Monday, January 31, 2011

The New Media

The New Media is apparently driving or permitting or facilitating revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Here it's facilitating conversations like the one I just had.
Text message: So everyone seems pretty devestated you left 4th period haha
My text reply: Oh I doubt it. I left 4th period last in 1976. You've probably texted a wrong number.
Text message: What?
I'll be sure to update you if my 4th period desertion is really causing repercussions up and down the space time continuum later. (Where 'later' has applicability, of course.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

National Unreachable Wilderness Area

The term National Unreachable Wilderness Area is a joke from the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, who went on vacation there in about 1971 and had hilarious stoner adventures. I've used it ever since to describe US National Parkland, and by some twist of fate that I won't get into, I actually work inside one, in Southern California. It's only actually unreachable about three days a year when the road washes out, but it's certainly unreachable then.

This is the view from outside one of our buildings: So Cal sunset on the mountains.

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We have all kinds of wildlife, mostly inimical and retiring, like our rattlesnakes. (Rattlesnakes not shown.)

Some of the wildlife is the ubiquitous fluffy bunny.

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Some of it couldn't give a toss about humans, although I think this little critter was beginning to resent me after I took a few too many photos.

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...at least judging by the way he was 'smiling' at me.

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Some of the W.L. picks up the pieces after the inimical ones do their killing. (Actually, it's probably the main road in the valley that does most of the fluffy bunny and raccoon killing.)

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We have a lot of vultures.

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No, I mean really a *lot* of vultures.

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Like that. And that's just one tree.

And I guess we have a lot of mistletoe too. As in the photo above, it really shows up in the winter, when it's green and leafy and the sycamores aren't. It's a hemiparasite. When the sap rises in spring and the sycamore leaves grow to shade it, it's parasitic. In winter it stays green and makes its own food.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page

My collectors edition of the Jimmy Page photo-biography arrived yesterday. It's been so delayed I'd forgotten it was coming. Genesis Publications didn't send me a "your product has shipped" notice, so when the FedEx door tag got stuck on my gate, I had no idea what it was they'd tried to deliver. On the FedEx site it said it had shipped (in just two days!) from Feltham, in the UK, and weighed 17.5 lbs. I put two and two together and had it held at the facility so I could pick it up. I didn't want to risk them throwing it in the van again and then lobbing it over the gate into sprinkler-land. $650 is a LOT for a book, even if it is signed by Jimmy Page and a limited edition of 2,150 copies (plus 350 copies of the Deluxe Edition, which is no longer mentioned on Genesis' site, but sold out within 48 hours of going on sale, and I missed it).

Jimmy Page book
Mine!

I opened it today and took a leaf out of Rick Barrett's book, so to speak, and taped the Opening Procedure. (Led Zeppelin obsessives site Royal Orleans has mentioned that at least one arrived damaged.)

(That's Rick, not me. His is a Deluxe. Lucky feller.)

After about 25 layers of Pass The Parcel, we got down to pulling the Perspex-protective-film off the front and there it was - a beauty. It's just gorgeous. With my white cotton gloves on, I leafed through it and every picture is a gem. Unfortunately, having spent the last several years tracking down pictures of Jimmy Page, posting on the various Led Zeppelin websites, not that many of them are entirely new to me. One I had not seen before shows Jimmy standing on the wing of their private plane - when the hell did he ever have the courage to do that? He was holed up in hotel rooms with the blinds pulled around that time, and here he is in the sunlight, in a dangerous high spot!

Some things are much clearer in a high-quality print on good paper than on a screen. I've long known of one where Jimmy is holding his double-neck guitar upright using only one hand on the end of the guitar and wondered how someone so frail can do that. In the print you can see his elbow is against his stomach, so it's braced to get plenty of leverage. The legendary Bray Studios shot of Led Zeppelin rehearsing in their shorts is in there and in high-quality print, it still looks totally faked to me - Jimmy still appears to have someone else's right forearm. There are lots of Pangbourne boathouse shots and all the ones I've always thought of as "Sol Studios" because a magazine that published them dubbed it thus, are all labeled Plumpton (Jimmy's home studio at Plumpton House), so that clears up the obvious date discrepancy.

It's a lovely book, but I don't think it'll take much handling, being far too heavy for its binding. Once I've had a good look it'll go back into its packaging material and get stored flat so the signatures don't pull on the spine.


Edit: they did send me a "your product has shipped" email on the 18th. I just failed to notice it until now. Sorry, Genesis!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why I love the Dead Weather

While I'm on a missing the Dead Weather kick, here' s No Hassle Night again. Keyboards manned by Jack White who is also on guitar. Nobody's on drums. Alison is doing the vocals and Little Jack is of course kicking shit on the bass. The guitar sounds like Sekhmet destroying the world... one has to assume Jack/Sekhmet eventually got his beer fix and halted the carnage or we wouldn't be here today.


The song evolves, or devolves into I Just Want To Make Love To You, and they really mean it.

Retablo

My favorite punkabilly icon Captain Sean Wheeler, Palm Springs psalmist, played last night in LA with his mate Zander Schloss, best known, I suppose, by his association with the Circle Jerks. Not that I was there - I'm not even going to LA for the Jack and Wanda Jackson shows on Sunday and Monday. No one goes to LA unless absolutely necessary.And I uselessly didn't see any videos of it, so here's an older one.

Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss - Retablo


That's nice American folk music. The collaboration seems to be good for Sean, most well known for the raucous Throw Rag.

But you know, I'm a rockist at heart, so here's The Dead Weather with Van Morrison's You Just Can't Win, filmed a few months ago. It has one of Alison Mosshart's personal-space-trespassing moments that defined Dead Weather, starting at about the forty second mark.


Then again Jack likes the attention of the chicks. Here's a gif doing the rounds of a moment with Wanda Jackson.

Wanda and Jack


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thunder on the Mountain

Some friends of mine are going to see Wanda 'n' Jack in Brooklyn this week. I'm jealous.

Here's Jack White back in action in Wanda Jackson's Thunder on the Mountain. "He's on fire," one friend commented re this video. "Jack does rockabilly quite believably," said another one.



Gorgeous video, I think. That dark oak paneled room is upstairs at the United Record Pressing plant. I've been there. Interesting juxtaposition between sexed-up slo-mo Jack buttoning his pink rock'n'roll togs at the beginning and Jack-getting-his-hair-ruffled-like-a-toddler-which-he-is-to-Wanda-let's-face-it later on.

Talking about believability, Jack White is one of the few guitar players I've ever heard who has absolutely no Chuck Berry genes. It doesn't seem to slow him down. And I'm getting used to the facial foliage.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Maybe

Wait, I think I get it now. By saying that an adult in a baby's body is literally a baby in an adult's body, Dana whatsit may be saying that Jim Carrey's character is actually a baby, and spends the rest of the movie, when he's not in the sink being bathed by his mother, as a child trapped in an adult body. In order to grok that I had to twist my mind in a very Michel Gondry way, but that's probably good for me.

Oh, whatever. Have a picture of a cross-eyed possum.

cross eyed possum

It's from The Washington Post, which also tells us that the cute creature is a sensation in Germany, even though she's not on public display yet. I will now subscribe to her Twitter feed.

Found on the web

From Slate magazine, a review of the Green Hornet movie (which fails to mention that the soundtrack contains the White Stripes' Red Death At 6:14 and Blue Orchid, for some reason) by Dana Stevens:
But all Gondry's films (not to mention his many remarkable music videos) share a strong sense of visual whimsy and an interest in the spectacle of people at play. His protagonists are children trapped in adult bodies, sometimes literally (as when Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine finds himself a baby again, being bathed in the sink by his mother) and always figuratively.
So, 'literally' a child trapped in an adult's body is an adult trapped in a baby's body? This new meaning of literally even eclipses even the old meaning of literally which was, "I am about to say something and I really mean it".

Literally


I love Michele Gondry's music videos. Try Cibo Matto's Sugar Water if you're not familiar with Gondry. Unfortunately Warner Bros doesn't allow me to embed it here and you probably can't be bothered to click on it, so I guess it'll go unwatched. Here's the making of video. I can embed that.

(Edit: well, that's been removed.)

I can't say if I'll go and see the Green Hornet though. I'm just not that interested in naff superheros. Or maybe the naffness is the point. Ah, Netflix it.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Found on the web

Reprinting weird things found on the internet isn't very intellectual and of course opens you up to the high probability that you'll say something just as weird or spell something just as incorrectly. Having said that, today I detected these:
Rolling Stone magazine publishes a controversial article in which Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is quoted as saying that the Beatles’ version of Twist and Shout is better than the Isley Brothers.’ President Obama has no choice but to relieve the general of his command.
From Miami Herald

When using quotation marks, in general British usage is to put the punctuation where it logically belongs. In general American usage, you put the commas and periods inside the quotation, even if that is not logical, but use common sense on question marks.

In the above quote from Dave Barry (although it was probably a sub-editor or program's idea) the period has been put inside of the Isley Brothers' apostrophe. This isn't correct in any country I know of, but it takes the American usage to its logical conclusion. In fact I can't really think of anything more American, except perhaps a Moon Landing staged by the USO lighting artists and the dancers/models from Apocalypse Now. In 3D. With Macaroni and Cheese.

Secondly, a description that made me stop and think.
The Dead Weather get to the down and dirty parts of White's aesthetic and, poked and prodded by Kills frontwoman Allison Mosshart, reveals the dark, seamy underbelly of his formerly innocent schoolboy sexuality.
From Careful w/ blog, Eugene.

Now, I have actually spent less time thinking about Jack's underbelly than you probably think I have. But now that I do come to think of it "dark and seamy" sounds wrong. Very pale and seamless, I would think. Some dark hair.

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That's the best photo of Jack's underbelly I can find. On the other hand, I do agree with the blogger's choice of Sea of Cowards for one of the best albums of 2010, so I can't complain.

In other good news about dark underbellies, The Kills have finished their album. Or, in American, "The Kills have finished its album." (I think.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Nice police are nice to me

Given the past couple of days' posts, here's a pro-police video.

Help Tha Police:



Or you can go with NWA's original track.

I love NWA, one of the first non-rockist bands I understood. This album was like having someone come out and replace solid mahogany windows with glass panes. Also it was witty and rhythmic and perfectly produced.

Land of the Free (temporarily saved by normal people)

The good news is that the proposal to ban children under 18 from the city after 10 pm and between 8 am and 2 pm was voted down.

The Capistrano Dispatch has updated its news story.

The San Juan Capistrano City Council on Tuesday declined to approve a tough new curfew ordinance that would have made it illegal for kids to be on the streets during school hours and could have even fined parents who knowingly let their kids violate curfew.

Some normal people on the council seemed to have opinion on the matter, but the clinching issue seems to be the cost of hoiking all sub-18 year-olds off the street.

Comments on my original mention of the vote range from, "Hey, England's just as bad" to "crazier bans have happened." Those are...interesting...but neither make me kvell with happiness at the accumulated wisdom of the human race. I'm not holding out much hope for SJC either.

New Year's Resolutions, Dept. of Nigerian Finances

I made a New Year Resolution to track my finances. Because the one thing I cannot do is be bothered, I thought I'd look for a free Excel sheet that someone had already made that I could customize.

Anyway, I was directed to one ABSOLUTELY FREE site that said I could track my finances online, really really securely, no personal identifiers needed whatsoever so I could just relax.

I thought I would go ahead and read the privacy policy (I usually can't be bothered, see above.) It said,

"We ask for your online banking user name and passwords so that we can connect securely to your financial institutions."

Yeah, I'll be using that service. Even if 98% of the people who run it are honest (which I doubt), the entire set of their data probably resides with the Russian Mafia already. How gullible are people? (That's a rhetorical question.)

Back to the drawing board. Or Excel spreadsheet, whatever.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Land of the Free (Part 97)

This is my hometown.
The San Juan Capistrano City Council on Tuesday will not only make it against the law for those under 18 to be out after 10 p.m.—or on the streets during daytime hours—but also allow authorities to prosecute parents who allow their kids to stay out too late.

The proposed curfew ordinance would be far more strict than the current curfew. In addition to requiring those under 18 to be off the streets by 10 p.m.—with some exceptions—it would also allow deputies to pick up those under 18 spotted out and about between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
(From the Capistrano Dispatch)

They're voting tonight to make it be against the law to be out after 10 pm if you're under 18 (i.e. too young to vote), and furthermore, if you're around during the day, you'll get picked up by the police too. This is the land of the free, where the government allows people - such as parents, and their children - to determine their own course in life. Except where it's even fractionally imaginable to attempt to control every son of a bitch within an inch of his life. Then, of course, they'll make a law against it.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Exit through the gift shop - Thierry Guetta

I watched the art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop yesterday. It's a fascinating chronicle of a young Frenchman, cousin to Shepherd Fairey of the Barack Obama poster Hope fame, and a friend of enigmatic street artist Banksy.

The doco follows Guetta from his early days as an obsessive videotaper through his budding friendship with Fairey and Banksy. It details how reclusive Banksy finally began to trust him after he did not talk, even after being grilled by Disneyland security for hours when a Banksy stunt went public eerily too early.

Eventually Banksy asked Guetta, he of the Inspector Clouseau-esque French lilt, to dig out his exhaustive videotapes and produce a document of recent street art in film form. At that point, Banksy, his face covered and his voiced heavily modulated on camera, says he realized that Guetta may have taped everything, but he was not mentally sound enough to find, sort and edit the endless tapes into a documentary structure. The resulting rough cut was to prove unwatchable.

Banksy told Guetta to go do some art of his own while he, Banksy, sorted through the thousands of hours of tapes.

Guetta takes him at face value, and becomes Mr. Brainwash, an artist booking a huge show. Not a retrospective - neither Brainwash nor Guetta have ever shown anything before - but an all new artist's show in a huge warehouse in Los Angeles, featuring several hundred pieces of art, which, of course, Mr. Brainwash does not have.

He commissions dozens of workers to produce his ideas. Most of his ideas seem to be of the kind, "Get the most famous picture of Michael Jackson and matte it into a Warhol silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe. Ok, now get one of somebody famous and turn it into a Shepherd Fairey "Hope"style picture and print it."

This all works, amazingly, and the hired hands produce hundreds of pictures. One wonders about the copyright issues.

And then, Mr. Brainwash undergoes the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul. For he tumbles from a stepladder (caught on his ubiquitous camera) and breaks his fifth metatarsal, or what we laymen call his 'little toe'. Confined to a wheelchair, the stricken artist's big opening is doubt.

Mind you, I'd stopped believing in the existence of Thierry Guetta or Mr. Brainwash long before then. There are no details, not even his wife and kids, that seem to back up his actual existence. He follows Banksy around - well, there's no corroboration of that, obviously. He destroys his Disneyland tapes so as not to get imprisoned by the interrogators. He produces no art anyone has ever seen prior to the show. His thousands of hours of compulsive videos appear only as static shots of unlabelled tapes in bins in his house. They do, however, serve to explain how come his toe-breaking incident was captured on tape - except - If Guetta is the one who films obsessively, how come he is seen tumbling from the ladder from the pov of a third person?

The show, despite the muse-threatening little toe fracture incident, is a howling success.

Of course, it doesn't matter if artists don't really exist. We don't buy a Picasso because he was a man, or a Warhol because we know he frequented New York City haunts. As a music lover, rather than a visual arts lover, I'm used to subterfuge. Milli Vanilli weren't the band they said they were, and neither were the Monkees. The Dead Weather, my current favorite band, obviously picked out their persona from masks lying around in their toolbox which they donned and expected me to believe, so I did. Finding a musician whose corporeal self actually corresponds to the art he makes is actually quite difficult nowadays and nobody cares. At least I don't care.

If Mr. Brainwash sells many more of his $30k to $300k canvases in future, I might envy him, but I still won't believe in him.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

We Can Do It!

Geraldine Hoff Doyle died lately. She, as I didn't know, and she didn't apparently know either until the 1980s, was the inspiration for the iconic "We Can Do It!" Rosie the Riveter poster that taught women during wartime that it was possible to take on non-traditional jobs in order to help the war effort.

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I read Doyle's obituary in the Los Angeles Times recently. One fact totally struck me. She had gone to work in a metalworking factory in 1942, wanting to help the war effort:
Doyle was operating a metal-stamping machine when a United Press photographer took a picture of the tall, slender and glamorously beautiful brunet wearing a polka-dot bandana over her hair.
But the article goes on:
Doyle.... who actually worked in the factory only a couple of weeks... a cello player, she quit after learning that the woman she had replaced had injured her hand on the metal press, her daughter said.

She then got a job at a bookstore in Ann Arbor...
So the We Can Do It woman couldn't actually do it.

I just find that deeply ironic.

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