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 D├ęcor 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.

Friday, November 11, 2016

"I wouldn't want to be like you."

It all starts with Alan Parsons.  And it all ends with Alan Parsons.  'Cause he ended it.  Or his promoters ended it.  With his Project.  That projectile thing.  That thing that he projects.  Except it didn't get projected.  It became the Alan Parsons Reject.  The plug was pulled.  Sales were poor.  The wife and I could see it coming:  The Alan Parsons Project performance scheduled for San Luis Obispo was cancelled.  And we had made plans to go.

It has been a great year for concert events.  And if this post is up after Universal Studios and KULA SHAKER at the Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip, then it means I have skipped the chronology of Ian Anderson at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara and Chad and Jeremy at SOhO the following week.  And John Cleese and Eric Idle are in the picture for the end of this week.  ANDERSON RABIN WAKEMAN are scheduled for the Orpheum in DTLA on JFK's murder anniversary and then again in Anaheim at the Grove, end of November, early December, along with the Dingyland Experience.

Plus psycho-rendering experiences in the home of my youth, Fullerton, as well as new experiments in my later teen years at the ranch turned residential community, Diamond Bar.

But for now, train and hotel have been booked for the Alan Parsons Project show at Cal Poly that has been canceled.  So let's make it a two night, three day stay in the town that once meant new beginnings.  San Luis Obispo.  A lovely, but odd Village, that prides itself in mispronouncing its name.  Like a town filled with people who have slept with pods growing in the planters, gardens and basements below, the burg is united on saying the middle pass word as "Lou Isss."  When I was doing SPACE PIRATE RADIO at NPR affiliate KCBX and artists from out of town would send me station I.D.s, you always knew they weren't familiar with the place by saying "San Lou-E O-Bees-Poe."

Like I said, San Luis Obispo was at one time a possible home for new beginnings.  Of late, SLO town seemed like a movie set of disappointments.  KCBX had pulled the plug on SPACE PIRATE RADIO to cover their own butts.  If I ever was cynical about my many years in commercial radio, one need only witness the big fish/small pond corruptions of a rinky dink "public" station.  Don't be fooled by that mantle of a "liberal minded 'All Things Considered'" haven for community-minded broadcasting.  Like the Big Boys, The LIE is still there, functioning in a back room of deceit.  More eye opening moments for yours truly and I would love to name names.  But seriously, Fuck Them.  I put some (quite possibly hopeless) faith in the Returning Wheel of Karma, and wish everyone well.  *giggles*

Anyway.  SLO but, sure...Let's put this fear and loathing about the place back to bed.  I was MARRIED here, for God's Sake.  In a County Clerk's Office that once was a Porsche dealership.  ("Your Marriage May Vary").  Even the clerk who married us wasn't the person we were scheduled with.  Disappeared off the face of the Earth, like Judge Crater.  Not good omens.

I'm running out of Saintly towns to Minister in.  And the easy ability to merge right in.  Add to this, the town is filling up with psychedelic Sacred Cows.  Like the one from NOTHING IS SACRED in Santa Barbara, 1973.  We have already revisited the Mission Santa Barbara on our Chad & Jeremy visit.  We do the same in SLO.  The testaments to Junipero Serra are everywhere.  I'm convoluted between piety and heresy.  The ambivert me, always.

Everything about San Luis Obispo is coming through on an upbeat vibe.  Like the early days in 1992; my marriage vows in 1997.  The mixture of bohemianism and Classic Caliphornia.  The history of the area comes alive again to me, even though so much of it is tragic.  I love the railroad.  It is my chief (pun intended) mode of transport.  The area was perhaps the most difficult part of the route to lay down track.  The Central Connection in Central California.  And a living Hell for the degraded Chinese brought over to do the near impossible heavy work.  SLO had a historic Chinatown once.  Quite populated in comparison to the size of the ruling white areas.  Most of the Chinatown area was buried under a brutal style multi level car park garage.  Artifacts and opium pipes still turn up in the redevelopment of SLO's "progression."  I am fascinated by the area.

My mood is so good, I consider going over to the Palm Theatre and buying a t-shirt if they still have the kind I liked before.  I love the Chinoise motif and design.  The Palm is SLO's so called "arthouse" theatre located in what is left of the Chinatown district.  I liked the place when I first came to town, even though it more closely resembles a N.Y. smoker or 2nd tier Pussycat Theatre of the '70s located in the San Fernando Valley.  Jim Dee, the owner of the theatre has a movie related show on KCBX.  We meet and though I have hopes of doing movie-related events like I did in Santa Barbara, we never really connect.  I was far more satisfied working with the late Terry Boyle at the Riviera Theatre.  He was truly a kind man, although oddly on the opposite side of the political fence for one playing "decadent, liberal free lifestyle films from Europe and Asia."  He was a kind, considerate and giving manager/projectionist.  And I had a tremendously satisfying filmic relationship with him and his historic theatre.  After losing his gig at the theatre, he thanked everyone in Santa Barbara who promoted the high level of film offerings he had presented, including me and SPACE PIRATE RADIO and my arts and entertainment show on KTMS.  And then he took his life.  I am so sad to lose such a sensitive friend.

But I never make it to the Palm Theatre, so my magnanimous mood for the t-shirt is curtailed.  I do spend large amounts of time at Cheap Thrills Records and Captain Nemo; the comic book store connected at the spine.  A most eclectic combo, worthy of the bohemian environs of San Francisco or Los Angeles.  I am in an artistic archaeological mood, so this place figures twice in my stay. 

My current state of personal insecurity demands I need THINGS.  "I need a new toy..."  Totems for my Temple.  As a champion of the Under Cat, I snap up two STAR WARS figures.  Jar Jar Binks and Watto.  Cult items.  My cult.  I Dig 'Em.  Keep your D. Vaders and fartin' Stormtroopers.  Your cranky Han Solos and stuck up Skywalkers.  I get the joke.  Jar Jar Binks is the Keep On Truckin' inside character, the Goofy in the Lucas Mouseketeer Empire.  And Watto is the Middle Eastern Businessman who waves away Liam Neeson's Christ figure miracles.  Watto is the Banker who understands the Kabbalah.

I buy my toys.  I avoid the temptation of vinyl delights.  I don't want to carry them on the train.  Next time.  Comic books?  Yes, indeed.  I snap up a copy of the Dell Comic, YAK YAK: A MAD artist Jack Davis beatnik-themed satire magazine I once own in my MAD MAGAZINE obsessed youth.  Some early DOCTOR WHOs also come along for the ride. 

The vinyl temptation aside, musically my mindset includes Martin Denny, Les Baxter and a Stereolab I don't have.  All on CD.  All pre-owned vehicles.  I stay out of BOO BOO Records for the newer stuff.  It's connection to the "decisions not made in a vacuum" by KCBX are still vibrantly fresh.  I will give my new CD kopeks to AMOEBA RECORDS when I'm in Hollywood.  I do drop in to the eclectic bookstore next door, PHOENIX BOOKS for more lost treasures.

The visit is heightened by excellent gas, food & lodging.  I don't drive a car anymore, so the gas will come later after the food.  And we are In The Moment with nosh the first day at California Pizza Kitchen.  Everybody is really, really friendly, so the Magick is constant and carried into the second day at BLISS.  Perfectly named, the nourishment is both in the meal and the environment.  Eating outside overlooking the creek and Mission, the Vishnu Deities observing the Franciscans, giving us an all inclusive afternoon.
Our lodging is the Embassy Suites, a Hilton thingee we always enjoy.  This is our first stay at the SLO sanctuary, four floors with the atrium themed elevators, the lowest but appropriate height for the area.  The vibe in the Diplomatic Domestication is always smooth, having enjoyed with the wife previous Diplomatic Immunity in San Diego and Santa Monica. 

I am amused by the clear shower doors and my Amon Dual Nature of voyeur and exhibitionist comes out.  I am possessed by some alchemical spirit of Maximillian Schell in THE MAN IN THE GLASS BOOTH, denying his Nazi Past and Janet Leigh in PSYCHO.

Another Trip Experienced in Dream State.  Cheers everyone!  And *giggles* 2.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"I dislike mirrors. Van Helsing...will explain."

My wife would be happy to live her entire life in a theme park.  Dingyland is her Fortress of Solitude.  Hiding in Open Sight.  It is her Nirvana (of course, so are concert halls, clubs, movie theatres, as well as arenas and stadiums; the latter of which I truly hate).  Dingyland is going to take a lot of work on both of our parts if I am ever to embrace it as "The Happiest Place On Earth."  The Magical Kingdom.  I despise the concept of Kingdom.  Kings are usually Tyrants.  And the Tyrant Must Die.

This is not the time or place to discuss my love/hate relationship with Walt Disney.  As the mutated product of a young life misspent in Door Hinge County (Door Hinge being the only rhyming equivalent of Orange), I will save this rant for an upcoming encounter with the blessed/cursed location; this Carnival of Souls encamped in Anna's Home. 

No, instead I will sidetrack to the lovely lady's Second Place of Fantastic Diversion: Universal Studios.
Longtime listeners of SPACE PIRATE RADIO will know that I refer to the Hollywood Studio as Unilateral Pictures.  Producers of the Classic Horror Films like 1941's THE WOLF GUY, starring Lon Chairs, Jr.  "Even a man who's pure of heart, And says his prayers at night.  May become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms,  And his trousers are too tight."

Spontaneity becomes the choreography of motivation and I insist to the travel driven wife that we are off to Hollywood to see KULA SHAKER at The Roxy and stay at the Universal Hilton, visit the Park and do the Tourista Tango.

I've never done the Universal Studios Park, Rides or Tour Experience.  I have worked on the Universal Studio lot, however, a number of times and quite enjoyed myself.  Director John Landis, an old horror and sci-fi fan who when as kids hung out at Forry Ackerman's house of fantastic memorabilia; he lets me cavort in THE BLUES BROTHERS.  My former girlfriend, Sue Dugan, is now a costumer working for Designer Deborah Nadoolman, the wife of Landis.  I may discuss my subliminal film career, if you can call it a career, later.  But suffice for now, Universal Studios is the "Happiest Place" for me, because I've worked here, made money here, was given job offers here and all around treated well.  John Landis would grab me from the Jail House Rock scene (the movie's finale) and pull me along to his working bungalow, which just happens to be the one Alfred Hitchcock called home, and watch rough cuts of the James Brown sequence.  John would spend precious working time talking to me about our horror and sci-fi obsessed days at the home of the editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND and passing this information on to a lady reporter from the Denver Post.  That was January 1980.  Earlier, at the end of 1979, I was a paid extra in the Illinois concert scenes, actually filmed at the Hollywood Palladium.  Besides the music, the thrill of those two days was hanging with Cab Calloway and working with the great comedy actor John Candy.  I loved SCTV and hated SNL.

In the mid eighties, I would do one more film for Universal with John Landis.  INTO THE NIGHT.  Spending 15 hours shooting from afternoon till daybreak at the legendary Ships Restaurant on La Cienega Blvd.  That was a trip!  This film was the first leading role for both Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer.  I played a leather freak in black, Raymond Blurr.  The opening establishing crane shot of Ships Restaurant, showing the front door entrance, with yours truly, sitting at the counter with a beautiful, free-spirited, blonde woman (played by a lady model, who had just appeared in a ZZ Top video), was actually the last take filmed at nearly 4:30 in the morning.  In the other window, film director Amy Heckerling of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, serves dessert and coffee to Jeff and Michelle.  I am seen over Michele's right shoulder, in her responses to Jeff's line of questioning.

Later still, I would be offered a chance to write scripts for THE INCREDIBLE HULK television series, but purist that I thought I was, would decline.  Finally in 1994, I would be invited to contribute research and promotional assistance to THE SHADOW, observe the filming of the Sanctum scenes, and have full access to cast and crew.  A real buzz for a long time lover of THE SHADOW radio series and pulp magazines.  All this verbosity, to simply say the Universal Studios park has a not unwelcome feel to it.  Rather than Disneyland, which does have some magickal childhood memories, also includes a young adult contempt of its darker undertones.  Undertones which have soured into elder adult overtures of malignancy and betrayal.  How fresh the memories retain of a gestapo-like dress code, which often banned those of us with modish long hair from entering this exalted realm of fantasy.  Bullshit!

So it takes the Little Lady to bring back my Inner Child.  My attitude has changed.  My altitude has changed as well.  In hotels, I like the high floors.  What happened to my fear of California Earthquakes?  The train in that long tunnel in Chatsworth?  The Klaustro Kino Phobia of the subway; the tight fit of the Red Line?  Hah!  Hah!

The Universal Studios Park is a stage set, and I love playing on the stage.  The childhood memories flood back.  That's a problem with the Elderly Plumbing.  From the opening Universal Globe through to the paths & byways.  It's recess time!  My first order of preschool business is going to Springfield.  Now I have to admit, from the early days on, I was never a fan of the show.  Everyone else was.  Even as a comedy fan and comic artwork aficionado, I didn't have time for the program.  Even though Matt Groening contributed LIFE IN HELL to the underground press I did my surreal satires to and our paths crossed, I didn't schmooze.  THE SIMPSONS was on Sunday evenings, and I was prepping SPACE PIRATE RADIO for that night at the Witching Hour. 

Well, that has changed, like so many other things.  I enjoy the show for all its avant-garde touches and subtleties waiting to be picked up.  It's still smarter than FAMILY GUY or SOUTH PARK.  It's gotten friendlier and that's appreciated in this environment of cruel, angry and dystopian humour that permeates the mindset.  I need optimism when I'm cutting the enemy down with giggle-filled sarcasm. 

Even the wife, who tortures me, and I mean TORTUES, as in Bela Lugosi in THE RAVEN, "TORE-CHURES" me with her fanatical love for the accursed Dingyland....even the wife admits that Unilateral has the Park Life down better than the Walt's Stormtroopers.  Yes, it's WESTWORLD with a pointy fingerprint scan.  But the entrance experience is far more professional, less invasive and inviting then Dingy's "ARBEIT MACHT FREI," just off the train cattle car welcome at Himmler Street and the SSplanade. 

We do THE SIMPSONS ride.  It is the first ride I've been on since the original Captain Nemo ride or Mr. Toad or Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland.  Or maybe Tripping on the Monsanto ride, hoping to steal a kiss from girlfriend, Maggie Elfman.  This ride...there are warnings about people with heart conditions, nervous dispositions, spinal problems, sudden shocks, flash photography and epileptic seizures.  Like those medical ads on TV, "side effects may include certain death, shrinking of the toupee and testicular migration.  Do NOT take CRAPALOFT if you have suicidal thoughts regarding Jerry Springer, or find breathing a normal part of your daily routine,  Discontinue taking CRAPALOFT if symptoms include spontaneous choreography of the bowels, or sudden quantities of sawdust develop in your heart valves, thus causing pulpatations."
Oh, the irony!  I'm going to die on THE SIMPSONS ride!

And just a day after seeing KULA SHAKER at the ROXY THEATRE on the Sunset Strip.  I mean, KULA SHAKER.  Featuring frontman Crispian Mills, the son of my first childhood crush, Hayley Mills.  Hayley Mills whose photo on LIFE Magazine was my first passion for the opposite sex.  And Crispian, the son of director Roy Bolting.  Whose May-December marriage to Hayley caused an outrage--especially with Walt Disney!  And possibly began my obsession with younger woman.  Quite possibly.  Buy Roy Bolting is cool 'cause he directed all those great, early Peter Sellers films.

Ah, the ROXY THEATRE!  Saw STEELEYE SPAN there.  And STOMU YAMASHTA'S GO, with Michael Shrieve and Al Di Meola in the group.  And the original stage production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW.  Fab, man!

And yes, I DID survive the Simpsons KRUSTYLAND ride.  The wife and I even had a car to ourselves.  It was that mellow.  At the end of the ride, a camera takes a picture of the abused and surprised riders. Sadly and unfortunately, the flash didn't go off.  So I have no visual memory of surviving the experience with cherished woman.

I did die, however, on the MINIONS ride.  Next time, I will be prepared. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"I need a rendezvous...rendezvous."

The world seems out of balance.  A chaos factor in the air.  A Battle Extraordinaire.  Darkness versus Light.  Good versus Evil.  An Orange County version of Steam Punk.  A blending of time periods.  Josef Goebbels runs The Desert Fox News Channel.  Shicklegruber hosts The Apprentice.  Dancing With The Scars.  Lemmings going over the Edge with a Quick Quick Slow Two Step. 

It's hitting home.  Too Claustrophobic For Comfort.  So when the Poles shift; there's seismic action under your tap shoes...The Yin Yang becomes the Kling Klang:  We're heading off for the Rock Show.  Or in the Amon Duality of it all, the TWO Rock Shows.  It's a Deja View.  How does one fight off this malaise? 

By going to the Rock Show.  May-December, Young and Old.  In a Romantic Interlude.  Harold and Maudlin.

We are migrating South to see KRAFTWERK.  2 Times 2.  First, it's off to San Diego.  A new venue for the Little Lady and me: The Balboa Theatre.

A pattern has revealed itself, but with new variations.  My Muse and I love KRAFTWERK.  I am proud to say that SPACE PIRATE RADIO was the first commercial radio station to play the Work of Kraft (without the cheese...Louise!) in January 1974.  Despite that boast, the Beloved Little Lady has ACTUALLY seen Ralf Hutter and the boys, perhaps three times more than me.

If one scrolls or scrawls back to the collected Arcana that is the tower of candles melting, a post praises the KRAFTWERK experiences of San Francisco and Oakland, and bemoans the SoCal misery of the outdoor concert.  As mentioned previously, when asked at a certain time what were my favourite and least favourite concert experiences, I replied: BEST: KRAFTWERK, San Francisco, the Warfield Theatre.  The Worst: KRAFTWERK,  Los Angeles, the Greek Theatre. 

Why is this? 

The reason appears to me to be Indoor versus Outdoor.  The serious music lover wishes to be involved in the enclosed event.  Outside is social event, a picnic, a party.  A Festival.  It really doesn't matter who or what is playing.  The music is the soundtrack to the Happening.  The Audience is the Headliner.  The Massed Ensemble are there to be watched.  The Artists are secondary.  The Fourth Wall is reversed.

And so for KRAFTWERK, the earlier equation is repeated.  Our last experience with the band was in Oakland, at the Fox Theatre.  Three nights, but I opt out for my cranky man, low energy routine of seeing only one show.  Only E has the Energy for the marathon music binges.  And her secret life as a patient of Sacher-Masoch prepares her for the Ordeal to Come. 

In Oakland, I take the Middle Path.  Shows One and Three I avoid.  But not today.  For this pair of KRAFTWERK shows, I am now Sasha Mascot.  I'm the Alchemist of Pain & Pleasure.  I'm going for the Gold!

And why not?  I'm a changed man.  New experiences await.  The first show is in San Diego.  At a venue neither I nor my venue voyager has been to: The Balboa Theatre.

And the second show is on my fogging Birthday, for Krispies Sake!  September 18th, a Sunday: the actual day of my early entrance.  The place?  The Hollywood Bowl.  Let's Go!  I'm pumped!  I'm on Stereo Oids.

Yin Yang.  Kling Klang.  Indoor.  Outdoor.  Show me the Magick.

And it Manifests. 

The Balboa is a doorway into another mindset.  A theatre better prepared for vaudeville and Thurston.  Actually a low key auditorium that stages travelling musicals; this is not your typical hall for Pixies or a Depeche Mode Tribute Band.  Usually filled with Season Subscribers, it is, in fact, a treasure to savor an unexpected musical moment.  Quite simply, this theatre, named after Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the First European to see the Pacific Ocean (how appropriate!) becomes possibly the here and now of the best KRAFTWERK performance we have ever experienced.

It is sublime.  No yelps of inebriated concert goers, misplaced applause or disturbances to the performance.  The acoustics are delicate to accentuated.  There is room to breathe for the silent spaces.  It is Blissful.  It tops every show of the band I've seen.  My batteries are recharged.  I'm back in classic SPACE PIRATE RADIO mode.  I'm inspired.  And when I'm inspired, I ignore the Pods waiting for me to snooze.

As mentioned before, I've seen KRAFTWERK in concert 5 times total.  My much younger wife has seen them actually 13 times.  She loves sole founding member Ralf Hutter.  I respect him enough that I would let her move to Dusseldorf with him.  Now SPACE PIRATE RADIO was the first show to play KRAFTWERK on commercial U.S. radio.  And in all the years of the show, with all the musical heroes I've met, I and the wife have never met Ralf.  That must change.

And it did.

Thus making San Diego, this Southern Star of California, a place of new, surprising and cherished memories.

And now on the flipside of our platter...

"You say it's your birthday."  Usually frightened of flipping the odometer, I decide to celebrate an ominous numerological event by doing a second KRAFTWERK show in an open arena.  The Hollywood Bowl or Bowel if I feel the need for a cheap shot.  Actually, I don't hate the Hollywood Bowl like I truly hate the Greek Theatre.  The last time I was at the Bowl was for Monty Python.  Yes, the filmed concert of Monty Python at the etc. etc.  I am actually in the film, with excellent seats, sitting with my girlfriend at the time, Sue Dugan: actress, costumer and after TWILIGHT ZONE, THE MOVIE, the horrific triple death accident, nun.  Besides seeing the Pythons in the flesh and unknowingly appearing in the film, the performance was memorable for sitting with Doctor Timothy Leary and talking about ASH RA TEMPEL and Manuel Gottsching.

But I digress...I'm here on the natal day for KRAFTWERK.  "Are you coming to the Hollywood Bowl?" Ralf Hutter asks me and the wife in San Diego.  "Of course," I reply.  "It's my BIRTHDAY!"

And although the hot day turns into a comfortable evening, none of the subtlety of the San Diego performance is in evidence here.  A group of musicians performing classical interpretations of KRAFTWERK songs fails to soothe the outdoor party crowd.  No Balanescu Quartet here (look it up), though they do their best at winning over an unsophisticated crowd.  KCRW's Jason Bentley tries to win over the crowd in schtick I gave up years ago broadcasting at openings of Radio Shack in Carpinteria or Ellwood Beach.  I Marcel Marceau a gagging projectile hurl to E, returning to my seat.  I'm jealous, of course.  Why isn't SPACE PIRATE RADIO on KCRW, instead of Morning Becomes Erectile Dysfunction?  Something should be done.  :)X.

Instead of the ambient intro in semi-darkness in San Diego, the Bowl large screen monitors tout the wisdom of credit card purchasing power.  Inebriated old friends meet to discuss short term encounters.  People choose open chairs at random.  Views are blocked.  Vaping is the cool thing to do, even though it lacks any of the Eastern Exoticism of a B made Turhan Bey and Maria Montez film.

The Bowl has a lovely vibe in its location.  Voted by the LA Weekly as the Best Concert venue.  This would be true if music wasn't involved.  The show had major mistakes.  Another crashing defeat for the Outside.  Oh, well.  I took it in my stride.  Good Spirits prevailed.  The best thing about the show was the large screen, showing the Winston Smiths how cool the show would be if you were a half mile closer to the stage.  Unfortunately, the screen changes the colour of the actual staging.  A perpetual Kinda Blue permeates the transmission.


"It's my birthday too, yah."

We will always have San Diego.

On to the next bit...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

"Kind of a zen thing, huh?"

Celebrity Foods:  Ike & Tuna Turner.

Celebrity Foods:  Stacy Quiche.

Celebrity Foods:  Ramen Burr.

Celebrity Foods:  Feta Arbuckle.

Celebrity Foods:  Noodles Weaver.

The Mistress of Potato Noir:  Ore-Ida Lupino.

Racist Science Fiction Film:  PLANTATION 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

The Alcohol Choice of Imperialists:  White Man' Bourbon.

"You're a better martini than I, Dunga Gin."

The alcohol favourite of the Under 30 set:  Logan's Rum.

The leading chef in Middle Eastern Irish Food:  Pita O'Toole.

A well bread actor:  Pita Cushing.

Major theatre chain to cut chair size in half.  Now every movie "will have you on the edge of your seat."

New Summer movie about girder construction.  Critics call it "riveting." 

Eighties Music for the Elderly:  Hair Loss 100.

Nouvelle Vague Music for the Eighties:  The 400 Blow Monkeys.

Kylo Ren & Stimpy.

Friday, September 9, 2016

In and around Greg Lake.

Those Mysterious Eastern Urges beckon.  And a journey East means heading Southeast.  Once again, jumping on a Train of Thought.  "I think, therefore I Amtrak."  It's off to see the Rock Show.

This time, it's YES.  I've avoided the band's tours for some time now.  The last tour I went to with the Little Lady was Talk.  San Diego and Santa Barbara.  I was a Tad Cynical (wasn't Tad Cynical in DAMN YANKEES?) about a Jon Anderson free band; when Chris Squire died, I thought the door was truly closed.  Did I really want to go and sit through Steve Howe's YES Tribute Band?

Then I heard they were doing all of the Drama album and the two standout sides of Tales From Topographic Oceans.  I waivered.  After all, I had experienced the fresh and complete Topographic Tour with original members at the Long Beach Sports Arena.  Wouldn't this interpretation be a pallid cut and paste version? 

Well, a Blissful mood and deep love for my wife who loves all things YES made me get seats for the first announced Southern California show in Los Angeles.  And at a favourite theatre, the Orpheum, where we had so enjoyed KING CRIMSON.  I admire Steve Howe, so I thought it would be worth it to watch the man perform his artistry.

When it was announced that drummer Alan White had dropped out of the tour from back surgery, I thought this would be a bad omen.  Since Steve and Alan are the only two members who actually played on Tales and neither are original members of the band.  And every time I would see a recent picture of Steve, I'd worry that he wouldn't make it through the extensive and exhausting tour.

Fingers crossed.  As well as other body parts (but that's just part of the ageing process, not superstition).

Well, we are back in our favourite haunts of Downtown Los Angeles.  Referred to now by the hipsters and marketing people as DTLA (which sounds like a dyslexic pronunciation of TV station KTLA).  Our Sanctum located in the mystery shrouded alleys of Little Tokyo.  City Hall, blue veined and lighted, erectile guardian of the ant life below.  I am Kent Allard masquerading as Lamont Cranston, surveying my two views high above the Metropolis.  I know this place.  I will be sustained by harvest salad, Middle Eastern food, vegetable tempura and Japanese beer.  The wife will try Japanese Coca Cola.

Concert night.  I have prepared for the evening, making a sartorial debut in my GENTLE GIANT Octopus t-shirt.  It is the Roger Dean import cover, not the American octopus in jar one.  So there is the Secret Handshake--the shirted connection to tonight's performers.  Dean, the YES artist and GENTLE GIANT who toured with them.  I get many unsolicited compliments for the shirt.  Far more than any other one I have worn to a show. 

The Orpheum vibe is as relaxed as ever.  When the show begins, all seems well.  Like THE MOODY BLUES show I reported on in past cathode glow, the cynicism disappears, the talent rises and the spirit seems fresh.  Crescent fresh.

Steve Howe seems healthy and vital.  He is very limber and I wonder how his leg bones survive.  He plays masterfully and drops to his knees in rock star fashion.  I'm jealous.  I can't feed my cats without threat of appendage disaster.  And the new drummer impresses everyone.  One person passing by during intermission said, "I'm glad Alan didn't show.  This guy has a real presence."  Oh, my.  He was good.

Geoff Downes did an admirable job.  Though I've played his work on SPACE PIRATE RADIO from The Buggles on, I had never seen him live.  The Little Lady has from numerous concerts, especially ASIA.  I think Billy Sherwood is physically morphing into being Chris Squire.  And Jon 2, who used to have the effect on me like chalk on board, has brought me around.  His voice has rounded out, developing richer colours.  All in all, the show was very, very good.  This is probably the best this incarnation of YES will be.

I do wonder how the band felt about the poster outside the Orpheum, announcing the ANDERSON RABIN WAKEMAN band coming in November.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"It'll put hair on your chest."

My mood swings are definitely barometric.  Energy levels and enthusiasm, if posted on a yearly graph, would look like my utilities bills:  A rise starts at the end of January, SPACE PIRATE RADIO anniversary time; climbs higher through March and April; peaks by May Day and slides to crash and burn mode by July and August.  There is a hyper bliss in the Spring, a feeling that all things are possible.  As I get older and older, this vanishes with the Summer humidity and is replaced with a sticky discomfort and a cloak of fear and loathing.

I escape into the tropics.  Heading East via the West.

Previous blog entries around this time bear out the pattern.  Whole months disappear.  HAWAIIAN EYE becomes required viewing.  Sax Rohmer and FU MANCHU provide escape.  Anna May Wong, Tsai Chin and Lisa Lu (the actress born in 1927) are my companions.  And the soundtrack is Martin Denny.  Or Les Baxter.  Or Gene Raines.  Or Arthur Lyman.  Or Dave Pike. 

I consider the benefits of cool alcoholic drinks with little umbrellas in them.  Or a Tiki by the door.  I find zen in observing the palm trees.  It is an attempt to stop the pain.  The pain of this "modern" world.  And a dreaded lethargy.

So this is a feeble attempt to climb out of the hammock.  I can't guarantee much creative output aside from the "yellow peril" above.  The trade winds still beckon.  I found out about a Martin Denny album from 1966 called HAWAII GOES A GO GO.  Not on CD, I must find a copy, even though I don't own a turntable anymore.  And there still is that elusive HAWAIIAN EYE board game.  Anyone hear of copies, please drop me a line.  Hook or Sinker.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

"Whose Side Are You On?"

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" so goes the saying.  Mankind is a distinctly nasty piece of work, where operational lies are more tolerated than universal truths.  In the world of power broking, honesty is NEVER the best policy.  As a Cold War Kid of the Sixties, I was sublimely brainwashed with the dangerous allure of the Spy.  And it all masqueraded as entertainment.

The worst offender, of course, was James Bond.  I was never fanatically religious, but an early argument for me was, how could this man get a "license to kill?"  How did a government get the authority to override The Bible?  The Supreme Commandment of Ten, "Thou Shalt Not Kill."  Moral rule obliterated like getting permission to drive.  Also Bond is a Company Man, and my contempt for Authority Figures had settled in.

This is why SECRET AGENT and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. appealed to me more.  Early on I questioned whether The United Network Command for Law and Enforcement was a parallel for the dreaded C.I.A., but No!  This outfit had offices throughout the world.  And the early visual connection with the U.N. building, plus logo and title, suggested an international agency; a more efficient Interpol.  And it didn't take long in the former show, to realize that clever agent John Drake was working for corrupt bosses.  A state of affairs that would lead to THE PRISONER.

Not all Spy Movies and Television Shows are cut from the same cloth.  And like Friend and Foe, the sides are often changing.  Or might even be One and the Same.  Six to One.  Half Dozen to the Other.

Summertime was a great time for television in the Sixties.  When regular series went on hiatus and were not just filled with reruns, we were sometimes lucky enough to have the Networks bring in British series for the duration.  This was how we got SECRET AGENT (the American title for U.K. hit DANGER MAN).  And you really couldn't do better.  A smart show, that snuck in as a Saturday Summer replacement.  This would also continue for THE PRISONER. 

Another Summer Surprise was THE AVENGERS.  That first black & white season with Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee was very stylish with substance.  Unlike SECRET AGENT however, the success of the show, diluted with new American production money, put it into the category of Bond Parody.  More cartoon than novel.  More MODESTY BLAISE and less IPCRESS FILE.

So the levels in films of espionage vary.  And it depends on my mood swings how I appreciate each.  Recently I went on a kick seeing how many of the Sixties proto Bond films held up.  Many of them feature the American agent in London and  Europe, like BEN CASEY actor Vince Edwards in HAMMERHEAD, George Peppard in THE EXECUTIONER or the TV series MAN IN A SUITCASE.  The films always offered up the English Dolly Bird like Judy Geeson, plus British support actors such as Robert Morley, Charles Gray or Nigel Green.

The serious spy caper is John Le Carre or Len Deighton territory.  FUNERAL IN BERLIN, THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM, or THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD.  The tones change if the agent is David Niven, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey, Rod Taylor or Richard Johnson.  It just goes silly and sadistic moving to the Right with James Coburn or the worst, Dean Martin.

I'm currently dipping into THE AMERICANS series.  I'm wary with its C.I.A. spook producer credentials.  I try to avoid getting sucked into jingoistic 24 type propaganda.  THE AMERICANS is well made and certainly its art design is seductive.  Season 2 calls out.  I haven't been able to watch the last Daniel Craig 007 film.  Of the two extremes of spy films, the current Bond is more of a freak than ever to me.  Perhaps my mood will change.  But the only Bond film I admired was of its correct time: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE.  Only the fish killing each other in the tank scene makes me uncomfortable.

When I was on the air doing SPACE PIRATE RADIO at Y97, my third theme night at ZELO restaurant and nightclub was cloak and dagger oriented.  I was an Eighties Illya Kuryakin turned DJ.  It was a lot of fun.  There was no UNDERCOVER CHARGE.

Friday, June 17, 2016

After, against, along, among, around, at. Before, behind, below, beneath, between, but, by...Have I got a preposition for you?

1917.  The year of my birth.  Or so it feels.  Like the city.  Downtown L.A.  It's me.  I know it.  Knew it.  But now it's different.  It was once familiar.  But now it's changed.  I love that building.  The Million Dollar Movie Theater (like on Channel 9 during the late '50s and early '60s).  The theatre across from the Bradbury Building on Broadway.  Seeing those buildings is like looking in the mirror every day.  The structure is familiar, sort of.  But not so erect these days (*giggles*).  Possibly a needed retro fit.

How about that title, hey?  Reminds me of the days('60s & '70s) when film titles thought it was cool to be sort of endless.  DOCTOR STRANGELOVE, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.  CAN HEIRONYMOUS MERKIN EVER FORGET MERCY HUMPPE AND FIND TRUE HAPPINESS?  OH DAD, POOR DAD, MOMMA"S HUNG YOU IN THE CLOSET AND I'M FEELIN' SO SAD.  WHO IS HARRY KELLERMAN AND WHY IS HE SAYING THOSE THINGS ABOUT ME?  My favourite is THE PERSECUTION AND ASSASSINATION OF JEAN-PAUL MARAT AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES OF THE ASYLUM OF CHARENTON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE.  Of course, this one gets off the hook by simply being referred as MARAT/SADE.  The title itself?  It's one of those early childhood memories that refuse to dislodge from the cranial caverns, while more pressing current information is instantly forgotten.  It reminds me of a delightful CALVIN & HOBBES cartoon strip, where Calvin's father gets up from the chair and sez, "Why is it I can remember a jingle from an old '50s cigarette commercial, but I can't remember why I got out of my chair?"

The title ends with one of my earliest puns.  I can't recall anything else from letter C to Z.

This childhood flashback recalls another moment of madness in the First Grade Finger Painting Class.  Raymond Elementary School, Fullerton, California.  Our finger painted efforts are hanging on the chalkboard.  Every student is asked by the teacher to describe their efforts.  Each youngster points out their horse on the farm, skyscraper, jet flying in clouds, etc.  My work is nothing but colourful swirls.  The teacher asks, "So Guy, what is your drawing of?"  And swear to Dios, I replied, "It's my forged Picasso."  More proof, that I was not of this planet.

I leave you with an early version of SPACE PIRATE RADIO art for local press done by Mike Merenbach.  The final version as printed is on an earlier entry.  On this one, which is totally different from the published version, Mike did not finish the head.  Somehow, in my present state of decay, it seems appropriate.  Hasta lumbago, everyone!