Saturday, January 31, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
A Lot Less People to Worry About, And A Lot More People That Care
Oh, I may have to fly to Park City to blast out of the mid-winter doldrums. The movie Smile 'Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story is apparently taking Sundance by storm. It really sounds like just my kind of movie.
For the many readers who likely are too young to know what Up With People was all about, it's hard for them to imagine. I just remember being dragged to see them by a Republican uncle who was intent on proving to me that not all young people wanted to join the Jefferson Airplane. (The last 20 seconds of this clip introduces you to the Up With People fairies.)
Scott Walker Starter Kit
Since I've been shocked to hear from several intelligent, with-it friends who have no idea who Scott Walker is, here are two favorite tracks. These early solo career outings suggest that even though he was being mislabeled as an MOR crooner at the time, there is more than a little evidence that he is no Jack Jones.
"It's Raining Today" has those wonderfully weird and spooky strings that sound both elegant and foreboding. "Boy Child" is evidence of lyrical abilities, and an approach to emotion that is both distant and intense.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Fire Escape in the Sky
I've been a follower of Scott Walker's since the early 1980s when he was listed on all the "rock snobs" lists, and I have been on a listserv for at least a year about the film Scott Walker: 30th Century Man, a sort of anti-VH1 Behind the Music biography. Scott mentions that in his youth he drank a lot and once going home with a Playboy bunny, but that is important only in that she introduced him to Jacques Brel. Beyond that, there is none of the usual rock/pop star bio stuff of messy love life and substance issues. In fact, it's never clear if Scott has had a long-term relationship of any kind.
The film starts of leading you to believe it might have all the conventional elements of rise, fall and return. Walker went to England, had short but huge success there, went through a dry patch and then started making weirder, darker and more obscure music loved by a very specific circle. There are talking heads that include Lulu, Bowie, Eno, Marc Almond, Radiohead and Alison Goldfrapp. The most priceless moment is late in the film when Lulu, who seemed to have a crush on Scott in the 1960s and toured with him, listens to a track Tilt. Her eyes get bigger as she tries to form a smile of sorts that starts to quaver as the camera moves in, and she just sits in silence listening in apparent disbelief.
Things wrap up with him recording his 2006 release The Drift that included tunes from the perspective of Mussolini's dead lover and Elvis' twin that died shortly after birth. We see a percussionist being instructed on the proper way to beat a side of beef for a perfect sound effect and Scott's voice wailing "I'm the last person left alive" into the abyss.
People love him or hate him, and I definitely fall into the former. I was thrilled that the film ended not with him having some marvelous and joyous reunion before adoring fans, but taking off his sun glasses to explain himself and contending that he will probably just continue to get weirder and darker with the passage of time. That gave me an odd comfort.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Yes We Can $19.95
Sometimes I wonder if the President could sue jerks for mis-use of his image. There was an odd side of me that came close to buying a $12 Obama plate at Walgreens the other evening before reason returned. This, however, is really disturbing yet also encouraging that some of the Franklin Mint crowd want these. Though, I wonder, if Ben's descendents have ever considered suing these jerks for co-opting of his name
Interactive Monday: Name That Band!
Okay, I've really been thinking about taking it from being a joke to reality of finding a bandoneón teacher and start a band because they look and sound so cool. Oh, I guess that I should also actually buy a bandoneón, but first things first.
I would see our band also having an oboe, pedal steel guitar, tuba, banjo, glass armonica, at least three harps, timpani drums, Vietnamese unicord and charangos. We'd also have occasional guest tambourine players who don't need to have any particular sense of rhythm but need to be really cute and popular to attract the right crowds.
We'd need to have some cute uniforms too, and we'd play a mix of Wagner with a country twang, tango songs with a klezmer swing, hillbilly ditties with operatic flair, Barry White tunes in German with me playing my Jew's harp to augment the banjo and big harps plucking away, a disco version of "Feelings" but with a polka beat and Bacharach tunes as if sung by Sid Vicious.
So, now here's the biggest dilemma. What should we call this band? That's where the interactive part comes in. Chose from the list below and also let us know if you'd like to join the band and which instrument you'd like to play:
* The Dangling Participles
* Gregg and the Egg
* The Outside Agitators
* I Can't Believe It's a Girdle
* The Manic Monkey Operatic Operators and Taxidermy Tax Accountants
* Shirley Pimple and the Pus Cats
* Gravy on a Stick
* The Duke of Hairdo
* Suddenly Salad! Suddenly Susan! Suddenly Last Summer!
* Tell Me Where It Hurts
* The Patty Hearst Avengers
* Strom Thurmond and the Grave Robbers
* Oh No She Didn't!
* The Thing That Ate Sarah Palin's Brain
* Wholey Night, Bloody Night
* With Six You Get Empanadas
* East Dakota/West Dakota
* We've Fallen and Can't Get Up
* Ocean of Motion
* The Cannibal Sea Kittens
* The Glow Worms
* The Breasts of Burden
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Down to the Palace to See the Dogs
I headed down to the Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show at the Cow Palace this afternoon. It reconfirmed a few things. I don't like dogs generically, find the really big ones intriguing the way I am fascinated by hippos but not something I want. I am still drawn to Harriers, Shiba Inus, Italian Greyhounds, Whippets, Greyhounds, Beagles and Huskies. Bijon Frises are my absolute nemesis.
Dog breeders are a breed unto themselves. I'll refrain from passing judgment and resisted taking a photo of a woman sitting beneath a Huskies of Northern California sign. The lone basenji breeder I met defied the norm and was petite, pleasant and praising of my decision to take on a rescue. There was also a basenji that was coming back from the show ring, but she lacked Bow's exquisite lines and grace.
The Cow Palace, on the other hand, has always fascinated me as a place you'd expect to find in Fort Worth or Omaha not San Francisco. It is neither a palace nor a place where there have been any cows recently. So I was pleased to discover the tributes to our state's great cowmen. I was wearing appropriate footwear, To Boot (the brand not the prepositional phrase).
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Having an Operating Refrigerator Again Is a Very Good Thing
I know that many of you have followed this fascinating saga that began almost a month ago, involved two service people and ended with a complete replacement of the old unit that I loved about as much that hideous BART carpet that headed out the door this week.
Much as I want to embrace repair and restore wherever possible, recycle and replace were the right options today. I almost became overcome with frenzy as I went to Whole Foods and Rainbow Market this afternoon knowing that I did not have to worry about things melting or spoiling come morning. Food, glorious food.
Friday, January 23, 2009
No, That Really Is the Times Not the Onion
On the heels of their recent layoffs and economic despair, this article in today's New York Times does make you wonder if they've replaced seasoned investigative journalists with a crew of randy undergard interns. However, I admit that I looked at every picture and read every stinking word. And they say Junk Thief if frivolous!
Labels: New York Times
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
To Vet or Not Vette?
Remember back last summer when the one word the Republicans were using more than maverick and McCain's "my friends" was vetting? All that talk about needing to head up to Alaska to properly complete the vetting process on Sarah Palin brought up images of them checking her hooves, teeth and rabies vaccination records.
I've been doing some vetting of my own this week as I've been in an even worse holding pattern on my repair and service projects. The plumber just arrived 20 minutes late. Not a huge issue. The trash pick up guys who were to arrive between 10 and noon called to say they might make it a little before 1 p.m. It's now 1:05 p.m.
And remember the guy working on the refrigerator who started at the first of the month. After three and a half weeks of telling me that the refrigerant that he needed for the repair would arrive "in the next couple of days", I gave him a deadline of noon today to get back to me to confirm he was going to do the job or I was going with another firm. I fully vetted the new firm and they have five star ratings from three different independent sources. Ten minutes after my deadline of noon and finalizing my appointment with repairman number two, the first repair guy's number showed up on my cell phone and I didn't pick up, and he didn't leave a voice mail. So he's been vetted (or veted) out like a tick removed from a horse's rear.
I had an uncle who was a big Vette man. He said that was a great way for attracting chicks. Or did he mean ticks?
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I'm thrilled that one of my favorite German comedies (and let's face it, nobody does comedy better than Germans), Erleuchtung garantiert (Enlightenmenbt Guaranteed) is finally out on DVD after nearly a decade of waiting. It's sort of a funnier, more profound version of Lost in Translation and perhaps more culturally sensitive. I like it, in part, because it shows Tokyo not just as a weird and expensive place but one with cemeteries, homeless people and ATM machines whee Hello Kitty babbles while eating your credit card and refusing to give a cash advance.
In an early scene, a many almost exactly my age is visited by a feng sui expert who advises him that as someone born in the year of the fire monkey, the Horthest is the favorable direction for him. "Not the South," he explains. "In the South accidents happen for you." Enlightenment guranteed.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Corinthian Marble Update
Here is where things stand at 6:54 p.m. PST. All tiles have been cut and sized for this, the main leg of the hall. I plan to glue and roll them before retiring for the night. Tomorrow I hope to finish up the last two legs by sundown in order to have the hall complete for the first official day of the Obama Era.
This, to me, is a fitting tribute to the final day of the Bush Era. Dirty, smelling of cat piss, stained, faded, worn and soon to be heading out the door. Now I need to decide whether to call the Junk General or College Hunks Hauling Junk to do the final honors.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Floored by Obama
By default more than design, I have spent the past six months with Obama bringing change to the floors of the JunkPlex. I refinished the utility room as I listened to the DNC on NPR and touched up the kitchen and front sitting room as I sneered through the RNC. I redid the dining room in the wake of the November 4 victory. Now, I am finishing the "hall"/office just as Bush makes his final addresses and true change is on the horizon. The famed BART carpet will be gone as the swearing in ceremony happens. And I can let my trowel rest for a while.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Goodbye Mr. Wyeth
Between the Inaugural, Bush's farewell address and the Hudson River seeming to recreate Hitchcock's The Birds, many people missed the news today of the passing of Andrew Wyeth at ate 91. Wyeth was an early favorite artist until I thought I was too sophisticated and started aping attitudes in Artforum and critiqued him as being to sentimental and bourgeois. One of the first prints I bought in college years, above, was a Wyeth that many have lambasted me for its melancholy (echoes of the previously mentioned print in the kitchen). I always defended it as being contemplative and meditative.
I've not come completely full circle on Wyeth but appreciate him much more than I did in my mid-20s when I could not be bothered with someone so middle class. It's not as if I am embracing the works of Thomas Kincaid, mind you.
I was also fond of the Wyeth parody in Rolling Stone in the mid-1970s of "Tanya's World" during the height of mania over the Patty Hearst "kidnapping". I wonder if Patty has any Wyeths?
UPDATE: In part to prove the provenance of the above mentioned Wyeth print, here is Junk Thief 27 years ago in his 19th floor Midwest pied a tierre with the same print in the background, just left of center. The various copies of Artforum in the background suggest that this was just before the print went into storage and was replaced to be a more appropriate accoutrement with the Breuer chairs, round vase and peacock feathers. However, we promise that it was not replaced with a Nagel print even if Duran, Duran was in heavy rotation on the Technics turntable, as that 'do of the moment suggests.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Home Improvement Project Update
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Dysfunction, the Sixties and Italian Tweeters
I am no real fan of Cher nor would I suggest that she should go back to dysfunctional marriage, but I still feel that she and Tina Turner did their best work in the 1960s and early 1970s, especially Tina. What's Love Got to Do With It? Well, to me Tina was at her best when doing stuff on the order of "Sexy Ida", "Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter" and "Flatbush City Limit".
Cher, I think, never topped "You Better Sit Down Kids" in which she sang the song from the perspective of a man leaving his wife. That was the first time that I realized the gender roles handed down to us up to the mid-1960s did not have to be sustained. And, boy, if the video above were not disturbing enough for the audio, what was up with those mannequins?
However, some of the stuff Cher and Sonny did in Italy around 1965 or so was the top of their form in my mind. The closest she came to ever getting back to that was with Eros Ramazzotti in 2001 with "Piu Che Puoi". I've never figured out what the hell he is doing under that underpath, but he looks damned fine doing it.
"The Beat Goes On", however, was best done in the version below by Mina Mazzini. It proves that back in the 1960s, Rome was far more swinging than London.
Eleven Years Ago
This photo was taken eleven years ago at a garden side meeting in Garden Grove, California, captured by my CEO at the time who thought it was a great shot -- albeit with a tad too much sun from being in the Southland.
Later that year I would use it as a profile for one of my earliest -- and typically fruitless or more often fruity -- forays into internet dating profiles. Intriguingly, the most intent offers I received were from three women in Utah who said they thought I was their soul mate if only because I so reminded them of Donny Osmond. "Puppy Love". Urgh.
Internet dating. Dating. Don't get me started.
We sadly miss the Cordoba pitchman and offer this JTTV episode from March 2007 as a loving tribute.
Labels: Ricardo Montalban
Yes, But What About Bow?
I've heard several folks ask why there haven't been many recent photos or blogs about Bow, so here she is just a couple of minutes ago in the front sitting room. Longer days, more than a week of uninterrupted sunshine and temperatures in the 70s have made her decide "winter" in northern California is a relative term. I've warned her that this is not normal, and next year may not be as gentle. She's anxious to see more sun and fun in the west and says she'd be happy to go with me to Palm Springs soon.
Friendatella dropped by the other day to see Bow, and we three went for a walk. Along our stroll, he pointed out his favorite houses in my neighborhood -- those rare decaying Victorians that look like they'd be covered with cobwebs inside and wacky old ladies peeking out through tattered curtains.
With news of single digit temperatures today in Detroit, I am reminded of how there has always been something oddly fascinating about that city to me. I've never been brave enough to drive or walk around through its various ruins but have longed to do more than just speed through when I have been there. This site gives a good sense of what is there, and today I would sort of like to be there.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
It's Here. It's HERE. IT'S HERE!!!!!
I'm not quite as excited as when Bow arrived, but I am thrilled that my Amtico tile arrived this afternoon, and I can spend MLK Weekend installing it and then dance on it Inauguration Day. YES I CAN!!!
That's not exactly what it will look like when finished, but it gives you an idea.
Now if that jerk finally finishes repairing my refrigerator sometime between now and 2034 I will be less cranky.
UPDATE: Over lunch, I placed a few squares to see what the finished floor will look like as you will note above. Below is the hideous carpet it's replacing that came with my flat and I've long waited to replace since 1998. I call it church basement or BART train carpet. Literally, this is exactly the carpet you see on BART trains. I'm sure the BART officer arrested in Nevada is going to claim that looking at the carpet drove him over the edge and that he was so disoriented that he pulled the trigger New Year's night.
Monday, January 12, 2009
A good friend of mine, who I only see every three or four years because she lives in Cairo, is in town to see her mother through the final stages of terminal cancer. The last time I saw her and her mother was Thanksgiving two years ago when I'd recently lost my father. Over the past six weeks, I've had close to casual acquaintances and relatives lose spouses, parents and children. That, of course, becomes a reality at a certain age. It reminds me to take stock of likely losses and blessings in my own life. I know there will be more, but not in the immediate future I hope, seeming to have lost all that could be lost in the past five years. Sometimes it feels like a clean slate, and for the first time in years I feel that I can be of support and instead of the one needing support but retreating from it.
I thought of five years ago, the last time I saw my mother before she was gone a few weeks later. As I heard about others losses, that so typically come at the very end and beginning of the year, I didn't feel contentment in knowing that it was not my own loss but a certain relief in knowing you can lose a parent only once but sustain the loss forever.
On a day like today -- when the weather was gloriously perfect -- it was hard to think that anyone was in pain or experiencing loss, but a quick scan of headlines or e-mail quickly shatter that reality. Having a couple of walks with Bow in the sun, neither of us needing a jacket, it was a pleasure to be removed from that reality, even knowing that a glorious day like today is an omen of drought, heat and water rationing in the months ahead. But it was pleasant for that moment.
Pork Product News
Sunday, January 11, 2009
What We're Seeing in the Mission
A Basenji Post NOT About Bow
Since getting involved with basenji rescue and fostering, I've made a number of great virtual friends from around the country whom I've yet to meet but who have been a great support during my adventure into the canine world.
There are a number tear-jerking and heart-warming stories, but none quite as dramatic as the 14-year-old pair above in the Dallas area. Their "guardian" surrendered them to a shelter that was not a no kill facility, and they were put in separate cages for the first time in their lives. The owner had some lame excuse on the order of that he didn't have time enough to crate them properly. Needless to say, there were some strong opinions about their former life. But, more importantly, they are now in a loving foster home and -- we can hope -- will soon be adopted to be showered with love during their twilight years. The photo above is of them in their new foster home. Best of all, there is a commitment that they will be put into adoption only as a pair.
If you would even be remotely interested in taking in a basenji foster visit Basenji Rescue and Transport (BRAT), and I'll promise to give full support -- virtual or physical if you live in reasonable driving distance.