociopathic performance, but also touching on all the reasons why this is one of Hitchcock's best films.

Here's Farley on Hitchcock.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The John Brothers - recession-busting East Bay street performers inspire

They play piano at BART stations around Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco. They were broke and jobless for seven months before finding their calling on the street. Now they impress and inspire in this age of jobless struggle for college grads (and everyone else). Kudos!

Source: Oakland North

Friday, March 25, 2011

Plugged in to the zeitgeist

I am creating Web templates, helping to manage several social-media sites and reading a how-to book on drumming, all while blogging this. I am plugged in to the zeitgeist. I am so plugged in that I have no time to deal with humanity, except that I happened to attend a ninth birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese tonight and I've never been. And I survived, motherfuckers. I survived.

Here are some videos I stumbled upon this week that I will share with you, potential zeitgeisters. And then: to sleep, perchance to dream--even while sleeping, we can multi-task.

Margaret Cho made a video featuring Tegan and Sara. I don't have any more information on this than probably you do. It's just a nice little ditty about drug intervention.

"Friday" (Brock's Dub), featuring Rebecca Black. What, you haven't heard FRIDAY?!?! This still might work for you on some level. If not, watch and listen to "Friday." Rebecca Black has promised to donate a ton of money she's making on this song to Japan relief and to her school. That is damn nice of her, so give it a listen. I went to Chuck E. Cheese tonight. This is the least you can do to make the world a better place. And it is Friday, after all--fun fun fun fun...

Obviously, the world has gone mad. How else to explain "Sexy Sax Man"? I wish he would come to our Grocery Outlet. That awesome shopping experience needs this as a soundtrack.

A poet shared this on the Facebook wall today and it's the real deal, daddi-o, from High School Confidential. Jackie Coogan, formerly adorable child actor and TV's "Uncle Fester" on The Addams Family, tickles the ivories in the background.

Plugged in, man.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Liz - The Ultimate Star

Elizabeth Taylor is gone. Hard to fathom--she's been famous since long before I was born. And I'm getting pretty old. Such a stunning girl and woman. You can't take your eyes off Liz in her heyday. Then she got older and showed an inner loveliness when she campaigned for AIDS funding at a time when other famous people, including world leaders wouldn't even mention the disease out loud in any public forum.

Liz looked around, saw her best friends were ill and dying and in Liz fashion said something to herself along the lines of "Fucking hell! I'm going to use my nearly unfathomable fame to raise money and find a cure for this goddamn awful public health crisis and I'm doing it right now, today, and beyond, until some team of researchers comes up with a way to cure my beloved friends and everyone else affected by this horrible disease. Sonofabitch, goddammit all to hell!" Every biographical work I've read on Liz says she swore like a sailor, so I like to imagine what that sounded like.

After many memorable roles, she finally won an Academy Award for playing Gloria the New York City call girl in Butterfield 8. It's not my favorite Liz performance (Virginia Woolf! Virginia Woolf!), but it's damn good. And I once actually got to visit the apartment from the movie when meeting a friend of a friend at her grandmother's place in Manhattan. It looked so familiar to me, especially the front room with its multi-windowed panoramic view of the city lighting up at dusk and the built-in settee in the dining room(?!). Our friend explained that it was the actual apartment filmed in Butterfield 8, whereupon I mentally cheered, finding myself inside a wealthy-person dwelling that hadn't been updated in 25 years. Then I imagined myself walking around in a well-fitting silk slip, hung over and gagging on a morning cigarette. And looking gorgeous doing it. That's the power of Liz.

Slight dubbing in German near the end of the scene, but no matter--it's all about watching Liz move about the room, which is probably a studio set based on the real apartment, but again, no matter. It's about Liz. It was always all about Liz.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

tUnE-yArDs - SXSW 2011

I'm still busy so here's tUnE-yArDs at SXSW, courtesy of NPR. Sorry, I can't embed but not for lack of trying. The code will only link to NPR audio tracks, which is fine if you want to hear a recording of cosmonaut Komarov as his shoddy space capsule begins to fail, but I don't recommend it (that poor man).

Stick with this live show. It gets better and better, especially if you're a fan of African traditional rhythms and rhythm in general. Merrill Garbus is a damn amazing composer and performer, relying mostly on simple drums, a loop pedal and wait for it, a ukulele, as well as her strangely affecting voice.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Dodos - live at SXSW 2011

I'm working on a rather large project so I'm just going to feature a really fine Dodos concert at this year's SXSW. I've never been to Austin at all. I feel very left out, yet my aversion to large crowds, spending large sums and personal networking doesn't make me too bummed out about missing 25 years of music, film and culture. Oh, who am I kidding, of course it does. What can I do? Watch a tiny, tiny window of it right here, I guess, with a cupa' joe and the sun streaming through the window after a week's worth of rain.

The Dodos at a surprise show at First Methodist. Love the drumming and the mustache is icing on the cake.

You’re watching The Dodos - SXSW 2011. See the Web's top videos on AOL Video

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Dance Anywhere Day

Once again it's Dance Anywhere Day. Has it been a year already? You didn't know about Dance Anywhere Day? Neither did I until I read about it in the SF Weekly last night. But no matter! It's been happening for the past five years and it's happening again--today! On six continents, in 27 countries, and 316 cities, according to the official Dance Anywhere Web site.

Whether you want to participate or just check out the dance anywhere action, I say: enjoy. The event was created in San Francisco by dancer and visual artist Beth Fein to focus on dancing offstage as a "worldwide community to transform our familiar and ordinary locations." And she's right. How cool and elegant is it to see talented performers break into dance during a celebrated musical? And how many times have you been brought to tears of joy by a well-timed flash mob performance? C'mon, admit it. Dance is emotional.

So get emotional and move around, or stare in wonder as you ponder your lunch order and someone launches into a soft-shoe across the tiled floor of your local Pizza Hut. I myself will be dancing in my living room, probably to our new Just Dance 2 game, but I won't be posting anything to the site. Sorry--you'll thank me.

Weather dance report: it's going to rain today so if you're in the Bay Area, look for umbrella dancers swinging around lamp posts and splashing through puddles as they make their way down the boulevard of public-performance dreams.

From the site gallery.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's St. Patrick's Day so get your Irish on

I'm half Irish-American and I don't like St. Patrick's Day, but only because in the U.S., it's kind of a stereotype-idea of Irishness. You drink too much and stumble around eating corned beef and cabbage (one time out of the year; be sure to brag about it on Facebook). You act all friendly and warm, hugging and exclaiming. Then you go back to your uptight Protestant work ethic while hating immigrants. That's about it. And if you live in Chicago, the city dyes the river green. Groan.

But I haven't been to Ireland yet so I'm stuck with these stupid and incorrect Irish concepts for now. Here's some random entertainment while I look for an article of green clothing to wear (so I don't get pinched). And another thing, I once attended a lecture on Irish mythology and the grumpy professor shouted in his lilting voice that nobody in Ireland believes in or even likes leprechauns. And looking at this St. Paddy's Parade from Dublin, it must be true. Not a single leprechaun in sight.

Properly trippy though. Ireland is most definitely a trip.

This guy is even grouchier than I am, with good reason, as he succinctly explains the current economic crisis in Ireland (warning: swear words). Take note, United States. Oh wait--too late.

Both of these videos were obtained by Adam C. Beach. Check out his music site, Band Geek.

The Muppets can make fun of anything and still be absurdly sweet-natured about it.
Special treat: Animal vs. Buddy Rich on drums.

Here's a recipe for chocolate-mint shamrock cupcakes. Love the intro: Celebrate the luck of the Irish with these adorable St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes... "Luck of the Irish" is ironic, you dumb copywriter. It means crud luck and is said with a bittersweet shrug of the shoulders among back-slapping Irish people as they head down the street to their favorite pub after barely surviving yet another mishap or disaster. It is not celebrated while baking or engulfing mint-flavored chocolate cake festooned with ground-hugging greenery.

Here is a Shamrock Shake. God help us.

And here is the trailer to Leprechaun. There have been six Leprechaun movies so far, including Leprechaun 4 In Space, Leprechaun in the Hood and Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha' Hood. Luck of the Irish indeed. These films have made English actor Warwick Davis a wealthy man. Thanks, you limey wanker.

And here is the Leprechaun, exhibiting obsessive-compulsive behavior for your horror-movie merriment.

They are magically delicious! I'm waiting for General Mills to introduce a cereal that's all marshmallow surprises. Any day now...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hubert's Freaks and the old weird America

I just finished reading Hubert's Freaks by Gregory Gibson--fascinating. I found it at the library and had to bring it home when I read the book jacket, which promised a story of a rare book dealer, a long-gone Times Square freak show called Hubert's, and some lost photos by Diane Arbus. I wasn't even sure at first if this was fiction or what. It's not, but it's as weird or weirder than any imaginary tale.

A rare-book dealer named Bob Langmuir, suffering from ADD and assorted emotional issues, but brilliant and a tenacious researcher, buys a stash of archives from Hubert's Museum that belonged to its manager and barker, Charlie Lucas. Charlie and his wife, a snake-dancer who went by the stage name, "Woogie," had been befriended by Diane Arbus, who was interested in photographing the performers of the 42nd Street sideshow. At Hubert's Arbus met Jack Dracula, the completely tattooed man, the giant Eddie Carmel, and Andy Potato Chips, who she shot for "Russian midget friends in a living room on 100th Street, N.Y.C." After studying his find, Langmuir concluded that some of the photos in his collection were actual Arbus prints that she had given to Lucas as a gift.

The story grows from there, from the weird world of ephemera dealers, to the even weirder world of high-art dealers and museum curators. Along the way, several good questions are asked: What makes an Arbus photo an Arbus photo? Who decides these things? What price do you put on a photo, or memorabilia from the old weird America that is now gone? How do you go about selling it anyway?

Throughout, Langmuir finds his own way, and it's all about the journey. If you like old stuff, weird long-gone stuff, art photography, and Diane Arbus with her visionary but creepy brilliance, you won't be able to put this book down. Well, sometimes I had to because it got kind of intense, but not like action-packed--more like emotionally and philosophically intense. Art dealing does that to me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nature is huge and we are tiny

What's more terrifying than a major earthquake? A tsunami. The American Red Cross has an disaster alert page and donation link here.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Benefit for Save KUSF 90.3 FM - a voice of San Francisco

A History Lesson, part 1 trailer - directed by Dave Travis

It's a complicated story but basically USF sold KUSF's frequency to USC who is in league with corporate demons who claim to want to switch the format to classical music, but who knows. The Bay Area is a lucrative radio market that has been pretty much picked clean by multi-billion-dollar companies who advertise a bunch of crap using crap music and robotic DJs (or actual robots) to sell it to the commuters trapped on freeways every morning and evening. It's a radio nightmare and having KUSF gone is very very sad for anyone who grew up in the free-form radios days of the San Francisco Bay Area from the late 70s on.

I used to work at KUSF when I lived down the street from USF. Sometimes I fucked up my shift by not getting up at 3 a.m. when my battery-alarm clock ran down. It happens. I would have over-stayed my welcome there but I just couldn't handle the graveyard-shift hours. And you have to withstand those if you want a decent daytime shift eventually. I wish I could have toughed it out because now I'd be a locally famous DJ known for my eclectic taste in music and grouchily comedic demeanor, instead of a blogging bum, which is what I am. It's probably just as well because: I got really burned out on music during the late 80s/early 90s techno era and I don't want to be a devastated former volunteer trying to petition the FCC to stop this current sale of public airwaves.

But I'm happy to lend a hand or two and so here's a flier I quickly threw together for tonight's benefit: the premiere of A History Lesson, part 1. A punk rock film about the 1984 era, featuring Minutemen, Meat Puppets, and more, plus interviews with psychedelic punk rock icons and a Q&A with filmmaker Dave Travis. Travis started shooting shows in 1984 as a teenager and kept going until the late 90s. That is such impressive dedication. I wish I could focus on one concept for that long instead of flying all around the pop-culture landscape like Witchy Poo with ADD, but enough about my problems.

You can donate to Save KUSF so they can pay their excellent team of lawyers who are petitioning the FCC even as I type. These lawyers are radio airwave experts who I personally can vouch for. If you're going to donate to one left-of-the-dial nonprofit, this is your best bet in a difficult legal situation. Otherwise, I can see this frequency eventually turning into one more classic-rock station, and please--don't subject San Francisco to any more of that.

-New podcasts and interviews from KUSF DJs are available at KUSF Archives.
-Sign the petition to save KUSF.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Downtown Records puts the music in the music industry

Happy fifth anniversary, Downtown Records. In a sagging music industry, you lift our spirits. Here's a smattering of Downtown artists that are worthy of further study.

Scissor Sisters have a hankerin' for disco-influenced madness. And it shows!

The Drums seem to say, "Don't you forget about me, 80s pop!"

Cold War Kids put the singer-songwriter in, uh, the term "singer-songwriter."

Santigold! It's been a few years since you sprang on the scene. We need your weirdness--come back!

Santigold - "L.E.S. Artistes" from Downtown Music on Vimeo.

Kid Sister is way cooler than I'll ever be. Oh well. What else is new?

Miike Snow is a Swedish band that seems to be channeling ABBA if ABBA was an prog-rock band. There's hope for us. Reference point: you might have heard "Animal" on the car radio on the freeway at some point.

Rabbit by Miike Snow from ChAoSKiD on Vimeo.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Shrubbery - A Celebration

You know, shrubbery gets short shrift. It borders us, blocks views of neighbors, keeps freeway on-ramps from being suicidally depressive in scope. People trim them into little shapes. Sometimes big shapes, like elephants. Have you ever seen a topiary garden shaped like a dragon, or a giant tea party? My former neighbor used to do that. And it was damn amusing. So let's explore: shrubbery among us.

"A Man Named Pearl" - the documentary about Pearl Fryar, self-taught topiary gardener who sculpts plants because it brings him (and his community) great joy.

Maybe I could find employment as a dancing shrub. My resume needs beefing up and I have a decent sense of gardening know-how and rhythm.

Animated hedge stalking with Homer Simpson.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Do you have juniper bushes? Rip them out, or save a couple and trim them like gnarly little trees. But don't do this:
Seriously, I can't be your friend if you do.

Give a kid a bush and a video camera and they will figure out the rest.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


I just almost completed my first hoop workout. Not technically a Hula Hoop workout because we have a different brand of hoop, filled with water and weights, which is actually a little small for me because it belongs to my kid. And that's too much information--sorry. But I guess if I want to get serious about hooping, I'll have to spring for one of those gigantic adult-sized workout hoops, special-ordered from the Internets and capable of causing all kinds of damage in and around the house. That's the price of fitness.

What's new in hooping? Let's find out.

Hoop La La really wowed 'em on "Britain's Got Talent," a few years ago. Damn, they're so cute.

FYI, you don't need a Hula Hoop to do the Hula Hoop.

I love our First Lady.

You can be all flamboyantly new-age and stuff--it's OK with a hoop because then at least you're entertaining.

Guys--you can hoop too. Especially at Burning Man. In fact, I believe it's a requirement.


My inspiration.