Thursday, December 31, 2009

Terminal Cheesecake steals from some original cheesecake

Previously I have been known to rant on my music review section on this blog entitled “The Greatest Albums of All Time in No Particular Order”. This past summer, I did an entry on those acid addled pranksters, Terminal Cheesecake's last album and referenced their prior album “Pearlesque Kings of the Jewmost”. Well, recently I was wasting “valuable” time at work looking at a crazy cover art site and ran across the following:

Well I thought, that surely looked familiar to me! It was the artwork on the back cover of the aforementioned album by the Cheesecake blokes! Well, that is surely a delightful "artistic" heist. I guess it can be accounted for by the supposedly legendary amounts of mind altering chemicals they consumed during their tenure. Sweet.

Classic Colombia!

Was able to use up my remaining vacation time for the calendar year and get back down to Cartagena to see Lyz for about 10 days and to spend more time getting to know her family. Once again the weather was sunny though hot and humid (about 90 F each day with about 80% humidity) but I will take that over tropical rain any time. Once again, we had a great dinner at the La Vitrola restaurante in Centrol on Saturday night shortly after I arrived. The next day we spent some time at the historic castle, San Felipe Castillo, that overlooks the city and was a bastion against invaders but not any sort of residence. We lolled around and got a lot of great pics (see my Webshots link later on).

In the early evening we meet up with Lyz's papi and her brother and his girlfriend at the Cartagena futbol stadium. Real Cartagena were playing their archrivals, Junior de Barranquilla. Barranquilla is about an hour or so away up the northeast coast and is more of a port/commericial center. Lyz's mami is originally from there and her father is originally from Cartagena. But because they lived in Barranquilla for a long time, they are all Junior fans so they had to be on their best behavior. :) In fact, security is pretty intense-you get padded down by policia at about 4 different checkpoints and the serious Junior fans coming from Barranquilla are herded into a blocked off section by the end corner of one of the goals and are escorted into the stands by policia after the game is about 5 minutes old and the same is true near the end of the game. While there is significant security, I did not witness any loco behavior, unlike the time in 2006 when I attended a match at Maracana, the massive stadium in Rio de Janeiro where two city rivals were also playing. Lyz's papi (he's a retired federal police detective) negotiated some scalped tickets for about $5 each so I got us all into the match for about $25-not a bad deal. Too bad it ended in a 0-0 draw.

After getting organized on Monday, we took a flight on Tuesday through Bogota to Bucaramanga. Near there is the massive Chicamocha Canyon, about an hour and ½ drive away. We spent two nights in Bucaramanga, using Wednesday to plan our excursion to the relativey new National Park there and San Gil (another hour and a ½ from Chicamocha) and get a car booked for rental. Bucaramanga has the sixth largest city economy/population in Colombia (similar to Cartagena/Barranquilla), with just over a million people in its metropolitan area. Bucaramanga is known as the "City of Parks" and "Colombia's Beautiful City". It sits in a large bowl-like valley-a pleasant location with the standard large amount of high rise buildings, nice vistas and a more temperate climate-it was about 80 F each day.

Being a little more out in the country per se, we noticed they certainly enjoy their “carne” and we soon realized that the portions were outrageous. At a nice restaurante by our hotel, I ordered one of “steaks” with all the trimmings. I ordered the medio or medium size. It was monsterous-about a foot long and came with a plethora of arepas (cornmeal breadlike griddle cakes) and rice and papa fritas and oh my! It would have been more than enough for the two of us. Lyz asked the waiter what the “grande” size order was like and he spread his arms to indicate enough meat to feed a whole family. The steak was great, drenched in a spicy minced tomato sauce and was only about $8 or 9 for everything that was included.

On Thursday morn, we got into our tiny Chevy “Spark” 5 speed rental and headed out of the city to the Chicamocha region about 50 kms away. Well it was slow but spectacular driving as once out of the city there is only one route through the canyon/mountains and there are tons of trucks as the region of Santander where we were is not far from Venezuela so a lot of commerce is routed through there from Bogota, as Bogota is about 300 kms from Bucaramanga. No problema-we were in no hurry and arrived at the park just before noon.

All I can say is “Wow”! This is a mammoth canyon area and is considered up to the second largest in the world (however, measuring canyons is a very inexact science but I would say based on what I have read is can easily be considered one of the top 5 in the world based on all the factors). The actual park area is not that big and their concept of a National Park does differ from our concept-let's just say it's much more “commercial”.

Regardless, the centerpiece is the tram or “teleferico” that, for about $10 a person, takes you down the canyon and then back up to the other side-it is 6.3 kms long (almost 4 and a ½ miles) and takes almost 45 minutes each way. So it easily outdistances the Albuquerque tram but quite a bit. In short, the vistas were amazing from just about every vantage point and I have a lot of them saved on my Webshots link:

After about 3-4 hours at the park, we headed off to check into our quaint and quiet posada (like a inn or mini-resort) in San Gil. San Gil is known as a natural excursion jumping off point for rafting, hiking, bungy, waterfall rapelling, hang gliding, etc. with some classic and well maintained traditional Spanish style valles or villages nearby. We ate at a very nice and new restaurante that evening after arranging for a morning rafting excursion for Friday.

Again, the weather was perfect (in the mid 70s in the morning) and the rafting trip was great-lots of steady 2 and 3 level class rapids (Lyz had never rafted before so we did a more mellow river-the Rio Fonce that flowed by our posada and through San Gil) and the two hour trip was only about $13 per person.

After that we spent the afternoon and early evening driving around and had lunch in lovely village of San Jose, known for it's chorizos and we ate a bunch at a very old family restaurante and then ambled around the plaza. Then we headed off in search of a waterfall, Juan Curi, that we had read about. The sign directed us to pull off at what appeared to be someone's casa. Indeed it was and we pulled over on their dirt road. Turns out the trail does lead out from their house and the woman there explained to Lyz that you pay 5000 Colombian pesos (about $2.50) per person and had us enter our info in some sort of government tourist directory. Off we went on a 20 minute hike and the waterfall was spectacular and the best part is that we were the only ones there the whole hour or so we were there! The waterfall was multi-tiered and you could get up to the second main tier quite easily. It was on par with many of the waterfall I love in Oregon but without the tourists! It was practically nirvana!

The afternoon was winding down but we wanted to get to the village of Barichara, considered the loveliest village in all of Colombia. We made it there about 45 minutes before dusk after a beautiful drive through the local hills and it did not disappoint. Again we ambled around and had some lovely cakes and cappuccino (only a dollar for one of the best I have ever had!) at a local cafe/bakery and then set back out to posada and then for dinner at a local restaurant and an evening of unwinding after a long day.

The next morning, we bought some ants, a local Bucarmanga Santander delicacy (it's all explained in this link):

and headed off for a 3 hour drive back to Bucaramanga and the airport for our return to Cartagena. Back in Cartagena, we checked back into the Tres Banderas, a lovely hotel in Centro, near my favorite part of the old city, San Diego Plaza and ate once again at La Cevicheria, which was featured on “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel, hosted by the world class iconoclast, “Mad” Anthony Bourdain. The pescado and mojitos were perfect and we enjoyed another great evening together but alas I had to fly back out the States the next morn.

But we are already planning on meeting up in Lima, Peru in April (flights are actually cheap from the Southwest US area) and our application for a fiancee visa is in processing and if all goes according to plan, Lyz will have her immigration interview at the US counsulate in Bogota in the late spring if not earlier and she will be here in the States in late July or early August after she completes her Nursing Masters in mid-July.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Greatest Albums of All Time in No Particular Order (entry #6)

Killing Joke-Killing Joke-1980 (Malicious Damage Records)

First of all, check out that cover-pretty much the best ever. Post punk happened fast and blew away the immediate past. PIL killed the Pistols-Rotten style. Wire got art rock right. And Killing Joke broke out and did it in a way and with a sound that has never been matched over their first four releases. On this, their debut in 1980, Jaz Coleman’s growling, guttural, manic animal rants meshed with Geordie’s much more truly distinctive guitar grinding sound than say The Edge’s of the time and a truly tribal rhythm section abetted by metal, punk and industrial tendencies and the fruits of their warfare show in the numerous covers by hack bands even as early as the late 80s (see major hacks for most of their career, Metallica, covering “The Wait” on their Garage Days Revisited ep circa 1987).

I was lucky enough to catch them at the sleazily legendary Bookies club on a depraved stretch of 6 Mile Rd. (not 8 Mile-F Eminem-he is beyond useless-enuff said) near the prison like University of Detroit campus in 1981, shortly after obtaining my driver’s license. It was a revelation to someone just learning about the beauty of noise and whatnot. And to boot, I practically had the place to myself-it was a weekday summer night with maybe 100 heads in attendance. This album had dropped in August of 80’ and they were supporting the just released “What’s This For?” an almost equally stunning world of racket that came out in June of 81'. They played pretty much every track off both to much acclaim. I was converted over completely at that juncture. In retrospect, they were almost like a British update on the Stooges with a nutso frontman flailing in front of a bunch of hardass but disaffected backers who were only concerned with bringing the noise and not making a scene.

“Requiem” kicks off Side one with a throbbing Throbbing Gristle-like industrial synth line that is soon dominated by Geordie’s mammoth slab-like licks and drum thuds and slowly builds up to a swinging mid-tempo very un-punk beat with Jaz' "echoed" chanting with all kinds of nasty effects. “Wardance” is exactly like it sounds-a celebration of mayhem propelled by total tribalism. It embarks with the sample of a power drill and Jaz snorting out a welcome that is most unbecoming augmented by the most sinister and staccato bassline laid down up to that time. “Tomorrow’s World” is beyond delightful in that it has an apocalyptical feel with it art damaged effects and completely languid and turgid sledgehammer pace paced by Jaz's elongated rants that smother the outcome. “Bloodsport” is a somewhat up tempo instrumental that was seemingly groundbreaking at the time but hasn’t stood the test of time tunewise. Oh well, can't win them all.

Side two rips open with the afformentioned “The Wait” that much like “Requiem” burns to a start with a two note buzzsaw soaring synth lick that quickly evolves into the most intense, fast and ultra uber punk-like tune on the record and practically in the history of la monde. “Complications” follows with a serviceable approach to postpunk as it might be described and on the US release their single “Change” appears and like many acts of the time, it is their most mainstream track with subdued guitars and a funky beat yet is the only ennui inducing track on the record. How it was chosen as the "hit" single, I will never know. Luckily “S.O. 36” follows-a somewhat of an ode to Krautrock with it’s sampled German conversation and totally off-kilter but entrancing and mystically dense feel. Basically, nobody did this shit at this time and this is so experimental for a "punk" band that I still do not know what to make of it-except to embrace it. Finally, “Primitive” wraps up the effort with perhaps the most trad Brit metal track on the album but do not be alarmed-it is a monster track that would easily fill up any arena more than even “Smoke on the Water”. Verdad. In closing, there is no band that during the course of four albums that matches the diversity of Killing Joke-Nirvana was close but Cobain offed himself too early because of that skank, Courtney, who seemingly killed him if even indirectly.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An "Engaging" Time on San Andres Isla

Had been working at Fidelity for almost four months and after 8 weeks of training and they 8 more weeks of intense job immersion, I was ready as I always am, for a little time away from the States to unwind and relax. Of course, I was also dying to see my bebe, Lyz aka La Chica Feliz aka L Tres. We arranged to meet on San Andres Island, which is part of Colombia though it is closer to Nicaragua. So how is it a Colombian possession? Read this link for the scoop:

San Andres is actually pretty accessible from the US though few American gringos go there (which is great, no ugly Americans so it still remains a bit of a hidden gem) but during the wintery season word is that Canadians are chartered down en masse and for some reason Italians go there even though it is pretty far away. And, of course, tons of Colombians because no passport or visa is necessary. That is what made it easy for Lyz-less than a two hour flight from Cartagena. For me, it was two hours to LAX (abhor that airport) then I flew with Copa Air to Panama City for 6 hours and then a 45 minute flight to San Andres. Easy.

In a way, SA is what you would expect. Pretty typical Caribbean island as far as what it has to offer. Some hotels, some resorts and lots of duty free shopping. However, I do have to say due to the extensive reef system surrounding it (some claim only Belize is better in the Caribbean), the water is pretty spectacular with the claim of 7 shades of blue to be seen. The main beach in the Centro area where most everything is is very, very clean and the sand is great. This area is pedestrian only along the main 10 minutes walkway so it is pretty tranquil for a slightly urban beach area with many hotels/resorts residing across the walkway. I waited out my scuba excursion until day six as the weather was dicey at times-it was around the start of hurricane season and there were a few good downpours and a few afternoons where the beach was not an option, but overall we got 4 solid days of beach time so we did alright that way.

On our second full day, after booking a pretty basic hotel for Saturday night and Sunday in advance just to make sure we had something (we got in at about 2 pm on that Saturday and knew we would be in no mood to search for a place), we tried to see if any of the resorts were running deals since we just hit low season. No luck, all the good ones were booked. Went to a final resort on the main strip and they were booked BUT they managed an apt. a block away from them and the beach that was available. They were asking $100 a night. It was unreal. It was 3 bedrooms, almost brand new and about 1300 sq. ft. We took it. Then we rented a golf cart (yes, true) as the island is shaped like a seahorse and is only 13 kms. by 3 kms. We “puttered” down to an area called San Luis that was known for it's lovely beaches. Very true and it only took us about 30 minutes to get down there with a break for lunch at a very local spot. It was a sweet afternoon on a little slice of sand with a bunch of local kids having a ball nearby.

We stayed at that apartment for two nights and switched for the last three nights to a place nearby that was certainly not as great (Tres Casitas) but it was quaint and our room overlooked the clear water from the second floor. After checking in we spent a rainy Wednesday afternoon watching a Russ Meyer flick that I brought that Lyz totally dug.

On Thursday morning the sky was clear and I walked two minutes over to the dive shop and booked a morning dive. Done by 12:30, I was starving so we found a small, family run place and ate some typical local food-fish or chicken or pork with bean, coconut rice and fried plantains. Not bad for $4 each. They we arranged to go to a spot called the Aquario that sits off of Haynes Cay. In the late afternoon the stingrays congregate near a few sandbars in the area. I had hung with rays in Tahiti ten years ago and they are awesome creatures. But it was Lyz's first time and she was delighted and it was a great afternoon excursion.

The next day was spent going to the nearby Johnny Cay which is a little paradise of a regional park but is pretty touristy with tons of boats coming all day long and lots of people so it was far from romantic. But still the water was amazing, the sand was even softer, the Rastas were all over the place working and pouring Coco Locos and hawking Old Milwaukies (for some reason that I never got an explanation for, Old Milwaukie and Miller High Life seem to be as popular as the national Colombian brands on the island with the locals-yet in Cartagena there were no where to be seen-weird) and cooking up fish and whatnot. And it only took us about 15 or so mins. to walk around the cay. I did not get any photos on Johnny Cay as my camera went bad that morning but Lyz took video and I will post a clip some time after she downloads her clips. After that we went back to the jewelry shop we had been talking to and Lyz picked out her engagement ring. Yes, I got engaged and I could not be happier.

Now we will have to deal with the idiotic US immigration bureaucracy over the next year. Lyz will finish her Masters in Nursing next July in Cartagena and then will come here. I already have some contacts in the US and Colombia to give me advice on how it make the process work best. We will meet up somewhere down there again in mid-December and then probably again in April of 2010.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Greatest Albums of All Time in No Particular Order (entry #5)

Terminal Cheesecake- King of All Spaceheads (Jackass Records)

The trip begins with a sample of the famous line from Timothy Leary, “The aim of the game is to feel real good” on the opening title track. After that the drug references JUST KEEP COMING ad nauseam. Yet this is not just some hippy-dippy psychedelic album. In fact, it reinvents everything to do with the genre that got its start in the mid 60s and based on everything since, it closes the door with this release about 30 years later in the mid 90s. But let’s digress as they surely would…

Terminal Cheesecake is a brightly dark, sorely obscure British outfit that was noisy and arty and thrashy and all that circa the late 80s. They released a few spectacular though highly uneven works until they hit their stride with their 1990 Pathological Records release, “Angels in Pigtails” which featured an ultra-menacing cover of the Residents classic “Hello Skinny” that was an all out war on the original in a very good way. After that, they ratcheted up the all out drug war to the point of being blatantly obvious-just in case. They followed that up with the exquisite “Pearlesque Kings of the Jewmost” in 1992 that is on par with this release though a bit uneven and repetitious at time (the mythology surrounding the session for this album is that they laid down one basic track and then manipulated it into all the other tracks minus the cover of the Neu! classic, “Seeland” retitled as “Neu Sealand”).

This album marked the ultimate and necessary end of their existence as their various member moved on to other projects and adventures with VERY middling success. To me, this represents the culmination of their vision, their apex, one of the greatest head trips ever recorded in the annals of musical insanity. Simply put, though they have a very, very dedicated following here and there, they never, ever got their due in England or anywhere else for that matter. Quite distressing. Anyway, on to the tuneage…

But first we interrupt this important message with a message about the art work. See the above pics. That is the exterior and interior covers. ‘Nuff said.

Now back to the our regularly scheduled musical musings.

So I mentioned that the title track starts with a little Timothy Leary. Then the very languid and very thick drums “kick” in. With a little acid surf guitar, elongated and all. And your “announcer” is back and has another special announcement-“What you are listening to musicians performing psychedelic music under the influence of a mind altering chemical”. The tone is set. And the track ambles and rambles beautifully from there.

“Budmeister” is next with just about the thickest booty shaking beat with tons of acid guitar and other insect like noises that should create a dance floor sensation with nasty chanted and echoed vocals. Only, for some strange reason, I was the only one dancing to this track-though I imagine there were cool DJs in England spinning it.

Next up is “God’s Turban and Tutu” rolling along for about 9 minutes or so with the sweetest dub style bassline while our vocalist is running down a list of the preferred substances, “LSD, Mescaline, Psilocybin, etc” in a very hushed tone whilst claiming that you should “walk before jesus”.

“Ginge le Geezer” clocks in as probably the most straight forward track-all dense acid guitar with a 4/4 disco/rock beat that gets the hips shaking with a regular verse/chorus structure. Yet it is still nefarious.

Lo and behold it is “Lo Lo” and “Tibetan Lift Off” where they get all Himalayan on you. Sampling the echoed long ass horns of the Tibetan monks (they have toured the US many a time), the Cheesecake dub out some of their earlier track beats and let it all flail about.

Shortly thereafter, “Herbal Space Flight” plays off of the aforementioned “Ginge le Geezer”, only more acid metal, if such a genre exists. And you can still dance to it.

After a couple of fits and starts with “Black Microdot I and II” (featuring some AWESOME Mariachi samples), the opus magnus concludes with “The Last Temptation of St. Leary” which brings everything full circle with Gregorian chant samples as well as Mr. Leary mentioning that “the LSD trip is a pilgrimage for thousands of years for mystics and visionary philosophers” .

In the end, this album is best experienced with a pair of “kick ass” headphones, just like many albums back in the day. Illicit substances may or may not assist you though, depending on your internal chemical composition.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Always "Wing"in' it

It has been a somewhat somber two weeks or so if you are Detroit Red Wings hockey team devotee. Up 3 games to 2 over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup final on June 12th and coming off a 5-0 shellacking of the Pens in game 5 five days earlier, the ultimate North American sports franchise over the past two decades somehow found themselves on the losing end of consecutive 2-1 defeats including game 7 at home-something a road team had not done in a finals game 7 since 1971. A tough pill to swallow. Still, this is a franchise that does it the right way with the right management at the top and without idiotic or unlikable players and no one can argue with their success and their up tempo, artistic style of play.

One must remember or know that since NHL expansion in the late 60s from 6 to 12 teams, they went almost 20 years as one of the worst teams and for a time in the 70s they were referred to as the Dead Wings and had last won a Stanley Cup championship in 1955 way before I was around. I grew up through adolescence with them during this era. It blew. They did finally manage to get to the Western Conference finals in 1987 and won game one in Edmonton, only to be trounced in 4 straight by the mighty Oilers who were extending their dynasty.

They flirted on and off with success over the next 8 seasons and finally managed to get back to the Stanley Cup finals in 1995 (first time since the early sixties) only to routed by the abhorrently dull, defensive and pedestrian New Jersey Devils in a sweep. But they kept at it and finally broke through and won a Cup in 97’ and once again the next year in 98’ with a bunch of Russians both times and re-tooled and won another in 02’ with a quirky Czech goalie legend and then re-tooled with a bunch of Swedes and won last year. The blueprint was always the same-elegant teamwork with a solid work ethic. So as much as Wings fans rue the loss this year, they are still 4-2 in Cup finals since 95’ and have appeared in 6 of the last 14 Cup finals (there was no Cup awarded in 2005 due to the idiotic lock out which shut down the season). No one else in the league is even close to that kind of run and they have been in the playoffs every year since 1991, usually a 1 or 2 seed going into the playoffs. No other franchise in any other major sport comes close either. So if you are not a hockey fan and are looking for a team to follow, of course I recommend them as the place to start, no matter how biased I am.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Greatest Albums of All Time In No Particular Order (entry # 4)

Throbbing Gristle- Heathen Earth-1980 (Industrial Records)

I recently rediscovered this somewhat lost album that I adored as it officially is considered not exactly a proper album release by them (they only did two studio albums before this) as it was recorded live in the studio and was also officially their last release in 1980 but in all senses this is a proper album with all new material and it cemented TG as the ultimate forebearers of industrial music (after all their label was called Industrial Records) that permeates the mainstream from the good (Ministry) to the bad (Nine Inch Nails)-they are that influential to this very day and kill most of the fakers out there. Plus, they have the greatest band name ever. I mean, who doesn't want their gristle to throb, am I right?

Why did I stumble across it? Well, TG was just back on tour in the US for the first time in about 30 years with all the original members and doing more dates than just Frisco (heck, they played that hipster fest Coachella too):

So you end up going through phases and hitting amazing things again that got left as gristle on the roadside.

So the legend of TG endures. And this album is the best introduction in my estimation as it is not as obtuse as some of their early work (Hamburger Lady, anyone?) though it is highly dark and experimental yet doesn't dabble in some of the pop like results that show up on some of their singles
(“United” is better than any love song that ABBA put out in my estimation and I love ABBA). This album in particular makes total noise somewhat comforting and lovable if that makes sense.

It commences with “Cornets”-four minutes plus of Cosi Fanni Tutti (ex-stripper and perfect fetish girl, BTW) riffing on a cornet-

in very processed/looped way that hints at the concepts of Fripp/Eno regarding what they did with guitar. Truly outer spacious. “The Old Man Smiled” follows with it's creepy beat with Genesis P- Orridge mumbling about “can the world be as sad as it seems? in a cafe in Tangiers” over some of the most sinister guitar feedback and drumbox foxtrot ambling ever put down on tape.

Shortly after that, is the ultra cinematic “The World Is A War Film” with the ultimate electronically looped synths providing the basis for the nastiest dreamwalk. Which leads to “Dreamachine”-probably the greatest industrial tune ever san vocals. That devolves into “Still Walking”-an echoed dialogue between the aforementioned Cosi Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter (they were lovers and husband/wife back then and still are-TG folks are so trad and the Republicans would love them!) about hooking up for some “action” done with all kinds of spectacular vocal effects and delays and loops and whatnot.

The work closes under the uber funky and cornet led “Don't Do As You Are Told, Do As You Think” in which Gen seems to “dictate” that we should all be Libertarians (at least in my interpretation). In closing, TG might be one of the most obscure but most influential acts out there.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Windsor aka Wheezy aka Cheese Dog!

So when I was about 6 years old, around first grade, our family made the big move from a particularly nasty area of inner-city Detroit to the suburban wonderland that is Dearborn, world headquarters for the lamest owner in sports, William Clay Ford, but I digress. Now we had room and needed a dog, of course. So Dad found an Old English Sheepdog at some farm that I recall being somewhere west of Ann Arbor, though I can't be sure as the memories are fuzzy now at my advance age. We got a puppy that we dubbed Barney and he was a great dude that I took much care of until he left this mortal coil around my junior year of high school. He developed some varied health issues and needed to be put to sleep but he lived a full life.

Fast forward about 15 years without a dog and the ex and I have acquired our first house in Portland in mid-1996. As we settle in we settle on the fact that we need a dog particularly since our house already came with a completely fenced in yard. I can be convincing at times and the choice was made to acquire another OES. Early spring of 97' rolls around and I am on the hunt. I locate one in the want ads of the Oregonian and the deal sounds too good to be true-$100 including a large transport crate. Heck, those things ran about $150 new back then.

We visit the couple with the OES (she's got papers and she goes by Elsie-yuck!) and the story is that they got her as a puppy from a respected breeder after the last of their kids went off to college. Turns out, bad planning as he is a building contractor and she is a real estate agent they don't have the time to care for her and train her properly as she now approaches age two. At first I was hesitant. Yes, it was clear that they didn't have time to take care of her-in fact, they had her coat sheared and she looked goofy all buzzed. Second, she seemed a tad rambunctious. Well, I thought, I am always up for a challenge. They liked the fact I knew the breed and even arranged to drive across town and drop her off. Oh my...

It was very apparent immediately that Windsor (as we dubbed her-gotta keep with the British Isles names) had almost no training, no barriers at all. She was bonkers to say the least. All energy, all random action. We didn't know what to do and Cyndy was openly distraught. Well, after a month of this chaos, we learned about this ex-Marine dog trainer who did things differently. Instead of paying for a set of classes or by the class, his deal was you paid a one time flat fee. Not cheap. But he guaranteed success no matter how many sessions it took until you were happy with the results. If it took 10 sessions, so be it. If it took 50, fine. Well dang, it worked after about 15 sessions. Of course most of the training was training us what to do. That was fine. I was only interested in results and it worked.

Shortly thereafter we took Windsor on her first trip with us for a week for our first time all the way down the glorious Oregon coast camping and rafting and then inland for hanging/hiking at Crater Lake NP. She did alright for the most part (except for the time she jumped out of the car with the window rolled down while we were crawling through the campground-she was fine-and the time she accidentally nipped my nose all open and bloody while barking at a semi trailer truck loudly going by while she was leashed in the back seat) and it looked like a long term match for sure.

In short time, she developed into our greatest bud. Curiously, she loved other people but had almost no tolerance for her canine peers. She learned to roller blade (well, as in, I roller bladed down the street as she pulled me with all her might while I veered back and forth like a was water skiing holding her leash-it was the neighborhood sensation). And she even learned to fetch instead of herding, a genetic trait she would roll out on occasion that cracked everyone up.

Through thick and thin she has always been there for me with a big wet tongue, her prancing antics and ready for a lay on-the-back belly rub with her back legs kicking. I am writing this as she turns fourteen today which is marvelous and almost unheard of for OESs and almost all other breeds of her size (she once weighed 85 lbs. but is down to 77 which is normal at her age). Essentially, she is in great shape and usually very healthy with no illnesses. Yes, of course, she is suffering from the vagaries of old age (her hearing is diminished, her eyesight is down to about 25% which is not a big deal for dogs as they don't really rely on sight so much anyway and her joints have gone downhill in the past two years-she's on a joint medication prescription which helps but she can still smell her beloved cheese from across the room). She can hardly run anymore but she tries when we hit the nearby park-she's a trooper and I adore her. Something tells me she still has another year or two left in her-as long as I am around to lift her off the Spanish tile that she prefers to lay on despite the fact that I have large area rugs for her around my house-I guess being English she is a bit stubborn, particularly in old age.

The Greatest Albums of All Time In No Particular Order (entry # 3)

Wire- 154 (1979)

Can never figure out the Wire fans who consistently list this last out of the first three albums. Pink Flag has it's moments but most of it's attempts at "punk rock" or whatever are cringe-worthy and embarrassing at times but understandable on a first release. Chairs Missing ups the ante and finds them branching out and finding their sound more without regard to the prevalent punk attitude of 1978. 154 (supposedly named after the number of gigs they had done up to the time of this recording) solidifies their unique vision and around 1979 only PIL and Joy Division share a similar uniqueness of sound that defy pigeon-holing in the post-punk realm and explores whole new possibilities of style and sound. In fact, they worked with producer Mike Thorne on this who later worked with the likes of John Cale, The The, Laurie Anderson and Soft Cell. Thus, it makes sense that they broke up after this masterpiece (how could they top it?) and haven't even come close since reforming and mostly dabbling in electro-punk-pop (or something like that).

Side one is simply a masterpiece and easily outdoes side two but that is no slight. It starts off languidly and stoicly with “I Should Have Known Better” with deep tenor vocals by bassist Graham Lewis. This start is juxtaposed by the short, aggressive alienated art-punk numbers “Two People in a Room” and “The 15th” sung by Colin Newman. “The Other Window” is otherworldly with a plaintive spoken word account by Graham from a train seat augmented by eerily echoed guitar lines. Shortly thereafter, the side nears an end with the epic and bombastic “A Touching Display” that builds in facets and haunted by Graham's vocals.

Side two is the “poppier” side for lack of a better term. “A Mutual Friend” followed by “A Blessed State” reminds one of an Eno piece circa “Another Green World”-lilting approaches with lots of open space and exotic Hawaiian style guitar effects. Ironically, the “hit” (after all, they were signed to a major label deal of sorts in the U.S. but of course the label didn't know what to do with them ) “Map Ref. 41N 93W” is probably the most straight forward pop track on the album, seemingly a left over from the Chairs Missing sessions. The album closes with the mountingly claustrophobic “40 Versions” building to a crescendo and a feedback embellished crash.

I first got this album in late 1980 and it's production values and sound still sound classic today and have stood the test of time-Radiohead, who I do enjoy only wish they could come up with something this original-but in their defense it was already done. I've listened to thousands of albums in a quarter century (it simply blew my mind when I came across it in high school) and 154 remains easily embedded in my all time Top Ten. Indeed, they were the post-punks beating Pink Floyd at their own game around the time they came out with the splendid “The Wall”.

Coolin' In Cartagena

In 2002, a year after a great... introduction to South America with two weeks in Brasil, the ex and I found ourselves in a situation with enough frequent flier miles to do a round trip to the Caribbean/Central America. We ended up going to Isla Margarita (off the coast of Venezuela and part of it) and Trinidad. We had researched Colombia too but after reading the U.S. State Dept. report at the time that issued a strong travel warning, we stayed a little east. Now there has been a reversal-Venezuela is a mess (during my time in Colombia I met some Canadians who started in Venezuela but high-tailed it to Colombia due to all the hassles in Chavez loco-land) and Colombia is the place to go as two term president, Alvaro Uribe, has managed to stabilize much politically and economically over the past 5-7 years.

In late 06' while in Vietnam, met a Brit who said he spent 2-3 months wandering around Colombia a year or two before and he said it was fantastic. And then in mid 08', Anthony Bourdain debuted his episode on it on "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel and he raved about it calling it a “vacation wonderland” & I was sold.

Just had to figure when I might go. Well, in mid-February I managed to start chatting with a linda nurse chica named Lyz online and on skype so now I had a good reason to get there ASAP. After some planning and parlaying some sky miles and a cheap international fare from Miami (it's less than 3 hours to Cartagena), I was on my way in late March.

Well I recently got back from Cartagena (plus a few days near Santa Marta and Tayrona NP up the coast a few hours toward Venezuela at a really nice and inexpensive all inclusive resort) and it was truly amazing-it is still truly a hidden gem as far as most tourists go. The historic old walled city is amazing-it is clean and ultra safe, well taken care of with lots of culture/history and everything was vibrant. About a week in, Lyz and I decided to eat at La Cevicheria where Anthony started his episode but Jorge, his host for ½ of the episode wasn't there that night. But we stopped by a week later as things were getting busy for the upcoming Easter holiday and he was there and showed him a pic I have of me and a friend with Anthony in Portland Oregon and it cracked him up and he said he needs to be back in touch with Tony. BTW, on our first night together, we ate at another great place, La Vitrola, which has garnered an international reputation.

The greater Cartagena area is easy to get around without a lot of traffic (the population is only about a million). And most things are quite affordable from apartment rentals to food to taxis. I stayed in Laguito, a beach neighborhood and a ten minute taxi ride to Centro (the old walled city) is always about $2-3 one way. The actual beach here and at nearby Boca Grande are typical urban beaches which resemble the scene in Rio at Copacabana and Ipanema. However, there is less of a beach culture here and the beaches aren't as nice so that part of it doesn't measure up. However the more Caribbean beaches near Santa Marta and Tayrona NP are spectacular. In fact the mellow beach at the National Park is called “Cristal Playa” for a good reason.

Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by Colombia, particularly Cartagena. I could see myself living there some day. It's in the central time zone and only 3 hours from the U.S. as I mentioned. The climate is mild. It was about 85 every day I was there and it didn't rain once. There is some mid day humidity but the kicker is the full sea breeze that permeates the city every day in the afternoon and into the evening. And I can certainly not complain about strolling around the breezy Centro most evenings.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Greatest Albums of All Time In No Particular Order (entry # 2)

Shock Headed Peters- Not Born Beautiful (1985)

This unfortunately completely obscure act was fronted by Karl Blake, a descendent of the poet William Blake (it seems from my research). Hence, there is a poetic and quite literary bend to the guitar noise mayhem utiliized at times (it has been noted he adored Black Sabbath and Vanilla Fudge at a time that it was not so cool to do so) and augmented it by pastoral passages of very, very traditional British motifs both in music and in words via the “Beat” style of poet/singer/reader Rod McKuen, an American. So that is all very easy to digest and get, right?

In short, there is no band out there that sounds like these guys-then or now or ever. That is a very good thing indeed-they are iconoclastic and singular and I find this album to be seminal and otherworldly straddling many styles and centuries of musical influence. Though only one song from this album (Say No to Funk) is currently on their myspace page, you will get a sense of their diverse sound approaches by visiting it here:

The album kicks off with “Say No to Funk” which is sorta funky but all over the place with military/heavy metal drumming and thick riffs and echoed chanted vocals augmented by a slow falsetto chorus with deadly harmonica lines. Yeah, that all makes sense in just over 2 minutes. Next up, “Ideal” seems to be fronted by a harpsichord riff in a baroque style that IDs what all majestic Brits circa 1800 wanted-”I want a house with big thick doors big brown room and rippling fires and real big chimneys”. Perhaps this “ideal” was lifted from one of William's poems? I do not know, it does not matter. This tune is among the most soothing I have ever encountered and Karl's voice is haunting and illuminating. “Chatel D'Amour” follows with a love death dirge with delicous e-bow guitar effects. Karl emotes with the opening lines that define it all: “My girl's so nice, she wears pink dress, she likes strangers, I can't say I do.” It appears the relationship is not all that good. “Dog Eats Dog Eats Dog” is next, with coy flute and thick bass counteraction building to a frenzy of jazz sax chaos. Side one closes with “Bad Samaritan”, a litany of church bells and bird songs that morphs into another dirge, although more like an industrial one similar to those of Throbbing Gristle accompanied by the closing line of the title “We're not born beautiful”.

Side two starts off with “Parabola”, a disappointing throw away new wavey track that is inexplicably featured as one of the five on their myspace page so you draw your own conclusion by listening to it there. But redemption is next in the form of “Miserable Worm”, another lovely baroque dirge highlighted by Karl's deep and poetic vocal approach. The hits keeps coming with “Mons Repos” all dark violins and spaghetti western guitars and sinister vocals describing a place “'round here” you do not want to be. “Wheel in the Bait” is much like “Parabola” in approach though more accomplished in execution. Finally, the coda, is “Kissing of the Gods”, the simplest track on the album, a plaintive cry of despair augmented only by sparse piano, bass and vocals that get to the gut as Karl states “I think locked in a cage puts all heaven in a rage”.

This album is one I return to again and again as it has a timeless quality almost 25 years later. They all should. Very few do as we all know.

A Carnaval "Tail"

As I have previously mentioned, I have been to Brasil and Rio de Janeiro many times. In 2006, I lived there for two months starting in late January and Carnaval started about a month later. Oh my, what a festa. Probably never to be repeated in my life (even though I do plan to move there someday soon and be an ex-pat) as I do plan to keep living and living thru another the way I did it the first time will probably kill me as I enter old age.

This year it starts this weekend, hence the new entry (though festivities start a few days earlier-after all it is officially a 4 day party starting on a Saturday and ending on a Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, 40 days before Easter and then there is Lent and all that massive fun, blah, blah, blah.). Though it's all about the Catholics as a non-believer in all dudes in the sky who look over us, I will say that it is my fav religion of all time if I was forced to pick one (despite having a little issue with the celibate priest thang which obviously tends to lead to diddling little altar boys and worse, right?).

Why? In short, you are allowed to confess your sins at “church”, says a few (or many as directed by the priest) Hail Marys and you are absolved and back to do all the bad things you were doing before (drinking, stealing, fornicating, etc.) and you are in great shakes until you feel guilty again and go back to confess and start the whole ludicrous cycle again. How great is that!!!??? It seems to work well for Brasilians as they seem to greatly enjoy all those things previously mentioned. To further elaborate on this, I learned that in Rio very few of the “beach set” go to church on Sunday morning at all. Why? Well they have to sleep off the late night before and head to the beach in the early afternoon. Therefore, the “smart” local churches also hold an evening service after it is dark. Hey, one must have priorities, right?

The great thing about Carnaval is that you can endeavor in even worse behavior while it is on! After all, it literally translates as “removing of meat” or “eating meat”. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty sexual along the lines of having a nasty sexual appetite. And that certainly defines the attitude of Cariocas (the term given to an inhabitant of Rio) during Carnaval and after it and before it and well, 365 days a year so there goes the whole Popes plan to get every one to wait until MARRIAGE to get it on. Duh.

In short, the Rio Carnaval is not only the biggest Carnival, the benchmark against which every other carnival is compared but also one of the most interesting artistic events on earth. Pretty much everyone has heard of the Rio Carnaval unless they do not like watching perfect female specimens shaking their bundas at 200 beats per minute.

Yes, Carnaval 2006 was almost the death of me. I spent the week with the lovely Patricia who I met through a friends of hers and for about 6 days the festa was non stop. Formal street parties and informal beach festas. Events at elegant clubs. An erotic ball at Scala. The many Samba parades at the Sambodromo that start each each night at about 9 pm and can last until 7 am with each Samba school strutting down the massive runway (and, unfortunately, with each school basically playing a very similar samba beat and song OVER AND OVER again and for the uninitiated it may be the height of boring repetition but it was still a once in a lifetime spectacle. The one night we went we got there at 10 and stayed till 4 am and I was a zombie by then and finally got home at 6 and crashed shortly thereafter). Yet no matter what we were doing, every night followed the same schedule.

In closing, many bad, bad things happened. But as Patricia and all other Brasilians explained, “It's “bom” (OK), it is Carnaval. You can do anything. Anything at all!” I did. And that is good. The end.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Greatest Albums of All Time In No Particular Order (entry # 1)

The Stooges – The Stooges (1969)

First off I know I am going to get guff that this is not even the Stooges best album. Yes, there are a billion devotees of “Funhouse” and “Raw Power” each. Well, F off. It's my list, remember??? I even had a “tete a tete” with the noted chef/TV personality, “Mad” Anthony Bourdain, on this matter when my hockey mate and fellow U-M sports aficionado, Brendan, attended his book signing/dinner at the Heathman Hotel (Tony's a good bud of the chef there) in June of 06'. Well of course he prefers “Funhouse”-he readily admits to being a horse jockey/junkie in the 70s so it makes all kinds of sense. Whereas, the first album seems to be all speed and weed to me. So I presume, that is my bias, OK???

I start here because very recently Stooges guitarist, Ron Asheton, left this mortal coil (usefull trivia-Circle Confusion's drummer, Aaron Jones, lived across the street from Ron-both of their moms owned the houses they lived in) which is a shame. The first Stooges album is both a classic AND incredibly influential. To me, it is punk before there was punk after there was punk. While the only true Sex Pistol album, “Never Mind the Bollocks” is all fun and good, it's clearly a joke compared to this album. This disk is pure nasty, skanky, horrifying SE Michigan/Detroit death at its finest. It is dirty and grimy and ugly and sexy and hot. Just like most of the chicks in the area.

You got two songs directly about chicks (“Ann” and “Little Doll”). You have to wonder who were these chicks and what were they like in the “flesh”. They must have been something to drive the Igster wild the way they did (Iggy trembles to start in Ann, “You took my arm and you broke my will”). “Ann” continues, creepily builds to a crescendo of the most direct, heaviest, brutal and beautifully repetitious guitar attack ever laid down that pounds your noggin over and over again. You will know this if you have listened to the remastered sessions released in 07' because back in the day record companies tended to fiddle with and cut tracks after the sessions in order to make songs shorter and the Stooges had zero control over this as did producer John Cale. The remastered version that finally saw the light of day thankfully lets this riff roll and roll for about 4 mind numbingly glorious minutes while the original version only had about 30 seconds of this. In short, longer is always better.

What else? Oh, where to begin. So start at the beginning. “1969” says it all about the times, particularly after the race riots of Detroit in the summer of 68' and the much needed death of the hippy joke of SF/Haight “hate” Asbury. Then there is “I Wanna Be Your Dog”-the greatest love song ever written I do declare. Side two leads off with “No Fun”-the box end to “1969”-man, it's a bad year but the hate is great for the Stooges-at least there is confrontation and they are “alive”. But then they say screw that, we didn't mean it with “Real Cool Time” but wait a minute, she's “Not Right” (are they referencing the previous track, the aforementioned “Ann”-who knows or cares-every time I'm listening my skull is having a real cool time as “Little Doll” closes it out.).

So yes, there is room to argue on the merits of their first three proper albums before their early 70s breakup. But at least they called it quits in time (I do politely discount the reunion and the new album from last year-at least they stayed apart for twenty five years or so before deciding to cash in a little-assholes). Sonic Youth, who did a great cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” early in their career could most certainly learn a lesson though it appears to be too late.

Mi Casa en el Burque

So when I decided to leave PDX once and for all at the beginning of 07', I landed in the Land of Enchantment in late March after an excursion to Perth, OZ (to finally see my old matey Nathan from my time in Japan who had finally “retired” to the area of his birth after over a decade in Nippon), Bali and Vietnam. Of course, I wasn't going to buy a house right away-had to check out the hoods particularly since ABQ does have a rep for some sleazy areas, so I did a 6 month rental near the UNM campus. In the fall I started scoping out neighborhoods more seriously and at first my luck was not good-lots of overpriced houses needing lots of work. But after about a month I found a great place and went about making my pitch/offer and since the market was down (though not as bad as much of the rest of the country), I had some leverage as well as a seller motivated to move the house-it had been on and off the market for about 6 months and she had already bought and moved into a new house.

In short, my low ball deal went through at the end of the year and in comparison I got a better house with more space (though yes, much less land though I do not miss cutting grass or raking leaves so really there is no trade off) in a nicer and quieter neighborhood at almost half the price of PDX just a few miles farther from downtown than in Portland but only about 2-3 miles from the Sandia Mountains with a full front view of the range. Additionally, there is a great park a block away for Windsor sniff around in, a police substation a block away just in case, a post office a block away and a good sized library branch 4 blocks away. And my hockey rink is only 7 miles away straight up Tramway Blvd., next to the noted Tram that goes up to the peak of the Sandias, the world’s longest passenger aerial tramway. My place is solid and very Southwestern style in d├ęcor and design with an open 400 sq. ft. main room as well as 6 skylights throughout so I can take advantage of New Mexico's greatest asset, sun.

In closing, more on the Burque and the “Land of Manana” to come down the line.

"Pop" That "Top" Purses

When I lived in Rio de Janeiro for two months in early 2006 during Carneval season, I was hanging out on Copacabana Beach with a friend and a vendor (one of dozens upon dozens every day) who had something unique-recycled pop-top purses. I decided to get a little small scale business going through him and put in an order and see if I could sell some back home. The petite ones have moved here and there though I have generally put in little effort on the process. But they have sold well in local boutiques in Portland when I was still there and some here, as well as on eBay and Craigslist. When I returned in late 2007 for a few weeks I had him do some of a deluxe prototype that he gave me the first time around and those have moved very well in the past year and I am running out of them but still have a few left. More info about the artist and the purses are now stored on this link:

The guy who started this site saw them listed on Craigslist and asked me to get involved and share this unusual type of art accessory. So if you or anyone you know would be interested in one or more of them, send me a message. Tchau.

Circle Confusion & the Meat Dept.

So there has been a HUGE renewed interest in my old band, Circle Confusion, as I am sure you have heard, who rose and crashed in the late 80s. Sorry, but you probably were not there. Tough luck. You certainly do not know what you missed-we were simply way ahead of our time (like an early Nirvana with a drum machine-all “Sturm und Drang ” for sure with catchy, catchy melodies to boot!) and called it quits (like the original Stooges from our homebase of Ann Arbor too) before we became like the Stones (the Stones, I love the Stones, I watch them whenever I can-Fred and Barney), Aerosmith, Springsteen, Metallica, Sonic Youth and so many, many others-too many to list after just one masterpiece of an album-more info viewable here-click on the "Lively Art" link twice:


recently due to fortuitous luck, I was able to track down our missing bassist and reconnect with him. He stated that he would do a Wiki page and a Myspace page on the band in order to enlighten a whole new generation who had the grave misfortune to miss out on us the first time out (yeah, right). BUT, in order to do this he stated he needed me, as the main chronicler of our varied mischievous acts and outrages and debacles, to write down a rough draft of our history which I did a few months back and e-mailed it to him, Jim, and Paul, the guitarist, to review for inaccuracies and general outright lies. Since I am still waiting, here is that draft for you to dissect and be amazed by! Also in the meantime, since the Myspace page is not up and streaming music (ahem, Jimbo) or anything like that, I was able to transfer the album to digital format a few years back (since we were lovely vinyl only in a prestigious limited release of 2000 copies!) and therefore I have stored it in WMA format for your listening pleasure. In you want to hear a sample track for FREE, sent me a message and I will e-mail it directly to you as long as you can receive files of up to 10 mbs, which is the standard now anyway. Then you can “rock out” in total bliss!

So here's the draft:

“Circle Confusion formed in August of 1985 in Ann Arbor Michigan. The initial members were Richard Williams (vocals, drum machine programming), Paul Staskowski (guitar) and Parvin Panahi (bass). Within two months, they had recorded and released a three song demo cassette (Fly/Arctic Days/Interfear) that was recorded with engineer/co-producer Phil Seiden, owner of Tool & Die studios. Their first gig was at the Halfway Inn at East Quad at the University of Michigan with Slaughterhouse and Spahn Ranch.

With heavily processed and distorted guitar effects and a preference for thick tribal drum motifs created by the drum machine dubbed “Juggernaut”, the band's initial sound fit in the realm of darker/heavier acts like Joy Division, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Swans and Big Black.

The widely distributed demo garnered both local and national interest and by the summer of 1986 the band earned an opening slot in Chicago opening for Big Black. Around this time, more demos were recorded (Our Attitude and (In the Name of) Survival) and they were submitted to various independent labels of interest to the band.

Near the end of the summer of 1986, the band was approached by C'est La Mort Records of Baker Louisiana near Baton Rouge about appearing on a soon to be released compilation named “Dr. Death's Volume 1” featuring the likes of Boston's Throwing Muses (4AD records artist) and England's Breathless. (In the Name of) Survival was chosen by the label director and appeared as track 2 on side 2 when it was released toward the end of 1986. It was around this time that Parvin Panahi chose to leave the band and was replaced on bass by Jim Burg. Shortly thereafter, the band was chosen to open for Throwing Muses at the renowned St. Andrews Hall in Detroit during their US tour.

Early 1987 saw the band performing live more as well as recording more tracks with Phil Seiden. With the band's list of original songs expanding into the range of 15-20 regular tracks, it was decided to move forward with the production of an album's worth of material that could then be promoted to interested labels for future release. On and off for much of the late spring/early summer, the band retreated to Phil Seiden's Tool & Die studios to lay down tracks. Near the end of the sessions, the band was contacted by the label director of C'est La Mort records and told that Patrick Mathe, president of New Rose Records in Paris France, was very interested in putting out an album by the band and that he would be contacting the band shortly. As recording was wrapping up, a deal was struck and plans began for final mixing/mastering of the tapes with artwork development to be done by the label.

On January 15th of 1988, a test pressing was completed. One month later, the album was released in Europe and as an import to the US with the title “Meat Dept.”, as Arty 4 release, under the division label of New Rose called “Lively Art”.

The tracks were as follows:

Turkish Royalty
Arctic Days
(In the Name of) Survival
Death to Stars
You Bait
The Executioner's Song
She Sells My Life
Our Attitude
False Bastards

The next few months saw the band promoting the album in the States and garnered positive reviews, both locally and nationally and charting highly on various college radio station charts. Around this time, the band finally found a drummer that met their criteria for live performances and Aaron Jones was added to the line-up, rehearsals ensued and Juggernaut was retired.

Thus newly re-established, the band embarked on numerous local gigs in the Detroit area that culminated in once again opening for Throwing Muses in May, traveling to Morgantown, WV, Pittsburgh PA and Toronto, Ontario for a mini tour in early June with the band triumphantly opening for the Pixies on their Surfer Rosa tour at Rick's American Cafe in Ann Arbor.

The band continued to search for a licensing deal for the release of the album in the US, but nothing workable came to fruition. Additionally, at this time, Paul and Jim were in the final stages of determining their plans for graduate school which meant relocation and, for all practical purposes, the end of the run for the band. Richard and Aaron (on bass), shortly thereafter, formed a band dubbed Black Jesus with a Detroit area guitarist and drummer."

“Crash”ing with Dennis Hopper

So the deal is that over time thru some folks here I know who are involved in the growing film industry here in ABQ, I've been told about opportunities to be an extra on the set.  Crash, as you probably know, is based on the Oscar winner from a few years back.  I, personally thought the movie was just OK and the series has its moments with Dennis being in it but the main cop from a separate story line is a joke and a poorly written character in my estimation.  Anyway...

ABQ is a stand in for LA in this series.  Got picked to be a "record executive" (ironic, I know) in a scene where Dennis' character is trying to get back in the good graces of his daughter who has taken over the family business because he is a washed up drug addled mess.  I am in a scene with about 8 other record exec types as Dennis is pitching his new "future" for the record industry with a stripper on each arm (including this lovely Filipino girl who “works” locally). 

BTW, the episode is titled "The Future is Free" so you know what to look-the season is over but they rerun all episodes on the various Starz networks and on Encore.  We shot for about 6 hours from about 10 different angles with about 30 takes and various reaction close ups and I ended up with two shots for about 5 WHOLE seconds starting at about the 32 minute mark of the episode so I made the cut. I know most of you probably do not have Starz and this is their first original series, but I am throwing it out there-maybe it will be on at some point or something like that.  BTW, Dennis is pretty darn hilarious in person. He cursed a lot when he messed up his dialogue, which happened a lot. Of course, he had to do about 30 takes as I mentioned-I can't imagine how they can tolerate the process and repetition-it is so very tedious. It would have been awesome if had slipped into his Frank Booth character from Blue Velvet and said something like “Radiohead, fuck that shit! PABST BLUE RIBBON!!!”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Carving" Out A New Life

So we moved to Portland in the summer of 95'. In fact, for what it's worth (nothing btw although Portland has a couple of hippies here and there so I have heard), the day we arrived was the day Jerry Garcia died. You can wiki it-August 9th 1995. So I like to think I had something, even minor, to do with his demise because for the life of me, AND I HAVE TRIED AND TRIED, by listening to their heinous music, but I do not understand the appeal of the Grateful Dead. I mean, they could NOT write even a slightly catchy song to save their lives. Didn't matter if you were on acid, PCP, weed, coke, alcohol, horse tranquilizers, angel dust, whatever. It just didn't matter. Their songs just blow. Trust me I gave them the ol' college try. Heck, the lovely Throbbing Gristle is 100 times more tuneful and their stated goal was NOT to be tuneful. But I digress...

It didn't take long for me to start digging the artistic motifs of the First Nations Coastal Indians that historically inhabit a range from Northern Cali up to Alaska and beyond. At first, during long weekend road trips to Vancouver BC (lovely city) to see my beloved DETROIT RED WINGS play hockey, the greatest game on earth (screw soccer and those floppin' fairies-well EXCEPT for Pele and some of the artistic Brasilian homens-including Umbabarauma, my URL namesake from the awesome Jorge Ben song of the same name), we would go to the galleries throughout the city (particularly Hill's Native Art) and purchase cool carvings that were in our budget and “mount' them around the living room back home in order to spook any lame Anglos who came over (and that's all there is in PDX as I recall).

After a few years of this, circa 1999 (screw Prince too, he can barely write a song and is a total “twit”-purple is the color of royalty???!!!! My bunda!), I figured out that I, a total white man with a dull Northern European lineage starting in Britain/France and ending in Poland/Russia could be allowed to take local community college courses and learn the art of this noble art style. Which I did. It is not actually that hard once you learn the basics (kinda like sex in that way). In short, here is a sample of the results (not included is my first carving of a whale head in relief-it was putrid like if you actually saw a rotting, putrid whale on the beach on the coast of Oregon-that's how bad it was but my instructor still encouraged me to become the “rank” amateur I still am).

And credit where credit is due: all painted colors are the responsibility of the ex as I can only paint walls successfully and all hair is the responsibility of my Olde English Sheepdog, Windsor, who was not harmed in the creation of this art and still has more than enough hair left even at the ripe old age of almost 14 to drive most adults crazy and all young girls at my local park loco. More on “her/hair” to come later.