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Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
September 2016

A moving experience

Writing from a crowded bunker. No time for photos or fun this month.

Everyone is traumatized by moving, ain’t it? I’ll try and mention unique things.

- Went looking for apartments that final week and nothing was passable, then on Saturday before the deadline Ken, the realtor, found the ideal place about a half mile away. The street is Hillpark and the compound consists of units like ski chalets, climbing a hill. I have always been lucky finding dwellings in LA. This one’s a godsend, even if it’s a yearlong rental (thereafter is uncertain). $2800 a month is about average around here.

- Still can’t find lotsa stuff. Living without some “necessities.” It’s natural to shed the past on the way to one’s final destination. (I had four fainting spells in one 20-hour period.) Funny, the stuff I can’t part with has no value for anyone else.

Moving is a test of how much you can take, as well as retain.

I emptied a well-emptied 2700 sq ft house and scattered pieces to three storage areas before moving the handful, relatively, that I took to the new apartment. Now, a week later (9-18), I am visiting the storage units to see what really matters, and have concluded not much.

Except for the records. Not the albums and singles that are housed, temporarily, in an air-conditioned fancy place in Hollywood.

The paper trail. The articles I wrote, the stuff people wrote me, stuff other people wrote, all building-blocks that make me, endure - though I think of my friend who bravely just chucked things. “Too much stuff,” he said, shoveling memories into the fire.

This, that

The sight of ten-feet tall all-black windowless Mercedes-Benz vans crawling around Hollywood gives me shivers.

I have no personal contact to the death camps, but these vans, do they have to be black …

One of the guys yelling “Tequila” had a recording contract with another label, which subsequently claimed a big chunk of the royalties. Recording studio designer Dave Gold (as did Gold Star co-owner Stan Ross), insists that the song is a sound-check, with instruments debuting successively ...

Whither pralines? I discovered them in the ‘70s in Louisiana, and they may still sell them. But in a sugar-mad dessert-driven world, why are they not scarce but absent? In Austin a couple years back I tried to find the place that sold them a year or two back, but it was gone. ...

There’s a four-CD comp of music by the Falcons, who had only one hit, “You’re So Fine,” and it’s great nearly all the way through. Some of the songs feature a female lead singer ...

Why is there tv mit-sound in a doctor’s office waiting room? People are sick, news reports bad things, commercials hurl at you. It’s simple to mute the tv and let interested people read the words on screen. Sounds in a small room cannot be ignored …

“Visions of Johanna” came up on my iPod and wondered if it was a Dylan parody. I never bought that album, but loaded it latterly from CD. I thought for a moment it was “39 Miles From Waukegan My Cantaloupe Died” from the Harvard Lampoon album ...

All cars have a feature in which your lights flash off and on when you’re stuck with a road emergency. They signal “Help!” Or, in LA, you can use them as license to park anywhere, at any time, and just sit there. I have seen a man sit in his car on a two-lane major street with the magic flashing-lights, ignoring a mile-long traffic backup he caused. The police could double the city budget by ticketing them one day in a citywide raid, but traffic, at least in Hollywood, takes a back seat to real crime, so every day is no-consequence driving day ...

When amateurs shoot cellphone news video, they shake inevitably, yet the footage is never resolved by news stations. All a computer must do is focus on one constant component of the scene, lock on it, and the edges will wiggle while the scene stands still ...

In my chaotic garage cleanup Labor Day I found the long-lost letter written to me by Peter Devries, which had fallen behind a cabinet. I was thrilled. But not thrilled enough to do more than put it in my back pocket. It found its own way back into oblivion in the trash heap ... (Update. Early in October I found it in my car’s glove compartment. I had actually strayed from the moving madness to preserved that treasure. Hurrah) ...

Why do women, particularly, get tattoos with blue ink? They’ll soon enough have blue lines on their exposed skin ...

I am a financial naif, and when the woman at the bank suggested I put a large check into a savings account, I asked, for instance, how much $100,000 would earn in a year. When she said “a thousand dollars” I thought that very puny, and said so. Then we both recalculated: it earns $100 a year. Does the bank exist on savings accounts? I hope not ...

My parents always blanched when I used the word ‘lousy.’ They knew too well people, kids, during the Depression who were sent home from school for being infected with lice, the actual meaning of that word ...

I wish I’d changed my name to Fine long ago, to head off a further lifetime of mispronunciation. It slows your life, to no gain ...

Manufacturers crowed years ago that they eliminated t-shirt size tags, as if millions of wearers got neck rashes. The printed size-ID wears away with washing, a problem only for people on a size cusp who choose what they don selectively. Some makers proudly rattle that they’ve eliminated the pocket. Hurray! A product loss with no price reduction is surely good for the nation, or a manufacturer. Are sleeves the next target? Neck holes? ...

Stores open with extra wide aisles to accommodate shoppers comfortably, then, in time, islands of merchandise are stacked in the center. They snatch back the comfort in hope of more income. I approach these erections as consumer bowling ...

Since I got eyeglasses - something new to me - I’ve wondered why the sales people say the frames cost, oh, $179, when anyone with even limited vision can see they’re plastic. Then I saw the thing about the one company that controls Lenscrafter and that ilk stores, glasses manufacturing, vision insurance and - well, everything. “Nice choice” is either in the salesman’s handbook, or I’ve never made a bad one.


And now, from the news-gatherers ...

- The death of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly opened opportunities for both papers to preen negatively. The LATimes had two pop-smears. An Op-ed piece by Randall Balmer cited her efforts to derail the ERA and then sneered that she “evidently” felt her efforts would land her a good government job with Reagan and that Joseph Coors “apparently” wrote a letter recommending her for a cabinet position. News writers seldom disguise their own bias. Another writer, Valerie Nelson, had ghost-quotes from “one feminist,” cited “some feminists,” and wrote factually that Schlafly’s book was sold “mainly to Goldwater workers who bought in bulk.” And this seemingly indelicate posturing: “13 days after (Goldwater) was crushed at the polls by President Lyndon Johnson, she gave birth to her last baby.” Icky stuff from un-neutral observers who answer to a higher calling than stupid old objectivity.


“What are we supposed to do?” typifies the new goddam quote-headline favored by the Times’ owners. Not unique quotes, others like “”Stuff you’ve seen for years is gone” and other harried shouts shimmer with all the class of a dime tabloid .

7-18 Mark Olsen takes no chance whatsoever pouring word-water on Woody Allen already drowning in media criticism. An unbold and riskless “Commentary” spurred by Allen daring to appear in public. (What was his crime again?)

8-2 Dylan Hernandez, praising the Dodgers’ general manager, differentiates him (his buddy?) from “most of the number-crunchers in the game who use their affinity for analytics to masquerade as intellectuals.” Dylly, you’re such a bitch.

8-7 Followup on months-old Orlando shooting, again. Some survivors “wondering.” Nothing timely, or decisive. Pickup from Orlando Sentinel, probably Trib-owned. Easier than finding actual news …

“Tenant activist” is a neutrality-breaking honorarium: could be disgruntled tenant, or trespasser. “Aggrieved landlord” would be no more neutral but unlikely, given the paper’s relentless underdog bias.

8-8 Another story about surfing gangs policing imaginary “territory.” Followup for previous day’s giant photos of sea and surfers, same story. Maybe written for overseas pickup. So ridiculous. Lock up the idiots already, the spotlight heroizes them.

8-10 A rapper, Tyga, who did not show up for a trial date, is on the run. Matt Hamilton, sensing our need to know more about this actual bad boy, also mentions that he “has been romantically linked to the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, Kylie Jenner.” How young is she? Is she pretty? What’s a fugitive story without a celeb angle? We’re simps in LA. Stars lede, and lead us.

Don’t kill me, but in the AP story about the guy who got off lightly for having sex with an “intoxicated woman who passed out behind a trash bin,” does not mention whether a rape in a more commodious location would be less dreadful. I do not approve of nonconsensual sex, just that the location description seems superfluous.

8-11 A 14-year-old boy was shot by police. The fact that the kid fired first was crucial to the cop’s decision to fire. We’re told about ‘the community’s’ outrage. Kids that age are killing each other, too. It’s a shit situation, cops can’t get ID’s when guns point at them any more than the common citizens some kids shoot.

8-12 Followup re above, two writers open that “activists denounced” the shooting. Isn’t it “opponents?” Activists could be people lamenting young teens roaming the street carrying guns, demanding more supervision from parents. But in news writing, activists are people who reporters side with.

8-18 Neighborhood people, relatives, are seen sobbing about the death of an 18-year-old man. Police say the guy turned to a cop while holding a gun. Kate Mather, of course, wonders why the police did this, and refers to the victim as a “teen,” a word right only technically, since it refers to a man capable of marriage, armed forces service, and voting. Or does Mather consider men and women of that age not really adult?

8-21 David Zahniser’s report on nothing, the lack of decisive progress in building a Target store in Hollywood, ends with him walking to a bus stop to an 88 year old man who regrets the delay. One man, representing ... everyone in the neighborhood (or visiting) ...

8-23 “The court’s decision is based on the merits, considering the facts and the law at the heart of the dispute” is the pull quote regarding Nazi confiscated artwork. Is there anything remarkable about this statement? Some reason it was isolated? The court always settles things on the basis of merit, I thought.

8-24 In Jonathan Martin’s Cher profile, a quote citation is broken by “referring to,” the first sighting of this since “referencing” became the law. He may be throttled for it, but it’s one step backward for mankind.

Dylan Hernandez, like Walt Whitman, celebrates himself early on in his story about San Francisco’s flagging baseball team. His quote from a Giant includes the word “you,” meaning, HE KNOWS ME. The next graph opens with Hernandez sitting back and recalling the previous time he’d talked to that Friscan first-basemen. Certainly a grandstand is a good thing, but only regarding seating.

8-30 This day’s news-replacing update is that payout agreement among survivors and victims of the 2012 Colorado theater shooting has not yet been reached. That’s right, a half page leading “The Nation” to tell us - nothing is settled.

9-1 No further explanation is given for Richard Winton, Brittny Mejia, and Matt Hamilton’s description of a woman who accused a singer of pointing a gun at her head - when they were alone in his house - as a “dethroned beauty queen.” Her title was ripped away? Someone better took her crown? Why on earth were three writers assigned to this “she says” story?

9-3 Crabby Steven Zeitchek attacks the 1977 film “Silver Streak” AND Gene Wilder, because he feels like it. He also feels like telling us he loves his father “a key figure in my early film education.” Aww. He mentions the character of Wilder - who just DIED, couldn’t you back OFF Steve? - donning black-face to elude police as being in bad taste. Did anyone ask Richard Pryor about this? I’ll bet he laughed his ass off. Crits are crabs with a mission to schrey.

9-8 “Panel rejects Newport Banning Ranch Plan” shows people celebrating. Are they, per se, the good guys? Below a pic of more supporters holding signs. What of people NOT holding signs? Why couldn’t this be “Panel decision a blow to visionary developers,” showing planners with long faces, indicating an injustice? Damn hippie reporters.

9-9 Lessons were learned from the San Berdoo shooting of December 2 last year, reports Ruben Vives. Why report it now? There is no current news?

9-10 Another lookback at the San Berdoo shootings of last December 2, this time by Joe Mozingo. The opposite of urgent. Or news.

(no date on page) Rick Anderson learns that a woman murdered in Montana (!) “was loved and admired” in Great Falls. Her daughter reports that she is getting married soon, and was planning on shopping for a wedding dress on October 1st. Thank you, Rick.

9-13 Mikael Wood cites Nick Cave’s “unflinching Gothic sensibility.” Does Cave live in a dank castle? Have a dungeon? If he's not flinching, maybe he doesn't understand Gothicity.

9-16 Amy Kaufman writes about how some other writers are being catty about ‘older’ Renee Zellweger’s return as Bridget Jones. To highlight this she quotes a snotty and sickening smart-ass remark by some “film critic.” The point of the story is that people like Kaufman are throwing darts at the actress. (Amy. Only your peers enjoy this. Real people respect artists. News people are untouched by art, so howl and fling shit.)

“Guest editorialist” Richard Beck, supporting clemency for Edward Snowden, cites mighty voices raised in his defense - Maggie Gyllenhaall, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Stype and others of similar international political weightlessness. It’s looks like a joke, but ain’t. (Where’s Sting?)

NY Times

7-17 Hed, re Winona Ryder: An Emblem of ‘90s Cool Grows Up.” She’s goddam 44! And where was this “emblem” awarded? Can’t blame Margy Rochlin for the headline, I suppose. (Ryder JUST grew up, Rumplestiltskin Rochlin?)

8-2 Emma G. Fitzsimmons proclaims that a NY subway line (!) is a train New Yorkers now increasingly "enjoy” (???), but that it would be uncool to say that to the route’s “heavy hipster clientele.” Doesn’t anyone anywhere anymore know that “hip” is a narrow and advanced state, not thousands or millions of like-aged people in lockstep?

Two writers, Jonah Engel Bromwich and Michael M. Grynbaum, combine to contemplate “pundits” (people who say stuff) who “bicker” about some remarks made by Trump. It happened on a tv show. This is 'news.'

8-8 “After Ailes and Cosby” women speak up, sez the hed. Yes. both are accused. Why not wait for the verdicts before assigning guilt? Common sense, not so common anymore, lacks the flair of insubstantiated groupthink.

8-25 How do you write a rote article about a former pop star? Jon Pareles opens “Brittney Spears strives mightily to be one-dimensional.” The implied notion that Pareles is on high, looking down, is what ails all critics. They don’t know their place. Their barbs and their huzzahs are peer-driven, their sneering rote and empty.

8-31 Dwight Garner, re a new Tom Wolfe book: “He was tagged as an incorrigible philistine” for his opinions. “Was tagged” is journalistic flapdoodle. Crits are taggers AND raggers. Ragtaggers, mollyclobberers, naysayers, finger pointers. It’s no news that critics pecked at someone; it’s their only 'thing' …

8-31 Wesley Morris. Of Gene Wilder’s assumed name, he writes “With blue eyes that big, and hair that untamed, who else could he be?” What?

9-8 Palko Karate, in London, reports that images of Hungarian police repelling border-crossers adds to “Hungary’s reputation for hostility” -- against illegal invaders! Keep it on the editorial page, Pal …

9-14 Strained for irony, Ian Austin points out that Terror, an old ship, was found “appropriately in the middle of the coincidentally named Terror Bay.” The bay itself was named before the ship, occurences hundreds of years apart are not co-incidental. “Ironic” would be cheap, but less wrong ...

9-15 The hed crediting a director’s “unflinching” viewpoint is overpraise. It’s just a movie ….

9-18 David Ng points out that OJ’s prison home “could hardly be further from” his former fashionable digs. I guess you didn’t know that (and it could be further; there are worse prisons) …

“An Avid Art Collector Fulfills His Dream.” Front page, Arts section. What good is this? Some famous art lands in a guy’s museum. Is that great? Do we cheer? Why, Nina Siegel? Is he the most deserving person or the richest? Looks like bottom-bussing. (Other rich people with museums are name-checked to assure Siegel’s calls are returned.) And it’s HIS dream museum. The glory of the artists, who surely got nothing near the money their works acquired, is dwarfed by this egomaniac capturing them and stamping his name on them. Can you buy a songwriter's rights and stamp them as yours? Makes as much sense. Fuck this guy and his money-stamped art.

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