Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Caligula, Karen Black and the Junkster

Okay, I'm more than a little pissed that my Lauren Bacall/Hank Hyena post has been up for nearly 48 hours with absolutely zero comments. Like Gwenyth Paltrow, this celebrity may just retreat to Europe and never come back to the crass, clueless Etats Unis.

So, on the topic of fame whores, how has it taken Junk Thief so long to discover Francesco Vezzoli with his Democrazy with Sharon Stone and the Gore Vidal's Caligula remake with the real Karen Black not just The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black glorious as that is? I can't believe Mark of There's No One Driving the Plane! hasn't tipped me off on this great outing for Karen.

Regardless, looking at it don't you get just a certain feel of your beloved Junk Thief's Sbalzi de Amore? And while I tip the fedora to his nabbing both Sharon and Karen, I don't think he's yet to capture Cantinflas and Ruth Buzzi. Anyways, I'm off to watch John Phillip Law as the scantily clad blind angel in Barbarella and them I'm out of here.

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How Is Tonight Like No Other Night?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Felt Just After 8

Nearly a dozen years here, and this was the first time I absolutely felt one. I was sure that it was the funky plumbing upstairs again but heard no water when that familiar feeling came, though this time with the windows humming. I switched from Kind of Blue to KQED but heard nothing for sure until a good 45 minutes later. Hearing a wave (as I did) and not a jolt is reason to stay calm and a sign you're 45 miles aways from the epicenter as I was. I'd already forgotten about it until deciding to watch the 11 p.m. news. There is seismic activity in the Pyrenees too.

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Eve of the Muertos

This week, the weather in San Francisco is -- in a word -- perfect. The temperatures have been hovering around a glorious 55 Fahrenheit, what I consider to be just about the most ideal temperature imaginable. The skies have been nicely overcast until late afternoon when there is an hour or so of sun -- about as much as I want in any given day -- and then it clouds over again. There is a hit of rain in th distance, but it has not come with the exception of a few sprinkles. The only thing that makes me regret that I will soon be crossing the Pyrenees towards the Mediterranean (my heart flutters just putting those two geographic wonders in a sentence with the first person singular) is that I will miss the Day of the Dead celebration a couple of blocks form my house, definitely my favorite SF celebration that puts such pointless nonsense as "Pride" and Folsom Street Fair to shame.

Fortunately, the weather there will be almost the same as it will be here.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Drop Names Not Bombs

I hate to name drop, but sometimes I am forced to when friends of mine like Bryce Digdug makes outrageous claims such as the one he made today suggesting that he has met both Lauren Bacall and Hank Hyena. I, of course, have a photo to prove my connection with these two. I implied on Bryce's site that I have lived in buildings with both of them. This is 50% accurate. I wonder if Lauren was living at the Dakota when it became a movie set for Roman Polanski and Mrs. Frank Sinatra. Look closely for me in the crib rocking scene. How many buildings have the distinction of appearing in both Roemary's Baby and The Age of Innocence? I wonder if John Wayne is the only star who has appeared opposite Louise Brooks and Lauren Bacall? I'd check it out, but Bunter has put a no-Google ban after 9 p.m. here at the JunkPlex. I have walked past Lauren in first class as I made my way to steerage on flights from Will Rogers World Airport to New York. She has a daughter married to a prominent surgeon in Oklahoma City and used to do voice overs for animal shows on the local PBS affiliate. "Though once quite plentiful on the plains, the Bison today is as rare as good Basque cuisine in New Rochelle..."

Therefore, I'll leave it up to you to confirm the validity of a comment I left over on Bryce's site claiming that I was once sat in the center seat in between Rodney Allen Rippy and Monti Rock III. Midway through the flight Rodney handed me his bag of peanuts, saying "They too big to eat." Which parts of this story did or did not happen?

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Are Those Bugle Boy Jeans You're Wearing?

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pod packing

Trying to decide what to put into the little silver device is always a dilemma before a trip. With upwards of 98G of songs on one external hard drive which I'm sure will eventually be one of several music only drives, it's a hard task. Besides usual catalogs of Mahler, Mozart, Debussy, Poulenc, Nina Simone, I've decided on at least two additions this week.

Anjani Thomas' Blue Alert has quickly become a favorite that fittingly comes close on the heels of the 20th anniversary re-issue of Jennifer Warnes' The Famous Blue Raincoat. I never cared for Jennifer's mid- to late 1980s pop duets/movie themes. But I immediately connected with her as a kiddo when I saw her singing Easy to Be Hard on the Smothers Brothers back when she was in the L.A. cast of Hair.

The real surprise is Jens Lekman's Night Falls on Kortedala. I've loved Jens from when I first heard him six to seven years ago with Maple Leaves, and he gets better with each release. Besides being so adorable and a great ukulele player, he is seriously improving as a vocalist, or at least growing. He's never had a bad voice, but it's easy to dismiss him with his often silly lyrics that fool many people into pegging him as a Jonathan Richman for the New Millennium. Kortedala (the name of a hideously ugly planned community in his native Sweden shown below) shows that he may have more in common with Scott Walker (who'll also be featured heavily on my iPod as usual) than anyone imagined. There are several string intensive, lush ballads, such as the stunning opener And I Remember Every Kiss, a gorgeous tune without an ounce of whimsy or irony. But, as usual, there's just the right of whimsy. Regardless, Jens is quickly advancing on my scale of 50 favorite male singers, and certainly tops my list of Swedish pop artists. Kortedala is just an gorgeous, near perfect album that is so now yet also so rooted in the best of the past. And though there are tinges of sadness and silliness around the edges, it makes me feel so happy listening to it.

I've yet to get the new Roisin Murphy release but it will probably join Jens and Anjani. Sadly the new Annie Lennox album leaves me cold. And, what, no Madonna? Uh, no. Madonna-fre home and iPod here.

In the meantime, I'm seriously considering becoming a completely Apple-free home once my current iPod croaks. Want a guess on when yours will bite the dust? There is now a handy iPod death watch calculator. My favorite response to smug Apple enthusiasts who look at me with shock when I reveal that I don't share their enthusiasm is: "Think different!"

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Crossing Potrero

Park/Not Park

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I Love You Too Noodles

With this post, I meet my October quota of posting non-original YouTube content. This is my favorite episode of my favorite YouTube show.

Also, this dish is what I always order when dining at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and the French Laundry in Napa. Be sure to just ask for nouilles, poudre, eau et viande.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Real Boy Ryan

It's really frustrating that most of the movies I want to see are released during the time of year I have the least time to see them: mid-October to late November. Sometimes I just have a brown out due to the wealth of choices and decide to see lesser works as I did today with Lars and the Real Girl. I can always say that it was an excuse to see a preview of I'm Not There on a screen larger than the one of my VAIO (also the name of my favorite beach near Osaka). Seeing that preview on the big screen was worth the price of admission. I also have to admit that Lars, which has been receiving decidedly mixed reviews, is one of the first films where I did not look at my watch once.

I would go to about any movie with Ryan Gosling in it, and he is certainly the best method actor younger than my niece with both the Mickey Mouse Club and experience playing a Jewish neo-Nazi on his resume. In fact, I can't think of an actor I've been so smitten with in ages. It's all the more remarkable that his blond boy smoothness defies every predisposition of my past states of being smitten, though he closely resembles my first...well, I won't get into the details of that in this post. As in The Half Nelson, his Lars is another irresistible mess though of a completely different order. Interestingly, Lars has been critiqued most frequently for a lack of cynicism and for presenting a kind Middle America that the likes of Alexander Payne have long educated us does not exist. Personally I've grown increasingly tired of Payne's dark portrait of the great muddle in the middle. Election, yes; Schmidt, no. Seeing Lars in a church lady knitting circle with pro-gay grannies didn't bother me and wasn't that unbelievable either. Even as a chubby Lars, Ryan was fetching, but certainly not in the intense Half Nelson way, in which he made even a band aid take on a life of its own.

According to recent sightings of Gosling in Manhattan on Gawker/Stalker (he reportedly shops at Urban Outfitters -- wonder if it's the same one in Soho I frequented weekly in the early 1990s?), he's very pleasant and approachable in person compared the predictably jerk-off Russell Crowe (much less talented and far less attractive). He also hangs out at a bar named Mr. Biggs. (Hmmm. True Junk Thief insiders will get the multiple meanings of that one.) In interviews he won't even take the bait to trash fellow Mousketeer Britney. Then again, maybe it's the Canadian thing, further evidence that it is a country known for producing comics and people with good manners.

Too bad they don't make a blow up Ryan, unfortunately. Would I be as disciplined as Lars as to have him chastely waiting upstairs in my dead parents' bedroom if they did? Probably so. I'm much more romantic than many of you would be led to believe. But my blow up Ryan would accept my wedding proposal and all would eventually be consummated. By the way, I agree that the movie is totally manipulative, but I also cried during the last third.

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Up Dos & Waterfronts

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Sometimes I Actually Have

I hope it doesn’t shock some of the younger Junk Thief readers, but from time to time your beloved old doddering Uncle Junk Thief has played a bit of the tramp role. Though I've never been the outright slut, if only due to a short attention span if not lack of will. However, there have been a few episodes in recent years that make me wonder why I went through the effort. Reading a recent entry over on Mr. Peenee’s blog got me to thinking of a few of these from the recent past and realizing that I wonder if I went through it all just to gain fodder for stand up comedy material. Perhaps with the holidays coming, I might do a more formal inventory, but I found these three surfacing this evening as I was washing dishes and not paying attention to an interview on KQED-FM with Barry Bonds at the Commonwealth Club. (By the way, the "Hims" are three different ones, not repeating players.)

Around May 2001

Him: (After realizing that his coworker R_______ had once dated my ex A_______ ) You’re so much better looking than R _______. Why would A _______ leave you for R_____?

Me: Oh, he didn’t. We were living together at the time, and A____ tried to convince me that he R _____ were just friends and that it was just a chance for him to go to the Oracle Christmas party so he could be introduced to Larry Ellison.

Him: You know everybody at Oracle was gossiping about that, how R ______ made such a fool of himself by dragging around that little gold digger A____ fawning over Larry Ellison. We thought he was going to try to get in Larry’s pants next. You were so lucky to get rid of A_____. You deserve so much better.

Me: (Kissing his forehead). I love you.

Him: Does this mean you’re going to let me go home with you after all?

Me: No, I’m still not going to do that, but I love you.

Around November 2001

Him: (Unbuckling his belt, looking at the comforter on this, his first time with me) I don’t remember it being brocade.

Me: (Unbuttoning the last button of my shirt) Oh-kay.

Him: D_____ doesn’t live here anymore…does he?

Me: No. (Standing motionless, almost ready to button up my shirt. He grabs the back of my head, a kiss begins and lasts about 90 seconds.)

Him: He couldn’t kiss worth a damn compared to you.

Me: (Repeating what we just did, taking about twice as long and with three times as much intensity.) Thanks. (My shirt on the floor, I maneuver off my pants seemingly without hands as I maneuver him onto the bed.)

Him: The hall was this ugly dusty rose then, not that gorgeous gold. It's not even gold...more like a royal butterscotch.

Me: Yeah, the dusty rose was D _________’s color.

Him: (After I let him gasp for air.) And the gold is your color. (I devour him again.)

Me: Yep. ( I continue.)

Him: You taste better and have better taste than D____ on top of it.

Me: You’ll stay for breakfast?

Him: Absolutely..

Around February 2002

Him: I hope this doesn’t sound too weird.

Me: Try me.

Him: The only way I can really get off is if you push your forehead into my right elbow.

Me: Okay.

Him: Seriously. And it has to be the right elbow. Left elbow: now pay dirt.

Me: Like this? (I push my head in the designated place lightly.)

Him: (With a shriek that is a cross between a rabid hyena and a five year-old girl getting tickled). WeeeeeHEEEEEEEEAAAAAAHH!!!!!. Oh yes, like that.

Me: (Pushing again, with force this time.) Alright.


Me: And that does the trick? (Pushing with firm force.)

Him: YahAAAAAHH-HEEEE-HEEEE! Almost there! Almost there!

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Nearly Smashed Pumpkins

California's faux autumn hues seem charged by smoke from 500 south. We walk with near guilt, our ground having a slight layer of moisture, our canyons free from flames for the moment. Anticipation pumps me just between late afternoon and dusk, longing for something that mid-autumn California sunsets manage to dangle to summon up something that so cleverly intertwines with a mix of motivation and fear. I can't help but wonder what all this will look like barely two weeks from now as I return to certain routines yet eager to erase them and strive for something completely different. It's out there I am sure, sometimes almost visible in my own reflection in the windshield of an ancient Volvo that I want to drive me away.

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Did You Get the Wag Rag Too?

Did anyone else receive their free, unrequested copy of the premiere issue of Wag magazine today? Besides not owning a dog, it riled me to see so many articles and ads promoting futile dog accessories. Do you know the to canine wineries of Napa? What's the latest trend in designer collars? The most offensive of which are Poochey Shoos which I've seen on a couple of dogs in my neighborhood recently. Dogs have survived fine without shoes for centuries, and the poor dogs forced to wear these that I've seen were struggling to walk along in what appeared to be both uncomfortable and impractical items their insensitive owners put on them.

I tend to fall into the category of not being a dog person per se -- I'm not opposed to them but not that drawn to them because of the noises and smells. But I would never abuse them with unwanted footware. And while I've lavished attention and medical care on my cats, I've never deluded myself into thinking they would enjoy those ugly, carpeted "kitty condos" or pointless toys that friends often buy for them, and then they just gather dust after being sniffed for eight seconds. I predict Wag magazine's future will have a lot in common with Anyone remember that one?

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catalonia Countdown

Seven days, seven hours to go.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jew in the Face and Longer Each Day

One of my exes is going in for his second nose job next week. Like all of his siblings and cousins, he received his first one as a high school graduation present from his Jewish grandmother. The first one was done by a hack doctor in Long Island City during the second Reagan Administration. We're both half Jewish, though my lineage is paternal and his is maternal, so I've been told by several other exes that I'm a fake half Jew. Regardless, this ex said his main attraction to me in the beginning was that I had such a Jewish face and features, except that my nose was so clearly from the French lineage of my mother. Looking at photos from two, three generations and further back of ancestors in Quebec and eventually Normandy, I can see the same nose. So he's probably right. I don't exactly love my nose, but I don't obsess about it the way I do my other flawed body parts.

He, like 85% of my exes, was born in 1968. Three of them have had some form of surgical facial transformation and are a good decade my juniors. Thus I am sure that I am desperately overdue. When I was in my 20s, I was dating a guy who said that if he had all the money in the world, there would be two things he'd want to do to transform his appearance. I shocked him by saying that there were 78 things I'd want to change. I'm so old now, I don't know that I'd even bother with such futile procedures. And it might take the Jew out of my face.

Since last week's purchase of The Jazz Singer, I've been continually obsessed by Jolson and other Jewish entertainers that died or were popular years before I was born. One of the great revelations in The Jazz Singer is that Jolson swung his hips much more than Elvis did three decades later. I'm sure seeing someone so ethnic doing that really scared them in Peoria. More than Jolson, I adore Eddie Cantor. There is something so intentionally obnoxious and unstoppable about him. Whoopee (1930) is one of my favorite musicals, nothing beats a two-strip Technicolor musical about a Jew in black face out west. I love his version of Everybody Loves My Baby even more than Nina Simone's.

And just look at Eddie's face above and then glance at my profile. Couldn't he pass for my great-grandpa?

I've been re-watching the opening minutes and extras of Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005) . Things got really boring once they left the Hoovervilles in Central Park. However, they did have Jolson singing I'm Sittin' on Top of the World during the opening credits. Too bad they didn't let Kong sing some Eddie Cantor songs during his stage act. He certainly could pass for my uncle Chester, a burly Jew in black face.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Do You Know Your Animal Sign?

It has been a long time since I've had the dream, but for several nights this month I've had a dream that I had a pet Beagle. I have not had this dream in two to three years. I have had three dogs in my life: a Dachshund named Rudy from birth to 18 months, a Beagle named Julie from six to 14 and a Basset Hound from 16 to 23. I've been more drawn to Basenjis because of their lack of barking or greyhounds for being aloof an equally quiet. Almost all of my exes and their current partners have dogs that they center their lives around. I would not mix a dog with my cat Bunter and would not consider getting another pet unless he had been dead for at least a year. I have no problem with widows remarrying quickly but am offended by people who seek replacement pets after losing their current one.

I have a history of getting a slight rash under my arm just before meeting someone who will be in an extended relationship with me. Unfortunately the rash I developed earlier this month is almost gone. Fortunately I'll be in Spain in a little over a week.

I've been planning to write a fictionalized account of a nervous breakdown one of my exes had years before we met when he was in Disneyland. Midway through the It's a Small World ride all the power and lights went out, and he began realizing that he had moved all the way to California with an absolute jerk (my predecessor, not me). He freaked, got out of the boat and started running through the canal and was apprehended by security because he was scaring all the kids.

When I was in first grade, my grandparents took me to the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. We also went to see Funny Girl and Edward Albee's Tiny Alice. The Mondoran style street lights at the fair (see far right of the bottom photo) were purchased by the Oklahoma State Fair the following year and along with the monorail were emblematic parts of the state fair for years, I took great comfort in the continuity they provided with the defining fair of my memory that I experienced in Queens. I was able to ride on the original It's a Small World Ride there and tried to recreate the Germany section at home, turning the alpine chalets into synagogues. We flew first class on TWA from St. Louis to Idelwild Airport (not all the signs had been changed yet to the new name). My grandfather insisted on having an empty seat next to him to ensure that his fedora was not crushed. He only drove Chryslers because Henry Chrysler refused to buck the trends of lower profile cars because he felt gentlemen wanted to be able to wear their hats while driving. My grandfather's favorite dogs were Beagles. He had several from childhood onward.

What is your guardian animal?

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Urban Still Life

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mission Car Show

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Come Walk with Me

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Clueless Cole

(Overheard while checking out at Cole Hardware this Friday at around 6:45 p.m. as Sweet Home Alabama was playing in the background, almost drowning out the rain.)

Clerk 1: Hey, dude, it's that song.

Clerk 2: Yeah, you're right.

Clerk 1: You know who does it?

Clerk 2: Sure, I saw the movie.

Clerk 1: No, I'm askin'. You know who does the song?

Clerk 2: Some band.

Clerk 1: Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Clerk 2: Oh. What kind of skinner?

Clerk 1: Lynyrd Skynrd with a Y. Do you have a Cole customer card?

Me: Not with me, but my phone number is 285-XXXX.

Clerk 2: Oh, yeah, that's the guy that Reese Witherspoon married.

Clerk 1: Debit or credit? No, it's a band. It's like the national song of Alabama or something now.

Clerk 2: I thought Reese Witherspoon was from the South not Albania.

Clerk 1: No, it's a band that wrote the song, not Reese Witherspoon. Do you need a bag?

Me: No, I'll put it in here.

Clerk 2: Whatever. I just don't get the stuff with Neil Young. He's not even in the movie.

Clerk 1: Of course not, he's Canadian.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Trixie Friganza - Restored at Long Last!

Yes, yes, I know I just made my comment about curbing my YouTube postings, but I still have a couple more to go before topping this month's quota, and this one is just to glorious to wait on.

While weaving through incredible third disc of The Jazz Singer, I just about fell off my chair, when to my delight, I saw the charming face and full figure of Trixie Friganza. Trixie Friganza! I first discovered her a few years back in an American Masters episode on Vaudeville. Trixie appeared in the 1937 A Star Is Born, some Chaplin films and others. She was also a suffragette at the turn of the century.

This is a brief clip from a six minute clip in The Jazz Singer reissue, one of nearly three and a half hours of Vitaphone Varieties, a series of weird and wonderful shorts from the late 1920s and early 1930s. In a jazz age rap, Trixie gives tips on how married gals who like a nip at the speakeasy when the husband isn’t watching can cover her tracks.

Each minute is superb, but this half minute clip is arguably the pinnacle in which she chronicles the fate of Lulu who ventures off to the Aloha state. Though comic, what's amazing about Trixie, is that she's a pretty strident feminist even by today's terms. This 33-second interlude comes out of nowhere in the middle of a technically comic tune in which she tells the fate of her two husbands. They're both losers, but when one decides to hit her, she does him in.

Trixie the suffragette.

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How to Solve Illegal Immigration

I’ve made a vow not to post more than 3-4 YouTube videos a month on this blog unless they are ones that I create. I consider it to be lazy blogging or mimicking a sloth to just keep zapping the “post it” button on YouTube and sharing it with everyone.

But the new episode of The Pinky Show merits being posted here. After an absence of more than two months, Pinky is back and brings in her wise friend Daisy to provide the most intelligent analysis I’ve seen to date on the immigration “debate”. What a pathetic commentary on contemporary journalism that a cartoon cat has far more intelligent insight on this issue than CNN, the New York Times and The Nation combined. Too much of the media thinks that balanced news or a debate means bringing in opposing sides to scream at each other. Sometimes you do need an analysis like this with a decided slant to move true discourse and understanding forward.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Written on the Walls and the Road

How many of my days forever lost sitting in muddled dread... ...that a monster will arrive in my mailbox, yet it never came.
How easily I fell into such a funk.
I let time, weather and neglect take their toll before light returned and I left these furnished rooms to stroll out the door.
I look at faces on the street, but they all seem to be the same.
Oblivious to a growing hunger that even I can not satiate.
The rhythm is there, but sealed and shrink wrapped.
Yet it beckons, piercing like a diamond needle in the ebony vinyl night.
"Rats," I mutter, muffling my rodent-infested rage that simply scurries, nibbling away at scraps as night approaches.
My thoughts wander back to sticky, sweet fields of corn...
...that empire I left behind so many decades ago.
Do I even remember that name?
And can I be transported back to such grace by the most random smile from a stranger on the street?
We can save the daylight a few weeks more until November arrives, but I know what happens as those sparkles command the sky at twilight.

Befuddled diamonds, or are they just glistening glass to cut at our tires?
I try to ground myself in the aqua marine shapes ahead... ...convinced that it is for me they reach.

(Inspired, in part, by the great archives of Reya Mellicker's Gold Poppy)

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