- March 2012 -

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Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
March 2012

‘Round town

405 / 1-25 Lunching with ‘Columbo’ co-creator William Link when Martin Landau stopped to say hi.

583 / 2-03 Photos lie. Holding the Italo-American squeezebox he bought in 1979, Art “Single Note” Fein contributes chords to a new Frank Lee Sprague song. It is Fein’s third appearance on vinyl, aluminum or ether.

632 / 2-09 Photographers have long been the bane of live music shows. They will block you to ‘get the shot.’ Here one begins a walk toward the stage which climaxed in sticking his camera nearly into Phil Alvin’s mouth. Phil can be excused for not kicking him (as I would, in behalf of the audience), because Phil walks with a cane after knee surgery. I merely threw ice. This guest shot by Phil and Exene (left) occurred during Petunia & The Vipers’ set at Viva Cantina.

656 / 2-12 Lisa Haley & The Zydeco Kings got everybody dancing at Mardi Gras at Farmers Market.

686 / 2-19 At the Viva Cantina appearance by Little Richard’s original drummer Charles Connor’s band, Pat Boone graciously reprises his hit version of “Tutti Frutti.” (This shot chosen because you can see Connors. The big galoot between Pat and Charles blocked most of his light.)

696 / 2-19 Same show, Phil Alvin does a Little Richard song.

2-28 Went with gf Diane to see Ruby Friedman’s 7 pm showcase at the Hotel Cafe. Got a ringside seat. It was just like any of her shows, heavenly.


3-1 A small party in the Hollywood Hills for Roky Erickson before his El Rey show. Host Scott Meyers, Dana Erickson, Roky.

All Dead 1

I have two Dory Previn albums. Very somber, very good. Also have Judy Mayhan doing her “Mythical Kings and Iguanas.” Nearly unique in the world, I saw the stage play ”Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign.” I remember people dancing in dog suits ... Re Nicol Williamson. No mention in the LATimes obit about his couple-weeks stand in a small theater here in, oh, 1989, reciting Shakespeare with commentary. It’s of interest to us that he was backed by a small band led by ex-Rockpile and then-LA resident Billy Bremner ... 02-19 the obit of actress Elyse Knox opens with the curled-lip “perhaps best known” for her role in ‘The Mummy’s Tomb’ under a headline citing her as a “B-Movie Actress.” What towering condescension. She married A-list sports titan Tom Harmon and quit the business, birthing both Mark and Kristin (Mrs. Ricky Nelson). Hollywood Royalty? I’d say. But it doesn’t impress Valerie J. Nelson, the two-bit - I mean obit writer ... 3-1 Davy Jones is hailed as the “heartthrob” of the Monkees. What will the others’ obits say: “One of the ugly Monkees”?

1 A GREAT Queen song, from ‘News of The World.’

Girlie talk, NYT

5-22 Her lipstick was a perfect cupid’s bow, and her eyes, big as headlights, were elaborately lined and lashed. Her fingernails were blood red with little golden studs. She wore a short angular jacket that barely reached her thighs, olive green tights and shiny, elaborately laced knee high boots with towering high heels. - Jon Pareles

8-12 “Has any love goddess had more firsthand experience being a plaything coveted and discarded by spoiled male collectors of beauty than Marilyn Monroe? - Stephen Holden

5-30, re Marilyn Maye “as is usually the case with her shows, I was walking on air, infused with the giddy certainty that life really is a cabaret.” - Stephen Holden

8-16 “She is thunder. Beyonce is. Fire and quake, that thing that cannot be contained.” - John Caramanica


Among a few things wrong about “Grace of My Heart” was the Goffin-King type couple being interviewed on radio about their string of hits. Nobody interviewed rock & roll writers. Rock & roll was kid stuff, period ... In light of this fact it was quite a shock in 1965 when I turned on Open End, David Susskind’s show from NY and saw Phil Spector, wearing shades, being interviewed. I stared in astonishment and awe as he repeatedly said “That’s far out” ... ‘The Big Lebowski’ mentions a character named Carl Hungness. Some Coen must read auto racing journals. My friend Carl Hungness worked with the Indianapolis 500 race track and published his own automotive history books for 40 years. We went to college together. Nobody makes up a name like that. I’m sure it was used to joke that the character was ‘hung,’ but Carl recently told me he just discovered its use in the movie ... I’m not as smart as most people, that’s a given. And I backwards do things: I saw the BBC’s Smiley’s People before Tinker, Tailor and preferred it. Twice I watched the latter and had trouble keeping it all straight. And I found the movie less clear! That’s me. But the crowd filing out after the movie also seemed baffled. There was no talk, just grim silence ... “All The President’s Men” is filled with queer shots. Like a person on the phone on the left, with the focus fading to the right, then a person in the distance, to the right, in full focus. Someone had just invented a dual-focus lens and that movie was larded with shots designed to show it off.


People are now listening to solo parts from “Smile.” That french horn was played crazy - but it mixed well! I want to hear the parts from Johnny & The Hurricanes’ “Red River Rock.” It is so dense, it’s the first wall of sound record. (Though “Tallahassee Lassie,” with its screaming Zep-like guitar opening, also is a contender.) Does someone have the parts for Elmore James’ band on “The Sun Is Shining”? It must have taken 50 people to make that sound ... Blue Oyster Cult was a Jeopardy answer ... I remember a disc jockey saying that “Sink The Bismarck” was about a donut and coffee ... There are two pure-performance music shows on tv, Artists Den and Austin City Limits. Neither runs the name of the band beneath them. To do so would be uncool I guess ... “When I Get Home” played on the iPod and I thought “Lennon solo?” I played the “Something New” album rarely, and this song is on no station’s rotation ... An example of stereo destroying a song was the seldom/never heard “Two Thousand Pound Bee” by the Ventures. On a 45 it’s an attack, but with the parts spread out it’s useless. A better example is any Ramones song. To hear Joey on the left and the band across the room on the right is not only ridiculous, it’s wrong ... Jaunty Geoff Boucher, in the 1-29 LATimes article about David Lee Roth, cites the ‘old joke’ “How many lead singers does it take to change a light bulb? One. You hold the bulb and wait for the world to revolve around you.” Who has heard this before? Is there a category, like accordionists or drummers, called ‘lead singers’ that everyone jokes about? Geolly geoke. And Roth’s uncle’s club, the Cafe Wha?, was “one of the more illustrious clubs” in Greenwich Village because Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground and Lenny Bruce played there. They played when they were nobodies or when no one else would book them. Van Halen played the Rock Corporation in Van Nuys in 1977. So did many hard-rock groups on their way up. It’s now an auto-body shop. An illustrious auto body shop ... Grammy wrap-up. Shiny and smart, my first viewing since 1975 2. Springsteen does not sing notes, he growls a monotone with varying vigor. The Civil Wars were socko.

2 I can’t remember when I last watched. I remember Curtis Mayfield being buried by an overactive smoke machine.

Mercury Poisoning 3

I dislike modern thermometers, long for the old mercury ones. I don’t understand mercury. I remember my father bringing home a little jar, a pill jar only a tenth full, of the shiny metallic semi-liquid for me to play with. They must have used it for something at the printing plant where he worked as a cutter 4 and binder. It was harmless. I would play with it in my hand, sometimes touch it with my tongue, though that held no fascination. Little beads of it would cohere when pushed. It was fascinating stuff. Many years later I heard it was harmful - poisonous. But how could a body digest this metallic stuff? I certainly never swallowed any, but even as a kid would have thought that it’s goldarn metal, it’s not going to disintegrate in my stomach, it’ll just slide through me and fast - it was slippery.

So here I am more than 20 years from my childhood and I still haven’t seen any effect frmr ttttt glpjk vtq[akja

3 That’s the little understood title of a Graham Parker album, poised to assault his American record label, Mercury.

4 His left middle finger was chopped even with the two beside it. Shoving those paper blocks in to the paper-guillotine by hand took big accuracy and I guess he miscalculated once. Sometimes when he worked weekends and the place was empty I’d go with him and play in huge crates of paper-ends. I also was introduced to industrial marking pens, silver tubes like for cigars with big cloth tips containing black ink. Marking pens didn’t come into public consumption til the 70s, and they weren’t enormous like these. A huge pen and an ocean of paper. Funny I didn’t become an artist instead of ...

LAT On Spec

The day before the Grammys, Geoff Boucher wrote an overlong article (“Excitement surrounds the rehearsal”) tossing around silly speculations - Will Katy Perry wear her heart on her sleeve? Is Adele ready to sing? Will Springsteen go political? Cheez.

Similarly, on Valentine’s day Randy Lewis and Scott Collins combined hot air to ponder “Will we always love Whitney?”.
“The larger question remains” whether her fame will last.

Funny, I saw no “Will there be ‘Something’ lasting about George Harrison?” in late 2001.

Snot-nosed journalism (slugs with slugs) LAT

* 2-7, Randall Roberts lays into Paul McCartney’s new album of standards, no surprise. “Sir James Paul McCartney, 69, longtime songwriting powerhouse, may have indeed punched his last time card.” Ho-HO! He equates this collection with Rod Stewart’s “wildly successful, and treacly” 90s albums, but “without the pressures of sales or reputation to worry about.” As McCartney’s collaborator would say to Randall, “How Do You Sleep?” And as one standard goes, “Ain’t that a kick in the head?” (and wouldn’t you like to give Randall one?) Later in the month he reveals that Ryan Adams is a god on earth. Proceed to figure ... 1-17, Betsy Sharkey commends the art and considers the difficulty in Glenn Close’s performance in ‘Albert Nobbs.’ Dwells on it. Then, after the long buildup “It is also one of her least convincing.” The actor - El Toro, the trapped, the brave. The critic - the picador, waiting to stick the knife in the actor’s neck ... 2-14, Scott Collins & Randy Lewis’s look at Whitney Houston’s career during a week of national mourning played to their peers when they ‘reminded’ us that her “acting career wasn’t greeted with equal acclaim - she was nominated for a Razzie” by some organization of shit-pots. And with a sneer they snorted that her hits were “the soundtrack to countless teenage birthday sleepovers, bachelorette parties and wedding receptions.” In other words not profound like, oh, Shelby Lynne (“her next album will be her breakthrough”) ...

Tempus fuggit

The people from “thirtysomething” are now fiftysomething or sixty ... Watching Singer 4-Star Theater, the doctor inserts a B battery in Merle Oberon’s hearing aid. That’s right - B. We know AA, AAA, C, D - where’d the B go? It’s back there in 1953. Viewings at my house by appointment ... Perfume, tires, anything considered cosmetic or nonessential was still subject to a WWII 10% “luxury” tax late into the 1960s. So don’t think any new temporary tax will disappear quickly ... I am still surprised when I see an honoree applaud back to an audience. First time we Americans saw that was from Russians. Now we’re all Commies, it appears ... Three Musketeers candy bars came with indentations so they could be broken into three. Then one day, no dents. Denting must have been hugely expensive. Maybe they had to be hand-dented ... Either your ears or your mind are going if you hear “Fred Armisen” and think it’s Fran Allison ...

These are the Times of L.A.

In the 2-17 LAT, the first word in Butthole Surfers was spelled out, instead of the former B-H. It’s either a sign the newspaper has gotten classy, or the opposite... Feb 20, “This Presidents Day, almost 150 years after his assassination, Abraham Lincoln is poised to become the breakout star of 2012.” The writer, it says, is Christopher Farnsworth, but we know it’s the guy who ghostwrites the paper - not I.A.L. Diamond but I.M.A. Moron ... The massive coverage of a huge Feb 14 traffic jam near Palm Springs springs, undoubtedly, from a Times reporter getting caught in it. I can see him sprinting from car to car with his notepad saying “I’m from the newspaper. What are your feelings at this time?” ... 2-20, The Reprise theater company is “entering into an exploratory phase in order to assess its future programming and the funding of that programming.” ‘They’re broke’ would have taken less space. In that article, Charles McNulty exhumes the ancient Paarism “I kid you not” when sneering at the group’s selections. What’s next? - “Would you believe it - I have a cold!” ... 2-17 Henry Chu, in Scotland, cites a politician who “even” quoted a line from Robert Burns. “Even” would apply if he quoted The Sensational Alex Harvey 5. Then Chu explains that Burns is “the iconic Scottish poet.” Seeing the word ‘iconic’ would surely make Burns boak ...

5 My first thought was Noddy Holder but he isn’t Scotch. A Scottish musicians list on Wiki includes Celtic rockers The Red Hot Chili Pipers!


On Alfred Hitchcock tv shows, three times - beginning, middle, end - he breaks the story and tells the viewer to endure 60 seconds of the sponsor’s message. That’s 60 seconds thrice over a half hour. TV in 1960. Hitch was a shock giver, not getter, but if you told him that one day we would have the 42-minute tv hour - and pay for the privilege - he’d recoil in horror .... I stopped watching the late night guys in 1999 in revulsion at their low, slimy sniggering Clinton jokes (I’d feel the same if the target were Reagan or Bush), but lately when I’ve occasionally tuned in to Jay Leno I am shocked at how liberal/anti-Republican he is. I mean really focussed. I never heard that stuff from Carson ... Colbert wasted a full third of a broadcast to reheat his ‘feud’ with Jimmy Fallon, the Capital One shill. This is not funny, it’s marketing ... My friend calls LA Channel 5 show-biz reporter Sam Rubin “The Puddler” because he gets so excited uttering celebrity names he seems to be wetting himself. The scoop in late January? Cindy XXX the supermodel has a 10-year-old daughter - and now SHE’s going into modeling! Isn’t that wild!” ... Dylan Ratigan, on MSNBC 2-12, lifted a foot to show the unwild, not especially interesting cowboy boots he bought in Dallas. “They’re Lucchese, from Italy.” I wonder how good his research is in other fields ...


What happened to ‘Oriental’ for people with roots in the Orient? Or is The Orient now forbidden? Some things are unfathomable. Like black being the right word, while negro, a Latin word with less impact, is wrong ... What about menus, signs, stories with nounances. “Pickup your order here” is wrong. So is the NYTimes 2-14 hed “Whatever happened to ..?” That says something shruggable or inevitable happened ... In the LATimes, something makes people “over eat.” That’s not a hybrid, it’s an debrid ... Public Restrooms Not Available doesn’t make sense unless you have them ... How are body functions adjectival? What other reason to call them bodily? ... New sighting of an exclusionary term from newspaper writers. Steve Holden, in the 2-4 NYTImes writes that a music venue’s closing shook “the closely-knit world” of cabaret musicians. It’s an exclusive group, but it includes Steve; not you. Same as “the chattering classes,” drudged up by inster Pat Goldstein 2-28. These are special people, you wouldn’t understand ... A dry-out program advertised on tv claims “This isn’t a 12-step program - this really works.” That’s a mouthful ... The renter is the owner, the inhabitant a rentee ... On a Visit California tv ad, a Kardashian says “People have a lot of misconceptions about California but none of them are true.” So they’re true?


“Firestorm over Rush Limbaugh remarks” says the tv news banner. Gee, I wonder why he said them.

Jingle, Jangle 6

In Dr. Strangelove, I was startled to hear the correct sound when dimes dropped in a pay phone box .

It was 1962. They couldn’t help be accurate bec all dimes and quarters were silver, before 1964 when metal-clad coins replaced them. They had a certain ring. I can demonstrate that sound for you from either of the 7-ounce Coors cans I filled with real coins in 1969. You can hear the difference. New movies set in the past do not address this.

6 I’d thought this was Fess Parker’s followup to The Ballad of Davy Crockett, but in fact that was Wringle Wrangle. Jingle Jangle was an Archies song.

Beau Jest

Two women in tv noticed me. Once Suzanne Pleshette did a double take, when she was considerably older but not over. I took it as a compliment and ran.7 It wasn’t ‘come hither,’ but maybe an opening for a smooth talker. I can’t make small talk when frightened, which is most of the time. 8 I see established people as armlocked in a fortress of common power and interest. “How about those Dodgers?” wasn’t even in my quiver.

The other gal was xxx, Rock Hudson’s wife in “McMillan &.” At the Burbank Airport she commented on something in my newspaper in a manner I interpreted as friendly and I handed it to her brusquely. That I was waiting for a girlfriend to arrive probably influenced my antisocial behavior. Those girlfriends always impeded my social life.

7 It’s signal of me that I interpreted that glance as one of interest rather than “Nice shirt” or “That guy has mustard on his face.”

8 I revert to 13 years old and can only talk about Mad magazine and Jerry Lee Lewis.

A cautionary tale

At 11 am I spotted a two-hour parking space on busy Beverly Blvd and grabbed it. An hour was left on the meter so I needed to insert only $2 for the second. To park in the nearby medical bldg would have cost more than $10.

For a 3:15 appointment a week later I found a space again. I shoved in $4 for the 2 hours, or tried. The electronic window showed 45 minutes after eight quarters. I stopped wasting money and walked away, assuming the ticket-cop would find it broken and give me a pass.

But it ate at me. I was early, and that damn meter ... I walked back and put money in and it stayed stuck at 38 minutes. I stared into the distance til an idea hit me: Why not read the parking sign again? I had seen “2 hour maximum,” what more could there be? I looked again at the pole and saw another sign above it: “No parking 4 pm to 7 pm. Towaway.”

My heart leapt. The seeming malfunctioning meter was telling me “You can’t park here. Go away.” I made a U-turn and parked in the medical bldg, thrilled to pay the eventual $13 fee. My car would have been towed. What a nightmare.

Leaders? Take’em or leave’em, but definitely watch the parking meters.

Radio go-go

Every other person I know has a radio show. One taped an hour of brother records -- Chris Jagger, Mike McGear, Livingston Taylor etc. As we listened to it (on the air, on FM) I commented on the consistent not-so-hotness of the music.

He looked at me dourly and said “I can hear people changing the station all over the city.” And then with a wink, “After all I’ve done for them.”

“Heck yeah” I said. “You wasted your life acquiring this shit, the least they can do is waste an hour listening to it.”

Different strokes

In Chicago, my grade school’s name was Darwin. The grade school near me in Hollywood boasts the Michael Jackson Auditorium.

Rose Maddox

I was recently thrilled to read Jonny Whiteside’s 1997 Rose Maddox biography. It is loving and lively and includes precious commentary from many country greats who are no longer alive.

Of course, it’s especially riveting if you’re already in love with the sound of the Maddox Bros and Rose. From the exuberance of their recordings one can only imagine the joy of their stage show.

He writes that one exchange between two brothers never failed to get a laugh:

Is that really YOUR face?
It’s nobody’s but!

- 57 -

Mark On The Move

Country Joe & The Fish were a group in which the prodigious talents of the instrumentalists were unfairly overshadowed by the charisma and outrageousness of the lead singer. Although I think Joe McDonald was/is a terrific songwriter and frontman, I jumped at the chance to see guitarist Barry “The Fish” Melton, who’s been a Bay Area lawyer for most of the past 40 years, play live again. At the San Francisco club Biscuits and Blues on a Saturday night, he assembled a band from local friends, something he’s been doing sporadically over the years.

They ran through several blues tunes, pretty much a fun but ragged bar band, a senior citizens convention. The players were great individually, and Melton gave everyone solo time, but obviously rigorous rehearsals were not a part of their pre-gig routine. The bass player, drummer and a seated guitarist with a spectacularly colored guitar particularly impressed me, and I waited for Barry to introduce the group (two times the bassist suggested it, but Barry got lost in pre-song introductions and forgot). Eventually, the names were revealed: among those crammed onto the stage were bassist Peter Albin (of Big Brother & The Holding Company), guitarist Harvey Mandel (Canned Heat), drummer Roy Blumenfeld (Blues Project), keyboardist Austin DeLone (Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello associate) and fully upright and blazing 3rd guitarist Mike Hinton, who often played with Jerry Garcia’s associate Merle Saunders. Quite a collection of some of my favorite guys! They warmed up as they went, and especially in a long, Santana/Quicksilver-y psychedelic medley kicked off by Mandel, came close to capturing the feel of mid-sixties Fillmore craziness.

Melton himself didn’t solo that much, but when he did he still had the same beautiful, stabbing tones, and his stories about early gigs with Country Joe were also wonderful. When I spoke to him after the show, he said “My friend Spencer Dryden used to say ‘Most old guys get together to play poker, and someone’s got to win if somebody loses. We are musicians, so we get to meet up and we all win!’ You can order Melton’s excellent recent album “Jamasutra” and discover Barry’s upcoming gigs (which sometimes include keyboardist Banana from The Youngbloods) at www.counterculture.net/thefish.

Also worth checking out if he comes to your town is Scott Freiman, a musician who’s cleverly presenting a series of audio-visual lectures “deconstructing” Beatles albums. He’s been trekking the nation, renting out various venues (including movie theatres, community halls, college student unions and occasional corporate gigs like the one he did at Facebook), speaking and doing Q&As with a deep analysis of “Sgt. Pepper’s,” “The White Album” and one show called “A Trip Through Strawberry Fields.” He’s got access to rare versions, multi-track original session tapes, and has studied the bootlegs and memoirs, and puts together an entertaining show, mostly aimed at Beatles fans who don’t already know that it’s Ringo, not John, screaming “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” on the stereo (but not mono) version of “Yer Blues.” I saw the “White Album” show, and only found a few minor gaffs to correct (by email afterwards) and he received the corrections with fellow music-nerd bonhomie. Find him at www.beatleslectures.com.

And lastly, I caught up again with Dweezil Zappa in Sacramento. I raved about him in these pages a few months ago after seeing him open for Return To Forever, but this latest tour, during which he plays two full sets, was even better. At the Crest Theatre he dug deep into the first two Mothers of Invention albums (which he previously had pretty much ignored, concentrating on the more crowd-pleasing middle-seventies period of his dad’s career), with great versions of “Plastic People,” “Hungry Freaks, Daddy,” “Who Are the Brain Police?” and a blistering “Trouble Every Day.” He also covered other FZ eras, including impressive versions of “Son of Mr. Green Genes,” “Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy” and “Dirty Love.” New tour addition bassist Scott Thunes, Frank Zappa’s former associate, played amazing bass lines throughout, and multi-instrumentalist & singer Scheila Gonzalez continued to dazzle me. Dweezil closed the nearly 3-hour gig with The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” (sung by keyboardist Chris Norton), a song his dad only rarely played, but obviously loved to mess with, half loving it and half puncturing its breast-beating pomposity. The legend lives on.

-- 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 )

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