Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Proper Etiquette (Buck Ormsby, 1941-2016)

October 31, 2016

A huge passing took place in my small music world this past weekend.

This is what Buck Ormsby’s son posted on Buck’s Facebook page Saturday (Oct. 29):


Buck Ormsby in his later years.

Thank you to everyone who is sending birthday wishes to my father. He died early this morning. As many of you know he was down in Mexico for alternative cancer treatment, though cancer was not the cause of death. It was an unfortunate accident. Please know that his last months have been trans-formative in so many ways, and he was in a special place. Please give us time to adjust to our new reality. We will post information regarding services as plans form. Thank you everyone for all of your love and support.

Every punk, garage, grunge and/or indie act owes John “Buck” Ormsby a massive debt of gratitude.


Love those fortune cookies, Part 28

November 10, 2013

fortune20cookieWell, I guess the timing of this one is pretty good — though I seem to have heard this before.

If you believe in the whole Mercury-in-retrograde thang — which supposedly impacts us Geminis, and Virgos, more than anyone else — well, tonight is the night we come out of the third and final one of these frustrating and aggravating phases this calendar year.

It has, indeed, been a frustrating period — dozens of resumes out since the start of my last layoff with nothing to show for them, a car that’s been a little screwy of late, some emotional strains that come with the double-whammy of joblessness and a mother who’s been in the hospital. So something has to change, right?



So this evening, I ordered takeout from the Golden Wok, the Chinese place up the street from me. And I shouldn’t be surprised about getting messages such as this at this point:

“The path is getting easier from here on out. Luck is helping.”

I mean, I’ll believe it when I see it, but any word of encouragement at this point is greatly appreciated. Let’s see if a job materializes this week.

Love those fortune cookies, Part 27

July 28, 2013

fortune20cookieI’m guessing this is a going-back-to-work gift.

I came down to Orange to do some writing before I head home early, go to bed early and wake up godawfully early to head to Manhattan to start my first day on what I hope is my first steady job in four-plus years.

As a mini-celebration, I stopped at Shanghai Gourmet, across the street from here, to pick up a little dinner. And with my meal came a bonus fortune cookie.

And wouldn’t you know that both fortunes are pertinent to my situation? Well, at least one of them. This one, I hope, is a prelude to something that turns into something wonderful:

“One who admires you greatly is hidden before your eyes.”

The other, I hope, is a summation of all I’ve been through these nearly four-and-a-half years, five-and-a-half if you count the little gender trip:

“Those who endure most are rewarded the most.”

And there are some out there who have endured a lot longer, believe me. And I hope for much, much better for them soon, like yesterday.

But I do also realize that I’ve also been clueless most of my life about people admiring me. That one could certainly be true and I wouldn’t know it.

Oh well, back to writing …

Cygnus Radio and WPKN playlists, 5/17/13: I got (algo)rithm

May 20, 2013
Ernie Banks was right -- it was a wonderful day to play two.

Ernie Banks was right — it was a wonderful day to play two.

For the links to this and all other Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here. For the link to this episode of Franorama 2.0 on WPKN, click here. Franorama 2.0 can be heard live on Cygnus Radio from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (7-10 a.m. PDT) Fridays; WPKN shows are on a fill-in basis for now; keep posted on the station’s Facebook page.

Well, this past Friday, for the first time, I did radio shows on two different stations on the same day — the Franorama 2.0 Double-Duty Day-Night Doubleheader. First, my regular 10 a.m.-1 p.m. shift from the comfort of home on Cygnus Radio, then down to Bridgeport for a 4-7 p.m. fill-in on WPKN. Howard Thompson, the host of the regularly scheduled show, Pure — and a longtime big-label record executive — trusted my musical tastes (thanks for the endorsement), to let me take the reins.

Anyway, it was exhausting but fun. I think I swept both ends of the doubleheader. And the day wasn’t just fun, it left me feeling a little optimistic at a time when I desperately need optimism.

The Cygnus show, now on the air three months, is still a fledging show on an upstart station, and understandably, the audience is small for now. But a funny thing happened just past the first half hour — the number of listeners jumped 2 1/2 times, then it tripled, and withing five minutes, it had quadrupled. (I have the analytics right there on the screen as I play.) And I kept about two-thirds of that audience for the rest of the show.

This had to be a glitch, right? A spam attack or something? An undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese? Well, no. I texted our fearless leader, Gary Gone, to ask about this, and he explained: However the Apple algorithems work — and who knows how these damn things work? — someone at iTunes apparently labeled my show as a must-listen, which prompted huge the jump in listeners all of a sudden.

Coolness! I’m hoping this is the door opening just a crack enough for the flood to start rushing in. I need something to happen! I’m hoping the people who came and stayed will tell their friends, who, in turn, will tell their friends, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera …

Anyway, a couple musical highlights of the day:

The Outta Sites (both shows): Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague, who made a sideways appearance in a blog post here a couple weeks ago, is one of the hardest-working musicians I know: longtime drummer/second guitarist for

Chris Sprague (second from left) fronting The Outta Sites.

Chris Sprague (second from left) fronting The Outta Sites.

Deke Dickerson … has been playing drums for Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys (who came to Cafe Nine in New Haven the previous weekend) … behind the kit for Los Straitjackets (who come to Cafe Nine June 10) … and now, he fronts his own band, The Outta Sites. Their newly released debut album, Up All Night, is a killer. Think one part Dave Clark Five, one part That Thing You Do, one part Nuggets and Pebbles collections, throw in the atmosphere of the mid-’60s L.A. club scene, and you get the picture.

Jonathan Richman and The Velvet Underground (WPKN): An old friend, Lauren, who lives and works around Hartford, messaged me on the Book of Faces the night before to ask if I could play the Velvets. I started, at long last, pulling boxes of CDs from my storage space to rip into this laptop that serves as my radio station and traveling music library. But I haven’t found my Velvets box set yet. Anyway, I did find one VU song, but not until after I steered her to Jonathan Richman, the onetime VU groupie, singing “Velvet Underground” … and one of our mutual faves, “Double Chocolate Malted” (No nuts! No nuts!), and, for good measure, The Groovie Ghoulies playing a Jonathan song.

Well, that’s enough for now. Back to a single Cygnus shift this Friday, leading into the holiday weekend. Please drop in and give a listen. And if you like what you hear, tell your friends, and tell your friends to tell their friends. And “like” my Franorama 2.0/Franorama World Facebook page. And if you’re so inclined to help out financially, there’s a PayPal button at the end of each blog post.  Anyway, catch you this Friday!


Love those fortune cookies, Part 23

November 5, 2012

Well, I keep hoping that each of these fortune-cookie fortunes will come true, or at least point me closer to where I’m going. I get some many of these fortunes that seem particularly relevant to my life that one of them has to totally come true. Right?

Take this one from last night from the Hibachi Grill in Orange. A crowded house on a Sunday night (I’m guessing with people who, like me, had a feeling the Giants would lose to the Steelers and didn’t want to see it). I had the only table-for-one in the whole place. And I got a deformed cookie whose fortune was crinkled into the crimp of the plastic wrap.

And when I unraveled the part of the slip of paper that survived, this is what it said:

“A beautiful, smart, and loving woman will be entering into your life.”

At my most optimistic moments this year, I’ve been telling myself, “Money happens, the job happens, love happens.” The job seems so close now that I can taste it. Maybe, just maybe, this is all finally starting to fall into place?

Going Home, Day 1, 8/13/12: Leaving Fresno. Not.

October 21, 2012

The Penske truck finally arrives at Gene’s house, 9:30 a.m. — already an hour and a half behind schedule and it’s still morning.

Oct. 17, 2012

This is the second part of my epic journey home to Connecticut after eight years, for better and worse, in the middle of California. And the longest day of the whole trip — and we weren’t even on the road yet.

For Going Home, the prequel, Loose Ends, click here.

The Universe didn’t seem to want me to leave Fresno on Monday. Which is odd, because it didn’t give me much of a reason to stay the last 3 1/2 years of unemployment and underemployment — and made it pretty clear that it was time to go home, uproot again and head back across the country to Connecticut, from whence I came.

Even knowing what I had to do on this big day, and allowing for the fact that things don’t always go quite according to plan, things most certainly didn’t go as expected.

The upshot: My friend Alexis and I were planning to be out of Fresno and on the road by midnight. Well, we weren’t in Fresno come midnight, but we weren’t even near getting the trip started yet.


Going Home, The Prequel: Loose ends

October 16, 2012

One of Fresno’s best-known landmarks, at the south end of Van Ness Avenue. At one time, before freeways. it welcomed visitors from the south.

Oct. 15, 2012

Note: It’s been two months since I, with a lot of help, loaded up a rental truck, attached my car to the back and began the journey into the next chapter of my life: the move home to Connecticut from Fresno after eight years of transition in ways I never could have imagined. Well, after a huge bout of self-doubt, regaining confidence, losing my religion and finally convincing myself again that I might actually be a real writer — well, here goes. Strap in:

I had long envisioned — hoped for — the Hollywood ending to what I’ve been through the last nearly five years, between the gender transition that started in January 2008 and the joblessness hell that began in March 2009. I imagined that, after all I’ve been through, there would finally be a great job waiting for me at the end of the rainbow — that I would be able to return East the conquering heroine to a great job, and then everything else would fall into place like so many dominoes.

Well, we all know that Hollywood is bullshit. And that life comes at you whether you’re ready or not.

And instead of coming home to hosannas and a wonderful new life, riding a atop a figurative white charger, I’d be driving across the country in the hottest time of the year in a yellow Penske rental truck, my rickety ’96 Camry attached to the back, with no job, lots of uncertainty and just as much blind faith.


Five Songs, Part 95

September 14, 2012

Stark Raving Lulu — putting twentysomethings to shame since 2010.

After a week off for good behavior, back to Five Songs.

Totally flying on Spontaneous Airlines this week. And including my first local act since coming back to Connecticut — inspired by appearing on Rob DeRosa’s Connecticut Homegrown show yesterday on WESU, Wesleyan University’s radio station in Middletown. Rob played this cut by Stark Raving Lulu — four cool chicas, some of whom I’ve known since the Grotto days in New Haven in the mid-’80s. Someone forgot to tell them you’re supposed to get old once you reach 50. Thank God. I hadn’t heard the disc before — sounds great!

Anyway, enjoy your weekend and the dwindling days of summer …

Been to Canaan — Carole King

Detroit City — Bobby Bare

Big Man — Stark Raving Lulu

Wrong Again (Let’s Face It) — Rockpile

It Won’t Be Long — The Beatles

The Month of George Bailey

August 10, 2012

It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t something I usually mention, let alone ponder, in early August. (At least wait ’til the department stores start putting up their Christmas stuff, in late August.)

My view of Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart’s 1946 masterpiece (and you have to give Stewart co-billing here, because, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it wouldn’t have have resonated this long and loudly without him) is colored by how I’m feeling about life that particular holiday season. If I’m happy and perhaps prosperous — and maybe, on those rare occasions, even in love — then I sit there and soak in the glow of a tale of a man who has done great deeds, none of which have seemed to have gone unpunished, pushed to the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve, dragged back by a bedraggled guardian angel second-class who died in the 18th century, shown what the world would be like had he never been born, and ultimately rewarded in a most wonderful way.

But as often as not — and especially last Christmas, living in a miserable, passive-aggressively hostile rental situation, the hours of my on-call copy-editing about to be slashed to nothing just 3 1/2 months after I returned to the work world after 2 1/2 years out of work — I felt more like this:

Years like last, I avoid the film, grumbling about how much of a crock of shit it is — how George Bailey is only a fictitious character, and that this shit doesn’t happen in real life.

(In fact, last year, I watched not one Christmas special, and Jeff Day and I didn’t even do our annual radio run-through of Rudolph on WPKN. And my back was turned to the TVs in the newsroom as I worked the copy desk Christmas Eve night, as one showed It’s a Wonderful Life and the other showed A Christmas Story. And on Christmas Day proper, I sat in my miserable room at the Happy House watching a documentary on a renowned and brilliant atheist — American: The Bill Hicks Story.)

It’s been a month now since I discovered that my work hours at The Fresno Bee were going bye-bye — and unlike the previous two occurrences this year (after Christmas and Easter), when I regained some hours eventually, this felt permanent. (And that was hammered home two evenings ago, Aug. 7, when I learned two more of my ex-colleagues, one on the copy desk, were laid off.).

When Kris, my boss, told me the news, I just knew it was time. A brief moment of “Not yet — I can’t afford this!” followed by a huge sense of calm. I had reached the end. It was time to go home. This time, the voice of reason wasn’t the loud whisper that told me, “Okay — it’s Fresno” the day the Bee’s then-features editor emailed me in October 2003, asking if I’d be interested in the assistant features editor position. Or the out-of-body experience I felt at the moment of my gender epiphany in  January 2008, the voice asking me quite clearly from someplace to my left, “Can you do this?” This was a slight sag of the shoulders, the slow letting-out of air, and me saying, out loud to Kris, “It’s time.”

But how was I gonna do this?

I wasn’t ready for what followed. It’s been one part It’s a Wonderful Life, one part learning experience. Kind of having to learn to redefine the concepts of success and failure.


Five Songs, Parts 90-91

August 3, 2012

In a frenzy unrivaled until Ethel Merman’s disco single, even Lurch had his own ’60s dance.

Hi. This will be an extended Five Songs to make up for missing last week, between packing for my impending move and having to run out and buy a new laptop last Friday.

And guess what? I learned something new/old. Insatiable TV junkie as I was as a kid, I always loved “Makin’ With the Magilla,” from a 1965 Magilla Gorilla short at the height of the surf craze. Never gave any thought as to the artist(s) who recorded it. Now I know. And now you’ll know — and as a bonus, I included both the cartoon version and a better-sound-quality version.

Not sure whether this is the building anxiety about the move in a week and a half or just the caffeine. But if you’re not digging these, have someone check your pulse.

BTW: If you feel like sending a loan or a donation (specify which) to defray the big move, I won’t stop you. There’s a PayPal donate button below:

Makin’ With the MagillaLittle Eva (From Magilla Gorilla)

The Lurch — Ted Cassidy

A Love So Deep Inside — The Velvelettes

She Is So — A Craze

David Watts — The Kinks

Pizza Pie — Norman Fox & the Rob Roys

Crash — The Primitives

What Do I Get? — The Buzzcocks

At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama) — The El Dorados

The Animal Speaks — The Golden Palominos w/John Lydon