The 22nd annual Elvis Birthday Bash is lined up for January 8th at the Pix/Henry Fonda, now officially called the Music Box. It will have a socko lineup with more recognizable names than the past couple years
Elvis Birthday Bash: January 2008
FIRST RECORD / FIRST CONCERT
In the late 1950's, my brother and I would look forward to going out for dinner every saturday evening with our parents...
We usually found ourselves at the "Town & Country" courtyard in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles... This place holds wonderful memories as it was a virtual smorgasbord of restaurants. You could buy the best hamburger and fries in Southern California at Fishers for 50 cents and for an additional 25 cents a large order of fries which would feed two or three others. If you weren't up for a burger, you could walk 50 feet across the courtyard to Andre's for Italian or try the BBQ beef sandwich place a short distance from still another restaurant...
After dinner, my father would give me a dollar bill to spend as I wished. It was a time when a dollar went a long way. First stop was the candy store where for 10 cents you could get a strip of hard brightly-colored dots pasted onto a long sheet of plastic coated paper (a dentist's dream).
With my change, I would make a beeline to the "Town and Country" record store. It was in this store in 1959 that I purchased my first record, "Manhattan Spiritual" by Reg Owen & his Orchestra. It was also where I started collecting the "Fabulous 40" surveys from the great "KFWB, Channel 98".
That 45 was a cheezy cornball "big band" style instrumental which I still love, especially after I managed to locate a copy of the lp on the Palette label in "true stereo. What a rush.
My first recollection of hearing live music was in the mid 60's at the Hollywood Palladium Teenage Fair. I can't recall who played because my friend and I were immediately thrown out after attempting to sneak past the ticket-taker in full view of one of the security guards.
A few years later, I would hang out with my devious cousin Jerry who was a master at talking his way into rock concerts. In 1968 at the Hollywood Bowl he approached one of the guards at a Doors concert claiming to be the cousin of Jim Morrison (he bore a striking resemblance). Needless to say, the guard didn't buy his bull**** and threw us out.
A few months later I found myself in the lower basement of the Inglewood Forum with cousin Jerry. Miraculously, he got us in to see Jefferson Airplane with some ridiculous story about our names being misplaced on the guest list. To this day, I still don't recall exactly what he said, but whatever it was, it worked. Great show...
Another Fein Mess
AF Stones Monthly
No Business In Show Business
Honestly, someone just told me about this deal. Theyre considering it.
Their blues band wants to sign with a real label. A long-running indie has asked for $40,000. For that, the label will press up $40,000 worth of CDs, at $10 each. The band will get 2000, the label 2000. The band can sell at gigs for $20, and eventually recoup their cost. (Average gig sale is twenty, so recoupment comes in 200 shows.) The labels 2000 goes to stores and review copies.
But then, the label dont pay $20,000 for 2000 CDs do they. More likely $2500. Their profit is made. And their technique is shameful.
Why would a band do this? -- You cant get a booking agent without a label. Having a record label gets you gigs, then you go out and win fans. The label makes sure your record is in record stores, assuming there are any.
The records are your promotion, you make your money at concerts was the rationale of the non-paying blues labels in the 1920s.
But back then at least they gave you 5 bucks and a bottle of whisky.
Chicago Pizza My ...
A tv documentary on pizza said that it was not introduced in the U.S. - to non-ethnics- until after WWII. This concurs with my experience as a kid in the 1950s. I never heard of it til I saw some at a relatives house. I wouldnt eat it because it looked, with ground beef strewn around molten cheese, like it had already been eaten. And it smelled funny.
Time passed and I got to like it. In Chicago, pizza is cut in squares. This only makes sense - hand-friendly pieces. When I got to college in Colorado my shock was immense when handed a long triangular droopy thing. It was unmanageable; I felt like a slurping slob.
Then came this issue of Chicago pizza. Pizza in Chicago was like pizza in L.A. or pizza in NY: thinnish crust. Comes the 80s I began to hear about Chicago pizza. I knew the two places that served the deep-dish things, Unos and Dues. I never went to either bec they were downtown, which was toney and expensive 1.
Then the tv docu does Chicago pizza vs NY. They say the truth, that Unos had deep dish in 1946, Dues in 1955. Did it spread all over town? Not at all. The program actually pointed out, counter-pointedly, that a THIRD place, some Italian-named joint, opened in Lincolnwood in 1971. Oh boy, the whole friggin citys got it now! I LIVED near Lincolnwood then and never went. Who knew?
So now the Chicago pizza myth is added to the Chi-KO-WA-go pronunciation fable.
Everyone knows thats a Detroit accent.
1 People who went to Rush Street ate there; people who read Playboy. I only read Billboard, and then only at the newsstand bec I couldnt afford the $1 pricetag.
In a book about the Byrds, an author writes that a song is arguably Chris Hillmans best work. The waffle-word arguably erases all commitment - the author cant be held responsible if it history deems it Hillmans worst song: I SAID arguably, didnt I?
It is rampant - but un-new. I thought it had come in the 90s when euphemisms and uncommitted statements grew epidemically, but in fact noticed it just the other day in Robert Christgaus white-whiskered Any Old Way You Choose It.
And what about backstory? What story isnt a backstory? ITS JUST A WAY TO USE MORE SYLLABLES. Like pro-active. Active is ... unclear?
Now comes a useful new one. Afterstory: history told by someone unfamiliar with context. I saw a guy on a Who documentary describe the impact of Hendrix - or was it the Who? - at Monterey. From that moment on, it all changed he said. But it didnt. He was neither there, nor of this earth, at the time. The impact was extrapolated, logically but errantly.
I am reading a book about a rock group. The author posits a 1966 struggle between Rock and The Establishment, lamenting that while the Beatles and rockers rode the charts 2, other music of Engelbert, Pet Clark, Tijuana Brass, etc. dominated. In this he sees a mammoth struggle.
It was then I realized he was a rock crit. The idea that older record buyers fought the rise of rock groups is gospel in rock history, as if people who didnt normally buy records got up from their rocking chairs and bought them just to squash Rock.
Later this guy, describing the impact of the Monterey Pop Festival, tells us that the hippies who gathered there had their own theme song, San Francisco by Scott McKenzie. Could anything be more wrong? Album sales and otherness was overtaking the music world at that time, and that song was hated for its cheery commercialness, which, whether rightly or not, clashed titanically with the hippie ethic as known.
Many, many afterstories exist. Contributions accepted.
2 A historian who cites music trade paper chart positions is deluded. The positions were handed out according to fairness (Columbia Records has held the number one spot four weeks, so next week well give it to Capitol) and graft. Record companies employed chart guys who did nothing but entertain chart compilers, and that backscratching was returned.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss duetting. I like both their voices, but Im leary of forced pairings. I was the only one who thought that Dylan and Cash sounded horrible because Dylan sang like a donkey .... At times Phil Spector claims to have produced Elvis records. When asked, he said that in 1960 he was employed by Hill & Range and was present, and not shy, at Elvis recording sessions in L.A. So could it be interpolated that he produced Stuck On You? No, that was in Nashville. Maybe Frankfort Special .... A source (newspaperese for someone who told me something) tells me that Clear Channel wont play the new Springsteen album because hes 58 years old .... Art Laboe began issuing Oldies But Goodies in 1959, which figures because that is the year rock & roll died. (Some put it at 1967. That is wishful.) Nothing to do with the Big Plane Crash, just that thats when music began coming from Philadelphia rather than arriving there .... Paul Surratt, owner of Research Video which reps music images, was in Shiloh with Gram Parsons and then a hundred other bands in L.A. His 60th bday party on Nov 3rd was hosted by Lloyd Thaxton and his musical guest was his, and manys, singin idol Jill Sobule. Also there were Ben Vaughn, Henry Diltz, Stephen Bishop, Malcom Leo and others. It was a splendid time .... Also at that party was Todd Everett. When he was on the tv show, Todd told Brian Wilson designer Mark London that since he lost his hearing in one ear due to an operation he now hears Brian Wilsons work as Brian intended it. Thats making lemonade from a lemon ....
Every Day I Get The News
* A prom queen in her 30s interrupts her CNN newscast with We have breaking news and it cuts to some guy walking out of an Atlanta courtroom and she breathlessy says XXXX, the rapper charged with seeking unlicensed automatic weapons for an upcoming rap award show, has just left court after pleading not guilty. We will continue to follow this story. It was live, so I suppose they figured someone would shoot him.
* The CBS morning news from New York led with In Los Angeles, everyone is talking about Britney Spears. What people are they referring to? Morons such as themselves?
* A movie poster showing art-director-dissheveled Cameron Diaz or one of them turning round to show a tit with a pouting expression and the word BEOWULF beneath sent me back to Mad magazine in the 1950s. They did a piece about repackaging classic books with pocket-book art: Crime & Punishment with the silhouette of a machine-gun.
* NY Times France section had an article about WWII bombshell photographer Lee Miller. Did she shoot photos of bomb damage? Hell no, or maybe she did - the point was she was goodlooking. THANK GOD THEYRE DISCOVERING DEAD GOOD-LOOKING WOMEN. Theres not enough around today - you can hardly find them on magazine covers. Preston Sturgis said that the point of the wonderful Palm Beach Story was that good looks will get you anything you want.
* NY Times 10/24 Dining Out section offers the headline A Celebration of Tex-Mex, Without Apology. I guess their writers are like L.A.s, unable to speak an opinion without fear of peer ridicule. I am reminded of the L.A. Times rock crit who confessed her own trepidation reviewing a bands new online-released album without the comfort of a weeks confab with other crits. A brave admission, albeit pathetic.
* Are the L.A. Times You have such wonderful writers letters 3 written by the same people who used to write to Playboy Please tell us more about February foldout Ginger Golly. She seems so interesting?
3 One month in Mad a letter said The guy who writes your letters should write the rest of the magazine. The next month there was a The guy who writes your The guy who writes your letters should write the rest of the magazine letters should write the rest of the magazine. The following month The guy who writes your The guy who writes your The guy who writes your letters should write the rest of the magazine letters should write the rest of the magazine letters should write the rest of the magazine. Within a few issues it filled a whole page. God bless America for Mad.
Landi (Teri) and Randi (Don) at the 101 Cafe, Hollywood. Sept. 2007.
In the middle is the guy with the real last name.
Mark London, AF, TE. Poker Party, October, 2007
Johnny Legend at home in Hollywood, October, 2007
Darrin Stout Band, with Thom Yearsley on bass and D.J. Bonebrake on drums. AFPP, October 2007
SONiA of disappear fear, AFPP, 11/1/07
In the Marketplace
I cant find a flat-bottom cup anywhere, the kind designed to not slip off boat decks. I bought a big cup at Dunkin Donuts but it was like a bean kettle, weighted at the bottom then tapered so it falls over like one of those round bottom ski-resort beer mugs that you cant put it down til you finish. Flat-bottom cups were useful for car floors, but now everybody but me has a new car with cupholders. Some european car makers wouldnt install cupholders til this century, claiming they didnt want to contribute to the deaths of American drivers .... Swansons soup comes in a can a little bigger than Campbells and sells for a little less. But everyone with one semester of Home Ec knows the Campbells can is a concentrate which holds, with added water, twice as much. This info is passed down through generations or by reading the instructions. But Campbells recent placement of pictures on its labels doesnt bode well for future information passing through reading or tradition channels .... I had a Dr. Pepper extraordinaire in Phoenix, a one- or two-dollar can with that new health food, real sugar. Back in L.A. I thought Id try it again, but it was on no shelves. Then I remembered: Id been in Phoenix, one of the nations premiere test markets. So Ill have to wait and see what the Phoenicians decide .... The leg doc told me to get a big ball and strengthen my knee by rolling on it. I guess thats what used to be called a medicine ball 4. Rather than pay $40 at a sport store I went to Rosss Dress For Less 5 where all sorts of gadgets are sold un-dear. For ten bucks I got one that said 24-inches, figuring that was OK for a diameter, but once blown up it turned out to be the circumference. Say, I havent used both those words in a sentence since 1962 ....
4 When I speak to the young and not so young today I am flabbergasted at whats not known. Like the three Jeapordy contestants in their 30s who, in the category of American Presidents, could not identify the one reading aloud The atom bomb has been dropped on Hiroshima. Conversely, I was delighted to find out that a 40ish music fan knew nothing of the odious crit-driven Nuke the Knack campaign of 1980. She also never heard of the Medicine Ball Caravan A, Warner Bros. 1970 cross country bus tour of their hippier bands. (Where'd THAT film go? It's historical: very embarassing in its hippier-than-thou conceit but Marty Scorcese was one of its film editors.) Nor of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue, spontaneous appearances by him and his entourage at clubs across the country in 1976. I thought it was lore. (That event was groundbreaking in pre-1990 American tv. Nobody would sponsor a rock & roll show because the rock audience was a sliver of the tv viewing public. Craig Car Stereo absorbed the whole cost of the Rolling Thunder tv special in 1977 to zero in on its audience. Coca Cola or Nabisco wouldnt touch it.)
5 Of interest to no one who reads this column is that Tuesdays are senior discount night at Rosss - 10% off for 60 and over. But tell an old person.
History Deletes Itself
Jon Pareless 10-25-07 NY Times review of Sinead OConnor dredged up all he deemed wrong about her in the past 20 years 6 .
Its no surprise. Rock writers leap at the chance to sneer at their betters. To build up Justin Timberlake, and feel better about herself, an L.A. Times critic took swipes at Britney Spears. The mid-life biddy was indignant over the troubled Floridians recent behavior. How she waxed roth!
Its not unusual: moral outrage sustains the self-image of this lower life form. They descend like healthy chickens on injured ones. Can any of them review a Michael Jackson recording without casting a pall on him? Can anyone write a Mariah Carey piece without a mention of Sparkle?
But if THESE pack-derided musicmakers histories are held against them, why not alls? Why hit easy targets when there are more complex villains?
Eric Clapton is a god, I reckon, but what about his stint championing the Nazi-like National Front in England in the late 70s? Has that become GOOD over time, or is it erased because, well, hes cool? .... Judy Collins is legendary, meaning over 50, and hailed roundly. But in 1978 she appeared on SNL and sang an entire song out of synch with the music; praps her headphones werent working; maybe she was stoned, it happens. The resultant music was abominable and seen by millions, yet articles about her dont include No longer smarting from a career-shaking musical debacle 30 years ago .... Led Zeppelin is back in the news, possibly reuniting. Why not show again and again the 2006 photo of Jimmy Page at the New York Stock Exchange playing licks for Warner Bros. owner Edgar Bronfman, subverting the soul of rock & roll on more levels than just the balcony. And shouldnt reunion articles open with Twenty five years after ditching their bass player to take all the money performing - wink wink - as Page & Plant, the bastards have deigned to re-accept him. No - its Zep Reunites! World Rejoices .... And what about sainted John Lennon? His post-Beatle career was hardly exemplary: drunken sprees, heroin use, albums that sold progressively fewer copies. His last record, Just Like Starting Over, sounded like something from Happy Days.
Cmon critters - go get em!
6 If this re-hash is supposed to inform B younger readers, what good is it to say she provoked a furious backlash by tearing up a picture of the pope on Saturday Night Live? Who today could make sense of that - A torn picture, wha? And who says there was an actual backlash, other than from typewriter-peckers and Frank Sinatra?
B Literally inform them of something. Not the drizzlingly pretentious informs his ouvre or other such shit usage.
Lets Think About Luman
Someone asked me whether Elvis stole James Burton from Rick Nelson in the 70s, and I said no, but if he had itdve been tit for tat, since Ricky, or Ozzie, stole him, and his band, from Bob Luman when Luman preceded Ricky in a Hollywood recording studio 7 . (Thats a good band, Daddy, can I have them? he might have said, though I wasnt there.)
When Luman recorded LetsThink About Livin in 1960 the nation had weighty issues on its mind. Bomb shelters were being built in houses as the prospect of a Russian invasion seemed imminent on the heels of an American U2 8 spy plane being shot down over Russia. Lumans song lamented Tom Dooley and other death songs, but it actually sought to salve a larger, widespread mood of weltschmerz..
In late 1962, a Skeeter Davis heartbreak-song title was undoubtedly taken from a feeling going around in the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis when nuclear war was feared. It was called The End Of The World.
Maybe other songs were that doom-specific. I cant recall any.
7 Theres scene from Carnival Rock on youtube featuring Luman performing live, with Burton still in his band.
8 Bonos guys, and their audience, were so far removed from this incident that they named their band after an English govt form without awareness of the nerve that name once struck. ----------------------------------
From The Art-chives
Eric Burdon, Top Jimmy. Rajis, Hollywood. 1989. It was probably a Wensday night, when everyone gathered at midnight at this now-bulldozed club to see Billy Bremner play. Club-owner Dobbs is still around Hollwood.
A visit to Dr. Dementos in Sherman Oaks, 1985. Left, Garth Hudson, right Art Fein. The Doctor moved from this house after he placed a 78 on a stack and the floor collapsed. I was over there trying to figure out which of Dementos four 78s of I Wonder by Pvt. Cecil Gant was the original.
Get Outta Here!!!! Pt. 1
I hate reviewing reviews. But someone must. Two reviews by a female rock writer in the 10-30-07 L.A. Times bear scrutiny, tho no more than any others by this writer. First the first.
Her Eagles review provides junk-science beyond the concert at hand - the class war that exists between Generation-X and Baby Boomers. Though this is news to the latter, it is a schism both held dear and invented by the former. The reviewer, a punk-rock Riot Grrrrrl with an axe to grind carries boldly the battles of her troubled teens into mid-life.
What is this? Do all people freeze in late childhood like she did? I like 50s rock. The 60s were good too. The 70s had many good things - the 80s also. So Im a 50s-Through-80s what? 9 I call myself music lover.
She opens her treatise with a comment from one person of her generation. That is a cheap and meaningless technique (one person is the same cowardly phantom as some) and untrue: Does she think there werent mid-40s people at the Eagles concert? Did she check IDs? And to say that THAT band speaks for everyone of their age is a towering and stupid insult.
9 In the 1970s I discovered 40s Jump music. Its mad humor and boundless energy blew me away so much that 1944 is my year. I wasnt yet born then, so Im a Zygote Generationer.
Get Outta Here!!!! - Pt. 2
The other review was of Kanye West.
This gal has no consistent world-view other than genuflecting before music accepted by her peers.
When Prince gouged his fans with a private concert, she cooed that he was a rebel. This time, when West performed for a bunch of swells honoring a Japanese art star, she was thrilled to be among the elite, tittering about Wests day-before performance at ... the Dubai Country Club 10. To show she wasnt totally craven in the face of wealth, she took a potshot at the suits in the front row who merely bobbed heads to his music rather than gesticulate wildly like one clothing designer. (And, we presume, being no suit, her.)
Namedropping like Mad, she revealed that whispered-about 11 guest Jay-Z was not there 12. She also said celebrants waved around Motorola V3 cellphones without explaining this jarring product placement.
She closed noting that the honored Asian art-star stood stage-right bobbing his bean - not remembering that she had just berated the suits for doing the same thing! Looks like shes bobbing for early admission to the Memory-Loss Generation.
10 I guess Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum likes black people.
11 She listens to whisperers? And tells us?
12 Its like a mock celebrity column in a 60s Mad that featured a picture of Jackie Kennedy with the cutline Not mentioned in todays column.
The Spector Trial
I am acquainted with Phil Spector.
The trial and its press coverage shocked me.
- Bill Maher, as many people, came out against buying a strong defense. That is ironic because Maher is a liberal. If Phil had used a public defender he could never gotten witnesses equal to the ones the state paid, nor gotten a graphics company to produce a re-enactment of HIS story like the prosecution revealed at the 11th hour. The state spent $20 million. What you had in this trial was Goliath vs. Goliath.
- Coverage on CourtTV was abominable. Anything a guest said was met with a nod, or if it was Nancy Grace batting her eyes with her hands folded under her chin. I thought these gals were lawyers, factualists. Their Spector expert, Mark Ribowsky, was far from neutral: in 1989 he wrote a book concluding that Phil was a despicable person. When Lala Brooks said Phil was a control freak in the studio, the docents shook their heads in censure instead of saying But hes THE PRODUCER. Its HIS ART.
- I aint no lawyer, but what about the judge? When the jury announced a deadlock, he re-gave instructions making it easier to convict. This is legal?
- Peter Hong in the L.A. Times wrote one-sided coverage. When the jury visited the castle, he sniffed that Phils furnishings looked like they came from Sears: I guess well see Hongs place profiled in Vogue real soon. His slant was anti-Phil from the git-go.
- Selective scenemaker Todd Everett got big exposure in his 5-minute CourtTV spot because his interview slipped in under the wire before the overreaching 13 judge banned anyone who knew Phil from speaking about him. In lieu of other Spector-friend testimonies, he got Heavy Rotation.
13 He didnt ban me from speaking. I could speak all I wanted. But he scared CourtTV from airing it, because their presence in the courtroom was per his approval. Spectors wife had been on tv that morning expressing her opinions, and the judge was afraid the jury might see her or other Phil-symps on tv. (Though there was no shortage of anti-Phil opinions on the air.) This action cast his clear doubt on the jurys fealty to their sworn duty to watch no outside media. Like the Rosenberg and Chicago 7 cases they got a Jew-for-Jew judge. And like in those cases they got a hanging one.
Roll Over Jac Holzman, and Tell Geoff Boucher The News
11-4-07 L.A. Times: The Eagles signed to a startup label called Elektra Records. The label was run by a young manager named David Geffen. TE
Its Just A Partial Reunion -- But Theres Hope!
The group Strawberry Fields advertises that they include Two former members of Beatlemania.
- 57 -
Mark On The Move
Baughers Family Restaurant is a great spot in Westminster, Maryland. The décor is amateur-farmhouse-diner-antique and the fare is heavy on gravy, fried food, pork and homemade festivals of unhealthy side dishes. (Check the menu at http://baughers.com/food.html and dig the apple-headed mascot).
Our waitperson Rene (pronounced REEN) had a dismissive air when one of us ordered sugar-free cherry pie. She snorted Anyone who likes pie wouldnt eat that stuff. Its gotta have sugar. Ordering it a la mode only partly assuaged her. But I like restaurants whose staff argues with you.
In October, in L.A., I saw the Royal Shakespeare Companys productions of King Lear and The Seagull, making an anti-killing by not selling my $58 tix for thousands of dollars. Ian McKellen made a fine Lear and The Seagull was magnificent; my awe of Chekhov is now inflated even further - though Shakespeare writes a good yarn, too!
I have long loved the music of Jill Sobule, the New Yorker now based in L.A. Ive caught her every local performance, whether both with and without her equally entertaining sidekick Julia Sweeney.
Miss Vicky and I had a stage-front table for her recent show at Largo, and perhaps cognizant of our enthralled gazes, sotto voce singalongs and hearty applause, Jill called us on stage with three others to sing back-up on I Kissed a Girl and Sunrise, Sunset. I improvised ooh-ahs during the first tune, and she whispered Yeah, I like the ahs, but none of my fellow chorus members followed my innovation. Jill was shocked, in L.A., to find fellow Jews who knew all the words to Sunrise, Sunset, not just the refrain. She dubbed us The Jillettes.
My career as a background artiste is hereby launched.
Have your people call my people.
-- Mark Leviton
(Marks sixties-themed radio show Pet Sounds can be heard alternate Mondays 4-7am PST on KVMR-FM 89.5 in the Sacramento area and streaming at www.kvmr.org )