- Jan-Feb. 2017 -

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12-4 At Soap Plant/Wacko!, Chris Morris read, and others, including Lisa Finnie, Don Heffington, Ronee Blakley, Dave Alvin and Ruby Friedman sang to celebrate his new book “Together Through Life: A Personal Journey With the Music of Bob Dylan.”

Wrangler Dave Alvin corrals Ruby Friedman’s dog.


Hollywood Blues Destroyers final 2016 Redwood show.

This night featuring thrush Birdie Jones


The big Carl "Sonny" Leyland review landed at Joe's American Bar & Grill.

Tom Kenny with visitor Barry Crimmins, subject of “Call Me Lucky,” a documentary about his career as a rabble-rouser in Syracuse politics and his haunting early years as a victim of child molestation.

James Intveld, AF, Big Sandy

Crimmins with Dave Stuckey and Carl "Sonny" Leyland

12-25 Lunch with Skip at the 101 Cafe: Jim Dawson joined us.

Then me and Skip joined a near-full house at the New Bev seeing “Duck Soup.”

Such joy! Such anarchy!

So great on a big screen with a boysterous (few gals) audience.

1-8-17 The Elvis Birthday show was another rockin’ riot.

Twenty acts scheduled, 25 played (I tell people to call me first !) 4 pm till 8 pm.

Viva Cantina rocked in The King’s honor for our 32nd? (33rd? 34th?) year.

Ronnie Mack was the mainstay as always.

This year the Elvis scene was chockablock with Elvis Shows —

Three Elvis Bday veterans held competing tributes !

Like people in prison fighting over cigarettes !

I’m sure we all did well.

What a friend we have in Elvis.

I jetted out to Viva Cantina to the same room as the Elvis show to see guitar-pluckers Frank Fairfield and Meredith Axelrod, along with Blind Boy Paxton.

The place was packed for this early show.

1-16 Lunch at Basix, a boys-town fixture, with my friend Ken Shields, realtor.

Killing time before he got there, I dashed over to the Out of The Closet thrift store and got a look at literature classification - decorator-style !

1-17 That Alan Thicke, “at 70,” strolling heartily on the golf course, dropped dead disheartened me bit.

I am at that age, and could keel over, too. Or should!

Then I checked; he was born in 1947, so was 69.

And he was pampered, a tv star whose wazoo was surely packed with doctors !

I’m on borrowed time.

1-21 Did not go to see Carlos Guitarlos play at a barbecue place in Pasadena.

Forgot! Dang me.


Finally unloaded the cowboy couch.

Loaded it, into a van for a 19-year-old girl in Atwater.

I daredn’t take it to Goodwill, for fear they’d notice the loose armrest (which was easily repaired by her dad) and reject it.

The Sunset Blvd store repairs nothing.

* At 6:30 I made the commitment to drive to the Egyptian to see “To Be Or Not To Be,” the original of course, at 7:30.

I don’t watch films alone, so the opportunity to share laughter with others overcame my fear.

I live in Hollywood, for pete’s sake, what’s the fear?

Parking around there at night is $10 (the area imagines itself chic) and fear of that outlay lives in me despite my current ability to pay it without changing plans for the week.

So wouldn’t you know, I found a space on the street, a half-block down.

The first of that night’s many laughs.

1-27 - Many’s the time I passed the “10-Minute Oil Change” shop on Sunset wondering “Who the heck gets an oil change on impulse?”

It was I, quoth both Skip and Flip, at 4 pm.

The 2004 CRV runs fine, but it’s gone 10,000 miles since I got it, and when I checked the oil last week it was down a half-quart and lookeda little dark, like 7 p.m.

I drove over a hole in the garage floor, de-seated, and went to the waiting room.

Ten minutes later I was gone, lighter $98 for (premium) oil, oil filter and air filter.

They can always spot a guy with no sales resistance.

1-29 Back-and-forth on two laptop computers to finally get this column done!

One Mac is from 2006, the other 2012.

I use the old one oftener. It has a tug.

Its battery is near dead, but everything online insists the model is 2008/2009.
Silly internet.

But wait. This was my friend Doug’s computer!

His sister gave it to me in 2009.

Love to you both. (Like you don’t know.)

1-30 Belatedly bought a Week-At-A-Glance at Office Depot, for $28.

They were out of 2017’s at Staples (home of the 5-cent paper clip), which is nearer.

My 1977 one * was 6 bucks.

I still have it, and the $9’s $10’s etc. Forty years worth.

They make a good diary, listing expenses, phone calls, companions and the night’s choice of music and venues.

* The previous year, someone gave me a unused 1975 one.

I scratched out 365 dates and wrote new ones, and I was hooked.


Seasonal thought

* The new Bev is an old theater on Beverly Blvd, owned and maintained by filmmaker Quentin Tarentino.

His bent for For a Few Dollars More, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, and other actioners is well known.

That narrow band of programming goes on nearly 12 months.

But for December the theater ran a wide variety of old films, changing nearly daily.
I saw “Three Days of the Condor” December 21st.

Love Tarentino and his films, but he’s on a loop as far as the films he shows.

And that’s his privilege.

Just wish there was another revival house.

(UCLA runs many film series, but the traffic going there, and the parking …)



"Let's cover up that 1955 eyesore!"


Hot poop.

* “People who are sick of” something have condemned it.

* Opponents say they oppose something.

* An occurrence “is part of a national debate.”

* A person is accused of a something.

My bleak pages

Actually, they’re pretty interesting, 3000 typed pages, another thousand handwritten, 1984 - 2004.

Some good times I’d forgotten, much of the opposite I’d like to.

This one I like, though.

* Joe from NY stayed in LA every summer; may still.

In 1995 he, a Poker Party fan, went places with us, had ideas, was on the show.

He won a bet from me, making a reference I’d forgotten: that there was an Art Fein in Van Nuys, a jeweler.

Then we had another bet about the Art Garfunkel role in “Catch 22.”

I mysteriously said there was no Art Garfunkel role in “Catch 22.”

“I’ll bet you twenty bucks!” he shouted, rubbing his hands.

I don’t want to take your money, I said. We’re friends.

“Twenty bucks!” he insisted.

Are you sure you want to give me that money?

“Twenty bucks !!!”

We went to a movie guide.

“See!” he said, “Art Garfunkel in the cast credits.”

So? I win.

“What do you MEAN? It says here he was in the movie!”

Yes. But what role? There is no Art Garfunkel role. Art Garfunkel plays the role of Major Major.

He stormed away and never came back.

Didn’t give me the twenty, either.

General thoughts

* I have worried lately about forgetting people’s names. It seems chronic.

But recently vetting the ‘diary’ I saw I was complaining about this in 1995 and 2006.

Now I’m worried that I forgot that I was forgetting.

* There is only one place I know that makes fudge.

It’s in Farmers Market, LA. The fudge is like a miracle.

* Funny what you don’t see.

Tuesdays I drive 15 miles west along the 101 to Tarzana for breakfast.

Returning January 24, a day after a rainstorm, I can see - probably always could - that the north part of the valley is a mountain range, today lit bright and topped with snow.

And the drive, 20 miles eastbound to Silver Lake, was nonstop at 75 mph.

We were all doing it, safe, sane and high on the freedom we imagine.


* You may know my contention - insistence - that words don’t matter in music.

They can matter, but don’t need to. “Rama Lama Ding Dong” is as good as a Dylan song.

“Scarborough Fair/Canticle” by Simon & Garfunkel plays in “The Graduate.”

Seeing it with annotation, I realized I NEVER UNDERSTOOD ANYTHING BUT A PASSING WORD.

Late in the film, at the UC Berkeley mall.

* Natalie, the young lady selling merch at the Hollywood Blues Destroyers shows, is known as Natalie the Merchant.

* Upside-down World. I buy CDs for sport, for a dollar (four for $3) at the big local emporium.

Based on visuals, I’ll select twelve that are completely unknown to me and parse them.

Generally I snag three or four good ones.

The only rule I have is ‘no major labels.’ Those got exposure and failed.

The independents, the lost, still harbor hope, and sometimes I write to them with praise.

* After I was fired at Capitol in 1973, I phoned the Beverly Hills Hotel and left a message for John & Yoko, telling them (I had spent two weeks, daytime, hanging around with John while Yoko made calls promoting her new album) that I’d taken a lot of photos of them and maybe they could get Capitol to buy them.

(The photos - negs - were stolen from my garage in 1985. I have some prints.)

She left me a message on my machine saying “Well, I don’t think we could do that, you know John hasn’t been working much lately …”

I saved that message for nearly a year till I accidentally erased it.

* More than once I puzzled hearing that an album sold gold (500,000 copies), “but returned platinum” (a million copies).

Then I learned that record manufacturing was, often, crooked.

When a pressing plant fulfilled an order for 10,000 albums in a day’s shift, they kept the machines running all night and made another 10,000.

Those sales to record stores were not credited to the musician’s or record company’s account: 100% profit to the pressing plant’s ‘associates.’

When some albums were over-pressed, their returns exceeded their “sales,” and the “returns” were deducted from the artist’s sales.

* Perusing my notes, I see that Larry Levine told me that Phil wanted “So Young” by the Ronettes to be recorded at United recording studio, because he sought a Frankie-Lymon type sound he could get only there.

But, Larry said, Phil clashed with engineer Bones Howe, who bridled at untold increases of echo and finally, in a fit, removed them all, earning Phil’s lifelong enmity.


When I first got the Honda SUV I felt I was now one of the "big boys."

Til I parked between these two.

The Times of L.A.

Some inside pages are omitting the date and name at the top.

I’ve heard of penny-pinching, but ..

Word distortion coming in clear

With the popularity of phony - sorry, faux - word elongation, we’re gaining syllables.

Such as -

- orient, verb, to noun orientation, to verbanoun “orientate.”

- fix, verb, to fixation, noun, and back then to verbanoun “fixate.”

Take any verb - excite - make a noun - excitement - and then reverse it to the new verb "excitementing."

What I'm referring to - sorry, referencing - is epidemic.


News media, especially, think they’re on to something by citing “social media.”

That is the equivalent of “on a piece of paper” or "in a phone call."

It’s just a medium, carries no weight.


In the film Inglourious Basterds, translations from German are posted below.

One sentence says a visit was “not a fortuitous one.”

Well no kidding. Their visit was not accidental at all.

Oh, did they mean “fortunate”?

Why use the three-syllable when four syllables are available in an adjacent word that sounds like it?

It is epidemic.

Elongation: invented by tv news directors, who need to fill an hour.

TV ad for a cruise ship offers a “complimentary drink.”

“You look so much younger” is written on the cup.


FDR railed at the “perfidy” of the Pearl Harbor bombing.

You’re never gonna see that word again.

Or “infamy.”

“I could care less” means I care a lot.

“I couldn’t care less” means what it says, but when someone snorted “As if I could care less” some other dummy shortened it.

I’ve tried saying “I could care less” to people in sympathy, but they call me pedant!



* IKEA, the Swedish sellers of Chinese goods, offer customer service at a price.

If you phone with a question, the recording suggests stolid Scandinavian patience — email your question and get a response within 3 days. .

* I don’t immediately hang up on pitch persons, but don’t give them much time either.

This woman started with a hello, and before I could say ‘Go away’ she said, “Hold on a minute, I dropped my headphones.” Some scrambling. “There we are, that’s better.”

Then I spoke and she continued over me -

The phone drop was a recording!!

* I know two people who recycle paper towels, if they’re just used to absorb water .

(Hell, I just inverted the adverb, like everyone else.

I said “just used” as if something other than “use” could be done.

I meant “they’re used just.”)

* My cable company has a new name and new opportunities.

Now I can pay for stations that were free .

* Colorful ‘Jumbo’ (under two-inch) paper clips, pack of 50, sell for $2.50 at Staples and Office Depot.

Nickel each. Costs plenty to ship them from China.

These big-box chains drove out the local independents with their low prices.

“We were just kidding.”

* I had a jar of quarters, from poker games, and took it to the bank which, through six successive owners, I have given my custom for 30 years, and asked for it to be changed back to bills in their counting machine.

“We take ten per cent” they said.

“But this is MY bank. I keep money here.”

“Ten per cent” they said, like I was trying to rob them.

Next time I’ll count them out at the counter.

* At the risk of seeming beggarly, I was stunned mid-year when the bakery inside the local Gelson’s grocery installed a tip jar.

What next - a doorman?

It disappeared quickly. I bet the grocery cashiers demanded them, too.

Get smart

In my early adulthood .. well late youth, I figured if one was good, ten was better, so I did things to extreme.

Having survived painful dentist experiences as a child, I swore I’d take better care when I got older, and figured that if a soft Oral B toothbrush is what they sell, what about when you’ve eaten a taffy apple or something real sticky; shouldn’t a stiffer bristle do?

So I bought one with teeth of steel and brushed away my gums.

I was long of tooth quite young.


Stormy clouds over Burbank.

"- 2017 -- the year it rained."


Ridin’ along in my calaboose

Wet January night in Hollywood. Shiny streets. Few people out.

In the daytime, it’s like any other small city’s downtown except more tourist shops.

Too many.

When I drive along Hollywood Boulevard on a hot summer day I want to apologize to the tourists on the sidewalks.

“It’s a famous street, there must be something here to see” they reason.

Nope, just those stars under your feet.

(They might see a real star at Musso-Frank’s, but don’t know it.)

The sidewalk stars are there for tourists.

But they’re mostly ancient and largely forgotten. They need new ones. A hundred.

My name’s available.

Go far enough west you’ll be at Hollywood-Highland.

It is zippy, and the other businesses feed off it.

At the far end of that block are the footprints at Graumann’s.

In the ‘80s someone bought the theater and re-named it with his own.

“Joe’s” or “Birnbaum’s” or “Comcast.”

I guess the Chamber of Commerce made them revert.

This night I went to Al Wazir to get shish-kebab takeout.

It’s in a mini-mall in the area east of Vine that has no name (yet) and no draw.

But buildings near that outpost are coming down chock-a-block and pretty soon Al-Wazir will have to move.

Sat there with my book. Few customers (rained, could come back, frightens the natives).

“The Best Of S.J. Perlman” - fitting, since he wrote movies. Marx Bros movies.

The tales, harvested from the New Yorker, are so rich, the words so antic and exotic, that I jerked spasmodically like a nut, my eyes leaking tears.

Why does anyone bother writing if they can’t write like that?

Beats me. I quit.


Words seen on tv “for the deaf.”

June O. Alaska

The information you gave me jives

He was running errands for a wart-healer

Some of that my tie spilled on your shirt

Mister Coughman


* ‘God bless’ is more than half noncommittal.

Why is “ingenuity” an asset when “ingenues” are neophytes?

* The news report said that the rain “has nervous residents in the burn area worried.”

Well, of course: they’re nervous.


I had taken a Spanish class by the time “La Bamba” was a hit.

I heard a performer the other night sing “Yo no soy my dinero.”

That’s what I thought when I was 12.

Before I learned it was ‘marinero’ - sailor - and ‘capitan - captain.

“Hey, I’m not a common sailor, I’m the CAPTAIN!”

(Speaking of Spanish, how do the groceries have the nerve to charge EXTRA for Coke imported from Mexico? Yeah, I know, the sugar, but unless wages have changed in Mexico, that Coke costs the store less than a domestic one. Son banditos!!)

Notes to you

* I’m often behind. Certainly don’t have a smart phone, just a flip.

(I had an iPhone, but grew disenchanted. I keep it in the car for a camera.)

* Made the change to CDs late. Cassettes were good for the car for a long time.

Nothing in my past indicated a resistance to progress.

Our family got its first tv in 1950, but it wasn’t until 1980 that I got a color tv.

A suggestion

I do not work at the drugstore *.

Yet they “suggest” I swipe my purchases over their screens, pay the machine, and bag my merchandise.

Just like an employee.

They say it’s time-saving,

Of course it takes longer at a cashier — there’s one for every six self-serve machines.

Did surveys prove that customers prefer to not interact with humans?

There was no customer roar for self-serve - they want more service.

Self-checkout should be at a 1% discount.

Not much, but something to offset the humiliation of being the store’s unpaid employee.

(* Goes double for Home Depot. Checker stations stand bare while lines form for “You do it.”)


* I wish I was lousy with money …

* Someone’s lying when a shirt says “Custom Fit.” I’d remember if they measured me …

* Today, people are referred to as objects, as “The woman that made the film” instead of “who made the film.”

It's wrong way more than right.

* The book intro reminisced about kids in Texas in the summer of 1956 hanging around the drive-in in their “big-finned” cars.

If they did, they all must have had big-shot relatives in Detroit because the “big fin” 1957 models weren’t sold till late October …

Parting shots

Twenty years ago at the office of a record industry veteran, I mentioned that I had met a famous manager.

“Oh, HIM. He was an accountant.

In the early ‘60s he went into the books at MGM to look over Connie Francis’s sales, and found they owed her money.”

“So justice was done.”

“No. Once in the files, he looked up sales figures on another act and told THEM they were owed money, too!

THAT’s the kinda guy he was.”

Not fully paying artists was at the core of the record business.

Well, is.


Why are so many young women get tattoos outlined in blue?

There will be blue lines on their skin soon enough.

Where it’s due

At the end of the first “Death Wish,” Bronson tells the young cop to destroy the evidence.

The cop with the wet earbacks is Christopher Guest.

Later, at the airport, some poorly-imagined hoodlums — gypsy hippies in fringe coats, wearing bells — assault a woman.

The credits roll, and the first cast ID is “Freak #1 - Jeff Goldblum.”

Urban warrior

Crowded parking lot, one’s parked poorly, blocking two spaces.

I discharge my passenger, find another space.

Pick up receipt from ground, write “Nice Parking, Idiot” and walk back to the miscreant vehicle. Try to shove it in a window space.

A guy in a small car pulls into the irregular space, leaps out of car and says “It fell.”

He comes over and uses his credit card to squeeze the note under the rubber strip.

The camaraderie turned my ire to laughter.

Harpo Marx’s intro at a speech in 1964:

“As I was saying in 1914.”

- 57 -



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