Monday, August 29, 2011

Hot August Night 2!

...I was just kidding about sequelizing that last post, but after the WILDEST Sunday nite at work I've had in a LONG time, mayB it'll help 2 write it out.
Bsides, the musical accompaniment was pretty good. Gotta hand it 2 the Seattle-area radio stations: In recent days they have stepped it up a notch or 2. Gotta give radio a B+ 4 the soundtrack they provided this weekend. Most nites they get a C-.
It was BUSY again Sun nite, the weather continues 2 B gorgeous. I tuned-in the radio a little after 6, & immediately they opened-up with the Back-Up Plan's theme song, Chicago's "Old Days." They followed-up with the following Good Stuff:

Todd Rundgren: "Hello, It's Me."
Doobie Bros.: "Listen to the Music."
Blues Image: "Ride Captain Ride."
Boz Scaggs: "Lido Shuffle."
Sara Bareilles: "I'm Not Gonna Write You a Love Song." (I like the choruses.)
Stampeders: "Sweet City Woman."
Beatles: "Something," "Oh! Darling," "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End," "Glass Onion."
Friends of Distinction: "Love or Let Me Be Lonely." (Love the choruses -- they're so silly.)
Frank Sinatra: "That's Life." (When's the last time you heard The Chairman Of The Board on your local radio?)
Van Morrison: "Moondance." (This followed Frank; somebody at KMCQ knows what they're doing....)
Wallflowers: "6th Avenue Heartache."
Bangles: "Walk Like an Egyptian."
"I Love You Always Forever" -- can never remember her name....
Manfred Mann: "Do Wah Diddy Diddy."
Bruce: "Born to Run." (It's only recently that I've started noticing how David Sancious's sparkling keyboards R really the secret weapon in this song....) Oh, & "Born in the USA"....
(Avoided Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Faire." Twice. & Elton's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," 2wice.)
Train: "Drops of Jupiter."
Zep: "Fool in the Rain." (Still love that drum&bugle-corps midsection.)
Coldplay: "Death and All His Friends," x2.
Who: "Eminence Front" & "Slip Kid." ("Slip Kid" was a nice suprise. NEbody else think "Eminence Front" is just a bit 2 ... mechanical?)
Pink Floyd: "Comfortably Numb."
Rod Stewart: "You Wear it Well."
BTO: "Roll on Down the Highway" & "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet."

...Was distracted at this point when a guy who had ridden up on a bicycle tried 2 pass out in the store -- 2wice. He got something 2 drink & a snack & I got him a step-ladder 2 sit down on -- he was obviously flushed & said he'd biked all the way from Tacoma -- 25 miles, & it was still pretty warm outside.
He seemed OK, then a minute or 2 later he started sliding off the stool. He said: "I'm blacking out!" He drank more water & said he probly just got dehydrated.
He sat 4 awhile & drank & munched, & an hr later he was gone. "Sorry if I've been any trouble," he said while shaking my hand. He wasn't NE trouble -- but I told him while he was sitting that if he passed out on me I was gonna havta call an ambulance....

Beatles: "Help!"
Blondie: "Heart of Glass."
Grand Funk: "We're an American Band."
KC & the Sunshine Band: "That's the Way I Like It."

Little Steven's Underground Garage continued this run of Good Stuff, opening with Bob Dylan's "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" But I missed most of that Bcos 1 of R Regulars came in 2 tell me that her husband, another Regular, had died last Weds -- a nite when he'd bn in the store!
I'd bn used 2 seeing this guy or his wife just about every nite 4 the past 5 years. He was short & a little scruffy & maybe just a touch grumpy, & I don't think he treated his wife 2 well -- but I was shocked & didn't know what 2 say. She said he'd bn on his way home from WalMart when a heart attack got him. He was only 46.
"I keep thinking he'll come home sooner or later," she said. I didn't know what 2 say. I held her hand 4 a couple mins & told her 2 hang in there & just keep going, & gave her a hug when she left. I shook my head & thot about my old girlfriend & how life's 2 short ... & then I went back 2 work.

Little Steven's Sun show was the "Summer Soupy Shuffle," a sort of collection of highlights from their previous 490 shows. Among the classics they played were: "He's So Fine," "Long Tall Sally," "Satisfaction," "Money (That's What I Want)" (Beatles), "Psychotic Reaction," "I Can't Explain," "Twistin' the Night Away" (Sam Cooke), & Honey Cone's "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show."
Ah, but the suprises!:

Ramones: "Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio?"
Butch Walker & the Black Widows: "Summer of '89."
Spinal Tap: "Give Me Some Money." Hilarious!
Spanking Charlene: "Dismissed With a Kiss" -- Xcellent heavy rocker with hilarious up-to-date lyrics, '60s garage-rock 4 the new millennium!
The Laundrettes: "Red River." The Laundrettes R from Oslo, Norway, & "Red River" features a marvelous deadpan English-female vocal -- it's great, but I wish the choruses were stronger, tho I do love the way they sing "Your dancin' shoes ... have lost THEIR shine...."
Traffic: "Medicated Goo." Nice guitar (by Dave Mason?) & great sax from Chris Wood, funny choruses 2. That's funny, I thot I pretty much hated Traffic. Weren't they boring & meandering & tedious? Not this....
J. Geils Band: "First I Look at the Purse." Hilarious! "If the purse is fat, that's where it's at."
Rod Stewart: "An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down." Had never heard this B4, offa his very 1st album in '69. Sounds a little like a run-thru 4 "Every Picture Tells a Story"....

In the midst of all this I was dealing with customers -- actually pissed off a couple who's minds I couldn't read & otherwise couldn't help. Also hadta deal with such weirdnesses as the grizzled old guy who wiped his ass & then stuffed the dirty TP in the garbage can instead of flushing it! That was a new low. Overall, Sun nite's craziness made up 4 how smooth the rest of the wknd had bn.... & it's not even a Full Moon....

Thruout this recent overview of local radio, I've not bothered 2 mention summa the more wretched stuff local stations play -- Dserved-2-B-4gotten hits by Olivia Newton-John, Whitney Houston, Tom Jones, Bobby Sherman, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" & "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" every 5 mins....
Bottom line: Seattle-area radio, at least in recent days, ain't that bad. It ain't GREAT, but even 2 a picky SOB like me, it could B a lot worse....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot August Night

No, this post is not going 2 B about Neil Diamond....
Summer has finally arrived here -- sunny days with highs in the mid-80s. Sunday may edge in2 the low 90's, pretty hot 4 here. If it reaches 90, it'll B the hottest day of the year so far.
2 celebrate summer arriving over the past coupla weeks, Seattle-area radio stations have been pushing their Big Music Weekends. Usually these don't seem much diffrent from a normal radio day, but over the past few days radio's Bcome a little better, or my mood has gotten mellower.
Btween KZOK-FM 102.5's "Block Party Weekend," KAFE-FM's "The '70s with Cindy Barton," KMCQ's "10,000 Oldies Show" & "Star 101.5"'s "More Music Weekend," the local stations didn't do 2 bad a job of providing a decent Summer Soundtrack on Sat nite, tho it took them awhile 2 get warmed-up 2 it. 1nce I realized they were doing a little better than normal, I started keeping track.
The Sat Nite Playlist follows, the best stuff they played Btween about 6 pm & midnight -- carefully avoiding the Bad Stuff whenever possible.
There were a few suprises. MayB the biggest suprise was that I didn't hear "Stairway to Heaven," "Smoke on the Water," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Free Bird" or "Layla" all nite....

Bachman-Turner Overdrive: "Blue Collar." This jazzy R&B number from BTO's 1st album (1973) was playing while a guy my age was in the store -- I was busy playing the electric broom along with the tune. He said: "That's not pretty...." & I said: Yeah, but who knew BTO was such a soulful R&B band? & he said: "This is BTO? You're kidding...."
Roy Orbison: "In Dreams." 1 of the 1st 45's I ever heard....
Dusty Springfield: "I'll Try Anything." Reached #40 in 1967. Never heard this B4, very nice. & the radio wasn't thru with Dusty....
Brook Benton: "Rainy Night in Georgia." Customer asked me who this was & what station I was listening 2, he thot it was "really nice." It did sound good, never thot I liked it that much....
Grand Funk: "Bad Time."
Bee Gees: "Tragedy." Sounds pretty great now that it's 30+ years old, lotsa great melodrama....
Fleetwood Mac: "The Chain" & "Go Your Own Way."
Paul Simon: "American Tune" (live). Woulda preferred the studio original -- Paul rushes the song & downplays the drama in this version. Still some great lyrics....
Elton John: "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" (twice).
Bruce: "Dancing in the Dark." Was never a big fan of this, but it sounded pretty good....
Matchbox 20: "Push" & "Unwell." These both sounded pretty great. I thot "Unwell' shoulda got a Grammy as best song of its year....
Paul McCartney & Wings: "Junior's Farm." Hadn't heard this in awhile, it brot back Paul's great mid-'70s period when almost everything he did sounded great. Unfortunately, I also hadta dodge "Band on the Run" (again?!) & "Silly Love Songs"....
Dexy's Midnight Runners: "Come On, Eileen." Still a classic, & I hadn't heard it in awhile.
Madness: "Our House." Wonderful. Why wasn't "Embarassment" a hit in America?
Three Dog Night: "Liar." Oooh, very nice, with that subdued angry sound. Hadn't heard this in awhile, either....
Orleans: "Still the One," 2wice. Great harmonies & solid guitars....
Stones: "Gimme Shelter."
Spinners: "I'll Be Around." Classic. It never gets old. It seems simple, but there's so much going on....
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes: "The Love I Lost." Was never a big fan, but it sounds great now.
Supertramp: "Give a Little Bit," x2.
Peter Gabriel: "Solsbury Hill." Nothing personal, but I like Glass Moon's version a lot more -- playing up the drama really helps this song.
Pointer Sisters: "Fire." Love the organ at the end.... & of course Bruce wrote it....
Bob Welch: "Ebony Eyes," x2.
Mott the Hoople: "All the Young Dudes." Marvelous....
Bob Dylan: "Tangled Up in Blue." Sounds great! Not sure I'd heard it since about 1975, & I was screechin' along with Bob on the choruses....
Warren Zevon: "Werewolves of London."
Sweet: "Little Willy." Always fun, & a great singalong....
Earth, Wind and Fire: "September." Still a great summer song, joyous choruses....
Jerry Reed: "When You're Hot, You're Hot." This seemed appropriate....
Wilson Pickett: "Land of a Thousand Dances." Classic....
Crowded House: "Don't Dream it's Over."
Kelly Clarkson: "I'm Already Gone." Still as much of a knockout as I thot it was when I 1st heard it back in June....
Chicago: "Feeling Stronger Every Day" & "Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?" Always loved "Feeling Stronger;" "Time" was never 1 of my faves, but it sounded pretty good....
Shocking Blue: "Venus."
Jethro Tull: "Living in the Past."
Who: "I Can See for Miles," "You Better You Bet" & "Join Together."
Police: "Message in a Bottle."(& "Roxanne" x2.)
Michael Jackson: "I Wanna Be Where You Are." Never noticed it when I was 13 years old, but this takes FOREVER 2 get 2 the 1st chorus....
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing."
Boston: "More Than a Feeling" & "Hitch a Ride." The 2nd was a suprise, & the 1st 1 never seems 2 me 2 B overplayed....
Dusty Springfield: "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." Absolutely classic melodrama....
CSNY: "Carry On" & "Woodstock." The 2nd 1 always sounds good; "Carry On" has that great line "Rejoice! Rejoice! We have no choice...." + some nice keyboards....
Stephen Stills: "Love the One You're With." Best organ solo ever?
Eagles: "Peaceful Easy Feeling." Best thing they ever did? (Also dodged "The Long Run," "Hotel California," "One of These Nights," "Lyin' Eyes," "Life in the Fast Lane".... Why don't they ever play "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks"?)
INXS: "What You Need." Great guitars....
Five for Fighting: "Superman."
David Bowie: "Suffragette City," "Changes" & "Space Oddity." As appropriate 2 end the nite as would B the Beatles' "Day in the Life." As I get older, "Space Oddity" -- which I never liked much at the time -- moves me more & more. & "Changes" of course has that great line "Pretty soon now/You're gonna get older...." "Suffragette City" is of course just a pure rush. Add "Modern Love" & "Under Pressure" & that's all the Bowie I've ever needed....

So, not such a bad playlist 4 6 hrs, eh? & this stuff has sure made my job EZer. With the nice weather on the weekends, work has gotten a LOT busier -- but it's amazing how some decent music on the radio & a bouncy cashier can turn aside most wrath. At least, so far....
COMING SOON: Hot August Night 2!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Female Man 2

Been reading Julie Phillips' biography of the mysterious & tragic JAMES TIPTREE JR.: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON (2006). It's an amazing book. It was an amazing life.
Some background: James Tiptree Jr. was 1 of the most acclaimed science-fiction writers of the '70s. An older man believed 2 B enjoying his retirement by traveling around the world, Tiptree supposedly had previously worked 4 both the military & the CIA. In his spare time he was writing some startling SF -- & winning summa the SF field's awards 4 it.
But he never made appearances at SF conventions, no1 had ever met him, the editors who bot his stories knew almost nothing about him Xcept what "Tip" revealed in rare interviews.
When Tip's mother died late in 1976, some of his fans added the hints up & tried 2 track the recluse down. Tiptree was revealed as 61-year-old Alice Sheldon of McLean, Va. -- a research psychologist, former WAC, former military photo-analyst -- & SF's hottest new writer.
All this is covered in depth in Phillips' book, along with MUCH more. I knew enuf about Tiptree's background that after reading the intro I dived right in2 the middle, when "Alli" Sheldon started writing SF late in 1967.
...& it's all freaking riveting. I gulped the last 1/2 of the book down over the past coupla days.
Alli started writing SF sort-of as a joke -- as a way of blowing off steam while she went 4 her doctorate degree in psychology. She wrote 1/2adozen stories, never Xpecting NE of them 2 sell, & stuck on them a pen-name she hoped editors would 4get.
Instead, they bought the stories & she kept writing, growing braver & more direct, more Xperimental & grimmer.
The 1st Tiptree story I ever read was "Painwise" (1972), which comes on like a sort of loopy psychedelic cartoon -- all fluorescently bright colors & silliness & alien characters with cute names like Bushbaby & Ragglebomb. It'd make a great animated movie or graphic novel ... all the way up 2 the grim black&white finale.... Supposedly some of Tiptree's earliest stories R ALL bright colors & silliness. I guess I haven't found NE of those yet.
Tip got serious fast, tho: "The Last Flight of Dr. Ain" (1969) follows a doctor as he circles the world spreading a fatal virus that will kill humanity -- in an effort 2 save the Earth.
"A Momentary Taste of Being" (1975) is a dark & brutal 1st-contact tale, & 1 of the grimmest & most desolate pieces of writing ever published in SF. It's freaking brilliant. I think it'd make a great movie -- it's scary as hell, & nobody gets chopped up.... & all the material 4 a movie is there -- you'd just havta stuff the pages of the story in2 the camera....
Phillips follows Tiptree/Sheldon thru all this, plus includes the childhood that shaped the adult Alli turned out 2 B -- the early expeditions in Central Africa with her famous parents, her early marriage 2 a "drunk, doomed poet," her struggles with depression, & a lot more. Phillips gets the whole amazing story told in less than 400 pgs.
I have some minor complaints: I think Phillips skimps on the last 5 to 10 years of Alli's life, after her true identity was revealed. This is all covered in less than 50 pgs, leading up 2 Sheldon's suicide in mid-1987, right after shooting her longtime husband Hunt Sheldon. (The couple had made a suicide pact in 1979, promising each other 2 "go" together once their quality of life dropped 2 a certain level. In '87 "Ting" was blind but otherwise in fair health; there is some indication in this book that he wasn't ready to "go" yet, & that he was scared of what his wife might do as she fought her depression & declining health.)
Tho the details during these years R covered in some depth, I think Phillips' "foreshortening" reinforces some cliches that have evolved about Tiptree's work. One is that the later work isn't of as high a quality as Tiptree's 1st 10 years. True, the later stories Rn't as startling & they R a bit sentimental -- but they R also mellower, more lyrical -- there's some real beauty in some of them.
In her last 10 years Sheldon wrote almost 2-dozen new stories, + a novel, BRIGHTNESS FALLS FROM THE AIR (1985). The stories assembled in THE STARRY RIFT (1986) R pretty great, & BRIGHTNESS -- tho a bit cutesy in places -- is a heckuva story with some gorgeous visuals.
& then there's the overlooked "A Source of Innocent Merriment" (1980), which I think tells much the same story as "Momentary Taste of Being" & gets it across in a fraction of the space. But the impact is just as big.
But don't let my complaints stop you, Bcos there's so much more: There's the SF field's reaction when Tiptree was "unmasked" -- Joanna Russ propositioned her! Literary agent Virginia Kidd virtually fell in love with Tiptree & then became Alli's agent. & Ursula K. LeGuin was a sorta all-seeing all-forgiving 2nd Mother 4 Alice Sheldon.
There is much more. If you're an SF fan, this book is a treasury of letters & remembrances from the many people in SF who Tip/Alli's life touched. Parts of it will make you laff out loud in recognition of summa the weirder aspects of human nature.
It's also a very vivid portrait of a brilliant, creative woman in a lotta pain. Alice Sheldon suffered heart attacks & arthritis, depressions & the heavy impact of a mix of prescription drugs, & who knows what-all else. & when she couldn't go on she killed herself & took her husband with her.
I don't understand why she couldn't just Write The Stories. But 2 understand that, you'd have 2 B Alli. Or Tip....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


(If you want, you can blame this post on TOP GEAR & on 1 of my buddy Crabby's most recent posts -- his Aug 19 entry briefly Dscribing his 286,000-mile purple "Frankenstein" with the solar-powered rear speakers: In the daytime all his car-stereo's speakers work, at nite only the front speakers do. Ergo, the rear speakers MUST B solar-powered.... You can read more about this at, or by using the Crabby's Top 10 Site link below....)
I've wanted 2 do a post about some of the off-the-wall cars I've owned 4 awhile now. But my 1st motorized method of transportation wasn't a car at all -- it was a green Honda 250 motorcycle that almost killed me early 1 cold morning in Feb 1977 when its throttle froze-up on my way 2 highschool. Accelerating from a stoplight at Fairview Ave & Cloverdale Rd. in Boise, suddenly the throttle locked up & I went from 0 to 60 in about 3.5 seconds. I think I screamed. I was sure I was headed 4 certain death, & the only question was whether I'd lay the bike down at 75 mph B4 I hit some1.
But luckily -- after scaring the crap outta myself -- I kept playing with the throttle, twisting it back&forth until the throttle-cable finally broke loose & my speed came back down. I pulled over long enuf 2 throw up, stop shaking, check the cable 2 make sure it wasn't all frozen, then kick-started the beast & headed on 2 wonderful prison-like Meridian High School. & I got zinged 4 Bing 10 mins late. The 1st funny piece I ever wrote 4 the school newspaper was an attempt 2 humorize this near-death Xperience....
My 1st REAL car was a blue-green '62 Buick Special with no brakes, which I bot from my cousin Jim 4 $50 & then drove 100 miles back home from Cascade, Idaho 2 Boise, being Xtra careful along the way not 2 back-end anybody. Made it all the way with no major panics, 2 -- until the very last stoplight B4 my house, where I sailed right thru the red light & somehow managed not 2 kill anybody.
My Dad & I got the brakes fixed, but the Buick didn't last long. A coupla months later the clutch went out while my highschool sweetheart & I were in the car tootling around town. The Buick hadda 1/2way Dcent radio -- I remember hearing Orleans' "Still the One" coming outta the speakers shortly B4 I pressed down on the clutch & the pedal went all the way 2 the floor.... We hadta walk 2 the nearest phone 2 beg my Dad 2 come get us, but I thot my HSS took it pretty well -- she'd had her own adventures with an ugly white '62 Ford Fairlane that she could never keep on the road when it snowed....
After the Buick was retired, my Dad & I went car shopping & somehow stumbled over a maroon '62 Chevy Impala SS. It was GORGEOUS: chrome wheels, bucket seats, rockin' stereo, nice rumbly vrooom-vrooom noise when I stepped on the gas pedal -- all MUCH TOO GOOD 4 me at age 18.
I used 2 love washing the car off 2 make it look even better. Driving it was another issue. My Dad knew I was a little shaky with it; he asked me straight-out: "That car scare you a little, boy?" Damn straight it did. I knew I was outta my league.
Here's the weird part: I don't CLEARLY remember what happened 2 it. Possibly the gear-linkage went out (it was an automatic), possibly the transmission fell out -- I just can't remember. But I knew it was TOO GOOD 4 me, a theme which continues thruout this list....
Next car was a definite step down: A beige '62 Dodge Dart, utterly dull & boring in almost every possible way. But I learned an important life lesson while driving it: 1 morning I was running late 4 work at the car-parts store & left the house in a rush, not even 1/2 awake, made a half-hearted attempt 2 brush the frost off the windows, & jumped out in2 traffic. At the 1st stopsign I pulled out in front of some1 (cos I couldn't SEE), & when I realized I was gonna get hit I slammed the Dodge into reverse -- & backed right in2 some1 else. She screamed. She thot I was on drugz. It was ugly. Ever since then (& it was 33 years ago) I will NOT get Bhind the wheel without at LEAST 1 cup of coffee in me, & preferably a WHOLE POT....
Next car was a big step up: Baby-blue '72 Chevy Nova, jacked-up in the back, with foot-wide back tires & a ROCKIN' 8-track tape-player(!), on which I usedta play Caravan & Boston & Journey & the Rollers & others at top volume & would screech along in 2-part harmony with on my way 2 work at the record store each day.
This car was also MUCH TOO GOOD & it made a lotta nice rumbly noise. Felt pretty cool in it, 4 perhaps the only time ever. But this 1 also didn't last long: The transmission fell out after 2 months -- & I swear I was BABYING it!
We cannibalized the tape-player & speakers 4 the next car, a red '66 Chevy Impala stationwagon, big enough in the back 2 sleep in. It was HUGE, like a boat 2 drive. & it wallowed around just like a boat, 2.... It also didn't last long -- bad U-joints? Transmission went out? Can't remember. It was over 30 years ago....
If I thot the Chevy was huge.... Next vehicle was a black&white 1960 International Travelall, huge enuf 2 LIVE in -- & at 1 point I thot I might have 2. It was a huge freakin' beast, but it moved. Until the battery started dying every coupla days. & it was impossible 2 push-start cos it weighed 50,000 pounds. You coulda pushed it off of a cliff & it wouldn't've started....
Somewhere in there was a cute white '72 Toyota Corolla that kept boiling over, usually late at nite when I was MILES from home.... & if that wasn't the problem, then it would die every time I turned a corner....
Then there was a white '66 Mercury Comet with doors that wouldn't open. It Bcame my bedroom when I couldn't get enuf privacy in my parents' house. I also got married while still driving it, so when we went off 2 R honeymoon, me & the bride both hadta climb in thru the windows while the attendees laffed their asses off....
The 1st car the X & I bot was an '82 Chevy Citation, the newest car I've ever owned (we bot it in '83). The Citation held up pretty well & got us thru sevral epic trips across the American West (including 1 endless 2-week vacation/moving trip from Texas thru New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho & Wyoming), but was totaled-out when we got back-ended in downtown Cheyenne, Wyo., in the summer of '88. My 6-month-old son was in the backseat at the time....
I'm sure there were others I can't even remember now. The next car I remember was a brown '82 Toyota stationwagon that probly woulda gone 4 300,000 miles if it hadn't been totaled when a teen who'd been fighting with his parents smashed in2 the side of it while trying 2 get away from home in his parents' car. The proceeds from the insurance bot me a replacement car & got my X her 1st Internet-hookup computer....
The replacement was a gray '82 Toyota Cressida, a supposed "luxury" car that at least got me from Wyoming 2 Washington, & probly woulda gone a lot farther -- but my X totaled it on her 1st nite in Wash when she hit a deer. 6 years in Wyoming, a state filled with deer & antelope, a state she logged 1,000's of driving miles in, & she never got CLOSE 2 hitting any wildlife....
Later on I had a maroon '87 Nissan hatchback (with a nice stereo) in which the driver's-side window shattered 4 no known reason, & which suddenly started dying every time I made a right-hand turn....
Awhile back I hadda black '86 Ford Ranger pickup which held-up pretty well 4 about 6 years, but which finally died last Halloween when the clutch went out. It had been a long time in going: months B4 I'd lost reverse, & there wasn't much left of 2nd gear. The heater had stopped working LONG B4. When it finally died it at least had the grace 2 break down in my driveway....
Currently I'm driving a blue '87 Cadillac Sedan DeVille, which is -- let's face it -- like driving a Chevy Monte Carlo, only with a Cadillac badge stuck on it. I've learned in 9 mo's of ownership that the Cadillac badge just means that everything on the car is gonna B more Xpensive & more difficult 2 fix.
It was a little beat-up 2 begin with, but it might look better if some1 hadn't backed in2 it a coupla months ago while I was working -- AND THEN LEFT THE SCENE WITHOUT TELLING ME. I heard the BASH! when they hit the car, I'm sure they did too -- I just wonder how big the dent in their car was?
...So what R U driving these days, & what R yer favorite motorized beasts from yer past...?

Saturday, August 20, 2011


...I haven't actually seen that many. Only 1/2adozen if I'm remembering rightly. Everybody Out There's probly got me beat. Still waiting 4 my Ultimate Concert Xperience. But 4 mosta the people I'd B intrested in seeing, I'd need a time machine so I could go back & see them when they were in their prime. I'd still give up a paycheck 2 go see some version of Pink Floyd. & probly the Moody Blues. MayB Rush. After that I start running outta names....
The last concert I saw was King Crimson in early 2003, when they played Seattle's Moore Theater while on their POWER TO BELIEVE tour. They were very impressive. But I wanted more than 2 B impressed. I felt in a lotta ways like my life had bn leading up 2 the concert -- I wanted 2 B stunned. I wanted 2 B flattened. I wanted 2 B run over & left 4 dead. & that didn't happen.
The Crims were right on it, tho. Very efficient & professional. They opened with "Level Five," which was -- again -- very impressive ... better in fact than the version on their POWER TO BELIEVE album.
KC did mosta their best post-VROOM material: "Dinosaur," the hilarious "The World is My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor...." & "Happy With What You Have to be Happy With," etc. These were all funnier & more involving than they R on-disc. All the instrumentals were gripping & LOUD. "One Day" was especially effective Bcos it was SOFTER.
I hadda good time, & the guys seemed like they were having a good time, & Adrian Belew made an Xcellent master of ceremonies -- funny & human & a heckuva guitarist. Pat Mastelotto was all over the drum kit, making me 4get that I was disappointed cos I wasn't going 2 see Bill Bruford.
...But I still wasn't knocked out. & I wanted 2 B freakin' awestruck. I was having a great time, we were seated right up-front where we couldn't miss a thing -- but I never even felt compelled 2 jump up outta my seat, all nite.
4 me, the best part of the show was the very end, when the band was walking off, & Bob Fripp got up offa his stool & peeked around the far-right side of the curtain ... mayB 2 see why we were still in our seats? He peeked out at us....
& THEN we were ALL up out of our seats & we were screaming his name: "ROBERT!"
Then Bob & Adrian went off the stage with their arms around each other, & that was it.
Great. But not cosmic.
You won't believe me, but the best show I've ever seen was The Go-Go's in San Antonio in 1985, when they were on their TALK SHOW tour. My X-wife & I had played TALK SHOW 2 DEATH, so we were Xcited about the concert. & tho we were in the bleachers at the back of the arena, we were on our feet from the very start.
The girls opened with "Head Over Heels," & they were a little shaky. Belinda Carlisle's voice wasn't quite tuned-in & they all seemed a little tentative. They firmed it up by the middle break -- I just thot Charlotte Caffey's keyboards weren't LOUD enuf.
But from then on, they were PERFECT. Loud enuf, fun, funny, their vocals were spot-on, & they were relaxed enuf 2 ad-lib summa the lyrics on the choruses of "Skidmarks on My Heart": "Oooh, who's Gina Schock?" (That's their drummer....)
They did all their hits + 1/2adozen songs from TALK SHOW, + "Vacation," & they closed with "We Got the Beat" -- what more is there 2 say? The X & I were thrilled, & we played the TALK SHOW cassette in the car all the way home. Perfect.
Course, we were lucky we could even HEAR the girls. Their opening act was A Flock Of Seagulls, & they were hideous. Their sound was SO LOUD you couldn't hear a thing, EVERYTHING was distorted, & my ears started humming within seconds. I kept screaming 4 them 2 do "Wishing," but of course nobody could hear me -- my X standing right NEXT 2 me couldn't hear me yelling. My ears kept humming 4 days afterward. The Flock did "The More You Live, The More You Love" & "I Ran" & "Space-Age Love Song," but of course it all sounded like mud....
Saw Paul Revere & the Raiders at the Western Idaho Fair in the Summer of 1974: good, solid Family Entertainment -- lotsa corny jokes & sight gags, with all the talking done by Paul (seated behind his keyboard, the front of which was made up like the grille of a Rolls Royce or something) & some kinda Mark Lindsay-lookalike. They did all their hits, "Indian Reservation" brot down the house -- & the place was JAMMED! Standing Room Only. I was standing.
Jan and Dean opened, & I don't remember a thing about them.
Saw Blue Oyster Cult a coupla times -- in 1975 & '79. Turned down a chance 2 see The Ramones so I could see BOC the 2nd time -- what was I THINKING?
In Feb '75 BOC topped a bill with REO Speedwagon (long B4 NE of their hits) & the Welsh group Man. Saw the show with my step-brother & his harem. We waited outside the Western Idaho Fairgrounds Pavillion til they stopped taking tickets cos we were all broke, then sorta drifted in when BOC came on.
I remember them doing "Cities in Flame (with Rock and Roll)" & "Then Came the Last Days of May," & I remember a lotta dry-ice fog, & that Buck Dharma looked pretty cool with his guitar -- & that's about all. But we'd been outside in the cold 4 a coupla hrs, & I was just grateful 2 get my hands & feet warm again....
The '79 show was better. BOC's opening act was Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush. I wasn't that impressed with mosta their stuff -- or Marino's "reincarnated Hendrix" schtick -- but "World Anthem" was pretty, & there's no question that Marino's fingers sure could fly all over his guitar.
BOC had a lotta the same songs (+ "Don't Fear the Reaper") & the same effects, & I seem 2 remember them doing mostly older stuff (tho they were touring on the back of their MIRRORS album). But they did 1 gorgeous long gtr&keyboard instrumental that I've never heard since. Very dramatic. No idea what it was. I was also kinda disappointed that they played-up their stupider stuff -- "Tattoo Vampire," "Sinful Love," "Godzilla." I was hoping 2 hear "Morning Final" -- no dice.
...Hadda chance 2 C the Beach Boys in Cheyenne, Wyo., in 1987, but I didn't wanna go alone, + there was no Brian, no Dennis, no Carl, so I figured ... well, maybe not. Probly shoulda gone NEway. I hear they still do a pretty Dcent show at county fairs around the country....
...Saw the comic David Steinberg at Boise State University in about '76, does he count? How about an Idaho production of the opera "La Traviata"? Bored out of my freakin' mind. My highschool sweetheart was not happy with me. How 'bout a stage production of "Fiddler on the Roof"? Hey, there's music in it....

COMING SOON: Cars! ... & ... Holy shit, I'm 52?!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Musical Idiot

That's me.
I may talk big, but....
4 the past month or so I've bn playing the radio at work, nites, after I get all my side-work done & all I havta worry about is taking people's $$$ & putting on a happy face.
& it's worked.
I wouldn't say my work-related stress is completely gone, but a lotta the things about my job that useta make me crazy every single nite ... just kinda float away. Things people did that useta piss me off I now don't care about, cos I'm 2 busy bouncing around or singing along or playing air-guitar or drums 2 whatever's playing on the radio.
& sometimes I crank it up pretty loud. The louder the better. The louder it is, the less stress I feel & the louder I can screech along in 2-part harmony.
It's all good.
& it's so freakin' obvious that I now wonder why I resisted turning the radio on 4 7-1/2 years at the store.
I thot mayB it'd distract me. & that's true -- it's distracted me from some things I didn't wanna C or hear NEway.
I thot I wouldn't B able 2 focus. Well, that hasn't bn a problem, cos if I have trouble focusing I can always turn the music DOWN a bit. Actually, I think I'm focusing BETTER -- cos B4 on busy nites the store was sometimes just a massive spinning swirl of people & stress NEway....
& weirdest of all, at the end of the nite I don't feel totally dead. I still have some NRG left. I'm not totally stomped from Bing all stressed out.
It's pretty great, really. & it's so simple. How dumb could I B?
So far, nobody's complained. 2nite 1 long-time Regular told me: "Hey, having the music turned up really boosts the mood in this place!" & he's right. Why'd I put it off 4 so long?
Now, I have complained a coupla times here recently that EVERYBODY's playlist could B a little more open. But I'm 2 the point now where I almost don't care that I can hear "You Can't Always Get What You Want" 3 times in 1 nite. Or "Layla." Or "Stairway to Heaven." Or "Sweet Home Alabama." (OK, I still have some problems with that last 1....)
Sometimes it gets weirder than that. 2nite 2 diffrent stations were playing Heart's "Barracuda" about 15 seconds apart from each other. I could tune 1 station & hear the opening gtr riff, then turn 2 the other & hear it repeated again a few seconds later. It was wild. But also another Xample that playlists could B Xpanded.
I'm now bouncing around Btween 6 diffrent Seattle-area stations trying 2 find something good 2 listen 2. & it's not enuf. I joke with people who walk in while I'm scanning the dial that with Seattle radio you get "1 good song in a row." If you're lucky.
Sometimes if I get busy or get wrapped-up in closing down the store B4 midnight I'll just let the radio play -- & this has led me 2 re-hear some songs I dismissed YEARS ago. Coupla nites ago I heard Billy Joel's "She's Got a Way" & Cat Stevens's "Oh, Very Young," & they both sounded good. I hadn't heard Cat's song in possibly 35 years cos I thot it was lightweight when it was released -- but it sounded all right, especially his voice & the piano & those lighter-than-air women's choral vocals.
& there've bn a few suprises. 2nite's was The Beatles' "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" -- Njoyed George Martin's "fairgrounds" production. Coupla nites ago they played Chicago's "Questions 67 & 68," which I hadn't heard in awhile. Heart's "Mistral Wind" & "Love Alive." Stealer's Wheel's "Star." & 2nite I got 3 from The Moody Blues & cranked it WAY up 4 "The Story in Your Eyes" & "Ride My See-Saw."
I also crank it 4 oldies like Bobby Fuller's rockin' "I Fought the Law" & Zep's molten "When the Levee Breaks," Van's "Wild Night," The Police's "King of Pain" & "Synchronicity II," Talking Heads' "Take Me to the River" (if they'd play "Road to Nowhere" I'd B a happy man), U2's "Beautiful Day," or even The Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me" (I'm a sucker 4 almost all "Girl Groups"). Our store stereo actually puts out a pretty good amount of bass -- but I wish it would go LOUDER B4 it starts distorting.
But it's not just oldies. I'll crank it 4 Nickelback's "Photograph" (the best thing -- only GOOD thing? -- they've ever done) -- U KNOW a nostalgia-monger like me is just gonna LOVE that. & who does "Rockabye"? Great choruses -- makes me think of my daughter, almost brings me to tears. & is it Green Day who does the rocker with the refrain "I'm not sick, but I'm not well...."? & who does "Closing Time"? Great.... Linkin Park's "Numb" -- great angry choruses....
There's still some stuff I Don't Get. I Don't Get hardly NE REM. I don't get what's sposta B impressive about them. I don't get why local stations R STILL playing the hell outta Coldplay's "Death and All His Friends," tho I admit it grows on me more every time I hear it. & who does that song with the keyboard-fanfare opening & the guy saying "I turn the radio off/I've got my red shoes on...." Sounds like he's gonna turn in2 a superhero.... I Don't Get that 1 either. But mayB I was not put upon this Earth 2 Get It....
NEway, the radio has made my nites a little EZer lately, so I hava little more NRG 2 blog more often. Music can actually B used 2 enhance yer life. Who woulda thunk it?
If this keeps up, I might make it another 50 years....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book reviews from Hell!

I've written about John Clute here B4. He is, I think, the best critic/reviewer science fiction has had since the late Algis Budrys hung-up his critic's hat in the early-'90s. U can find Clute's work in sevral places on the Net, most recently an occasional review at
I started reading Clute in the mid-'70s in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, where he came across as a cranky smart-ass poking fun at summa the weaknesses of Olde SF. At 1st I didn't know quite what 2 think. I'd never B4 read a reviewer who so obviously pointed-out when he thot writers were Bing lazy or were falling asleep at the keyboard. 1nce I adjusted, I thot his crankiness was pretty funny.
He's still funny, but he's mellowed a lot. Since the mid-'70s Clute's worked on bigger projects like the huge & marvelous ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION, an equally huge ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FANTASY, a coupla novels, & some other things here & there. There's also a new, bigger, on-line version of the SF ENCYCLOPEDIA due 2 B unveiled SOON.
Oh, & he's put 2gether at least 4 books of critical essays. Over the past few months I've bn reading them, & they get pretty intense at times. Clute is the only reviewer I know of who is convinced that EVERY story Means Something, even the unsuccessful, lame, stupid 1's; that fiction in the new millennium is of deadly earnest importance; that stories R the way we all make sense of The Real World; & that writers in the SF/Fantasy/Horror world otta damn well B doing their best 2 find us some workable future worlds we can live in. Cos things in The Real World ain't lookin that cheery.
Sounds pretty serious, huh?
STROKES assembles those cranky early columns from F&SF, NEW WORLDS & other places. They're still cranky & funny, but after completing them Clute apparently threw crankiness over the side & focused on the deadly serious question of What It All Means. LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE, SCORES & CANARY FEVER (the most recent collection, 2009), all circle around how SF/Fantasy/Horror fiction Xpresses unease with The Real World -- what huge worries R people all over the planet sharing, & how is it Xpressed thru fiction?
U might B suprised how intense summa this gets. In Clute's view, "entertainment" is just 1 of the things that fiction does. & all of it has some kinda connection 2 the lives we live, no matter how futuristic or dark or weird. Writers Xpress their concerns, & often those concerns R on the minds of thousands -- often the underlying issues addressed could intrest the whole world.
& Clute's point is that -- in light of events like 9/11, global warming, current brutal economic realities, the desire of millions 2 escape this little puddle of paradise called The Real World -- writers of fantastic literature better write their stuff as if millions were reading every word. That's their duty.
Thank Ghod he's not pompous about it. But he's not joking when he sez a lot hangs in the balance 4 the folks who imagine what 2morrow's gonna B like.
The later collections seem 2 show that today's best writers seem 2 need more&more room 2 work out their concepts (& I thot it was just lazy editing....). Clute tackles multi-volume epics like Gene Wolfe's BOOK OF THE NEW SUN & its sequels, Dan Simmons' HYPERION novels, Neal Stephenson's CRYPTONOMICON & its sequels, huge books or novel-series by China Mieville, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Varley, Michael Swanwick & many others -- & finds great, earth-shaking things in all of them. Good reasons 2 read, with an eye on the future.
The collections R usually assembled in chronological order, but almost all of them hava big finish. SCORES closes with a piece about the significance of fantastic literature in the shadow of 9/11. LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE closes with an overview of the brilliant career of the mysterious & tragic James Tiptree Jr. & CANARY FEVER closes with an obituary 4 1 of Clute's oldest friends, Thomas M. Disch (who suicided in 2008).
This all may sound pretty heavy -- it's not, always. Clute still cracks jokes. He still doesn't hold back when he thinks a writer is trying 2 sell readers some BS (there's a great negative review of Margaret Atwood's ORYX AND CRAKE in CANARY FEVER). & when he really doesn't like something -- look out.
Even when he admires a work, things can get kinda intense -- as when Clute compares the Xperience of reading Peter Straub's IN THE NIGHT ROOM 2 torture.
If you're an SF fan, U might want 2 check out this guy. I think he's great, even (as in some of his more-recent on-line reviews) when it seems like he MAKES UP words, even when he sometimes goes off-track & only he can figure out what he's saying, even when it seems like his more complex arguments circle around & disappear up his own ass. If U can imagine a young Robert Christgau reviewing science fiction novels, that's something of the effect.
Good Luck....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


OK, I'm gonna B ranting & raving & bitching here 4 awhile (as usual), so if U wanna change channels right now I don't blame you.... YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
So I have this roommate, J, who I've shared a house with 4 the past 3-1/2 yrs. It's HIS house. I just rent a room here.
I always pay my rent on time, I clean up after myself, I wash the dishes & throw out the trash & mow the lawn & pick-up the mail. A few times a year I try 2 cook something without poisoning us. When $$$ gets tight I sometimes find a way 2 cough up some Xtra cash. When the washer died, my income-tax return bought a new 1. When the lawnmower died, my tax return bought a new 1. When I KILLED the lawnmower awhile back, I paid 4 the repairs. But J never seems 2 remember this.
I don't play my strange music 2 loud (& never when J's at home) & I don't make much noise mosta the time. I'm not a real social person. I read & write & play my strange music & go 2 work, & if I can B left alone with what personal time I have left, that suits me just fine.
I know I'm grumpy & moody, that I can B a challenge 2 live with. I've bn like this mosta my life. I'm probly not gonna change much now.
J's a good guy & his heart's in the right place. He's gone a long way out 4 me, more than 1nce. If I have car troubles, he can usually fix them. Awhile back when I managed 2 boil-over the car radiator & kill the car's battery at the same time, J bought me a new battery & a new thermostat. & I paid him back in full the next time I got paid.
...But he drinks. A lot. & when he does, some pretty freakin' ugly things come out of his mouth.
J thinks he doesn't drink that much. He thinks he's cut back. He only drinks 3 or 4 18-packs a week, now. & he wonders why no women will go out with him. If they heard what he sez about them when he's drunk, they'd never get NEAR him.
If anybody wants anything from J, money or a favor, all they needta do is wait & ask him when he's drunk -- they won't havta wait long, & he'll give in every time. (He was drunk when I asked 2 borrow the $$$ 4 a new computer a coupla yrs back -- I'm no saint, either. I know how things work....) He'll especially give in if the person asking 4 the favor is a woman -- he'll do almost anything 4 a little attention.
J has 1 DWI conviction on his record -- & he knows if he ever gets another he'll lose his job. But that doesn't keep him from driving 2 the store when he's had a few. If he's drunk enuf, he'll blow $300 at the grocery store, or more at Wal-Mart. It's happened more than 1nce.
The worst part, 4 me, is that he's LONELY -- & that gets worse if he's been drinking. The 1st coupla yrs I lived here, I can't remember how many times we were up til 4 am just TALKING -- J usedta B able 2 do LONG monologues about how much his job sucked, & he'd never let the audience get a word in -- he just needed 2 get the frustration out, no matter how long it took. 1 time when he was REALLY shitfaced he told me the same story about work 3 times within 10 mins....
When he's had a few, he likes 2 turn on CNN, turn it up & start solving the world's problems. Sometimes he has some really good ideas, 2. But it depends on how much he's had 2 drink. Sometimes he'll feel sorry 4 all the hungry, homeless people Out There -- & a few mins later he'll B absolutely SURE that each 1 of those hungry, homeless people R sucking up his tax dollars -- why don't they just get a freakin' JOB?! .... I could live with this, but he Bcomes such an expert, such a freaking KNOW-IT-ALL after a few drinks -- he knows everything, he's done everything, & I haven't done shit.
Awhile back when I came home from my vacation, the 1st thing outta his mouth (he was shitfaced) was: "What are YOU gonna cook for dinner?!" Then, when he didn't want what I suggested, he said: "I'm sure glad yer back, cos I'm sicka walkin downhill 2 get yer mail...." He said he thot I might not come back from vacation, or that I might come back just long enuf 2 pack my things & move out.... Clearly he was sorta jealous that I went off & hadda good time without him....
Then he suggested we go hit his favorite bar. Trust me, taking me 2 a bar is about as appropriate as me taking J 2 a bookstore or a library -- I've never suggested it. But J won't let the bar thing go, it's always in the back of his mind. He thinks it'll cheer me up. The 1 time we went he blew $140 & then blamed me 4 it.
Leave me alone. That'll cheer me up.
Awhile back we hadda couple other roommates. 1 was a balding wanna-B-biker guy who's favorite phrase was: "Everything's gonna be all right, baby...." He was here 4 a coupla months B4 he fell in love with some1 & moved out. Then we got stuck with 1 of his old girlfriends -- who promised 2 cook & clean & do the dishes in Xchange 4 a break on the rent -- & then never cooked or cleaned. She never paid her rent on time 4 over a year, & I feel like I helped feed her 4 most of that time. Finally she moved out back at the end of Feb. I won't miss her. Not 1 of my favorite people ever.
Recently J has moved 2 a new work shift, so now I see him every day, not just on my days off. 1 of the reasons this arrangement useta work is cos we hardly ever saw each other & I didn't havta deal with what an ugly drunk he can sometimes B. Now I can't avoid him. Is there some kind of law that sez you HAVE 2 converse with the people you live with?
Awhile back, J thot I should try 2 apply 4 a job where he works -- after all the ugly stories I've heard about the place, why would I wanna do THAT? & Bsides, I don't want 2 C my roommate 24/7....
A decade ago, after my divorce & after my X-wife came & took the kids away, I had a huge old 4-bedroom house all to myself.
& I thot the silence was gonna drive me crazy.
Now I'm sure that I'm never going 2 B completely happy until I have my own place & can do what I want, when I want, & not havta worry about stepping on any1 else's toes.
3 more years in Washington will pay all of my major bills, & then it's back 2 Idaho where it's quieter & where at least I've got my family & a coupla old friends I can fall back on.
I'm tired of repressing who I am & what I do, postponing what I want 2 do, & caving-in & doing what a roommate wants 2 do, just 2 keep peace with a roommate.
Who I am & what I do is actually pretty boring, so I don't C why it should B a problem.
If NE of you out there have ever been in this situation -- how'd you put up with it?
...Sorry, this is kinda depressing. I shouldn't bitch. My life ain't so bad. I thot I could get some kinda comedy out of this. ... But I don't think it's gonna happen this time....

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beginning to see the light....

I reported here awhile back that Ellen Willis's rock-criticism best-of OUT OF THE VINYL DEEPS (2011) seemed a little thin & hard 2 get in2. & dated.
& I was wrong. MayB it just needed 2 wait 4 the Right Time.
Having read a good chunk of it now, I can report that -- sure, it's dated -- there's way 2 much on Dylan & the Stones, & there's also a kinda toothless attempt 2 prove that Woodstock wasn't the Hippie Heaven it's so often been claimed 2 B down thru the years. But hey, it was the '60s.
I can also report that Willis nails some things perfectly, & there R parts that make me laff out-loud.
Ellen Willis wasn't the only woman rock critic of the late '60s/early '70s -- also writing at the time were Janet Maslin & M. Mark & Ellen Sander, & Patti Smith took a few shots at it, & there were a few others. But Willis was part of rock criticism's 1st wave, a colleague of Lester Bangs & Dave Marsh & Robert Christgau & Greil Marcus, all of whom R mentioned or quoted in this book.
Willis Bcame well-known as rock critic 4 THE NEW YORKER, & later wrote 4 ROLLING STONE & THE VILLAGE VOICE. VINYL DEEPS collects her music writing from her 1st published piece on Dylan in '67, 2 a review of Dylan's LOVE AND THEFT for in 2001. Willis died in 2006.
Most of the book is from her NEW YORKER columns, along with other late-'60s/early-'70s stuff. There R also pieces on Creedence Clearwater Revival & Janis Joplin that she did for the ROLLING STONE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF ROCK, liner notes, etc.
But her NEW YORKER columns R sharp & funny & intimate -- there's a funny piece about Willis dancing around her apartment 2 the 1st 5 Creedence albums in an effort 2 fight off depression. There's her Xcellent long piece from Marcus's STRANDED about the Velvet Underground's Complete Works. She nails a review of Dylan's BLOOD ON THE TRACKS. There's a long writeup from Lou Reed's ROCK AND ROLL DIARY -- in fact, Reed is in this book a lot.
& tho much of Willis's work follows the Xpected stars, she covers some off-the-wall stuff 2: There's a review of Van Dyke Parks' SONG CYCLE; a long writeup on Moby Grape; a couple pieces on Mott the Hoople; & a coupla mentions of a group called Eyes & their main songwriter Ms. Clawdy.
Summa this stuff made me laff in suprise -- 4 instance a chapter on "Bowie's Limitations," where Willis claims that "Part of the problem is Bowie's material." I laffed 4 quite awhile at that 1, cos I've never been that big a Bowie fan....
I have some complaints: Willis misses the best songs on ZIGGY STARDUST & ABBEY ROAD & MOTT & some others; there is WAY 2 much Dylan & Stones & Van Morrison & Janis. (But their fans won't mind.) That Woodstock piece REALLY doesn't BITE hard enuf, tho the material's there. & there isn't enuf (4 me) about what Willis thot about societal issues apart from music. This is an intresting person, who went in2 teaching & writing about feminism after she thot she'd written herself out on rock&roll. There's a big gap at the end of this 230-pg book & there was room 4 more of what Willis wrote after 1980.
But as the 4 editors/assemblers (1 of 'em's Willis's daughter) promise, the book is sorta a time-capsule of the period. There's some good stuff here. If I find more, I'll let U know....

Wish I could say I was having the same luck re-reading Carl Belz's THE STORY OF ROCK, which I discovered as a 10th-grader in the dark bowels of the Meridian (Idaho) Mid-High School Library, while skipping PE class 17 days in a row at the end of 1974 cos I didn't wanta face the humiliation of wrestling my classmates.
1st I read Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 & CHILDHOOD'S END, then stumbled over THE STORY OF ROCK, where I was thrilled 2 discover that some1 else thot The Beatles' WHITE ALBUM was the greatest record of all time, a complete history of popular music condensed on2 2 long-playing vinyl discs....
I bought this book hoping 2 locate that long review again, & it ain't here. Or perhaps it was revised out of this Revised Second Edition. If I locate this vein of gold & somehow get transported back 2 my 15th year I'll try 2 pass the word along....

Bogged down in my re-read of 1984 at the point just B4 Winston & Julia get arrested. Can't quite bring myself 2 trudge thru the pamphlet that bad-guy O'Brien gave the 2 doomed lovers, THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM. MayB I'll just skip that & get 2 the good (bad) stuff that happens in Room 101.... Along with the grim & gritty future world portrayed here (the scarcity of essentials could B straight out of a Philip K. Dick novel), I was also suprised by the sex! I didn't remember NE of THAT from the 1st time thru....

Have also lately tried 2 read Lisa Tuttle's LOST FUTURES, Thomas M. Disch's CAMP CONCENTRATION, Philip K. Dick's VALIS, little bits & pieces of Kathy Acker's best-of & Barry N. Malzberg's GALAXIES, probly some others I can't even remember. Haven't stuck 2 NE of these yet. Had no trouble finishing re-reading Thomas Harris's RED DRAGON, which isn't as painful (tho is still just as gripping) as I'd thot when I read it 20 years ago.... Also been re-reading a few fave short stories: Gwyneth Jones's "Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland," James Patrick Kelly's "Breakaway, Backdown," Gregory Nicoll's "Dead Air," Michael Blumlein's "The Brains of Rats," Terry Bisson's "Scout's Honor," Allen Steele's "Doblin's Lecture," Joanna Russ's "Invasion," Kim Newman's "The Man Who Collected Barker"....

Hottest part of the Summer here, in the mid-80s every day & warm at nite. & what's up with you-all...?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rastro goes Tumblr -- great stuff!

Hey, B sure & check out Rastro's new LA HISTORIA DE LA MUSICA ROCK Tumblr site at -- it's punchy & funny & quick, & summa the photos he's posted R freakin' GREAT -- some of them R even sorta scary, Hank Williams Sr., 4 1....
Anyway, it's all good 2 C cos 4 awhile I thot Rastro was gonna take the Summer off. So B sure & check out his wit & musical knowledge in a new, quick & easily digestible format. Really, he does more with a photo & a few well-chosen words than I can do in a 2,000-word essay.
...& I'm not just saying this because of the great women-guitarist photos he's been posting....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Something Different, Part 97....

Welcome to Aug, my favorite month -- my birthday & all, ya know.
In the continuing effort 2 find Something Different musically, over the past few Sun nites while working I've bn catching bits & pieces of "Little Steven's Underground Garage," which in the Seattle area runs from 10 pm-midnight on 103.7 FM "The Mountain." I trust it's also broadcast nationwide.
Little Steven -- who if I remember right was a guitarist/vocalist, member of the E Street Band & 1 of Bruce's buddies, among other things -- hosts 2 hrs of off-the-wall rock&roll, lotsa cool overlooked or forgotten stuff from the '60s & '70s, & a suprising amount of more recent retro-sounding stuff. There's also music trivia & stories about the artists & the folks behind the tunes.
The music is all pretty great -- & there's A LOT of stuff I've either never heard before or never heard of.
The stuff that's hit me hardest so far is Julie Driscoll's "I Know You Love Me Not," which sounds like some forgotten mid-'60s Dusty Springfield tune, complete with over-the-top orchestrations; & the Shangri-La's "Heaven Only Knows," which sounds just like them. ... & Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" is hilarious!
But there's LOTS more: Obscure tunes by Bruce, the Stones, the Kinks, New York Dolls, silly-&-strange-but-good retro stuff from Sweden & Norway.... Also some old standbys like the Beatles' "The Night Before," Vanilla Fudge's "You Keep Me Hanging On" (which I hadn't heard in years), & "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (ditto).
Also, 2 name a few: Steve Winwood & Steve Cropper's "Thirty Second Lover"; Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions' "I'm a Fool for You" (which I thot was an old Smokey Robinson & The Miracles tune); Garland Jeffreys' "35-Millimeter Dreams" (which sounds like an old Van Morrison song); The Yardbirds' "Smile On Me, Baby," & more....
Steven also profiles great behind-the-scenes folks in an ongoing series called "Freaks of the Week" -- recent Freaks have included Shadow Morton, Al Kooper, Kim Fowley....
It's all really cool, 2 use 1 of Steven's fave descriptive terms. His low, kinda growly voice reminds me of The Boogie Monster, who I useta hear on Denver Oldies radio back in the mid-'80s. & some of his comments just make me laff out-loud, like when he described The Stones' "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?" as being "full of Freudian, Jungian psychological STUFF ... It was written by Freud and Jung, actually ... and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, who knew both of them VERY well...." & it's always a hoot when he starts laffing....
Quite cool if you're in2 the Different -- & who isn't, with radio being what it is these days? You might wanna C if U can track it down. I'll B listening more in the future. It's certainly made my Sun nites EZer 2 get thru.... Hopefully, You Out There already know about this show & I'm the 1 who didn't get the memo about it....
More soon....