Archive for May, 2010

ARCHIVES: Jimmy died at his desk in upper Manhattan (Jim Carroll, 1949-2009)

May 31, 2010

Jim Carroll put on a lot of mileage in his 60 years.

This pre-Franorama World post was from my MySpace blog Sept. 30, 2009, 6:44 p.m. PDT:

It was just an intersection of one time, one show, one night and one morning after. I wish to hell I could remember any of our conversations, aside from the one I printed. But I was living in the moment — I wasn’t thinking that one day the guy would be dead and I’d be in a coffee shop 2,500 miles away, looking back on him and thinking jeez, I wish I could remember some pearl that the guy imparted. At the time, it was just the intersection of two regular guys — except that one of the guys was a famous poet who had a lot to say at one time and whose work intersected with my formative musical and adult years.

You probably know by now that Jim Carroll, that legendary New York poet whose teenage journal about his mid-’60s descent from high school sports stardom to heroin addiction became “The Basketball Diaries,” died Sept. 11 of a heart attack at his home in Inwood, the section of upper Manhattan where he grew up. He was 60, but seemed much older when he collapsed at his desk. My meeting with him was a collision of past image and present reality.

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ARCHIVES: Ellie Greenwich (1940-2009)

May 31, 2010

Ellie Greenwich: the true leader of the pack.

This pre-Franorama World post was from my MySpace blog Aug. 27, 2009, 12:30 p.m. PDT:

Lost among the platitudes for Ted Kennedy and the news of Dominick Dunne and ignored by the broadcast media was the death of one of our generation’s all-time greatest songwriters. Ellie Greenwich, 68, passed away of a heart attack yesterday in New York.

I believe the quote about Sir Christopher Wren, the architect who rebuilt London after the Great Fire, was “If you seek his monument, look around you.” If you seek Ellie’s monument, turn on an oldies station. No, wait — they’re playing all that sappy ’70s and ’80s wine-and-cheese shit now. If you seek Ellie’s monument, dig into your record collection, or iTunes, or MySpace (well maybe not so MySpace — a couple of my favorites couldn’t be found here) … You’ll mourn with a smile.
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ARCHIVES: Hardly strictly anything but cool

May 31, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post was from my MySpace blog July 5, 2009, 12:24 p.m. PDT. For the record: I went on the final day for the first time and saw bits of Booker T. & the Drive-By Truckers, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Aimee Mann, The Knitters and traditional festival-closer Emmylou Harris, and all of Marianne Faithfull’s set.

Just a heads-up, kids, even though it’s only three months away … and hopefully I’ll be living up in San Francisco — or a lot closer to there — by then …

Just went to the website for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the big bash that billionaire investor and bluegrass fanatic Warren Hellman puts on every year at Golden Gate Park. Five stages in the Speedway Meadow, a gazillion great artists over three days — and free admission. (Food and merch extra, of course). Of course, you have to work your way through three gazillion yuppies and their dogs and their high-end baby haulers to see what you want, but if you can hold your nose long enough, you’ll dig it.

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ARCHIVES: How do these Neanderthals still have jobs?

May 31, 2010

Rob and Arnie (with Dawn) somehow managed to keep their jobs after their 33-minute on-air rant against transgendered kids.

This pre-Franorama World post, about two Sacramento FM morning shock jocks going off for 33 full minutes on transgendered kids, was from my MySpace blog June 3, 2009, 5:17 p.m. PDT. After a nationwide firestorm of publicity — and after losing a slew of advertisers — and with their careers in the balance, the two jocks in question ate much humble pie and did a show devoted to trans issues a short time later.

Does anyone still care about civil rights?

My dear friend Lexy, back in Connecticut, told me about a rant on a radio show in Sacramento last week. (It’s the “Rob, Arnie & Dawn Morning Show” on KRXQ, 98.5 FM.) So I found a link to the story, clicked on the hyperlink to the actual aircheck and listened. The link can be found in this story:

And here’s another take, from The Huffington Post:

I have quite a few people near and dear to me who are gay and/or transgendered, and I was just astounded, dumbfounded, that such hateful, ignorant, Neanderthal bullshit — targeted at kids! — could be spewed over the airwaves without some public response.

Anyway, this is the email I sent the show’s main host (and owner), Rob Williams; the body includes the email I sent this afternoon to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. How do cavemen like this keep their jobs? Imus was fired for a one-second comment about black women; what does a 33-minute rant about trans kids warrant?

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ARCHIVES: Not being Manny

May 31, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post is from my MySpace blog May 8, 2009, 10:08 a.m. PDT:

The electronic air is thick with people weighing on the Manny Ramirez suspension yesterday.

(If you’re not a sports fan: One of baseball’s most feared sluggers and oversized personalities, Dodger left fielder Manny Ramirez — the overgrown kid with the long dreads, petulant behavior and pine tar all over his helmet — was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball yesterday for using a banned substance. In this case, it was a woman’s fertility drug. Yes, you read right — not saying it was used this way, but it can be used to jump start the production of testosterone after going through a cycle of steroid use.)

Anyway, every sports pundit in America seems to be weighing in, and I woke up to this. This is the topper of Scott Ostler’s column in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle:

“Manny Ramirez flunked a drug test because of meds he got from a Florida doctor. Ramirez isn’t providing any more info, so we’re all free to speculate on the nature of his “personal health issue.”

I’m going to go ahead and rule out dandruff.

From what drug experts say about HCG, the banned drug Ramirez used, there’s a good chance Manny used the stuff to boost his flagging testosterone production and head off embarrassing side effects. So it wasn’t Manny being Manny, it was Manny not wanting to be Franny.

That’s OK — I wouldn’t want to be Manny, either. And what’s wrong with being Franny, anyway (except not having a job)? And if Ostler only knew …

(If you’re not a sports fan: One of baseball’s most feared sluggers and oversized personalities, Dodger left fielder Manny Ramirez — the overgrown kid with the long dreads, petulant behavior and pine tar all over his helmet — was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball yesterday for using a banned substance. In this case, it was a woman’s fertility drug. Yes, you read right — not saying it was used this way, but it can be used to jump start the production of testosterone after going through a cycle of steroid use.)

Anyway, every sports pundit in America seems to be weighing in, and I woke up to this. This is the topper of Scott Ostler’s column in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle:

Manny Ramirez flunked a drug test because of meds he got from a Florida doctor. Ramirez isn’t providing any more info, so we’re all free to speculate on the nature of his “personal health issue.”


I’m going to go ahead and rule out dandruff.


From what drug experts say about HCG, the banned drug Ramirez used, there’s a good chance Manny used the stuff to boost his flagging testosterone production and head off embarrassing side effects. So it wasn’t Manny being Manny, it was Manny not wanting to be Franny.


That’s OK — I wouldn’t want to be Manny, either. And what’s wrong with being Franny, anyway (except not having a job)? And if Ostler only knew …

ARCHIVES: Well I feel depressed, I feel so bad now (Lux Interior, 1946-2009)

May 31, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post was my final entry at the Fresno Beehive, Feb. 5, 2009, 6:35 p.m. PST:

The “classic” Cramps lineup, 1980. From left: Poison Ivy Rorschach, Bryan Gregory, Lux Interior and Nick Knox.

When I mentioned the death of Lux Interior, singer for punk/psychobilly pioneers The Cramps, in the newsroom this morning, colleagues looked at me as if I had four horns and six eyes. That’s fine — The Cramps were usually looked at the same way, and damn proud of it.

Lux (real name Erick Purkhiser), one of the most uninhibited singers to ever take a rock’n’roll stage (and with a history that includes Iggy Pop, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, that’s saying a lot), died early yesterday morning in Glendale of a pre-existing heart condition. I don’t know whether I’m more surprised by his death or the fact that he was 62 — I never thought of Lux (or his wife, guitarist Poison Ivy Rorschach) being old. The Stones? They’re old. The Cramps, who were around for 36 years? Hell no.

The backstory: Erick, a native of Stow, Ohio, picked up hitchhiker Kristy Wallace in Sacramento in 1972. A few weeks later, they found themselves in the same “Art and Shamanism” course at Sacramento State — and soon found out they shared the same tastes in horror film camp (especially, for Erick, the horror TV movie show hosted in Cleveland by Ghoulardi), fashion and, most importantly, obscure, trashy rock’n’roll, mostly rockabilly and garage, of the ’50s and ’60s. The two lovebirds formed The Cramps — Erick eventually took the name Lux Interior (from a car commercial), Kristy decided on Poison Ivy. They moved back to Ohio the next year, then to New York in 1975, to be part of this interesting new punk thing that revolved around CBGB.

From the start, there was no one who sounded or looked like them: A deep, sinister, two-guitar sound by Ivy and the late, sinister-looking, Bryan Gregory (and, later on, Kid Congo Powers) — the swagger of “The Way I Walk” by Jack Scott and the dirty guitar of Link Wray, all amped up. Raw, primitive drumming by the basher they brought from Ohio, Miriam Linna, and her (longtime) successor, Nick Knox. (And If you want to draw a historical line from Miriam to Peg O’Neil of The Gories to Meg White of The White Stripes, be my guest.) And there was Lux, a tall, gaunt guy who looked like he stepped out of a horror flick. He and the equally statuesque Ivy made every show a Munsters dance party. They reveled in the bizarre and encouraged it — though, sometimes, the results could be kinda out there, like the time they performed at the Napa State Mental Hospital.

Their heyday was the late ”70s/early ’80s. Alex Chilton (of The BoxTops and Big Star fame) produced their first two singles, which were re-released the next year by I.R.S. Records as the EP “Gravest Hits.” After opening for The Police in Europe, then being filmed for the legendary concert movie “URGH! A Musical War,” they had Chilton produce their first full-length album, “Songs the Lord Taught Us,” followed by “Psychedelic Jungle.” They released several albums after that — exploring the standard pleasures of rock’n’roll (sex and drugs; what else?) in their unique way, throwing in the obscuro cover here and there.

Through it all, Lux was a showman. My lasting image from the first time I saw them, in ’81 at a dance club on Long Island, was Lux in a stovepipe hat and cape, skanking around the dance floor to the Tommy James hit “Hanky Panky,” and he removed said hat — and all his hair was sticking straight up beneath it. And while the band ran out of steam musically by the early ’90s, their shows were still spectacles. Lux kept getting more outrageous, looking for some new kind of kick: In the mid-to-late ’90s (including my first visit to California, at the Warfield in San Francisco, Halloween night, 1997), the sinfully thin Lux would come out in a latex catsuit (red or black) with matching stiletto pumps; eventually, he’d be writhing on the floor, Iggy-style, howling wildly as he practically swallowed the mic, and by night’s end, he’d be left sprawled out, spent, in nothing but a thong and heels.

And the Cramps were a band whose influence was easily bigger than the sum of the list of their recordings:

* Without their re-recordings and live performances, a lot of great, underappreciated records from the ’50s and ’60s would’ve gone unnoticed: “Goo Goo Muck” by Ronnie Cook & the Gaylads, “Domino” by Roy Orbison, “She Said” by Hasil Adkins, “Love Me” by The Phantom, “Psychotic Reaction” by San Jose’s Count Five, “Strychnine” by The Sonics, “Uranium Rock” by Warren Smith, “Lonesome Town” by Rick Nelson. (And Miriam Linna, who left early on, would be equally as influential — she and husband Billy Miller keep the flame alive back in Brooklyn with their outstanding archival label, Norton Records.)

* While the genre has gotten harder and more codified (more like rockabilly-meets-thrash, with just-so rockabilly pompadours and Bettie ‘dos), it was Ivy who coined the term psychobilly for their sound, after something Johnny Cash once said. (Remember that when you go see The Rev. Horton Heat Feb.18 at the Tower.)

* Without The Cramps, the equally iconic Misfits might not have had a gimmick.

* And without their horror show-meets-fetish fashion sense, maybe the whole Goth thing would’ve evolved differently. And what would fill the spaces in all those shopping malls where Hot Topic would never have been?

And The Cramps’ last really big hurrah was appearing on rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson’s 2003 album “Heart Trouble,” joining her for a remake of her “Funnel of Love.” Who’da thunk it — Jackson, a longtime born-again Christian, with the hedonistic, fetishistic Cramps? It was a killer version.

So, despite the puzzled and downright amused looks of my colleagues, I’m sad and I’m sticking to it …

Footnote: And if yesterday wasn’t bad enough … I mentioned Lux to a colleague, and I mentioned how The Cramps did a great version of “Psychotic Reaction” (on the live “Smell of Female” album), and he told me, “The singer from the Count Five died a couple months ago.” Somehow, the death of John Byrne Dec. 15 escaped me. (And it’s a pretty sad story.) So … John Byrne, Ron Asheton of The Stooges and Lux … That’s three on a match … that’s enough death for now …

ARCHIVES: Long, long time ago …

May 31, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post, on the 50th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, is from my MySpace blog Feb. 3, 2009, 2 p.m. PST:

I can tell you the first time I read about Buddy Holly. It was a Life magazine story in January 1972, what turned out to be the final year of this great publication. (It was the Super Bowl issue, a white cover with a smallish photo of Roger Staubach conferring with Tom Landry.)

One of the stories was about this phenom of a record at the time — the No. 1 single of 1971, by a singer/songwriter from suburban New York. Not only was “American Pie” about seven minutes long — it was a hit in spite of the length and because of the imagery in evoked and because the lyrics were so simple to remember. (It was my first record — 69 cents at Bradlees, and I was bewildered at how the DJ could get the song to play all the way through, while my 45 was broken into parts 1 and 2.)

And as a fifth-grader, I had no idea what the words were about — this Chevy-to-the-levee stuff and the eight miles high and falling fast and, of course, the day the music died.
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ARCHIVES: I SO want things to work out with him …

May 30, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post is from my MySpace blog Jan. 20, 2009, 5 a.m. — still wired after a drive home from San Francisco and four hours before Obama’s inauguration:

I’m talking about Obama! What did you think? (Made you look …)

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ARCHIVES: It’s everything; it’s no big thing … and now what?

May 30, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post is from my MySpace blog Nov. 5, 2008, 8:36 a.m. PST — the morning after Barack Obama’s election:

(Disclaimer: My opinions are mine alone and not any reflection of any friends, relatives, enemies or employers past or present, except by sheer coincidence.)

I was born two months to the day before Barack Obama. Albeit through quite different (and quite unique) lenses, he’s pretty much seen the same American history I have — the space race, Nam, MLK, RFK, Nixon, the Carter malaise, the Reagan Revolution, Iraq, the Clinton legacy that could have been, the radical “religious” “right,” 9/11, Iraq, the ravages of the Bushes and Cheney and their pals, racial equality, gender equality, sexual preference equality, the decline of our economy and our place in the world.

And probably like Obama, I’ve spent my entire adult voting life forced to choose the lesser of two evils rather than the best person for the job. And I’ll be the first to admit that I was not thrilled with the prospect of having to vote for him in the primary. He seemed too slick, and we remember all too well the last slick Democrat to become president. (I still insist calling Clinton a “liberal” is a stretch.)

His health care proposals were shaky at best, Republican at worst, and, post-primary, his waffling on the FISA bill over the summer deeply troubled me. California allows independents such as me to vote in the primary of my choice, and again in June I was forced to choose the lesser of evils: a contest between two senators for the right to do battle with another senator — all the while Chuck D blaring in my ears “Corrupt as a senator!” and the voice in my head telling many of my friends, “300 million people and this is the best we can do?” So again, I was forced to hold my nose as I voted for Obama.

Like Obama, I remember the enthusiasm surrounding the last presidential election before we were eligible to vote — the ascension of Jimmy Carter and the brief period of bliss when we thought the gust of a new and positive and different era was about to take hold. Carter might be one of the most decent men to have ever held the office, but we all know he sure as hell wasn’t a great president. So in spite of what I’ve been seeing the past three months, I’ve withheld any sense of optimism about the election, even though Obama started pulling ahead in the polls.

However, over the past three months, I did begin to see a man who actually might not merely be the lesser of two evils, but maybe, just maybe — finally, for the first time in my 47 years — the right person for the job. A man who took all the shit and the mud that the once-righteous McCain and that yahoo from Moosedung, Alaska, flung at him, let it slide off him like a true Teflon president and flicked it back like a quick wrist pass on a break.

And he was not only unflappable, but could speak wisely and intelligently without a cue card. (Granted, eight years of a mentally deficient chimp lowered the bar to historic lows, but Obama still did the high jump as if the bar were at 8 feet.) And he really seemed to care on some level. I couldn’t give a fuck if I couldn’t have a beer or at least a cup of coffee with him (and truth is, none of us were gonna have a beer with Shrub, either; it was just an illusion) — I just needed to know he was someone who got it, and cared enough to take on the problems Cheneybush dug us into, and that if he couldn’t do it himself, he might get the best people available to help him do it, regardless of party affiliation. And as the campaign drew closer to tonight, the more I felt that maybe he’d be able to do something to move the country back to the greatness everyone expects.

And at 8 tonight, when the polls here closed — and Charlie Gibson announced in the other room that California was projected for Obama, and “Barack Obama will be elected the 44th president of the United States. Barack Obama has been elected president” — all I could do was smile, and all I could say was “Fucking cool!”

Just how fucking cool is that?
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ARCHIVES: Whom I’m NOT voting for

May 30, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post is from my MySpace blog Oct. 31, 2008, 2:58 a.m. PST:

(Disclaimer: My opinions are mine alone and not any reflection of any friends, relatives, enemies or employers past or present, except by sheer coincidence.)

Well, right off, this is not a partisan message. If you know me, you know I hate both parties equally — the Republicans for a million things they’ve done in my lifetime, the Democrats for standing by and doing nothing for most of that time, especially when they’ve had the power to do so. (Also because I’ve seen up-close what a one-party system can do and not do — in New Haven, the Democrats outnumber the Republicans about 13-1 and a Democratic machine has run the city for 56 years. Talk about a major poli sci case study …)

Enough with that rant. On to the real rant. Here’s whom I’m not voting for:

Any asshole who robocalls me.
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