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Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
July 2016

‘Round Town

May 31 Visitor Jake Austin from Chicago came over and we connoitered.

June 12 Went to the Redwood to see Skip Heller & The Hollywood Blues Destroyers. Great show: their “Baby Baby” (actually the Connie Francis hit “Don’t Ever Leave Me”) CD was released that day.

Skip channeling his inner Johnnie Ray.




June 15 Followed Flag’s Keith Morris into the Goodwill store on Sunset, east Hollywood. It is a community center.



That night visited friends Allan and Harold at the former’s house. On the video screen was the making of the Rolling Stones’ 1995 stripped-down hits album, followed by performances from the band’s european concert tour.

June 17 Birthday lunch with friends Kathe and David at Porta Via on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. Get there early and you can net a good half in/half out table and watch the Beverly hillbillies stroll by.

June 18 I hotfooted over to the Holiday Inn in Burbank to catch Jimmy Angel’s debut in the Lounge.
I lucked into a street parking space across from the Inn’s entry, and prepared for a long walk to find him. No sweat! As I opened the first door I got a blast of Jimmy and the Guttierez Trio from down the busy hall, and found the place packed with people boppin’ and fruggin’ and shakin’ all over. I’d expected to spend time with him, but when break time came I was frozen out by a stage rush by people from the dance floor. But he saw me across the room and hollered “Howdy, cat!”

June 20 Lunched with friend Richard at the deluxe Luxe hotel, then drove him to his office. Afterwards stopped at the west side garage housing LA’s only (I think) indepedent iPod tec He told me that Skip’s 2006 Mini was a lost cause - batteries can't be got.



June 25 Darling daughter Jessie picked the right place to take me to belated birthday dinner - the nearby 101 Cafe, in the Best Western hotel just east of the Franklin entrance to Highway 101. (Our reverse age comes in two years when she’s 27.)



June 26 Met Screamin’ Scott Simon at Carney’s Hot Dogs in Studio City, his ‘hood. Talked about health, hot dogs, real estate and divorces, same as people in the 50’s.



July 1 Ladies & Gentlemen, Skip Heller’s back! (On my garage floor, constructing a book case.)

TV News

“There has been a disturbance at a rally in Sacramento. Some people were taken to a hospital, but their condition is unknown. We do not know which side of the rally they were on, or who they were. Now to Billy in Sacramento.”

“Yes, at this rally several people were injured. We do not know what the rally was for or who the assailants were. The nature or seriousness of their injuries is not known at this time.’

"Thank you! That was Billy. He's on the ground.”

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“Otis Redding, popular R&B singer, died 1967, plane crash. Black guy!”

Oh yeah? “Bruce Lee. Half white. Karate expert, 1973, heart attack!”

(A curious trend reported by a tv newsman - people shouting racial epitaphs.)

Music

Maybe the best tribute song ever was Neil Young’s “Elvis Was The King” ... Seeing a one-hour special featuring him with guest songwriters, I concluded that Darius Rucker is the best singer in country music, or music generally ... James A Johnston version of ‘Mean Woman Blues’ on the Mar-Vel Rockabillies album made me smile. Where Elvis sang “Ooh, hot dog, she drives me wild,” Johnson sang “Ooh, her dog just drives me wild” ...

Bonus Track

“Indiana” was recorded in the ‘70s by Mighty Mo Rodgers, backed up by two musicians who loved him, Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn. This and others from that session remain unreleased. Mo, from Gary Indiana (he produced the Jackson 5 on Steeltown Records) tours the world singing blues, but not in America ...


Stereo

Back-when, I read with puzzlement Spector’s “Back To Mono” campaign. Couldn’t figure out what he was on about.

Now I get it.

Records til 1955 or so were built for vision. The prominent figures were in the foreground, and the supporting sounds receded.

It was 3-D; there was depth.

When I got a stereo, I went “ooh ooh” as I heard instruments emerge differently from two speakers.
They were selling it, it must be better. It was only recently that I realized the folly.

The separation compels you to integrate what is separated.

Of course, there’s the known bugaboo of being too near one speaker or another, where you miss what was once in a mix.

But even when you force it - “music as work! “ - into the demanded position, you tax your brain with integrating the parts.

You have to mix the record!

I’m not being cute, the onslaught of sound should come in one central swoop, and carry you away.

You shouldn’t have to adjust your seat.

Business

Every abandoned business space in LA seems to be taken over by a bank branch. I guess the vaults downtown are overflowing ...

The Social Security/Welfare etc office on Vine Street in Hollywood has two armed guards. But I’ll bet apartments around the corner are $2500 a month ...

The old book store on Melrose near La Brea closed, maybe a while ago. I recall the guy telling me his most reliable business was selling books by the yard, for movie props ...



I love in-between tech. In the 1970s, the wide-bottom ceramic travel mug was introduced for boats, under-coated with rubber to prevent sliding on the sloshing seas. The big-bottom cups became popular with automobile drivers too, but tipped over on turns.

Soon auto manufacturers installed vertical cupholders for the newly-evolved vertical cup.

This wide-bottom manufacturer adapted its ceramic mold to fit the new vertical holders in a charming but doomed stab to survive.

LA, NY, Current Times

* June 23, the NY Times ran a giant multi-page blast about the opening of the expanded Panama Canal. Many things were questioned, investigations done.

The LATimes ran a quarter-page that read like a press release.

* Stories by a “special correspondent” means someone paid by story, not salary ....

* All big news stories (Orlando) unleash aftermath stories that displace news.

* “Outrage” refers to riled journalists ...

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If you’re looking for the whole newspaper rant, click here. I don’t want to inflict it on everyone.

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Tragicomedy

“I Love Melvin” is a 1953 comedy.

In their early ‘50s tv shows, Martin & Lewis became superstars - and one of Lewis’s character’s was a schlemiel named Melvin.

I imagine the movie above was trading on ridicule of that name.

Life was no picnic for kids named Melvin then. Their childhoods were more hellish than most.

Stand-alone

NYTimes 6-26 J. Hoberman’s analysis of the film “The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T” missed the big picture big.

The 1953 fantasy is an oddball A-bomb about a kid who falls asleep and dreams he’s trapped in a school run by his piano teacher. The 5000 fingers refers to the 500 students held captive there, practicing for a concert on a 5000-key piano.

Seeing it for the first time since childhood, in 1995 at the New Beverly Theater in Hollywood, was an eye-opener.

Most of the adults in the audience gasped, like me, at the gay culture undercurrent - hell, overcurrent. Not homosexual activity, of course, but brash swishiness; a steel-helmeted grease-bodied elevator operator, men in fur bikinis in the bad-instrument (anything other than a piano) dungeon, and Hans Conreid’s finale, “Dress Me,” where he swishes and prances like Paul Lynde.

Would it have been wrong for Hoberman to point it out? Or didn’t he see it.

The homosexual angle was hammered, not hummed.

This very expensive and beautiful oddity, based on a Dr. Seuss story, was a boxoffice failure.

Stickin’ to it

For twenty-plus years I marveled at the Fiat garage on Cahuenga in Hollywood, how it stayed in business.

Then they started selling Fiats again. You wait, it will come ...

In my head

In the ‘50s you sometimes got advertising records in magazines, cardboard squares coated with grooved plastic.

I remember Louis Armstrong for some electric shaver. Bing Crosby, too.

But the one that still plays in my head went to the tune of ‘The Old Grey Mare’ -

"My old style girdle ain’t what it used to be -
It sags and it punctures me! "

I had no idea what a girdle was, but I liked the way the woman whooped “It PUNCTURES me!”

I’ll open fire

the next time I hear “There’s no waiting in the self checkout line.”

TV

* Most holidays some station runs “Columbo” throughout the day. Funny, they run at 90 minutes. The weekday ones on XXX run two hours. (The added content is more commercials.)

“Columbo” had a good run throughout the 1970s, then he quit. His return in the late-’80s, marking his surrender to market forces, lost that lovin' feelin'. The bloom was off the cigar.

TV - a long look

I looked over some dollar DVDs of 50’s tv shows.

* Mr. & Mrs North - not so good. Did not finish viewing.

* Burns & Allen. Early episodes. They live in the desert-like setting, possibly a trailer park. A reference to President Truman.

* Milton Berle. Breathtaking. Live one-hour show, a brisk fascinating race.

* Red Skelton. Reckless pace with ad libs.

---- Skit with ‘artist’ John Carradine and Franklyn Pangborn. Sexy model says “Do me” and white paint squirts from tube Red holds at waist.

---- Mickey Rooney as lawyer defends Freddy the Freeloader for sleeping in the library. Sadly prophetic.

---- An episode must be 1958 or 1959. He says that his cheap seat was so high up (at a Dodger game at the Coliseum) he had to duck every time Sputnik passed.

Driving in L.A.

Some things ya gotta know, lest you get confused.

1. When turning into the left turn lane, do not be decisive, lest your outside status shows. You drift over, so half your car sticks in the go-ahead lane. We're in no hurry.

2. When turning right, same thing, with brio. You don't move toward the right-turn lane, you straddle the go-ahead and the curb lane, so forward traffic is stopped, often for an entire light. Everyone knows you cannot turn right from only one lane. It's impossible.

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