- May 2011 -

Other Fein Messes
I'm A Ding Dong Daddy From A Rock & Roll City - Jerry McCain

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1st Record/1st Concert

"And they'll say no, no, no," that was the lick that burned in my brain. I didn't know the title or the group but I had to have it. So I got a dollar for doing house chores and walked through the North Hollywood wash and squirreled through the park to Denel's Records on Lankershim Blvd - - complete with listening booths no less. It was The Charms’ 1954 classic ‘Hearts Of Stone.’ 
I begged for my own portable three speed record player and when I got it there was no stopping me -- I was gonna play records and play them I did. It was cool to slow dance to ‘Earth Angel’ by The Penguins, but I dug the flip side, ‘Hey Senorita.’ A couple of years later my cousin, who was into the lame version of ‘Sh-Boom’ by the Crew Cuts -- not me, it had to be The Chords --used to drive me to our Uncle's record store, Joseph Sachs Record's, LA's first discount record store. It was there I was totally corrupted, listening to everything I could get my hands on.

The other early blow-mind record for me was ‘Oop Shoop’ by Shirley Gunter and The Flairs. West Coast R&B out of Jefferson High and the masterful Richard Berry, noted of course for the original ‘Louie, Louie’ but also the classics "Have Love, Will Travel" and of course Janelle Hawkins’ "Moments To Remember."
When I’d hear the record company guys in my Unc’s store talk about who was playing around the city, the hot spot was always the 5-4 Ballroom, 54th and Broadway. I convinced my cousin to go and I snuck out one night and we drove off in his car... and there I saw rock n roll live for the first time. The act was another brain burner, Eddie Cochran.

My mother was waiting up for me when I got back and I was grounded for three weeks. (But who cares? - C’mon everybody!)
But the killer first concert for me was the two Elvis shows at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in late October, 1957. I was 12 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday. When he came on stage I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. He wore the gold lame suit. I was totally awestruck. Elvis was untethered, and rolled rolled on the floor with the RCA dog and blew the house down. He was rockin’ and so was I.

The police filmed the show. Twenty Four years later when I was making ‘This Is Elvis’ for Warner Bros, we found the police footage and used it in the film.
Other memorable concerts: United Artists Theater on Broadway, downtown LA -- Jackie Wilson and Rosie & The Originals; Olympic Auditorium, Little Richard, performing on an old boxing ring. He urges the crowd to join him on the stage and it collapses.

Malcolm Leo is a film and television writer and director. Among his credits as a director and producer are Heroes of Rock N Roll; This Is Elvis; The Beach Boys: An American Band, Rolling Stone: twenty Years Of Rock N Roll: Crosby Stills & Nash: Long Time Comin.' He is currently in production to direct a feature documentary on Jerry Garcia, under the aegis of the Jerry Garcia Family Estate.

Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
May 2010

Balmy Night, April 30th, Whitley Heights

Near sundown, walking Phoebe the dachshund up the hill, springtime gusts are active, making palm trees lean and bushes ripple. The fragrance of jasmine came early this year after the heavy winter rain. Life is grand.

Get Your Kicks on Route (upside down) 66

Easter weekend I trekked up to the San Francisco area.

I’ve contrasted Route 101 - a varied, interesting 440 miles - to the 5 - a tense, straight barren 365 mile race-track full of nuts - forgetting the 99, the old, further inland route. The 99 brushes many towns and is nearly as fast as the 5.

“The 99?” said an old-timer. “It was boring when it was the only route and it’s boring now. You’ll see a lot of hay trucks.” Exactly, I thought.


But first, a kwinky-dink. Domenic Priore took this photo in 1999 when he was living near the San Francisco Zoo. That’s me with his neighbor Dale Smallin, the former Surfaris manager who giggled and said “Wipe Out” at the song’s start. The coincidence is that now my daughter lives near this spot on Sloat, attending San Francisco State College. The dog head behind us was from the Doggie Diner chain which was widely derided by aesthetes and virtually driven from the city. This one, from the last remaining Doggie Diner outpost, now stands on a nearby roadway divider as a zoo greeter and reminder of the city’s free-for-all heritage.


Now comes the road observations.

* Los Banos (bon-yos), on a cut-through from the 5 to the 99, is a small town whose name registers with me because of the cover of a 1973 publicity folio from Blue Thumb Records which showed a Dylan ringer with the hed “Beer and Loafing in Los Banos.” On this, my first visit, I bought a Donald Westlake book at a thrift store and an overloaded (“Please, not so much, I’m driving”) vanilla/choc cone at the Fosters Freeze.

* Hollister, an exit before Los Banos, looms larger in my head because its notorious ‘takeover’ by motorcyclists in 1949 led to a Life magazine article and a movie with Marlo Brandon (as he was called in Mad magazine).

* Past Los Banos was a junction leading to Chowchilla. I was set to stop in small towns, but declined this one as the sign didn’t indicate the distance. Chowchilla’s historic notoriety, unlike Hollister’s, stems from actual infamy from the 1976 abduction and BURIAL of a schoolbus full of kids. The rich-kid perps, latter day Loeb & Leopolds, intended to hold the kids for ransom, driving the bus into an enormous grave 100 miles from Chowchilla, leaving an air hole for them to breathe. Kids clawed out and the malfeasers are still in prison. The story still sends shivers.

* Selma, on the 99, has a terrific burger stand topped with a statue that a better photographer would have captured with great panache.

* Just south of Fresno, whose main industry is raisins (I skipped the Sun-Maid gift store), is Kingsburg, a Swedish-themed town that’s postered from stem to stern. The one store I might’ve visited (I was already gorged with pastries), Betty’s 50’s place, was closed and closing. (Closed Mondays, and Betty’s closing the store.)

My “new” ‘94 SAAB visits its simulacrum home, Kinsgburg. (In bg - the Stockholm Cafe.)

A water tower disguised as a Swedish coffee pot dominates the skyline.

* The town name Pixley meant nothing to me, but then a friend said that on ‘Lassie,’ Timmy’s father would say “The doc will have to come here all the way from Pixley.” I didn’t know the series had a location.

* Driving the highway into Bakersfield you suspect a country music theme park is ahead as Merle Haggard Drive is followed closely by Buck Owens Boulevard. So where’s Bonnie Owens Place, Wynn Stewart Circle, Red Simpson Road or Wanda Jackson (she lived there for a while) Way ?

* In Tehachapi, 30 miles by land and 4000 feet by elevation from Bakersfield, tall wind turbines form white forests and the wind blows like Chicago’s in winter. A friend there somewhat versed in pop music had never heard “Willin’ “ by Little Feat, or Linda Ronstadt. (It mentions Tehachapi.)

Wildflowers in them Tehachapi hills.

* Descending to Mojave, in the vicinity of Edwards Air Force Base, I was shocked to see jet plane turbines stacked like spare tires not far from the road near the Air Force air strip. Stopped at a thrift store and bought a dvd of “Defending Your Life” for 3 bucks. Our Mister Brooks.

* Trying to find the older downtowns of Lancaster or Palmdale from the freeway I could see only the endless visual miasma of interchangeable brown powder colored malls with Lowe’s, Chili's, Target, Home Depot et al that now constitute small town America.

I CAN Drive 55 1

In college days, driving from Boulder to Chicago I found that if I didn’t monitor the speed it would drop to 55. It was comfortable. At 55 mph I could think, or hear the radio. At 65 I was fully engaged and tense.

Not that I supported Nixon’s lame-duck 1974 speed-cap of 55 mph. That killed The Old West. Til that you could drive through Montana, Arizona and some other states at 100 mph, which my ‘69 Dodge did with style.

But on my recent Easter trip the new old ‘94 SAAB got about 20 mpg at 75 to 80, and about 24 at 60 to 65. In my dotage I can do the lower speeds without tearing the steering wheel from the column as maturity, inexorably, sets in.

1 Sammy Hagar’s biography “Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock” debuted April 3rd at #1 on the NYTimes non-fiction list. Joel Selvin, the book’s “as told to” writer orated and signed his own“Wise Ass” book of rock writings March 31st at Book Soup on Sunset Strip. Afterwards a bunch of us repaired to Musso-Frank’s til midnight .



In ‘36 Hours,’ Rod Taylor 2 tells James Garner “and that’s the final piece of the jigsaw.” A jigsaw is a tool that cuts a board into puzzle pieces ... Shouldn’t shoes at Payless be free? ... On a graph, a spike is a surge that drops immediately, resembling a spike. Yet it’s used to indicate a sharp rise. Get thy bearings 3 ... The LATimes’ Ken Dilanian and Dion Lee, in Washington, reported 3-14 “Now the word is” that something “is likely” to happen in Japan. What stylebook is this from? ... in a Vonage tv ad a guy says his old phone bill was “the white elephant in the room.” All his clichés aren’t tangled: he later says “At the end of the day” ... In ‘Call Northside 777’ a cop says the files on something “would fill Soldiers Field.” Where was the Chicago fact-checker in 1948? Any Chicagoan knows it’s Soldier Field ... On the History Channel’s bio of Chester A. Arthur (love that surname!), it said “He was a lover of fine wine and good food. He was a gourmand.” That wasn’t nice ... LATimes Sports hed 4-14: “Relief is the buzzword.” Fucka buncha buzzwords ... TV news blockhead says Lindsay Lohan was “facing charges that she allegedly stole” bla bla. News readers are so timid they won’t say “killer” (“police are looking for the suspect”) or “driver” (“Look! The suspect just ran another double-yellow line!”) so they can’t say “charges that she stole” lest they seem accusatory, on a police story ... What should we call Americans who call Elton John or Paul McCartney “Sir”? A couple hundred years ago it would be “traitor.” Henry Chu, 4-26 LATimes, called Kate with a sneer the "commoner fiancee.” He’s a royal pain (and imperial jackass) ... One of the UK wedding natterers said Bill was looking at his “future bride-to-be.” Someone standing next to Kate? And when the tv gal said to “hang tight” for the next segment, I wondered how appropriate that was. Both it and “hang loose,” which is the same thing, seem scrotal ... Why fixate? Fixing is shorter. Administrators administer. Why orientate if you can orient? Of course, more syllables makes you sound brainsmarter when you wordspeak. That’s the proactive backstory ... The NYTimes 4-10 Sunday Styles section huge hed “Why Is This Man Smiling?” (and the 4-17 Style cover’s “Why Is This Woman Smiling?”) repeats a phrase so disconnected from its inception that nobody knows what it meant in Esquire in 1962 ....I know this is indelicate, but our newspaper’s insistence that we know New York surprised me April 24th with the subhed “Woman drowns herself and 3 of her children in Hudson.” This, on a page otherwise consumed with LA news, led me to wonder “Why did she drive such an old car?” Sad to say, I’m serious. You know, old car, bad brakes.

2 Rod Taylor was a handsome leading man in the 60s, then one day vanished. The whims of show business.

3 A great song by Donovan from the “Lalena” period.

‘On the go’

March 31 met George Thorogood with my houseguest Joel Selvin at a delicatessen atop Beverly Hills. ... April 3rd went with Gene Sculatti to a house party thrown by Domenic Priore and Becky Ebenkamp in Tujunga, the far-flung north Valley town. The place is really Tiki’d and 60s’d out. When people reached for the pile of guitars and other instruments I expected a ragtag sorta musical attempt, not realizing that most of them had Brian Wilson credits. Mighty tasty. Among the celebrants and crooners were Darian Sahanaja, Nick Walusko, Probyn Gregory, Nelson Bragg, Andrew Sandoval, Steve Kalinich, Bobby Figueroa, Ron Silva and Priore. Also Rory and Lina Litonjua, and from Scotland (via London) Brian Berry with his girlfriend Jaqui Dove ...April 4 Ronny Mack’s Barn Dance rocked again at Joe’s American Bar & Grill in Burbank. I later learned that my arrival sparked the exit of Jerry Sikorski, my old friend and ex-Rockabilly Rebel, who was probably loath to see me figuring I was still mad at him for stealing my car in 1995. (I am not.) ... April 16 I went to the show at the Echo featuring Infantree, the band from Agoura that I saw at SXSW in March, and Frontier Ruckus. Both were great.


Frontier Ruckus

When I left, there was a huge crowd outside Origami Vinyl trying to see The Growlers in-store concert

Throngs throng the Growlers

April 17 I saw the much touted God of Carnage at the Dorothy Chandler. I don’t understand live theater, and I really don’t understand live audiences here ... April 20 I saw Ruby Friedman because she performed. She plays, I go ... May 1st went to a panel at the LATimes Book Festival at USC and heard a bunch of hotheads wring their hands over the state of the nation. Wrung my hands too.


Listening to Dusty Springfield sing “Tupelo Honey,” I recalled what annoyed me about Van Morrison’s original. He sings, then the answer-chorus comes in like they walked in the room and surprised him. Very incongruous ...Unguarded Moments - The band playing the Sunday free show asked the singer to fix a technical problem and he muttered “Yeah, great, now how about a PAYING job?” The bassist said quickly “We’re not at rehearsal now” ... April 12, Jim Holvay wrote me, The Mob, the 60s/70s Chioago horn R&B band, was inducted into the South Dakota (!) Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. “We tore the roof off the place. There were 2000 people in attendance!” ... NYT cross word for the clue “Etta of jazz” was James! She, like Ruth Brown, worked exclusively in R&B/pop. (“Jones” in fact would be the right answer) ... Danny Kaye’s version of ‘Minnie The Moocher’ has “she messed around on a popular idol, his flood of fan mail was practically tidal.” Doesn’t sound like Cab, but sure is funny ... in the book “Beatle Wives” is the modest assessment, “‘Layla’ may be the best rock song ever written.” Well, after “Long Tall Sally” ... someone pop-quizzed me that Levon Helm wrote “You Cheated,” by the Shields 4 but I knew better. Early on, I saw his name listed as its writer on a Ronnie Hawkins album and figure they thought they’d throw some money Levon’s way. The original was a one-shot single, who would ever know?

4 The Shields’ is a black cover of a white record. The original by the Austin, Texas-based Slades (nee Spades) was copied by an LA crew formed for that purpose, with Jesse Belvin, Frankie Ervin, and Johnny Guitar Watson.

Phoebe Snow (redux)

Phoebe Snow took her name from a pretty girl’s picture that was on barns and billboards across the country in the early 20th century. Her visage was the symbol of the Lackawanna Railroad, whose cars were “clean enough for Phoebe Snow,” a girl as real as Betty Crocker who was always pictured in white clothing to illustrate that Lackawanna engines ran on anthracite, which emitted very little soot.

In 1957 there was a rockabilly record called “Hoebe Snow” by Benny Martin 5 and when I saw the name I understood the story immediately. Young Benny had walked to school past a Phoebe Snow ad on an old barn with a slat missing - the P slat. He swore that someday he’d marry a girl as pretty as Hoebe.

5 Frank Ifield’s version was a hit in Australia.

Readin’ and Rockin’

Few rock writers will review the Rod Stewart/Stevie Nicks concert tour without mentioning age bec most are teenagers whatever theirs, so Ben Ratliff’s 4-9-11 NYTimes barf has “nostalgia,” “middle-aged” and “outmoded” in the first graph. Ratliff (“Ratty” tempts) spins theories as baroque as Ann Powers’s and effulges only when pointing out the singers’ weaknesses ... Yet I scanned Mikael Woods’ LATimes review of their show here a week later and saw nothing but honest reporting. It left me speechless. Kudos ... I can’t complain about Jon Pareles’s NYTimes 3-21 summation of SXSW. He got to a lot of shows beyond the Name ones. However, the Vaccines from the UK played their late-70s punk-revival music “too neatly”? What’s a band to do - depractice? ... a musician’s Reuters obit cites his appearance on “ ‘Celebrity Rehab,’ a reality show hosted by addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky.” Was this a paid ad? ... In an “unvalentine” review of a Broadway tribute to melodist Burton Lane, the exalted Stephen Holden tells us that Lane’s fear that his work on ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ wouldn’t equal that of ‘Porgy & Bess’ was realized - it “didn’t quite reach that level.” Later The Steve gifts us the unmelodic “ur-melodies.” Jawold, mein Stefan ...

‘Round Town

Pat Goldstein, LATimes 3-6, shreys that the Academy Awards “spawned a six-month-long orgy of air-headed punditry.” Which excludes him how? ... Jose Arguelles’s passing gave Elaine Woo free rein, she thought, to ridicule his 1987 vision of a Harmonic Convergence. She quotes several people who ridiculed him, a hell of a sendoff. If an LATimes writer ever does something to deserve an obit, I hope the paper runs exerpts from cranky blogs that ridiculed them ...

Random Picture

Spring showers make pretty trees in Hollywood

Our Times

Bill moved recently back to his home town, Detroit. He went to a pot clinic and was surprised to see his family doctor behind the counter. “I’m 80. I invested all my money with Bernie Madoff, so now I’m here writing scrip.”

Rocks & Grovel

A 4-1-11 LATimes article about loud helicopter overflights, the first I can remember seeing despite suffering their noise for 20 years, made the paper after a West Hollywood hotel allowed a commuter to make clattering, china-rattling neighbor-angering landings on its roof. But the paper gave oddly admiring space to the copter clown, an ‘outsize personality’ ‘Hollywood producer’ commuting ‘from his Malibu home to his nearby studio and to appointments around town.” He is quoted and pictured. Kate Linthicum and Ben Fritz are awed by this dork. Et vous? ... Liz Alderman, 3-26-11 NYTime Business Day, reports tearfully from Tokyo that sales of Gucci and other label-driven geegaws are down from people who normally patronize “the luxury industry.” Damned earthquke! ... 3-10 Doreen Carvajal writes with a straight face of a theft in “Paris’s golden triangle of upscale shops.” May wee wee ... Irina Alexander, in the 3-6 NYTimes, writes that Blake Lively, star of ‘Gossip Girl,’ arrived at Le Grenouille in a “white Chanel” that contained “her famously curvaceous torso while still showing off her long, perpetually-tanned legs.” Ooh la la ... Ashley Powers AND Jessica Gelt, a/k/a The Brain Rust, 3-12, open a Vegas (!) front page (!!) story “The Sahara was once an exotic desert locale where Frank Sinatra could enjoy a drink.” ‘Icon’ doesn’t appear til the second graph. (And what about Frank? Wouldn’t they serve him elsewhere?) The way these people effuse about places that wouldn’t have served THEM (“Get out, you’re nobody”) is an odd turn, toadying to ghosts ... After several feints that Sam Nazarian, nightclub developer, is an LATimes’ darling, Jessica Gelt’s 4-13 Business section report confirmed it with the intro “Sam Nazarian has sealed his reputation as Los Angeles’ King of the Night.” Phew. In October, cross-promoter S. Irene Virbila tipped her hat to the boite Cleo (“Who wouldn’t swoon over the slurry of piquillo peppers with feta?”) as “the latest project from SBE’s Sam Nazarian” in the cross-the-board run-up. Earlier dispatches predicted only how great his future projects would be ...

Oooh, It Makes Me Wonder

LATimes 4-12, in Richard Winton’s (with Bob Pool) long report of a stolen comic book, came “Clark Kent hasn’t been heard from in the unfolding mystery. But he might be out checking the whereabouts of Lex Luthor.” Goo goo ga ga ... Hed on 3-27 piece about the governor’s dog “The first dog is on cloud canine.” Poo poo doo doo. ... Business hed 4-4, “Circus school isn’t clowning around.” Dumb, da dum dum.


A friend stayed in Vegas at the Golden Nugget downtown, which is not as classy (!!!) as The Strip so less pricey. But drinking from the water bottle left in his room added $7 to his bill, and if he plugged in the coffeemaker it was $10. At least when you’re gambling you have a chance of winning your money back (heh) ... Amazon advertises that you can use PayPal and shows a PayPal logo encompassing a bunch of cards. But don’t try and use your PayPal - the ‘enclosure’ means you can use your PayPal simply by transferring money from it to one of your credit cards ... Passages, an addiction program, advertises “This is not a 12-Step program. This works.” Yikes ... The rep at the bank (which recently swallowed my previous one) said I will still get free checking with the $10 monthly fee they’ve added. I told her the movie theater across the street has free movies once you give them ten bucks. She looked puzzled ...


After a Channel 4 ‘report’ showed a little kid being patted down by airport security (in D.C.? Dallas?), one of the higher-ups at the station took the reins and proclaimed his outrage at child-searching. And people say that tv news clucks are just haircuts! ... Dame Edna is so darn funny in the UK. I saw her in 1979 in London and really dig her album “The Sound Of Edna.” But Leno was using her during the royal wedding and it just doesn’t work here ... Eye-popper: Scholar Lauranett Lee, a black woman, speaking on CSPAN3 April 30 at the Museum of the Confederacy ...

Just Like Kenny G

I’ve never eaten at Olive Gardens but I will because of tv comedians. The Comedy Central news duo both mock it, as does Jay Leno. The attitude comes from their writers, who read restaurant crits.

I’m sure the fare is like any middling- priced place. Open mockery of it makes me uncomfortable. When you snicker you place yourself on high gourmet ground - with an ‘obtained’ attitude. It’s not authentic? Neither are most Mexican restaurants. It’s what Americans want. (You want fois gras? I’LL give you fois gras.) 6

Forget that. Instead someone find me celery root in a jar. In the 70s it came as a side at some french restaurants and occasionally I bought it at tony groceries. Now it’s vanished and nobody’s ever heard of it. Was it radioacative? Redacted? Its disappearance is Stalinist, erased from history!

Deface The Nation

4-16 LATimes, Sharon Mizota cheers graffiti’s “unruly, in-your-face attitude” (sounds like “riot grrrls,” don’t it?), uses ‘strong suit’ for long suit, and gushes effusively about “eye candy” in a time-bending piece that seems to go on forever. The letter-writer who commented “Wasn’t this once called vandalism?” was obviously an old grump.

But like “subculture sensation” guy ‘Smear,’ heroized 3-15 by writer Richard Winton, my art name is Burn and I set cars on fire. Each one burns differently, hence the art.

Once I find where Winton and Mizota park I’ll invite them to my ‘installation’ - after I set the torches of course.


1-27, Noelle Carter, Food section lede: “I admit it. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with French toast.” I’m tho thilly! ... 3-18 subhed “German-themed clubs are becoming the “in” thing in Los Angeles.” What krap ... Deborah Vankin, 4-1, agog about how one night’s downtown Art Walk “raged on,” was then shocked to find that a comedy club is opening there. Of all things - think of the expense of a spotlight, some chairs and unpaid performers. That’s ragin’ fer sure! ... 3-30 Business section article about home prices falling nationwide shows a brownstone in NY. “We’re a national paper, dammit!” ... Food section, 10-14-10, Krista Simmons is stunned at an “edgy” (nearly-spoiled food? by the ocean?) test kitchen where a cook is “tattooed” and a bartender wears a “blinged-out earring.” Krista doesn’t get out much ... Blindside me: “Ashley Powers,” 4-30, writes that conflicting tales passed around about a gal’s deceased father resembled “a game of telephone.” Pretty neat ... 4-25 Henry Chu’s Column One Edward VIII piece leads with the romantic angle, saving Ed’s admiration for Hitler for the jump ...


3-13 Claire Caine Miller, vying for an LATimes post, opens “Raise your hand if you remember when Starbucks seemed cool. Anyone?” All the news ... 3-24 two writers strain to convince us that NY was Liz Taylor’s town because she made a film there, was in a play, attended theater and had an apartment. Hasn’t NY enough legit bragging rights? ...


Mar 5 10 LA Times report about cops (2) shooting an unarmed man, Joel Rubin tiptoes that the dead man’s family was outraged and “civil liberties groups suggested” the cops “overreacted.”

Civil liberties groups?
People should be carrying torches to police headquarters!

The police of LA do not wound. Reports of police killings abound. Wouldn’t a shot in the leg cause a man to topple? Is running from the police a capital crime?

I can look furtive. If I enter a donut shop, should I draw first? If one ‘feels threatened’ they all can kill me.

ACL not-U

LATimes 2-13, had a huge, more than a page, reverie about a gal retiring as head of the ACLU. Please.

Around 2000, Burbank police set up a sting in which a cop jaywalked - broke the law - in front of cars, and when the flatfoot in mufti failed to step up on the curb three lanes over, the driver got a ticket for going forward with a pedestrian in the roadway. Entrapment, like a 4 mph speed limit sign behind a tree in Georgia.

I thought this might be a good case for the ACLU. I phoned and got a recorded message asking twenty ways for contributions and telling you, essentially, not to bother them with your problems, they have enough to do.

This woman was on top when this policy was in force - but there was no critique of that organization’s procedures in this puff article.

A Line Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

I heard a journalist say of a musical act “Do you know what I wrote about them?” His/her bon mot may in fact have been great, but to say so is arch. It smells of one-upping, suggests equality with the artist.

That said, in 1988 or so the rock crit in the Herald-Examiner here reported about the New Music Seminar, a NY snooze-fest whereat typewriter-peckers got together and held forth.

One item struck me dead. He wrote that the panel voted seven-to-one to chastise the Jacksons for charging then-outrageous thirty dollars for concert tickets. The exact wording I forget, but the writer said they were adjudged ‘not black enough’ in this perceived gouging - and the only person dissenting was James Brown! I curled into a fetal ball reading this but then the writer, Mikal somethingobrother, continued that perhaps Michael Jackson was trying to be “less black” by getting his nose straightened.

I wrote a letter pointing out that black concertgoers often paid high prices for ‘their’ acts as a point of pride, and “If Mikal had his nose flattened - and that’s not such a bad idea - would he be less white?” It never got printed and I was sad til a close friend said “So are you still thinking about punching Mikal in the nose?”

The letter had gotten as far as Mikal.
That’s something.

But Goodies

Restaurant sign on Route 99:
“If you don’t eat here we’ll both starve.”

- 57 -

Mark On The Move

I’ve been an admirer of Simon & Garfunkel from the git-go, going ga-ga over their first album in ’64 (I still remember the rush of hearing “Bleecker Street,” “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and the original acoustic “The Sound of Silence” on John Davis’ KCBH radio show). I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl in ’67 opening for The Lovin’ Spoonful, and was mightily impressed by one of their reunion shows in 2004; they hadn’t lost a step. Their 1990 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a hoot too, with both giving memorable and gracious speeches despite their years of on-and-off acrimony.

Paul Simon alone, post S&G, has been another story. I find his solo albums – although probably overall bigger sellers than the duo discs – have been spotty, and his live performances mostly indifferent. 1973’s “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon” was a good album all the way through, and the best live show was the “Graceland” tour, which benefitted greatly from the high spirits, adrenaline and dancing & singing of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Simon’s singing without the soaring Garfunkel can be bland (James Taylor and Jackson Browne, with similar “smooth” voices, seem to pack more emotion.) Plus, some of Simon’s songs (“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” for inst.) have not worn well and seem stuck in the seventies and eighties.

But I think his new album “So Beautiful Or So What” is one of his best ever, and was looking forward to hearing the new songs at the Pantages Theater on April 21st, the fifth date of his current tour (last time I saw him solo was during the not great 1999 trek with Bob Dylan as co-headliner). Would he sound fresher? Simon did play most of the new LP, including the title track, “Dazzling Blue,” “Questions for the Angels”, “Love is Eternal Sacred Light,” “Rewrite” and “Love and Hard Times,” and he was focused and engaged delivering them, with the large back-up band providing lots of nice colors and the lyrics punchy.

It was the rest of the set I didn’t dig so much. After introducing Jimmy Cliff’s “Vietnam” as the song that inspired him to go to Jamaica and write “Mother and Child Reunion,” he did a fine version of the Cliff and then followed it with the now completely dispensable tune it inspired. An affecting “Hearts and Bones” turned into a medley with “Mystery Train” and “Wheels,” which didn’t match at all. The 6 encores had a whiff of “I know I’ve got to play these every night but I really don’t care much”: a dull “The Sound of Silence,” a reasonably lively “Kodachrome” which segued into the awful “Gone at Last” (perhaps the whitest black gospel ever attempted), then a perfunctory “Here Comes the Sun” for no particular reason. On the last two songs he and the band woke up, with a nice bouncy “Late In the Evening” and a poignant, loping “Still Crazy After All These Years.” He spoke only a few sentences all night, a handful of “thank you’s,” and just didn’t deliver the goods consistently.

I don’t know if any of the dying Borders outlets are still doing their “everything must go” sale, but if so you might want to check the shelf-dregs -- a very nice friend scored me cheap copies of John Einarson’s 2010 biography of Arthur Lee & Love, “Forever Changes,” and the revised and pretty definitive Miles Davis bio by Brit musician Ian Carr. Einarson explains in gory detail Arthur’s musical genius, drug use, love life and often horrific personality swings (and even gives the exact Valley address on Kester Avenue near Magnolia where the gunshot went off that was Lee’s “third strike” and put him in the slammer for many years), and I was pleased to see much eyewitness testimony from buddies Paul Body, Jim Bickhart & Harold Bronson extensively quoted. (Arthur used to come to our Warner Special Products office in Burbank to pick up publishing money, but he struck the woman in charge of such things as very weird and erratic, so she made him stay downstairs in the lobby. Thus, I never encountered him myself except seeing him onstage.)

The Miles Davis biography is detailed, full of fantastic musical analysis and appreciation for even the later period when Davis was often reviled for “commercializing” his sound. Carr is especially good at explaining why Gil Evans was the perfect musical collaborator, and how producer Teo Macero handled Miles’ volatility. Miles’ own autobiography (with Quincy Troupe) gives you more of the anger; Carr gives you more of the heart.

-- Mark Leviton

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


Isn't the line "been” down not “bend”? Also, I thought Mark's theme was the 'but at night it's a different world”... then again maybe not...

lee shafer

Mike Porter posted on your Wall.

"Hey Art , to email from your site I have to pick an "application" (Windows, G-mail, and one other), I have no idea what they are, and any I choose takes me to some strange computer- land I've never seen before - and where I
have no idea what to do. I just wanted to mention 2 more sight-impaired heavies - Bo, & Bro. Ray. By coincidence, I also just sold & mailed today some Hank Williams 78's to collector MacManus in NYC who is #5 on your list.

From the Yiddish Mama

Arthur, Arthur, Arthur..  I recall your saying that you were not brought up in a SuperJew home, but to misuse the word tsuris??  Tsuris means trouble(s).  As in, when, as a small child, I asked my mother What's For Dinner? she often replied "Gehockte tsuris on toast."  Chopped worries on toast.  The less-used alternate answer was "Your father's liver," which left five-year-old me completely flummoxed.
I think you meant to say Chutzpah.  Or maybe just plain stupidity.  Or lack of Saichel (Yid for horse sense).
Or Baitzim (balls). 
Get a copy of Leo Rosten's "Joys of Yiddish," you'll laugh yourself silly and learn all the words you didn't know before.  Really, I highly recommend it.  Something to keep in one's reference library.
By the way, now I see why this month's epistle took so long, it is so long.
I was a loyal Rootie Kazootie watcher.  Once (as a small child) I wanted tutti frutti ice cream and couldn't remember what it was called so I said Rootie Kazootie ice cream and it apparently translated because I was served tutti frutti.  I think Rootie Kazootie was one of the tv shows I was on (about which I told you in an earlier email).
News:  what grinds my teeth is when they tease a story ("private plan crashes in Tahiti, no fatalities") with "The Southern California connection, next on.."  Not every news story needs to be related to this locality.  I don't care that the second cousin of the wife of a Tustin man did the pre-flight security check on that plane.  I don't need the live interview with the Tustin man's next door neighbor.  Let's just be glad no one was killed EVEN IF WE DON'T KNOW ANYONE at all related to the incident.
Bums:  Once in a blue moon I stop in at a supermarket over near Fallbrook Mall in West Hills (there's a Walmart, but not a big one, which is another story).  There was a fat white middle aged guy sitting on the ground near the front door with a sign that said something like "Lost my Job - Evicted from my apartment, please help."  I stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes but I didn't give him any money.  Nice guy.  Story sounded plausible and I had no reason not to believe it.  Four, five, maybe six months later, there was a fat white middle aged woman sitting there with the exact same sign.  I asked if she was the wife of the guy, she said yes, and went on to tell me how they'd both lost their jobs and been evicted.  I pointed out that it had been a looong time since I'd seen him and didn't they have a place to live by now and she wasn't prepared for that, homina homina.  She was friendly, though.

- Susanella Rogers


 I meant shpilkas, but would never use it, it's too attention-getting.. I flatter myself as a Yiddishist with my vocabulary of 4 words.

- Art Fein


No, you didn't mean shpilkes.  Shpilkes is ants in the pants.  I can't sit still, I've got shpilkes 24/7 waiting for the man of my dreams to show up.  My date isn't til 8 and I'm already dressed and made up and now I have nothing to do but have shpilkes. Several months after I was married (really) I had a dream about the man of my dreams and it wasn't my husband.  From the next morning onward I knew I had married the wrong man.
- Susanella Rogers

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