lundi, juin 23, 2008

Hell and Gonzo

I said before that if I believed in Hell, it would be because there has to be a place for the guy who invented Easter grass.

Turns out there are other reasons that Hell has to exist.

Because there isn't another way to explain State and/or County Fairs. The horrifying food, the vomit comets operated by demonically deformed carnies, the myriad booths selling garbage to alcoholically compromised dupes, the unholy conglomeration of the whitest and trashiest of all white trash, the exponential addition to the rodent population--and the bands, THE BANDS!!--all combined with the oppressive heat of summer. Honestly, if these things aren't oozing through some dimensional rift, then how else to you explain them?

Because the whole "Satan told us to wear make up and spandex" aesthetic of the 80's Heavy Metal Hair bands could not have been a strictly human invention. Can you imagine a group of musicians having a meeting and deciding on their own to tease their hair up like bible belt hair dressers, cover their faces in dime store cosmetics, wrap themselves in skintight leather, stick a cucumber wrapped in foil down their pants and pose in a studio full of imitation human bones in the shape of a pentagram? "What the hell!?" I hear you saying. Exactly. The good news is that if you fell for that music in any way, and especially if you threw your panties onto a stage populated by ersatz Knights In Satan's Service, you don't have to be overcome by shame for eternity. You can claim with a fair amount of confidence that the devil made you do it. Hopefully you've grown up and won't have to follow your former heroes to the Hell that absolutely must exist if their existence is to make any sense whatsoever.

Because The View needs a place to go into syndication.

Because every single person who claims the title of "Journalist" and then transparently campaigns for a party or candidate has to be in thrall to a being more demonic than even a Television Network Executive--and that's saying something. Or maybe it's just that I want them so suffer in ways forbidden by our constitution for the way they slant their coverage and then have the gall to claim neutrality. We may have been stupid enough to let them hand pick BOTH candidates, and maybe at some point we will stop paying attention to the news media entirely and they will fade away like the monsters under the bed, but until then I have to believe there is a Hell for these people--or I might start dispensing justice vigilante style and go to jail, which is purest hell according to all the reputable films.

Because Morrissey said "There is a place in Hell for me and my friends."

Because that's where cats come from. And with their nefarious powers they hypnotize humans into thinking that a house filled with dander, hair, hairball vomit and poop is worth the "affection" they pretend to give you as long as you feed them, clean up after them, and do their bidding in various other ways (like opening doors at all hours).

Because on a CNN radio news update, the lead story was the birth of JAMIE LYNN SPEARS CURSED SPAWN. At that moment, the world had to know: Hell is here and now.


mardi, juin 17, 2008

I've Got Two Hands (sometimes three!)

Below please find a cursory listing of vastly divergent opinions I've honestly held, often within minutes--even seconds!--of each other.

Someone decides they must live in another country.

1) Good for you! Everyone should live abroad and experience immersion into another culture. Whatever your motivations are, this will be an important experience. You don't want to be one of those myopic Americans who thinks We are the World. Even if you're leaving because you hate America, then good! The righty kooks said "love it or leave it!" So you left. And since you should have the right to live unencumbered anywhere you choose, I don't see as how anyone but you should have anything to say about it. Keep in touch and tell me how it goes. I'd love to hear about your experiences and insights. But I sincerely hope you come back, because you'll make the country a better place.

2) On the other hand, who the hell do you think you are, you stuck-up leftist nose-in-the-air bastard? Are you really so ignorant that you think human nature is different depending on how freaking socialistic the government is? Go ahead and move to Canada, you ass. We'll see you back in a few years, when someone in your family needs real medical care. You'll come running here like the Canadians whose polaroids I used to see taped on coffee cans in the grocery store: "In the States, they can cure me" they said. Maybe they just didn't feel like waiting 6 months for an MRI, or pretending that Canadian football is a real sport. Oh, Europe is it? Good riddance to you. Italy thanks you for raising their snob quotient. We took their dregs by the millions for almost a century. The least they can to is take the whining intellectual elitists off our hands. Bye!

Someone fails to compliment (or notice) my new glasses.

1a) Who cares.  In fact, thank you for NOT noticing.  I don't take compliments well anyway, and I appreciate the fact that you are focused on more important aspects of life. 
1b) (On the other hand) It might be a nice little boost to my twisted, faltering self-esteem if you paid a little attention to my attempt to find decent glasses.

1c) (On the other other hand) What the hell is the matter with you?  It should be as clear as the nose on my face that there is a fashionable pair of designer frames in the picture that weren't there yesterday! AHHHH!

Someone issues a generalized insult to the owners of SUV's.

First) You are absolutely right.  I might not agree with the venom, but dammit, unless someone is hauling around 50 kids on a daily basis, or braving the Rubicon trail, they have no business wasting gas and space with that TANK.  And why does anyone who lives in the city need 4 wheel drive?  Have they ever even taken that thing near a dirt road?  Maybe imitating Hillary Clinton and her fellow senators is their way of activating "The Secret," but they're not impressing anyone but Oprah with the shiny black Escalade they're driving to the corner mart alone.  

Second) Oh yeah?  You don't like SUV's?  Then don't buy one, jerk.  PS: I'll phone the God you don't believe in and inform him that he doesn't have to waste his time judging the SUV crowd.  You seem to have it all wrapped up.  Until just a second ago, I wasn't going to say anything about your hygiene and style choices, which I think are offending Mother Nature, for whom I have been given the authority to speak (yeah, that's right, you're not the only one!).  And just so you don't forget, I'll scratch a little note to you into the paint of your pseudo hippie car with my keys.  

Someone brings up our society's unfair body image expectations.

Initially . . . I couldn't agree more.  I can't stand how surface oriented we are in modern civilization.  There is a deeper beauty that should be recognized.  As a matter of fact, if it doesn't come from within, who gives a crap how beautiful the exterior seems?  It's simply ugliness with a sexy mask, and we shouldn't fall for it, let alone promote and glorify it.  Down with superficiality!

Then . . .On the other hand, to hell with you, fatty.  The only reason that people hate on beauty in any form is jealousy.  And I've had enough with your slantwise confessions of how ugly you think you are, or how lazy you really are.  Hotness is hot--that's it.  Screw your down-to-earth common man/woman approach.  Beauty is to be worshipped in any form.  I don't care if the model in the ad was photoshopped, she's gorgeous, she's real, and she probably works like a dog (a super hot sexy dog!) to stay in that kind of shape.  I don't care who has fake parts.  I don't care if Hollywood starlets are dimwits.  I don't care if Demi Moore has a personal trainer and you don't.  The products, the clothing, the exercise programs, and the healthy diets are out there.  We can't all be hot.  The universe is stratified.  But what we can do is accept that, and use the tools in front of us to maximize whatever cosmetic beauty we've been given.  And if you don't want to be part of the cosmetic world we live in (which one might equate to people who refuse to get a cell phone or utilize the Internet) then the least you can do is stop complaining.

And later . . . besides, you're pretty hot in your own right.  What did you say your name was? Hey, what do you think of these glasses, I don't know if they're really me.

ANYWAY . . .

So you see, I'm a house divided.  At any given moment, I actually adhere to a view that is immediately, almost simultaneously, undercut by an opposite opinion about which I am equally passionate.  I'm earnestly down for double.  Strangely, I have a feeling that it does NOT make me open minded, but in fact the exact opposite.  

jeudi, juin 12, 2008

Bands I've Been In, Part the First

It all started in 4th grade, with a band called Northern Lights. We never played any music*, but we designed a ton of really great album covers, all of which vaguely resembled the bizarre space-agey artwork featured on some of the Journey albums of the time. We also did a lot of lip-syncing, at first with no instruments at all, then with tennis rackets, and finally with "guitars" we made out of plywood and painted to resemble Eddie Van Halen's ax. The presentation got pretty professional, as we supplemented with a spray bottle when unable work up a real sweat. Even so, Northern Lights broke up within a year over disputes about who had to be the drummer--a position of extreme disadvantage, as being the drummer pinned you at the back of the stage, thus preventing you from accomplishing the main goal of singing to/flirting with your imaginary Girlfriend who always cheered adoringly in the first row.

(*Editor's Note: the claim that no music was played is not entirely true, as Northern Lights did indeed attempt to record some romantic love ballads into a hand held tape recorder, accompanied with whatever musical pseudo-instruments the house could provide, which may have even included a rubber band. The result was so embarrassing that the memory was blocked until the composition of the above paragraph.)

. . .

The next band was an unofficial hip hop conglomerate of rapping break dancers in the 6th grade. We didn't have a group name, but, per the protocols laid out in the movie Breakin' we all had street names. Mine was Dr. Rock (a name you can still read in spray paint on the back of my old garage). The beats were laid down by a Casio keyboard, and we all took turns laying down some sweet-ass lyrics. Unfortunately, none of our efforts were preserved, and the only rap that remains in the honeyed halls of memory is the following gem by one Ryan Tominaga, a good friend who happened to be Japanese. Said he: "This jap can rap--just look on the map! Look at Japan, its cool man!"

. . .

There was a drought during the junior high and early high school years, partially explained by an initially painful move to California my Sophomore year, but more fully explained by the fact that puberty turned off my brain, and I spent several years trying to snare the opposite sex with mere poetry. To list the other mistakes made during this period--and right up until the age of now--would take a wing in the Library of Congress. Suffice it to say that the musical drought ended when in my senior year I made the acquaintance of one Scott Leftridge, an absolute musical genius and, for a sadly brief period, the best friend a guy could have. The addition of Troy Morgan (a genius on many levels) sealed the deal: together we formed the Phillip Smooot Orchestra (so named in tribute to a lonely projectionist who killed himself by running a tube from his exhaust into his window and driving around until coasting to a peaceful stop in the Newcastle tunnel at 3 AM), and recorded what I still consider to be some damn fine songs. Unfortunately, our technical acumen did not match our musical inspiration and the recordings (a self-made EP entitled "Small Room Music,") do no justice to the material, to which I still pay secret tribute with an occasional listening in my truck--the only place I can still play cassette tapes.

*Note: The History of the PSO is marred by our horrid experience at the Placer High School battle of the bands. The fact that we were desperately out of place in that setting (we were not exactly a party band) had made us nervous and uncomfortable enough. Any hope of confidence was destroyed when we loaned our PA to an abjectly ridiculous all-girl grunge metal act called Lunatic Fringe, who blew the thing up and left us to play a muted set through a patchwork network of amplification apparatus. The subsequent anxiety helped us to suck worse than any other band in the history of Placer County. All our elaborate staging and high hopes turned to instant mush. I get tightness in my chest thinking about it even now. Every moment of every song found me begging for a merciful death, and when it was over we fled with our tails between our legs to an all night diner where we longed to go back in time and convince ourselves to withdraw from the contest.

Years later, we went on to make an attempt at re-recording the good stuff. But the original fervor was gone. Of all the multitude of my regrets, not pursuing music with Scott Leftridge and Troy Morgan glows with a flame that seems only to increase with the years. Curse you, Lunatic Fringe! May you burn in the hell conjured by your useless cacophony!

. . .

When High School ended, I found myself drawn into the perverse circle of one Jason Adair, who worked in a cinema. We watched private screenings in our underwear. Late one night, he pulled out a guitar and for some reason, we began composing songs "to, for, and about Pirates." Still stuck on poor Phillip, we christened ourselves Cap'n Smooot, gave each other names (Cotton Swab, and Acting Captain Blood Pudding, respectively) and brought in the cripplingly underrated Brian Pine (Strawberry Blonde Beard) to play the bass. We didn't think we needed a drummer. We recorded an album, "Pirate Songs in G," and reveled at the cheeky jokes in songs like Pirate Christmas, and Klingons, the Pirates of the Final Frontier. We developed a thickly detailed mythos. At our first gig, at the legendary Cattle Club, the pierced girl taking tickets sarcastically noted, "You know what you guys need? A gimmick." I guess there isn't much else to say to adults wearing eye patches and frilly shirts. But dammit, we rocked that heazy. And that was long before the word heazy was even coined. We brazenly commemorated rape and pillage (most notably in a song called the Hokey Pokey Pirate). We claimed that pirates invented surfing, (AND the melon baller). We closed with the theme song from the Jeffersons. People laughed until sore, and bought our T-shirts. It was my first taste of the possibilities inherent in a musical comedy act. Management invited us back to open for the Cadillac Tramps. But as I was on the verge of serving a 2 year mission in Quebec, the band was put on hiatus. Upon my return, we opened up the old can of worms and played in a couple of clubs (this time with Scott Legend, or Leftridge, on drums) and KILLED. Alas, there are also limitations to a gimmicky musical comedy act, and we fizzled, but not before putting in a performance at a Prince cover show charity benefit that people still talk about--and not just because we didn't use any of Prince's music, and were the only band on the bill NOT covering Erotic City.
There was a moment at the end of the show that still gives me the good chills, where Prince, Gwar, U2, and Neil Diamond overlapped, as Sheila E was "pulling of those fishnet stockings . . laying 'em down . . .100! (boom!), 200! (boom!), and I can see those fighter planes. I can see those fighter planes . . . rum, pouring through a gaping wound . . . outside is America . . . outside is America! . . . they're coming to America, TODAY!!"

. . .

Next I got married, which didn't stop the formation of SMOOOT VALLEY HIGH. But more on that later.

lundi, juin 02, 2008

Crying (part 2)

So Jason Adair has been crying a lot lately. Lars and the Real Girl made him cry like a baby. When he teared up at Penny and Desmond's reunion, his wife won a bet.

It gets me thinking about tears, and how I can't let Jason (already dubbed "the leader" in a certain place on the Internet) get all the "sensitive guy" play.  I'm sensitive too, ladies.  Tears cleanse the windows to my soul on a regular basis.  People usually assume the opposite about me.  Given the rough bark of manhood that forms my outer layer, I understand.  But it still hurts when the tender inside goes ignored.  

Hence, if I may do so without admitting to the debilitating testosterone deficiency from which Jason Adair suffers (I forgot to mention he cries when he has to ride up a long steep hill on his bike) here is a list of things that have, in all honesty, made me cry in the last few weeks.  

*"Lose Yourself" by Marshal Mathers.  A radio guy said: "Seriously, listen to the lyrics of this song.  It's amazing."  So I listened as the rapper/movie star laid it all on the line.  Next thing I new, I felt a lump in my throat and had to wipe away the tears from my blurred eyes.  Was it the earnest presentation?  Was it the beat?  Was it the inspiring injunction to grab hold of the moment and own my damn life?  I can't say.  All I know is I cried.  Just a little.  
PS-I owe emnem an apology.  That song could only have been written by a true artist. I'm not kidding.

*Cheeky Monkeys.  You'll have to find them on Youtube.  Just a couple of young kids who dance on "Britain's Got Talent."  I found them by accident (not really, I was actually seeing what came up when you put the words cheeky monkey in the youtube search bar).  I wanted to mock and deride, but something about their infectious, unabashed enthusiasm, their dedication, I don't know.  I got misty.  And I'm not afraid to admit it. 

*Fix you.  (by Coldplay)  I know, I know, "You know how I know you're gay?  You like Coldplay."  Sorry, they're undeniably great and that damn song all of the sudden got to me.  My wife was stretching in the next room.  Doctor prescribed stretches.  I don't talk about it here, but she has been sick and addicted and in incredible pain for years.  So long that most people's sympathy has turned to condescension.  I put the song on because I hadn't listened to that album in awhile and was looking for something to accompany breakfast.  I found myself caught up in a moment of realization, almost an epiphany, about the suffering of my wife and my desire to "fix" her.  The music swelled.  I had to leave the house and have a cry on our covered porch.  Now I almost have to avoid that song (much like Audrey Hepburn singing moon river) because if I'm unprepared it'll grab me and salt my tear ducts.  

*Sinus Infection.  This actually wasn't crying in the strictest sense of the word.  I have the strength of ten men and feel no aversion to pain.  But the effects of a recent sinus infection and the requisite medication had the effect of making my eyes water from time to time.  Secure in the manhood that not even women's pants can conceal, I let it show and let it flow.  Also my nose ran like a faucet.

NEXT ENTRY: News from the TMI department!