- December 2013 -

Other Fein Messes
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The 2014
THREE-DAY-EARLY Elvis Birthday Bash.
Sunday January 5, 3 pm til 9 pm, the Echo.
Tickets $20, money goes to charity.

with --


Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
December 2013

Special day. Lunch with Mighty Mo Rodgers at the comfy Cat & Fiddle pub in Hollywood. He’s based in LA but has a successful career performing original blues and soul in europe. We’ve known each other nearly 40 years! Mo produced the first Jackson 5 record, on the Steeltown label in Gary, Indiana.

Then that night the annual SXSW meet-and-greet at the Sunset Marquis, the swank rock & roll-focussed hotel in West Hollywood. Discovered that the chic Nightbird recording studio is underneath the hotel in a former laundry and storage area. Many big acts record there.


11-7 Big night around town. Attended the last stop on Harold Bronson’s booksigning tour for The Rhino Records Story at Book Soup at 7. Then I went to the King King on Hollywood Blvd to catch Dogs & Bones, a swell trio anchored by drummer and former Heater Phil Cohen. Then finished with Deke Dickerson’s solo appearance at Viva Cantina, featuring a guest shot by 1950s LA music figure Eddie Daniels, Eddie Cochran songwriter - and Eddie of Jewel & Eddie!

Eddie Daniels and Deke

Jered Cargman, wife Donna Loren, Domenic Priore, AF.

High-stepping revelers

Attended the 90th-birthday party for friend and go-to ‘middle-eastern’ musician Guy Chookoorian at the Smoke House in Burbank. Guy has appeared in countless tv shows as a Greek or Arabian etc bandleader. He helmed a belly dancing revue in Las Vegas in the 50s and 60s and made Mickey Katzlike Armenian comedy records. A warm celebration for family both real and extended.

11-14 To mark his 60th year in the music business, Swamp Dogg performed at the Grammy Museum in downtown L.A. to a packed house. I can’t remember seeing a better show - big voice, big band with big horn section: nirvana. He told tales of old times, including one about the great Gene Pitney record “(She’s A) Heartbreaker.” Swamp did A&R at Musicor Records in the 1960s and helmed no hits, but whenever he went into the studio Pitney would come to watch, finally demanding that Swamp produce HIM. The label fought the sharp change in the Pitney sound, and the song - which Swamp wrote - bombed and Swamp got bounced. “But if you listen close, you can hear my guide vocals.”

Swamp takes it to the people.

Another “I’m Not Selling Out, I’m Buying In” cover reenactment. Bob Merlis, AF, Gene Sculatti and Denny Bruce, whose Takoma Record label issued the album. (Another of Denny’s credits was his stint as the first drummer for The Mothers before ‘of Invention’ was added.)

11-21 Went to LA Traffic Court bldg downtown hoping the officer who gave me the u-turn ticket wouldn’t show and my case would be dismissed. Unfortunately, my appt at this money-churner (the 8-floor bldg has four courts per floor, 5 days a week, each fine running $200 - $300) turned out to be just to set another hearing if you pled not guilty. Pleading otherwise cost me $300, but if I’d gone the full monty I’d’ve had to pony up a grand, which they’d hold til the trial then refund in part if you lost, in full if you win. Most of the downtrodden dark-hued malefactors (among their crimes window tinting, jaywalking, bicycling without a light) pled guilty and then pled for public service in lieu of payment. Still plenty of cash was churned.

- Driving home I went to an estate sale. I thought it odd to see there a Michael Jackson bowler hat in a glass case selling for $10,000, but soon I learned that I was in the house of Michael Jackson’s dentist Arnold Klein. It also was Jacko’s part-time residence, as one room was marked “Michael Jackson’s bedroom,” (“yes, that was his closet”) another his patio. I bought nothing, but it was a nice contrast to the stale air of hopelessness at traffic court.

12-1 Went to Freakbeat Records in Van Nuys to see Robert Hilburn sign his new Johnny Cash biography. His signing hand and waving arms were kept busy autographing and gesticulating to a substantial crowd of buyers and looky-loos. Simultaneously, Miley Cyrus was across the room looking at records, finally making a purchase after long deliberation.

Carla Olson embraces her newly purchased Hilburn book, while behind her Miley and friend check out vinyl.

Robert Hilburn talks excitedly to fiddler Brantley Kearns and bluegrass yodeler Colonel Jim Silvers.


Two nights in November, Jay Leno made dope jokes about the crash of Willie Nelson’s band bus in a snow storm in New Mexico. The broken hip of drummer Paul English is no joke, mister potato head ... In the 1979 french film ‘Love On The Run’, the woman in the record store says “The Paul Simon album came in that you wanted” and it was ‘Sounds Of Silence.’ As people around me say, Poor Art. (Also in that film, “The tickets for the Shapiro concert are here.” Helen?) ... Longtime L.A. radio deejay Jim Ladd, in the overlong Jimi Hendrix PBS-aired documentary, says “In the 60s we played new albums direct from England, and then the word spread to the east coast.” Methinks his bean consumption is massive ... One night of the Whisky’s 50th anniversary series in November featured Los Lobos and the Blasters, Lobos headlining. To do it proper would have the billing reversed like it was in 1980. Also, someone contacted the Whisky suggesting that Johnny Rivers could recreate his famous recreation album “Live At The Whisky A Go Go.” The current management said that was too old and irrelevant ... One of the big issues facing Elvis sites on Facebook is forged Elvis photos ... Back to Paul Simon, I recall not especially liking his 1980 film ‘One Trick Pony,’ but I want to see it now. Many moments live with me. But it’s not on dvd ... Fans of former Record World editor Spence Berland can purchase pictures of him with famous people from Rockaway Records’ memorabilia case in Silver Lake, L.A. ...

Don’t hate me because I’m bountiful

Since I began getting free albums 40 years ago, I’ve rarely listened to music for pleasure 1.

Til 1973 I cherished each record I bought. Fats’ Million Sellers, Loving You, Two Steps From The Blues, the Beatles, Otis Redding Live, Every Picture Tells a Story, Heart Like A Wheel. I’d play albums repeatedly like anyone else.

Then when I started reviewing, the freebies came. They began to pile up, and when I went to listen to a favorite I felt guilty -- they gave me these new ones, I ought to listen to them. So I’d grab a couple dozen and audition them. By this process I discovered plenty of great stuff - Gary Stewart’s ‘Out Of Hand,’ ELO’s ‘Eldorado’, Warren Zevon, the Ramones, and on and on 2. But after that thrill of discovery I rarely lingered.

Today I continue that rut. I borrow and buy CDs and people send me stuff. I listen to a song for a few seconds like I did with albums, and then load it onto my iPod. Of the 31,000 songs I carry in my pocket 3 I definitely know one third.

Hearing unknown songs that I pre-like suffuses me with delight - I have achieved the ability to surprise myself, a seeming impossibility like tickling yourself. Often while in the car or at the gym I let out a whoop when a startling song pops up like a birthday present. But I no longer sit with music and drill it into my soul.

1 Music For Pleasure was a British record label. What the heck else would music be for?

2 The most intense listening experience of my free goods era was the 1976 release of unissued Phil Spector productions. When I heard “Paradise” by the Ronettes for the first time after ten years of pent-up yearning for new Spector music I played it over and over and over, laying on the floor transported to heaven.

3 Spread over two iPods.

Sounds in my head

When I was in grade school, a company brought in “Victory At Sea” for kids to hear on a set of headphones. I asked where a person could buy them and the man reared back at my impertinence. “These are only for professionals!” ... In, oh, 1975 I inquired of the phone company about a headset like operators use. Same response, with some mockery, along the lines of “Who do you think you are?” Ahead of my time, I guess ... Hearing music on ear buds has disappointed me. I bought an $8 pair of ‘regular’ circular padded ones and it was like adding cinemascope and 3-D. You look like a WWII pilot at the gym, but wow. (“Sound advice” from someone who likes scratchy records) ...


Deflation. Tv geologist: “That’s the sixty thousand dollar question” ... I subscribed again to the New Yorker, only to be re-disappointed, seeing the word ‘backstory’ ... Like backstory, ‘uplift’ is redundant ... Til just the other day, I thought it was ‘ceiling wax’ in the Stones song ... Robt. Caro, assessing LBJ’s difficulty appealing to northern voters in 1960, refers to “the taint of Magnolia.” I don’t know flowers, so didn’t know it referred to a type that flourishes in the South ... on a warm November day the newscaster said “Tell your friends out east.” Eureka, the first blow in the movement to kill “Back east.” We do NOT yearn for it like the land of cotton ... I’m slow. I never thought twice about Track, the British record label. Yet I’d heard of a track record.


Watching b/w foreign films as I’ve been, I noticed that subtitles progressed from white or black to white outlined in black. It was a long time comin’ ... I like the Craig Ferguson movie ‘The Big Tease’ more than his talk show.


Watch while you can. On my T-W cable, the final two stations were IND, independent, and Sundance, also commercial-free. The sans-ad format soon went the way of the Z Channel with commercials ruining the concept. Now IND is real independent, off my cable ... Comedians sit and talk with Leno. With Carson they first did a 5-minute routine ... One thing wrong with superfine digital reproduction is that some tv shows now show fine details. On Burns & Allen shows, filmed for small low-res screens, sometimes they look like they’re wearing whiteface ... PBS cannot, apparently, list the guests on the Charlie Rose show. The only lower-third tells you that it’s a low-frills show. Guests are rarely ID’d while speaking, and when they are the names are placed hard-left for a modern stretch tv, so on my 20th century tv names are chopped. One showed me the last half of a woman writer’s name, and her identification as “hor” ....

On the tube

Someone spoke of the “infamous” grape-stomping episode of ‘I Love Lucy.’ Was someone killed? ... The tv news studio cuts too soon to the correspondent - she and an interviewee are laughing, then turn suddenly to somberness for the murder report ... the GM of Channel 11 news stirred my memory when he helmed a fiery editorial demanding that Obamacare get straightened out. In journalism school dozens of years ago the prof explained that small town newspapers wrote fiery editorials about national and international issues, never about local politicians or merchants for fear of offending them. Seeing this enacted gave me a chuckle.

It’s in the book!

I’m no expert on tv preachers, but over the years I’ve fancied a few for the craft with which they separated believers from their money.

Joel Osteen, the current Springsteen of the ilk, is a quick study. He preaches optimism, like Reverend Ike. What’s most interesting is his plastered grin. It never relaxes. He’s up, he’s happy, he’s with the lord 30 minutes straight. Grinning muscles of an athlete.

He comes to mind now because a gal pitchman on public tv has borrowed his style. Lissa Rankin, a healer, has good things to say too, and she does it with a smile that’s plastered to her puss just like Osteen. She’d be right to think PBS viewers would not recognize her borrow of the Osteen style. Not a likely combo of interests.

In the 80s I went nuts for the Oklahoma City based shyster Robert Tilton. His look was taken straight from country comedian Brother Dave Gardner, and his specialty was talking in tongues. “Bobbalibbidajimmala” he’d say with eyes tightly clinched. He raked in plenty til an ‘admirer’ taped him in the first class section of a jetliner saying “I’m heading to New York for some of that Jew money!” And of course everyone enjoyed L.A. cable tv preacher Gene Scott who hosted 8 hour live shows with Merle Haggard and other singers as guests. He’d write imponderable biblical blather on a blackboard, then ponder whether he was going to “ding a broad” that night. These guys were godsends.

My current fascination, or recent, is Rod Parsley out of eastern Ohio. He moves like a rock star around his enormous tabernacle, and stops mid sentence to stare at the audience with wide-eyed urgency. His walk is so black (he’s haint white) and his style so slick he’s attracted a strong black following. An amazing component are facial tics reminiscent of Jerry Lewis! I taped a bunch of him - gee, was it last century? Fans of wackos cherish his animated and stylish corruption of religion.

An ’iconic’ clash

‘Ironic’ too applies to this advertisement. This tax business must have looked at a grid of spy images and unknowingly pilfered the I.R.S. Records logo.

These are the Times of L.A.

Tina Susman 11-12 -- That the World Trade Center MAY be the new tallest bldg in America is hashed around for an entire half page. Speculation, guesses, quotes ... Two days later: New York wins. Another half page of blather. Building stastics have a sheen when they’re from New York ... Randy Lewis, 11-8, is not ready to endorse Taylor Swift even if his inferiors in the Country Music Association do. That she is “often criticized” for “wide-eyed enthusiasm” (country singers should be dour, preferably drunk) is not backed up by names of the dozens - hundreds? - who “often” criticize her, leaving the reader to conclude they are ghosts ... Matt Pearce 11-17, writes from Missouri that when a teen’s rapist was released “The hacktivist collective Anonymous” vowed revenge. Hacktivist collective! Shades of the ‘60s ...11-1 This go-round it was Kate Mather, Marisa Gerber, and Richard Winton reporting the hilarious exploits of jewel thief Doris Payne - “demure, elegant and 83.” Why is this crook so sympathetic? Three factors - old, black and female. I was first offended by this attitude a few years ago when other writers clucked about her lifetime of larceny, amused by the large purse she carried for her thefts. It was then, like now, a generous attitude not extended to, oh, Lindsay Lohan or less colorful thieves. The idea that these three drips think LATimes readers find certain thieves charming would be the mind-blow, but the real head-konk is that the LATimes endorses it. Big front page color photo of the light-fingered not-so-new heroine... 11-9, Tony Perry tells us that an imprisoned rapist was “dubbed by police the Bolder Than Most Rapist.” The guy so-named’s been in the slammer for 25 years. I read the paper in 1988, I heard no such monicker. And what kind of police department supplies nicknames? “The Night Stalker” was a news crumb’s invention, now we’re told that the POLICE honor crooks with handles? ... in October, two nearly consecutive giant Business section articles about Nikki Finke, whose gossip column, read by some show biz swells, was going rogue. Extremely long repetitious articles extolling her ‘power.’ You’d think the earth was atilt.


On a JFK docu a few years ago I was appalled at the photog who describe his personal struggle November 23 to get his Oswald death photo published before anyone else, the ghoul.

Then last month PBS’s JFK lookback traced Walter Cronkite’s race to be the first to announce the death. It’s paced as if it’s important that he air it 30 seconds before other stations. Shallow cynical media shoptalk.

The recovered masterpieces

Their ‘discovery’ will have little impact on art lovers. When the Nazi-held pieces are returned to the heirs of the owners, they will once again disappear from view. It is a private bonanza. The trove inspired the NYT’s Allison Smale to report giddily that a giddy auction-house dealer, whose firm raked in dough from the big sale of one of the works, effused at the very thought of “seeing and selling such a collection.”

In a 10-31 NYT Arts (not Business) section article, wealth celebrator Carol Vogel and an accomplice gushed about a hedge-fund manager who is “not only a high-profile buyer but also a high-profile seller.” The article lightly, even amusedly, mentions the federal lawsuit against this swell for illegal trading. Days later in a longer article she averred that this crook’s use of stolen money for art “has long fascinated the art world.” A few days later, she wrote an article about an art auctioneer who is much loved - but wants to get into the art dealing action.

We know who’s covering the money beat, but who is discovering and encouraging new art?


Told a musician gal friend that she could trust me for the cost of a CD, as I wasn’t carrying cash. She whipped out her iPhone with a card-swipe attachment and put it on my credit card ... How did they do it? My bathroom cabinet formerly housed only four Jumbo size toilet paper rolls. Now the same container holds seven. They broadened my cabinet’s capacity, perhaps while I slept ... Monday after Black Friday, newscasters TOLD us that now we should shop online. Cyber Monday. My calendar says 2013, but this sounds like “1984” ... Maybe it’s time to update my kitchen larder. The peppercorn jar has a Price Club label.


An English band member had a name like Luigi Paisano. One day a bandmate said, “Hey, how are you British with that name? Did your dad jump the fence at a prisoner of war camp?” Yes, he admitted.

There was a CSPAN lecture about how Nazi prisoners were well-treated at POW camps here (Kansas, other mid-U.S. sites) so the Germans would, tit for tat, be nice to U.S. prisoners (fat chance). Only one Nazi escaped successfully, and after a lengthy nationwide hunt he was presumed dead. In the ‘90s he came clean, his unsuspecting American wife divorced him and he returned to Germany.

What about female behavior during WWII. Has there been a study of what women did when men were scarce? Those German-prisoner camps were in rural areas and full of pent-up men. Eager frustrated women were just outside the barbed wire. It mentioned marriages. Was ‘special’ fraternization permitted? And in those times of domestic scarcity, were 4F guys at a premium, sexwise? Are there interviews with frank active women of the time?

This happen to you?

I was struck mid-'70s by a Clifford T Ward album. I got an extra copy - Charisma Records had plenty, there was no demand - and played it then gave it to a friend at a record company. Two weeks later I went to see him and as he prepared to play a cut for me I said “Hey, Corb, wait a minute - I gave that album to YOU.” No, he said, he discovered it himself ... Our manse gets too hot in winter with the furnace going, so I have to stumble up to kill it mid-sleep, then it gets cold again. In a recent cold spell I switched to Heat and forgot to flip the Fan switch. The amount that leaked in overnight was perfect. Fourteen years doing it wrong.

Sympathy for the devil

10-22 LATimes John Glionna reported about a guy in Las Vegas who attacked a nightclub security guard and then killed the guy who sprung to his aid.

The killer was a convicted batterer whose actions were not out of character. He entered the casino at 5:45 a.m. and asked to look around before deciding whether to pay $30 admission. He chose to enter, and ”soon after” the club closed. He demanded a refund, got none and opened fire.

Well, you pay $30 at 5:45 and they close at 6, you damn straight are gonna be mad. When someone says “It’s not our policy to give refunds” don’t you wish you had a gun?

Glionna wrote that violence was rare in the contemporary Vegas atmosphere that, on the whole, provides “a bubble of free-spirited carelessness.” I hope he meant carefreeness.

There’s poor and there’s poorer

In the ‘40s record “Open The Door, Richard,” a guy stands outside an apartment building imploring his roommate to let him in, asiding, “I know he’s in there. I’m wearing the suit.”

Our Man In Havana

Ambassador at large, Henry Rollins, on the HIST channel:

“The White House is a treasure trove of trivia.”

- 57 -

Mark On The Move by Mark Leviton

I spent Halloween at the Fox Theatre in Oakland with Gov’t Mule, which is led by the incredibly talented guitarist-singer-composer Warren Haynes.  Danny Louis (keyboards), Matt Abts (drums) and relatively new bassist Jorgen Carlsson round out a lineup that meshes beautifully.  After a powerful, emotionally intense first set drawn mostly from their new album “Shout!” they returned with a special guest, Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger.  The next two hours consisted of sixteen rousing jammed-out versions of Doors tunes, with Krieger introducing each, telling Jim Morrison stories, integrating into Gov’t Mule very well. 

I thought they couldn’t top the opening punch of the dramatic “Break on Through” and the stomper “Five to One,” but they kept the energy growing and the peaks came in bunches, with “Wild Child,” “The Changeling” and “Light My Fire” blazing.  When they did a perfect, suitably ominous version of “The End,” I thought they wouldn’t assay the other long Doors epic “When the Music’s Over,” but they were just saving it for the finale, after they did moody versions of “Riders on the Storm” and “L.A. Woman” and a “Roadhouse Blues” that raised the roof.
The next week Buddy Guy appeared at Grass Valley’s Veterans Hall.  I’ve seen him numerous times over the years, and I’ve never seen him give less than his all.  (In the mid-nineties I saw him play an in-store at Peaches Records in Miami that he treated like a full-blown concert even though there were only about 40 people there.  I don’t think he knows how to turn his energy down.) 

In his mid-seventies he’s still full of randy energy, running through the audience (and scaling the steep bleachers where I was sitting), lacing his introductions with hilarious profanity, and blasting through blues standards (“Hoochie Koochie Man,” “Got My Mojo Working” and “Five Long Years”) as well as more recent material like “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues,” “74 Years Young” and “Meet Me in Chicago.” 

He occasionally started a tune, changed his mind, and directed his terrific back-up band in another direction.  They seemed quite used to his antics, and kept up with him the whole way.  If you’re looking for a note-perfect “professional” show look elsewhere: Buddy is the kind of showman who’s dedicated to building a party atmosphere that’s loose enough to accommodate whatever whims he might have.  The crowd loved it, and so did I.
Two weeks later I was back at the same venue to see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt on stage together.  They swapped stories and alternated songs, occasionally adding a harmony or guitar solo to the other’s tune, but I wish more of their repartee had been audible.  Hiatt too often mumbled and muttered his responses to Lovett’s off-kilter inquiries (“How does that pick feel to you?”), and both of them treated the show as a series of inside jokes that didn’t always connect with the audience. 

When they got down to it, the song selection, playing and singing was stellar, with Hiatt doing many of his best songs, including “Drive South,” “Memphis In the Meantime,” “Thing Called Love” and “Tennessee Plates,” and Lovett beautifully countering with “White Boy Lost in the Blues,” “One Way Gal,” “God Will” and a closing “If I Had a Boat” that capped the evening nicely.
I’d seen Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder a couple times, but never seen the full band in concert until I ventured to the Oracle Arena in Oakland for what turned out to be a marathon, 37 songs during a 3 ? hour show.  There were plenty of moments of joyous power, especially during “Nothingman,” “Even Flow,” “Dissident,” “State of Love and Trust” and the title track from their new album “Lightning Bolt.”

Guitarist Mike McCready was on fire, running around the stage while he played impossibly gnarly guitar solos on his collection of late-50s Les Pauls and Fender Stratocasters.  The drummer Matt Cameron maintains a Keith Moon-level of energy and also provides backing vocals, and bassist Jeff Ament, guitarist Stone Gossard and keyboardist Boom Gaspar (who’s 20 years older than his compatriots) hang together extremely well. 
As Vedder swigged his way through several bottles of wine I felt that he lost focus (duh), although his gathering wildness (he eventually swung dangerously from the lighting rig) did have its appeal, especially through blistering versions of “Do the Evolution,” “Alive” and Neil Young’s “Fuckin’ Up.”  John Doe was brought out to sing X’s “The New World,” with Vedder taking Exene’s vocal part, which was fun. 

Vedder saluted Lou Reed by singing Velvet Underground’s “After Hours,” and he also ventured into the stands to hang out with some kids from The Bridge School in attendance, singing a serviceable version of the old J. Frank Wilson hit “Last Kiss” and getting the big crowd to participate in full voice.  

Not the most appropriate song to serenade physically and mentally-challenged kids, but what the hey, for a few hours it was Vedder’s world and we were just living in it.
-- 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 .  You can access his latest podcast and playlists at www.petsoundsmusic.com)

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