- JANUARY 2012 -

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Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
January 2012

Elvis show - 4 pm til 10 pm
The Echoplex, Glendale Blvd north of Echo Park, just up the street from the Four-Square Church.
$20 fee goes to the L.A. Mission

The annual Elvis Birthday Bash is commencing in the late afternoon to squeeze in all the acts and get the working members of the audience home early.

Lineup is sensational, and the list isn’t complete.


Christmas wrap-up

Real Scotch tape is called “Gift-Wrap Tape” with the tag “It’s Invisible.”

Scotch “Magic Tape” was introduced with fanfare in the 60s. Its matte finish was disappointing; it put a film between the tape and the object affixed. So what was its advantage? You could write on it and you could tear it easier. Whoop de doo.

But it pushed real, shiny Scotch tape off the shelves. The real stuff is clearly better just like glossy finish photos are deeper than matte. And, in a mind-boggling turn, when you lay the shiny over the matte (Magic) it removes the opaqueness and gives full transparency. I have only real tape in my home, and people sometimes ask “What is this?”

Though house-brands suffice for some things, knockoff cellophane tape (I can hear the 50’s jingle end with, “Scotch cellophane TAPE!”) are grossly inferior, offensive to even a nonconnoisseur’s touch.

But what about “Scotch”? Scottishness has always been code for cheap. The lower Chrysler model, the Highlander, while barely different from the mighty New Yorker (gag me) or (I’m gonna upchuck) Fifth Avenue, came with plaid seatcovers to hammer home the point lest your neighbors miss it.

But tam-wearing cheapskates are lovable. Not cheap like Jews. A Chrysler Tel Aviv or Fairfax would probably offend Christian car buyers as much as the same company’s catastrophically-named late 60s swinger car the Dodge Demon (“There’s an image of the DEVIL on my car!”).

Far’s I know Scotch, 3M, invented cellophane tape.
It wasn’t cheaper than another.
In fact, I find it dearer.

Webster’s 1961

When I was a child, I was given a dictionary. I still have it, and it is the source of trouble. Words - at least two, gantlet and dumfounded - have changed.

A current dictionary says gauntlet and dumbfounded. These were secondary definitions in my dictionary. A gauntlet is a glove accessory, secondarily a gantlet (running between a row of beaters). Dumfounded has no B, with dumbfounded as an alternate spelling.

And honing. You see ‘honing in’ on a target when ‘homing’ is meant. Honing is sharpening on a whetstone. “But when your plane is heading for a target you are constantly sharpening your calculations” you could say. No, the arrow once shot is not honing anything, it is homing in to the target. You may be honing your calculations, but are not honing IN.

Picky, picky, pedantic. ‘Irregardless’ is probably in the dictionary now because people say it, irregardful of its contradictoriness. I mean unirregardless.

‘Round Town

Plenty music-goin’, not many photos

Ronee Blakey wails at Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance 12-5

Big Jay McNeely signs autographs before the show 12-5

Guy Chookorian, ‘The Armenian Mickey Katz’ plays the oud (“people are surprised when I tell them I’m an oudist”) accompanied by his son Arshag at Roctober Magazine’s special Dec 10 afternoon show at the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax Avenue. You saw him, black bearded, in a million movies and tv shows in the 50s and 60s and 70s playing middle eastern music. In WWII he was a radio operator and gunner on a B-17, and he attends a veterans breakfast every Monday called Wings Over Wendy’s.

Jake Austen of Roctober signs his new book, “Flying Saucers Rock & Roll,” profiles of unjustly ignored musicians. Andrew Sandoval peeks over, while show host Neil Hamburger watches approvingly.

Paul Zone of The Fast, Jake Austen, Guy Chookoorian.


“More,” from ‘Mondo Cane,’ still is around, but where’s the movie ‘Mondo Cane’? Themes from forgettable movies? “Summer Place” was a hit, but forgotten. “Unchained”? Nobody knows “Missa Luba” at Amoeba, only its use in the British movie “If” ... On a tv lookback at ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ an unseen speaker who may be John Hughes says Paul McCartney complained about (Hughes) using horns on a song. He said ‘If I wanted bloody horns on it, I would have used them.’ This is super-nuts. The song was “Twist & Shout,” and the original, by the Isley Brothers, HAD horns on it. If Sir Paul thinks he wrote it he’s balmy. ... In ‘A Dirty Shame,’ deviates and elders dance to the Hokey Pokey, but the needle is shown in the starting grooves of the record while the music is playing. Not surprising in the average film, but John Waters, tsk tsk ... The time-set in the movie of Steven King’s “Christine” moves from the 50s to the present with “Not Fade Away,” the Crickets version to someotherbody’s. It’s a little fanciful to purport that that song was on the air in 1957/58. It was the flipside of “Oh Boy,” and though 45-buyers had the pleasure of hearing it I’d bet money that no disc jockeys played it. 1 The song looms large in my life because it was the first white song I heard black kids singing and jiving to in the schoolyard, on Chicago’s south side ... Seeing “The Searchers” for the first time Jan 1st, I was jarred to hear the famous line that launched a brilliant song. It came an hour and 33 minutes 2 into the film. Answer at very end ... So many years on, is it still right to marvel at Bryan Ferry for swanning around? This la-de-da fop stuff wears on the un-interested. Mikael Wood’s 10-17 LATimes review had the words “fabric and hair, visuals, style, scarf (not as in eating - AF), fashion, hair, obsess, the constant renewal of context enjoyed by archetypes and icons (???), dressed, a crisp dark suit, and animated dancing flamingos.” That Ferry whisted in Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” hints he is not entirely a humorless guy. What if one day he says “I was only KIDDING” about the fashion circus? Will his fan base crumble when his feet finally fall firmly in his loafers? (Personally, I’ve never trusted the guy since he cheered and pogoed with punk rockers at the announcement of Elvis’s death in 1977.)

1 It really owes its fame to the Rolling Stones version. You could argue that some wild pro-rock 50s deejays flipped the record over and aired it, but those freeform, devil-may-care jocks are largely figments of revisionist imaginations.

2 The movie’s start may have had been delayed by narration and thrown off my timeline.

Uncle John, Baldheaded Sally

When Little Richard’s music disappeared from the airwaves in 1958 I felt like I had been taken off life-support. Though I was a pr-teen I lived for the power he conveyed. When “Good Golly Miss Molly” was released that year, he was already in Bible College 3. “Ooh My Soul,” the supreme monster rocker, was released subsequently but never got played on the radio in Chicago, so who knew?

When reissues came flooding in in the 1970s I heard another song with a great title, “Bama Lama Bama Loo.” It was released belatedly, 1964, and though I barely played it I filed it mentally alongside other nonsense-titled masterpieces.

That changed in December, 2011. It came up on the iPod and I realized it was a sham. He sang good, the song was OK BUT THERE WAS NO PIANO. A guitar carried the song, perhaps to mimic the Moptops; and the middle break was a saxophone. Little Richard without a piano 4 is a shark without teeth ...

3 Interesting that two of the five GIANTS of rock & roll brushed against Bible School. Jerry Lee was kicked out of his for playing too much boogie woogie.

4 He made several good R&B records in the 60s and 70s, but no radio station would play them because he was a 50s guy.


Robert Osborne has returned as TCM’s emcee, and he seems be better than ever. Early in 2011 his speech was uncertain, consonants dropped. He’s so solid now one wonders if he had a head transplant. The Cavalcade of Clods they had filling in for him showed just how difficult it is to host a film series competently with verve. Truly, the producers seemed to have dipped into a hog trough for all the stiff and charmless - let’s face it - auditioners. Kenneth Turan, my god! 5 ...“Tiger Sinks Putt” was the banner across the bottom of the screen. That word-banner covered the ball’s descent into the cup, so we had only KNBC’s word for it. And during coverage of a riot over Air Jordan shoes, a man held a pair to the camera in a downward motion, into the cameraman’s hands, and the banner AIR JORDAN RIOT completely covered them. If you are sight-impaired, look into a career as a tv news director ... Two great shows have bookended titles. Everybody Loves Raymond is great, and so is Everyone Hates Chris. The Chris Rock show about teenage Chris backed by adult-Chris narration kills me ... It’s always Columbo time in this house. But in the episode starring Dick Van Dyke, Columbo goes to a camera store to learn about Polaroids - and is introduced to the concept of a negative. Uh huh ... “Lindsay’s Purse Stolen” was the lead story on the local 7 am news, 12-12-11 ... It’s a new year! The Fox movie channel, which was side-by-side with Turner Classics offering movies without commercials, has added advertising breaks! No announcement was given of this exciting new development, but I am certain my cable bill will be reduced accordingly.

5 Turan’s shots hammered home the notion of keeping writers out of sight. He looked like George LeBay today!

Old TraVails

On a Married With Children rerun, Steve (David Garrison), the original husband of neighbor Marcy, says to the Bundys “I used to be her husband, don’t you remember?” I thought I was on psychedelics. I never followed the show, but knew he was replaced by a much more handsome guy, I assumed to please women viewers. To see him pop up like that was crazy.

On Burns & Allen on the Antenna station, Bea Benadaret greets her husband, who is off camera, and then freezes. Burns says "Stop shooting, " steps in and explains that Fred Clark cannot be Benadaret’s husband this season bec he's on Broadway, and brings on Larry Keating, who will be Clark’s replacement. Benadaret drops her frozen pose and walks over and shakes hands with her new ‘husband’ and they banter. Then Benadaret goes back into a frozen position and we wait while Keating sneaks to the back of the set and enters through a door to greet her. If I hadn't taped it I'd thought someone slipped LSD into my Malt-O-Meal.

Antenna TV runs two half-hour Hitchocks at 10 pm here. Encore runs a one-hour episode at the same time. An embarrassment of riches 6. Too many generations of tape or digital duping causes the eyes of a person to sort of stay put when the head turns, then catch up. You can see this on half-hour Hitchcocks, their master tapes apparently long lost ...

6 The name of my friend Rich’s old car.


Adam Tschorn’s l2-3 LATimes lede “Hedy Lamarr, a legend of Hollywood’s Golden Age and siren of the silver screen” really jampacks the cliches ... Citibank card’s ad that says “My boyfriend and I were going on vacation” shows the Establishment’s embrace of the Revolution. So it was all worth it ... When you look up ‘Chinese Food, Hollywood CA’ on the ridiculous internet some sites say “Join us” others list purveyors who pay them, still others give locations ten miles from your home. What was especially precious was the number of them listing Yamashiro, the Japanese restaurant 7... This month’s good band name, the Nearly Beloved ... The tv stations list “holiday movies,” but they’re all about Christmas. What Jewish movies are there? I guess a Woody Allen fest. Or ‘The Plot Against Harry’ which Allen surely saw... Didn’t people used to excuse themselves from things? Why are they recusing now? J’recuse ! ... When Harry Potter books started, parents at my kid’s school, many of them English, insisted the girl’s name was Har-mee-own. I couldn’t believe my ears. Knowing the right pronunciation came from watching Harmione Gingold on 50s tv ... NYT 11-8 “A huge self-portrait of Bono hangs in the Madison Avenue office of Doug Morris” The first impulse is to think what an ego Morris has, then you notice the word self-portrait ... Tom Brokaw, in an interview, used proactive twice in two minutes. What is its opposite - antiactive? ... “Fresh doubts have arisen” said the tv man. Hate stale doubts. Or did he mean donuts? ... In the 12-25 LAT Kids Section Jumble game, the clue for the seven scrambled letters was “Early -------”. I couldn’t think of anything that commonly fit Early: Times? Bird? Wynn, the Washington Senators pitcher? It was “Edition.” Kids know morning editions of newspapers? An early edition book? The only First Edition I know is Kenny Rogers’ first band ... First it was the boner ads, now Rogaine using “guys” for men. Men today are uncomfortable with the designation ‘man.’ Why? Because many males in the limp and balding category delayed their adulthood in the 60s then never got around to it. These forever-youngers wear jeans, go to rock & roll shows - mmm, I think I’ll change the subject.

7 Because all Asian restaurants look alike to round-eyes, there is a restaurant style here called Cal-Asian where you can order sushi with your chop suey and Paht Thai. And why the heck not. Isn’t American cuisine evenly divided between German (hamburgers/frankfurters)) and French fries?

-Ster it up

* In a 1956 episode of ‘Highway Patrol’ the narrator cites a “speedster,” an early appearance of the German-suffix Mafia.

" Researchers say there is no link between telling fibs in childhood and any tendency to cheat in exams or to become a fraudster ... Dr Kang Lee (Univ of Toronto)

His name sounds Chinese, yet his suffixes are German.
So it’s the new norm. Let’s eliminate “er” entirely --

- said the speakster
- call the plumbster
- the lobster threw the ball too hard

LATimes, 12-28-12

Don’t let Anna Gorman into your house. Her article contrasting children’s eating habits praises a rich mother in Manhattan Beach, then turns to another in Bell Gardens who takes her 5-year-old to McDonalds twice a week, gives her soda and watches a lot of tv with her. I can only conclude Anna spent a week with them. Brrr ... Sha Li and Richard Lopez got a quote about Sears’ financial future from Brian Sozzo, “a retail analyst at an independent research firm” in NY. In the whole United States, the mighty LATimes could find only this guy? ... Bill Kisliuk: Rose Parade officials are negotiating with “Occupy Forces.” When were the Occupy elections held? Who were the candidates? Don’t bury the lead, Bill ... A woman’s death in a laboratory fire, Kim Christensen tells us, “raised questions about lab safety practices.” Only the sharpest reader could have reached that conclusion alone ... Pat Goldstein, with 20/20 hindsight, pointed at 2011’s failed films in an assay-backwards front-page-screaming fist-pumping article headlined “How Did These Films Get Made?” When the past comes back, his value will be evident ...


Lemon proof that atomic testing was done at my house.

Exibit 2 of Frankenfruits!


American Airlines’ chapter 11 filing will affect employees’ pension funds. Huh? Don’t employee and employer contributions to pension funds go to an outside party to guard and keep? Isn’t this shit regulated? Oh, I forgot, we gotta keep government off business’s back ... My friend bought Lower Balcony tickets for a Cyndi Lauper concert. “I saw the seating chart, we’re near the front, Row 3.” Made sense til we got there. The chart was of the Lower Balcony alright - right behind twenty rows of VIP seating. Business is business, the best liar wins ... Greeting card sales are down because of the internet. If you ask “Does anyone actually feel that receiving an electronic card is equal to getting one in the mail?” the answer could be yes. But only from people who send them.

Hey, everyone does it!

An unsigned AP story in the 11-1 LATimes tells of a woman who, according to the opening graph, “couldn’t imagine that two chicken salad sandwiches would land her and her husband in jail.”

The anonymous and amoral writer shrieks about the woman, who unwrapped and ate one sandwich (“saving the wrapper to pay for it”) and another in a Safeway and then forgot to pay for them, being arrested.

“The security guard said we were being charged with shoplifting” the payment-forgetter cried, learning this was a crime. That she was 30-weeks pregnant didn’t even change the store’s policy to holding a parade for her. That her child was taken to Child Welfare services by the police, well, that was a shame.

Both the woman’s astonishment that you need to pay for things and that “they took the bus, got lost, and ended up at Safeway” dramatize the challenges facing adults in America today.

Ja-Nut Maslin

8-31 NYT half page review of book about M Jagger by a guy who “blogs wittily” and has an insightful “take” (wow!) on things, ends with a dick joke, by Maslin: “no detail about Mister Jagger is too small to be debated here.” Ha ha ha, pee pee.

In 11-3 review of Kurt Vonnegut bio she tickles our ribs citing ‘one critic’ who called him “an ideal writer for the semiliterate young.” That prick might have been an insignificant pisher except for Maslin’s exhumation, via the book at hand. Crits love to cite other crits’ crappy opinions. It’s a herd thing. Moo.

11-14 NYT, Judy Collins article by Janet Maslin. “Cut to the music in your head” (aiyeeee!!!), “especially if you found any guilty pleasure” in bla bla. Readers have no guilty pleasures. Only crits, riddled with peer fear.

“Women Who Rock”

The PBS show showed few women rocking, more women who belted and roared. The grey narrators were men and women with dungeon TVQ, unknown outside the writers cabal.

Also, Darlene Love’s singing was background for her interview. It might be that her singing wasn’t so great the day they taped, but since the show went the distance to Cleveland, rock & roll’s center (or the Hall of Fame’s), they felt they had to use it.

They could have used her singing “Christmas Baby Please Come Home” at our New Years Party in 1982.


The LATimes Food section, a sea of whimsy

LATimes S. Irene Virbila. “It’s Sunday night.”
No it isn’t.
“You can go out for Chinese,”
That’s all? Who made this rule?
“order in, or - radical idea - cook.”
What the hell do you know about me to make this snide remark?
“Some of you”
“might get lucky and have a friend”
Oh, I suppose you have more than one.
“invite you over for homemade Korean barbecue or paella.”
That’s narrowing my friends muchly, Reenie.

New York thoughts, LATimes.

12-27 Good news? “New Yorkers are living longer than ever” from Gerry Baum, in NY. Are Cincinattians, Phoenicians, Chicagoans living shorter? The LATimes has no embedded reporters there, so who would know?

Dec 31, Home Section. “First Person” memoir. Never heard of Susan Spano, travel writer, but the opening, “The morning I left New York in 1998,” really touched my heart, not unlike a coronary thrombosis.

So an LAT person came from NY - gee, that’s different. What has she made of her 13 years here? Nothing. She moved back to NY. References to West 4th Street and 6th Avenue resonate with us in LA. That first one is between 3rd and 5th I’ll wager, and 6th Avenue may have another name and she’s being cagey using the old designation. (Or was that 5th? 14th? 120th?)

It’s an LATimes love letter to the staff’s favorite city, a city where Susie Spano “married, divorced and found a metier.” Parking metier? A tempo? Oh, she’s reminding us that NY is America’s “most european city.”

Ours is the most polyglot, South American and east Asian.
And at year’s end, that’s certainly nothing to write about.

So what’s new in 2012?

The ONLY news in The Nation, according to that page in the Jan 1, 2012 LATimes is that NEW YORK IS A GREAT PLACE.

How do we know? Geraldine Baum says it is the nation’s #1 tourist destination. “Orlando, Grand Canyon?” she sniffs (what about L.A.?) - Nah. In this HALF PAGE article eclipsing all other news in the nation she follows an Illinois family around and finds them quaint. When they venture into the city “Jaded East Villagers wearing black scarves and smirks” stare at them. SOUNDS WONDERFUL!

And she cadges this from the man who runs NY’s travel bureau: “Paris is a spectacularly beautiful city,” but “it has none of the energy and vibrancy of New York City. Really.”

Prying. Digging. Getting the unexpected. That’s our Gerry.

A good thing about New York 35 years ago

In the 70s, NY magazine ran clever word contests such as ‘Add one letter to change a phrase.’ A good entry was “The Buick Stops Here.” A winning entry by Todd Everett merited inclusion in their best-of paperback “Thank You For the Giant Sea Tortoise.” (That title contest asked for events that would not generate mass-produced greeting cards.)

I only once had a good contest answer, and then entered too late. The idea was to string together movie titles to tell a story. Now’s better than never --

Absence of Malice - M- Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Escher could draw it

When you walk east from Highland to Vine on Hollywood Blvd, the neighborhood gets worse. But when you walk back it doesn’t get any better.

- 57 -

 Mark On the Move
Elaine May perfected the comedy of narcissism long before Larry David, Albert Brooks, Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan (there was no doubt a Greek dramatist that got the ball rolling but I don’t know who).
As an adolescent I found her duets with Mike Nichols sublime, and have never stopped following her progress from comedy clubs and records to stage and screen.   In the late sixties I marveled at her play “Adaptation” at the Mark Taper Forum on a double-bill with Terrence McNally’s “Next” (May directed both, although Center Theatre Group’s website inexplicably fails to list the production in their “complete” history of the venue).  When she was castigated by critics for her film “Ishtar” (1987) about two bad, highly enthusiastic songwriters, I defended its brilliant mix of cringe-worthy lyrics and adventure-genre parody.  It was an expansion of a style she’d exhibited in “A New Leaf” (1971), a dark comedy in which you are invited to watch damaged people endure emotional trainwrecks while floundering to understand what’s happening to them and why.  Her turn as a ditz in Woody Allen’s screwball comedy “Small Time Crooks” (2000) reaffirmed my admiration for her acting skills, which had taken a back seat to her writing and directing for decades.
It was therefore a special treat to see May’s latest one-act play, “George Is Dead,” at Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre as the middle of a triple-bill titled “Relatively Speaking,” with new single-act work by Ethan Coen (“Talking Cure”) and Woody Allen (“Honeymoon Motel”), each directed by John Turturro.   
Coen’s play pits a postal worker identified in the program only as Patient (Danny Hoch), incarcerated in a mental institution, against his Doctor (Mason Kravits), a game of cat-and-mouse which doesn’t so much end as break open to reveal a scene set decades earlier before Patient’s birth, as his parents stridently argue, spit out their contempt for each other. Coen lets you know what they’ve got in store for Patient once he’s born: a life of hideous stress with parents who are incapable of loving.
Woody Allen’s play, which concludes the evening, is a farce that keeps doors slamming and bon mots flying but has more to do with letting the actors showboat than making any serious points about family or human nature.  It was fun to see Steve Guttenberg, Julie Kavner, Mark Linn Baker, Richard Libertini etc. (almost the entire cast familiar from Allen’s films) spin out the hilarity, but coming after Elaine May’s piece Woody’s work seemed slight.
May sets up her premise quickly and efficiently: Carla (Lisa Emery) is enduring a rocky marriage in her New York apartment when Doreen (Marlo Thomas) arrives and demands shelter, explaining that her husband has just died while on vacation without her.  Carla’s mother was for many years Doreen’s nanny, and it becomes clear that Doreen combines a near-total lack of self-awareness, a huge sense of entitlement, and so much wealth that she’s forgotten how to do the most simple things for herself.  When she takes off her coat as she arrives, she holds it out to Carla to be hung up, and you can see Carla’s hesitation to become the enabler her mother was, before she crumbles and accepts the coat.  The rest of the play shows us the process of Carla’s capitulation to Doreen’s helplessness, as more demands are made and Doreen’s deep childishness brings out the caretaking aspect that Carla reluctantly shares with her mother.  May’s achievement is to show how this giving into Doreen’s narcissism feeds an unconscious self-loathing in Carla, who defines herself constantly in terms of how much service she is giving to others.  When her husband Michael (Grant Shaud) appears, he tries for the last time to shake Carla out of this cycle.  Elaine May ends the piece with emotional damage passed down from generation to generation.  It’s a comedy, but the laughs stick in your throat.
-- 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 )

Quiz. Jefferey Hunter says “I hope you die” and John Wayne says “That’ll be the day.” In Lubbock, Texas, Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison and Sonny Curtis saw the movie and Holly and Allison 8 wrote a song using it as the title.

8 Somehow after the song was recorded and released by Holly in 1956, their producer Norman Petty added his name as songwriter upon the re-recorded song’s release by the Crickets. When Todd Everett and myself had lunch with Norman Petty in 1976 we asked about this strange phenomenon, and he said “Buddy wasn’t very sophisticated about the music business and hadn’t properly copyrighted his songs. I told him I would handle the business end for him and he offered to add my name as a songwriter.”

Sixteen years later I was in Lubbock for a Petty festival, and talked to George Tomsco, who recorded for Petty and whose Fireballs had two medium instrumental hits AND background credit on Jimmy Gilmer’s “Sugar Shack.”

Tomsco regretted the Gilmer record. “He wanted us either to do ‘Sugar Shack’ with Jimmy or a silly little song he’d written called “Wheels.” We went with Jimmy, while the Stringalongs, who had been a vocal band, did that song, which was an instrumental. Since then it’s been used thousands of times all over the world in airplay, commercials and movies.”

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