Friday, December 31, 2010

Flagstaff/Vegetable/Feel Free

I snuck up to Flagstaff this week with Owen. He was charged with watching over Bobby's and house and his dog, Taffy. We holed up and wrote stories and played piano. Beer 'O Clock comes early in Flag so we also enjoyed ale. No need for a fridge, we lined our 6-packs along Bobby's deck.

Living up to it's stereotypes, I found Flag to be comprised pretty evenly of both anarcho-college Punks and Neal Young Hippies

Sunday night Vegetable from Tempe played at Cottage House with Feel Free. These are photos from that show.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Christmas Calamity

All sorts of things can happen during Christmas time, good and bad. One of the most exciting things that happen at Christmas time is Santa Claus' visit. I don't need to explain to you that he arrives by reindeer-driven sleigh. What the general public either doesn't know or chooses to ignore is that direct contact with Santa's fleet of reindeer can be hazardous to one's health due to various bacteria and such.

Santa has plenty of direct contact with his reindeer. They even sleep in his bed with him (on a rotating schedule of course like sister wives). Santa has had all the proper vaccinations.

This year, when Santa and his bacteria-ridden power train arrived at Megan's house in the wee hours of the morning of December 25th, she was awake reading Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto for a class that she anticipated having one day. Being a compassionate individual with a love for all of God's creatures she was immediately drawn to the majestic beasts. She pulled herself from the couch and slipped on a pair of grayish suede oxfords that were near the front door. "I'll just peep at these reindeer real quick", she thought, "Santa doesn't need me in the mix while he's doing his gifting thing, anyway".

She quietly scooted out the front door just as Santa's bottom-half appeared in the mouth of her parents' fireplace, red-furry pants, shiny black Doc Martens and all.

The reindeer were patiently waiting for their captain on the roof. The desert topography of Cave Creek, AZ served as an unusual backdrop for these beasts of the North.

Megan was an accomplished child gymnast and cheerleader. She hoisted herself onto the tiled roof of her parents’ house, using the front bumper of her Oldsmobile as a stepping stool with ease and grace.

She stood for a moment staring at the reindeer, face to snout. Steam poured into the dry desert air from the breath of all the mammals on the roof, Megan included, like smokestacks in some since-abandoned Midwest manufacturing town.

She approached the lead reindeer (Rudolph, I guess). The animal was receptive to her touch. The rest of the reindeer gathered around her and she spent several minutes stroking and nuzzling the large animals, dividing her attentions among them, as one would with a litter of puppies. Soon Santa himself appeared on the roof somehow shimmying up the family's chimney like he'd do a million more times that night. When he saw Megan in her bathrobe and suede oxfords, cuddling his antlered fleet the way she was, he looked as if he had just been involved in a minor traffic accident. He knew that this type of close contact with reindeer for a person without current North Pole shots could be disastrous. Claus however was in a terrible hurry and had zero time to explain why human-reindeer contact was dangerous, what course of action to take now that she had been exposed or to exchange insurance information. "She looks like a healthy broad", Santa said to him, "I'm sure her immune system is right as rain". With no more than a nodding gesture in her direction he mounted his sleigh and with a masculine "Hi-yaaa" he was air-bound to the next household of naughty, nice and in-between children.

From all outward appearances Megan did seem strong. Lean and toned as her gymnastics pedigree would suggest. There was no way for Santa to know that internally Megan was prone to fragility and counted acute allergies to wheat and dairy among the ailments she faced daily. If there was a way to get sick it seemed little Megan would find it. She always kept a positive head about her and rarely let discomfort from sickness or less than perfect adherence to her strict wheat and dairy-free dietary regimen get her down.

By the time her family began to rise on Christmas morning, however, the reindeer flu had begun to show signs in Megan. Having to share a birthday with Jesus, Megan was a bonafide Christmas baby and it seemed doubly unjust that she would suffer the terrible fever and cold sweats that accompanied this particular strain of foreign flu on her birthday and Christmas.

Not one to spoil a party, Megan kept her symptoms to herself, which by now had begun to include stomach cramps and dizziness, while members of her extended family began to arrive for the holiday festivities. She even found the strength to assist her mother in preparing the Christmas turkey, which she had decided this year she would not roast in the traditional manner but rather splay open like a dissection frog in a 7th grade biology class, de-bone the leg meat, stuff the leg meat into the open cavity of bird with a mixture of wild rice and herbs and then tie the whole thing back together with twine in a poultry sculpture that resembled a giant spicy tuna roll. This recipe, which she had apparently adopted from a Martha Stewart cookbook, was laborious to execute and by the time Megan and her mother put the giant sushi roll of meat into the oven her skin was pale and it was becoming obvious to Megan's mother and the other revelers that something was terribly wrong with her health.

She came clean to her family, detailing to them her late night encounter with St. Nick and his famed reindeer. It was still unclear to her if her symptoms were Santa/reindeer related. It could have simply been her climbing and frolicking in the cold December night, sans proper wintertime outerwear, that had her at her current state. Either way, Megan decided, every particularity must be articulated if they were to plan the proper course of action against the illness, which had at this point shown itself through her skin in the hue of human green that seemed common only on the faces of sufferers of man's great plagues of antiquity.

It was with this same level of careful articulation that she recounted the previous night's encounter to the D.O. on duty at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, just a short trip up the 101 freeway from her family home in Cave Creek. Only after Megan's family had exchanged gifts and cards and consumed the enormous turkey roll that she, at her mother's increasingly voluminous insistence, had made the trip to E.R. She now found herself in triage, telling her tail to the tall doctor in charge. The doctor was a physically formidable man who had gone bald before his years, no doubt due to the stress of medical school and the horrors of sewing so many fingers back on to so many strangers' hands. He looked as though he wore Under Armor brand athletic wear and held membership at Gold's gym, a T.V. doctor in the modern tradition of Grey's Anatomy or House.

The doctor listened intently, clearly intrigued by the events leading to the onset of Megan's illness and eager to diagnose his patient.

"It really does sound like Reindeer flu”, the doctor marveled to Megan, "Of course we'll need to run a few tests to be sure". Blood was taken, urine was given and the clocked ticked-on toward midnight when it would no longer be Megan's birthday and it would no longer be Christmas, but she would surely still be in abdominal pain and light-headed.

When the tests from Megan's bodily fluids came back positive for Reindeer Flu the T.V. doctor seemed almost gleeful to report the results. You see, the doctor saw many patients weekly and while their conditions certainly varied from hypochondria to urgently life threatening, they generally fell into the same handful of diagnosis. Why had the doctor spent so many years with his nose in a book, all the while shedding head hair, if not to identify and treat truly rare conditions affecting his fellow man? Simply put, this sort of thing was exciting for him.

Reindeer Flu, at least in these parts, it turns out was exceedingly rare. Only five cases had been documented in the Phoenix area since they began keeping count in 1950 and only three of those cases were caused by Santa's reindeer. The other two Phoenicians inflicted with Reindeer Flu were mischievous school children who had ventured beyond fences to come in contact with reindeer who were kept in captivity in the city's zoo. The Phoenix Zoo has long since discontinued its reindeer exhibit and shipped out its inhabitants because of just these episodes.

"Don't worry", the doctor reassured Megan, "It's nothing we can't fix-up with the right antibiotics". This news was the best present she could have received. By this time the local press had caught wind of Megan's ordeal and began arriving at the Mayo Clinic in two's, one reporter and one camera operator per television station. It would be an interesting Christmas story, they supposed.

Megan was reluctant to speak with the press, not from shyness, but out of sheer exhaustion. It had been a very long day and not one that she counts among her best birthday/Christmases. With scripts for her medication in hand and her eyes sore from the bright fluorescent lights of the E.R. she pained to get home to sleep off this damned contamination and resume her life of no more holidays, as little wheat gluten and milk as possible and not a reindeer to speak of.

Monday, December 27, 2010

POPO house show/EXP/Summer 2009

This footage from a POPO set at a little apartment jump-off in Echo Park. It was lost. Now it's found.

VEGETABLE live at Cottage House/Flagstaff, AZ

VEGETABLE from Tempe ended up playing while Owen and I were up here in Flag. It was a house show with Bobby's band FEEL FREE.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Juiceboxxx and Mabson Live in Echo Park

I think it was the Summer of 2009. I bought one of those flip cams. Quickly lost the flip cam. Just grabbed my big hiking backpack to go to the mountains with Owen. Found that flip cam. There were some good shows on it.

This is big, bad Juiceboxxx with L.A.'s own Kyle Mabson live at someone's apartment in Echo Park. I think it was a going away party. Someone was moving on.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Heros Are Falling Down

Every year people die. If we didn't die our world would be a hopeless clusterfuck. Too crowded. It's already too crowded, imagine if God didn't systematically dump inventory. This year however, 2010, a lot of my musical idols dropped. Some of these people were old or sick or both. That's not too sad because who wants to be old or sick or both? Some were young and left us with the feeling that they could of contributed more.

This isn't really fair of us because their lives belonged to them or God or both. Sometimes, when an artist's output affects us in an important way we begin to feel like we have some sort of dominion over their art or their lives or both.

We don't.

Here's a list of musicians, who affected me, that passed on all in one year. I will list them in order of the importance of their art in my life. But who am I, really?

1. Gregory Isaacs

Reggae and other music from Jamaica influenced my musical pallet quite a bit. Jamaican Riddims were among the first genre I experimented with as a young child. Gregory Isaacs is widely considered one of the greatest Reggae singers of all time. When asked who his favorite singer was in an interview, the great Robert Nesta Marley replied "Gregory Isaacs, Mon" I would agree with Bob on this one. Bless up, Gregory. Rest In Paradise

2. Ari Up

Front-woman for the uber-seminal Post Punk outfit The Slits. Her music was smart and fun and ahead of it's time. I can't think of a modern Punk-ish outfit that wouldn't fairly count Ari and The Slits among their influences. If they don't count Ari and The Slits among their influences their probably some shitty band on a shitty label and if they died they wouldn't get mentioned on this blog.

3. Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson

Sleazy was a founding member of Throbbing Gristle. Their label was Industrial Records. Industrial they were, maybe the first Industrial band. Can you imagine a world where Throbbing Gristle never existed? Me either. Besides his extensive musical accomplishments with Throbbing Gristle and subsequent bands, Sleazy was an amazing graphic and performance artists. In many ways Sleazy was responsible for the look as well as the sound of Industrial music and to a certain extent, the genres of Noise and Techno as well. Fanni and Genesis are still around. When they go it'll be pretty close to over.

4. Captain Beefheart

I'm sure this was a big one for a lot of people. I don't have to tell you that Van "Captain Beefheart" Vliet was a prolific rock musician with a career that spanned a quarter decade. I was never a fanatic but I am of the odd and the Captain was nothing if not odd. Jay-Z rapped once that no one else but he was "so Pop and so hood at the same time". I would argue that Captain Beefheart was so mainstream yet so weird at the same time. I'm not sure a truly avant garde musician, the way Van Vliet was, could obtain the type of success in this day & age that Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band have enjoyed.

5. Eyedea

Eyedea was a rapper from Minneapolis. He was white. Both of these things would have sounded strange in the 90's but Eyedea and his production partner Abilities were such proficient MC's (along with Slug of Atmosphere and the rest of the Rhymesayers crew) that the Twin Cities are now synonymous with dope, usually white, backpack rappers. He won Scribble Jam in 1999. That was the first I heard of him. He never really let up. Their weren't too many Indie rappers in the aughties that matched the success of Eyedea and his buddies. Again, I wasn't a huge fanatic but I took this one especially hard. I think it was because Eyedea (real name Mikey Larsen) was so young. His cause of death was a mystery for a week or more before it finally surfaced as an accidental drug overdose. Opioides, in all their forms, cause nothing but death for many and misery for all. Please don't do them.

Lena Horne, Teddy Pendergrass and Eddie Fisher also died this year but I'm not going to write about them.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Circles Toddler

I grew up in this town and left when I was pretty young. I definitely romanticized my childhood and romanticized the desert. I especially held fondly to the images of my neighborhood which was bordered by the freeway on one side and a large park on the other. My friend lived across the street from me and her mom was a drug dealer. They were a nice family and I spent a lot of time there. Everyone in the neighborhood called her "Ms.T" even though her real name was Theresa. She had a group of men that were loyal to her because of her influence in the crystal meth trade. They served as a sort of goon squad and would do her bidding. She carried a hot pink gun that wasn't made of metal but rather molded plastic. The gun was plastic but it was a real gun. It fired real bullets and the bullets weren't made of plastic. The casings were metal and the projectile itself was made from lead alloy like any bullet fired from a metal gun.

Because of her goon squad and because of the pink pistol, Ms.T wasn't the person to cross. One time an associate of her's fell out of her favor. She had the men who were loyal to her pick him up on the ruse that they were going to go to a local bar. They took the man to the desert in Ms.T's car and shot him 3 times in the chest and the head and then buried him. When they returned, Ms.T asked if he was 6 feet under. "We put him a lot further down than 6 feet" one of the men said. It wasn't until 3 days later that the man finally dug himself out and found his way back to town. I saw him at Mike's Deli, which wasn't really a deli but a liquor store. A lot of us from the neighborhood would hang out around Mike's, so I wasn't too surprised to see him there. I asked him how he managed to get out of the hole and back to town. He said he dug his way out and walked back across the freeway and into the neighborhood. He confirmed that he was in fact a lot deeper in the earth than 6 feet. His hands were still caked with dirt to his wrists from his grueling resurrection and the bullet holes in his chest and his head were still plainly visible. I told him I was sorry about what happened and I was glad he had found his way back home. I couldn't stay to chat too long because I was on my way to work and I had a long walk ahead of me.

I worked at a bargain super-store called MacFrugals. Before that it was called Pick 'N Save. Nowadays it's called Big Lots. It wasn't a very good job and that may be one of the reasons I left so young to try my hand at big city living in Los Angeles.

I just came back about 3 months ago. Nothing too exciting was going on in the old neighborhood and I grew bored quickly. I went Downtown to see if there was anything stirring. I passed Circles Records which was a hopping record and tape store when I lived here the first time. Circles had since closed and the building was pretty well boarded up. I found a door that looked like it could be breached easily so I wrestled with the knob and found my way in. Once inside I saw that there were a handful people, maybe 20, who had taken up residence in the abandoned record shop. I talked to a nice man that seemed to me to be the leader of the lot. He told me that they had been there for several years and a couple of babies had even been born in the squat and the babies were now toddlers. I saw a Circles toddler playing with a Transformers toy on a yoga mat that had been fitted with sheets and was apparently being utilized as a makeshift bed. I asked the man why they had decided to live inside of Circles Records. He told me they had chosen the location because the vinyl record, as a medium, was dead. I knew he was wrong about vinyl being dead, but I decided there was a possibility that he was right about a lot of other things.