Monday, February 26, 2007

I just got back from visiting the hometown. You know, while I was there I was thinking about how it feels like hardly any of my old friends visit anymore. I guess it's just that age -- early thirties, mortgage, kids, busy lives. Then Trevor and I visited with Eric and went to the Old Stan for a drink and punk show. Hot damn! Our old friends Aaron and Hiapo were playing with their band Main Street Militia.

Their show was super -- straight up old school punk rock. They play tight, and Hiapo tears it up on bass. Hiapo gave us a CD too, and while punk is always best live, the CD is definitely going to get a lot of play. Be sure to check out Main Street Militia's MySpace, and if you're in NorCali, check 'em out at one of their dates and pick up a CD. I'll see you there at my first show ever at the Rawhide Saloon (the quintessential redneck bar when I was growing up) June 1st.

At the Old Stan show, Main Street Militia played with Aaron's brother Jesh's band, Farce. Excellent to see a female singer/guitarist who fucking rocked!

Watching that show, I realized I had 1) not been to a punk show in ages, and 2) really truly forgotten how much I love rural punk rock. So much has been written about SoCal urban wasteland punk like Bad Religion, the Descendents, and Black Flag. But the foothills of NorCali have a lot of the same elements that drove SoCal's punk scene, and as such is a prime breeding ground for making music that rebels against the dominant culture. Being surrounded by good ol' boys, endless acres of grassy nothing, and small-town small-mindedness takes the place of gangsters, endless acres of blacktop nothing, and mindless plastic starfuckers, but the ennui, rancor, and desire for change is the same.

And I love myself some moshing hillbillies, at home with Crue or Crass!


This just in -- Dave McKean has completed the artwork for John Cale's new boxset. It is GORGEOUS. See it in its fabulosity, and hear a little about the process from Mr. McKean himself, here.

Also, speaking of bass-playing singer/songwriters, David J has completed a musical play about Edie Sedgwick which will feature 10 new songs. The play is called Silver For Gold (The Odyssey of Edie Sedgwick).

David says:

At first I was reluctant as I doubted that there would be enough substance there to sustain a full length production of this nature. However, the idea (and Edie) would not leave me alone. I wrote another song. Then I started to investigate her story, what I discovered was something of a labyrinthine mythic odyssey, Edie proving to be far more complex than I had at first imagined. I started to write the text. Then another song came along and another. More monologue. It felt as if I had entered into a subtle psychic relationship with this beautiful dead girl and she was actively encouraging me to write. She became a bright light that glowed all the brighter whenever I started to create. It was as if she was feeding on the attention. This might sound highly fanciful but that is how it felt. Edie was enduring in her ultimate role, that of the muse.

David is in talks with producers and says he hopes to have the play up and running by the end of the year. In the meantime, you can hear one of the songs, 'Girl on Fire,' here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

in the filth
of a paradise
whose first dupe on earth
was not father nor mother
who diddled you in this den
screwed into my madness.

And what seized hold of me
that I too rolled my life there?
NOTHING, nothing.
Because I,
I am there,
I'm there
and it is life
that rolls its obscene palm there.

And afterward?

Afterward? Afterward?
The old Artaud
is buried

in the chimney hole
he owes to his cold gum
to the day when he was killed!

And afterward?
He is this unframed hole
that life wanted to frame

--excerpt from Artaud the Momo, translated by Clayton Eshleman

What an eventful Valentine's Day.

Went to see Clayton Eshleman read his translations of Antonin Artaud at CCAC. It was wonderful, magical even. I'm not terribly familiar with Artaud, but I know enough to have come away absolutely entranced and amazed at the level of potency Eshleman brought to Artaud's words, which, arguably, are not only difficult to immerse oneself in and fully comprehend, but are the words of a madman.

Eshleman, through his translations, masterful vocalization of Artaud's poems, and commentary on Artaud's artwork, was able to really convey the essence of that madness, the distillation which seeks the very root of human existence. Our existence as animal, and what that does to us intellectually. The confrontation with our true selves, without pretense, which I think is impossible to really fully do. It is terrible, yet fitting, that Artaud came to many of these realizations within his work after barbaric and aggressive shock therapy.

In addition to the Artaud seminar, we got a few nuggets from Eshleman's new Cesar Vallejo translation at the reading as well, and it was marvelous. From his translation of Vallejo, in keeping thematically with Artaud and the "Theatre and its Double," he read:

A man passes by with bread on his shoulder.
Am I going to write, then, of my double?

Another sits down, scratches himself, extracts a louse from his armpit, kills it.
What use in speaking of psychoanalysis?

Another has entered my chest with a stick in his hand.
To speak, then, of Socrates to the doctor?

A cripple walks by, giving his arm to a child.
Am I going to read, then, Andre Breton?

Another shivers with cold, coughs, spits blood.
To play ever at alluding to the profound I?

Another searches in mud for bones, rinds.
How to write, then, of infinity?

A bricklayer falls from the roof, dies, no longer eats lunch.
To innovate, then, the trope, the metaphor?

A merchant steals a gram of weight from a client.
To speak, then, of the fourth dimension?

A banker falsfies his balance.
With what face to cry in the theatre?

A pariah sleeps with his foot to his back.
To speak, then, to anyone of Picasso?

Someone goes to a funeral sobbing.
How, then, to enter the Academy?

Someone cleans a rifle in his kitchen.
What use in speaking of the beyond?

Someone passes by, counting on his fingers.
How, then, to speak of the not-I without screaming?

Clayton Eshleman, check him out if you can. He'll be in Malibu, California on February 24 at Diesel, A Bookstore to read some of his own poetry, and some of his translations of Vallejo.

After the reading, we rushed home to get gussied up to see David J's Cabaret Oscuro at Cafe du Nord.

This was my first time seeing Cabaret Oscuro, and it was a really terrific show. David created Cab Os as his take on 1920's Berlin cabaret. He says in Ear Pollution:

In the '20s it was very politically charged and challenging. It was rough and ready and combative. There was a lot of friction that went on between the performers and the audience. It was commenting on the social climate and it was challenging the status quo, and that's all very punk rock.

I also love the whole look of it, like the German expressionist kinda stark visual presentation, which was always a big part of Bauhaus. So what I'm doing is bringing that into my solo music, and really having some fun with it. It's just great for me to put down the guitar and not have to worry about it.

Such a treat. It was lovely to hear David sing Black Dahlia work -- especially as the songs he chose are songs that are sung by other artists on the forthcoming EP -- as well as some favorites of mine: Antarctica Starts Here (a cover of John Cale), Candy on the Cross, Joe Orton's Wedding, and This Vicious Cabaret. The latter he sang with a singer/pianist he is producing, Vinsantos, and it was really well done. Vinsantos was essentially the opening act as well as being a performer in Cab Os, and I highly recommend checking out his music on MySpace. "16 Seconds" is beautiful.

I was a little disappointed to not see Cabaret Oscuro's regular cellist, Joyce Rooks, but both Joyce and David had said that for the current Cab Os shows he was going to try to pick up local musicians for each show. Of the local talent, I particularly enjoyed Kitten on the Keys. Very lively and fun. I think I will be checking out her next gig at the Rite Spot Cafe.

Though poor Kitten -- we chatted a bit after the show and she was mortified she had played the chorus bars during the verse in "Indelible Blue." I hardly noticed, but it did make David stop the song. I spoke with David afterward, and he said that they had only rehearsed for an hour or so before the show, which lends itself to minor problems, but I think is also very right for this style of cabaret.

Funny, more distracting to me was David using prompts for some of his songs, even the old ones, which lent a more scripted and less uninhibited air to the show. But, again, so minor that it failed to be anything of importance. Most impressive and what drowns out minor gaffes such as these is that energy of throwing a bunch of creative and classy musicians together, coupled with the improvised banter during the gaffes that evokes the essence of live dinner theater -- the moment. It felt more vibrant and fresh, more alive.

It was so nice that I got to chat again a little with David afterwards too. He is just such a gentleman, and a visionary performer.

The setlist, courtesy of one of my tablemates:

*Ghost of the Multiple Feature (Love and Rockets, from Lift)
*Candy on the Cross (from Urban Urbane)
*Joe Orton's Wedding (from Etiquette of Violence)
*unsure (Poetic Young Man?)
*Antarctica Starts Here (John Cale cover, from Candy on the Cross single)
*Indelible Blue (from The Black Dahlia Movie and forthcoming EP, Devil's Muse) cut short
*The Black Dahlia Theme (ibid)
*Indelible Blue (ibid)
*Pretty (ibid)
*This Vicious Cabaret (from V for Vendetta)
*unsure (but David attempts to scat, and admits he shouldn't try it for the first time live onstage)
*Streets of Berlin
*Falling in Love Again (in German)
*My Funny Valentine
*Love Letter
*Time (David Bowie cover)
*Who Killed Mr. Moonlight? (Bauhaus, from Burning From the Inside)

His next show is February 23rd at Safari Sam's in Hollywood, California, and will be more Black Dahlia themed. The lovely Ms. Rooks will be sitting in for cello, and other performers will include Ego Plum, Nora Keyes, Abby Travis, and Vinsantos.

I'm a big fan of David's projects, but I highly recommend Cab Os for anyone who just loves bawdy, lively, improv musical theater, and smartly visceral songwriting. The man does it well.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Oh America, it is a sad day when an awards show** that is put on in order to allegedly celebrate the best in music (hee, I can't even type that without groaning...see...uuuugggghhhhh) is beaten unconscious by a 10 minute halftime show at the Super Bowl.

That smoking guitar, the clothes, the voice, the most industrial strength, rain-proof makeup I have ever witnessed, AND he makes a hairdo one can only call laundry-day chic look terrific. Incredible.

**Never say I am not well-rounded in my love: I heart Wikipedia because it is good place for me to give a quickie reference to folks for the gist of what I'm talking about, but today for this reference I was confronted with another reason why I heart Wikipedia, and why my husband hates it.

Chris Brown, you are a true man of the people's encyclopedia. May you do great things in your 15 minutes.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dammit dammit dammit.

"The worst thing that can happen in this scenario is that the studio just keeps hammering out changes and the writer falls into a horrible limbo of development," Whedon wrote. "(Warners and Silver) had the clarity and grace to skip that part. So I'm a free man."

Read: He was let go before the studio REALLY got going on hammering the soul out of the film, and now the new writer will fall into a horrible limbo of development. Oh, and...this movie is going to be awful.

What is wrong with the studio? Everything Joss Whedon touches lately, especially if it has to do with comic books, is brilliant. Just let the man work, for the love of god.

I hope fearing the film's sucktasticity is just my disappointment talking. In any case, with Whedon's departure from Wonder Woman it is now apparent that Ms. Gellar absolutely needs to come out of her star-of-Asian-horror-films-as-American-remakes-is-better-than-doing-Buffy delusions and do a Buffy film. You're the only thing stopping it, babe -- it's time.

In other, somewhat related, news: my sweetie has updated his blog and he now knows why the siren's call of librarianship has been so strong. I agree that there are more like him out there than one would think, and I would venture that they probably make the best librarians.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My sweetheart couldn't wait and gave me a Valentine's Day gift early -- an iPod nano! I've been coveting one forever, but after I stopped having a commute to my old job I forgot about it. And with my new job I have no business having earbuds in when walking by myself in Oakland of all places, so I also thought, nah, don't need one. But being back at the gym, I could feel the craving for sweet technological goodness creeping around again.

I would never have bought one for myself, and he knows that. I have the best husband ever.

It's been a good few days for lovely material acquisitions. I also got some glass seedpod beads from the delightful Ms. Rooks. Seedpod choker, here I come.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Looking for a pic of a ninja for this post, I found out there is a girl group from Estonia called Vanilla Ninja.

Wow. Love that 80s buttrock meets mysterious Orient font, and a shuriken to dot the J. Apparently they are HUGE in the Baltics and Austria.

I completely forgot to mention that Trevor's sensei, his dojo, and maybe a little Casual-T action will be seen on Mythbusters around this time next year. The crew, whose offices and mythbusting lab are in the same neighborhood as the dojo, came to the SF Buyu to explore the myth of the ninja. You know what I'm talking about -- walking on water, stopping a sword with tiger claws, smokescreen evasion, killing over time with one strike from the Buddha fist -- all that (speaking of 80s buttrock meets mysterious Orient) American Ninja stuff, and what makes Robert Hamburger say "sweet!"

You'll just have to tune in next year to find out if these ninja tidbits are myth or reality. I'm sworn to wife-of-a-ninja secrecy.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Today, on the way to Gaylord's for a hot chocolate on this cold cold night (40 degrees, lawd help us Bay Area wussies!) with my sweetie-pie, we came upon a stately and friendly-looking couple on the sidewalk. Trevor suddenly raised his head from out of his parka and said, "Hello Willis," to which this "Willis" said, "Hello, how are you this evening?" and smiled brightly as we passed.

I asked Trevor who Willis was and he told me. Whoa. Apparently, not only is he a poet, translator, and editor of one of my honey's most esteemed reference books, The Gnostic Bible, but, according to Trevor's boss, Willis Barnstone is also responsible for introducing Borges to an English audience. Whoa whoa whoa. And we just bumped into him and exchanged pleasantries on our way to the cafe. Wild.

So why does Trevor know this guy? Because the Bay is host to so many creative minds, and because Trevor works at one of the most excellent places to shop for books in the EB, Diesel, a Bookstore.

I'm always about a little Diesel pimpery, but I also bring this up because I am sometimes blown away by the people he meets working there, and how non-nonplussed he is by meeting people he admires. His "whatever" attitude is enviable, and only embarrasses me when I think of my oft-enthusiastic fangirlism. But I guess when you're busy as all hell, waiting on Michael Chabon, or John Hodgman, or the man responsible for bringing Borges to an English-speaking audience is just a cool perk. It might also be that when authors are just nice and not rockstar about stuff it enables people to treat them like normal human beings.

As a sidenote of deft and tricky tangency mid-post, I have to say finally meeting David J and talking to him one on one really made me feel less fangirly and more just an admirer of someone who really seems both brilliant and kind, and also very very human. So, in addition to the above points, I suppose the original context you have for the person makes a difference. I've been a big Bauhaus fan since I was 15, and they broke up when I was 9. NEVER has David been anything but a somewhat nebulous musical hero -- maybe "concept" is a better word -- to me until recently, where I now actually think of him as a blood-filled homo sapien and not a merely a songwriting metahuman or alien humanoid who just happens to lay down some kickass earthbass. Trevor's context for most people he meets in the bookstore are as customers first, so I suppose he doesn't get a chance to be all "I love your work" or anything as a context first. Much better.

I'm making excuses for my behavior again, aren't I? Sigh. I suppose the truth is that Trevor is the even keeled one on this ride, and I'm good at le spaz de rationalizer. It's a delicate balance, and we manage it well.

Anyway, who are my favorite talented human beings I've met, whose acquaintance is totally related to Diesel putting on fantastic bookstore events and my being a Diesel groupie? Charles Burns, and the extemely pleasant and talented Craig Thompson. Great hug-giver, that Craig Thompson.

Flipside, there used to be a crazy lady who would steal cards from Trevor's old work and when she got caught she would freak out and say Trevor was some sort of pimp and all of the women who he worked with were his whores. Nice. Anyway, I was asking Trevor tonight who he had ever kicked out of Diesel, and this lady came up again! Only this time, Trevor had graduated from pimp to a murderer/rapist furthering the patriarchy (by not allowing her to steal cards or lie on the floor mumbling incoherently to herself in the children's books). Once removed from the store, instead of leaving the premises entirely, she stood outside in the middle of the sidewalk near the entryway with her arms crossed and glared at him. Good times.

So, yes, carrying on with Diesel, events, cool peeps to meet -- February is Black History Month. Even though it cannot be said that I am, or ever will be, a Lakers fan (Sorry, Jon -- go Kings!), I will post that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be at Diesel, a Bookstore on February 9 to sign his new book, On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance. Should be a good time, and Trevor will be there to keep y'all in line.