I figured spending the morning at Zuma might bring some insight, but I got more than I expected. I got bookended between two flourishing stages of male adolescence; our blanket was soon situated between a four-gaggle of 15-year-old boys and quintet of 8th grader boys. I laid there watching my dad trying to keep his balance out in the surf, thinking that seven weeks ago when I got here, he was nearly dead. And now here we are at the beach. I am near ready to cry about this gratitude when the older boys return from the water, throw themselves into the sand and the biggest one begins filling the silence by announcing what his goal is for the summer: invite the class slut over to his house as he has it on good authority that she'll let anyone "blow a load on her tits". His friend replied wearily, "Dude, you are into some sick stuff." He followed this with a funny/painful sounding mutual devirginization anecdote involving A LOT of this. I pressed my face into the towel to keep from laughing out loud. He segued into detailing all six times he's ever used a condom--loud enough so that the older girls on the other side of him who were sneaking sips of Hypnotiq from their purses would hear. Who needs tearful reflections on mortality when there's this kid terrifying his friends with this spring's jizz mishaps?! Teenagers are fucking geniuses. The younger boys, to my right only talked about their who has the worst skimboarding injuries, baseball and what the best snacks are. "I could live on curly fries and Sour Patch, dude."
Me and Sam McPheeters are reading at Cali's gallery, Hope, 1547 Echo Park Blvd tonight in lovely cataract-skyed Los Angeles at 7:30. Sam is reading fiction from his book, and I'm reading what my dad requested.
Phelan was along, as drummer girl deuce for Bird Names, and so it was really a full tilt slumber party between me, her and Nora. We had tea and toast and I don't remember all the debates, there were many and they were joyful, but 'bout 2 a.m. we capped it with Nora holding forth on why Angelina Jolie is the only celebrity she really hates. She was brushing her teeth in the living room as she told us. When Nora returned to the bathroom to spit, Phelan turned to me qith a quiet confidence, "I don't hate Angelina Jolie at all."
This morning the girls got up and I used my disposable to snap a picture, because I wanted to remember it for the rest of my life. The way they were standing against the porch rails, I thought of that famous shot of Carly Simon and James Taylor where there are looking over their shoulders at the camera, and James Taylor has an evil sheen to him. We re-enacted as best we could, with Phelan and evil Baby James.
Midmorning we set out on a second walk, to show Phelan to the park and vice versa and she took Super8 of some horses in their paddock/pen, and Arlie told us everything he knew about the park. Which was a swift volume. Then Nora and Arlie started a convo-thread that lasted the whole walk that was a no holds barred feminist theory throwdown of well articulated big ideas about why dudes have to read when they take a shit. Nora's new tattoo is a giant scrolly quote from Nietzsche's The Gay Science; she will drop the full weight of her Hiedeggerian brain on you. Arlie was not buying any of it. And then, suddenly, amidst it all the shitting and repression, Ryan Seacrest ran past us shirtless, his white celebrity teeth gleeming like highbeams.
We were sitting on the porch, having such a good ol' time sitting wrongways in the wicker chairs Nora kept turning to Arlie and saying "take another picture with my camera." I made her a sandwich here in my pretend apartment which is just mine for now. The hospitality, also borrowed, a loaner bag of shredded cheddar that Scheid texts me daily to eat up, so it does not go to waste while he's on tour. The flamingo smog sunset played up Nora's fresh sunburn; I moved to the corner of the porch so as not to get my Parliment on her food and she laughed. I forgot that she prefers people smoke while she eats, a true Chicagoan she. I showed her the upstairs, I showed her the hills, I showed her the park, and like some omen humangirl charm, someone pro-actively introduced their dog to us; name and all, unprompted. On the trail overlooking that industrial swath along San Fernando, she went to the ledge, snapped a pic, bent over and stretched, stood up and exclaimed "I LOVE LA! I FUCKING LOVE THIS PLACE, MAN! I GET IT!"
In two days, Nora will be here. I can't wait. Her band Bird Names, fave fun band of Chicago, are playing down the street from where I play home. Which is the long route to:
BIRD NAMES AT ECHO CURIO HERE IN LA ON TUES THE 24th.
PLEASE COME SEE THEM IF YOU ARE AN LA BASED PERSON, THEY ARE FULL OF DELIGHT AND ENERGY.
Nora will be there, playing drums. I will be there crying with excitement.
I did a dumb thing last night, something I knew better about and managed to stave off for the last seven weeks. I looked at pictures of my friends and life back home. I wondered when I will go home. I've been avoiding that. But once I looked at the pictures, there was not a thing I didn't miss. Marcus Garvey Burgers from Soul Veg. Animals. My bike. All my deeply weird and funny and stinky friends. Books I had checked out from the library and was in the middle of. Intersections. All the bike punks with U-lock outlines worn into their back pockets. How fucking loud it is all the time. I miss how when you walk down the street in Chicago, you are expected to say hello to people and if they have a dog, say "hi puppy", compliment their dog or asks it's name (at least!). On the park trail here in LA, people react to that question as if I'd just asked if they birthed their dog vaginally.
But soon NoNo will be here and we can talk about last summer, when she started wearing her underwear over her clothes and it won't matter that I don;t know any dogs names.
Cat's out of the bag now in case you were wondering about what I'm talking about when I say "the book".
I'm texting to let you know that I swept and gently rinsed all the porches and some of the steps, hung your lights that you left outside and hung them in a curious fashion, but that dirty macy's bag with a Ben Folds CD in it, I left that where it lay.
I'm texting to let you know I'm cool with you putting my cats in your weird movies, just don't get them high.
I'm texting to let you know that I assumed you left the windows open for a reason and did not shut them while you were out and I think there is a wild animal, a little one, in the kitchen somewhere.
I'm texting to let you know that you were in my dream and you were like the Wizard of Oz, except you weren't a fake.
This blog has degenerated into just reporting videos. But this one is extra special.
It's by and of Candy, who is currently co-cat sitting my cats. I thought it might make you envious, since your cat-sitter is probably a regular person.
As Ben may have already brought to your attention if'n you keep up on his bloggins, this is a fantastical video. Of dancing and singing and costuming. This is the sort of production that makes me think that my ideas about making zines and such are shamefully tame. Why am I not doing a revue with an elephant-head cheerleader team that poses inside a flower-cornocopia mural while I get twirled by my knees by my bedazzled dance partner?
Via Candy's blog, a depiction of what it's like in my brain: an all-giggles Janis cackling at the fat kid screaming "help me".
In case you missed this link on Sasha's New Yorker proper blog--the link to the interview with Ned Sublette from BOMB. If you are not up on Ned and his books and writings and research on Cuba and New Orleans and the deep roots of culture that influence music etc., here's the brain bomb.
Blue Highways, left carefully on the counter. I tipped off Scheid to it and now it's here waiting for me. Sui generis bible it is, this might be my third time through in a year, if I can get past the stun of page one:
"That night, as I lay wondering whether I would get sleep or explosion, I got the idea instead. A man that couldn't make things go right could at least just go. He could quit trying to get out of the way of his life. Chuck routine. Live the real jeopardy of circumstance. It was a question of dignity."
There will be people to singing the hosannas for On The Road 'til the end of days, but I can't get down with a book about the freedom of the road where the womenfolk aren't given a speaking role. You ever notice that? Blue Highways is about a man, flinging himself on the breast of dying America amidst a divorce, and finding that mercy. It is also about race, gender, poetry, solitude, aloneness--done up with a Malthusian hard light and tender heart for America and it's people (with a boner for quoting Emerson / qua trancendentalist streak thrown in). Plus, the prose will just fucking menace you.
By the end of the page, we're on to existentialism and geese migration, with the untoppable boo-ya:
"A new season. Answer: begin by following spring as they did--darkly, with neck stuck out."
Like Omar says "Indeed. Indeed."
Let me be the first to tell you the big news:
June 26th, 7:30 pm, Hope Gallery in lovely Echo Park Los Angeles California:
Sam McPheeters & I are doin' a reading of our writings.
From this mornings email from my so-missed friend Robin, re: her upcoming move from Chi-Boogie to PDX:Everything is taking on a really thick, sentimental fog
now...everything I do feels like the last time, even stupid things like,
"that might be the last time I hear really loud reggaeton outside my window
at 3 am."
Robin lives 20 minutes north of me, in a much nicer residential neighborhood than I do; bombloud reggaeton zuzzing someone's trunk IS the sound of Chicago.
More importantly, and more missed than any music--Max is walking. I screamed when she called to tell me, but watching the third video down, I cried. What confident alien waddle, that kid is my heart.
I never respond to this blog tag business but saying the "unlikeliest of the unlikelies" is enough to make me do it. I'm also avoiding deadlines, so naturally, this is my first priority. And the funny thing is, these are really the only songs I listen to.
1. Bobby Caldwell--Open Your Eyes. Covered this last week. Soft funk with sour key changes. Melancholy, uncertainty, romance--or maybe not.
2. Psychedelic Furs--Into You Like A Train. Richard Butler monotonically denounces all the wife-you formality; sticks with that which you can trust--lust and sax solos.
3. Prince - 1999 (B. Rich's NYE Work Out). Two months ago in Seattle I thought I would do the gr-up thing and head home early and sit out the lazerbass chop house etc. Tittsworth set that Grandy and Joanie pulled me out to. I was wearing wool and didn't feel the rave in my bones. I left them at the club, but when I got to Joanie's, I wasn't tall enough to reach the spare key in it's hidey spot, even when I jumped. I took it as a sign, went back round the block to the club and danced til all my jewelry was lost in the mosh. This song was played. It felt like a Love Parade float. We screamed and put our hands up.
4. RTX--Stoked. Post ZZ style half metal scuzz that makes me wonder why I stopped paying attention to Jennifer Herrema post Cats + Dogs. Righteous. Most of the song is a solo.
5. Del Shannon - Gemini (Pilooski Edit). This was on Ben's mix he sent me. It's got class, but also suits my discriminating tastes in gym bangers. That early-oughts Cologne thump that comes up at 2:09 makes heaven true extra loud in my rental KIA.
6. Pitbull ft Lil Jon - The Anthem. Before I left, this song circled my block at least 22 times a day. I know it's some tankthong n' capitalism bust about Miami-based tit-rubbing, but it's what I listen to when I miss Chicago most.
7. The Wipers--Tragedy. Dan told me on Monday that he'd never heard The Wipers and I was dumbfounded. "So that means you've never heard "Tragedy?". Nope. "Sing a few bars." Nope. The last way anyone needs to be introduced to the Wipers is by my singing it.
Now that I'm no longer sleeping in the next room over from my pops, listening to him tussle with his covers in the midnight, there is space to think about everything else. My car, sometime today, is going to be picked up from my Chicago house and brought to visit me here in Los Angeles, because I'm staying for a while. A while is only being defined as "a while" for now. It feels less momentous of an occasion than it probably is. But in this new space for thinking, this space that is not actively, through-the-night considering my dad's injuries or pain management, I'm pre-occupied by what sort of art I will make here. Aside from the book. What will I make. When I left, what was on the docket was the HIOQI verite podcast, the movie where JR and I both play Carl Sandburg and the accompanying night time bike tour and lecture on the history of the Fulton market industrial corridor and my one day art show under the train bridge at Wood and Kinzie about what it was like to live there. And by there, I mean at 409 , the bldg next door--before it went rehab condo, before it had more than four windows. Are there secret spots like the train land bridge in LA? I'm sure they are, but I doubt it'd mean the same. Up top the train bridge from there, it's somewhere betwixt "Cometbus: The Movie" and the ghost of the smells, whores and streetlight Sandburg oded--and then, looming unobstructed at the all-the- way-end is downtown a-gleem and the buildings in their inhuman magnificence--and then there you are, dwarfed and solitudinous, soft kicking the weeds in your walk, pondering piles of roof shingles, or assorted latex gloves or a runned over helotes cart that someone dumped up here. Who goes through the trouble to covertly dump an helotes cart on a bridge? Will my art here be all about the roof cats, baby skunks, or the macho-mellow of these California boys that constitute my crew? Family ties and illness as metaphor? Just viscus gutz lofted to god in fists?
The first time around, stinting c. 95-98, it was all late night loner kid babble and punk-bumpin caught in the big cities thrall. Obviously, that hasn't changed much in the decade post, but I feel a new steez is immanent.
I just slept in a bed for the first time in about a month. Arlie is out of town and my dad was cool to be by hisself overnight and I just wanted to not wake up with the first bell of Glendale high school ringing. They say the pledge at 9:05 and even though we are 2 blocks away, shit is loud and truly makes me hate America. All the fright of school morning topped by my adult resentment enforced patriotism in one killer combo.
But here, in the mostly empty treehouse, sleeping in Arlie's room that smells like a man's room (not a guy's room--A guy's room smells like cold cuts.) with baby skunks going scritch scritch scratch on the dark hill in the night and birds chitty with the dawn. I woke up several times with no fucking clue where I was. I woke up because I would realize I was in a bed (and not on a couch or floor or air mattress) and this bed feels like mine, but the sound outside was of a polyphony of cheeping and not Pitbull's "Anthem" vibrating the trunk hood of a slow rolling Caprice, so I knew I wasn't back in Chicago. I somabulated in the dark until I got down the hall to the living room, where the barely morning was coming in the treehouse, glowing up the filthy white carpet and I realized I was home.
The thing I meant to say/add/type t'yall at the end of yesterdays shunted post: Next issue of Plan B I did the No Age cover story and the Mika Miko q&a. It should be out shortly. I wanted it to be a social history of No Age and not actually talk to them, only talk to fans and friends and co-conspirators, but people were busy and perhaps a touch fragged out by the spotlight on the scene. Whatever Dean and Randy had to say was tertiary--same as with any band--intention doesn't really matter cos all you have is what you inspired as your epitaph/legacy. But the weird thing about No Age, is that what they communicate/perpetuate (casually, but with purpose) to their fanbase ("inspiration/community/inclusion")--their fanbase is picking up what they are putting down. There is fruit to their "get rad/be rad" labour. It's not normally like that. Direct impact. Or so it seems. A band that means what it says and does, or rather, a band that means. Not to be all old about it, but that feels like a more novel concept with each passing year. And if you think that's a vague argument, wait til you read the version I managed to stretch to 1700 words plus quotes. Booo-yuh and Salud!
A sign of god's work in the world, after six months, my best frendo, JR Nelson, wit of the plains posts a bit. He's right about those Plan B's. (I think Barnes and Nobles stocks em if you got $9.50, but hell, that just smokes money if yr in the Chi-Boogie.)
If'n yr in Chicago this weekend:
Huzzah for the weekend nights at Tumans, where the beardos and randoms drunk bump along side the Russian ladies who work at my bank to all the hits and trouble that Ben and Logan drop on the sloshed. If you are looking for a more low key time, go to the Cryptacize show tomorrow at Schubas. Nedelle and her boyfriend and the kid with the hand drum. I like her band but do you ever wish that Nedelle would just start a Shangri-La's style band, or join forces with Mary Timony and they could guitar duel. If you are looking for a Chicago ol' time in LA this weekend, Joan of Arc is playing three shows and for an LA time in LA, there's a new show going up at HOPE this weekend. Some dude, possibly Ron Rege hisself (?) was sawin' boards in half on the sidewalk when I rolled past, so the art is surely almost here.
Everything is better every day. My dad and I almost had two almost fights this week, one was about whether he can drive by himself and the other when he said, as we walked up the driveway, "A good French film is hard to come by".
I finally got around to listening to the mix that Ben sent along with him and Morgan's all InTouch version of Hit it or Quit it (Rob Lowe cover, edition of one), and I was getting on the ramp to take the 2 to Echo Park and Bobby Caldwell's "Open Your Eyes" came on and I thought "No, he did not fucking put this on here." Indeed, he did. I cry when he DJ's this on a slow night at fuckin' Danny's, and alone in the car, I fared no better. After weeks of feeling far from the god in music, far from the emotional tangle and riptide of music and songs, I fell all the way down the well, which feels a bit inconvenient. But if I'm a mess, I'm a mess, so I best play it as it lays, I figure.
After that touch of sobbing on the freeway, I went to see No Age play on a hilltop mansion that is usually just a porn set to play a Nike party (insert "you know you're in LA when" joke here). The soft brownblue valley smog haloed their sweaty faces; Dean was limping on a cane and Randy was sweating Guinness, they had just gotten off a plane from Ireland and came straight there to play. They headlined, so that meant by the time they went on, there were 100 people watching them and 450 shifffaced people waiting for port-o-lets. Everyone was too tan and thin and LA'd out that people watching was nil. I was hoping for a mountain lion to creep up from the manicured brush and eat someones dunks right off their feet. On the way back down in a party shuttle through the canyon curves the girl sitting in front of me projectile vomited an entire afternoon's fruity mix drinks on the back of the driver. When I got out, I noticed she had barf in her long eyelashes. Though that's really what the VIP van is for, is it not?