- December 2014 -

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Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
December 2014

‘Round town

11-2 The “Tribute To Stan Freberg” at the Egyptian Theater was a sellout, but they let nine of us non-holders buy tickets after the place filled. (There were no-shows.) The reel of his tv commercials and appearances (“John and Marsha” done live) was fabulous and people’s testimonials were nice. His wife spoke, and spoke, about their fabulous relationship, and sometimes mentioned incidents in his life which he, when prompted, affirmed. When I saw him three years ago at a smaller venue he was half-there. That half has shrunk significantly.

11-6 Joe Finkle and band paid tribute to Mark Tortorici at Joe’s American Bar & Grill, where Mark, the singer, actor, and concert promoter frequently worked. Tortorici died in a car crash at age 42 the previous weekend. Pictured: John Snoke, guitar; Dave Bertiz, guest vocalist: Todd Tatum, drums; Joe Finkle, Art Kraatz, bass.

11-9 Went with Diane to the Redwood to see Skip Heller’s “Your Show Of Shows,” where Harvey Sid Fisher literally stopped the show - to get his picture taken. L-R: Ted Camp, unhumble Harv, Skip, Alice Wallace.

11-13 Went to Book Soup for the book-signing by comedian and writer Lorna Landvik, who in the 1980s lived in the fabulous 1930s-era Peyton Hall Apts at the same time as Todd Everett, myself, Dave Fleischer, Mr. Pete and others. Her novel, ‘Best To Laugh, is set in an imaginary bldg quite like the one we inhabited.

11-20 Had lunch with Richard Foos at the doomed (closing December 15) Cat & Fiddle in Hollywood. Ran into Malcom Leo there. Soon I’ll have to drive to Santa Monica - Little England - to get fish and chips.

11-22 Forgot to go see Chuck E at the Piano Bar. I’ll bet he’d forget to see me too, he’s old as me and then some.

11-23 The clock is ticking on the Cat & Fiddle. Diane and I met some friends there at 2 pm. L-R from center, Terry Bolo, Carla Braswell, Loryn Molina, Becky Ebenkamp, Kelly Kuvo, AF, Diane, Domenic Priore.

11-24 The socko double-bill of Jimmy Angel and Troy Walker packed ‘em in at Viva in Burbank between 7 and 9 pm.

Jimmy wailin’


An LA band I’d heard only ‘of’ did a tv concert, so I watched - for a minute. When the black girl singer clapped forcefully and told the audience to sing along, they lost me partly. When she added “I can’t HEAR you!” I was repulsed. Then when the guy said “Now put a fist in the air” I switched to something else. Anything else ... This is not musical, but aural. Am I the only person in the world who, while driving a car, cups his right hand outside the right side of his mouth to ensure that a person in the back seat hears what he’s saying? Really? Just me? ... Another lyric, “Drinking my vodka and lime” in ‘Hazy Shade of Winter.’ You knew it? I’d heard it a thousand times but first got it in November 2014 ... The Hank Wms bio I’m reading reinforces the notion that the city 1 harbors country music grudgingly. Biographer Colin Escott writes that it disdained ‘hillbilly’ music when those businesses rooted there in the 1940s ... I like Elvis as much as the next Elvis fanatic, but the CD release of seven consecutive 1973 shows over two nights (and a rehearsal) overloads my interest-boat ... Picked up a Rolf Harris best-of CD. The selection of “Two Little Boys” for the opening cut was unfortunate, in hindsight. “My Word, You Do Look Queer” at least is placed later ... When I first heard the massed voices on “We Are the World” I couldn’t identify any soloist, then did and concluded with glee that it was a new Ray Charles record ... Cadillac broke the rock barrier a dozen years ago when they used a Led Zap track for a tv ad. Now they’re using the early 1960s song “Brand New Cadillac,” originally by English-maybe-American Vince Taylor. Going back for an older audience, or luring rockabillies? ... Terry Allen’s song “The Doll” opens with “From the east side of Chicago,” but the next line is NOT “where things are very wet.” The Paper Lace song is not drawn from life ... I like a college-related LA station that plays music I can stand - new acousticish rock, unusual ‘60s album cuts, a Fogerty solo song - but I embrace it solely in its academic-related vein. When later I heard a deejay’s name was Sky Daniels I shuddered. Too pro. Unless it was a jest ... I sample CDs from friends and dollar bins. The buck ones I buy by the handful; if 15 grabs yields three good’uns I’m ahead 2. And I’ll try any tribute album. For a while, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” from an Elton tribute CD, was the only Who song I had. Recently two artists I know nothing about emerged. On a Dolly Parton tribute album I heard Sinead O’Conner sing as I’d never heard her before. (Not “as” - I’d never heard her.) She was explosively great on “Dagger Through The Heart.” Likewise, Kate Bush on the Elton tribute doing “Rocket Man” - so interesting. Who knew? Oh, millions of people ... On ‘Rockford’ a malefactor begs his pardon and he replies “Save I’m sorry for Brenda Lee” ... There’s a new Jerry Lee Lewis album, recorded at Sun. He sounds good, but on some songs he just gets going when some durn fool butts in. “Guest stars,” what are they good for? Absolutely nuthin’!

1 “Tobacco Road” by John D. Loudermilk obviously refers to to Tobacco Row, a seedy part of Nashville. ‘It’s filthy, but I know’ and other verse-ends fit that rhyme.

2 I try each cut for a few seconds then save it or not. Then they play back at random. Some I’ll never hear whole.


Watched “I Was A Communist For The FBI.” After a commie stirs up a black crowd about civil rights, he asides that they really fooled them. “That money we collected for the Scottsboro Boys sure filled our bank account.” With all the good screenwriters blackballed, this is what you got ... On ’Rockford,’ he says “I may not be the best looking guy in the world, but I’m no Rondo Hatten.” As ‘out’ a mention in 1976 as now ...


Do you feel elation when you see “gas prices dropping” to three dollars? Yeah, it’s down from $4.50, but it’s been 99 cents this century 3 ... L.A. tv news: “Crowding at the port of Los Angeles has shipping tankers backed up, and that will create a merchandise shortage for Christmas shopping.” Uh huh. This shouts that retailers buy all their shit from China. Trucks still roll, goods from our country are available ... Back in 19XX when I worked at a Walgreens in Skokie, clerks recorded sales of CRW (Charlie R Walgreen) products, which paid10% spiff. When I recorded the sale of a 10-cent CRW aspirin tin (Bayers was 12 cents) I wrote “Ha” next to it. They got mad at me, for fooling around. They’re the fools, I earned that penny! ... Bought a ball-point refill for a Cross pen (where did I get that?) and the color choices were blue, black and blue-black. Blue-black! I haven’t seen that word for a hundred years, penwise ...

3 Victoria Stilwell, U.S. Economics reporter for Bloomberg News, who looks and talks like a teen but isn’t, said on CSPAN 11-30 that gas prices could drop to the high $2’s “and that’s the lowest it’s been in forty years.”

News/not news

Today all news is diarial 4.
At the shooting site, the writer or tv mouthpiece says “a woman placed flowers.”
That is, in MY sight, when I was there.

An hour out of several days.
I report things I see.
It’s about me.

4 Either spelling.

I’ve really got to get old film out of my cameras..
Oh, I remember - it’s from the movie that was shooting down the hill from us in November.

The November ruckus

“Protesters” do not ransack stores. Nor do “beachgoers” set cars on fire. Within any large gathering are troublemakers who seize the opportunity that numbers offer.

I recall a Fox News reporter saying there were rapes among overnight campers at Occupy LA, concluding “That's the kind of people that go to protests.” Moron.

These are the Times of L.A.

10-12 Steve Zeitchik, paid to fly to NY to report on a movie soon to be released, rains benediction on the director in the wake of his previous movie, “a lightly-seen effort” that “had some asking” about his grip. It’s a writer thing, smile purdy, then flex your crit-muscle when you get home ...11-4 Hailey Bronson-Potts, on assignment with notepad, beside a woman who sought a parking space in a crowded area, winnowed this quote: “Oh, this is a good spot.” Someday you may be asked where you were when you read it ...11-5 Any death is sad, but Harold Pierce’s report on a 65-year-old attorney who got run over while taking his 4-year-old (!) son trick-or-treating was especially mawkish, describing the kid’s costume in extremis, and the crash second-by-second. It’s clear that in life and death, the guy was connected ... I can’t believe I’m writing about this, but Matt Pierce’s “defense” of Renee Zellweger’s plastic surgery as something ‘women of a certain age’ do was preposterous. It’s not that she looks younger - the surgery that opened her once-slitlike eyelids rendered her unrecognizable. Not distorted like Tippy Hedren’s kid, changed completely, a different person. Familiarity is everything to moviegoers. Anyone can act ... And what’s this obit for a NY ad guy who did a “Coke ad push?” This is the LATimes, not Advertising Age. “Worked with top brands,” nearly a page long. Who among us thanks him? ...11-9 It’s been a while since Jessica Gelt filed daily reports on nightclub owner Sam Nazarian, whom she dubbed “the king of clubs” for his various boites. Now Hugo Martin succeeds her, saluting Sam’s brio in opening up clubs at Las Vegas’s less-used (but more accessible to LA drivers, who pass it first) north side. “If he succeeds, he will be a success” sums up this piece. Other Times writers must wait their turn to salute him ...11-15 “We could see gas prices in the high 2s” said an academic “executive director of energy and sustainability.” I know quotes supposedly add gravity to a story, but this scholar’s utterance, cited by Andrew Khouri and Sarah Parvini, is meaningless. We could also see the mid double-decimals, or the high 9’s.

New York, New YAWK times

10-8 On one page, two different same-sex marriage reports. Has anyone surveyed gay people about this bannerwaving? It might be like the old lady who doesn’t want to be helped cross the street. I know gay couples who cringe at this spotlight. “Marry, don’t marry, leave me alone” ... 10-10 Stevie Holden avers that Molly Ringwald, “now 46 and married (with three children) is all grown up.” Finally, that’s settled ... 10-28 Michael Barbaro, “On the Campaign Trail” with Chris Christie. Where did the controversy go? The months of bridge-closing and financial shenanigans - “poof.” Not a mention ... 11-12 A painting was auctioned to an anonymous buyer, and, Carol Vogel pants, “As soon as the gavel fell rumors started circulating” who bought it. This is real-time pointlessness, empty drama; ultimately the buyer was unmasked. That Carol and her confreres were gabbing, no one wants to know ...11-15 Kirk Semple, in Iran, quotes an Iranian who would “speak publicly only on the condition that her name not be revealed for fear that the Islamic State would punish their relatives. ”Who thought anyone in Iran was exempt from punishment? “Spoke bravely” would do. Why the folderol? Up the word count ... 11-23 In a nice obit of a 93-year-old doctor-turned-surfer, Chris Dixon backpats the NYTimes by praising a Mahohla Dargis review of a docu about the dead doc. Craven ... I swear, I held the NYTimes high, vs. my hometown paper, but the front-page Sunday Styles section celebration of an up-and-coming next-generation Kardashian should make Mathew Schneier want to jump out the window of the Poorly-Greying Lady ...

Just Be Cos’

The Cosby non-news has choked the air. Each renewed charge defies the fundaments of journalism

“Another accuser comes forward.” They had a go-round twenty years ago, and the charges were found lacking.

Thanksgiving day, Meghan Daum’s LATimes 3 column blasted Cosby’s ‘sanctimoniousness’ (much of it supplied by tv writers) as a mask. Dizzily, she likened Cosby’s straits to those of a tv preacher who was brought down by accusations of homosexuality. She did not flinch, or was unaware, that she had compared the Cosby crucifixion to that of a man brought down solely by hearsay.

Facts are literally old school, back when I was taught. And good luck on that: there’s not a fact-finder in the media.

5 It’s a cottage industry. Same day, a front-page Calendar, article posed puzzlement that entertainment companies were silent about the controversy. Why do they await proof?


Sheila Kuehl, ‘Zelda’ to you but ‘Jackie’ to me, won a recent election. She is LA-based forever. Maybe her opponent was, too, but the name Shriver seems to belong in New England, don’t it? ... If something is “laugh out loud funny” what is laugh-mouth-shut like? ... Burn, baby burn was an LA coinage. Is this why pizza places here ask if you want hot pepper on your pizza? It’s Italian, not Mexican 6 ... I know there’s a flap about voter IDs, but does it mean that you don’t need to show identification before voting? If you didn’t, the whole country would be like in Chicago, “Vote early, vote often” ... Black Friday was hammered like the big gong in “Metropolis.” And Monday started fresh with tv focus on an Amazon supply facility. “Cyber Monday. You will order.” And that’s an order.

6 The brownie that Diane ordered 11-29 at the tony Gracias Madre restaurant contained an aftershock of hot-spice.

Don’t need no dentist

The note I had written a couple of months ago, “sharpen teeth,” gave me pause the other day, then I remembered it was about a Scotch Tape (R) dispenser. I bought this mid-weight one at an estate sale because its color, a pink mixed with orange, or purple, screams 1978 and disco. It was “off.”

Trouble was it wouldn’t cut without a struggle. How the teeth dulled I dunno. But the little silver thing with the serration could not be replaced - though the design was common, 3M had no parts. And who do you go to? Not a knife sharpener. One touch on a motorized wheel and you’re toothless. Hand handling ... well, which way do you strop?

And don’t get me started about the common use today of once-revolutionary Magic Tape (R). This matte finish junk’s big advantage was you could write on it. Have you written on sealing tape lately? Its grip is trivial.

The other style, the proud shiny pioneer, is called ‘Transparent” like transparency is the exception!

Baseball in December

Watching the playoffs after the Dodger elimination, I noticed that when guys on other teams get a home run they’re slapped on the back or they shake hands with their team mates. Dodgers jump up and down in circles like little girls at summer camp ... They’re shortening games next year. Maybe 3 balls you walk, 2 strikes you’re out ... Dodger games now feature professional vocalists for God Bless America. For a few years they had people who just walked in off the street, or so it seemed. Democracy is not always good ... I know I’m a softie, but shouldn’t the victorious Giants have celebrated off-field in Kansas City, out of view of the vanquished Royals’ fans? I mean, come on. Reports of mayhem in San Francisco that night were largely absent from the LA papers and next-day newscasts. Sympathy for the “sister city”? The shitheads who caused it were no more representative of San Francisco than the two cretins who beat up the Giants fan here.

Small ball

I had a houseguest from The City (...) and asked him about the forthcoming World Series, adding “Go Giants.”

His head snapped like he’d taken a rifle shot.
“You want the Giants to win?” .

“Of course. I like the National League, and I like California.”
“Har har har!” he half-screamed.
“I forgot that people in LA like San Francisco.”

Yes, the people up there still crane their necks and go “tsk tsk” while waving an admonishing finger at L.A. They’re the New Yorkers of the West, and we find them adorable.

There are nuts everywhere

I’m not one of those kooks at a coffee shop who fills his pockets with sugar packets or pushes someone’s laptop onto their lap top to gain access to a two-seat table, but when I order tea and they suggest using an elongated toothpick to stir the sugar, I do rebel timidly, creating a proper whisk.

LA Lites

I subscribed recently to Los Angeles magazine because it was virtually free. Then an issue came. The table of contents shouted a set of orders: “Shop. Eat. Do.” Opened the Answer Man column; “Who are the top ten richest bachelors in L.A.?” None was me, so I threw it away ... At the end of one Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the host, wearing a pith helmet, beckons his native bearers: “Cahuenga,” “Mocambo.”

What was I looking for?

The short-term memory loss I hear about -- from friends, can’t remember which ones -- is not shocking among my peers. But people many years younger report the same.

It’s not the water, it’s not the weather, it’s the internet. You no longer need your brain. Snap! I’ll check how to spell it .

Handy ‘tip’

You can’t see me, so let me say I am not a beau brummel. Nor a rag wearer. I have three identical pair of leather loafers that I bought for a song last decade. As they are modern and cheap, they can’t be resoled. Throwaways.

The soles are thin, but they’ll go another year. The majorer problem is the tips. Do I drag my shoes in front to slow down a bicycle? No, but recently the front(s) seemed to be breaking through, the cloth lining exposed. Was this, then, throw-away time at last?

Nope. I recently discovered spray rubber. I got it to fix an outdoor-chair cover, but it didn’t work: the crack is a crack, it needs an actual patch. But when I looked at the tip of my black loafers - voila! A quick spray and the dam is stoppered. Looks like hell on close examination, but who looks at shoe-fronts? Certainly nobody I know.


How do you respond to someone who says “Do you know what So-and-So said to me?”

You shake your head.
Daggers from your eyes is too blunt.

Local Warming

I know this won’t play in Buffalo, but half of my shirts are of heavy manly fabric that I can’t wear but 2 months in L.A. They sit the rest of the time and gather dust.

Notable quote

Frank Sprague - “I’d lived a full life by the time I was 4.”

Now dig this (up)

On ‘You Bet Your Life,’ a contestant, humor writer Richard Armour, “regrettably” recited his most requested poem. In the ensuing 58 years it’s lost its ubiquity, so here:

Shake and shake the ketchup bottle,
None will come, then a lot’ll

- 57 -

Mark On The Move
by Mark Leviton
Four years ago Art Garfunkel developed vocal cord paresis, scuttling a much-anticipated scheduled Simon & Garfunkel reunion tour. In the last few months Garfunkel, having undergone a difficult near-rehabilitation, has reemerged for a "public display of recovery."  Perhaps to avoid scrutiny from big-city critics while still recovering, he did a preliminary concert tour of small venues around California, visiting San Diego, Vacaville, Folsom, Redding, Campbell and the Gallo Center For the Arts in Modesto, where I saw him perform a 90-minute set.
Although his voice has roughened, and at times he avoided the high notes he’d reached in his prime (he’s 73), he didn't shy away from some of his most difficult material, including "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her," Jimmy Webb's "All I Know," and the soaring ballad from the "Watership Down" film, "Bright Eyes" (certainly the most gorgeous song ever written about a rabbit), accompanied by guitarist Tab Laven. 

Between numbers, Garfunkel joked about the loss of much of his trademark curly hair, told an amusing tale about Jack Nicholson's acting acumen during the filming of "Carnal Knowledge" in 1970, and touched on his walking tours of Europe and the United States (he's perambulated thousands of miles through the decades).  Art also (less successfully) read a series of poems and musings, literary efforts that were most effective when focusing on his family life, and the development of his 9-year-old son Beau.
While Garfunkel's personal vignettes were welcome, they distracted from the songs, which were very well-chosen.  He sang, among many, the expected ("The Boxer," "The Sound of Silence," "Homeward Bound" and "Scarborough Fair") and the rare (a very fine version of "A Poem On the Underground Wall" from the first Simon & Garfunkel LP, spot-on tender readings of Randy Newman's "Real Emotional Girl" and Jobim's "Quiet Nights and Quiet Stars"). 

He concluded with a truncated version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (that he and accompanist Laven hadn't yet gotten the arrangement together was surprising), and then sang a lullaby to send everyone home in a cuddly mood.  His connection with the audience was superb, even when his voice couldn't respond perfectly.
A couple weeks later I caught Fleetwood Mac at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, their first tour in 16 years to feature Christine McVie, my favorite group member since I started seeing them in 1970.  I wrote here previously about the 2013 Christine-less Fleetwood Mac tour, so I won't do a full review now, except to say the 2 ? hour show was full of high-energy highlights, including an outstanding "Gypsy," which Stevie Nicks intro’d with a wonderful story about her early days in San Francisco hanging around a clothing store called The Velvet Underground but unable to afford anything, and Lindsey Buckingham blasted into "I'm So Afraid" with a hot guitar run that might have melted some speakers. 

Christine shone during all her songs ("Say You Love Me," "You Make Loving Fun" and "Don't Stop" among them), and just like the "Rumours"-era Fleetwood Mac tours, she ended the evening with the simple, exquisite "Songbird." 

She'd better not retire again or she'll have to answer to me.

(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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