Friday, February 27, 2004

rip it to shreds

tonight i heard the coyotes kill something. i think. it was a sound unlike any other i've ever heard them make, cutting through the glass patio door and black metal blinds like an otherworldly scythe ... something almost screaming, and the coyotes yowling and barking like banshees. no wonder primitive people heard creatures like that and thought of evil spirits. it was bone-chilling. i yelled for 00soul to come hear it, but by the time he got into the bedroom it was over save for a few stray yips and yaps. it was creepy, but cool.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

boring detail

i don't have comments, because, uh ... well, i just don't. but now you can contact me through email. just click "contact" above.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

mean flower

rage. it is destructive, but i do not care. even though it disrupts things on so many levels. i have anger, i admit it -- and i am not completely comfortable with my anger, although i accept it as a vital part of me.

i confess i do not know too much about howard dean and his alleged anger. what i have seen of him on tv, he seems righteously vehement. he talked of taking this country out of the hands of the rich and powerful, and i found it compelling. i feel it is well past time for decent people to become angry and want things to change ... dean represents the turning of the tide. if he also was the too-intense version of a change is gonna come, well ... so be it. i actually can't understand why we -- in a country where the verbally abusive simon cowell is a pop-culture flash on "american idol," and the queer eyes often meanly dress down the straight guys, and all sorts of unpleasant gloves-off exchanges occur daily on cheesy talk shows -- apparently cannot tolerate the least bit of passionate-debate-to-outright-mudslinging in our political contests. or at least, that seems to be the perception: the public wants politicians to play nice. the perception that is sold to us by ... them?

i'm just saying i understand dean's anger, and i think it struck a chord with some ... maybe i'll just say me ... because it resonates with the constant undercurrent of uncertainty, fear, frustration, outrage, sorrow, and despair i have from living in these times. it's like, finally, someone just comes out and says it. that is significant.

in howard dean's case, they say, he was undone by some tiny soundbite of him all pumped up at an event in ... iowa? not sure. it made him sound unhinged. well, i feel unhinged. not just on my little micro scale of personal frustrations, but also on the macro of ... war without end? no jobs? widespread stupidity? election rigging? more power to the powerful?

feeling powerless makes me angry, and even though i feign control in so many ways, i have none. no one does, but most people are more at peace with that than me. or something. i try to stay away from these trains of thought. but i sometimes feel that anger, a totally valid emotion, is less and less acceptable in certain ways. on the other hand, i have too much of it. it builds up. it doesn't discharge, so it eventually kind of explodes. or really, it implodes, but usually the shrapnel ends up hitting someone else. usually the last person i want to suffer my fury.

instead i would prefer to aim it at a deserving target, or transform it into something more constructive. howard dean has attempted to do that, i think: transform his anger into something constructive. perhaps he has been made to seem destructive; i think it's some sort of media trick. but at least he has the good sense and grace to, when it came down to it, step out of the way and let the changes he fostered keep on rolling. he can still help the cause, and i believe he will. i think we need more righteous anger. i think there is a lot of it out there, and people just need to get connected to it, and learn, maybe, how to use it constructively. not just turn it inward on themselves, or on others. if more of us could see that "they" are a small, if powerful group, and the ways in which we are manipulated by them divide us and keep us powerless -- then maybe we would not implode and wound the wrong targets.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

gentle persuasion

on thursday morning i was forced to help someone walk across the street. physically. the weapon was an outstretched hand, attached to a small young woman, probably mentally challenged in some way, who was wearing a backpack and walking with one of those crooked metal canes with four little feet. i have seen her around the neighborhood of our offices before, usually near the county museum. watching her slowly cross the smaller streets, i have wondered more than once how she manages to get to the other side of wide, wide wilshire boulevard before the light changes. now i have an inkling.

on thursday, i was coming from the parking garage on the other side of ogden, which borders the museum to the west, when i saw her step out onto wilshire, in front of traffic that was just about to move (as the light had changed against her). by the time i got over there, she had managed to get back onto the sidewalk. i pushed the button for the walk sign. i asked if she was all right and said something about waiting for the light to change. she came over to me and looked down at my leather-gloved hand. then she grabbed it pretty tight, and gestured across the street. i was surprised, but i let her do it. why not? i said, "you want me to help you across the street?" and she nodded.

so the light inevitably changed, and off we went. we got a little more than halfway across before the light changed, but we kept going. there were two buses poised to hurtle in our general direction; i just glared at the drivers and mentally dared them to try it. they didn't move 'til we were across. on the other side, she dropped my hand, thanked me, and went on her way, in the opposite direction of citybeat world headquarters. strangely enough, i felt really good, even bubbly. i was amused that, though i was wearing my trademark black armor and impenetrable mirrored shades, she didn't find me unapproachable in the least. maybe she could see that underneath the facade i was actually a nice person. or maybe she just thought i looked like someone who could stop buses with one dark scowl.

drinking with coworkers

the citybeat crew's been doing a lot of tippling together of late. this inevitably leads to adventures, mostly of the usual kind. friday the 13th found me in episode 1, "drinking with the boys," co-starring, naturally, several of the boys (the goddamn fool, d:nero, doc 40, and the chief) at the kibitz room. it had been a particularly grueling day for some of the above, as a result of a business meeting. (thankfully, i was spared. it's good to not be the king.) after doc40 loudly protested the execution special on the history channel (resulting in the channel being changed), the lights were dimmed, we played some jimi hendrix on the jukebox, and eric mixed up a couple of pussy specials, we were enjoying each other's company immensely. the fun didn't last, of course. a guy got up to play some dreadful music, at which point the goddamn fool left. i think d:nero bailed earlier, to go shopping for a valentine's gift for his girl. anyway, so the chief, doc40, and i were enjoying a rollicking conversation, but this bad musician was sort of hard to ignore. we began to openly made fun of him, and i think the doc was even badly mock-singing along at one point. which was really uncalled for. i distinctly remember the performer's two friends pulling up a table right in front of him -- like, butted up to the low stage -- and kind of looking up at him, as if to be a friendly focal point. heh.

all of which once again proves that alcohol is evil -- and pussy drinks especially.

episode 2 of drinking with coworkers ("drinking on our own tabs") occurred late on thursday, the same day i was forced to perform a good deed. (see above.) citybeat was proudly sponsoring a music/fashion event at the conga room, a swanky retro-ish supper/night/danceclub down the street from us on wilshire. our publisher lured us with promises of buying rounds. always eager to support the team, to say nothing of imbibe for free, the selfsame crew as above, plus the talented and lovely calendar girl, along with young ad rep, convened at the conga room at the appointed hour. long story short, the publisher never showed! this miffed us, but it didn't stop us from getting drunk on each other's dimes. teamwork rocks.

calendar girl and i danced to some silly techno in one of several trippy little spirals projected onto the long wooden dance floor. that was fun. then we watched a couple of bands. one was a duo of adorable young lads who did something like electroclash en espanol, although that's really a vague generalization that sounds cool but doesn't mean much. anyway, the keyboardist had a two-tone hairdo, one half jet black, one half bleached blond, and it kinda came to a point in front. it was soooo '80s. the guitarist was more geeky indie-rock kid; dark t-shirt and baggy jeans. they took these sorta cheesy '80s keyboard and synthy guitar sounds and married them to more modern dance-music beats, like drum n bass, etc. d:nero pointed this out, and it was like, "yeahhhh."

the next band was more people, kinda funky, with a chick singer who came out all wrapped up, in this sort of "blade runner"-esque kimono getup, her head wrapped with a big white bandanna bearing japanese lettering. again,v. '80s. lots of makeup, kind of weird-looking but hot, like that chick in the levi's ads who steals back her classic car from the chop shop and stuff. at first it was like, "boy or girl?" soon she'd unwrapped herself and was wearing a really hot red silk boned bustier that left no doubt she was a girl. that was the main thing i remember about that act, the gorgeous bustier. sigh.

not much of note after that, except i made it home alive. and i had a brutal hangover the next day b/c i stupidly drank margaritas. should've done tequila & tonic, what was i thinking?

Monday, February 09, 2004

i'm laughing

00soul played a lotta jimi hendrix this weekend. weird stuff i didn't know, off of live albums and whatnot. an unexpected pleasure of hearing a familiar artist playing unfamiliar material. the music was so personal i found myself wondering what hendrix was like. all i really know about him is not much: he was 27 when he died; he was from seattle; he traveled all over the country and had to go to england before his destiny was fulfilled. and he apparently knew everything about playing electric guitar, except for the things he invented. yet as i pondered who he might've been, i realized it didn't matter. all you need to know about jimi hendrix is in the notes he left behind.

the agent said that when jimi died there were 600 hours of tape left at electric ladyland. along with poor dead tupac, i could not help but think of prince, who is alive, true, but also prolific. and then on sunday, we watched the grammys, and there, of course, was prince. looking super-fine in his purple suit with shiny gold shirt/tie and funky symbol-guitar. tiny, pretty man. dancing and singing and moving to the groove ... and then beyonce had to come out and ruin it all with her horrid fluffy pink dress and hoochie-mama singing/dancing. (what is up with these baby divas and their spastic performance styles? i swear, beyonce and xtina made celine dion look classy...and i hate that canadian bitch.)

but how delicious that prince would be performing on the very same grammys (apparently he is recording an album in l.a. and even trying to shop it to labels? rumor...) at which his heirs apparent get their due in the mainstream (the mainstream of the mainstream): ooh-yeah, i'm talking about outkast, baby! what was better: big boi's two-word acceptance speech after winning best rap album ("thank you!"), or andre 3000's absinthe hallucination of a leprechaun-teepee world in which scantily-clad pocahontas types shook it like a polaroid picture during the performance of "hey ya!"? (the latter complete with, natch, a number-closing burst of fireworks shooting out the top of the teepee.)

still, i have to depart from this train of thought for a minute to note that the white stripes were incendiary in a wholly different way. jack white looked like fuckin' wormtongue up there with his stringy black hair, making a mighty big and fuckin' excellent noise with his guitar and his otherworldly yelp. meg white looked hot (like an early '60s country star, all white skin and cascades of coiffed black hair ... except for the sparkly black tank top) and hammered hotter -- ooo, that girl can play the drums. the electric candy-colored set was practically on fire; at one point the lights behind jack appeared to immolate him and his surroundings: i was like, "omg, there was a fuckin' nuclear explosion b/c that was just too GODDAMNED COOL for the grammys!" or not.

anyway. but the white stripes could not stand up to the mighty funk tide, which prince got rolling right at the beginning, but which later manifested in a massive display of black sonic and sartorial freakiness presided over by sam jackson with equal parts authority and enthusiasm: earth wind and fire, outkast, robert randolph & the family band, and the whole george clinton & p-funk mob. like, seemingly hundreds of people on stage, all gettin' their freaks on at once. aliens were flying over the staples center right then, and they looked inside and said, "oh, nevermind! this planet's already been invaded." and off they went, leaving us at least momentarily in the benign grip of the mothership.

and preceding them somewhere out in the cosmos was an ever-more-ancient broadcast of "third stone from the sun," echoing and echoing and echoing away from us.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

super, thanks for asking

it seems almost pointless to write about the super bowl now, but i wanted to note that the game itself, despite the slow start in the first half, was pretty damn exciting. yes, the panthers lost, which was a major bummer, but they almost won -- and they beat the spread, so ha ha HAH.

still, although i didn't root for the patriots, if i were that team or their fans i'd be pissed about how this whole stupid halftime-show flap has completely overshadowed their victory.

and how fuckin' moronic can one country be? this sustained outrage over janet jackson's right breast being exposed. it's been days, people. can't we move on? folks should have been outraged by the complete crap quality of the whole halftime show. tiny sound-bite versions of old hits by mostly lip-syncing performers ... lame dancing ... janet jackson's whole last-samurai getup ... kid rock literally wrapping himself in the flag. sheesh.

Monday, February 02, 2004

meet the new killer star, same as the old killer star

spaceman. rebel. dandy. new-waver. jetsetter. technopopper. all these labels and more fit david bowie at some point or another, and he attempted to manifest most of them during his show saturday at the shrine auditorium. where all the cool kids were at.

the auditorium, it must be said, is a gorgeous, gorgeous place. like most vintage venues, it is incredible ornate and, though recently restored, smells faintly of age. the chandelier is the most spectacular thing, a giant glittering breast-like orb clustered about with smaller globe-like satellites (and mirrored by a smaller version near the proscenium), glowing pink or deep red and maybe other colors too. a good setting for the venerable rock star. yeah, he's 57.

the set list had 27 songs but i think he skipped one during the encores. still, it was 2 hours and 15 minutes of a few too many lonely spaceman ballads and not enough rockers. i mean, at some point in the middle i felt so, like ... what's that stones song? "it's so very lonely, you're 2,000 light years from home"?? yeah. eh, it was the type of gig i really hate doing: an act i like that left me strangely cold. it has been suggested in some quarters that bowie has always had that arch/cold/ice thing, and this is true. but it wasn't strictly his demeanor; it was his commitment. i think my review said he was not so much enamored of the material as fond of it. something like that. i know i am ruined by my experience with iggy pop and the stooges recently, but there was something kinda smarmy and near-vegas-y about bowie. the stage patter was exceptionally cheesy. but he seemed genuinely into being there and performing, so i guess it's all part of the package.

the band was really good. a bunch of veterans. mostly i remember bassist gail ann dorsey, who was rocking a scary color-blocked dress, boots, and that meshell ndegeocello shaved-head look. adorable, but it was more about the pumping steady pulse she put out, and the way she threw herself into freddie mercury's parts on "under pressure." which seemed like a lame tune to do until you consider that "china girl" and "i'm afraid of americans" were also on the bill. "all the young dudes" was quite anthemic, with the whole audience waving their arms and singing along. and an encore of "hang onto yourself" was, to use the governor's favorite word, fantastic. (there was an article in the l.a. times today about how much schwarzenegger uses "fantastic." i would link to it but the cheap bastards make you pay. so, f that, as one of my coworkers would say.)

still, this long, long show suffered from a dearth of rockers. would it have killed him to play "panic in detroit"? or "moonage daydream" instead of, say, "five years"? (although he actually did that well.) granted, the set list changes each night. (although i betcha that means he rotates out a few songs here and there, not that he changes everything each night. at least, a set list from berlin seems to indicate that.) so maybe it's rock-er other times. who knows?

and he was rockstar-y. he got up on the catwalk surrounding the band for "hallo spaceboy," and despite the fact that he was wearing CONVERSE FUCKING SNEAKERS (and i love converse, i own a pair, and they're great for punk bands, but wtf david?? i expect you to try a little harder than that for the people), he was riveting. i don't even know what he was fucking singing. who cares? you were just like, "wow. look at that. i think he's levitating." also, as previously noted, he was in fine voice, and he sang this tune "slip away," which i don't know, quite poignantly. he said something about being inspired by an old children's show called "uncle floyd". the song was a goofy star-twinkled wistful sad take on the passage of time and things, the kind of torchy isn't-it-sad-we-lost-our-innocence-please-pass-the-dust number of which he is king.

and the audience: all the fat skinny people, all the tall short people, all the nobody people, all the somebody people. oh yeah. a pair of matronly ladies, sensibly dressed but clutching excitedly at each other in the aisle, perhaps recalling some wanton days of old when they put on their flared-leg belted skintight jumpsuits and platforms, righteously feathered their hair, and went off for a night of glam-soaked debauchery. another pair of friends, sweet young things in complementary diaphanous camisoles, matching long dark hair, pale skin, and eye makeup for days. a knot of adorable latino goth kids, two super-gay boys and their ... what's spanish for fag hags? one looked like dave navarro's younger brother, all dramatic black curls and severely shaped facial hair. the other wore some sort of woven/crocheted shirt with little bits of mirrors or something reflective all over it. they eventually had to leave b/c they weren't in the right seats. we were in the weasel section, so it was probably the most subdued (at least after the goth kidz left), but people still stood up and cheered and whatnot. and my favorite fan might've been the middle-aged, super-square-looking dude who boogied his way back to his seat during "white light white heat." (another questionable choice not terribly compellingly executed.)

it was exhilarating to see all the different types of people there to worship bowie. he doesn't feel like a false god, maybe more like a paler one than he used to be. although his power doesn't seem too diminished. yet he maybe doesn't turn it up to 11, so to speak. so he feels slightly faded. true, he hasn't had a real hit in a long time, so maybe that's the fading part. or maybe, as someone said, he's gotten too comfortable, with the whole iman thing and all. i don't think iggy pop is exactly hurting, but maybe it's more a matter of how you let those things carry you. oh, i don't know. that's just silly rockcrit extrapolation.

so we escaped during the last number, "ziggy stardust," and dashed to the parking garage where the other several thousand people's cars were still parked. i ran up five flights of stairs in my semi-high-heeled new boots, but for some reason it was that last short haul up the ramp to my car that hurt my legs the most. we rolled out just inches ahead of the surge. driving home on third street, i hit a massive pothole, like the mother of all fuckin' potholes, and in hancock park of all places! a hubcab went ping-rattling onto the sidewalk, so i drove around the block in hopes of retrieving it intact. 00soul obligingly leapt out to snag the wayward disk and stumbled into a veritable hubcap graveyard. i watched through the open passenger door as he held up a couple of different models, finally selected the right one, and hurried on back. if i were harlan ellison in the '70s i would write a science-fiction -- oops, i mean speculative fiction -- story about the creature that set that trap and what it does with the hubcaps. or the people who come looking for them.