Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Matte Kudasai."

The new month begins in a post Weimar mood of Putsch Pappas.  "Quick, Bertolt!  Load up the Rheinland and point it to Switzerland."  It's auf on der Trans Europe Express Sunderland fur der Tanz der Lemmings.  Koncertze im der City of Engel.

First it is Scottish band Mogwai, performing at the classic United Artists Theatre, now the Theatre at Ace Hotel.  I saw films here in my teens, later to become the sanctum of tongue meister (or meistress ?), Pastor Melissa Scott.  This is my first visit since the new look.  It is a cool theatre.  Very Goth.  Very Gaudi.  With acid lighting and melting architecture.  Mogwai are performing along the film ATOMIC, which they did the soundtrack.  It is my first concert with the band. 

We are back in our familiar haunts of DTLA and Little Tokyo.  I use this time to buy an Obi, a Kimono I admired on our previous visit, but hesitated on.  However a box of cookies in the local Japanese market illustrated with distinctly LOLITA-like anime, is no longer on the shelf.  I am saddened by this for artistic reasons which I will explain later.

Ironically, in the wee hours of morning, I see a broadcast of Pastor Melissa Scott on the hotel TV and snap many photos, which I later delete, like some guilty lover.  Her sermons still make no sense and are like a sublime Monty Python Sketch.  Did she really make hardcore adult films before meeting eccentric evangelist Doctor Scott?  Bambi something or other?  I used to do parodies like this.  Proof about satire: no matter how outrageous you make the joke of warning, the reality will top it.  Still semi-perversely attracted to her.  Anyway, I dug her ex-theatre.  Not sure how many times as a youth, I went to see films at the old United Artists Theatre.

The old Downtown LA of my youth, has turned into the new Downtown LA of my dotage.  Always new discoveries.  And a curious sanctuary in Little Tokyo.  The restaurant I prefer to get takeaway from (vegetable tempura dinner), the Japanese market, the stores to explore.  It's Fritz Lang meets Ridley Scott a little bit more each time. 

And the feel of the Lunar New Year...

Our second return to the area, with only a two day break, is to travel out from DTLA to Studio City, to Universal Studios and a two night get together with Stick Men.  I've been looking forward to this event for quite a while.  King Crimson members Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter are lodged for two nights of two shows a night at cult club the Baked Potato.  And old friends Paul Bergevin and Hugh Mandesen are coming up from Santa Barbara to see the first night.

Of course, the little lady and I must check out the Chinese or Lunar New Year Celebrations at Universal Studios.  Impressive displays from Po and Tigress are on view, as well as a slightly ominous/cuddly combination from that Transformers guy.  Photo ops for all.  The decorations are quite lovely and every Year and its Avatar are represented.  I'm a Year of the Ox cat, so I note my years on the banner and meditate on the connection with its fellow years.

This is my return, or second inclusive visit to Universal Studios, and I feel comfortable.  The wife even entices me on the "really mild Harry Potter Ride," which of course, is quite sudden, violent and exciting for an ancient carbon based creature as myself.  It is quite fun.  And occasional images of Emma Watson gave me reason to survive and live on.
Universal Studios by day.  Clubbing by night.  "This is the life, eh, Moriarty?"

To say The Baked Potato is an intimate club, is like saying group sex is a form of networking.  It REALLY is an intimate club.  And exactly what I have been looking forward to after concert horrors like the Greek Theatre and Hollywood Bowl.  I love that my dining room table is EXACTLY on the equal stage as the performers.  This is cool.  Like letting Coltrane have a sip of your Rum & Coke before knocking over everyone's drinks with a wild axe garnish. 

Seriously, our table, chosen because Paul & Hugh have arrived first ("Are YOU with those loud two?" asks our first night host) is on the stage with Tony Levin's bass position and Pat Mastelotto's drum kit.  Parfait.  By the second evening, Pat, seeing the wife and I in the same seats, while performing, smiles at the little lady, and moves his microphone and music stand out of the way, so we can get a clearer view of his mastery at work.

And mastery it was.  Three great musicians.  Tony I first met in the Eighties with Crimson in Santa Barbara.  Pat dazzled me at Crimson's trio of drummers at the LA Orpheum and Markus, finally meeting after a long correspondence.  It was like being invited at home for a studio rehearsal.  Two superb evenings.

So we enter into a new portal.  The Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year of all things Eastern.  SPACE PIRATE RADIO quietly hits the milestone of 43 years on January 27th.  When enjoying the displays at Universal for the New Year, we appreciated the banners, in a circular display, for all 12 signs of the calendar.  My wife is Year of the Rat, quite apropos.  Myself, the Ancient One, is Year of the Ox.  I was struck by the listing of all the other years within that animal, included the year I created SPACE PIRATE RADIO, 1973 and 1997, the year my father died and I married for the first and only time.

On SPACE PIRATE RADIO, I remember celebrating the new year as the Year of the Drip Dry Shirt.  It was Lunacy! 

Happy Year of the Rooster everyone.  We could use some Miracles here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"More wolfbane?"

Going through the long shelved archives, amongst the programs of plays done at John A Rowland High School and the Diamond Bar Players, the goofy bits of writing for the High School Newspaper, THE BRANDING IRON ("yuck"), and poetry that actually ended as a runner up in a Buffalo Springfield lyric writing contest (more on that later), I found a number of artifacts pertaining to my long running relationship with THE COUNT DRACULA SOCIETY of the early '60s to mid '70s.  I am always amazed at how many important, interesting and influential persons were at those get-togethers, be they at some multi-purpose building in a Los Angeles park, a celebrity's home in old Hollywood or a vintage hotel like the Knickerbocker.  I've discussed days with THE COUNT DRACULA SOCIETY on these pages in the past.  And have included photos with Vincent Price, William Marshall, Robert Quarry and Ray Bradbury.  But rediscovering the programs for the annual awards banquet, reminded me how rich the company was.  Especially for a 15 or 16 year old boy.

These were relaxed times.  Where fans of gothic horror movies, literature, fantasy and science fiction, could rub elbows with top professionals in all fields, and not be corrupted by blatant commercialism or attempts to hustle a gig.  It was for the love of the genre.  How things have changed.  And why I gravitated away from it by the late '70s, early '80s.

It all started with the youthful obsession with FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine and its enthusiastic editor Forrest J Ackerman (he never liked a period after the middle J).  This magazine was the bible for twisted youths in love with weird movies.  And its editor was very available to its fans; being run by the biggest sci-fi fan of all.

In a way, like in the bohemian past, Forry ran a sort of salon.  The door of his home was almost always open to seekers of the strange, in awe to walk through his collection of mind-bending artifacts.  His Robotrix from METROPOLIS at the front door, his collection of Universal Monster Heads, his original sci-fi magazine art, film posters and photos.  Ray Guns and movie props.  It was a trip, Man!

Getting to know Forry led to the discovery of a new organization called The Count Dracula Society.  "Devoted to the serious study of horror films and gothic literature."  I got my sympathetic, fantasy loving father, to take me to a meeting in some multi-purpose room at some park in South Los Angeles, where we met Forry and the Society's Founder and President, Doctor Donald A. Reed.  This is where I sat next to a still rather unknown George Kennedy, there to say hello to Forry, as he had just finished filming a movie written by PSYCHO author Robert Bloch, whom Forry was his literary agent.  And so an association began with the society lasting under 20 years.

I'm always dazzled by the company that one elbowed with at those meetings, award banquets and film screenings, public and private.  Three of the earliest award recipients, I never met: Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney, Jr.  But Vincent Price crossed my path at an awards dinner and the world premiere of DR. PHIBES at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.  Hosted by Army Archerd, I also got to meet eccentric voice actor Paul Frees, who was on the soundtrack album, doing impressions that had nothing to do with the film.  Still, this was Boris Badenov from ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, company member with Stan Freberg, the Pillsbury Doughboy and every other voice in the English language release of RODAN.

 I met two of my three favourite sci-fi authors there:  Ray Bradbury and A. E. Van Vogt.  Also Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber, Jr.  Hammer screenwriter Jimmy Sangster sat next to me at a dinner once, which I didn't realize till halfway through the meal.

Many of my fellow youthful enthusiasts went on to careers in the field.  Randall Kleiser, Joe Dante and John Landis, who I got to work with in two of his movies, THE BLUES BROTHERS and INTO THE NIGHT.  Special effects and makeup people came out of this group too.  Stop motion animator David Allen was a good friend; he living in Anaheim while I lived in Fullerton.  David was a student of masters Willis O'Brien of KING KONG and Ray Harryhausen of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.  David went on to work for George Lucas, another fan, in STAR WARS and likewise fan Steven Spielberg in YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES and John Landis in OSCAR.  The circles were small in those days.

The more one participated in the Society, the more one was rewarded by Donald Reed with governing positions in the club.  Over the years I became a Governor, Vice Chairman and Assistant Secretary.  The perks of this meant hobnobbing at organizational meetings with Forrest J Ackerman, Ray Bradbury and others.  Donald Reed was a very nice guy who had endless enthusiasm for gothic literature and classic horror films.  I liked the classic gothic edge the society had in the beginning, with many worldwide scholars attending and lecturing.  That aspect of the society diminished over the years as the Hollywood aspect pervaded and the use of The Count Dracula Society as a publicity machine for new projects.  The organization tied in with the Hammer Film release of DRACULA A.D. 1972.  I had letters of introduction and was able to contact Peter Cushing and his wife Helen in Kent and Christopher Lee at his home in Cadogan Square in London in January 1970.  Later when Christopher Lee moved to Los Angeles, he attended one of the awards banquet (at that particular affair, one not only met Lee, but actors Strother Martin and John Agar).

I remember one time, under my official capacity as one thing or another, I had the privilege of giving out to the other Governors, a skull & crossbones pin that had been designed by Bud Abbott of Abbott and Costello fame.  They had been made as parting gifts for cast and crew of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET CAPTAIN KIDD with Boris Karloff.  They were quite beautiful, with red stone eyes and the words "Your Pal, Bud Abbott." in the mold underneath.  I kept two for myself, one of which I gave to FIRESIGN THEATRE friend David Ossman.  At the banquet I had the pleasure of pinning one on the lapels of director Robert Wise, there to accept an award for THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and THE HAUNTING.  Did I mention that Bud Abbott was a friend of Reed's and had donated his remaining collectable pins to the Society? 

Those were heady times.  I've posted pictures here in past entries, with Vincent Price, William Marshall, Robert Quarry, Rock Hudson, Ray Bradbury.  There's more, of course.  I remember one banquet with director Curtis Harrington, there to pick up an award with a table filled of cast members from his film GAMES.  Method actor Don Stroud was there, quite intoxicated, laughing hysterically at all of the speaker's foreign names, like Devandra P. Varma.  Otherwise, the more intimate meetings at old Hollywood mansions in classic screening rooms were pure magic.  Was it the home of director Rouben Mamoullian, who did THE MARK OF ZORRO and THE GARDEN OF ALLAH that we joined actress Carol Borland in a rare screening of THE MARK OF THE VAMPIRE?
Pure Magick!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"Do you take advantage of the new freedoms?" 

Oh My Goddess!  I think I made it into 2017.  I honestly didn't think I would.  Are we near unanimously agreed that 2016 was a nightmare, on Jack Paar with top nightmare years of the past?  Like WWI or WWII or Vietnam or...I know I'm far too old for this shit.  All my parodies slash warnings of a satiric, yet very real dystopic vision of the future's possibilities, can not compare to the madness mindset we have succumbed to.  Nixon?  Insane.  Reagan?  You got to be kidding.  Divorced snitch for the FBI, Bedtime for Bonzo, Chesterfield pushing, 20 Mule Team Boraxo inhaling, G.E. shill with extra EMFs.  Impossible, but true.  Bush I, CIA spook, Bay of Pigs, Kennedy killer.  With dumb down Dan Quale his Anthony Hopkins MAGIC puppet?  Nah!  Wait for the sequel.  Unilateral Pictures presents SON OF BUSH.  And dumber than shit compared to Basil Rathbone.  And who was Ygor?  Rumsfeld, maybe?  No, folks.  That was just a warm-up.  You were probably too busy caring about the Kardashians or searching for Pokémon to notice.

So having made it to this point, I'm ready to fight.  And I mean Sartre/Resistance type fight.  Being elderly, I think my black beret might look quite stylish.  Pity about the black turtleneck shirts and sweaters, though.  So fab and gear in my Illya Kuryakin teen years.  Now they only accentuate the double chins.  I'm as stylish as Henry Kissinger hosting HULLABALOO.  (I know it might be considered a racist joke, but I think it is innocently funny when someone says, "You have more chins than a Chinese telephone book.")

So 2016 was a nightmare.  Worse than 2013 for me, when my mother died.  Or 1997, when my long suffering father died, although I tried to redeem that year by finally marrying.  *sigh*  What's that signpost up ahead?  Highway 101 with Rod Serling off the On Ramp.  Or is that on the Off Ramp?

2016 was at best a tract house version of Purgatory.  Where Orange County visions, long abandoned, came back to haunt me.  And the concepts of trust and how well do you know that person came into play.  Like the Vangelis album.  It was HEAVEN AND HELL.  As Peter Sellers said, "It's all part of life's rich pageantry."

If I was younger (Goddess!  Am I REALLY this old?), I would either join a Benedictine monastery (I'm quite fond of B&B liqueur) or else make erotic films in Prague or Budapest or Amsterdam.  Sacre et Profane. 

Ah, yes.  Despite the soul killing experiences, a little spark still flames.  The passion for it all.  The love of the Art.  The Art of the Matter.  The Music.  The Literature.  The Philosophy.  The Imagery Expressed.  In painting, cartooning, collage, photography and film.  The passion of the Here & Now.  The exploration of the There & Then.

As a man who has spent most of his life in the Grey Zone.  That Libra balance...I am more than aware that things have gotten to basic black & white.  Good vs. Evil.  Greed vs Charity.  To quote Basia and Matt Bianco, "Whose side are you on?"  Or Amon Duul 2 at the end of "Mozambique"  "Unite, and Fight..."

But it all leads back to the Art.  And I truly believe that the Evil Ones do not have a Sense of Humour.  You need a Soul to grasp the Cosmic Giggle.  Sensitive as opposed to being de-sensitized.  Thick skins bluffing the world of the heartless possessed within.  Overcompensating for traumas of inadequacy of youth.  Pushy fathers.  Heartless mothers.  The Bush Family is an American Portrait of Dysfunction.  "Must Keep Up Appearances."  Tyrants with tiny fingers, in the shape of a perpetual "O."  Fuck them.  Seriously.  Fuck them.  And not in the kindly, loving exotic, erotic "Fuck them."  But in the up against the wall, "do you wish a blindfold?"  FUCK THEM!

SOFT ROCK CLASSICS OF THE SEVENTIES.  "And if you order in the next ten minutes...YOU will have ordered in the next ten minutes!

No Sacrifice Too Great For Art!

And speaking of Art...the illustrations for this entry of anxiety are from my dear friend David Fontana.  The opening work is from a proposed literary, artistic, surrealistic, philosophical and somewhat kitschy fetish zine I once proposed called The Hermit.  My avatar.  My kindred spirit and soul mate.  The circle in the corner was where the photo of my nun logo of GRAVEN IMAGES was to go.  My Mercurial Sensualist Persona.

The other drawing, also done by Signore Fontana is his spirit writing image of yours truly in the SPACE PIRATE RADIO ethos.  So proud to have known this friend for so many years.

So...A Call To Alms, dear friends.  Let us Confound the Corporate and Fool the Fascists.  They don't Get IT.  So why should they Get away with IT?

"Only from my dead, cold hands will you take my copy of MAD MAGAZINE."

*giggles*  but seriously...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

"In a world of make believe, don't be throwing it all away."

This entry is a conflicted one.  On many levels.  A clash of feelings and thinking.  And all regarding that great American institution, the theme park.  And the Maestro of all theme parks, the Gold Standard: Walt Disney and his Dreamland with the Maker's moniker...Disneyland. 

It's my Darling Wife who pulled me out of my forgotten childhood and immersed me in her Forever Young obsession with the Magical Kingdom in particular, and all other venues of theme parkdom in general.  It is she who reignited the inner child in me with our visit to Universal Studios, as related here.

Quite simply, as child to adult, she has never stopped going to these cathedrals of awe.  Knott's Berry Farm.  Magic Mountain.  Six Flags Over Fullerton.

I think she may have felt similar impressions with our 1994 trip to Las Vegas and Treasure Island, but we weren't married then, so I also think she felt I might fall into my bachelor ways and the temptations of Caesar's Palace.  Not to worry.  That paradigm has shifted.  But I always felt an E Ticket madness for anyone who stayed at the gravity defying Luxor Hotel.

Again, not to worry.  The Treasure Island Hotel was a setting for a concept idea I had (I am the Space Pirate, after all) and we were there to see MYSTERE, the Cirque du Soleil show, which I adored!).  I never called for an Escort.  And I never gambled, ever.  Still haven't.  Though we walked through casino after casino, I have still never pretended to be James Bond in Monaco, or played 21 or tried the slots.  Our gambling fever?  The wife and I ambled down to the kid's section and found a vintage Doctor Who pinball machine.  We played that.

So back to Disneyland.  Or Dingyland, as listeners of SPACE PIRATE RADIO know I've called it.  Home of Mickey Mafiosa.  And his top hoodlum pal, Brother Orchid.  My audio satires from 1974 to 2002 have not been kind.  And anyone who has heard the original Mickey M satire, first aired, than committed to disc on the SPACE PIRATE RADIO long player knows: There Will Be Anthropomorphic Blood.

So here's the deal: Loving Disneyland is like living with an abusive parent.  Or a molester in the family.  I say this only as an Observer.  I'm lucky to have survived my family as they weren't as dysfunctional as the graded curve.  My Mother was a bit of a tyrant.  If anyone was the current definition of bi-polar, it was she, but in a softer focus Doris Day sort of way.  Ironic, as my Mother's name IS Doris.  And my older sister Kay, now Katherine, a Leo like my Mother, had a profound influence on me.  My first musical influences came from Mother and Sister.  Couple that with the all electronic and strange score to FORBIDDEN PLANET and the theremin in THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.  The primordial ooze is the musical mix that will become SPACE PIRATE RADIO.  If my Father, Robert Guden had been a weaker man, I'm sure I would probably have been a homosexual.  But thanks to the dynamic; a rare combination of familial alchemy, I am a ravenous heterosexual.  Almost dangerously so, as some might attest.  But that's another story.  PEYTON PLACE by Grace Metalious.  Well, that's another story, too.

So a semi-dysfunctional family is the perfect template for a semi-dysfunctional family theme park.  Walt Disney.  Genius?  Or idea sucking vampyr?  Of the old school.  I'm not sure.  All I know, is that he was borderline fascist, probably schizophrenic, definitely a snitch, an agent for J. Edgar Hoover, keeping an eye on Socialist leaning staff, a Jew hater.  Salt of the Earth.  Amerika's Finest.

A Janus.  A lover of children.  A hater of youth.  And like Drumpf, someone who possibly had a Fueled of Dreams.  Inspired by the cocoa leaf. 

Like all of us Childers, Disneyland is a comfort zone of youth.  But as the Intelligence grows, an awareness of Ulterior Motives comes into the picture.  What is this thing called Power?  Disney is an Empire, after all.

The Magic of Disney on the Glowing Cathode drew us like lemmings to this Magical Place Incarnate, in Anaheim, just south of the railroad tracks and the remaining orange groves, of which this cursed county got its name, south of Fullerton, that magical place North, with hills beckoning from the flatlands.  Let's go Daddy!

In Fullerton, on our house on Janet Place, my cool father would let us younglings climb up upon the dangerously shingled tract house roof and view the nightly fireworks display from this exalted kingdom.  Nine PM.

After childhood visits with family, the teenage years, rebels without a cause, beatniks and ultimately hippies, would change the dynamic of "a day at the park."  It got more confrontational.  Lines were drawn.  Unlike the Statue of Liberty, not all the huddled masses were welcome at the Shrine of Anaheim.  Hell, they wouldn't let Nikita Khrushchev in.  I bet Putin today owns stock and shares in many of Disney's hidden ventures.  Someday, let me tell you about Hollywood Records and the Queen catalog.  I'm not sure even Walt would be pleased.  Walking in the newly developing Downtown Shopping area, the one built to compete with a successful Universal CityWalk, I'm sure Walt would be horrified and then thoroughly depressed.

So an irony begins, with Disney Security.  A dress code is installed in those halcyon years.  1967, 1968, 1969.  What started as my homage to the sartorial style of Illya Kuryakin, has now become a member of the little known Hullabaloos.  Disney wonks refuse entrance to anyone who looks like they might be a member of Big Brother & The Holding Company.  Don't want to freak out the tourists from Boise.

Of course all the Freaks want to go to the Park.  Dropping acid and riding the Monsanto Shrinking Experience is High on the Franz (Liszt, that is).  But not on the Matterhorn.  The death rate on that ride is slowly approaching mini-Vietnam figures.  No, No.  We are talking the transcendent moments.  Alice in Wonderland.  Peter Pan.  Most of Tomorrowland.  And possibly the Tiki Room.

And as the time passes for those of us who were the children of the first wave of visitors to the park;  the ones pulled in by the multiple magicks of the glowing cathode, the endless variety of dream images offered up by Uncle time passes the experience is wrapped in ever changing layers of darkness.  Like the feelings of Malevolence the very fairytale delivers.  Something Lurks Within.  What is behind the curtain?  Or truly hidden under the tunnels that exist under the Main Streets and Park Walks.  The box and foiled wrapping around the candied delights?  The Men in the High Castle.

And now Disney has an army of Storm Troopers.  You can't have TWO MAKERS.  Lucas, like Poland, has been annexed.  Or like Paris, is occupied.  Lucasfilm is under Vichy control now.

This story is abridged.  Like the day to day, year to year, decade to decade operation of this oddity nestled in Anna's Home, in Alternate Reich, Door Hinge County (Door Hinge being the only rhyme for Orange, as in Drumpf Orange.  And would the newly created Orwellian word, "Alt-right", a softer substitute for neo-Nazi or fascist or racist, be easily substituted for "Walt-Right?").

So under unusual circumstances, I am in the Real Dingyland.  Not the full park and not even the Dingy California Adventure.  Those adventures await in Episodes 5 & 6 (or is it the prequels?  I'm not quite sure.  I think Doctor Who storylines might be creeping in here).  No, I'm in the newly eminent domained Downtown Dingyland, or DTD.  And the rampant Guden cynicism is absent or at least at bay, like it was at Universal Studios.  Like the Major Maus, I am an agreeing lemming;  enjoying the food, exploring the shops, buying stuff.  "Gee Willikers, Pluto!  I'm even in the Dingyland Starbucks!"

And tonight, with the woman I love, I will watch the fireworks in this wintery square.  Not from a rooftop looking South in Fullerton.  But from Within.  Frodo at the Gates of Mordor. 

Is a further exploration of the ever evolving Parks in the Cards? 
Fan out.  And Stay Tuned...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

 "Do you need a change?"

What an amazing moment in history!  To witness a world gladly stepping backwards.  And blatantly; not the usual business of being covert.  Embracing your inner bully.  Finally following what the powers that be, wanted to be.  Till the general consensus of the outside world decided...that Fascism was a no-no.  Then the non French Red, White & Blue had to save face, play down those lucrative business deals with the Axis: Bold As Lunch (Ford, General Motors, IBM and the Bush Family Elders Prescott Banking Industry) and act the Hero and say, "Bad Nazi!"  Pretend to save the day.  John Wayne Knocks Them On Jaw.

Today is now Backwards In Time.  You couldn't write a more mediocre science fiction television mini-series, than the one we are living through at this moment.  Seriously.  A parallel universe.  Hack writing in the Age of Hacks.  "You Hacksed For It!  Time to meet this week's panel."

"But will any of this affect my internet service?"  So many people not realizing that they are like those Lemmings they watched in Science or Sociology class.  With the implanted wires in their brains.  Running across the electrified grid to hit the switch on the other side.  The one that will give them their amped injection of Switched On Bliss.  What kind of crap did they make us watch in Junior High School?  And speaking of crap, the current head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, compared those fed on media sources, similar to those individuals who have the obsession to eat shit.  It has come to this, Folks.  The Pope possibly aside, most people in charge are like that movie KING OF HEARTS, or Edgar Allan Poe's THE SYSTEM OF PROFESSOR TAR AND DOCTOR FEATHER.  No one is competent enough to run this thing.  The lesson of History: You will forget what it all meant, 'cause everyone else will.  Really...don't bother with any current work ethic or set of rules or plans to follow.  It will be changed.  And all your effort will come to naught.  History always repeats.  Only the lighting changes.  The Pro and Con is Constant.  It's the same always, just the Décor and Language evolve or de-evolve.  It's the Civil War, but with cell phones.  Business as Unusual.  News of the World Stage should be on ESPN.  The Election as Super Bowl. 

You will spot me in the forest, mon amis.  Le Bois Noir.  I will be wearing my black beret.

Saints Preserve Us!
And certainly other worldly Saints are needed now.  "When I need shirts, I go to Solvang" (???).  But when I need Saints, I visit the towns of their namesakes.  Hell, and of Troy Donahue, I lived in one for 28 years; followed by a further 19 in another.  Both female Saints, too (it is obvious I'm a Pagan Catholic; Cult of the Goddess, and all that).
So where is this going?  What is it all leading up to?  That I returned three times to my old home in Santa Barbara (Santa Barbaria for those in pain; Santa Babs for kids at the malt shoppe), for business and pleasure (and as an old alchemist, I try to make them one and the same).

"You must knock three times at the door, Charlotte."
Three recent visits to Santa Barbara, motivated by seeing concerts, but cosmically connecting with old friends and making new ones.  Like in the heyday of SPACE PIRATE RADIO activity.  The Switch Is On.
The first one was to see Ian Anderson, doing his concept operetta called JETHRO TULL.  Legal pressures forcing the creative stimulus.  Ian Anderson, still giving it the best he can.  And at that Santa Barbara theatrical palace, the Arlington Theatre.  (I could write a whole piece on this fabulous theatre, scene of so many special moments.  Like the Granada and the Lobero.  So much history.)

My Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull moments include shows at the Long Beach Arena (STORMWATCH tour with Bruford's U.K.).  Los Angeles Sports Arena for BROADSWORD AND THE BEAST with opener David Coverdale's WHITESNAKE, which I was happy to miss because Chrysalis Records had screwed up the Guest List...ah, the days of privilege.  More recent shows with the Little Lady at Thousand Oaks and San Luis Obispo (a Saint and a Bishop!).
Making this show extra special is hooking up with long time friends Paul Bergevin and dear, dear lost buddy Ryan Bates of the former Nippon ex-pat, now Steam Punk visionary.  Who needs rejuvenating mud baths at La Costa or 29 Palms when long time Fellow Travelers are reunited?  And the entering of spheres with extraordinary new friends like the incredible Hugh Mandeson.  A man of many travels.  An extraordinary evening.  The nightglow smiles were bright.

And the Gods and Goddesses of Olympus were working with this Hermes, when the perfectly timed neutronic collision happened in front of the offices of my old employer, the Santa Barbara Independent, with another old employer, newsman John Palminteri, my wife by my side.  "It's all in the timing."   

I had recently done a MELTING WATCHTOWRE entry regarding the joyful news days working with John after I had left KTYD and joined KTMS, recently in drag as KKOO-FM or 2KO, but still your News Authority, KTMS-AM.  Those were good days.  John was a great boss; gave me complete control as Art & Entertainment Editor on the AM, while I did SPACE PIRATE RADIO, and two other air shifts on the FM.  Time suspended in that moment, that meeting.
Back in the Re-Tardis, Jo.  We shall return for another mind boggling time inversion moment, when our location is set for the SOhO Restaurant and Club, for the Farewell Tour of Chad & Jeremy.  And less than a week after Ian Anderson.
Now Chad & Jeremy takes us right back to the beginning.  The Swinging Sixties.  Those marvelous Beatles era, long haired British duos.  Two stood out.  Peter & Gordon and Chad & Jeremy.  Peter and Gordon benefited by the fact that red haired Peter Asher was the brother of actress Jane Asher, who being at the time Paul McCartney's girlfriend, meant access to Lennon & McCartney songs passed on.  Chad & Jeremy had the task of making the music mostly themselves.
I related to Chad & Jeremy more in my Diamond Bar days.  First, Chad Stuart bore a physical resemblance.  Long, blonde hair and black horn rimmed glasses.  And Jeremy Clyde, also an actor, resembled horror actor Peter Cushing, who in my Mad Gothic Romanticism, I often emulated.  And they were psychedelic with a British sense of satire and whimsy.  Their last three albums are must haves.  DISTANT SHORES is their RUBBER SOUL.  OF CABBAGES AND KINGS is their SARGEANT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.  And the last album THE ARK is a concept album all its own.  Columbia Records label mates The Firesign Theatre even join in on the later work.
In the Sixties I went to Anaheim's Melodyland Theatre to see Chad & Jeremy in their prime, open for Bobby Darin.  Pretty surreal.  So when my friend Paul told me they were doing a farewell tour and would perform at Santa Barbara's SOhO Restaurant, I was excited.  Finally a chance to see again and say hello & goodbye to these cool cats of my early Bohemia.  And in such an intimate environment.

After the cancelled show by the Alan Parsons Project in San Luis Obispo turned into a visit anyway, as previously described, we head back to the Other Sainted City to see John Cleese with Eric Idle, again in the hallowed halls of the Arlington Theatre.  The last time we saw the former Python member was at the Lobero Theatre, following a showing of ...HOLY GRAIL.  And of course yours truly has some subliminal film time, while watching Cleese, Idle, Jones, Chapman & Gilliam perform live in what will become MONTY PYTHON AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL. 

One of the magical things about my long life in Santa Barbara, is the Architecture.  In the town of Saints, these theatres are places of worship.  Cathedrals of Art.  And like an Altar Boy on my youth, to an Altered Boy in my teens, I gravitate back to these Green Rooms of Religious Contemplation.  Thelonious Monk's Cells or Communion del Arte.  BeBaptism and a Prayer Piano.  A Curtain Calling.  A Church Service has always been a Matinee Performance.  Or a full blown Evening Event.  To Sermon, With Love.
And whatever denomination you choose to attend, these Church Hall Theatres...Arlington, Granada, Riviera or Lobero, when the stage lights come is the Sun of a Sunday Morning that shines through those stained glass windows.
And as the author of PYGMALION and SAINT JOAN  once said, when asked about retiring:  "What?  And give up Shaw Business?"

Sunday, November 27, 2016

"I just want to get the facts, Ma'am." 

Like any Crime Story, good or bad; like any Classic Noir, set in the Mean Streets of Downtown Los Angeles, the currently gentrified must start with a suspicious, violent Death.  The tone of danger is set.  The fine line twixt Life and the loss of same to the everlasting darkness of the Abyss.  This is the Underbelly, Man!  It is Then, and yet it is Now.  It's Alan Ladd and Veronica Silverlake.  Bogart and Bacall of the Wild.  It's a California Cuisine Menu with today's Special written by Jim Thompson.  FAREWELL MY LAUNDRY.  Ida LuPino Noir.

"It's Chinatown, Jake."  No.  It's actually Little Tokyo.  And the Death, an Ultra Violent One...happens between Burbank and Glendale.  On a train.  Like DOUBLE INDEMITY.  But not.  It's an Amtrak.  774, from San Loo E  to Onion Station.  Scentral California to the Big Avocado.  "This is the stuff, screams are made off."  Your conductor is James Ellroy.

The Passengers are unaware of the thin line between life and death that is to come.  Some of them are heading to the Rock Show.  And in two cases, the shows are different ones.  Myself and the Lady are destined for the newly coined term for the ghetto that once was Downtown Los Angeles.  DTLA.  For the Peace & Love Healing Vibes of YES members ANDERSON RABIN WAKEMAN.  The location, of course, that Palace of the Past, the Orpheum Theatre.  Home to previous encounters with KING CRIMSON and YES, the interior vibration is always relaxed and lower key.  And an alley behind the theatre that you know Marlowe has cased.   

But before the Dame and Eye have settled into our familiar surroundings; V for Vendetta shaped in Little Tokyo and City Hell, we must meet the soon to be disembodied living cipher who will violently depart this plane as train, under the wheels of our car.  Car number 5. 

The impact is unmistakable.  The train is a second home to us and we've done this route so often, one can tell when something is out of the ordinary.  "That wasn't right," I say to the wife, soberly looking eye to eye.  And it wasn't.  One can discern after the train has made a quick braked emergency stop, that the person no longer, has left two crime scenes: Part in the front at point of impact; the rest left behind, beyond the end of the Glendale headed train.  The carnage is bad enough to put out the lead engine and another engine is needed to pull the six car train set very slowly into the Union Station yard.  This will come way into darkness as the crime scene investigation draws on, longer than the actual trip itself.

Fortunately, I try to schedule any random Acts of God into the travel itinerary, since train encounters with outside objects, alive or not, is an increasing event.  The younger Rock Show couple in the row in front of us, are forced to miss the taping of Green Day on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.  Our show is for the next day, so we arrive into the Metropolis in the darkness; the skyline a surreal display of multi-coloured lights.  City Hall is prominent.  The Big Erection.  During the day, dwarfed like an ant below, I can't help but see Martian Invaders from the original WAR OF THE WORLDS, blowing up that Phallus into limpid rubble.  I'm sure it would be the same if I was in Washington D.C. with EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS.

Little do I know, that the next day before the show, I will finally accomplish the desire to investigate the upper tip of that pointed little head.  (And there's no code or subtext in the end of that sentence)  :)X.  It is the defining structure of classic Los Angeles. the dismay of some, the Walt Disney Concert Hall. 

On my own, in true Illya Kuryakin fashion, if Illya lived in a Retirement Home in West Covina, I decide to enter Christopher Wren's Fever Dream of an Extenze Infomercial; Frank Lloyd Wright on Viagra.  Before the Prophesy of the Coming of the Brutalist.  I. M. Pei?  I. M. Potent.  Let's see how far up this shaft we can go.
I am amused to see the news trucks of KCAL/CBS 9 & 2, parked up the butt of KABC 7 (my wife has some hidden sexual attraction for Weather Wonk, Dallas Raines...I think he is a THE FLY like mutation of Bryan Ferry and Jimmy Swaggart). 

*thighnote* (slightly higher than a footnote)  It is Okie Dokie to have a slightly perverse attraction to cheesy televangelists.  It is code when Benny Hinn, frothing in an ecstatic anointing moment sez, "Did someone touch me?"  I admit I have dark thoughts about "Pastor" Melissa Scott.  Especially when she is Speaking in Tongues (and her Temple WAS the United Artists Theatre in DTLA, now the home of the quite unlivable Ace Hotel and Ace Theatre).

There is a crowd of people entering the Main Street entrance to City Hall.  They are all there to get scanned and clearance for a City Council Meeting, which I believe has to do with street parking for those of the No Fixed Abode situation as opposed to property owners.  I never do this type of scanning.  Ever.  It is one of three reasons why I stopped flying.  Too Dystopic (that non-word used in place of dystopian). 

But I am in character, so all is well when I place my pockets contents in a small blue plastic container and prepare for my walk through.  A human walk through a car wash of radiation.  No beeps.  No red lights.  I'm surprised.  That metal rod in my hip (I don't have one), the stick up my ass (many insist on that one).  A belt, the most common of audio commotion (I don't wear one).  I reach the sign-in desk where a tall, dark officer assumes I'm with the City Council group, who are mostly dressed casual, those shorts and stuff.  I'm wearing my black Calvin Klein coat, so I might have passed for "concerned property owner" instead of "my vacation residence is a Ford Fiesta."  The officer is taken aback when I request "Observation Deck."  I expect a denial, but I'm asked to show I.D. and given a visitor's pass with no resistance.  A Jedi moment.  The officer quickly points to directions of the elevator maze that is the path to the top.  I'm blind, but have a memory of reading somewhere about the correct way of travel, ignore it and improvise like I know what I'm doing.  I don't.  But I have that Man from U.N.C.L.E delusional mindset.

The viewing floor is 27.  Many of the cars only go to the 22nd.  A hop out and then find the private or Express Elevators.  I find myself on floors and in corridors and offices I don't belong.  The back rooms of power and hidden means and ways.  No time for curiosity.  This cat needs the floor with the outdoor halls and balconies. 

Gliding into a secret unmarked office, with three young, almost hipster and trendy professionals behind computers, they are surprised to find their sanctum now inhabited by one; an aged runner perhaps.  Returned from Sanctuary.  I gravitate to the single lady, a Francoise Hardy type on my Left upon Entrance who is ready to offer assistance to this Elder from the Off Worlds.  But it is the taller, reed thin and friendly collegiate young man who stands to guide me out of the cyber labyrinth.  He speaks with a gleam of Masonic Ritual, that I have found my way to the lesser known private Lift that will lead me up.  I thank him most kindly for this rarified information and no Secret Handshake is proffered.  After pressing the Magic Button 27, like the Beatles finding the door that leads to the fire escape in A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, I am Free, Outside and Above the World.

I have the place pretty much to myself.  Nice.  Very nice.  The Metropolis below, but further away, thank the Goddesses for that, further away the newer towers of Moloch watch, ever watchful.  But further away...

After taking in the Four Points of the Compass, I decide to play in this Hall of Olympus, like in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.  I am alone in the Mayor's Room.  In the power driven spirit of Recent Coups, I satirically seize the reigns of mythical power.  I proclaim myself Shadow Mayor.  This is real!  I posted it on Twit Hair.

Taking my leave, Orpheus Descends.  Gorky heads for The Lower Depths.  I thanked the police officer who scanned my humble personage, was gracious enough to hand me my Hotel Key around the all seeing machine for my concern of it being demagnetized.  I complimented him on his work, shook his hand and expressed my appreciation for the work they do.  I'm still in character but my satisfaction puts me in Utopian Mode.  So an idealism is expressed and A New Hope for the Good Ones.  My sense of humour and irony only return when I realize no officer noted that the t-shirt I was wearing was caustically referring to the power elite from the film ROBOCOP.

And wait!  The day's adventures will blend into our concert tonight!  To conclude our musical YES band compare and contrast from the last visit to the Orpheum Theatre.  It's now time to experience the joining of forces with Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman (alphabetically, not chronologically as members).  We were surprisingly pleased with Steve Howe's version of the band, as those who read the Watchful Towre of Patty Melt entry.  At first, I wasn't sure.  But so far, concerts at the Orpheum have healing powers.  Trevor Rabin was sick with a virus that spread from and to all members.  He held up for all appearances sake to our audience, but got sicker enough to cancel the, as I write this, San Francisco show.  Jon's voice started tentative, but was in fine form as the evening progressed.  Rick, like Geoff Downes, can appear confused behind the keyboards, but unlike Geoff, was hypnotically note perfect.  His cape may not be as majestic as it was during the Tales era at Long Beach Auditorium, but his musicianship, like Steve Howe is dazzling to watch.  And the new cats on bass and drums inspired the older musos to have the energy and enthusiasm to make the whole ensemble come together.  The music was wonderful, with many high points.  I was particularly impressed with an inspired new arrangement of LONG DISTANCE RUNAROUND.  Another satisfying here and now experience at this most favourite DTLA theatre.

And so the Femme Fatale and I conclude another four days in the noir soaked environs of our home away from another house, that may or may not be a home.  Los Angeles always means old haunts and new discoveries.  And we added quite a few.  So after the tally, it was back on the train, retracing the line and place that held such tragedy for others.

And the facts?  That a 57 year old man, ethnicity unknown, had slashed the throat (but not killing, as of that time) of either his wife or girlfriend, ran to a train heading Southbound, telling a passerby he was going to kill himself, before jumping under the wheels of our car.  Not a single local TV station carried the story.  No news van appeared as we waited, as day ended and night came.  Perhaps they were covering City Council meetings.  The only info, which contained a number of false impressions, like train passengers were bussed away (we weren't), appeared briefly on media web pages.

Google it up, Man.  The Net is a Drag.