Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Love L.A.


I did some things when I was in California recently to visit my beloved friend Karolyn. Here is a "blog" about the things I liked and found interesting there. Growing up in New York, I'd always heard a lot of shit-talk about the West Coast and Los Angeles particularly: everyone is superficial, it is polluted, people there don't treat you nicely unless you're rich and/or good-looking. Well, these problems exist in New York too and for the most part I found the "temperament" of the city similar to that of my own: artistic, fun-loving, nice enough, doing one's own thing. It was a great trip you guys!

The Last Bookstore has new and used books and, in size and dustiness, is similar to the Strand in NYC. What's different about it is that it displays works by local artists plus art installations/sculptures that use old books. There's a shop inside it where you can buy framed art prints. Perhaps best of all, they sell records too.

Galco's Old World Grocery is in the hip, suburban-vibed Highland Park neighborhood where the houses are adorable and all the dogs are Chihuahuas. This place sells every type of soda pop, specializing in the antiquey ones that are hard to find elsewhere. Yes, of course they play oldies on the PA and when we were there we heard "Love is Strange." I bought three bottled sodas: Moxie, Cheerwine, and Lemmy.

The Dresden is a short drive from Karolyn's house and so we needed to go. You have seen it in movies; it's the fancy bar where lounge musicians Marty and Elayne sing pop favorites requested by the audience. I heard them sing/play "Stayin' Alive" and also met like the friendliest bartender EVER who let me pay for only the first one of my four drinks.

Of course I shopped at Amoeba Records! Everything you, East Coaster, have heard about this franchise is true. It's enormous, there is a staggering amount of great vinyl, jazz gets its own whole giant room, the prices are reasonable (about 25%-50% off what the same records would cost here, depending on the item), and everyone was both knowledgeable and friendly. I spent an entire afternoon there, shopping for a box full of music which I later shipped home to myself via UPS, and didn't want to leave.

Stories in Echo Park is another new/used bookstore. We didn't spend much time here but I picked up my new favorite book for our ever-expanding toilet library: Singer-Songwriters (pic below). This place had a great selection of music biographies and such and a cute-looking cafe.

We took a side trip to the desert, and stayed in a lovely Airbnb house behind THE END in Pioneertown. It turned out our host was also the owner of the shop. She sold SUPER CUTE vintage clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry; I bought a purple Benetton sweater from the late '80s that I adore. This place is right down the hill from the famous music venue and BBQ place Pappy and Harriet's, where we saw a band and had a boozy dinner. Joshua Tree park is just a short drive away, too, and made for a beautiful hike.

This is just a small sampling of the things we did; I'm leaving out the fancy donuts, the view from Griffith Park Observatory, the superb dinner special at Little Dom's, and the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and more. Rather than being sad to no longer be in L.A., I'm grateful to have spent a week there and saved up some vitamin D in my body. Now I'm back in Brooklyn where it is cold and snowy. I have fond memories.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Idea: Change Rock Music from Guitar-Centric to Accordion-Centric By Going Back in Time


Go back in time and ensure somehow that accordions are made cool and mainstream. Next, return to present day and enjoy accordion-based early rock 'n' roll, classic rock, and more! Starting with Chuck Berry duck-walking as he plays the accordion. Bob Dylan plays accordion and sings "Blowin' in the Wind." Newport Folk Fest footage of many folk singers convening and carrying their accordions. Beatles on Ed Sullivan in suits wiggling their heads while playing accordions. Jimi Hendrix kneeling and gesturing before his burning accordion after setting it on fire onstage. Image of Eddie Van Halen strutting onto stage, grinning and hoisting accordion. KISS in full makeup and with accordions. Imagine a Stooges song like TV Eye conceived and played on the accordion: how to achieve the same blistering, savage sound and could it even be done? (Yes) Album cover of London Calling has Paul Simonon splay-legged and bent over about to smash his accordion. (ASIDE: Would rock stars be less often wiry/skinny or at least have bigger arms because accordions are so heavy?) Intricate and technically brilliant accordion solos by Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Rick Nielsen with five-headed checkerboard accordion. OR MAYBE these people, not preternaturally gifted to play accordion, would never be famous at all??? Biggest rock star of all time is Tom Waits? Weird Al Yankovic non-comedic balladeer a la, say, Dan Fogelberg? MUCH more recognition for Flaco Jimenez of the Texas Tornadoes etc. Whole world different. This is just an idea that a group of us started talking about this past New Year's Eve, but we can discuss it more if desired. Certainly it is something to think about.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Birthday Wishes


This year, I wish for an abundance of money -- a suitcase full of money would be good, but if that's not possible I will settle for continued steady income and continued great relationships with my pet care clients, all of whom I value very highly and feel grateful to have. Also I would like to win at slots.

I wish for a good reputation and to be thought well of by my friends, peers, and potential mentors for my smartness, interestingness, and general competence. Maybe I should amend that to just: I wish to be considered competent by everybody.

In the past few years my relationship with pop music ("records") and the study thereof has grown deeper. I wish for my appreciation of records, songs, sides, artists, rock biographies, picture sleeves, hooks, grooves, etc. to continue to bring me happiness. Whether or not there's a career for me in music (and I have no reason to believe there is, nor did I ever), I want to always love it.

I wish for an audience with a variety of small pigs, small goats/lambs, bunnies and other small tame rodents, and other small and cute animals.

I love my friends, my family, and the nice man I share an apartment with. One great wish of mine is to show these people how much I appreciate them; to do as much as I can to deserve and keep their love, because they've made my life very good and they should be reminded of that. This does not go for our cats, who can go F themselves.

Most of all, this year I want to put art into the world. Stories, essays, drawings, song parodies, Sculpey statues; whatever. Whatever it takes to do it, this year I want to do it more and better. I want to do it the best.