Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another Chapter Closes

Why surely you didn't think JunkThief could make a swing through the Heartland without a visit to the mothership of all things junk, Lazy Acres, did you? While this will not be my last trip here, it's one that marks the close of one major chapter. My sister and I did a final walk through before the estate sale team descends tomorrow morning. Beginning with the close of the holiday season, we began sifting through those things to keep, those to store and those to sell. It all climaxed in the Great Junk Sort featured on the epic two part JunkThief TV episode #19.

Closing this chapter is a bittersweet. It will be nice not having to worry about ALL that stuff but also a chore to sort through the things I have claimed and will be taking to California. And after always seeing my mother's house as the model of well ordered perfection with everything alphabetized and color coded, the sorting has turned it into our own Grey Gardens minus the racoons but with a few impromptu fashion shows.

Seeing her purple irises in bloom brought back many positive memories of this time of year and convinced me to transplant some more. For whatever reason, past ones that I've lugged across the Mojave have lived but not blossomed.

Finding a bag of the 2003 crop already has me misty eyed about saying farewell to the 25 pecan trees on the property. It's not the same buying a bag at Trader Joe's that I used to be able to have fresh from the trees my grandfather planted in 1957.

While sorting through some of the last few jewels, I came across some stray accouterments from Halloweens past and snapped these shots. Perhaps this should be the new signature photo for JunkThief. Whaddya think?

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Totie Fields - Live on Ed's show

Thanks to Mr. Pussy Pants for sharing this little jewel.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Detroit, the American Mount Olympus

Detroit, that town of dead end dreams, has always fascinated me. So I was happy to end a short work trip with a visit to my cousin Ginger whom I see maybe once every three years. She lives in the same house where she grew up and has only modestly remodeled since her parents died a few years ago. That isn't a bad thing since the house is solid mid-century design, and fortunately never suffered through a "French country" phase. It has the same sunken living room with recessed lighting where we used to perform our favorite songs from Once Upon a Mattress at family gatherings when we were both four years old. Since she is six months my senior, she got to play Queen Aggravain to my Princess Fred. (Ginger also loved to play Gilligan's Island and would prance in haughtily as I sang "...and a movie star!")

Sometimes we would let her best friend -- we’ll call her Alice – play Lady Larken because she was so small and perky. Last night Ginger invited Alice over for dinner. Let's just say that there is not a lot of small and perky left in Alice.

The great thing about visiting a place like Detroit is that people like Alice will grab your hand and wistfully say, “San Fran-cis-co…” as if I were from Iberia or Lourdes. Oh, I’m sure those places get boring too. I recall Detroit being held up as the city of progress and industry as a child, so it's intriguing to come back and see what it is today -- its northside suburbs making you feel you're in Palo Alto, but the inner city a true rotting inner city, or a huge East Palo Alto. I can't wait to see Vegas crash and burn so I can go see it rotting away in the desert.

People here think that my fascination with Detroit is bizarre, but I consider it to be the American Acropolis, a mostly intact ruin that is still a relatively functioning city. Maybe that’s why I am a true Junk Thief, always more fascinated by the soiled jewel cowering in front of the glistening, flawless new ones. Of course, I probably spend more of my money on the new ones, hoping they will soon take on the patina and “integrity” of the junks bobbing in the waters beneath the shimmering towers.

Detroit, if approached from the water, as opposed from the south by car, can look stunning and prosperous. Legends like Marlene Dietrich took a similar approach by asking people to keep an appropriate distance in her later years. As I keep adding years to my vitae, I may start asking that people approach me slowly by sea in a canoe or Hong Kongese junk in order to behold the glistening tower from afar.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Is It Royal Oak or Just Michillinda Park?

I've lived in California long enough that it sort of shocks me to go back to the real Midwest, especially the postcard perfect, tree-lined suburbs to find myself not sure if I am in reality or a movie set. Royal Oak or Kalamazoo are not exactly Pasadena, or more appropriately Michilinda Park. Those Southland suburbs have posed as mid-America in movies and TV shows for so long that I have sort of accepted that the real thing should look the same. Adding to the confusion is that Royal Oak has enough vegan spots, tapas joints, bikram yoga studios and (as if sneering at Motor City to the south) Priuses to make me think I'm back in the Golden State. It's sort of like Canadian dollars -- familiar, but not exactly the same. Having made three business trips in one month, my sense of geography is getting increasingly fuzzy. Detroit is the one in the U.S., and Windsor is the one that isn't, right?

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Neurotic Like Me: Where You're From

(Overheard at the Holiday Inn Express, Sycamore, Illinois)

Receptionist: Nebraska. Oh, wow.

Guest: Yes. Lincoln.

Receptionist: Oh, I've been there.

Guest: Yes, that's where I'm from.

Receptionist: And I'm from here. Fifth generation, Dekalb.

Guest: Wow.

Receptionist: But where are you from? I mean, your people. Where are they from?

Guest: Nebraska. We've always been from Nebraska as far back as we know.

Receptionist: Oh, yes. How could anyone not love Nebraska?

Guest: I know.

Receptionist: Well, there's nothing better than being where your from.

(Okay, I think that last line may be a worthy replacement for "Wherever you go; there you are.")

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Up, Up with Cats

Fellow writer/blogger/stand-up comic Bryce Digdug has an amusing reference to Up with People, that really, really bizarre group that promoted the American Way and patriotism back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I'd not heard or thought of them in decades until a few years ago I had a booth for my non-profit organization at a conference in Indianapolis. One evening I heard over the PA system "Don't miss tonight's headline entertainment -- Up with People!" Egads, they're still around, but they now had an international cast, still promoting something on the order of patriotism. In response to Bryce's post, I suggested that I'd been a member of the cast of Up with Cats! back in the 1980s and spayed myself with cat nip and danced around in a mouse costume to put those felines in a frenzy. Bryce made me aware of a good/bad movie called Eye of the Cat which features cast members who also appeared in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Bryce is the only person I know with an encyclopedic knowledge of the monster flick Mothra, a film I know in legend only but long to see. I think Bryce should do the DVD commentary or be filmed doing his comedy routine that heavily references Mothra.

Eye of the Cat
was shot in San Francisco which further tempts me to check out this tale of a crazy old woman in a mansion protected by a group of cats. Of course, I know who I'd cheer for. I especially have a weakness for movies that have a poster with a woman screaming. I
just hope nothing bad happens to the kitties at the end!

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Dekorn on Dekalb

Ah, the Midwest. After arriving in O'Hare, I have had a chance to get more of my children of the corn tour. Well, Dekalb is not that rural, but the flatness here is what is always most striking, and there is no question that it makes an impact on the culture. When Almodovar made Volver, he said that La Mancha's flatness makes it an abstract landscape, leading to people being either great artists or insane. I'll be seeing a cousin in Michigan this weekend in semi-hip Detroit suburb Royal Oak. She complains that a one bedroom condo can go for as much as $100,000 these days. Oy, I don't think even Oklahoma is that cheap any more.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two Blocks from #9

JunkThief is physically two blocks away now from two #9s -- the Muni 9 bus and the 9th "bloggiest' neighborhood in the nation, Potrero Hill, according to OutsideIn. We really felt the Mission would rank higher, but maybe all those kiddos on Notebooks in the coffee shops up and down Valencia are actually doing real work. Then again wouldn't you think a place like Fargo might rank higher? Not much to do there but blog.

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Junk Thief TV - Episode 21 Street Scene

A day (April 24, 2007)outside my window, viewing the Saint Francis Ice Cream Parlour on York Street in San Francisco's Mission District. In 24 hours, nothing and everything happens, all captured in bubbles of time. Were there a couple of drug deals going down that the camera caught unkowingly? Not to my less than street wise eyes, but there is some mysterious activity reflected in the windows and shadows of some of the cars.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sheryl Crow - Republican Operative?

Sheryl Crow's suggestion yesterday that there be a limit of one square of toilet paper per bathroom visit makes it very suspicious of whose side she is on. I'm all for cutting back on consumption, going green, but there are some places where I never want the government or celebrities to stick their noses, pun fully intended. Such insane suggestions will make even the most died in the wool environmentalist have the same reaction that a Rush Limbaugh will likely have. Even spookier is imagining what research Sheryl did to reach this conclusion.

Perhaps preventing Sheryl from travelling -- anywhere for any purpose -- or using any form of electronic media would be a better remedy and could probably make a bigger impact than her suggestion which will probably has already resulted in a new hole in the ozone layer with her name on it.

Thanks so much, Sheryl, for sharing information about your frugality that I could have lived without. If we ever meet, I think I'll pass on the opportunity to shake your hand.

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At the Risk of Restating the Obvious -- SDS Now

JunkThief had held off mentioning them earlier, but after randomly weaving the new SDS into a conversation yesterday with Friedatella, we at JunkThief were amazed to realize Friendatella was unaware of the revived SDS. And Friendatella is usually so with it and was there...then...and here now.

So we felt obliged to make folks aware that last year the SDS made a much needed comeback with strong roots with their ancestors, as evidenced in their website. It's encouraging to know that they include not just the usual suspects of the campuses of Columbia and UC Berkeley, but also spots in Alabama, Illinois and elsewhere in the heartland (about 200 miles northeast of the spleenland). Oh, maybe there really is hope.

Watching Half Nelson the other night and seeing a 20-something teacher spewing similar politics in an inner city school was equally encouraging. At first the JunkThief gang was a bit concerned that there was not enough explanation of how this committed, articulate socialist ended up a crack addict. Try to hold to those values and live in the year in 2007, and you pretty much have to have a crack addiction to survive. All the same, seeing first Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson and then yesterday's discovery of Adam Kokesh, makes folks at JunkThief wonder if the new left hired a Madison Avenue to sex up the movement. Maybe they learned their lesson after that media blitz with Michael Moore in a Speedo.

There is a great article in the recent New York magazine about this larger movement that includes the Socialists on the campus of Columbia that so upset the dreaded Matt Sanchez. Matt Sanchez? You remember him, the forgotten flavor of last month.

What may take some folks a while to wrap their heads around is that today's SDS members were born just before or during the Bush I administration and are probably too young to remember the First Gulf War.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Moon Mix

JunkThief is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his second turntable in order to source his stash of 78s and be able to do analog mixes again. Heck, JunkThief is so retro he may buy an acetate machine to record the songs of his two pet Dodo birds.

Great blogger/vlogger/raconteur extraordinaire Eva Deadbeat has a great post over here of Kid Koala with an amazing reworking of Moon River the way it is supposed to be re-imagined. As both Shakespeare and Warhol sort of said, the best art is not original but that which is purposely repurposed.

UPDATE: And just as I posted this entry, the rattle of the familiar brown van came roaring down York Street. Christmas in April! Yeah. It's here. Many acetate to MP3s to come.

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(Gorgeous) Arms Against the War Machine!

Ask even the most self-respecting left-winger, and they’ll admit that there’s not a lot of sex appeal to “the movement.” Protests against the war tend to attract more grey-haired, non-gym bodied types in ugly shoes and smelling of garlic and patchouli.

Based on a flurry of web postings today around the protests during the Gonzalez hearings, that may be changing. Case in point is the young man above, Adam Kokesh, a veteran and student at Claremont McKenna College in southern California. Code Pink (great group, though characteristically not high on the sex appeal index) joined forces with young Adam above showing the number of times Gonzalez used the term “I don’t know” during his testimony. Gotta admit the first thing I looked at was not what Adam was holding but what was holding the signs.

Praise be to Joe.My.God and new blog discovery Sparklepony for introducing me to Adam. And you can hear Adam in his own words here. He dresses up well too! Poof, just like that, suddenly the movement just got 10 times more sex appeal. Thanks to you, Adam, I may take those MoveOn messages out of my spam box!

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JunkThief TV - Junk-mation preview

Hold on to your hats, junk fans. The junk will be coming to life in months ahead.

Mike Daisey: Stand up, Stand up to Jesus Camp!

I had never heard of Mike Daisey before coming across the documentation of this curious encounter. You'd expect it in, say, Charlotte or Colorado Springs. But Cambridge? Those right wingers do get around these days, don't they? I like the little that I got from Daisey's actual performance as well as his blog:

I just hope poor Paris Hilton wasn't upset by the monologue!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Spork on the Grave of the Colonel!

Okay, I'll admit it, every six months or so, I used to get a hankering that I just could not hold back and would have to go into the only true fast food franchise on Valencia, the KFC at Hill Street. It was mainly about those fries, I'll admit, but I usually tried find a way to hide in one of the back booths since it's pretty rare that I don't run into a familiar face on Valencia. Just imagine the horror of one of my Herbivore buds catching me gnawing on an extra crispy wing, the grease dripping on my chin. I was once spied by a passing acquaintance who gave me a glare much more judgmental than if he'd seen me snorting crack (or do you shoot it?) as I put a "spork" full of that nasty cole slaw in my mouth. Cole slaw? Sorry, I just never got the appeal.

How fitting, then, that the new semi-upscale Spork has taken over the former KFC venue. The reviews on Yelp are generally positive, and I will likely try it out sometime in the next few weeks before it gets discovered.

One of the things that separates fast food venues' transformations in San Francisco from those in the Midwest is that here they become a place where you can now buy a $15 hamburger and in the "heartland" they become all-you-can-eat Chinese food buffets where you can get a platter full of heart-clogging food for $6.99. Same grease, new package.

I'm sure the food at Spork is good, but dern that grey exterior looks just like the Colonel's meat!

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While We Are Still There

Before leaving Paris, yes, it's very exciting that France may soon have Ségolène Royal, a socialist and a woman, as president. It can join Chile in that regard. And, no, the prospect of Hillary winning would not make it a triad.

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JunkThief's Twisting French Half

At this advanced age JunkThief tends to leave public dancing to those of the vintage that celebrate ”My Humps” and other inept tunes of present. So JunkThief felt compelled to celebrating dancing days of past by sharing another little Scopiotone gem since the recent Joi Lansing post was an all time hit with other JunkThieves.

“La Twisteuse” by Jack Glen et Les Glenners is a reminder of JunkThief's vibrant French 50% bloodline that is all about legs in the air, miniskirts et la Twisteuse, la Twisteuse, oh mon dieu la Twisteuse!

This reminds us of one of the few original SNL episodes that stick in our brain where Lina Wertmuller viewed a French short and scoffed at how annoyed she was by “dis image of ze twisting woh-man!”

Never heard of Scopiotones? Check them out at and see what you missed before MTV ruined the purity of music videos in their raw, real form.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tubes Tied?

Well, I know some folks have asked if JunkThief TV has bit the dust. After a flurry of 20, count 'em 20, episodes in just over three months, there's been a break for over three weeks. Has JunkThief become the Dave Chappell of YouTube? Is he working on his epic on a closed set? None of the above actually, and we at JunkThief TV have actually been giving consideration to developing a (dare I say it) editorial calendar, producing fewer but better episodes in the weeks ahead. All up for consideration at the moment. The biggest issue has been just dern old work and travel. (Three plus trips this month!) So it's been a bit difficult to do the blog, vlog and save the world all at the same time and maintain a reasonable sleep schedule.

We really want to keep up the show since it's introduced JunkThief to some really great vloggers/bloggers/floggers in the most unlikely of places.

But, alas, the show will return. In the meantime, we'd love to hear idea submissions, potential guest stars, critiques of past shows.

What! You've never seen an episode of JunkThief TV. Just click here, baby, for the glory of it all!

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Even in this instant information, blogasphere/vlogasphere era, NBC crossed the line with its release of those videos sent to them Monday by Mr. Cho. I gained absolutely nothing from having that angry, self-indulgent killer thrown at me. It did nothing to inform, educate or enlighten the viewers, especially so soon after the event. It was inevitable that the tapes would surface and could justifiably be aired on a mainstream outlet at the right time. But timing is everything. There is such a mad rush and flooding of information to help the public "understand this tragedy."

There is not that much to understand or walk away with other than the fact that it was a tragedy, a pathetic waste of life.

Kudos to the families that have boycotted being interviewed by NBC.

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Yesterday's Truth Applies to Today

How oddly fitting is this blast from the past of an episode of "To Tell The Truth" that weaves together two seemingly unrelated tragic headlines of this week -- the Virginia Tech incident and the passing of Kitty Carlisle. Ms. Carlisle's statements on the impact of guns in Nixon-era society are completely fitting for today.

Often looking back at old TV shows or movies from my childhood, I am sorely disappointed that they lack the intelligence that I thought was there at the time. The opposite is true of this little gem, and it's hard to imagine any debate like this happening today on network TV. We have, in fact, dipped far below the depths predicted in the film "Network."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Unbearably Light

I've never bought into the "everything happens for a reason" mantra, but I was starting to believe it yesterday. Finishing up my Portland work appointments yesterday, I made my regular pilgramage to Powell's. I've been known to come back with an entire extra checked bag and mid-triple figure debit card charges there after even a 30 minute visit. I spent a good 90 minutes there, and the above is my meager and not that relished loot. Heading to the garage, I threw the bag in trunk of the rental car. Knowing that I am anal at triple, quadruple checking my flights, I checked just to see that I had my departure time of 8:45 in my head. To my horror, 8:45 is the time of my Salt Lake flight later this month, and I was booked to leave Portland at 5:04 p.m. It was 3:57 p.m. Cursing my stupidity, I was resolved to be spending a LONG time at PDX again. Adding to my frustration was the realization that it seems all the filling stations seem to be expertly hidden in the most obscure little cranniues around the aiport, and that took another 15 minutes to resolve. I just wanted to get to the United counter and see if I would be taking some 3 a.m. flight home. Frequent flyer though I may be, I am still overly, overly prepared for most trips arriving at least 20 minutes earlier than required to be prepared for any possible snafu or having to spend my evening meal at Chili's TOO at an airport. I arrived at the counter at 4:37, feeling that I'd commited some horrid travel crime. Okay, this is perhaps the first time in 30 years that I was the one messing up on a flight, not the airlines, but I felt as low as scum wearing white shoes after Labor Day. (Though I don't wear them before Labor Day, for that matter.) The woman at the counter was one of those spunky Oregonian types who smirked and said, "Where were you," and I was ready to be told that I would be put on stand by for some flight the next day. "Actually," she said, "if you don't have checked bags, you technically still have two minutes before they start boarding. I guess I'd also forgotten that security at PDX on Wednesday afternoon is not like a Tuesday morning at SFO. I reached the gate as they were boarding two sections before mine. Deep breath, I had an empty middle seat between me and the aisle mate and arrived home 14 minutes ahead of schedule in time for a pleasant dinner at Manivanh down the street.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

One Man, Many Tools, Many Gone

I grew up in a part of the country where this infamous bumper sticker was very common, and I always wanted to respond: "Yeah, right, that's the whole idea." I hope this is my last post on the Virginia Tech news item, having just watched gun proponent Ted Nugent rant against why gun free zones don't work. I really don't have a desire to enter into the debate since like abortion there can be no debate, just screaming on both sides. But having spent plenty of time in Guatemala where guns were once in the hands of the two opposing sides, they did not go away with the signing of the peace agreement. Now Guatemala City is the second most violent city in the western hemisphere. It challenges the claim that guns alone are not the problem. It takes people to use them to kill, but the more guns that there are around, the more likely they are going to be used for murder. And, in the case of Blacksburg, it took one person and a lot of guns to do the damage.

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On the Waterfront -- I Coulda Been a Contendah!

Like it or not, the new urbanism is here, as spotlighted recently in the San Francisco Chronicle. We have Santana Row, Belmar and other Disneyesque instant inner city feeling developments. Criticized for not being organic and just window dressing for the evolution of strip malls, they are none the less a current reality. Variations on San Francisco and Manhattan lofts are popping up in places like Houston, Omaha and Fargo, new buildings pretending to be old warehouses converted into new uses.

It’s been a year since I was in Portland (unless you count those five hours at PDX airport during the Christmas transit a visit). Quicker than you can say Jiffy Pop, there’s now a new city south of downtown called the South Waterfront District, complete with high rises, an “old-fashioned” trolley, a sky tram and edgy urban non-picket fence residences. Dropping by this afternoon during a break from my short work trip here, the only residents I encountered were a few hired geese who seemed to be enjoying the freshly planted lawns. It sort of felt like I was Brasilia on the Willamette, minus the humidity and decimated rain forest.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Junk Thieves Be Not Proud

Ah, the familiar sounds of Monday night. To quote Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, "Clink, clink." The familiar weekly routine of the gleaners, recyclers and scavengers sorting through the debris of the past week. I have absolutely no problem with them except the sloppy ones who sort through our bins and throw what they don't want on the ground or throw black bin trash into the blue recycling bin. True scavengers know that is messing with fate, karma and the ghost of Anna Nicole.

The only time I came close to an altercation was when a gleaner pulled out several empty bottles of Charles Shaw from my neighbor's trash and remarked, "Man, even I don't drink that cheap shit!" (For those not in the Trader Joe's zone, Charles Shaw sells at $1.99 a bottle and is even called "two buck Chuck" by that retailer.)

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EST and Guns

If there is one thing most disturbing about today's violence on the Virginia Tech campus, it's the rush by media outlets to categorize it as the "est" of all campus shootings -- deadliest, biggest carnage, greatest body count -- and trying immediately to put it into perspective of other shootings. It's not surprising that they compared it to the Texas massacre in the 1960s with another lone gunman. What is interesting is that they also mentioned Kent State. Was that an admission that it was another case of crazed individuals?

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

My New Indiana Home

JunkThief finally has a second home in San Francisco with his new offsite storage unit on Indiana Street. A security guard, ample indoor parking, a large elevator, year-round climate control, great view of the Bay Bridge and less than block from the freeway. Gee, I'm actually considering making it my primary residence. But perhaps 6' x 6' might be a tad cramped. But with a more zen life holding more and more appeal these days, it might not be a bad idea. Afterall, they bill the place not as offsite storage but self storage.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Joi Lansing -- Now That's Talent!

What more can I say. This woman has huge gifts.

Gaudy, faulty towers

JunkThief is already planning a June trip to Manhattan (as well as one to Missouri, but that's another story) as well as one to Barcelona in the vague but near future. As with so many JunkThief adventures, random things in random places seem to intertwine.

In planning the June visit, a highly likely activity will be the Met's exhibit Barcelona and Modernity: Gaudi to Dali. (Gaudi, yes; Dali, no.) I know that some folks think Gaudi's work is ugly or gaudy or just weird. Maybe I agree, and that's probably why I love it.

The Met exhibit has resurfaced plans Gaudi sketched in 1908 for a 1181 foot hotel tower on what is now Ground Zero for what would have been the tallest building in the world were it built at the time. A number of Catalan artists submitted Gaudi's drawings for the "Freedom Tower" competition, and it lost to much, much uglier renditions. The bigger problem is not the designs themselves but the name itself for the proposed structure. If its ever built, I hope they change the name. Already that name is about as out of step with the times as acid wash jeans and the greatest hits of Rick Springfield. Maybe we can go back to saying French Fries and call it the French Tower if lucky.

Of course, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a famously never constructed mile-high tower. Ironically, his only high rise building is the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, which for many years was used for offsite storage for the faltering Phillips Petroleum firm.

Then there is Torre Agbar (Agbar Tower) in Barcelona that people love or hate. Some say its a blight or insult to the legacy of Gaudi. Or it's just a huge phallus with a panoramic view of Catalonia.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Baking with Alaska (y Dinarama)

My recent revisiting of Miguel Bosé has led me to also return to the great Alaska y Dinarama. She is definitely a one of a kind, and often mistaken for a drag queen, which is a great thing to say about any female singer. It tells you something about the superiority of Mexican culture to learn that she once hosted a kids show. In a perfect world.... Her disco-punk style can most closely be compared to that of Nina Hagen, but only a comparison. I refuse to call her "the Latin Nina Hagen." Actually she always made me think that this is what Theda Bara would have sounded like if she ever started a band.

You have to love a gal that was once in a band called Kaka De Luxe which sort of reminds me of the great Shirley Pimple and the Pus Cats, the top psychobilly lesbian punk band of the Great Plains in the early 1980s. They also suffered from being called the Okie version of the Bush Tetras.

It really pisses me off when people try to use U.S. or western European references to vastly superior artists in other culture. Calling Caetano Veloso the "Brazilian Bob Dylan" is a great example. Dylan could only dream of having Veloso's diversity, poetry and voice.
On that tangent, I recently followed Friendatella's suggestion of watching (somewhat against my will, but Friendatella commanded: JunkThief, you must watch it!)Paperdolls It featured a wonderful version of Que Sera Sera by Veloso. If you've never heard Alaska's Ni Tu Ni Nadie, I suggest it as the perfect, get out of bed and be motivated rock anthem. Listen to it closely , and see if you agree that it sounds like something out of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Released around 1984, it actually makes you think that not everything from that era was horrid.

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Business Casual

I attended a dinner at the Google campus in Mountain View last night where the program was a discussion by its founders -- the two Larrys and Sergey as they are casually introduced sans the usual formal CVs of east coast corporate founders. Their commitment to philanthropy and having a global view is encouraging the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals of days of yore, but I'm not sure I could ever embrace the google business casual, way casual work style.

As I've heard many times from other visitors, there are onsite washing machines, which no doubt is a part of the 24-hour work ethic encouraged in that culture. I work from home, but my laundry involves quarters and a 50 foot walk north. When I arrived shortly after 6 p.m., there were google staff playing volleyball in shorts in a sand lot amidst the glossy glass and steel corporate offices. I think the last thing I would want to do at the end of the day is get in the sand pit with my coworkers.

Sergy and Larry were dressed in the usual t-shirts and jeans that supposedly went out with the dotcom busts of nearly a decade ago. The east coast philanthropist seated next to me leaned in and chimed, "So that's how billionaires dress today." Well, yes, sadly. IBM clearly had a rigid corporate orthodoxy, and google and little googles have their own that is no less strict in its orthodoxy albeit with a sub-casual sartorial veneer. Personally I sometimes pine for the days when it was almost required that a man wear a fedora to work.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Soviet Miguel

Continuing my Miguel rediscovery of the past few days, I love his proto-Soviet video of Ojala Ojala. It has a visual feel of a much sexier and exciting feel of the Pet Shop Boys "Go West" and a near Depeche Mode sound, en espanol, of course. Miguel takes the award for the sexiest 51-year-old in my book, but please loose the damn earrings.

Seeing something so queer, Soviet and Spanish makes one smile to think that General Franco is rolling in his grave.

Rainer Returns

When word of the current screening of Berlin Alexanderplatz would be screened this month at MOMA, I was very, very hopeful that it might finally be coming to DVD. Today's article in the Times confirms that it is coming "later this year." So time to start thinking of stuffing the little ones' Christmas stockings with 13-hours of Weimar high operatic drama. Any guesses on the number of DVDs and price? I say three at $79.99. And, yes, it will be worth every little Deutschmark.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sunday Morning with Margo Guryan

Back in the day, a favorite activity on Sunday mornings was hanging out in obscure little record stores and discovering oddities and rarities that I knew would never make it onto mainstream radio. Cruising iTunes, or MySpace just doesn't have the same integrity of hold a big floppy vinyl disc in your hand.

So I was very pleased to discover Margo Guryan whose biggest claim to fame was penning the appropriately named "Sunday Morning," a late 1960s hit of the often annoying Spanky and Our Gang. I'm happy that I'd not discovered her until now since she sort of falls in to those very late bloomers like Nick Drake, Eva Cassidy or Vashti Bunyan who languished in close-out bends only to be rediscovered in the new millennium. Margo's style has been rechanneled in all those sixties fueled girl singers of recent years that range from Keren Ann, A Girl Called Eddy and April March.

I was pleased to actually by the disc, not download it at Amoeba, reminding me of Sunday mornings decades ago at Wilcox Records, a little shop run by an elderly couple in the front of an old bungalow on NW 23rd Street in Oklahoma City. Though well into their 70s, they had an exhaustive knowledge of classical to punk and never passed judgment on the oddest choice of tunes.


Supersize Me JC

JunkThief was hoping to have a Good Friday dinner at The Last Supper Club on Valencia but had a work event in Orinda that conflicted. For years, JunkThief has wanted to track down Eugene O'Neill's home in Orinda. Desre under the elms indeed.

Easter has never been a popular holiday in the House of Junk. As a child, it always seemed to be such a pale imitation of Christmas -- the presents were much more paltry, and the connection between the Easter bunny and the "meaning" of the holiday was always confusing. Okay, Santa related to the concept of generosity and celebration. Perhaps the Easter was supposed to be a diversion for kids who got freaked by all that crucifixion nails in the hands and stuff. Since we grew up Unitarian, we were even more confused with always vague sermons that came around to social justice babble.

Worst of all were the colors of Easter, depressingly weak pastels instead of the deep rich hues of the winter holidays. Even Valentine's Day has its deep reds and yellows. Plus Easter always signaled the coming of the worst weather. First spring with all its pollen, rain and tornadoes. Then summer, six months of sweltering heat when everything is dead and stinks. I never figured out why we had to have school break in the summer when the weather sucks and you have to stay inside instead of from September to November when the weather is perfect in the Midwest. I guess the school boards were too cheap to run school during the high air conditioning season.

I also hated Easter because that was when CBS (I think) ran Demille's The 10 Commandments, the spookiest movie of my childhood. It had mostly spooky pastels and Moses looking like some slasher hippie dude threatening to come stink up your house if you didn't eat your broccoli. JunkThief had to watch Dark Shadows for a month to get back on track after that.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy (belated) 51st Miguel

Miguel Bosé turned 51 on April 3, and his birthday comes just after the release of a tribute album called Papito, chronicling his 30+ years in showbiz. Though never very well known in the U.S. (that whole "if it's not in English it ain't entertainment" thing) he is somewhat familiar with a few roles in Almodovar films and French Twist.

I first became aware of him after seeing a piece in Interview magazine in the early 1980s and was impressed by his lineage, the son of a famed bull fighter and an Italian actress. The fact that he was gorgeous didn't hurt either. How fitting that this late 20th century Tadzio was the godson of Count Luchino Visconti.

I've enjoyed a number of his transformations in music through the years such as the Spanish-language variation on the New Romantics, Sevilla (available here on YouTube with his rat tale, broach and silk matador outfit) and Amante Bandino, the tune that most often has him compared to either or both Bowie and Duran Duran. However, I'd never come across any of his very early stuff. I was well aware that he's butched up through the years, but nothing prepared me for the discovery of his 1977 TV debut performing Eres todo para mi and Mi Libertad. Ay, carumba! This looks like Tommy Tune's nelly little brother performing at Latin Magic Night on Fire Island circa 1978. The first one has to be seen to be believe that the flailing 1970s disco queen would evolve into the papi at the top of this post. Something tells me that Count Visconti and little Miguel were very close.

He's also pretty interesting doing his devil/angel transformation with a bunch of little girls a quarter of a century ago.

I never realized the road to Papito-land started at such a lusciously lavender threshold. Even with gray, facial lines and a goatee, he looks a lot more like a Folsom Street Fair habitue than a papi in a lowrider, as is evidenced in his duet with Paulina Rubio. And I guy that would invite both Ricky Martin and Michael Stipe to sing duets (yup, in Spanish too on the latter) on his career tribute album has got to be telling us something.

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Tiki Bar TV - Bunnies

Just in time for Easter, possibly my least favorite holiday, comes this educational video on the drinking game bunnies. Either I don't drink enough or do so with the wrong people, but I never knew this game. I guess you have to drink a lot for it to make sense.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Free Tiny Tim!

If you fall into that half of the population that think the music of Tiny Tim is great art, not comparable to cats mating or fingernails on a blackboard, then I strongly recommend a visit to Fudgeland. You'll find the entire performance (minus one tune where the engineer had to change tapes) from a 1968 Vancouver concert where he played with Country Joe and the Fish. Hearing Tiny rework "I Got You Babe," singing both Sonny and Cher's parts as a duet with two of his selves is a feat to behold that brings in the sun on a grey Thursday.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Hunter - 1994 - 2007

My sister called me this morning to let me know that they had to have the vet put down their 12-year-old Golden Retriever Hunter. This shot of him was taken Christmas Eve when single digit temps were slowing him down significantly. I enjoyed having him help me during last month's great junk sort when warmer weather was making him feel much more chipper. He had a long life for a larger dog, but family gatherings just won't be the same for a while. For better or worse a German Shepherd puppy is already on its way.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Forgetting Amnesia

Tonight I went to hear fellow blogger/writer
Bryce Digdug perform his stand-up comedy at Amnesia. He was one of only two comedy acts in an interesting mix of a banjo player, new millennium Beat poets and a blues singers born during the second Reagan administration. It reminded me that I really need to have great-great aunt Carrie's zither harp tuned so I can start rehearsing my own performance art soon.

Even JunkThief was born after the Beats hit, but it was good to know that 20-somethings were doing something other than numbing white guy rap. Most memorable line of the night was "skinny people can't fly in Reno."

Afterwards, Bryce, "friendatella" and I went for a meal at the ever trusty
Herbivore. Somehow the conversation weaved around to the sometimes tense relationship between fags and hippie chicks. I have had a number of hippie chick fag hags in my day and finally just gave up on trying to win their approval. Once I even tried Tom's of Maine deodorant which I dubbed "why bother," since it has no right to be called a deodorant. You'd do better putting sand under your arms. We seemed to agree that some hippie chicks blamed fags for their lifestyle bringing on AIDS. "Yes, it was all that red meat and soap," I offered.

I remember that about a decade ago a boyfriend and I stayed at the Riverside Drive rambling flat of a trust fund hippie chick. She was very judgmental of him because he drank Coca-cola. I tend to agree that it tastes like motor oil with sugar poured in (she compared it to carbonated fecal matter). But I actually came to his defence, probably buying me another year in a relationship that was headed south from the get go.
Trust fund hippie chicks are the worst, I think. All that money to buy skin care products and six figure automobiles, but they tool around big cities with slogan covered bikes wearing Teva sandals.

Guilt leads to women who want to be gilt free.
Maybe I'll add that to the JunkThief act when I get up the nerve for open mike.

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Charlie's Angels?

Though I've not watched him in a while, I have generally thought of Charlie Rose as one of the last non-nitwit interviewers. Admittedly dry, I guess I had thought of him as one of the 3-4 saving graces left on PBS. But seeing him following Colin Farrell in Radar magazine's Toxic Bachelors article is definitely worthy of the "Who would ever have thought it" file. Sex and Charlie Rose are two words I never would have thought of putting in one sentence. And he drives a Mini Cooper to boot? That explains why Henry Kissinger has been such a frequent guest, I suppose.

Maybe I'm wiser to stick to Terry Gross. I doubt we'll ever see her chasing 20-something guys.

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Strangers on a train grande vitesse

As if I needed another reason to visit France this summer, the arrival of the TGV, a train topping the speed of 350 miles per hour, is a nifty announcement from the continent. The fact that California officials are eyeing as inspiration for a similar SF-LA vehicle is a somewhat dimmer inspiration, but we can still dream, n'est-ce pas?

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Morning View - There Goes the Neighborhood

In days past, the St. Francis Fountain down the street was little more than a sleepy little family business with seven or eight decades history of serving our neighborhood. After being sold a couple of times it has since become a hipsters' favorite with long lines writing their names on the yellow pad. This morning it attracted whoever was driving this charming truck with this rusted jewel next to Pop's bar.

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My Trip to Kansas

Oh, and you thought that I went to that Kansas. Actually, I took a stroll up to Portero Hill for a brunch today with a friend. One of the suprises along the way was noticing a previously unnoticed fountain in the parking lot of SF General that really didn't show up in the final photo, but here is the slide show.

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