- March 2009 -

Other Fein Messes
Now Playing: Meet the Flintstones - Cub Koda (from Abba Dabba Dabba)

gold star studios

Studio Profile Series: Gold Star Recording Studios

Wednesday, March 11, 2009; 8pm

The GRAMMY Museum
800 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. A245
Los Angeles, CA 90015 USA

Join us for an evening of photos, stories, and conversation with Gold Star founders Dave Gold, Stan Ross, and other special guests. From Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" to the folk-rock explosion, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to The Runaways, we'll hear about technical and recording innovations that continue to define the way records are made, and journey into the past for a first-hand look at some of pop music's most significant moments. The evening will be moderated by Chief Curator Ken Luftig Viste.

Doors open at 7:30pm. Admission is free for Museum members; $10.00 suggested donation for general public. Reservations required. To reserve your seats, call 213.765.6830 or e-mail





1st Record/1st Concert

That's a difficult question for me to answer but most likely it would have
been a Everly Brothers single although it could have been Bill Parsons,
" The All American Boy," cause I loved that record. It might have been Bobby Vee. It could've been "What I'd say", Ray Charles and after I heard a live "Drown in my own tears" I was in shock. I couldn't believe it actually existed.

First concert I believe was Nat King Cole at the Fairmont Hotel. I went with my Mom. Totally fascinating, he played piano and didn't say a word for the first 15 minutes or so it seemed. He was so smooth. My Mom also took me to the Opera once and to see a musical, "The Sound of Music"

Sal Valentino was lead singer of the Beau Brummels. He is married and lives in Sacramento. His new album, “Every Now And Then,” has just been released.


Special: My Cramps Year

Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
March 2009

Crazy World (1)

I mentioned to someone that I’d look for an address on my Rolodex. “Oh, no, Art, don’t tell me you have a Rolodex,” she said. It was like I’d said I wrote with a quill, sent carrier pigeons, made mimeograph copies.

Oh, I’m the crazy one. I keep addresses written, with a pen, on cards, which I can access with my fingers. “But, Art, isn’t it easier to turn on your computer, wait for it to start, type in someone’s name and then wait for it to appear on a screen?” Well I’d still have to write it down on paper.

Reminds me of a friend who said he was transferring all his music to his computer “so it can be permanent.” Yeah, in a hundred years everyone will have this year’s PC or Mac, and the know how to access the stuff in it. Not to mention the electricity to power it. No, in a thousand years they’ll find a couple of records that survived and play them with a needle like Mel Gibson in Mad Max, and “Hound Dog” will echo through the ages while today’s music will have disappeared.

1 I saw The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown at an all-night Love-In (read: concert) in London the summer of 1967.

Talking ‘Bout Me Generation

The Me Generation thing was coined in the 80’s. Back then some youngish men were wearing suspenders, making money on Wall Street and buying fine things that contrasted cruelly with the hotplates upon which most writers boiled the water for their Top Ramen. “They’re self-centered” said younger struggling strugglers, not aware that their shared derisive opinions bespoke an exclusive self-focus.

When my revolting generation was bursting with undeserved age pride we never actually named our forebearers as evil. “We’re the new generation and we’ve got something to say” was as applicable to Generation-Nows as it was to the 60s people; hogwash. I do recall pinheads of “my” era ( I’m living in my era now, too) saying “You older people don’t understand” but it wasn’t “You goddam WWII vets with your Andrews Sisters records.” It was like now, “Everyone except me is wrong.”

But musically I come from a Lost Generation. Growing up in the late 50s , the sound of the Mt. Rushmore heads - Elvis/Fats/Chuck/Richard/Jerry Lee - invaded my being and became my heartbeat.

My beef is that these guys, while still remembered slightly (and four of them still alive!) are identified with the imaginary malt shops and drive ins and ducktails of the imaginary 50’s. They’re not relevant today: Ken Burns could document them like the Civil War. At Bill (my-goddam-age) Clinton’s inauguration he chose Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder (2) - a nice bunch BUT WHERE WAS JERRY LEE LEWIS? FATS DOMINO? Clinton, not one averse to whimsy, could have had Little Richard (3) lead the gospel invocation.

Then there’s now. When I mix with people who range around my age I learn that everything started with the Beatles. For some reason, the time before them was ... unsavory, like embarassing relatives who still live in caves in Italy. I went to the house of a man known in tv circles and assayed his substantial (-size) record/CD collection and found not one disc by Fats or Jerry Lee. Yet he had the entire Steely Dan catalog. How could this be?

“The Beatles made rock & roll middle class” explained Jim Dawson, author of seven pop culture books. “Before 1964 it was something you hid, something not quite nice. In 1961 when my classmates were college-bound they dropped rock & roll and headed for jazz and folk music.”

It was something to jettison. Any mention of the old stuff was a reminder of greasy hair and pimples. And because rock & roll was exclusively for teens when it started, its disappearance was neither noted nor lamented. And the stigma still stands today.

2 It really bugged me, though not so much as the Brooklyn Bridge 100th anniversary concert in 1986 when Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell landed in a helicopter to deliver the spirit of rock & roll!

More than twenty years ago (more like thirty, because Chuck Weiss and Tom Waits showed: Chuck was going to audition) there was a casting call for the role of Little Richard in a tv movie. I expected some furious black rockers to be there but it was all “Shut up!” guys. Even then, fairly close to the 50s, his reputation as an explosive pioneer rocker was forgotten.

At The Grocery Store

There were two cans of Thai Coconut Milk. One was ‘original’ and the second low-cal. The ingredients in the first were “coconut milk.” The other’s ingredients, in order of percentage were, “water, coconut milk.”

They poured out 60% of the product and replaced it with water but kept the price the same.

Lucky there’s no surcharge: diet stuff usually comes dear.

Grammy Time

I was never in the record business. I hovered around it but never landed. Nobody’s fault, I just wasn’t suited. But during my time ‘inside’ I learned, repeatedly, that most of the people there could as well have been selling refrigerators. They liked the glam of going to concerts occasionally, but with limits. How well I remember an early trip to the Troubadour, sitting with record company people who began to applaud for the opening act but stopped short saying “Is he ours?”

Early this year an older guy who’d been in that biz for 40 years asked me if I was going to the Grammy awards. I looked at him sorta sideways and explained that I wasn’t a member AND who gave a damn about music today? Then he was the puzzled one; he had been in the nuts and bolts of it all his life, but he was like an executive of a baseball team who didn’t know the players. Whatever’s selling, that’s good music.


Ann Powers drones. She weaves and she flutters and she circles and - what the heck is she doing? Smoke-blowing, not up anyone’s opening, just blowing. Is U2 loved by crits? I can assure you they are from AP’s recent genuflection to their new album which, to hear her, crowns them the summation of all rock & roll, past and future. I object to her stances because they’re so undaring: she won’t get brickbats from other crits because among them the emperors are always clothed.

She was quoted, by someone in the Times, as refusing to seek new unknown talent because “I have no context for them.” Context comes from other crits. If they all turn around one day and deem Celine Dion brilliant and U2 embarassing she, good soldier, will do an about-face like a Republican. Which means her job is as Times Staff ... opinion reflector.

Space Is Precious?

The 2/28/09 L.A. Times Calendar ran a half-page about the freak with the eight kids nearly a month into the story. Three intrepid reporters found that TV and the tabloids were still milking it, and that media morons were bothering the neighbors (yet how and whether the L.A. Times differed from the tabloids was not mentioned). On the other hand, when the Times ran giant pictures of Academy Award dames in colorful gowns the day after the ceremony, for the first time I got the message: while offputting to me who wants to read news, the paper probably raises ad rates this day like tv does for the Super Bowl because NON-newspaper readers buy this ish.


GO TO END for LIFE IRRITATES ART, an unhinged crit-rant too gnarly for a family column ...


Car Talk

Buicks had three chrome portholes on their fenders. Made you think you were piloting a speedboat. However, recently I saw a guy get out of a fancy car that had three portholes. “What kind of Buick is THIS?” I enquired sincerely. “It’s a Maseratti” the guy snarled. I guess copyrights on symbols expire. (Imitators have the copy right!) Now I saw one on a Toyota Corolla. I think the thrill is gone.

When the parking lot (at least in California) has a space marked “Compacts” you’d think it was painted in 1965, the last time that designation was made for smaller models. But it stays today, put there so a builder can guarantee a number of spaces proportionate to the occupancy of a new bldg. (“I GAVE you the 50 spaces I promised. Just hire people with small cars.”)

Svenska Drawers Are Falling Down

There’s a problem with buying a dresser from IKEA or a similar low-price place. The side boards on a real dresser are solid wood, and stand vertically straight and strong. The sideboards on an IKEA dresser are the same as the top and drawer-front: pressed-board or hard-baked oatmeal. The drawers do not slide on flat rollers, they are hitched to the sides on indentations that match to ‘male’’ channels inside the sideboard.

However, if you put an anvil on top, or a pile of records, or a pile of shirts, or a shirt, the pressure causes the sideboards to bow out slightly and that disengages the middle drawers, which fall into the ones below. If you can clamp the sides of the dresser somehow, you’re in. Or put the left side against a wall and make something heavy push from the right. Not that I’d have such junk in my house.

Rock Entymology

Going through old records, articles, conversations you find bases for things you thought were original. Frinstance, when discussing Leiber & Stoller, Joe Turner was overheard to say to Doc Pomus, “Kansas City? Hound Dog? I knew those songs when I was a kid!”

“Hoebe Snow” was the oddly-named heroine of rockabilly record (though not so odd coming from a culture with names like Ersel and Elvis), but I understood the strange name Hoebe (hoe-bee) in a finger-snap.

Early in the 20th century, the Lackawanna Railroad’s advertising symbol was a pretty little girl named Phoebe Snow, whose white outfits would never get dirty in their clean railroad cars. The hillbilly who made that record probably walked to school past an old barn which had a Phoebe Snow ad painted on it, but the slat with the P had fallen off. The boys thought ‘Someday I’ll marry a gal as pretty as Hoebe Snow.’ “


Does naming a place with a date sound wrong? “1952 Chicago” is both too specific and too vague. And what about the ungainly “growing,” as a business, name, etc. Tonstant weader says “Phooey” ... Can we can snarky and retro? and endgame? And “My bad” is so - when do we add “Goo goo” to adult talk? ... And why when filling out an online form are you considered competent to list your name, address and city, but the state must be chosen from a supplied list? Isn’t the zipcode (4) enough? Would people write “San Francisco, Georgia” or “Chicago, Montana” (5) if not led by the hand?

4 Zip codes came in in 1963. Previously, in big cities, there were zones. Hollywood, now 90028, was formerly Hollywood, 28, California. If you want to be archly pastish, always send letters that way, picking out the last two numbers of the zipcode and tacking them between city and state ...

5 Answering my own question, I once had custom cups made at a roadside diner outside of Barstow which had to be mailed to me once finished. After my address I wrote “LA, 90068.” When months passed I phoned them and they said “It was sent back to us. There’s no such address in Louisiana.”

Words & Music

When I read “THE LIKES OF Jennifer Aniston, Keifer Sutherland and (who’s famous now?) Clyde Beatty,” I think “Why are they touting impersonators?” If the persons are real they’d write their names without a qualifier - or in this case a disqualifier. The only place for ‘likes of’ is

“Performing Sunday will be the likes of the Beatles, the Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, ABBA (6), and the Rolling Stones:

Strawberry Fields goes on at 8:00, Love Street at 9:00, Green River at 10:00, Bjorn Again at 11:00 and Sticky Fingers at midnight” ...

Aretha Franklin’s ”Eleanor Rigby” opens ‘I’m Eleanor Rigby.’ Who made that dubious decision (7)? Women have always been liberal about assuming the male position, in music. But tho “House Of The Rising Sun” is about a female prostitute, Dylan and Eric Burdon switched it, I guess to not seem like sissies (8). (“House Of The Rising Son”?) ... I have been puzzled by jazzers of the 30s/40s calling one another “Gate.” I thought it might be from alligator, which came in in the 50s along with cats. But someone hipped me to the actual source: You’re a gate because you swing ...

6 Swedes are capital people. ABBA is an acronym of the members’ first names. And SAAB stand for Svenske Aeronautic something or other (they make jet planes too). If you see either in upper/lower it’s wrong. (Volvo isn’t that, but not Swedish either. It’s from the French volver, which means “to roll,” ) ...

7 And isn’t Fess Parker’s version of “Davy Crockett” narcissistic? I guess Bo Diddley picked up on that ...

8 Josh White recorded the somewhat shocking “Sissy Boy,” in which he pleads if no woman is found, someone send him a sissy boy.


If you want more of the 60’s Chicago sound of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, get ’The Best of Major Lance.’ His songs were produced and often written by Mayfield ... Reading Leonard Feather’s website, I was shocked at all the music he was involved in. I assumed his songwriting credits were few, but he really put out. But the site doesn’t herald “Knock Me A Kiss,” which he wrote for Louis Jordan: Louis is shown only tangentially, in a pic with Ella Fitzgerald (9) ... Paul Simon recorded as Jerry Landis in his duet records: and then as Tico & The Triumphs. If your name was Shmendrick McGurk or even Art Garfunkel, OK, you change it, but why change Paul Simon? ... The Four Seasons 1966 “New Gold Hits” album (all new songs) is what it promises. It contains many unknown songs that sound like hits on first hearing. Not available on CD ... Jimmy Soul’s “I Hate You Baby” is another unheard winner ... When the camera pans a pianist in an apartment across from Jimmy Stewart’s in ‘Rear Window,’ the ivory-tinkler is Ross Bagdasarian ( David Seville) ... Fifteen years ago Cub Koda and I hit it off on my tv show, so in 1999 I dropped in on Cub’s home in rural Michigan. Blessed by ignorance I talked my way onto his couch for the night - I later learned that precious few ever visited him and Lady J, let alone camped there. He’s known for “Smokin’ In The Boys Room,” which he wrote for his band, Brownsville Station, but his solo stuff, self-released since the mid-90s, was much more. In his rockingness and musical humor he was the American Dave Edmunds. He did an album entirely of Bo Diddley songs, astonishing songs on Abba Dabba Dabba, a fictitious bowling alley band from the early 60s - he was always up to something, whether recording or penning the best liner notes ever written. He died when I was just getting to know him. His recorded output is still around, tho. Check out Abba Dabba Dabba at cubkoda.com ...

9 After they’d kissed, or not, and made up (ditto). Louis rode her coattails when she was taking off, then dumped her.


Long as I’m reminiscing, there was this band I worked with which was led by a guy with a brick brain. During the recording of their Absolute Truth album (whose cover featured the bassoon player dressed in a tutu holding a pipe wrench), the record company guy came to the studio and complained that the tempo of one song was erratic. Insulted, Brickhead went to the opposite extreme and had the song set to a click-track, which destroyed its lilting, semi-reggae beat. I said “It’s ruined, the life’s been drained from it” and he said “That’s right, I showed him,” so the inferior version went on the album. It was as true a Triumph Of The Will as Whatshismustache’s. (I have a tape of the original) ... I keep clipping ridiculous photos in the paper (news shots with blurred people) to hold them up to the camera on the tv show, just like people who exercise their amputated limbs ...

Readin’ & Rockin’

In his liner notes to a 1991 Bobby Darin best of CD, Ken Emerson holds forth with the ‘context’ for rock idealogues’ (crits) discovery that pop rock was important: “Concurrently, in the more high-falutin’ realm of philosophy, existentialism and its buzz word (10), ‘authenticity,’ fell out of favor, to be succeeded by deconstructionism and other post-modern modes of irony and skepticism.”

Splish splash I was takin’ a bath - ironically and deconstructionalistically!

10 People right now use ‘buzz’ like it’s fresh and special.

Talking ‘Bout That Generation Gap

There was no adult rock & roll in 1963; it was still kid music. So when James Bond, a suave symbol of the Playboy lifestyle of the adman-led early 60s, leaves the room to get something special (champagne?) in “Goldfinger,” he tells his female roommate that having ‘this’ without ‘that’ (you go check) “is like listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

- 57 -

Mark On The Move

In the ‘70s, when I lived in Claremont and ran the Rhino Records store there, I met Chris Darrow, the multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter who co-founded the psychedelic-world music-folk group Kaleidoscope, played with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, James Taylor, John Stewart, Linda Ronstadt etc. and was a guru to many young Claremont musicians who congregated at Rhino Records and the Folk Music Center across the street. (The Folk Music Center had been a focus of the Jackson Browne-David Lindley-Chris Darrow-Ry Cooder axis in the sixties when the owners’ grandson Ben Harper was toddling around, several years before his emergence in the next musical generation.)

I went to McCabe’s to see a tribute to Chris on the occasion of the re-release of two of his early-seventies albums Under My Own Disguise and Chris Darrow, and he showed up to play a few tunes between performances by others (including his son Steven) performing Darrow originals and songs associated with him. Mid-way in the 2-hour show, Chris played lap guitar on a couple old tunes and a new one called “Gospel Truth” which showed his songwriting and playing skills haven’t diminished since his semi-retirement (this was his first gig in about 6 years). Other highlights were Ben Harper’s passionate versions of “Whipping Boy” and “To Which Cross Do I Cling” and a trio led by Jonathan Wilson doing a spacey version of “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” which wouldn’t have sounded out of place at the Fillmore West in ’68. A link to some Darrow tribute photos http://whenyouawake.com/2009/03/03/in-living-color-chris-darrow-tribute/

A few weeks earlier McCabe’s hosted Stan Ridgway, who spun tales and sang songs spanning his time with Wall of Voodoo through his current work with his wife Pietra Wexstun, who played keyboards and the occasional odd sound effect. (Stan also told a funny story about getting into an altercation with Mickey Rourke around the time he and Stan worked on the film Rumblefish.) WoV “alternative hits” including “Tomorrow” and “Mexican Radio” flowed well with Stan’s solo work like “Camouflage” and “The Big Heat.” (When he’s at his best, Stan can match the first-person creations of Warren Zevon or Randy Newman.) He also debuted new compositions including “This Town Called Fate” and “Turn a Blind Eye” from an upcoming album Desert of Dreams.

And Robyn Hitchcock’s got a new one too, Goodnight Oslo, which he previewed during a short set at Amoeba Hollywood. Everything sounded great, with Grant-Lee Philips and Bill Rieflin providing stellar back-up and Robyn doing his usual off-the-cuff wandering intros. With Robyn you get a person stranger and more genuine than nearly any other performer – Peter Gabriel with a Lenny Bruce brain. Robyn’s performance of an older song, “Ghost Ship,” was breathtaking. Who else writes lyrics like “The glassy chequered engine room/The speechless silence of the tomb/The manuscripts inside the womb unfurl/A girl/Translucent as a jellyfish/That palpitates upon a dish”? Okay, maybe Dylan.)

After that, at Cozy’s, I saw Pat DiNizio do a terrific 2-hour show promoting his new album of Buddy Holly songs, mixing in Smithereens classics and stories of his current career on the “house-concert circuit.” Not many people showed up to see him, but he gave his all.

-- Mark Leviton

(Mark’s sixties-themed radio show Pet Sounds can be heard alternate Mondays 10pm-Midnight PST on KVMR-FM 89.5 in the Sacramento area and streaming at www.kvmr.org )


“Billy,” of NYC-adjacent, wonders why I come down so hard on NY. I don’t exactly. I like the place, love to visit. I suppose it started 20 years ago when the national news was seeking Man On the Street opinions and I noticed that the people responding were brusque and brittle. I got it. They walked downstairs from their office and talked to passersby in Manhattan. It tipped me off to Gothamcentricism.

But the burr under my saddle is not the NY media beating their own breast, it’s the goddam L.A. Times doing it.

To wit, the following is a slice of aggravation I assembled not long ago (that hung in “overset”) whose life was rekindled 2/24/09 with the L.A. Times piece “New York Archbishop Is Named” that took up more than half of the one page devoted to “The Nation.” When the 3/3/09 “Nation” pic of snow on “6th Avenue & 48th Street” rekindled my fire (the detail of the intersection infuriated me: what does it mean to anyone who doesn’t live there?) it led to this unloading of my NY Roundup.

A few years of headlines from America’s window on NY, the L.A. Times:

Gilbert takes over N.Y. Phil, New York warms up to rule on restaurant patio heaters, Vehicle toll proposal for N.Y. gets new fuel, Manhattan blaze recalls 9/11, New York’s Wild Whippet Chase Picks Up With Recent Sightings, in New York the Irish pack it in, New York Sues Web Marketer, New York Is Making A Comeback as Fillm Production Ramps (sic) UP, L.A. to Page Six scandal: ho-hum 8, Love N.Y.? Don’t Look Down (rats in NYC), Workers at the Door and In the Know 9, N.Y. Trams investigated After Outage, In N.Y, Anti-Terrorism Cuts Called ‘Knife In The Back.’ It’s the A-list lunchroom for N.Y. 10, N.Y. Might Lay Down the Law on Bike Taxis, Police Are Drawing a Bead on Graffiti Artists 11, Empire State Building to Turn 75 on Monday 12, New Suitor Talking to N.Y. Paper, Just tell’em Diddy sent you 13, N.Y. Fetishist Admits 70 Subway Attacks, 18 Antiwar ‘Grannies’ on Trial in New York, Scandal shows a pen’s might 14, Gossip Scandal Altering Tabloid 15, New York’s corridor of media power gets denser, N.Y. to share security-area status, NYC Santiation unit has reason to talk trash 16, They woudn’t be caught anywhere else 17, N.Y. Union’s $2.5-Million Fine Upheld, Beautifying N.Y., one cube at a time, NYC Crash Puts Flight Path in Politicians’ Sights, In hard times, a splash of Bronx grace 18, Trouble is brewing in New York 19, N.Y Fire Victims mourned 20, NYPD’s new sets of wheels: Segways, Sprinklers were shut off at site of fatal New York fire, The contract talks musit go on in New York 21, New York cabbie turns her tales into a blog, and now a book 22.

And ...Critic’s Notebook: Brentwood’s New Sweet Spot, “City Bakery Offers same gourmet fare as its New York Original.” S. Irene Virbila wets herself about this “long-awaited” arrival ... The Home section, having exhausted L.A., spotlights interior decor in Brooklyn ... and finally, a long article about NY wrecker/developer Robert Moses says he was “behind most of the city’s bridges, from the Triborough to the Verranzano Narrows.”

Does this mean something to you? Can you write an article for a NY paper and quote offhandedly “from Phillipe’s to Art’s Deli?” or “From the Kern River to the L.A. River” and expect them understand the span? (Are the two NY bridges far from each other? Old and new? Long and short?)

I know a lot of this came from 2 years ago. I don’t care. I was angry then and I’m angry now. Since I ripped it from an earlier column, the footnote numbering is “already in progress.”

8 There was some flurry about a NY Post columnist’s behavior. The L.A. Times discovers that DESPITE it being in NY, no one here cares.

9 NY strike affects doormen.

10 Famous people shown waiting for a table. Unimaginable here.

11. Note the dignity accorded spray-paint wielders. Because they do it in NY. This is a “Dispatch From New York” which designates it a war zone.

12 It turns 79 this April. Expect an L.A. Times Story.

13 Fabulous, crafty NYers say code words to get into concealed bars. Wholly unlike the unmarked party sites in Hollywood. ‘Our’ Regina Schrambling gushes that the bar is an “only-in-New York” phenomenon.

I4 I take it back, we ARE fascinated by the columnist in NY. Or Ellen Barry is.

15 Further chin-stroking about ho-hum subject

16 Fully 60%s of the news in the Nation that day.

17 Trapeze school. Unimaginable elsewhere.

Crazy people pray at water outcrop.

19 Hillary must appeal to NY state women.

20 Only in NY are fire victims mourned

21 Broadway’ scuffle. Talks “must go on,” like the show.

22 “Only in New York” do we hear, for a century, about the wisdom of cabbies.

Beware, rough road ahead.




I saw a review of Celine Dion in a SF paper. I didn’t have to read it, because they’re all the same: “Boy she sure overdoes it” and “so many costume changes” and “video screens for her slavish fans” etc. We KNOW you’re not going to like it - you’re a crit. So stay home or go somewhere where you can do some good. Doesn’t that ever occur to anyone?

Feb 22 I opened up the NY Times and saw a caricature of Jerry Lewis. Normally, an article about Jerry Lewis is the opportunity for a writer to lock arms with other snobs in the temple of Mutual Anointment. But this time, since Lewis was being honored at the Academy Awards, I hoped ....

Hope died quick. The first line, “The braying id of the American movie screen, Jerry Lewis has been making people laugh and squirm for most of his life,” attacked him and attacked me, for I am one of the fools who appreciate and enjoy Jerry Lewis.

I stomped the page and spit on it, symbolically stomping and pissing (I would do it to her, but I respect the newpaper) on the writer, uber-fool Manohla Dargis. Later, after hanging it out to dry, I got up the stomach to sift through the rest of the Darg-shit.

She says he bewilders “tastemakers,” and if that isn’t a howler I ain’t a Jerry Lewis fan. Taste MAKERS, these pimples who fling words around. It’s so funny it isn’t. Then she said he’s better known for charity marathons and “off-color slurs about women and gays” (Why so sensitive about THEM, Manny? - AF) than for his entire movie and tv career.

TO WHOM is he so known, you unaccomplished shit? To the millions who paid to see his movies, or to you and the dim-wits who (and this is where the word fits) BRAY what’s right? Dish the guy’s life because of your cohorts’ hahahas? Go somewhere and die.

To watch his facial gesticulations in early movies is “to witness not just the pathos, but also its horror.” FUCK YOU Darg-ass. Get a real job.

Democratic with her belittlements, Hard-Ass squats and drizzles piss on Frank Tashlin for directing “Artists & Models,” the colorful Martin & Lewis flick, with a quote -- “A vulgar modernist” -- from someone who hates him, J. Hoberman. Oh, la dee dah, pass me a cucumber sandwich.

“It’s hard not to wonder if all that frantic energy, which suggested his vast ambition and had a whiff of desperation, is what repulsed so many.”

It’s not hard to wonder what repulses so many about you, Man-hola.
Stand back and take a whiff.


John Updike got a respectable sendoff Jan. 28 in the NY Times, mostly pro, some con. But Mary Rourke in the L.A. Times bound tons of negatives and a few positives in a sheaf of crap that obviously (1) mirrored her own opinion. Come on, really. How high does Mary Rourke stand next to Updike? She’d have to look up to his ankle, yet she cites “In 1981 so-and-so said” like its appearance in print gave it weight.

Then Feb 17 came more L.A. Times afterdeath, a heap of dung shoveled by everyoung Scott Timberg who says the “debate” on Updike is still raging.

“Over the years he had become a symbol of” --
STOP RIGHT THERE. He had BECOME nothing of the sort. It’s Scotty mistaking peer-group carping for fact.

“Perhaps 2 the most famous attack came” -
WHAT? Famous to who? Literary Lilliputians like ... Timberg?

He “had become ‘a target of ridicule’ ”-
What great sage, what hip-hop Shakespeare thus spake?
“Lee Siegel on the Daily Beast.”
And here I thought it was a nobody.

Almost Final

I am so steamed. Just one more.

“Others considered his subject matter too lightweight. Unlike novelists who tackled conspiracy, assassination, drugs, politics, mass murder, war and the whirl of pop culture (We sure need more of THAT!: AF), Updike aimed ‘to give the mundane its due.’ ”

Oh, I see. Instead of consulting the blowhard-blown prevailing winds he turned the microscope on his own feelings.

So many ‘hipsters.’
Just one Updike.

(1) The obvious is obvious. You don’t seek negatives about people you admire. When Lou Reed dies they’ll quote only praise and ignore people who found him a critically-inflated windbag. (There are such people.)

(2) “Perhaps,” like “arguably,” is a common qualifier among cowerdly writers because it releases you from responsibility for what you say.

Not All Crits

You don’t have to be, for example, a musician to review music. But you should be ACCOMPLISHED, somehow, in order to evaluate something.

If you judge from below, your self-esteem is at stake when you praise. To praise someone is to concede inferiority - “What miraculous music, I wish I had such talent.” It can be done only with steely self-confidence built on accomplishment, not self-annointment.

I don’t just mean a fellow writer. Pauline Kael did not make movies, yet her observations about them were trenchant. I didn’t always agree with her, but she often gave voice to reservations I felt but couldn’t articulate.

Gore Vidal has gone on and on about what he hates about Updike. I believe it has something to do with Updike giving Vidal a bad review. Vidal’s objections are hilarious and eye-opening, yet made no dent in my regard for Updike, they were just opinions from someone equal to his subject.

This Just In

I said I was finished but ... this last bit from the towering Timberg, whose premise I just grokked ( I couldn’t read his whole piece at once, lest I explode); Young happening people read each other, not ‘retro’ writers like Updike who, Timberg tells us with curled lip, “played golf, non-ironically.”

I remember the motto carved above the library door in college: “He who knows only his own generation knows nothing.”

It might as well have said “Something Timberg This Way Comes.”

Email Art Fein

Other Fein Messes