Friday, November 25, 2011

"Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3."

My wife and friend of over 14 years.
Mad Magazine 1956-1959.
Cats.
Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Incantations by Mike Oldfield.
Harry Secombe's laugh.
Legs and Mini-skirts.
Local Hero and Comfort and Joy.
Jacques Tati.
Body Love by Klaus Schulze (both albums).
The Cosmic Giggle and repeatedly Getting Away With It.
Surrealism.
Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, John Neville, Christopher Plummer and Jeremy Brett, making one feel at Holmes.
Gothic literature.

The ladies I have had the pleasure of knowing: Ex-lovers, a number; Ex-friends, some; Ex-wives, none.
Danse Sacree et Profane by Claude Debussy.
Barbara Steele in Black Sunday.
Raquel Welch.
An oscilloscope, Mack the Knife and Ernie Kovacs.
Birds.
Bel Air by Can.
Candles.
Altair-4, for outside appearances can be deceiving.
Klaatu and Eros...same purpose, different methods (Klaatu had Gort, but Eros had Tana).
Turhan Bey's voice.
Orson Welles selling peas.
Atem by Tangerine Dream.
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir.
The humble potato in any form...baked, mashed, hashed, fried and totted.
WINE...the WINE, oh the WINE (and all the GOOD results that come from it).
Sandalwood incense.
Jean Shrimpton.
Chaplin, Keaton and Groucho.
Rabbits.
The music of Basil Kirchin.
The Doctor's Companions.
Shag haircuts...in fact all haircuts, especially long ones, but short ones work too, girls preferred, but yes...hair it if you got it.
Echoes by Pink Floyd.
Della Street.
Mr. Lucky by Henry Mancini.
Jane Asher and Marianne Faithfull.
Nederlander Dance Theatre.
Isadora Duncan.
Is My Face on Straight? by Premiata Forneria Marconi.
Chef Bruno Languini.
Cheese.
Avec Frommage.
Emmanuelle 2, The Joys of a Woman.
Spike Milligna, the famous typing error.
"I Resign."
Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ken Russell & Nicolas Roeg--The Fantastic Five!
Roger Moore as The Saint.
Tomatoes.
Turtles.
All creatures great and small.
Alcool.
Toulouse-Lautrec.
Judy Geeson, Sally Geeson and Eva Aulin.
When the pain is gone, like now.
The steamy stuff.
Midi-minuit fantastique.
George Sanders.
"What, Me Worry?"
Raccoons that will eat out of your hand.
Lolita Ya-Ya.
Inventions for Electric Guitar by Ash Ra Tempel.
Margo Lane.
The art of Will Elder.
Twiggy.
Playboy, 1964-1974
Peter Sellers in The Battle of the Sexes.
Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
Olivia Hussey in Romeo and Juliet.
Yoda in exile, Trotsky in exile.
In Den Garten Pharoas by Popol Vuh.
Nastassja Kinski.
Senor Wences.
The Isle of Everywhere by Gong.
The Uninvited, 1944.
Go-Go Girls, from Shindig and Hullaballoo to Musikladen.
Happy to be me, appreciating you, glad we are not one of them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Inarticulate."

"...And you'd like to be the sort of person who can use words like inarticulate?"

On Space Pirate Radio, I am proud (humbly) to have introduced German imported experimental music to commercial radio.  The German hipsters, inspired by Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane and all things electronic, ethnic, eastern and eclectic.  When this peculiar, non-American rock began to be noticed by Westerners, the uninspired needed a label for it.

I am pleased that in my entire history of broadcasting, I NEVER ONCE called this genre KRAUTROCK.  The term, then and now, makes me sick to my stomach.  This hideous description was created by the clueless cretins who had NO IDEA what the German Experimental Music Scene was all about.  Just a lump all name for something that inarticulate xenophobes used to brand music that didn't have English lyrics some of the time, and was performed by possible Aryan types from the Deutsche Republic.

Progressive?  As progressive as calling Blues and Jazz, Post Modern Minstrel Music.  That's N-tertainment, in a Word.  Arschloches!

And while we're at it, how about Italian progressive?  Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Premiata Forneria Marconi.  Shouldn't we put a sticker on their LPs?  WOPMUSIC.  "Wop, wop, wop muzik!  Everybody talking about...Wop Muzik!"

Granada and Triana from Spain?  SPICROCK?

Sadistic Mika Band and Yellow Magic Orchestra?  NIPROCK, of course.

Ange, Atoll, Heldon and Malicorne from France?  FROGROCK?  How about FROGRESSIVE MUSIC?  Magma would have to be FROGFUSION.  ("What we got here is a Ball of Frogfusion.")

I admit I'm going off on a rant here ("A FINE ride for the cranky"), but I feel focused and justified.  I HATE LABELS.  They are the cliff notes of the uninspired.  When you are in the realm of something new, it doesn't have to be indexed immediately.  Only LATECOMERS to the party need a description, and then ALMOST ALWAYS for marketing purposes only.  "I don't know what you've got here Boy, but HERE'S how we'll sell it."

Anyway... KRAUTROCK, the term offends me. And don't even GET me started on the label New Age Music!  Excitement over something new can be quickly neutered by a dull description--a philosophical ethnic slur.  People who cry "MURDER!" can be dismissed as "conspiracy BUFFS."  Rebels become Patriots.  Allies become Terrorists.  How quickly a feeling can be changed by a turn of phrase.  Or a belief altered in a brand name.

So to all of the German artists I introduced on Space Pirate Radio, including...Amon Duul (1 AND 2), Tangerine Dream, Can, Ash Ra Tempel, Kraftwerk, Popul Vuh, Faust, Cluster with a C and Kluster with a K, Neu, Harmonia, La Dusseldorf, Guru Guru, Floh de Cologne, Eloy, Jane, Embryo, Niagara, Klaus Schulze, Scorpions, Novalis, Deuter, Al Gromer Khan, 18 Karat Gold, SFF, Michael Hoenig, Nina Hagen, Gina X Performance, Eroc, Grobschnitt, Sweet Smoke, Eberhard Schoener (with a pre-Police Sting and Andy Summers), Cosmic Jokers, Walter Wegmuller, Peter Michael Hamel, Propaganda, Thomas Fehlmann, Einsturzende Neubauten, Mouse On Mars, etc., etc., my apologies. For the shortsighted, unenlightened Westerners, clueless, tuneless and full of fear, when the space for knowledge is empty, but the tummy must feel full.

Did any German folks buy American music filed under YANKROCK?  How about WANKROCK?

Zen Question: "What is the sound of one hand wanking?"

Yoda Guy sez: "I will just go back to the music.  The sounds are always individual and open to interpretation.  They're filed under... "

Friday, November 18, 2011

"I can hear the hum."

I recently watched Magic Trip, Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place.  After the recent viewing of the acid drenched Skidoo, I'm seeing trails, man.  It's been the 24 Hour Technicolour Trip.

Flashback...! (Is it Chris Karrer's voice or Lothar Meid saying that?)

As I said in the previous entry, a lot of straight looking people were dropping acid courtesy of the medical profession during the early Sixties.  They didn't look like the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers or Syd Barrett's Madcap yet.  A book could be written about the slick Vaseline hair groomed Madison Avenue types who were Madder than they appeared.  The ties hadn't come off to be replaced by Nehru jackets and love beads.  Wait a while kittens.  Sammy Davis Jr. will be the first Rat Packer to change his wardrobe.

1968 and it's like the Pep Boys meets your high school gym coach: "Turn on, tune up and drop for ten!"

This seems like an ongoing series in the psychedelic experience.  Southern California and this NEW STUFF is floating around Orange County.  Tab acid.  Made in someone's tub in Huntington Beach.  Orange Wedge. What the...?  "Cut with strychnine."  "Too much Speed."  Double What the?  Kilo What the?  Kids in Pomona and Covina weren't as Experienced yet.  They were taking mini-whites with Old English 800 and heading to the drive-in.  Spirits of the Dead with Terence Stamp and Jane Fonda, or Two Gentlemen Sharing with Judy Geeson.  Always movies from American International.

So let us slow down and ponder this awakening to the new colour vibe.  This better living through chemistry? Cube, tab, pyramid, blotter.  Liquid or Salvo, like you used to put in your washing machine?  Being an innocent bystander, I never saw most of this.  Tab may have been in the fridge.  And there were Pyramids on the wall.  But cubes and blotter, never.

If I HAD been like Doctor Hoffman, hypo-thetically speaking of course.  AND ONE FELT COMPELLED to consult with the ly-surgeons, it would seem ESSENTIAL to have the PERFECT environment to conduct such experiments into higher consciousness.

These could include:

a) an all-nighter before going in for your military draft physical.

b) driving on a freeway in Anaheim, seeing an orange glow in the fog, initially thinking it's a fire, calmly reassuring yourself that it's only the light from the neon sign, only to drive by and see a residential home on fire, being first on the scene 'cause it's after 3 AM.

c) in bed, pillows, curtains, candles, incense, naked girlfriend, feeling you died and this must be heaven.

d) in bed, pillows, curtains, candles, incense, naked girlfriend, seeing orange glow outside window, thinking it's only the light from neon sign, realizing there IS NO neon sign outside, seeing van on fire in driveway.

e) watching appropriately spiritual/sensitive movie in Hollywood like Raw Meat with Donald Pleasence and Christopher Lee dealing with tormented survivor zombies in London Tube.

f) listening to cool imported space music on Sunday night/Monday morning radio.

g) actually playing cool imported space music on Sunday night/Monday morning radio.

Epilogue that is really a prologue:

In retrospect, Mercury in Libra kicking in folks, I think my generation could be considered quite insane to have experimented with something born of the straight world, controlled by the military, created in effect to control human behaviour.  What were we thinking?  At the beginning, much less than would be acquired.  We were reacting, much more.  Reacting against the social controls.  Breaking the bonds FELT GOOD.  It DID feel good.  "What's so bad about feeling good?"  The question for me is, did we take those feelings and transform them into collective freedoms?  Overall, I think not.  I think at least 80 per cent of us can still identify with those wire implanted mice, questioning whether they want to cross the electrified grill and hit that switch to give them the brain pain reliever.  The other 20 per cent own stock in the electric company.

So...

Memories of an orange wedge that came from Orange County which later became an orange glow, from the orange glass that held the candle, while playing Wendy Carlos A Clockwork Orange or Pink Floyd Apples and Oranges.

I hate the electric company, but orange you glad that the power's still on?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Plenty of jam jars, baby."

Yes, Senator.  I admit it.  I AM a Marxist!  Groucho, that is.

I recently bought Skidoo, the infamous psychedelic filmic disaster from director Otto Preminger.  Featuring the last film appearance of Groucho and a gallery of Hollywood greats caught up in a 1968 car crash of Catskill meets capsule humour.  Infamous for a time because of the conflicting tones of Ed Sullivan presents Hair, this cult item was long kept in the vaults.  Watching Jackie Gleeson trip out on acid, as well as three villains from the old Batman TV series: Burgess Meredith, Caesar Romero and Frank Gorshin.  Plus Mickey Rooney and fellow birthday boy Frankie Avalon being seduced by a nymphomaniac Carol Channing. Mondo bizarre.

Anyway, Groucho plays a character named God.  And supposedly he dropped acid to be in tune with the kids.  Not that LSD was sole property of the Now Generation.  It seems it was used rather extensively by the Then Generation.  Cary Grant.  Gig Young.  More pretty leading men than Middle America would have cared to known were taking the stuff "by Doctor's Authorization."  I watch actors from the late Fifties and especially the early Sixties and see window pane eyes in those method performances.  Hollywood High is not just a school.

But back to Groucho...

Very trippy in the film.  Seeing him with a beautiful, half naked, African-American, super tall, runway model type, dressed in a total back to butt cleavage exposed gown.  Far out.  And further out as a yogi type, smoking a joint on a peace/love bedecked sailboat.  From Margaret Dumont to Marilyn Monroe to Carmen Miranda to Jayne Mansfield.  And now this.  Baggy pants, indeed.

There were 5 Marx Brothers, later 4.  And then there were 3.  Like the Goons, first 4 and known as 3.  Thank Krishna the Beatles were 4.  Many claimed to be number 5.  "Who is number 1?"  You ARE...number 6!"

But back to Groucho...

Supposedly after Richard Nixon lost the Governor's race in California, he moved to a home on Groucho's street in Hollywood.  "Isn't it terrible?" a neighbour asked Groucho, about their new arrival.  "Well, better here than in Washington," was his reported reply.

I once interviewed Bud Cort, half the star of Harold and Maude.  He lived in Groucho's home for a time. That seems pretty surreal to me.  Like Kato Kaelin living on O.J. Simpson's property.  Or Truman Capote living with Johnny Carson's ex-wife.  I asked Bud more about his friendship with another psychedelisized leading actor, Peter Sellers.  But high times seemed a constant with both comedians.

The closest I came to Groucho was in 1975.  I was in Westwood Village with my girlfriend at the time, seeing an early show of the just released Woody Allen film, Love and Death.  Staying after the credits ended, house lights up, we lingered discussing the merits of the film.  It sort of dawned on me that people were not entering the theatre for the next showing.  This was odd because at that time, intermissions between showings were very short.  It was then that we discovered that the theatre managers had held back the next audience in order to escort Groucho Marx and his lady companion to the row behind us.  "Oh my God, it's Groucho!" Wearing his checkered tami or beret or cap, we smiled, nodded a silent greeting and left the theatre.

Outside, the patrons were queued up to be let in.  Strangely, and this is true...there were young men dressed up as Groucho waiting to get in.  Like a pre-Star Wars thing, I was never sure if they were fans, groupies or just a coincidence.

Or maybe it was the acid.  I wasn't tripping, but I can't vouch for the rest of the cast.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"He walked with a pronounced limp. L-I-M-P. Pronounced LIMP."

The 1970's.  Still in pursuit of the Cosmic Giggle.  Working, if you can call it that, at freeform wireless station KTYD in Santa Barbara.  No one has grown up yet.  That perversion won't begin till late 1980 and the murder of John Lennon.  For the time being, the children have STILL taken over the daycare center.

The steam madness of KTYD radio was a place where business as Unusual was the modus operandi.  How cool is that?  You turned your jokes into art, and art became commerce.  Simply because people bought what you were selling if...you GAVE it away first!  And most of all...if they actually could tell that you loved and believed what you were doing.  You can feel this LOVE VIBE at Verizon, Chevron, B of A and News Corporation today, can't you Children of the Revolution?  Especially at Fox.  Those brown shirts smell Downey fresh!

So for a brief time, the work ethic was Labours of Love.  If you thought it was good, do something with it. That would creep in with the creeps later, but I am really trying to hold back my kitchen cynic mode and accentuate the positive.

And that Cosmic Giggle.

The station was always involved in local artistic endeavours: concerts, film shows, plays and art events.  We still thought of Santa Barbara as a community.  Not just the playground of the wealthy, or a place where bodies from the San Fernando Valley or Orange County could be conveniently dumped over the Mesa Cliffs.  No sir.  A real community of multi-talented artists.  That's what made freeform KTYD the place EVERYONE tuned into.  Rock? Every variety.  Jazz.  Man, the station was a hipster's paradise!  Blues?  The BLUEST!  Folk?  You bet.  American or British?  Joan Baez or Fairport Convention?  Space Pirate Radio was there, bringing Gentle Giant to the Arlington Theatre, Renaissance to UCSB, Alan Stivell to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.  The station's list of musical guests is amazing.  Almost endless, really.

And cinema?

Santa Barbara in the Seventies was a movie lover's paradise.  One local promoter would do triple bills of eclectic offerings at the Arlington Theatre.  In an age when seeing a film was not yet a convenient home viewing experience, the film lover was desperate for a sympathetic venue.  If there was a film I hadn't seen or wished to view a lost favourite, we simply booked it into a local theatre.  Pink Floyd films, like in Pompeii or More or La Vallee or Stamping Ground or Zabriskie Point...these would show up at a Midnight Double bill with Yes in Concert at the Airport Drive-In (pictured in a previous entry).  But more likely in Isla Vista at the Magic Lantern Theatre.  This WAS the cool theatre.  Two theatres actually, with the mini left wing smaller cavern on the opposite side of the snack bar.  Called Midnight Flicks, flyers were printed for each weekend's offering.  We snickered when the artist would put the L and the I rather close and the Kinkos copies would blend.  Suddenly a different event was being advertised.

It's movie night at the Chateau.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Because I'm in no condition to receive bad news."

Inside every elderly person is a juvenile delinquent crying out to be set free.  The dreaming creature inside this mortal coil is a spirit filled with an amount of experience, sometimes called wisdom, wishing to have the vitality of younger foolish days, hoping to find a balance of the two.  Alas, it is not to be.  It is a rare moment when Goethe can engage in pure philosophy, yet still have the power of thrust to engage in a three-way.  (If you smoke after a three-way, do you call a cig-alert?)

Older people are like out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Tiny midgets of mirth trapped in barely walking corpses of curve.  But in true English tradition, we Carry On, Regardless.  The youngins laugh.  Pathetic geezers.  Quite clueless.  Logan's Run.  "Your hand crystal has changed colour."  This is why people over 40 don't commit mass suicide.  And why I don't own a cellphone.

But first, your local weather...

Cloddy.  Partially cloddy.  Obscured by Clods.  Clods in way.  Can you see me now?  Highs tonight...hopefully.  Otherwise, more of the same with a chance of something.  Early morning stuff, but that should change later.  And now a word from our sponsor:
Bongos (when one bongo is not enough).

When you're young and stupid enough to think you're an actor, playing OLD seems a lark.  Twentysomethings love to pretend to be sixty.  Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten in Citizen Kane.  Peter Sellers in The Smallest Show on Earth or better yet, in The Battle of the Sexes.  I played a fat old man of the cloth in Abelard and Heloise in college (pictured).  People said, "Oh look, they got an older adult to play with these college students."  Should I be flattered or seriously depressed?  Probably both.  Actually, at the time on stage, I was more concerned with the silver goblets we were drinking from.  The tech crew had painted them with a silver spray and the paint floated ominously in the water we were drinking.  Anyway, all of this could have been avoided if the phone company had given me a job.


I haven't bored you yet with this story?  Prepare to look in the Medusa's eye and be taken for granite.

When I was looking for work in the late Sixties, I thought my radio voice would work well as an operator for the telephone company.  I went for an interview and test somewhere in the hellhole of the San Gabriel Valley.  It took all day.  I was the only male applying for the job amongst a small group of women.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE women and was happy to be in their company.  I'm a suffragette.  I read Mary Wollstonecraft and Germaine Greer.  More likely than the woman who was doing the interviews.  In the skill tests, I scored higher than the group.  Zowie!  This is in the bag . But then came the FINAL SOLUTION, the psychological profile.  Some faceless female asked me about my previous job.  That job was (if you've noted in a previous entry. POP QUIZ!) working for the Los Angeles Times soliciting new subscriptions.  I was really good at it.

But I failed to realize that honesty is NOT the best policy when trying to get a job with a monolithic company like Pacific Telephone or Bell or whatever it was, post coffee cans and string.

Like a patient talking to his shrink (which I have never done, so this is a hypothetical Romantic device I am using simply for a lyrical/symbolic ironic metaphor, shaded in satirical symbolism), I confide to Ilsa, the She-Wolf of the S.S., that I FELT GUILTY calling people at home and convincing them that they should subscribe to the daily paper.  Big mistake.  Red lights went on.

The creature looked down at me and said, "It's my job to feel whether or not there is a fit with the applicant and the company, and in YOUR CASE, I feel there is no fit."  So even though I scored higher than her fellow Amazons, I was out because of an ethical consideration note on invading one's privacy.  She even sarcastically said, "Well, you're not out anything...except spending your entire day here."

Would Gloria Allred have taken this as a sexual discrimination case?  Probably not.  This was still the Sixties and SOME women still had issues.

So, despite my cynicism, I still like women more than men.  But whoever you were Madam...things probably changed for you.  If they were good, well terrific.  But if they went bad, consider the small details.  Every turn, even the tiniest, makes a difference.

Trust me.  I've given this a lot of thought.  I used to put baby powder in my hair to look older (helps you buy beer when you're under age).

No one asks for ID now (only if I need help with the oxygen tank to the car).