Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Remember Estelle Getty In Mannequin? Do You Believe That Movie Was Nom'd For An Oscar?

Jezebelian, Slut Machine, posted this amazing clips reel of Estelle Getty rocking her role as mama Sophia on the in-recent-years hyped (thanks to Summer on The OC and TV box sets in general) Golden Girls . Watching the montage, I realized this show was way too provocative for my roughly 12-year-old mind, which explains why I watched it and liked it, but really only GOT that Rose was picked on (which upset me terribly) and Blanche had much sex outside of marriage, which meant Hell and Gross.

I also remembered my dad making disparaging remarks about the cast, and the show's premise, begging us to change the channel (him versus four women), yet not leaving the room or looking away (more addicted to TV than Limbaugh or the Lord). Thus, as a child I subconsciously dismissed the show as less than, based solely on the leads being older, and women. Now, having abandoned my father's politics, I can safely say the progressive show was fucking smart and fucking hilarious. Rest in peace, dear. Jezebel

The Misunderstood Musician: Officially on Hiatus, Please Offer Title Suggestions

Thanks, Gekkica and e, for your interest in the story series. Unfortunately, everything I've posted is AT BEST second draft quality, and after careful consideration (i.e. it occurred to me yesterday) I've decided to discontinue posting portions, opting to post the finished product should the product ever earn the adjective "finished".

The parts posted have already been heavily edited, and now I feel dirty for even self-publishing the mediocre flim flam early drafts. See, people who think they're a "writer" (me) sometimes jump the gun -- longing to be finished, seeking feedback, fearing rejection, hoping for validation, and more problems of ego and id.

But all hope is not lost! As I said, the story is being worked on steadily and will be available in its entirety in a week or so (don't hold me to that).

Nextly, I'm open to all suggestions for a title change. I hate the title. I shat it out in a minute and the alliteration fooled me into happiness, so I went with it, but it's lazy. Sweet B Heart hates it too. And she knows! This girl can title shit like no body's business!

Finally, you all know how I tend to watch something, read something or hear something I like and then camp out on it, obsessing, wikipedia-ing, googling, searching for all things related, talking of this new thing to everyone and anyone over and over and over for months usually, and then finally when I've sucked all the marrow from the bones I move on to beat something else? I recommend a Bukowski documentary from 2003, Born Into This. I've watched it twice. And so the downward spiral into the life and work of the LA Poet Laureate of Skid Row begins... this one could last years (dude wrote a ton of shit).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Misunderstood Musician Part III

(In case you missed it, PART II is HERE and PART I is HERE.)

With all sweetness, friendliness and confidence I address Cheech and Chong, "Hey guys. So I am Trudy, the manager of Semicolons Make Tears..." Their chuckles interrupt my explanation. "Yah, funny, right? So listen, do I see Tom for the passes or do one of you guys have them for me?" The one on the right stands, enters the ticket booth, roots around in a cardboard box and the passes are handed over. Neither smiles nor speaks; it's all business; it seems as if I register as "enemy" on their "The Man" radar. Perhaps I poured on the sappy professionalism too thick with these balls-to-the-wall death core freaks. I underestimated their hidden hardcore-edness.

"By the way, I adore Fantomas' remake of The Godfather - fucking brilliant." This spirals us into a discussion of the album The Director’s Cut. With genuine childhood-like delight, I relay to them the first time I heard them do the Jurassic Park score, and although I am sincere, my aim is really to bring them into my fold - which I successfully do. By the time I walk away, I'm getting knucks all over the place, and then I go in for the kill.

"Awesome! So I have to go take care of some shit. Will you guys just make sure no one is coming in here that shouldn't? Got to get paid, ya know?"

"Totally Trudy, we are your dudes."

"Rad. Later."

I don't look at it as manipulation. Shit. I do love that Fantomas' album, and nothing I said was untrue. I believe you can connect with anyone on something. Hell, once I had a 45-minute conversation with a girl working the merch table about the highs and lows of that shitty reality show "The Hills". She and I still email.

The venue is rarely my problem. The problems usually have to do with the band (or the label)(or other bands). For instance, now I must coax Bruce away from the GTA and into more "indie rockish" clothing.

Standing over a religiously-concentrated Bruce, as he's assumed his usual legs-folded-underneath-him-hunched-over-eyes-making-love-with-the-bouncing-lights-from-the-big-screen-TV position, I begin my efforts. Yelling toward the tiny bathroom, "Hey Lowell, do you have any more kids' pants that Bruce can wear?" Bruce and I try hard not to snicker too loudly. I hit Bruce's shoulder out of bullying-camaraderie. Still in the toilet cave, a cocky Lowell whines, "You can't handle that I'm a fashion risk-taker".

"Whatever, I know a girl sent them to you." Lowell doesn't reply. "Ike told me. He says it's hot and heavy. Which city is this one from?"

Faintly, the figurative cock fallen from his mouth, Lowell embarrassingly offers, "Tokyo."

Bruce and I lose our shit laughing at Lowell's online dating past, present and future. There's always a new one, and she's always sending him shit (lucky bastard). He's strategic about keeping them on a cyber plane. He makes sure he's never speaking to one in a city we may be coming to next. He doesn't actually want to meet a girl in person. The digital romance of words and the occasional gift give him enough "love" to deal with, then physical needs are met via blow jobs from random groupies. It's a balance he's perfected. But let me be clear, he is retardedly serious about these online ladies; there is nothing insincere about his poetic and melancholy emails.

Again, faintly, Lowell replies, "Shut up."

Bruce pauses his game to really enjoy the ribbing, "What'd her ad say? 'Prefer hipster dufus but willing to take a skinny white dude who can fit these pants?" Bruce tries hard not to lose his composure, "So the text 'pants' has a hyperlink and it takes you to an online vintage retailer... and that's when you first fell in love with your tiny boy cords?" The laughter is raucous at this point, tears stream from my eyes, I can't breathe and a bit of pee trickles out.

Lowell, occasionally a self-aware good sport, comes, literally dancing, out of the bathroom. He dances all around us in his tight, blue bottoms, leaping, pausing to take rigid air-guitar poses, head-bangingly tossing his hair all around his smiling face. He does a few more fist pumps for good measure, stops, minorly defeated, he offers, "Ya, I'll change." Back into the tiny bathroom he struts, ready to say goodbye to his tiny Tokyo-love pants.

Bruce returns to killing prostitutes with machine guns. Ike has joined him. I look at my watch. I have to start weaning Bruce off of his distraction (and true passion) and into what he calls his "laughable high school marching band uniform that I despise".

"Dude, it's time."

Ike, the ever vocal proponent of labor, always fighting "management": "Why do you make him wear those dumb clothes?" His ego is drenched in irony as he wears his traditional stage get-up: short green running shorts with white piping, a hairy belly and a beard like a mountain man whose house is most likely made entirely of sticks, glued together by his own feces. I don't know if he's joking or not.

As many times as I have explained the label's parameters on image, no one understands my need to dictate fashion. It's hardly a job I relish. Fuck marketing; fuck image; fuck trends. I hate it more than they do. And it isn't as if their attire is contractually mandated by the label. That expectation safely hovers beneath the surface, made clear in subtle comments. I'm no idiot. I get that a "look" always accompanies music. The ultimate "I could give a shit about my clothing" band was Nirvana. Ironically their "look" spawned a clothing trend finally reaching to the middle-end ranks and racks of JC Penney. Every sub-genre of the underground music scene unintentionally promotes its own style: metal, Goth, punk. Punk fashion was meant to be the ultimate fuck you to fashion, anti-fashion, and now new born babies of second-generation corporate wealth, New Yorker faux-urbanites sport "The Clash" onesies and shit. Music is a lifestyle down to the last detail. Hell, I used to say if I wasn't wearing my beat up, cheap wrist watch, I wasn't representing myself properly. No doubt that awareness of the signals I was sending through material choices was directly influenced, if not caused by my musical interests. Any slightly aware person can't be aloof enough to ignore it. So I maintain an anti-social social consciousness by pushing another social consciousness, a consciousness always teetering on destroying the same music which is solely responsible for birthing that fashion trend. It's as complicated as Federalism, and I have no idea if this band pulls it off. All I know is, they don't feel like sell-outs and the label stays off their (and mine) backs - which, incidentally are clothed in well-worn second-hand t-shirts most of the time.

To Be Continued…

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Part II of The Misunderstood Musician

(In case you missed Part I, see it here - obviously it's changed from FLASH to full on FICTION.)

Semicolons Make Tears has been a band for eight years now. Well, not actually eight. They've all been playing music in different bands for the past eight years; bands called Misery Loves Your Mom, The Feng Shuit , Hot Docta Peppa, My Sweet Little Baby Heart, Puking Up My Low Self-Esteem and Reality Gone Rancid (obviously a Rancid cover band). At this point, I'm not sure which bands were considered talented, or found local notoriety, who was in which band, how long the stint of that particular band name (or band) actually lasted, or if a realized album (be it EP or full length) ever came out under such a title/line-up. And so is the summation of a musician's adolescence: throwing together a grouping of semi-competent performers, coming up with a band name, loathing the band name/line-up/musical genre, changing the band name/line-up/musical genre, brutally offending members/friends/fans by breaking up, repeat.

Semis have been a band, the three of them, with me at the helm, for the past two years. A well-funded independent label picked them up about six months ago, and here we are. The label likes and trusts me, as do the guys, so I get to fill all the roles -- manager, tour manager, cop and confidant. I work hard; musical skill-deficient folks like me have to. Don't get me wrong, the guys take this opportunity seriously and recognize their true luck, father time's blessing, but they also have a fucking ball. Extraordinarily Awesome Day Job: Just another perk of being a rock star.

Sifting through the spilled out media cabinet of DVDs and board games stacked upon my makeshift desk (which is just a Formica table top that folds down from its secured position on the wall), I find my clipboard. This night's show science is on top. So as to not look like a raging idiot, I have researched and written out all pertinent venue information for quick reference. Every detail is included, down to the capacity (should the fire marshal show up). The alcohol policy of the venue and its corresponding state's laws are noted - especially for all-ages shows. I know how many staff security, who owns the venue, who manages the venue, who manages the bar, who is working the door tonight, how many tables we will have for merch... I know how fucking high off the ground the stage is (so as to purposefully warn Ike NOT to do a stage dive or give him the green light to risk it). I know everything, it's part of my job to know.

Plus, I'll be honest, some dicks have a problem dealing with a woman - so I have to be extra on top of it. The sexism is rare and even then rarely overt, and usually only happens in places like Bakersfield or Cleveland. But I have a responsibility to women who want to be a real face in the music business. My shit's together, no one can question my hard-earned position. In fact, any who have dared to try, got the bitch. Of course, the beauty in that? They didn't know the bitch came out.

We've been on tour with the band, The Deep Pockets, and there is always a booked local band to help bring in the purist, local scene-kids. Tonight's local favorite is Da Doo Run Run. My clipboard also offers the venue is Slim's, we are in San Francisco (I always remind the team which city we are in) and the venue's booking manager is Tom Carerra.

I pass by the tiny bathroom where Lowell is trying - without much luck, as the mirror is five feet off the ground and the size of a vertical standing toaster oven - to check out himself in his tiny pants, and to hopefully justify their lustful appearance on stage this night. Immediately recognizing the scream of a cartoon hooker, I predict Bruce is playing his fave video game of all time "Grand Theft Auto". Without surprise, I see that I am correct. The 46-inch about-to-be-bloodied prostitute begging to take a ride never ever makes it.

Outside the bus, Ike is smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone. Poor kid, by sheer force of will, superseded convention and avoided carrying a cell phone for years. "A part of the sociopolitical machine I will not indulge" is what he used to say. Rapidly dwindling pay phone locations coupled with death glares from the rest of us in response to the repetitive "Can I use?" finally sunk him deep into the preverbal mainstream landscape. He hated it at first, but now he's always on that fucking phone. It's not clever, and lamely obscure, but I borrow an insulting characterization from the movie Scream 2 and call him "phone head". He often lovingly rolls his eyes at me.

The venue is empty, except for a scattered bevy of employees and band folk. This is how the few hours before a show always look. Although the bodies are few, the collective bustling energy and anticipation could power a whole music festival. Only the promise of live music can bring such electricity. It's one of those undiscussed, unstudied chemistries melding people to sound. I still feel it every time, every venue, no matter how tired or hung over or depressed I am.

No one hassles me at the door, which mildly bothers me. In fact the two metal-head geeks working the entrance, who barely look eighteen and who are too busy discussing the finer points of Mike Patton side projects to even notice I've just walked in, seem oblivious as to what "working the door" entails. I back up.

To Be Continued…

Monday, July 7, 2008

"...But I Can't Look at Your Blank Meathead Stare For One More Second."

Imagine my surprise when I sat down to my computer this Monday morning and saw this disturbing (yet hilarious) email, copied to me (plus a thousand of her co-workers, and upper-level management) and sent to my sister's boss, Dick Face.

CopperCrotch has the biggest balls of anyone I know - which scare and thrill me simultaneously. For anyone who's ever wanted to verbally indict management (using many cuss words) for sucking their labor teet dry, or wanted to call out the blatant and subtle ways misogyny oozes out of every orifice of the head douche in charge, or just wanted to exit in a blaze of glory, paying no mind to future references or thinking of keep bridges in tact, then this resignation email is the one for you.

(Btw, she never addresses him as "Dick Face". I changed his name to protect his identity.)

Subject: I Quit

Dick Face,

I'm sorry to do this via email, but I can't work here anymore. I feel as if I've been taken advantage of, and I can't take it any longer. I know I don't need to explain myself; you are not stupid; you know you would NEVER put up with the shit that I have put up with the last 8 months; nobody would. I left a job where I was making $38,000 per year and I had health benefits, paid vacations and paid sick days. I trusted that you were being honest with me. I was wrong.

For the past few months I have been doing all three first briefings per week, and 2-4 second briefings per week. I usually end up doing the thirds too. Plus, I am the only recruiter inviting people in to the office. I do your job. I should be making $200,000+ per year. Seriously, nobody here even knows what you do. You work six hour days and act like you have no time for anything. It's bullshit. This office used to be an awesome place to work when JD was the USM. He cares about people. He inspires people. Dick Face, you still don't even know how many kids I have. You suck ass as a manager!! You have no idea what it means to develop relationships with people. You are a salesman, always ready to manipulate people to get what you want out of them.

I know that I have been passive and let this happen to me. The thing is I'm not stupid. I'm very smart. I am GOOD at my job. I am extremely under paid and I have to hear from you that you don't have any money to pay me, like you're poor or something. Give me a fucking break, nobody is buying that shit Dick Face. And by the way, it is insulting to me when you offer me the bagel scraps at the end of the day. I'm not a charity case. I don't want bagel scraps Dick Face. I want to get paid when I'm supposed to get paid. I know it's hard for you to believe that a WOMAN can have a mind of her own and see through your slimy ways, but it has happened. I'm sorry I have to go out like this, but I can't look at your blank meathead stare for one more second. You have absolutely no integrity Dick Face. NONE.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Fights You Fight Today Are The Fights You Fight Til' You Die

So I'm on my second attempt at reading/finishing Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States". I started it more than six months ago, and after about two hundred pages (or years), at least two mill D E A D, and too many gross accounts of explorers' misinterpretations of what Jesus meant when he said "Go into the world and preach the gospel", I had to put the murdered baby lamb of a history lesson down in order to regain my appetite/hope for the present/future/faith in humanity. (Incidentally, only the appetite returned.) Then, lo and behold, I start interning for this documentary project - time coding and archiving footage, writing clip synopsis, blah blah blah - and one of the interviewees for the film is none other than the actual man/historian/pinko Howard Zinn! And the best part? It's not like he's just a contributing talking-head historian, rather, he is actually part of the story being told! He hid the Pentagon Papers for Daniel Ellsberg for a time back in the 60s or 70s - or whenever the whole Vietnam... Watergate... Nixon mess happened. (Obviously, I'm no historian, nor do I fully understand the doc I'm working for.) I'm all, "how cool is it that I'm cutting and pasting the text of Howard Fuckin' Zinn's recently spoken words? I'm part of something special...maybe...!" So anyways, it made me pick up the book again so I could read his first-hand account of that VietWatNix junk, but I started with WWI instead. I don't know why; I suppose I was curious about the Socialist movement (don't tell my dad).

Cut to today, three weeks into the Espionage Act. I'd yet to pick up the book this morning as I had to move my car to a legal space. As soon as I stepped outside onto the sidewalk I smelled summer, and with the long 4th of July weekend beckoning me forth, I left footprints of happiness in the wake of my stroll to where I'd left my vehicle. THE FUCKING GREEN ENVELOPE OF DOOM crammed under my wiper didn't kill my joy at first. I grabbed it, entered my car, took off my headphones and my sunglasses, and searched for the amount this ticket would cost me... $24? No... $35? No... $48?... FUCK YOU GODDAMN MUTHERFUCKERS. No, I think I yelled something closer to YOU FUCKING PIECES OF SHIT. Yes, that was it. (You've seen my parking rants, you know how I roll.)

After re-parking my car, I attempt to calm myself down on my walk to the train. Money worries (especially saving for huge future events like moving and planned unemployment) can weigh very heavy on one's heart and rip out one's peace of mind - thereby making one a complete sourpuss bitch and not fun to be around. I don't want to be that one this long camping-weekend. Ah, the book; I decide to get lost in Zinn's eloquent and poignant prose -- even going to far as to think "now those people, those people had it rough - get some perspective".

But see, all that rhetorical jazz I used to assuage myself? That shit don't work with Zinn. 1) History actually happened. This isn't fiction; these people existed and suffered -- usually unjustly and at the hands of utmost puritanical stupidity and hypocrisy, propelled by white male ego, entitlement, and infinite greed. 2) Uhmmm, it still fucking happens. Only now, today, we lock people up under the guise of protecting the masses from terrorism (instead of communism, or treason) and we do it via oppressive and unconstitutional law called The Patriot Act (instead of The Espionage Act). We throw people in the brig sans due process, only we keep them in Guantanamo Bay, or the back room of an airport or whatever torture chambers the White House has privy to that Geraldo hasn't discovered yet.

The foundation of this nation is bologna-sandwich-firm at best. The government has no apparent interest in its people. Freedom is a slogan, akin to Just Do It or Just Say No. It's an allusion, a masterful marketing gimmick. The popular opinion of this country is to end the war in Iraq, as was it the popular opinion of this country to keep out of WWI. And if you keep your head buried in racks of discount clothing or in a newspaper or in your Big Mac Value Meal or in your fucking meds, the government will leave you alone.

My father, in his elder age (brain now ten years soaked in Limbaughisms and O'Reilly-urine) will tell you he values safety over freedom. He says terrorism is the reason. And when I ask him how that translates to him, or his family, getting carted away by FBI, tossed away in a cell with no explanation of charges, denied constitutional due process of law and waiting waiting waiting while the witch hunt round-up continues? He thinks he's immune; he also thinks some innocent should suffer for the good of many. He says terrorism is such a foe, that some freedom MUST be relinquished. I imagine if my father were around during WWI, he would have said, of the socialists fighting the war and conscription, "Treasonists! Drag them to the streets and shoot them like dogs!" Oh, my daddy.

So history repeats itself essentially. The present-day is only more desirable since it is better lit, less diseased, more connected and arguably more humane. The value system, the hierarchy, the management/labor gap, the propaganda, the injustice and war, that is all exactly the same.

Which brings me back to this doggone brilliant Zinn-afflicted documentary! Grassroots social movements spur progressive policy change, history proves it time and time again. This decade has seen the rise of the newest effectual tool of that movement, the documentary film. Support documentary filmmakers, support documentary films. Even a hopeless realist like me can't deny their far-reaching impacts. Even I believe change is possible, and the only way I believe hearts and minds can be truly moved is by film (and music) (but mostly film). See one today!

Happy Independence Day.

(Oh, btw, the pictures here are of this amazing spider sculpture at Embarcadero & Mission in SF. We have it on loan from some country in Europe through August. If you have the means, I highly recommend a visit! And thanks to commenter, e, for the Fascism image!)