Friday, August 29, 2008

Coming to iTunes and Music Stores on Tuesday

Wedged between the two conventions, the hugely anticipated next CD from Junk Thief is already getting heavy airplay. The hope is that it will have a huge impact on those independent swing voters. The first single, a surprise foray into country, is "Cain't Do It! Cain't Do It!" a duet with Pamella Cash-Roper. Expect to hear it in heavy rotation over the next 72 days.

Labels: , ,

Yes, But Can She Spell Potato?

And this site, has some fun facts about her.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Speech

Putting Barney Smith before Smith-Barney was a great line that may be remembered more than Obama's speech itself which had challenges with the physical dynamics and what came before it. Rhetoric or not, it was uplifting to at least hear coherent sentences and the right rhetoric. Perhaps I expected it to have more heart or echo more of "I have a dream". But simply acknowledging that speech, daring to speak about abortion and gay marriage, and the journey of the messenger were enough for me.

What will most resonate in the morning will likely be Pamella Cash-Roper. Get rid of that dreadful Dr. Phil and give this woman a show. She's a good reminder of why we must march forward and the types of people this election is all about. Her humor in the face of adversity will stick with me for some time.

Labels: , , , , ,

Brothers Reunited Today

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August Atonement?

For much of my life I have been mildly religious, intuitively spiritual and embarrassedly superstitious. I have never been known to fear stepping on cracks or to avoid walking under ladders. But I'll often crack my window when driving over the Bay or Golden Gate Bridge. That's also somewhat practical since, were either bridge to collapse and I arrived alive at the bottom of the bay alive, the only way to escape and survive is with a window partially open to enable an escape and swin the the surface.

Another superstition I can't shake is that things come in four year cycles. Some cycles are more dramatic than others, and it's fitting that the U.S. Presidential election, summer Olympics and Leap Year -- all seemingly unrelated -- come in this cycle towards the end of summer. After seeing the Bill Clinton speech tonight and thinking back to living in Manhattan in August of 1992 and being filled with unbridled optimism about change, throwing cynicism to the wind, I am leaning that way again.

The first eight years of the new Millennium have been the personally most horrendous years of my life. After years of struggling professionally and financially, I achieved my greatest success during this time but simultaneously experienced the greatest personal losses of parents, friends, aunts, uncles, best friends, beloved pets, and loves gone awry. All of it left me with a desire to just hibernate and take no risks.

That's a stance I've never taken in life, and I am beginning to feel myself reversing that cycle.

Another theory is that in such years, the transition from August -- typically the most brutal, deadly month of the year -- there is a sudden shift into September which marks a number of important anniversaries for me. It is fitting that Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, usually comes at this time.

In the course of barely three days, I have heard from half a dozen people I thought as being "lost" or that I'd betrayed or had betrayed me. One was with me the night of September 11, and it seems several things have never been resolved between us. It feels that many hands that have been numb for too long have been reminded of and want to celebrate life and are reaching across the void. Autumn, my favorite season of all awaits and is beginning to feel like a beacon of life.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Step Ahead of the Dogs

Okay, I know that much of it was rhetoric and heavily scripted, but at least it's rhetoric we've not heard on a national stage for much of the past eight years. These words from Denver were stirring: On that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice: "If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."

Labels: , ,

I Kept My Head Down and Carried On

With the potential of reversing eight years of night, this tune plays in my head often. Having kept my head down and carried on, it's hard to trust too much optimism and easier to retreat to cynicism. The local references may not be relevant, but the spirit of a hint of blue in a dark sky is. It's one of my favorite anthems by The Divine Comedy.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wet in Denver

Am I the only one watching the DNC in Denver, albeit in and out? Nothing was off script, but I'm a sucker for thing such as the Ted Kennedy speech and even seeing a family values spouting Michelle Obama.

And the FOX News skybox being attacked by the sprinklers was the best off-script moment on day one.

Labels: , ,

I May Foster One This Weekend

Labels: , ,

Pretending There Is a Star in Me to Be

Saturday afternoon, I had my short memorial for Bunter, scattering his ashes in the back yard near where his brother's are. Above is the video tribute I made to him.

His passing, after nearly 20 years, was peaceful. I found an incredible vet who made house calls and was a poet/philosopher as much as a vet. I won't indulge my readers in all the details of this farewell, except that in his final moments, Bunter let out loud purr as he wrapped his paws around me with the excitement of when we would share a late afternoon together.

He and his brother came into my life in 1990 barely a year old when their first guardian left them with me for a weekend trial. There was no immediate bond, and I was ready to take them back until I saw them staring at me with pathetic longing and I decided to give it another week. They kept their distance from me for at least the first six months. It was close to a year before I heard the first purr directed towards me.

They became a constant during the next two decades, following me to three different states until we finally settled in their native California. (They were born Smith Ranch.)

The bond grew slowly, and when Bunter's brother Whimsey had to be put down two years ago he seemed to assume I was his feline sibling, never wanting me to leave his side. It followed the loss of both of my parents, my aunt and a few friends over the course of less than two years.

So many memories eventually were embedded into their presence -- as much joy as there was loss, betrayal, anger, regret and fear. Their lack of judgment and unconditional love was something that was slowly earned and unexpected. I've struggled to write more about what these two companions meant to me and have feared appearing to be the wretched, crazy cat person as I rhapsodize them. The words haven't materialized, and I apologize for the sentimentality of the video.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Afternoon, Fort Funston

Labels: , , , ,

Rise Above It

Few things are more depressing to me than feel-good, life affirming movies. I'd rank pineapples, ham, chocolate, cigarettes, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Celine Dion, Hawaii and pastel colors in the same category. So I went to see the new documentary Hats Off with some trepidation.

At 93 and 95 pounds, actress/model Mimi Weddell is, on the surface at least, one of those spunky old ladies that you could almost see Willard Scott featuring in his Smucker's birthday greetings. With a clipped, Bostonian blue-blood accent and a collection of several hundred hats, she's been seen by most of us a few times in countless bits parts in A-list movies, lead parts in B, C and D-list movies, commercials and print work. Everything from Juicy Couture to California Cheese (in which she claims to have been around so long that she knew Monterrey Jack himself).

Weddell is amazing for her physical and emotional stamina, despite a constant cigarette in an elegant holder, which allows her to go on constant cattle call auditions and put in 14 to 20 hour day shoots. She also shows some pilates routines that would be amazing for 50-year-old but one must see to believe someone past 90 can do. She is by turn grotesque and gorgeous and sometimes both at the same time.

When her husband, a descendant of the Mayflower but with no business sense, died and left her with nothng but debt, she began pursuing her acting career age 65. The day of his funeral, she got on a plane to L.A. and acted in a vampire movie.

The strength of the film is the underlying conflict between her and her two 50-something children who are both overweight and prone to deconstructive self-analysis. That doesn't seem to have brought them anymore peace or happiness. Weddell herself despises self-introspection or analysis and prefers to face adversity with her motto of "Rise above it." What's unfortunate about the film is that it does take too much of a Willard Scott approach to her spunkiness without maybe a little more delving into her dysfunctional but still loving family. After angst-filled documentaries such as Capturing the Friedmans, it is refreshing to see a more upbeat film like this with a few shades of darkness. There is much frustration, disappointment, resentment and regret in this family but no hint of deep, dark stories.

It was all worth it for me, for a finale in which Mimi indulges herself in a hoiday that she had longed for since she was 13. Seeing her on a carousel in one of her trademark hats, as she opines that even going in a circle she feels that she is going somewhere was encouraging to know that it's never too late for some dreams to be realized.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Marry Junk Thief

BEFORE: The floor of the utility room Thursday morning.AFTER: Early afternoon in the same spot. It's not pefect yet with a few knicks that will be burnished and touched up.

Did I mention that Junk Thief can also whip up a superb candle light supper? Marriage applications will be accepted through Wednesday.

Labels: , ,

Rockefeller Like Me

In today's Times is this great story about one Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a diminutive Bavarian who for several years duped the people of a New Hampshire town and even Manhattan by passing himself off as Clark Rockefeller. This is the stuff of the best Dominick Dunne Vanity Fair pieces and has shades of F for Fake, Color Me Kubrick and Six Degrees of Separation.

I've long been fascinated by art forgers, impostors and anyone able to pull the wool over the eyes of the rich. Usually I'd groan at the prospect of such a story being adapted to the screen, but this one begs out for it.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Open the Door for Your Mystery Date

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Interactive Thursday: Back to School with Junk Thief

One of the best things about Photoshop and similar software is that you can pull out all your old yearbooks and make porno videos with all the macho jerk jocks that tormented you in your teen years and have them play your submissive, begging, insatiable costars. Well, so I've heard from people who do that sort of thing. (Ahem.)

On a much more wholesome note, you might want to run your own face through the software at Yearbookyourself. My favorites are the ones with the ever so caviler spectacles since that's pretty much what the real thing looks like.

Since Tugboat Dave is in the Caribbean, we're doing our own photo challenge here and asking you to take the Junk Thief dare and run your mug through this program. Or be really brave and show us your actual senior photo.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

(Mostly) Asian on 24th Street

From the former China Books (where the Black Panthers bought Chairman Mao's Little Red Book and sold in on the Berkeley campus to fund themselves in the 1960s) to the vintage shops "up" on Noe Valley, the Hispanic Main Street of 24th Street is looking a lot more Asian these days.

Labels: , , , ,

We've Got Competition

Walking down 24th Street this morning, I saw a truck for these guys with their Folsom Street Fair-ready logo man on the side of the truck. Yep, there is a Junk General in the 'hood. Though the proprietor of this junk entity is more of a pacifist, I must admit that I am drawn to their 1-888-Junk-Sir service number.

There is also our near-cousin Junk Pirate, but like this site it's junk saving not junk-ridding spot.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

There Goes the Neighborhood...Again

Truly a sign of the ever changing times was the arrival of this sign yesterday, three doors down from me and two down from the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. I'm assuming it's an offshoot of this place out in the Avenues.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 18, 2008

Junk Thief TV - Season Three

Watch out. It's coming.


Valley of the Dolls: The Nightmare

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Have You Seen Taco?

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Caption This


Friday, August 15, 2008

Bunter - August 9, 1989 - August 15, 2008

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Curious Appeal of Totalitarianism

What is it about once Fascist nations that appeals to me so often? Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany. Oh, and I also love France and la belle femme Madame Sarkozy, so that may squelch my theory. But French colonialists and royalists were not exactly pussycats.

Anyways, over the past couple of days I've been embroiled in the simultaneous Criterion releases of Mishima's Patriotism and Paul Schrader's Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. The second disc of the latter has some really groovy extras. I've seen plenty of interviews in Japanese with Mr. M, but there is an intriguing BBC documentary packed with several interviews with him where he speaks where he speaks in English. Sitting in front of a small statue of Mercury, he speaks as if he's channeling Noel Coward and pronounces vulgar as VULL-garr. Why did I wait so long on these two? And why weren't they released as one set? Even more mystifying is why I waited so long to get Theo Bleckmann's Berlin. It's a really superb, dense, lengthy CD. Though released months ago, it's still not on iTunes and hard to track down in stores. I've loved little, strange Theo for quite some time. I have to admire someone whose collaborated with Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, the Estonian National Chorus and Phillip Glass among many others. This one time champion ice skater who does throat singing, robot voices for Speilberg and wacko new music/jazz, actually has a near sh0w tune voice on this album. Well, maybe a show where all the sets have Dr. Caligari angles, the lighting casts shades of green on everyone's skin, and there is an impending feeling of doom despite the cheery sound of pitch-perfect voices accompanied by cellos, a deftly precise piano and wailing faint scream in the distance. Hearing a man sing "Surabaya Johnny" seems to get at the essence of Brecht's words, perhaps words that Brecht might have felt in the person.

If you've not hear it, here is the link to the recent Terry Gross/Fresh Air interview with Theo. He's wonderfully fey and dark at the same time.

Speaking of once Fascist nations, would anyone like to go with me to Buenos Aires next July?

Labels: , , ,

1969: Ernie or Junk Thief

Can you tell the difference?

Saturday, August 09, 2008


The three pets of my childhood (from left) Julie, Nina and Sugarplum.

Labels: , , , , ,

Today I've Been Watching the Films of...

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 08, 2008

Caption This: Junk Thief in the Summer of Love

Forty-one years ago, while a lot of hoopla was going down in the Haight, little Junk Thief joined his family for a camping trip to Yellowstone, the Tetons and points beyond. As you can tell, he was an avid Democrat before he could vote or shave

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Save That Date

It's official. Junk Thief will be in Manhattan September 26 to 29, 2008. If you're going to be in town or would like to meet up there, start the comments and emails now.

Not to blow it out of proportion, but what do the following celebrities, listed in chronological order, all share in common with the date of September 26? Saint Francis of Assisi, King Christian X of Denmark, T.S. Elliott, Pope Paul VI, George Gershwin, Jack, LaLanne, Marty Robbins, Julie London, Gal Costa, Bryan Ferry, Olivia Newton John, Jane Smiley, Linda Hamilton, Junk Thief, Jake Paltrow, Serena Williams and Princess Salma of Jordan. It is also the day of Bureflux on the Discoridan Calendar.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

In Praise of History

Something about New York history always brings me comfort when I am on a long work-related trip. Thus I am reading Edith Wharton's lovely Old New York, four novellas covering the mid-19th century, and listening to back episodes of the Bowery Boys podcasts. If you've never visited the boys' (Tom and Greg) blog, they have some great gems on it, and their podcasts are on iTunes. They are very cute and endearing in a bookish, history nerd way. I should look them up when back in Manhattan.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Closing Chapter

Today I made what is most likely a final visit to the house my grandfather built 50 years ago on a street he named in my honor and that later served as my parents' home for nearly 30 years. The happy memories far outnumber the sad ones that filled the place from around 2001 to 2006 as both of my parents, and the property, faded. I am risking jinxing the final signing by the new owners, a wonderful young couple, by mentioning it.

This final image that I snapped as I walked away is of my favorite feature which so evokes the spirit of my grandfather and his vision. It brought me happiness looking at it upon arriving there from my earliest memories. It is a fitting vision for farewell and a hope that the next 50 years will bring as much joy.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Frida 'n' Reta

This was the night of 1,000 Frida's just around the block from me. Galeria de la Raza was sponsoring a Frida look-a-like contest of some sort and there were Fridas on cellphones, tiny Fridas, bigger than a barn full of hay 'n' more Fridas, feisty Fridas, frumpy Fridas eating tamales at the Roosevelt, Fridas smoking, Fridas spitting, Fridas talking to their homies in a white 1940s roadster, Fridas reading Proust, Fridas in 49ers jackets, Fridas named Fred, Cantonese Fridas, Yiddish Fridas, feline Fridas, and a duo-browed Frida named Lulu.

When I came home, I popped in The Pajama Game, a rare example of second generation Warner Brothers proletarian musical. Unions, large women, a Foy, a factory, and -- perhaps most importantly -- Reta Shaw. The fact that there ever was a Reta Shaw and that she was captured singing and dancing is one of the rare joys of life. I plan to write more about her soon.

Please feel free to talk about her among yourselves in the meantime as I prepare for a very early Sunday morning flight and raod trip.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 01, 2008


Hokey as the Barbara Walters interview may have been, I have to admit to being smitten by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. There's much to be said about Franco-Italian aristocratic singer-songwriter supermodel first ladies. Could Obama pick her as a running mate?

Labels: ,