Posts Tagged rockabilly

Soul Purpose

22 May 2012

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to life lately.  Asking myself if I’m really making the most of my time on earth, or if I’m mindlessly going with the flow because it’s easy or because I assume I have no other choice.  I was reading the April 2012 issue of Guitar Player magazine a while back — bear with me — and the editor (Michael Molenda) offered up a gem, just the latest great quote encouraging us to be present and mindful and take the time to sit down and savor life’s great moments.  As he put it, “‘Live every day as if it were your last’ often gets rewritten as ‘Make sure every day is crammed with meaningless, self-important crap that allows you to feel busier and more valuable than the person next to you.’”  And that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling about a lot of the things that I spend my time and energy on.  I have this increasing sense that it’s time for some big changes.  Some once-every-ten-years kinda changes.  That could mean a pretty big shake up.  Maui might be one part of it, and just think of all the consequences that might have.

Before I get too deep, how about some more lighthearted updates?  I’ve seen some great shows lately.  Most astonishing was The Darkness at The Fillmore.  That show was jaw-dropping.  The ease with which Justin Hawkins seemed to set the stage on fire with his soaring falsetto, acrobatics, and guitar mastery… I mean it was stunning.  I saw him drop a plectrum, kick it back up sideways hacky sack style, catch it, and start his solo, all while looking not at all surprised it worked.  It is a contender for the best live show I’ve ever seen.  Other highlights include Devo (looking very old but not caring… oh, and also sounding amazing), The Buzzcocks, Pulp (another fantastic show), and a one-time reuniting of our old friends Dead Souls.  After dragging my feet about it, I finally broke down today and got tickets for Morrissey in Stockton this weekend.  Happy birthday, you old diva.  You get my money again.

My own music has been good, too.  The Rumble Strippers have had a few successful shows and seem to be climbing the ladder a bit.  Our name is getting out there.  We’re working on new songs.  We recorded four songs in an actual studio (which was new to me), including one I wrote.  It’s all very promising.  And then TCB has an incredible new singer (Michael) who is possibly the best I’ve ever heard outside of Mozzer himself when it comes to those songs.  He’s got the moves, the voice, and is a terribly nice person to boot.  We’ve got a ton of shows coming up this summer, including trips to Portland, Seattle, and SoCal, and even a date opening for The Polecats.  Not to mention the great shows last weekend at Slim’s and The Catalyst!  Slim’s had some epic moments like walking on to “Imperfect List,” playing the “Subway Train” intro to “Everyday Is Like Sunday” as well as having David’s help on keys.  He also joined us for “Jack The Ripper,” and Nick took on an acoustic guitar for “King Leer” and “Seasick, Yet Still Docked.”  We closed with “Now My Heart Is Full,” which Michael ingeniously medley’ed with “I Won’t Share You” and then bowed and walked off while we continued playing.  It was perfect.  But come to think of it, the last couple months were brutal in terms of shows.  I think at one point I had six or seven straight weekends of shows, alternating between TCB and The Rumble Strippers.  But I guess that’s a Cadillac worry, as they say.

I had a minor surgery which was new for me as well.  No stitches, but dealing with caring for it led me to have my first panic attack in ages.  It happened at the hospital.  Good times.  But at the end of the ordeal, I was left with a better sense of my own resilience and confidence in what I can deal with, and that’s the ultimate antidote for anxiety.  Let’s see, what else?  Had a fun time at the pinball museum in Alameda thanks to Eden’s surprise party for Margaret.  Damn, there was a ton of stuff in past months I never got around to mentioning, including my brief attempts at ice skating and Bikram yoga, as well as ongoing vocal lessons.  Then there were two big trips.  One was Europe (yes, Europe!), but more on that next time.  The other was Viva Las Vegas, which after all these years I finally attended, along with my expert C-Po.  I’d intended to write about it last month, but preparing for Europe kept me swamped.  I’ll do my best to recall it now…

I’d been waiting to go to Viva since around 2004, but the right situation just never presented itself.  C-Po calls it “rockabilly summer camp.”  And specifically for vintage-lovin’ girls, it’s the “Fashion Olympics.”  Both descriptions are totally accurate, it turns out.  We spent most of the time within the Orleans Hotel, as that’s where all the events were anyway.  We perused the many, many booths of clothes, jewelry, pomades (where I picked up some Layrite swag), stickers, etc.  There was a vegan custom shoe maker from the U.K. that I plan to work with in the future.  We gambled and won and then broke even.  (Penny slots, dude.  It’s the only way to go.)  We didn’t stick around for the whole of Elvira’s show, but we caught most of one of Charles Phoenix’s hilariously-narrated slideshows.  We took advantage of several free dance lessons, and though I’ve forgotten many of the steps already, I was a damn decent jiver and bopper for a few days there.  We skipped the car show due to time constraints, and limited our time at the pool party to a quick walk around it just to get the feel.  We took a walk through a fancy mall full of only the highest-end designers’ storefronts.  We saw tons of friends and spent a good amount of time with the drummer from Quarter Mile Combo.  I heard there were something like 8,500 paid attendees this year.  Then there was that damn wristband, pretty and detailed as it was… I did not appreciate having to keep it on 24 hours a day for four days.  The “rockabilly summer camp” vibe was really all about all these scene people under one roof, staying in the same hotel as if it were a giant dorm or a sleepover party.  And of course everything is open 24 hours a day.  Everyone getting all dressed up to be seen each night.  It was fun, I can’t deny.  And as for that “Fashion Olympics” aspect, I don’t doubt it now.  There were countless unique and wonderful outfits.  Obviously I don’t know what I’m looking at, but C-Po  and her friends all know and recognize who’s bringing it and who’s a poseur.  I actually held my own, poseur-wise.  You know, part of me was staying away from VLV just to avoid being anonymous in a sea of people who look just like me, and that’s valid.  But if I’m being honest with myself, I suppose there was also the fear that I would feel like an imposter among people who are rockabillier than thou.  But there was none of that.  If anything, I saw more neophytes than veterans, and I felt totally confident and comfortable in my own skin there.  It probably helps that I’m old now.  In fact, from what I saw, there were lots of badly dressed people, and I looked comparatively great.  It was interesting to see all the different directions the neophytes and the veterans alike have taken a relatively small amount of cultural reference and tried to make it look flattering and authentic.  What I saw ran the gamut from cherry print everything, to just a flower in the hair, to totally immaculate vintage from head to toe.  I saw full-on cat suits, incredible dresses, and even overalls.  For the record, I lost track of how many compliments C-Po got on her outfits, from friends and strangers alike.  It was an embarrassing amount though, so apparently she really brought it.  In terms of this scenester posturing that we’re all guilty of, my favorite moment was in an elevator when a wannabe queen bee — who didn’t know who she was talking to — responded to a casual compliment from C-Po with, “Yeah I don’t know if you know this, but my purse is like super rare.  It’s worth like $1300.”

Over the course of the weekend, the dining was hit or miss.  Right there in the Orleans, there’s a T.G.I. Friday’s, which disappointed us twice.  However, there was a decent Denny’s-esque diner and great Asian place there too.  The in-house food court had a Subway and Baskin Robbins, neither of which I took advantage of, but I got the obligatory veggie burger at the Fuddruckers there.  Their facade was decorated with jukebox record streamers, a cardboard cut-out of James Dean, and a cringe-worthy banner that read, “Fuddruckers loves rock-a-billy’s.  Welcome back!!”  There are so many things wrong with that, I don’t even know where to start.  We ventured away from the Orleans twice, and it resulted in the best and worst meals of the trip.  I’m fairly certain that food poisoning from Garduño’s is what led us to have to stay in sick one night.  But then brunch at the Mon Ami Gabi bistro at the Paris was one of the best meals I’ve had all year!  Warm brie with black pepper, honey, hazelnuts, and croutons?  Crisscut fries with blue cheese dip?  Some kind of amazing salad that I can’t remember now?  Yes, ma’am.  I even did my share of drinking over the weekend, mainly to collect the commemorative mugs, including a boot, a skull, and a bowling pin.  I vaguely remember some delicious Sailor Jerry punch.

Music was the main attraction for me, of course.  I got to see most everything I intended to.  Seeing Duane Eddy and The Ventures in person was definitely something I’m glad to say I did.  The “legends” show featuring older stars on the verge of senility was interesting.  J.D. McPherson was alright.  Saw our friend Irving play in The 454’s.  I forget who else now.  The highlight was The Polecats, who were just full of energy and sounded great.  Awesome to see Boz cutting loose and really playing!  We even got to meet him and Tim Polecat after the show!  Now with all that went on during the weekend, it’s just impossible to see it all.  The bands that — in hindsight — I wish I’d seen include:  Si Cranstoun (who is apparently Jackie Wilson-esque and amazing), Voola & The Jayhawks (which are all but a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins tribute), Jinx Jones (whom Paul has seen locally and has raved about), and Blind Rage & Violence (a Link Wray tribute).  There were tons of other bands too that might have been nice.  C-Po knew many of them, but I did not.  Seeing the massive list of events for VLV meant seeing a lot of rockabilly band names alongside each other.  And that led to some observations, and ultimately to us creating this:

So that was Viva.  I’ll definitely be doing it again next year.  Which I guess brings us back to the bigger “life” stuff…  I didn’t do a “New Year’s” blog this year the way I’ve done in the past, but that’s not because I haven’t been reflecting.  As I mentioned, I’m considering some big changes.  And I mean big.  Virtually no sacred cow is safe.  This public forum isn’t really the place for me to get into it, but I’m pondering things.  They’re not quite formed into specific resolutions, but instead loosely arranged into areas of my life that are due for an overhaul.  A while back at work, it was suggested that each of us take a shot at creating a personal “mission statement” to succinctly sum up what we’re all about.  At first, I thought it was kind of a silly exercise, but I admit that when I sat down and really gave it some thought, the end result was pretty valuable.  This is what I settled on.  My “mission” is:

To search for meaning and understanding, strive for absolute integrity, actively recognize and experience as much joy as possible in every moment of my limited time on earth, and do what I can to protect the right of all living things to do the same.

I wrestled with the precise phrasing of that statement, considering alternatives for nearly every word, and making sure the connotation and message was exactly what I meant to say.  Now that was written sometime back in 2011, and though I didn’t intend it, it really fits well as a kind of framework for me to work with as I do some life overhauling to get more aligned with my real goals.

  • So to search for meaning and understanding makes me think of Spirit Rock, the Buddhist retreat.  I’ve been thinking about doing a week out there for almost a year now, and I just know it would be helpful, but I may have to put it off (depending on my vacation time situation what with Europe burning up two weeks).  Spirituality is something that I had a real awakening with while I dealt with anxiety a few years ago, and I know that there would be a tremendous benefit to pursuing it further.  I really have to make this happen.
  • Then to strive for absolute integrity, that comes naturally to me.  It may not surprise you to hear that “Responsibility” was my #1 strength according to StrengthsFinder.  It isn’t always a good thing though, as I hold myself to an unrealistic standard sometimes.  That’s where the word “strive” comes in.   That’s to remind myself that I should shoot for perfection but remember that I am human too.  Another big thing for me here is to continue to get comfortable with anger — allowing myself to experience it, express it, and let it go, rather than tamp it down like I’ve done for years.  My progress and small victories there have been kind of amazing.  To see how fast you can let something go after you express it.  It’s still so foreign to me as I’m used to holding it in until it hardens into resentment.  There are many great quotes on that subject.  Anyhow, I feel like I’m still making slow progress in this area.
  • And then to actively recognize and experience as much joy as possible in every moment of my limited time on earth, that’s a loaded one.  A lot of key words there.  “Actively” because it takes attention and effort to see (or “recognize”) the value in everything you experience.  You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you view it.  Easier said than done, but that is the ultimate power to have in your own life.  That’s the ultimate goal.  Originally, instead of “recognize,” I was playing with variations of “pursue.”  I’m at least putting some of this into action this year by travelling.  Already VLV and Europe are behind me.  With my remaining vacation time, I still would like to try to pull off Cuba later this year, maybe combined with a Florida manatee stopover.  New Orleans is off the table for a number of reasons, but I’ll see it and the G.I. Joe convention eventually, even if they’re not at the same place in the future.  I’d like to make time to relax and rest and ponder and redistribute my time based on true enjoyment rather than just trying to use it to efficiently complete and endless list of tasks.  I want to feed ducks more.  I want to finally get an Ocean Beach bonfire going with friends, and throw more events like that to expand the circle of friends.  I want to finish my massive house clean and purge of all non-essential material things.  I want to purge non-essential commitments and usages of my free time.  I want to do something for a living that excites my passions and feels real.  I want to live somewhere (Maui?) that helps me “be here now” rather than silently prods me to work on a to do list.  That “be here now,” that idea of mindfulness is the really the key.  Pursuing happiness through vacations and simplifying my schedule, it’s certainly a valuable use of my time, but it’s too limiting as an overall goal.  It’s not enough just to try to improve what happens to you, because you can’t really control everything that happens to you.  Vacations are nice, but no amount of vacations or material things is going to guarantee your happiness.   The happiness comes from your mindset.  It’s easy to be happy on vacation with your friends, but that’s not where you spend the majority of your life.  It’s more important to find how to be happy the rest of the time.
  • And finally, to do what I can to protect the right of all living things to do the same.  For this one, I struggle.  I need to find something meaningful to do here, and if it doesn’t come in the form of a new career in that field, it might at least be some volunteer time.  Ideally though, I would do for a living something that leverages my talents towards a noble cause that matters to me and to the world and makes a real difference, rather than just the accumulation of wealth.

So those are the big plans, somewhat mapped to more actionable items.  It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by day-to-day life and commitments while your big plans… your important plans… your life plans… all stay on the back burner.  In some ways, that’s the biggest obstacle.  Some of these goals have been on my mind for months with no progress or answers yet, but hell if I’m not trying.

The quote of the week is just a question for you to ponder:

“If your life had its own board of directors, who’d be on it?”

Your band sucks.

1 February 2011

Wouldn’t that be great on a t-shirt?  I’d wear that to shows all the time. 

It’s been an interesting few weeks, and I am overdue for some quiet time.  TCB played a sold out show at The Blank and then turned around to play to 350+ at Rickshaw.  There were a ton of friends at both, to the point where at Rickshaw it almost seemed like I knew everyone in the room.  Good times.  A new Smiths night also started up in the Haight called “The Queen Is Dead,” and it seems to be taking the place of the former “Louder Than Bombs” club night.  I went to this last one, and it was tremendous.  You’ll be hearing more about it soon.  Viva Haight!

Somewhere in all that mess, I snuck away for a short L.A. vacation to see Wanda Jackson and Jack White play the El Rey.  It’s a tiny place (explaining why tickets were so hard to come by).  Once we staked out a killer spot, we didn’t move around until it was time to leave.  We stood next to a nice couple of locals who took brought their teens to the show.  Total rock and roll parents.  We chatted with them for a bit until the show started.  Wanda sounded great, the band was top notch, and Jack was appropriately featured without taking anything away from Wanda.  The two of them had a fun chemistry on stage that seemed genuine.  And as expected, the high profile show in such a small venue attracted some celebs.  In the crowd, we saw Patricia Heaton and Alan Tudyk, and it sounds like Nick recognized Beck, Josh Homme, Clem Burke, Pamela Des Barres, and James Intveld.  Looks like someone posted a few songs from that show:

Other highlights of the trip included my first visit to Medieval Times, which was a total hoot and highly recommended if you’ve never been.  Basically, it’s a decent prix fixe menu that you eat while jammed together in a small indoor stadium.  You wear a paper crown and root for one of the pretend knights that battle it out in the arena.  Obviously a kids / family vacation type attraction, but whatevs.  At some point, I got in some Claim Jumper too.  A waitress there came by our table to compliment our “look” and as us about rockabilly.  Turns out she was from Chicago and also happened to be black, so I took the opportunity to in turn ask about the fashion I noticed on a lot of young black girls in Chicago (see  #4 here).  She confirmed that it’s generally referred to as the “Motown” look, and it’s quite popular there.  I wish that would catch on around here!

Incidentally, I’m typing this on my new computer, which I spent the better part of this last weekend getting up and running.  See, I’d been hobbling along on the same machine that crashed on me not once, but twice for the last seven or so years.  Just the same, the idea of moving to a new one… learning a new operating system, reinstalling all my old software (if it even still works), moving over all my stuff, getting everything reconfigured and set up just so… well, it’s a headache I was all too happy to postpone.  But rather than wait for a third crash, I figured I’d take the bull by the horns and at least do it on my own terms.  After hours of frustration and exploration, the pain is mostly behind me, and I can rest easy, secure in the knowledge that this screaming fast new PC should last me another several years.  Despite the once-a-decade hassle of reconfiguring and relearning where everything is in a new OS, I gotta admit that Windows 7 has some pretty slick UI features.  (Any idea what to do with my old machine running XP?)  And then I also finished a brand new pedal board for my new rockabilly band.  Which involved drilling actual metal!  And like, wiring stuff.  ‘Cos that’s what men do (I’m told).  We’ve got a couple of gigs in the next month or so, and I promise to share the info on us as soon as we officially “launch.”

So yeah, that was supposed to be my relaxing weekend to recuperate.  I’ll be trying again this weekend.

Oh, and by the way, your scene sucks.

2010, Come And Gone

27 December 2010

Before I get started, a quick note… when all was said and done, I made out surprisingly well on my 2010 Christmas wish list!  I scored a Dirt Devil, a Mouse Rug, and a calendar… as well as an amazing Marr/Rourke autographed Shoplifters 12″!  One of the best holidays I can remember from a loot perspective.

I know I say it every year around this time, but this seriously must have been the fastest year of my life.  It seems like just yesterday I was down on vacation in L.A. and playing a TCB show in Seattle for New Year’s.  And here I am again, closing in on another New Year holiday.  Last year, I know I had meant to do a “2009 in review” type blog, but guess I didn’t get around to it.  It’s too bad, because there was a killer link to share which of course I never got to: the now-slightly-less-relevant decade (2000-2009) in review from SFGate.  Still a great read down memory lane (when you’re done reading this of course).  Anyhow, I’m not going to do a full “2010 in review” as I have sometimes been known to do in the past.  But I will sum up some of the things I learned over the last year or so, mostly about myself:

  1. I spend too much of my life (time, effort, money) trying to be clever.
  2. I need to give up Clint Eastwood as a de facto male role model.  That quixotic idea of a quiet, mysterious, stranger… it only works in spaghetti westerns and romance novels.  Which is to say that it looks good on paper, but in practice it just makes you seem antisocial.  I need to be more outgoing, because there’s no glory in keeping to yourself all the time.
  3. There are a lot of immature people out there.  Both women and men.  It’s not worth wasting your time, though that isn’t always immediately apparent.  But in the end, they don’t have their shit together, and they can’t be reasoned with.  In that regard, I feel like I know very few actual “adults.”
  4. However, even the people you love are not perfect.  If you expect perfection or even absolute consistency from your closest friends and family, they are bound to disappoint you.  And if you expect or demand absolute consistency from yourself… well it can cause a host of mental issues that I can personally attest to.  So maybe the best you can do is strive to be as consistent as possible, allowing that you are human and can have conflicting emotions… and will not always act consistently… and will not always do exactly the right thing… and will not always be totally impartial and fair or even kind.  Despite your best efforts to be consistent, you will not always succeed, no matter what kind of priority you place on it (see #8 below).  But you can try your best and hope you get the same integrity from the people you let get close to you.  Without exception, people have character flaws and shortcomings.  People get confused and clouded by their emotions.  People have moments of weakness.  People make mistakes.  Even your favorite people.  And yes, even you.  It doesn’t make them evil.  It just makes them human.  (That’s not a free pass for anyone to do anything without consequences.  Which is hard for me to reconcile, because it complicates the process of distinguishing friend from foe.  So how do you judge?  Just by intentions?  I don’t know yet.)
  5. Life is hard.  Every time I think I’ve got a handle on it, something new comes up and turns it all on its head.  And each life problem, health problem, relationship problem that I thought I’d never have to deal with (because I was too smart, too careful, too lucky, etc.) finds a way to impact me after all.  God knows what else is in store for me over the coming decades.
  6. Speaking of the coming decades, here’s something to think about that is so commonly heard that you (like me) probably just ignore it.  But take a moment to really ponder this: how many things have you put off assuming you have time?  Any one of us could die today, tomorrow, next week… and you can bet the last thought in your head is going to be all the things you now regret never doing while you had the chance.  Realistically, it’s hard to throw caution to the wind and lead every day like it’s your last.  But think about what you did yesterday.  Now think about how differently you would have spent yesterday if you knew you would die today.  Surely you can incorporate some of that into how you spend today.  I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to stop being so damn scared to put myself out there creatively, to travel, to try new things, to love without reservation.  What the fuck am I protecting myself from?  I’m very fortunate… I could have been born to the Vietnam era and never made it anywhere near age 30.  I feel I have a responsibility to make use of the time I have here.  A safe life could be a life unlived.  I mean given the choice, do I want to be buried with 1) lots of joys and sorrows or 2) little of either?
  7. I don’t do well with serious illness and mortality.  I always feel this tremendous weight of being expected to have some reaction that I almost never have.  It makes me feel like a sociopath.  Detached from humanity a little bit.  At first, I didn’t wouldn’t even discuss this with my own family because I was afraid even they wouldn’t understand.  It’s not that I don’t feel it.  But when things like that get to be too much, like a circuit breaker, I shut it off completely.  And then I process it slowly over time.  It’s just my way.
  8. If there is any value in the Enneagram system, I am unquestionably a “Type One” (possibly with a “Type Nine” wing).  I hesitate to put all my eggs in that basket, and I know it’s not the be all / end all.  But if I’m being honest, I was sincerely moved by how true most of the Type One stuff rang for me.  Here’s hoping it helps me to understand myself a little more…

2010 was an amazing time to be alive, don’t doubt it for a second.  To explain… I’ll pick a random year of our lives.  Say 1994.  Think about that year.  It’s amazing to have lived it.  You were there for the one and only 1994 there will ever be.  The one history books refer to for this or that event, the one future generations will wonder about, the way you do when I say 1969 or 1776 or 82 B.C.  The year 1994 was every bit as unique and significant.  When I say “1994” what do you think of?  I think of the friends I had then.  The school I was attending.  The house I lived in.  The events, the births, the deaths, the way people dressed, the popular music, and the movies that came out.  The people I lived in the time of.  And think about it: you were there.  The one and only 1994 for all of history.  And you were there for the one and only 2010.  And you’re about to join me in being an equal participant and witness in the first and only 2011.  And that is amazing.

My New Year’s resolution remains — as always — to get an original music project off the ground.  But there’s good news on that front.  The rockabilly band I’ve been woodshedding with finally has a complete lineup, with an inaugural gig as early as February.  Stay tuned for details!  While I don’t have anything I’ve written officially on the docket yet, it’s only a matter of time.  I hope.  The related quote of the week comes from a shocking source.

“You have to dare to suck to be great.”
— Ricky Martin

Just Keeping The Population Down

17 September 2010

Have I mentioned how much I love love love the fog?  San Francisco’s Indian summer fog has arrived, and not a moment too soon.  It’s half the reason I live where I live.

Damn, Gina… I haven’t posted anything on here in over a month!  What can I say?  I go through spells of not having anything interesting to share (assuming I ever do).  It’s not that I haven’t been busy.  If anything, maybe too busy.  I figured I ought to at least check in with you, though.

Been to a bunch of great shows and events the last month or two.  Crowded House at the Warfield, The Blasters, Reverend Horton Heat’s 25th anniversary show at The Fillmore (filmed for a DVD), Wicked with Shel, Conan O’Brien live, disco dancing in stretchy gold bell-bottoms and white platforms, and Phantom Of The Paradise (spawning a minor obsession).  Had a couple of fun TCB shows in San Jose and Sacramento, where we got to debut “The Draize Train” and I got to go all guitar hero.  Got on a go-kart for the first time in over a decade, which was way more fun than I expected.  Got hit with a nasty computer virus (which I’m normally ultra-vigilant about).  There may have been more exciting events of note.  What am I forgetting?

Oh, and I finally finished watching the full Brisco County, Jr. series I remember from my youth.  Such a good show!  Such a tragedy it was only around one season (1993/94).  A quirky, sci-fi western with the incomparable Bruce Campbell, the late Julius Carry (a.k.a. Sho’nuff), and the delicious Kelly Rutherford… all written by the guy who went on to produce “Lost.”  I’m not a big DVD watcher, so this was an accomplishment for me.  Let me know if you want to borrow it.  ;)

Coming up, I’ve got a few weddings to go to, including one this weekend.  Friends which also happen to be exes.  By this time next month, the clear majority of my exes will be married, if the hitched don’t already make up the majority.  It’s too depressing to do the math, but I’m pretty sure.  They’re all breeding too, or will be soon.  Good for them.  I won’t lie… it does make me feel behind the curve a bit.  I am now older than my dad was when I myself, the youngest, was born.  I’m used to feeling, frankly, more mature than most people my age (which could be horsefeathers, but hey, it’s how I feel).  Settling down is the one area where I sometimes wonder if I’m missing out on something essential.  I know there’s no “right” answer or path I have to take in life, but did I somehow fall behind my peers here?  Do they all know something I don’t know?  Or is it vice versa?  Much to ponder.

In lighter news, I’m also going to clean out my storage unit once and for all this weekend.  That means a pile of dusty crap on my living room floor for a few weeks while I sort it all out, but I think I’ve at least got a plan now.  If you have little ones who might be in the market for free toys from the 80’s and early 90’s, be sure to let me know.  It’s almost all gonna be up for giveaway.

Lots of stuff on the horizon.  TCB has a few shows in central CA in October, starting out on the tropical shores of Bakersfield (10/15) and ending in giddy Fresno (10/16).  By then, I should have my new signature guitar picks in use, woo hoo!  Then November will mark TCB’s 5th anniversary!  There’s a good chance we’ll be doing something in SF to celebrate that, so stay tuned.  I think I’ll need to write something about that, you know, looking back on the last five years and all.  And if all that weren’t enough, I’ve started playing with a few different original bands — one on the Smiths side of things, the other a rockabilly band — so we’ll see where those go.

OK, I think we’re sufficiently caught up.  Onward and upward…

Idea: 3-D Chic

14 June 2010

OK, so I meant to write this a couple months ago, and so now it’s not exactly “current,” but oh well…

So with the popularity of Avatar (and the 3-D craze it’s brought with it), I thought maybe it was time to let this little idea go.  The already ill-conceived remake of my childhood fave Clash Of The Titans was the first casualty of Hollywood embarrassingly falling all over itself to try to cash in.  You’re probably aware that they actually delayed the Clash remake’s release so that they could go back and make it 3-D as an afterthought.  Cringe!  There are so many things wrong with that statement, I can’t even keep it all in my head.  Amid all the bad reviews I heard, none summed it up so well as Bob Mondello’s review on NPR — which is worth a quick read/listen.  I still have fond memories of that old red/cyan 3-D effect (which in my case is most closely tied to some 3-D Jaws trading cards Dad got me at a flea market when I was little).  But in those days, that was what 3-D meant.  And then I guess eventually we had Captain EO, but hey, that was 4-D!

Anyway, so here’s my idea.  Every greaser crew needs to have one guy who wears 3-D glasses all the time.  I make that judgment based on whatever combination of 50’s movies and TV shows has amalgamated in my head over the years.  But seriously, you know the guy.  If he has any lines at all, he’s usually the joker of the group.  Probably a ginger.  When someone asks him what’s with the glasses, he replies he’s trying to see his whole life in 3-D (genius right?).  Yeah, you know the one.  I realize this sounds a little crazy, but I mean, rockabilly fashion often goes over the top.  I myself have a letterman’s jacket, and I’ve seen plenty of (admitedly unfortunate) poodle skirts and even a few satin Pink Ladies jackets.  So yeah, it’s out there, but it’s not out of the question.  I’m just saying I need one of these guys for my crew.  And those little white paper glasses are as cheap as can be!  Something tells me I’m gonna have a hard time talking anyone into this though.

But I have hope!  You see, 3-D televisions are already hitting the market, hot on the heels of the Avatar trend, and viewers have to wear the 3-D glasses for them to work.  We’re talking about people sitting around at home, wearing special glasses to watch TV.  Now I myself cannot imagine wearing special TV glasses at home, but then I guess they used to think no one would ever pay for cable, and look how that turned out.  I suppose if nothing else, it pushes the technology forward and gets us closer to some future innovation that I might actually be into (like a holodeck).  But I digress.  My point is that in time I’m sure some company will start selling retro-looking-but-fully-functional 3-D glasses for 3-D televisions, and when that happens, my hope is that someone will wear them all the time for me.  Volunteers?

Shedding The Past, Sartorially Speaking

29 May 2010

So for whatever reason, I got the sudden urge to clean out my closet and get rid of all the stuff that I don’t wear anymore.  Of course I wasn’t hoping to get any money out of it — I don’t wear those kinds of clothes.  But I figured if I can prevent it from going to waste and maybe gain back some of my apartment real estate in the process, everybody wins.

Well today I had at it, and I’m left pissed at all the clothes I piled up.  Sure, there were plenty of old t-shirts and shabby clothes that aren’t much good to anyone who isn’t desperate purely to keep warm.  But there were also loads of perfectly good quality bowling shirts that I used to think were so stylish.  See, back in the early and mid 2000’s, I was all into the clothes of Daddy-O’s.  Girls love the dresses there, but I was all about the bowling shirts.  I can’t knock the quality, because they really make good stuff.  But these days, those things look less rockabilly to me and more… I don’t know… douchey Vegas?  That’s not an across the board indictment, because certainly some guys can still pull it off.  It looks more appropriate on older men, I’d say.  Anyway, my point is that those things aren’t cheap, and so I’m looking at hundreds of my old consulting dollars down the drain.

I am not dumping any of my Hawaiian shirts though, because I have every intention of bringing back the Hawaiian shirt this summer.  You have been warned.

In my digging, I was surprised to find my beloved and practically unused powder blue suede shoes, as well as my real saddle shoes back before you could buy them at Hot Topic.  I came across (and kept) some sweaters and sweater shirts, several PeopleSoft shirts, a few holy skater shirts from middle school.  I had forgotten I even had a t-shirt from Shotgun Willie’s strip club in Denver.  (That’s a consultant story I’ll share in redacted form someday.)  And horror of horrors, I even found some silk boxers!  I had chosen to forget I ever used to wear silk boxers.  And the last remaining proof goes in the garbage tonight.

In fairness, I did unearth some other unnameable corruptions in the back of my closet.  I don’t know if the Dragonfly shirt company is still around, but they should be charged with crimes against humanity for some of the blasphemous garments they supplied to my wardrobe.  Plus, was I like… a raverat one point?  I have all these trippy millennium-era club shirts.  Black and white swirly patterns and weird shimmery materials.  Blanket apology to any woman who had to be seen with me in them.  I almost hesitate to give them to Goodwill, as passing on these dark testaments to the lower bounds of fashion is surely no show of any “good will.”

Now you may be thinking to yourself, “where are the pics?  I want to see these unspeakable things!”  No, you don’t.  Believe me.  You think it will enrich your life, but you are mistaken.

So long black Nike swim trunks with the giant white “swoosh” across the butt.  Goodbye hideous plush polo shirts I used to wear when I started consulting.  Au revoir countless pairs of semi-worn black slacks that span my career from working in a pool store to last year.  Sayonara black satin club/bowling shirt monstrosities.  Adios polo shirts with a stripe across the chest that I used to sport every day in place of the t-shirts I wear now.  Ciao endless piles of white t-shirts that I kept for who knows what reason.  No, I didn’t have to get rid of you today, but you’ve been going to waste in my closet for the last decade.  And the momentary fond memories of 1997-2005 that you brought back to me during this exercise is your final act.

An Incontrovertible Denouement

10 February 2010

Well it was a very successful weekend from a TCB perspective.  We sold out The Blank Club, and in general had an awesome show.  We played a lot of newer songs (for us anyway), and Shel finally got to hear “Asleep.”  Also in attendance were several friends I don’t see that often, so there was a good vibe in the room.  I was stressing out leading up to this particular show, but it ended up being nothing and the whole thing went off without a hitch.  And when all the dust had finally settled, I felt like a million bucks.  Sing Blue Silver had a triumphant re-debut which included our own Nick.  Most surprising was their singer, who is an uncanny sound-alike to Simon Le Bon.  Well done!

My weekend continued with more live shows, including unexpectedly seeing a 10-piece soul band out of Santa Cruz called “The Inciters.”  I imagine Colin would have dug it.  The crowd there were the expected Northern-Soul-by-numbers types.  Funny how that homogeneity really stands out when you look in at other scenes, but it’s harder to spot among “your own.”  I suppose an outsider looking in on some rockabilly show would just see me as part of a sea of identical pomps and cuffed jeans.  And for the most part, they’d be right.

I even got out on a Monday to see The Dirt Daubers, a bluegrass side project from Col. J.D. Wilkes of The Legendary Shack Shakers.  I knew about the project and picked up the CD months ago, but I was blown away to see they were coming through town.  They put on a very entertaining show, albeit pretty tame by Shack Shakers’ standards.  Even they were surprised to see the big crowd on a Monday (and they said as much, indicating they were very happy to be in S.F. which was nice).  Only problem was that much of the crowd were young hipsters, dancing inappropriately to the music with a verve that was clearly contrived.  You could almost see them thinking “look how ironic I’m being!  I’m at a bluegrass show!”  I ran into Orlie there, and he pointed out that the lead singer from the Dead Kennedys was standing behind us.  We met him briefly, which was cool… though I must confess that it didn’t mean much to me as I’m not what you might call a punk aficionado.  I stuck around for a few songs from the headliner (Scott H. Biram), but I wasn’t feelin’ it so much, so I skedaddled.

Before I sign off, what is this fuss about Lost lately?  It seems like so many people these days have shows they just have to watch every week.  Somehow I never got on that train.  The idea of a Tivo is just baffling to me.  Really there aren’t any shows I watch regularly save for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and those aren’t the kind of shows that you have to see every episode of.  I will admit to one guilty pleasure though.  While I don’t watch it religiously, I’ll usually stop for Burn Notice when it’s on.  Aside from it being deliciously clever and chock-full of spy trivia, it also stars Bruce Campbell himself.  Me gusta!

I fear the man who drinks water and so remembers this morning what the rest of us said last night.

— Greek proverb

Rock The Casbah?

8 July 2007

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: cranky

Or confuse the hell out of them.  I’m betting on the latter.  More on that in a moment.

I have neglected to write anything for a while, and consequently I have forgotten a lot of the things I probably would have otherwise mentioned here.  My birthday passed, and I got to see many friends over the course of that week.  I participated in my first “Eating For Sport” event.  Saw some movies.  Went to some dinners.  Received some very thoughtful gifts that I did not deserve.  Good times.  I don’t usually like to make a big deal about it all.  Again, if I had written this last week, I probably could have written pages about just that much, but alas, I am tired and forgetful.  Thank you all who sent birthday wishes or who I got to see or who tried to see me.  It was a great birthday week!

San Diego
This was a great 4th of July, even though it fell in the middle of the week.  I had an amazing weekend last weekend, then two days of work, a lovely and romantic night of watching fireworks and singing Neil Diamond, and then off to San Diego.  Thursday afternoon, I drove down with Orlando and stayed with friends down there.  I drank an entire beer for the first time ever… it was awful.  Slept on a couch in the humidity of a hot, SoCal night.  We all woke up and went to breakfast at a place called “Hash House A Go Go,” which is billed as “twisted farm food” but really amounted to an orgy of creative dishes that might be thought of as the Claim-Jumper-of-breakfast-places.  A friend’s sandwich came out with a full-sized wooden-handled steak knife down the middle of it, to the hilt, holding it all together.  “Pancakes” really means “one pancake, but as big as your head and an inch thick.”  I had the special… blueberry and Cap’N Crunch pancakes.  Ridiculous.  Jared would have fainted.

It turns out this place was in the gay hub of San Diego.  I began to suspect when we all waited for our Hash House table in a gay bar next door, drinking Bloody Marys at noon, and listening to Rick Astley.  (Relax, I had a Coke.)  Nearby, we found an adult store called The Crypt.  It was your average BDSM supply depot.  Lots of masks, whips (and canes and paddles and rulers), latex devices, etc.  Orlie bought some props for the Casbah show, including a pair of handcuffs to wear while singing.  I think the hope was that someone might cuff themselves to him during the show…

The Casbah
So the show was… strange.  I think we all sounded good while we were actually performing, but the key word of the night was “distractions.”  We were all distracted by a myriad of things leading to all of us being a little off our game.  There were more, but the issues I can think of include: a pile of dollar bills thrown at me during a song, a wind-up plastic monkey that strokes itself (another of Orlie’s Crypt purchases) being wound up and demonstrated on stage, a number of strange crowd participations (involving Adam of “Blasphemous Guitars,” some coworker or Orlando’s, “Big Mike” the rockabilly midget, and several others), flowers being whipped around with petals landing in my hands while playing and stems hitting the strings, enormous pauses between songs, and God knows how many other things.  It was like a carnival up there… not what you might call a “tight” show for us, to say the least.

But for all the strangeness, I still had a blast and I think most of the crowd did too.  We got a lot of compliments after the show, and lots of people stayed until the end.  Mingling with all our friends before the show was great, and watching the parade of people walking Nick’s drums out the door at the end of the night was alone worth the price of admission.  My pedals were covered in petals again.  Total party show.  Despite the fact that I couldn’t even finish a massive plate of gnocchi before the show, we all managed to set out for Denny’s afterwards with some of the band, some of the band friends, and some of the Moz Krew.  There was still alcohol in many people’s systems, but I do recall at least one discussion topic where someone admitted to a “rusty trombone.”  As much as I would love to recount that story in its entirety, I will leave it at that to protect the parties involved.  But you know who you are!  So many good topics of discussion and impressions performed.  I wish I had that whole Denny’s conversation recorded, and I wish I could spill it all here, but I’ll keep my big manpleaser (this weekend’s new slang term for mouth) shut.  For the protection of everyone, it will have to live on only in the memories of those that were at the table.  Sus and Shel were good enough to drop me back off at Orlie’s friend’s place, and I unloaded all my gear at about 4am, trying not to wake the whole house.

Hootenanny
Saturday morning, Sus and Shel snatched me up and we headed to Huntington Beach to the Electric Chair and some lunch (sushi).  We were running late, so I demonstrated my EFS promise by power-eating three veggie rolls in a matter of minutes.  That area, not unlike San Diego itself, is full of meat head guys in board shorts, wife-beaters, and sideways baseball caps.  Absurdity.  We headed out to Hootenanny in Irvine in time for the last few acts.  We did a little shopping (I bought a belt buckle, Shel finally found a Social D shirt she liked, and Sus got a baby shirt for the child she secretly hopes we’ll all someday help her genetically contribute to), and then we all watched Social Distortion.  I still think they’re pretty boring, but I started to gain some respect for them at this show.  We’ll see if they grow on me.  We ran into Monica (and Shannon!) and later Nick/Charlene and the gang.  Lots of beautiful and not-so-beautiful people in attendance.  No shortage of manatees (this weekend’s new slang term for man-titties) on display thanks to shirtless old biker guys.  But other than that, it was all cuffed jeans and pomps.  Nothing like looking out into a sea of people dressed just like you.  Hootenanny = the mother ship.

Afterwards, we hit Claim Jumper and then I was dropped off at a hotel in Irvine.  Jessica and Paulo came to meet me for late night tea… it was great unexpectedly getting to catch up with them!  Then this morning, Orlie scooped me up on his way back to civilization and well, here I am.  And now it’s time to get some real rest before starting the work week again.  G’night y’all!

There was much competition, but the quote of the week comes from Jessica.  The context is irrelevant.

“You will discontinue your insolence and be my hippo!  Hmph!”

Show And Tell

4 May 2007

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: mellow

I don’t have any exciting news to report (which is not to say there isn’t any, just that I’m not going to report it to you).  Instead, I thought I’d just share some of the interesting things I’ve come across lately.

I didn’t want to mention it and take away from my last Moz-centric blog, but for those of you not in the Bay Area, did you hear about the massive freeway fire we had out here?  We woke up in Sparks on Sunday morning, and our Bay Area friends were all buzzing about it.  Apparently around 3:00am Sunday morning, a gas tanker truck overturned on the MacArthur Maze (a complex overpass union of three of our biggest freeways).  The fuel burned so hot that it melted the overpass and completely destroyed a few of the routes through there.  So the worst traffic spot in the area got way worse overnight.  It always makes me uneasy when structures of that size come down.

Next up, Sarah found me this lovely picture:

And while we’re on the subject of animals, I heard a really interesting interview on NPR the other morning… it was with one of the central figures at PETA.  And when I say it was interesting, I really mean it and not just in an interesting-only-to-Benjamin way.  Go listen to it for free on NPR’s site.  Getting into this guy’s head a little and hearing what PETA means to him, and some of his bizarre successes and failures with them… well anyway, I found it valuable.

I’ve found myself “spacing” lately… which I’m not prone to do… so it does have me wondering a bit.  There have been several occasions in the past couple of weeks where I’ve found myself talking to someone or looking at a picture of someone I know and then suddenly feel like I’m a million miles away from the situation.  I have the experience that what is happening at that moment is totally foreign… like I don’t know the person I’m talking to… or like I never knew the person in the photo… like somehow this is not my life.  That’s the best I can explain it, but it’s very unsettling.  I guess just remember this if something weird happens to me in the near future… maybe these will prove to be the early warning signs of some as-yet-undiscovered trouble.

On a not-entirely-unrelated note, my shrink moved away this week.  So if I act irrationally while I adjust, please understand.

Oh!  I thought of another thing to share!  Before the shows this Morrissey tour, they play a bunch of strange video clips for the crowd (surely picked by Moz himself).  Among them is this great clip of the famously egotistical and corny rockabilly pop icon, Vince Taylor.  I didn’t know this, but apparently he was David Bowie’s inspiration for “Ziggy Stardust.”

I promise I will write about the other two Moz shows next time… I’m just a little too beat tonight.  I will say that they’ve been playing a new song Moz has threatened to be “[their] next single.”  It’s called, “All You Need Is Me,” and much like “Ganglord,” it has proved to be quite a bit better than most of the tracks on the last album.  In fact, this new one may be my favorite Moz track in years.  Listen and watch for it!

“There’s a naked man standing and laughing in your dreams.
You know who it is… but you don’t like what it means!”

Add It Up

7 December 2006

CONVERSION NOTICE: This is one of 250+ blogs that originally appeared on MySpace. I’ve done my best to represent it with as much historical accuracy as possible, but there are limitations. Read about it in the FAQ.

Current Mood: savage

God damn, it’s been a while.  So much has happened and yet, I’m not exactly sure what to write about.  I will surely leave a bunch out.  What can I say?  I should have been taking notes.  I was just looking through my past year-plus of blogs, and what a treasure it is to have those memories.  This is as close to a journal as I’ve ever had, and I’ve found it invaluable.

By the way, this is another “friends only” blog, but the time for that is nearly over.  Details on that in a moment.

I got to see Tenacious D a few weeks ago.  Though I had missed the Trainwreck show the night before (it turns out they cancelled  due to a flight delay anyway), I didn’t miss out after all.  Trainwreck is also Tenacious D’s backup band, though not in character.  Instead they were playing in “hell” with the band members dressed up as The Anti-Christ, Col. Sanders, and Charlie Chaplin.  For an encore, the D did a solo rendition of their classic “Fuck Her Gently” and then a full band medley of tunes from the Who’s “Tommy.”  It was a fantastic show, though I must say that it was perhaps the ugliest crowd I’ve ever seen.  I figure that Tenacious D must have some crossover with the Weird Al crowd.  It was a lot of very ugly and hyper teenage boys.  Yowsa.

We had a couple of great shows lately ourselves.  Despite an expectedly low turn out for our Santa Rosa show, the folks that were there were great!  The other two bands (For The Masses and Japanese Baby) had excellent sets, and we played well.  I think it’s fair to say the Smiths / New Wave scene in Santa Rosa is not huge.  Less than a week later, we were playing the Popscene “Meat Is Murder” Thanksgiving event.  Here, we had a huge turn out and had some great fans join us on stage for singing and dancing.  We’re hoping to have some mp3’s from that show up soon.

Actually, that reminds me: we just posted some new pictures and some new mp3s and videos on the site.  Check out those new Club London videos on YouTube.  Oh man, good times.

We have a great show coming up a week from Saturday at the famous (and ancient) San Francisco dance party “New Wave City.”  We’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Smiths’ last ever live concert by performing their last concert’s set list in its entirety.  This means some new songs that you’ve never heard us play like “William It Was Really Nothing” and “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others!”  With NWC’s built-in audience and the anniversary here, I predict this will be one of our best shows yet…

I’m about to get militant, so I’m switching to army green.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I feel like tribute bands should capture the spirit and (for God’s sake!) the actual notes of the music they’re supposedly paying tribute to.  I know I’ve said it before, but there are several other bands out there… some of you are great!  But some of you are a disgrace to the music, and just because you’ve been around for years, doesn’t mean you’re the best.  Just the oldest.  I hear about your snooty attitude.  You thrived while you were the only kids on the block.  But now your fans actually have a choice,  and your days of clumsily hacking your way through the songs that saved our lives are numbered.  (Statements like this are exactly why they never let me have a mic on stage.  The views expressed here are not generally endorsed by the whole band.  Just me.)

While I’m in a militant music mood… and this is kind of a last-minute addition to this blog… I happened upon Tiger Army’s MySpace profile tonight.  I was reminded of why I don’t like them: they amount to kiddie punk along the lines of Blink 182 and Good Charlotte.  I’m sure they wouldn’t like to hear that.  I’m sure they fancy themselves tough psychobilly types.  This is where the Reverend Horton Heat comes in.  Now, I know there are a ton of people out there who go nuts for Tiger Army (including at least some of my own friends).  Some of their fans go so far as to get the Tiger Army logo tattooed on them.  I would just like to remind you all how ridiculous you are.  If I were in Tiger Army, I would be embarrassed to play out in public knowing that the Reverend is still alive and kicking.  You guys are not even in the same building.  Long live Jim Heath and Jimbo!

http://www.myspace.com/reverendhortonheat
http://www.myspace.com/tigerarmy

I should also mention the Reverend is headlining the Troubadour in West Hollywood just about a week after we are.  That’s right, bitches.

I know, I know.  It’s my same old my-taste-is-better-than-your-taste rhetoric.  I just like to spew it sometimes.  And I know how this must make me sound.  I could pretend for all of you that I don’t really feel these feelings, but I don’t think my therapist would approve.

OK, I’ve removed my combat helmet.  It was messing up my hair anyway.

I got some news today that more or less answered my career prayers.  When it’s written in blood, I’ll share the details.  But I believe the last month of stress has paid off.  The (more or less) ideal situation has happened for me once again, it seems.  Hopefully putting this stress behind me will allow me to cease neglecting my friends as I have been lately.  I’m finally reaching out to them again.

I had my company’s holiday party last weekend.  Since we’ve been acquired by HP, this will undoubtedly be the last party of this sort for Mercury.  Plans to go with Taylor last year fell through last minute, but I’m glad I made it to this one.  It was at SF’s city hall, and it was fully stocked with an open bar and a ton of food.  Sushi as far as the eye could see (which didn’t do much for me, but everyone else in the building seemed pretty thrilled).  Dozens of giant balloons fell from the rafters in the main hall while our former CEO gave his speech about what a great thing the acquisition is and yada yada.  I got to speak freely with several coworkers and meet their spouses.  I got to see several of them buzzed or drunk.  The 80’s cover act “Tainted Love” played the event, so there was no shortage of opportunites to dance to “Video Killed The Radio Star” or “We Got The Beat.”  It was a casino night too, so we got to play some blackjack and chat up the dealer a bit.  There were feather boas and top hats floating around too which may or may not have made their way onto my person at some point during the night.  I got to wear my new suit.  Jen got to wear her new dress.  She is the best person I know to go to formal events with.  She was born for them.  The whole thing reminded me a lot of prom.  A lot.

All in all, life is turning less and less like I had expected.  Less and less like I planned.  I’m happy, and yet I find this fact depressing.  Add it up.

“You know that I want your loving,
But Mr. Logic, Mr. Logic tells me it ain’t never gonna happen!
And then my defenses say well, I… I… I didn’t want it anyway
But you know, sometimes I’m a liar.”

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