-December 2004-

Other Fein Messes


The LA City Council is declaring Saturday, January 8th, Elvis Day, with a ceremony and sign posted outside Radio Recorders, Orange & Santa Monica, that morning.

Elvis show goes from 4 til 9 sharp, at Henry Fonda Theater, Hollywood & Gower in Hollywood.

The lineup so far:

Kevin Banford, Blasters, Ray Campi, Count Smokula, Justin Curtis, Levi Dexter, Keith Joe Dick, Dusk Devils, Doug Fieger, Lisa Finnie, Glen Glenn, Groovy Rednecks, Carlos Guitarlos, Austin Hanks, Barry Holdship, Travis Howard, James Intveld, Merle Jagger, Linda Kay, Marcy Levy, Rip Masters, Rod & The Tonemasters, Evie Sands, Tommy Sands, Russell Scott, Fur & Steve, Ian Whitcomb, Young Jessie


Disney records don't count, right? You can't be talkin' 'bout no Peter
Pan or 101 Dalmatians no matter how good the songs actually were..for what they were. SO...the first rock'n'roll record I got was Rick Nelson's Decca album, "For You," with Fools Rush In on it. It's amazing that it was an LP as opposed to a single..but I asked my mom for that song and she obliged. Fools Rush In was the track Ricky and band mimed at the end of the Ozzie and Harriet show and it definitely tripped my young monkey nerve.

When I listen to that album now (and I thought it was divine providence when it got re-issued on cd), the cool phrasing and smooth vibe against the really jumping tracks still work for me. The balance he hit between the early rockabilly/country feel and the glossy pop/LA rock is masterful in its execution while still being as innocent as all rock 'n' roll was at the time. It was only a month or two later that my mom brought me the 45 of The Beatles first Capitol single that changed the whole world.. But Ricky was first.

As for the first concert.. I was ridiculously young when I was allowed to go to a concert at the college arena with my neighbor Don and his older
sister.. I was only in the third grade. Laurie, who was only a few years
older than we were,  was supposed to be looking after us but, as I remember, we ran all over the auditorium and only occasionally actually sat and listened to the music. That kind of loose parenting just isn't commonplace these days but that was a different time. Back to the show..it was Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars. I've tried, over the years, to find a list of the whole lineup because the memory starts to go.. But the acts I distinctly remember making an impression on my young mind were The Supremes and The Crystals. I'm thinking that Lou Christie was on the bill as well too but, the acts just kept a'comin' and I was REALLY young.

The Supremes closed the show with Baby Love which caused near-pandemonium. The girls were all screaming like it was a Beatles concert which puzzled my young mind because, as I understood it, the girls usually screamed at the boys. Real life is full of grey areas and figuring out that the screaming for a hit song was just that and not a sexual preference matter was a mind-expanding occurrence! Seeing The Supremes in those shiny dresses singing a song that everyone knew from the radio was over-the-top excitement for me, and my first concert "moment". Two or three years later, Paul Revere and the Raiders came through town on another Dick Clark package show and I remember SO many more details about that show. I was older and a dedicated music fan by sixth grade! But seeing The Supremes was the first time I felt swept up in that kind of feeling. Thanks for asking, Art!

Bill Lloyd is a Nashville-based songwriter/recording artist best known for
his work in country music (Foster & Lloyd and The Sky Kings) who now makes melodic, guitar-driven classic pop-rock solo albums, the most recent of which, "Back To Even", has been lauded in USA Today, Uncut and No Depression.

Fein Mess December 2004

Selected Shorts

This is for men only. I’ve always been interested in men’s -- my -- underwear. In February, 1967, my girlfriend and I went to San Francisco and were astonished at the brevity of the male undies in store windows on Polk Street1. She bought me a pair of somewhat briefer Jockey briefs, which, I learned subsequently, had no escape flap in the front. I wrote to Jockey about their familiarity with male anatomy, and began an amusing correspondence with their rep, who claimed some men liked the security of no front opening - men unlike myself, apparently. I dropped those drawers in the early 70s -- briefs I mean -- as I disliked the rubberbandlike leg openings and went over to boxers. Then they offered tapered shorts, which I chose, as I was a slim young man.

Today I must deal with “relaxed” fit. While my waist is a few inches bigger than age 21, I do not abide by a trouser style that seems to allow room for a diaper, so I stick with standard, comparatively-slim fit. That causes a clash with underwear manufacturers, who supply such excessive yardage one leg alone could surround a 34-inch waist3.

The problem is that it’s not pre-1960, when men’s slacks were ample and pleated. In those days men customarily put their pants on last, while wearing their shoes (LADIES: I said MEN ONLY. I know you’re reading this for titillation and it’s not the intent!) because the wide comfortable legs allowed it. Now that pant legs are relatively slim, blousy shorts bunch up and cause lumps AND escape-hatch dislocation.

I’ve found that Jockey still makes slim-fits, but the pair I got I disliked. Woe was me til one of my frequent treks to J.C. Penneys, where I’ve been buying the same socks -- thin all-cotton, I fear they’ll discontinue them --
for 35 years. I saw phony-silk black boxers and felt their heft. Hmm, the weight of these babies could solve the bunching problem AND they’d probably feel nice. (I am NOT looking wistfully back to Polk Street!) So I got a pair and they are, like Papa Bear’s porridge, just right.

So now my shorts feel right, and I’m a happy man. Bought ten pair, and I’m saving up for ten more. (I fear they’ll discontinue them.) And now when I get run over, I don’t worry what they’ll think of me at the hospital.

1 This was my first exposure to overt2 Gay anything. That night we went to Cafe Cantata and at the next table were a bunch of guys celebrating a bday. When the cake came one of them, speaking -- I thought in jest -- like Paul Lynde, said “And may all of your children be boys!” I was flabbergasted. The Marine sitting near us gritted his teeth.

2 In Chicago, the intersection of Clark & Diversey was known as Gaytown (hence the brief popularity of a Gerry & The Pacemakers parody , “Fairy ‘Cross Diversey”) but as I never assayed the area I don’t know if things were equally “out” there, though I strongly doubt it, being Chicago.

3 The legs of a pair of Arrows I bought could be pulled out 90-degrees left and right. Why?

Mama Bear, What A Big Mouth You Have

Early this year4 Bostonian Frank McCourt’s purchase of the local baseball team inspired an attack column in the L.A. Times by Patt “The Hatt” Morrison: she was infuriated that she never heard of him. (Why didn’t he call HER before making his move?) Her weapon of humiliation was his questionable heritage: He made his money in parking lots, which is simply not classy enough for -- Patt Morrison?5 Cloddishly, she wrote “Rich guy, at least by bean-and-cod standards. Owns a huge parking lot, which in L.A. is as good a pickup line as having your own oil well is in Houston -- ‘Hey, baby, wanna go check out my parking lot?’ ”

Her mockery of the McCourt broke no new ground. Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey called him “our parking lot attendant,” which she gleefully quoted. But New England “attitude” doesn’t travel well: it’s Boston that reveres Old Money. In L.A. hairdressers become movie studio heads every day. And vice versa.

4 It was 1/24/04 -- this IS a year end roundup. Two days later, hot on The Hatt’s trail, Times Staff Writer Bill Shaikin wrote that “an image” of the new owner, who had “yet to explain” (grrrr... AF) his vision for the club, “has emerged (GRRRR!!!!!! AF) of a New England carpetbagger with one hand held out for money and the other behind his back, hiding a plan to blow up a beloved local landmark.” The only blowing here was the writer’s hot air, heated by the rumormongering of his fellows.

5 She’s no classy broad. She endlessly writes about her humble Ohio origins, so what’s with the snobbishness? She may have constructed the whole column just to “confuse” McCourt’s name with a best-selling author’s, incidentally telegraphing that she is an ‘intellectual.’

Accentuate Appositively

Everyone says Empire STATE building as if there’s an Empire CITY Building. New York is the EMPIRE state, and that’s where the emphasis lies: the EMPIRE State Building. Likewise, Madison SQUARE GARDEN I always thought was a square garden, til I learned that the garden, or auditorium, was in Madison Square.

The movie “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They” is always mispronounced, stressing HORSES. The film is about the futility of marathon dances and refers to what happens when horses, like dancers, are exhausted: They SHOOT Horses, DON’T They.

I Hear A Rhapsody

Some old songs.

-- On Blues Originals, Volume 6 of a 1993 Rhino blues series, I heard for the first time Big Walter & The Thunderbirds’ 1956 recording “Pack Fair & Square.” The liner notes invite you to compare it to the J. Geils version. I won’t. I’ve heard plenty of good-rockin’ Jump songs and loved them like life itself, but this one slipped by me til just recently. What a record!

-- Someone gave me an Edith Piaf song, “Les Amants De Paris,” on a tape, then couldn’t remember where they got it. I have three EP albums, two calling themselves Greatest Hits, but none contained it. I went to a local full-stock record store and found it. Sacre bleu, what a knockout, with an accordian, waterfall fiddles, and sweeping male and female choruses. It’s about the lovers of Paris.

-- Good god! I played the first track on “The Loom’s Desire,” the Laura Nyro 2-CD concert album on Rounder, and heard to my astonishment “Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby,” a little-known Crystals song. Nice.

-- And, this holiday season, I must point out that Santo & Johnny’s “Twistin’` Bells” is one of the greatest records ever made.

It’s The Same Old Song

The L.A. Time chief rock crit, The Major6, penned a front-page story about John Fogerty’s recent concert. He who praises Fogerty’s every breath found the show deeply satisfying7. But not content to re-gush, The Major brought in opposition to raise the stakes.

Writing that “many rock fans were surprised” by Springsteen equating Fogerty with Hank Williams8, the Maj pseudodramatically vanquished them with this terse snipe: “They shouldn’t have been.” In so doing, The Maj imparted that he, valiantly, knew the Boss was right9, but it took (his opinion of) the concert to convert the doubters.

“Many rock fans” are The Maj’s trademark, imaginary boogymen who naysay his judgment and blashpheme his faves. It’s a simple and transparent technique that would embarass better writers.

6 “Many readers” find him a major embarassment.

7 I love Fogerty too, but when the Maj wrote that opening the show with “Travelin’ Band” proved (?) something, he chose a song which John stole, however unconsciously, from Little Richard. (He had to pay.)

8 They must read the same interviews as the Maj, as this earthshaking pronouncement got clear by me.

9 The Maj is out to set the World Springsteen-Mention Record. This time he got his name in the first sentence. Major-watchers eagerly await the day when the Boss’s name LEADS a story on another act.

Let’s Talk About Us10

I go for the obscure, and I read specialty media for my meat, just like you, probably. But I question whether average people should have that stuff shoved down their throats.

What if, like most people, you never heard of Brian Wilson til this year? You may have liked the Beach Boys, but never bothered to learn their personnel: music is to enjoy, not study. So you read, endlessly, in general-circulation media about this genius and run to the store and buy “Smile.” What have you got? Another installment of that “Pet Sounds” album that disappointed you in 1966 and threw you off the Beach Boys train. This stuff is ethereal and pointedly aimed at the faithful: preaching to the converted.11 You might say, like some Beach Boy fans of 1966, “Where’s the car and girl songs? I think he’s over-covered by zealous fans in the media12 who impose their views on uncaring hoi polloi who’d (which’d?) rather hear about the new Rod Stewart monstrosity.

I’m talking about the media misleading itself. Why is that gal from Sex In The City on the debut cover of the new lowbrow Life Magazine? Because everyone in America loved that show? It was a favorite of newspaper people living in big cities. And not all of them.

I just feel for the normal person who gallops out to rent or buy Citizen Kane bec it’s “the best film of all time.” Who ENJOYS that movie? It’s a feast for film students, but we ain’t all that. The average American wants to see Shrek or Martin & Lewis At War With The Army.

10 A pretty good Jerry Lee song. Once heard it by Rockpile.

11 NOT “preaching to the choir”!

12 Some crits gush over big-sellers too, like U2. That band is being equated with the Beatles, incredibly. (Like you can’t make a move without hearing their music or reading about these loveable .... what ARE their names?) A recent photo of Bono on the ground wearing colored glasses reaching to an audience member is like Johnnie Ray gone berserk, very clownish. But maybe he means to be ridiculous. I didn’t get the humor of Bob Dylan’s songs for a long time.

13 Am I the first person to notice you don’t actually need to put an apostrophe in ain’t? It ain’t a contraction for any currently known pair of words, and it ain’t proper any which way.

Another Misapprehension

In est, they gave an example of how you can follow a perfectly logical path to a wrong conclusion. You back your car out of a garage holding the rear view mirror. When you’re far enough out, you put the car in Drive and turn the mirror right, and the wheels turn, and you go straight. This technique, which has worked fine so far turns out to be all wrong as you go to make a sharp right at the next stop sign and the car goes straight into the ocean. You didn’t realize that you were in San Francisco where a car automatically straightens its path going down a steep hill.

You mistake a mirror for a steering wheel. It could happen. Like this.

I heard that Rolling Stone had released a list of the 500 greatest rock & roll records. I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat, as their writers are the same ones who vote in the R&R Hall of Fame, so would probably choose “thinking” records rather than good ones, but was startled out of my indifference when at 3 pm a recent Friday I heard Little Richard’s rocking, shocking “Long Tall Sally” blasting out of my AM radio. To hear such primal music on radio is tantamount to revolution.

“My gosh” I hopefully thought, “This must be the winner of the Rolling Stone poll! What will be next?” Indeed, the next song was “Reveille Rock” by Johnny & The Hurricanes.

‘I NEVER KNEW THEY WERE SO HEP!” I thought. “Be My Baby” was up next, which seemed natural. Then “Gotta Get A Date” by Jan & Arnie, the flipside of “Jennie Lee.” Say, I thought, I gotta readjust my opinion of those Rolling Stone guys14. I eagerly awaited “Let’s Get Together” by Wilbert Harrison, and “I Hear You Knocking” by Dave Edmunds (tied with Smiley Lewis’s original, probably.) But my excitement abated when I learned it was just a normal set of songs on that wide-ranging syndicated radio program “Real Oldies.”15

For a few minutes, though, the world was a sensible place.

14 Indeed, I soon learned that “Like A Rolling Stone” was the best record of all time. RS rep David Fricke said it changed the way we look at rock music. So that’s good? The fun’s over, let’s get ponderous? Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” is as revolutionary as things get: the Big Bang. Everything came in its wake. To say the guy who changed Rock is the king is to overlook the guy who started it. It’s preferring the invention of Viagra to the invention of sex.

15 This station, which turns a bag of 5000 records upside down and plays them all, is run by deejay Scott Shannon. Its virtue is almost enough for me to forgive his hand in ruining the music of the Heaters, the best band I ever heard in L.A. In 1978, as head of Ariola Records, he signed them and put them in the hands of his producer friend Jack Stack-A-Tracks, who killed their music. In the hands of a better producer -- or the best, Phil Spector, who was a fan of the group -- they could have shaken the world.

Not to belabor the obvious --

A Christmas Gift To You From Philles Records is a gift that sure keeps on giving.

Winter Wisdom

If, as someone just wrote, Brian Wilson is the Judy Garland of white nerds, maybe P.F. Sloan is the Laura Nyro -- a great singer and songwriter seldom seen. (But alive.)

- 57 -

Some Mail

from Dave Stuckey, L.A.:
re: Weird Connections You Love Dept: when I first came to work here at XXX, I got to talking to one of the writers in the kitchen; GUY: "You like rockabilly? My Dad cut some really obscure rockabilly records in the 50's" ME: "Really? Who is he?" GUY: "Oh you wouldn't know - he wasn't famous -- you can't find them in stores" ME: "Just try me" GUY: "His name was Bob Callaway" ME: "What? Not Bob Callaway & the Spiro Hep Cats?! 'Native' on RCA? I've got that - want a copy?" This kid just flat fell out...

Then years later I find out in casual conversation that one of my bosses is the grandson of Karl Davis, half of the legendary country duo Karl & Harty ("I'm Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail") from the National Barn Dance in Chicago! Or that my buddy Jim Stephenson is second cousin to Tennessee Ernie Ford! Or that I share a birthday with Wanda Jackson, Granpa Jones... and Bela Lugosi.

And I really love 60's Elvis (ie. the "movie years")... not ironically...

Ok, I'm getting carried away here...

from Bob Paton, Peoria, Illinois:
Just saw today that Ronnie Spector's Christmas Party
is coming to Peoria in early December.  Would love to
go, but can't find out much about it.  Was digging
thru my 45's the other day and came across the great
"You Came You Saw You Conquered" on A&M. Once I got
past the fact that the opening line sounded like "You
Oughta Be in Pictures" I really dug it.  My mind works
weird like that, always linking same or similar
melodies.  Oh well.

RE: Jerry Lewis and product placement. I was thumbing
thru bound volumes of Esquire at the college library
years ago and every time Jerry had a movie about to
open, there was a full-page ad with a commercial
tie-in.  Jerry eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, Jerry
wearing a Botany 500 suit etc.  And there was a
tag-line, "Jerry wears only Botany 500 suits in his
new movie, "Don't Raise The Drawbridge, Lower the
River," or whatever he was plugging.  After seeing
lots of these throughout the years in those Esquires,
you figured Jer was onto something, i.e. nobody else
seemed to be doing it.

I, too, see "qualifying" statements as being funny.
Like people try to distance themselves from things
that aren't cool.  "Well, the French think he's a
genius, something (insert critic name) I can't for the
life of me figure out.  But upon recent viewing of
his films, they do have a certain charm etc." I have
to laugh.  I saw a similar thing when Democrat VP
hopeful John Edwards' wife was unveiled and she was
very fat.  In many magazine profiles they more or less
said, "yes, she knows she's fat and she's working on
it." They never failed to mention early in the article
that she's on the Palm Beach Diet or whatever.  The
implication being, "gosh John is so youthful, hunky
and vital. How can his wife be in such bad shape?"  Or
"she must know how badly this comes across."  Struck
me as funny.

John Lennon's "new" version of "Rock and Roll" gets
good reviews today?  I don't get it.  I used to say
put enough time between certain music and it becomes
cool (or "good") again.  Happened to both Abba and
Queen and even KC and Sunshine Band. Hard to tell if it's sincere or just people feeling nostalgic for "Boogie Shoes" or S.O.S."

Man, I'm getting kind of long here.  Enjoyed your Greg
Shaw obit.  I too loved the mag and was turned on to
many great things.  I think Shaw was the first guy to
put together all of Jimmy Page's great session work.
Think of how many people got exposed to that via Shaw.
That was his great mission; exposing people to unknown
cool stuff.  I was that way with my friends in the
early 80's, exposing them to stuff I knew via Shaw as
well as my own discoveries. It becomes very circular
in the long run.

from Kent Benjamin, Austin, Texas:
I never owned a wood-burning set. Must've had a deprived lifestyle. Although I didn't know I was deprived as none of my friends did either. I was a chemistry set kinda guy.

The Beatles have a song named "Revolution." Jefferson Airplane have a song called "Volunteers" with the word revolution in the call and response chorus. (Oy, I made a mistake! AF)

Loved your reminiscences on Bill and Greg.

Whole Paycheck Market is funny as hell! I got such sticker shock my first time in I never went back. Well, that and the fact that hordes of hippies, yuppies, and New Age types scare the bejeesus outta me.

from Neal McCabe, L.A.:
I've been immersing myself in the oeuvre of Jerry Lewis, auteur, recently out on DVD.  I've also been reading the original Positif articles which kicked off the whole "Jerry, le Roi du Crazy" thing in France.  What's interesting is that on the "Nutty Professor" DVD, Jerry says that he was absolutely not parodying Dean Martin in the despicable Buddy Love lounge-singer character - no, he loved Dean like a brother (see, the guy's dead, and they had reconciled).  Yet in 1965, when the feud was still going strong, Jerry said to the French writer that it was obvious that the character was based on Dean. 

from Randy Jones, NYC:
I just caught you doing your thing on "Poker Party" on MNN Cable tonight.  Your guests were DUST DEVILS.  Cool, man.
AF: Randy, that was the DUSK Devils, from Bakersfield. And you’re pretty cool, too. (Randy was the cowboy in the Village People.)

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