Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another Classic Soul Sunday

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beware

I have written about Dory Previn here before. Beside co-writing the gloriously bad score for Valley of the Dolls and the less camp and catchy "Come Saturday Morning", she wrote what is perhaps the best song about Mia Farrow who would run off with her husband and collaborator Andre Previn. For years I've heard about "Beware of Young Girls" but had never actually heard it. Lo and behold, there was Dory's angry early solo effort On My Way to Where with that very tune on it for a mere 150 pennies at the Community Thrift Store this afternoon. Really, who needs a Virgin Megastore's V.I.P. plan when you have this incredible resource?

The often cited irony, of course, was that this tune would prove more than prophetic for Mia when her own adopted daughter would replay the drama Dory outlined in the early 1970s some two decades later.

Totally unrelated but of greater musical interest is rediscovering Joe Venuti in Chicago, 1978 which features tunes such as "Samba de Orpheus" when old Joe was 75. I remember the bewildered look of the clerk at Wilcox Records when I bought this disc back then, wondering why someone so young would have an interest in something so seemingly archaic. Maybe it's just me, but I'd say it holds up better than, say, the albums of Starship from the same era.

Listening to these tracks, it's hard to believe that old Joe would kick the bucket shortly after making this recording. Sadly, Dory, who is either 78 or 83 depending on what sources you follow, is close to being at the same point and hasn't recorded anything in decades. Beware, indeed.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Sushi at the End of the Tunnel

I had a lot of lunch hour errands that were in the mid-Mission, so it was a good reason to head over to Valencia Street. My walk started off well, since it was the first time I was able to capture the cat in the window of Virginia Howell's in the block over from me wide awake and not just sleeping on merchandise. I've been trying to do that for at least a couple of years. There is always plenty to see along the route, and I seemed to obsess on the political this time, sorry, before heading to We Be Sushi where they'd just added a really cool, sexy block print that ends this journey.

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JTTV - Season 2, Episode 14 - Una revolución sexual


As twilight dissolves into darkness, Junk Thief takes us on another stroll, this time up Harrison Street and back, giving us a glimpse of perhaps the longest continuous mural in California.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Movietown News: They're BACK!!!!

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Mission Scene: Daddy Don't Pimp So Fast

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Just STOP

Hearing her on Fresh Air yesterday, Tracey Ullman almost lured me into getting cable again, but I prefer to make my own shows more than watching others in general. But Tracey is on exception that makes me want to just sit down and watch.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On Valencia: Satan, Pork, Haji's Mart

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Monday, March 24, 2008

JTTV - Season 2, Episode 13 Hunky Easter


After a long break, Junk Thief TV is back. This episode, Junk Thief lets you walk in his shoes from the eastern Mission to the western Mission to experience the Hunky Jesus contest/Easter Bonnet parade in Mission Park.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Glories of Indirect Light

Junk Thief has never been a fan of direct sunlight and has been known to go into a coma when he is forced to be around unfiltered overhead light for any extended time. While Blanche Dubois favored her little Chinese lanterns, Junk Thief is more fond of those of the Japanese order and has been trying them out in certain parts of the Junkplex. This is the latest addition above JT's ever growing turntable shrine. The question now is whether or not this theme should be extended post-taxes on the long awaited hallway make over project that will include floor renovation (hired out), molding (by JT) and new lighting (hired out/JT). This Tokyo de San Francisco theme would give the Junkplex an aura of Sam Fuller's The House of Bamboo, and we'd just not be able to keep Bryce Digdug away.

By the way, the print on the lower left was a gift given to Junk Thief on his first visit to Vietnam in 1996, a customized block print of the return of the Mandarin scholar, a theme he saw re-enacted the night before at the Thang Long waterpuppet show. Oh, on the theme of worst names for restaurants, Thang Long us up there.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Strolling 24th on Good Friday

I tell ya, those Che ear rings almost made me go out and pierce my ears. WWFD? (What would Fidel do?)

Just When I Thought...


...I had all things Lee and Nancy at my fingertips, I discover this. While the tune itself has been in my library for decades, I'd never seen this video of it. Wonderfully sedate production values, and the walking down the street is just spot on. However, I'd have Lee hop in the convertible with Junior in my version. Unless I was behind the wheel, and then it would be hard to decide which one I'd want to drive off with. For very different reasons with both.

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Loused Horizon: The Not Dead Kennedy

When I was a child, my father's best friend Harry considered the gauge of a movie's quality was whether or not it had George Kennedy in it. George, he felt, was the only male movie star that was a regular, level-headed guy, most notably as the ever practical Captain Patroni in the various Airport films. In 1973 Harry, his wife, my parents, my sister and I saw George in what may not be his only musical but certainly his only Himalayan musical. Not surprisingly, George was cast as solid engineer Sam Cornelius who designs a water system for the locals.

In the early 1980s, a friend of Harry's ran into George while in the VIP lounge at LAX and spotted him sporting a man purse. When Harry heard, he never went to a movie again for the rest of his 86 years.

In the meantime, here's a better follow-up of my earlier post from this classic musical. And, for Sally Kellerman fans, you might also enjoy this.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mission Windows, Paris Dreams

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Interactive Thursday - Worst Name

Tugboat Dave down in New Orleans was suggesting the other day that this was the worst name for a restaurant anywhere. I say, Fuku. Not you, Dave, the restaurant. Well, you can guess the proper way to pronounce it. It's in J-town here in SF. Actually, not bad sushi.

Yes, I know we're totally off schedule, but perhaps readers can suggest their local variant
on the worst named restaurant. Sorry, Popeye's and KFC don't count.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Book/Oprah Episode Idea

Tips on how to recycle or organize all these rarely read tomes on getting ones life in order.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Milked? Hollywood Calls -- Again

It seems tinsel town just can't get enough of my little neighborhood. According to the local gossips, they are here to film a few scenes for Milk, though I have not run into Sean Penn or Gus Van Zandt. Ironically they are using the same house that served as the principle location for The Pursuit of Happyness, shot here in September of 2005. As many of you know, the JunkPlex appeared in that film, but Gus has yet to knock on my door to ask for a repeat performance.

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The Miseducation of Little Audry

Okay, don't ever get me on that boxers or briefs questioning, and I really don't like cartoons all that much, but here's a near me-me post:

Mickey or Mighty Mouse - Mighty was much more out there and had shameless violence
Donald or Daffy Duck - Daffy by a long shot. He was easier to understand and such a New Yahk sass-meister. He reminded me of all my uncles
Disney or Loony Tunes - Loony had an attitude that always spoke to me more
Fritz the Cat or Krazy Kat - Never saw the former, but I really identified with Krazy and her pursuit of the mouse that reminded me of my love life.
Felix the Cat or Garfield - Felix
Care Bears or Strawberry Short Cake - South Park
video

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Now That You've Let Me Get Started

Okay, not all of these are that obscure, but they usually were good for upsetting folks who would show up at my house with a magnum of Riunite and a bucket of KFC back around 1983. Let's just say I opened a few eyes to the world beyond the Midwest. Thus, we delve into the vinyl vaults here at the JunkPlex to recreate a summer evening around 1983.

As the wife of the founder Michael Zilka, Cristina Monet was sort of the Norma Shearer of ZE Record and the whole No Wave movement. She first put out a self-titled disc that was panned with its sort of disco parodies. For years her take on "Is That All There Is" was banned by the authors but is now on iTunes as is her seminal "Things Fall Apart" that many rank as the greatest Christmas song of all time. Today, I hear, she writes scholarly articles about the era, sort of a Louise Brooks of the early 1980s. I offer:
"Don't Be Greedy" from Cristina (1980)
and
"She Can't Say That Anymore" from Sleep It Off (1984)

It's no secret that Junk Thief has a thing for J-Pop and Japanese boys, though not the thin fragile types but more the tough guy detectives of the Mishima mold. But even more than that ilk of J-men, there are the early '80s punk bands, and none top the wonderful Plastics. Nothing is hotter than a manic J-boy screaming obscenities in broken English over a raunchy guitar riff. Enjoy.
"Cards" from Welcome Back (1980)


People grew to tire of August Darnell and his various incarnations, and by the late 1980s and many people dismissed his back up singers The Coconuts as vapid no talents that could shake their booties well but added nothing to the music. They did, however, put out a pretty cool live disc that included "Ticket to the Tropics" that Cristina also covered. The tune offered here is worth giving them a bit more attention in my opinion. Not deep, but damned fun.
"Naughty Boy" from Please Don't Take My Coconuts (1983)


Though their definitive song is definitely "I Love a Man in a Uniform", I also loved The Gang of Four's Hard, which many saw as a sell out. For many it sounded as if they'd gone the route of Bowie's dreadful Let's Dance. To me, there is no comparison. What do you think?
"Is It Love" extended dance mix from Hard (1983)

Maybe they're not that obscure, but I'm surprised that many people have never heard of this band, although their signature tune has been played at many sporting events. I remember it as the ultimate dance tune at certain downtown, late night haunts. Nothing spells a good party more than Pigbag. Never danced to Pigbag? You're life is a fraud!
"Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag" from the (1981)

Now that we're in a downtown instrumental groove, let's move on to Liquid, Liquid whose "Cavern" was featured in the film Downtown 81 but is best known for supplying the famed base line in Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines". This is one of their lesser known tune but proof of their diversity.
"Groupmegroup" from Liquid, Liquid (1981)

Bangles, Bananarama and any other host of 1980s girl groups pale to this, my favorite of the decade. Sadly, their best known hit was a throw away cover of "Iko Iko" on the Rain Man soundtrack, a movie I never saw mainly because it featured Tom Cruise. This, however, is what I consider to be their best tune.
"Sign of the Times" from The Belle Stars (1982)

Dinah Washington is always welcome at any Junk Thief event. She topped Hank Williams in this lively, joyous cover of one of his best known tunes with superb ad libs and fun harmonies. It feels so fresh that it makes me think it was recorded this week.
"Hey Good Looking" from The Complete Dinah Washington on Mercury Vol. 2 (1951)


Since we're going back a few years, I have to post a favorite tune from Cass Elliott's solo career. Her cover of the only hit by Hurricane Smith is a reminder that she was less flower child than old time club room performer, but she put her own stamp of verve on this version from this album that is very hard to fine but worth the search album.
"Oh Babe, What Would You Say" from The Road is No Place for a Lady.(1972)

And now (gasp) a "show tune" but not in the conventional sense. Two Gentlemen from Verona had book by John Guare and Mel Shapiro, lyrics by Guare, and music by Galt MacDermot, who wrote the same for Hair. Raul Julia headed the cast, and there was this wonderful little tune sung by Diana Davila that sums up my feelings on romance these days. Not exactly I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face.
"I Am Not Interested in Love" from Two Gentlemen from Verona - Original Cast Recording (1971)

What did a bunch of art school punk kids from Boston know about country music? Did it matter? Rubber Rodeo did a fun take on "Jolene" and were a sight to be seen, and I saw them live once at a seedy bar in St. Louis.
"She Had to Go" from She Had to Go (1982)

I know nothing about this "band" except this one hard-not-to-like-because-it's-so-inane single. My niece was about four at the time, and we'd sing it together in my car that summer even when a sun baked cassette dragged the tape at about 22rpms. I knew she was pretty cool back then, because she'd turn to me and say, "I know that they're not singing about my Strawberry Shortcake." Anyone else remember this one?
"Sweepstakes" from Nursery School 12-inch single (1983)

Personally, I preferred Fun Boy Three's tune "The Tunnel
of Love" over this GoGos staple, but it was always fun to put it on to see people's reactions as something that initially sounded so odd suddenly turned into something as familiar as salt. A nice downbeat vibe to piss off any Huey Lewis and the News fans of the time.
"Our Lips Are Sealed" from Waiting (1983)

Despite her annoying "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree", I think Brenda Lee is one of the most under-rated early female rockabilly acts. She had volume, energy, verve and more range than many people give her credit for, having also recorded in Italian and German and having played a key role in the early career of the Beatles. I just love this song because it has such a feel of a little Texas girl all dressed up, able to sing with an orchestral back up but still has a bit of country holler in her voice. I especially love her "your little mama" self reference near the end.
"Baby Won't You Please Come Home" from Reflections in Blue (1969)

And finally...not exactly what I'd call a chill out record, but a reflective way to end an evening.
Jon Hassell is technically a jazz trumpeter, but he makes Miles Davis sound like Doc Severeson by comparison. His distortion of the instrument and what he called his "Fourth World" recordings that brought together traditional indigenous music with his own retooling in the studio produced sounds that freaked out many of my friends, but pieces like this brought me serenity.
"Dream Theory" from Dream Theory in Malay (1981)

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fabulous Memories, Please Weigh In

A week or so ago, as a part of my ongoing analog to digital conversion process, I was intent on posting a lengthy piece that would re-enact the playlist at a party at the JunkPlex circa 1983. It started getting a bit more complex and tedious than my current schedule could accommodate and made me wonder if anyone would really care. The idea was to post some music from favorite bands, solo acts and oddities from the Junk Thief archives that you won't find on iTunes or other mainstream sources. I started doing short bios, photo sketches and background info with links to each song. I got about 10 songs or so into the project and got diverted.

So, starting somewhat randomly, I'd like to share an example that is not exactly the most obscure track but fairly representative of this project.

In 1979, I discovered Brit band The Fabulous Poodles, sort of a bridge to '70s rock and early '80s punk. They had a dynamite fiddle play that could keep up with Papa John Creach and what seemed at the time to be fairly silly, pointless tunes on the order of the B52s. A quarter of a century later, I see that they had more gravitas than I gave them credit with somewhat snarky but serious takes on suicide and eating disorders. Sadly, it was their swan song, Think Pink, that lead me to them. Amazingly, this group sold more units in the U.S. in 1979 than the Clash, but few folks remember them.

For a taste of their mix of whimsy and a good beat, check out "Pink City Twist" (as with future posts, I'll have the tune in red with a hyperlink to the MP3.

Let me know what you think of this ditty and if you'd like to hear more similar tunes, especially the more obscure ones. On an obscure scale, this one is on the lesser scale of the unknown.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Four Years, Fading to Darkness

It was four years ago tonight that my mother died, followed a year and a half later by my father after dealing with Alzheimer's. There were a few other losses in the middle of all this and shortly after, a whirlwind that was oddly wedged by two movies that seemed emblematic -- Trouble in Paradise when I got the news about my mother, Tokyo Story when I found out about my father.
I came away with definite insights, but I don't find myself at that different point than where I was four years ago. But now, as I reflect on the cycle of loss, I no longer feel sadness, only memories that haven't dimmed but no longer sting.

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Thomas Jefferson - Zen Biblical Editor

I am becoming increasingly enamored by Beliefnet and its true embracing of the concept of interfaith. (However, rest assured, this is not a faith blog.) At a time when John McCain is gaining the endorsement of slippery pond scum such as John Hagee, I am glad to see a reasonably objective reporting on matters of faith. Though even they take a point of view of being objective, which is subjective in its own right.

Particularly interesting is their article on the "Jefferson Bible" and the multiple cuts he made. In general, he seemed to make wise choices. If Mao could hone it all down to a little red book, why couldn't the Christians do the same? Too bad Jefferson is not around today to help me out on this bog.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Male Auditory Orifice Mutilation

This week I've been tempted to re-enact famed scenes from Reservoir Dogs, Lust for Life and Nove Cento. Okay, I'd forgotten that ear cutting scene in Novecento until buying it over the weekend and have yet to get past hour three or four. How many more to go. Some time I will get the energy to watch it sandwiched in between The Leopard and The Best of Youth. Better yet, once I get past this tax season I'll just spend a season in Umbria and learn about all that history first hand. I'm overdue to spend some time with an Italian peasant with a jug of wine and Ecuadorean cheese in a hay loft. Preferably on on top of an alpaca blanket.

In the meantime, the scenes I've been threatening to re-enact come from a two day ear infection that have made me want to cut away the flesh until there's nothing left to be clogged. Unfortunately I don't have any unrequited love to whom to mail the evidence. Well, at least none that I'll admit to here in print.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Mine Is Really Big But Not That Big

I am speaking of my record and CD collection, of course. When I reach the point of this guy in Pittsburgh with three million, please tell me to stop. Don't worry, I'm still at least one zero away from reaching that point.

And, in the meantime, has anyone been keeping close watch on Prince's hip replacement? I may be old as well, but my hips are still solid, I want you to know. For the record, I'm also a lot bigger than Prince who is reportedly 5'3".

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Don Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of Ecuador

Nestled high above the valleys of Bolivar Province and about an hour away from Guaranda, Salinas is an Andean Swiss village with world-class chocolate and cheese, much of it exported weekly to Italy. Much of the production was started by Swiss man. I have a fairly strong chocolate allergy and could stay in the factory for only about four minutes before getting nauseous. I have the opposite of an allergy for cheese, and the string mozzarella was heavenly.

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Left Turn Yield on Green?

Once upon a time, I actually had mild respect for John McCain as a Republican who would not sell his soul to the flock of sewer maggot Evangelicals. It seems they have since infested his brain like the maggots that they are, moving from the fecal matter of Bush's shallow, alcoholic cranium to the septuagenarian senator (already a year older than Reagan when he first ran) from Arizona. Tonight we hear him on 60 Minutes, musing, "I say 'I know that I can.' But I also believe that America is a right-of-center nation. And I think that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, with all due respect, are liberal Democrats. And I'm a conservative Republican. So I believe I can make a better case to the American people."

Just when it seems that any hope for the future of the world lies outside of the U.S., there was speculation that The Right would take back power in Spain. However, sanity prevailed, with tonight's election results proving that my plans to relocate there should not be abandoned. Though there is that little Euro-dollar conversion thing. At least you can still get gas for $1.98 a gallon in Ecuador .

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Writing on the Wall - Mission to Chinatown Stroll

On my way to Grant Street, I enjoyed following this little urban art series, actually sort of clever. Anyone know the source?

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