Friday, October 26, 2012

fabergé eggs and other poems

fabergé eggs

fabergé eggs
so fragile delicate beautiful
you coddle them, warm them, two hands
you've found the ones you want
i prefer rough-textured, plain-white
and you decide
they don't belong at the china shop
and stick them on the counter
of a polished dresser
near the china cabinet
behind your couch
until your grandkid picks them up
out of your ornate french bowl
and you tell them
"put that down
you'll break it
(they're not yours)"
and that ceramic bowl in the china shop
doesn't look right
until the shop closes
and fabergé eggs go out of fashion

cold showers

i was getting used to cold showers
because of my poison oak rash
soothing my pores
it closes them i hear
but the poison is still in there
seems like it must bond to your cell's receptors
isn't going anywhere
no matter the water temperature
and now i'm back to hot ones
since i can
without the satisfying but dangerous burn reaction
of urishiol (that's the poison)

waking up

teasing a sleeping person
they don't respond
you can push it a little further
each time
talkin to'em and shit
like they're going to respond
but when they're awake
with their eyes closed
they have the power
and wait for you to talk about them
and pounce on you
springing out of their slumber
all "what the fuck?"
and they're going to be mad anyway
crossing back to the consciousness
to wage war with time
who only retreats from sleep
only to outflank you
when you return
looking around to see
who's fucking with you

Friday, July 27, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Idiot: Fyodor Dostoevsky

"I had heard a great deal about him beforehand and had heard he was an atheist, among other things. He really is a very learned man, and I was delighted at the prospect of talking to a really learned man. What's more he is a most unusually well-bred man, so that he talked to me quite as if I were his equal in ideas and attainments. He doesn't believe in God. Only, one thing struck me: that he seemed not to be talking about that at all, the whole time; and it struck me just because whenever I have met unbelievers before, or read their books, it always seemed to me that they were speaking and writing in their books about something quite different, although it seemed to be about that on the surface."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Men @ The Smell, 6/26/12

Aaah, The Smell. Let me start this post by announcing I will not be saying anything about this dank L.A. punk rock institution's odor, or umm, stink, aroma, scent, yea it's just been done too many times. Go to Yelp if you want to read it in every review. They named it The Smell. The. Smell. It's a punk club...1+1=2.

I'm a sucker for post-punk, and The Men's Dinosaur Jr./ The Wipers vibe is too familiarly awesome for me to pass up.

Another overly mentioned thing about The Smell: no alcohol sales. They did have an uptight straight-edge girl selling Skittles and chocolate bars for a $1 like it was a high-school bake sale. There were even vegan brownies. I'm sure vegan brownies are great, but the world may never know. I did partake in the Skittles. I also really turned on the charm to get a free cup of $.50 water in a cup so small it screamed: "should be free!" I smiled, begged, and appealed to the dude beside her for damn near 6 minutes before I was rewarded with that all-too-serious 4 oz. of water.

And I needed some water badly because my friends and I jump-started the pit and were completely drained by song 3. The Men rocked, but maybe it's smart not to sell alcohol in a venue 20 feet wide with no ventilation or fans. My flask not even empty, I felt like a train had run over me, hungover like it was already the next day at only 10 PM. I spent the rest of the show in the alley-way getting a few sweaty photos before heading home early. I actually feel bad for the band in a situation like that, I don't know how The Men even finished the show.

And it smelled. Fuck damnit fuck I said it.

Opener, Zig-Zags, sweet dudes.

These bros had been coming to The Smell for years and just weren't gonna shell out the extra 3 bucks when "all the shows used to be 5". To me $8 for a blog-worthy touring band is as good as it gets, but, hell.

This vagrant had his shit together. I told him: "Let me tell you something, I usually don't like homeless people, but there's something about you."


Monday, June 25, 2012

I Got Stabbed by a Joshua Tree

I meditated under a Joshua Tree
and it stabbed me in the head.
A crown of bayonet leaves,
I even had to pull one out.

Perhaps it was meant to stay there,
like a hindu bindi,
except mine would be like a flattened torch-shaped
obelisk coming out of the red dot.
I realized the moment was transcendental,
and I appreciated the ominous symbolic significance,
but I had to do something about the blood.

If I had wanted blood, I got it.
I did not want it all over my clothes.
I let the desert wind soothe and dry the pouring wound,
so my arms and shirt wouldn't be drenched.
Stitches were a possibility. Hospital.

Luckily my skull stopped the gentle frond,
not allowing the tree to penetrate my brain.
The cut was minimized,
and I had a chance to return to my shooting party,
un-scarred and un-stained,
avoiding derisive comments
returning to four guys and four guns,
massacred by a plant.

I had left the party to gain some mystic insight by paying homage,
but this was no lotus flower.
I noticed its serene silhouette was dripping with dagger-like fronds,
thorns posing as leaves,
even the bark covered by deadly, dead, dried out spikes,
which appeared to fall from their bulbs and down to the desert floor
losing color but not acuity,
perhaps continuing to drop underneath the ground to arm the root system.
I approached the meanest, most marvelous Joshua Tree within a mile,
unprepared for battle.
This natural shelter considered me an intruder, not a guest.

Underneath the giant, it's arms bristling above,
I sat cross-legged with soft gaze,
head like it's being pulled by a string,
jaw tucked in,
back as straight as a stack of gold coins.
The open sky above, like a handle of the earth's basket,
seemed more connected to the ground,
attached at the horizon.
The sand blown by the wind and the exposed sunlight
heightening the drama, I focused on love and oneness,
but Time brought me back to ego-concerns.
As my patience faded,
and thoughts about the material world returned,
I figured the gang might be wondering about me.
I assumed the plant's shelter was benign,
but the Joshua Tree prepared for my advances from above.

What's to say about getting stabbed?
It's difficult to feel the entering.
Only the surface is sensitive,
and once the opening is made,
it returns to feeling the same as closed,
but with a neat cooling vent,
in my case three pierced receptors, labeling my guilt.
I still chased desire, had not found God,
and was susceptible to his creations.

Did my focus on the future
leave me vulnerable in the present?
Or did my focus in the present
leave me vulnerable in the future?
Like distracting thoughts in meditation,
these answers would not help me now.

The dry gusting desert winds succeeded in hardening the open cuts,
minimizing the blood staining my hands and clothes.
Allowing one force of nature to repair the damage of another.
I felt calm; adrenalized, but resigned to my fate,
the stabbing had elevated the action, dramatized my life.
I was defeated,
but I could not have asked for more from this brutal enchantress.

I stumbled through the desert
and circled around the back of our open-air target range,
slipped into the back seat of Matt's car,
and turned a bottle of water and some leftover napkins
into a first-aid station,
marveling that no one noticed me dumping water on my head
expecting Matt to yell at me for bloodying his pristine interior,
or Soren to ask where I've been.

They continued their conversation,
and I continued disposing the evidence of the attack.
As they approached the car,
I secured one last furtive wipe of the three wounds
and gleamed with pride as I shook Kane's hand,
our host,
with a firm grip and wished him well.
I thought of telling Chance and the others the tale on the way home,
but thought it better to leave it between me
and the Joshua Tree in Mojave.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Music I Like: Sparks

I found out about Sparks, not through combing the stacks at a thrift store, but through a movie-channel re-run of 1983's Valley Girl starring Nicolas Cage.

I can't remember if the movie's good, but this Sparks tune, "Eaten by the Monster of Love", caught my attention as I thought it reminded me of a funner Television and waited for the credits, expecting it to be some 80's solo track from Tom Verlaine, and found out it was some band "Sparks", founded by brothers Russell and Ron Mael, who had made the track 13 years deep in their career. I wondered if I was going overboard by immediately downloading their entire discography, but they have delightfully surprised me each time they come up on my iTunes. I always shuffle, so some downloads can get lost for months before I come close to listening to the whole album, but I always notice the Sparks songs. When I hear something so weird and uninhibited, affected but not pretentious, I know it can only be one band. After 20+ albums, they are still a band, and plan a tour of Europe this fall. I can't believe they can still stand each other!

This is a great tho not HD interpretation of their weird style. I don't know what's charming about the naivete of imperfect manual camera tricks that allow you to see it's a fabrication. It's more unique than letting a computer take care of it.
This one also has some LOL moments like at 2:02 when singer Russel Mael takes 4 successive whiffs of a bayou and at 3:23 when he walks in front of the Parthenon three times across the screen to the left and then once to the right

Keyboardist / Guitarist Ron Mael's Hitler mustache always cracks me up, but in this video he gets in lingerie and does a strip tease.
The lyrics are hilarious and insightful: "You're gonna have/ a bowl of chow mein/ and get hungry real soon./ I predict!"
Then, they call their own shot on the fade out: "And this song will fade out,/ and this song will fade out,/ and this song will fade out./ I predict!"

This one's amazing too, reminds me of "Kiss the Girl" from The Little Mermaid. I love 80's melodrama!

More good, "Complaints" from their classic Kimono My House

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hiking Mount Wilson

Did it right. Took the trek up to Mount Wilson in the Angeles National Forest, one of the tallest peaks in the San Gabriel Mountains at 5,700 feet, just Northeast of Pasadena. Starting at the Chantry Flats campground, north of Sierra Madre, my friend Chance and I sobered up and got to work on that 14 mile monster around noon with back-packs full of water, nuts, banana chips, sunscreen, Swiss-Army knives, dogs, buns, sausages, and 16 little ketchup packets Del Taco was kind enough to allow me. I even brought some fresh Aloe Vera, recovering from a sunburn 2 days earlier at my prep-hike in Griffith Park. The sun-block and aloe were not necessary, Upper Winter Creek Trail is heavily shaded. Wore shorts. Got poison ivy.

After a gentle mile or two, the trail zig-zag's up the face of a mountain, with no level path in sight. Half the way up, Chance began to offer me his water, which confused me, so I reminded him I had my own, and he admitted this was a tactic to lighten his pack. He carried our heavy charcoal and lighter fluid, as we planned on grilling at the top of the world after conquering the summit. We broke for a sandwich at the top of the most rugged section of trails, not knowing that the ridge of the mountain was only some hundred yards away, where we'd be showered with sunlight and vistas for the last three miles. Like being lost in a big city, a trail seems far longer and stranger on the first visit, distances expand with the dark shadows of dead tree limbs and blind turns around ridges.

Hiking's rules are simple: continue walking. Like with runner's eye, the hiker's fatigue fades as he commences, that is, continues, proceeds to crunch past pine cone corridors and acorn alley-ways, the weariness subsiding as the trail washes away the hiker's distractions, his self being fixated in a manner that eludes fixations, direction the only concept, no idea what is ahead, merely traveling, simply walking, neither lost nor found, turning-back not an option, only the procession, the event itself, the undertaking over the ground, the movement, the shuffle.

As our heads popped above the forest canopy, we saw the golden sand typical of the west-side of the San Gabriel mountains. Atop the ridge, the canyon stretched for miles subdued at last by the northeastern reaches of L.A. The city's confusing arrangement of bushes and trees belied the supposed order of its highways and gridded streets, the few buildings visible seemed insignificant, as the trees outgrew most homes and the ocean seemed capable of reclaiming the town with a high tide. I wondered why we flocked to this strange clutter when the mountains, visible from the city, hold truth and beauty over more vast stretches than even the city Los Angeles.

At the top of the ridge, one can no longer remain grounded as there is no flat surface, no safety rails, no easy balance, no paved floors. Gravity is real, as is the sky. Ascending does not defeat gravity, rather it provides the potential for falling. However, atop the mountain, one can look out onto a panorama with no ground, no floor visible to secure his connection to the earth, the sky able to be grasped as it truly is: flowing through our existence, a life entering and exiting, filling and emptying, the seeming overhead in our head.

Like Kerouac's Ray Smith in The Dharma Bums, I saw that we are truly upside-down as the earth drifts through space:

"I had a tremendous sensation of its dreamlikeness which never left me all that summer [living on top of a mountain] and in fact grew and grew, especially when I stood on my head to circulate my blood, right on top of the mountain, using a burlap bag for a head mat, and then the mountains looked like little bubbles hanging in the void upsidedown. In fact I realized they were upsidedown and I was upsidedown! There was nothing here to hide the fact of gravity holding us all intact upsidedown against a surface globe of earth in infinite empty space."

I walk through and exist in the air, merely connected to an alarmingly small piece of earth, filled with the sky and its celestial bodies. Having hiked through worlds of forest, once atop the mountain, one can compare the scale of the macrocosm of the mountain range against the now tiny patches of trees that are home to many animal and plant communities, just as the oddly arranged trees in the city indicate residences. There's humility here, not only because hikers reserve precious time from their modern pre-occupations, but a natural humility, where one is not protected and danger is present. A confusing place, where one seems just as likely to fall up to the heavens as off the cliff, where jutting land submits to permeating sky. It was bigger than me. I've learned to ignore the sky, able to live my life under roofs and awnings. Within walls that block my peripheral vision, my focus narrows along with my consciousness. I think I'd feel the same before an expanse of grazing land, but perhaps it's the depth of the slopes and canyons dropping underneath our feet that provide the full sense of powerlessness to the magnitude of mountains. There is no conquering, only accepting.

Only problem with the peak: no grill pits to be found up there. Minus 1-Star on the Yelp review for that. They did have some leftover snow from the weekend, +1. Also, while the Mount Wilson Observatory was nice, it's kind of a bummer to walk 7 miles uphill to find a developed community of radio phone and power antennas, telescopes, residences, even a "Cosmic Cafe", which I think was closed. Great views are offered from the north side of the peak, and wildlife is abundant, as we saw 4 deer and many many gray squirrels, but at the top of a long hike like that you kinda have to get going to keep time. On an empty stomach in our case. We had to walk down Sturtevant Trail back to Orchard Campground 3.6 miles away. Although slightly shorter than the way up, this way was steeper, which we could've done without since we had a few leg issues round the groin and knee-caps by then.

Finally reaching the creek that leads to Sturtevant Falls, exhausted, we came upon Sturtevant Camp: log-cabin vacation homes that were abandoned until the summer. Fed up with waiting and un-fed for the past few hours, our bitching got the best of us, and we concluded the campground must be too far away, and we'd have to light up the charcoal on a dusty patch amidst the cabins, with a log bench nearby and a giant rope swing between trees. We didn't bring skewers, but the dirt off a twig was the least of our worries. Good dogs. Thank God we had a rez.

Filling up bottles with stream water, we doused the coals several times and hurried on for the final 3 mile stretch. It was about 7 o'clock by then and the forest supposedly closes at 8, so we ran for it, passing the legal bbq pits at the campground we had searched for all day only 100 yards down the trail. No time to bitch about that and no time to see Sturtevant Falls a mile down the road. It might have helped with time but left me with a cramp for the final 2 miles. Passing some more cabins near the end, nighttime came and we agreed we'd rather stay and go to sleep in the park. The achievement had turned into practice for when we get a tent and never pay rent.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Music I like: Robert Palmer

Finding used records makes you fall in love with bands you would have never otherwise given a chance.

What a great vid!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy

I just got my rez to go to see Barbarella at the Dino De Laurentiis Film Festival at USC. Free tickets, but I wonder if I can get around the $8 parking. I'm planning on catching Conan the Barbarian after to get my money's worth. Can't wait.

Usually I want to avoid spoilers, but reading any Barbarella plot summary is really LOL-worthy.

From imdb:
"There, she encounters such objects as the Exessive Machine, a genuine sex organ on which an accomplished artist of the keyboard, in this case, Durand Durand himself, can drive a victim to death by pleasure, a lesbian queen who, in her dream chamber, can make her fantasies take form, and a group of ladies smoking a giant hookah which, via a poor victim struggling in its glass globe, dispenses Essance of Man."

From rottentomatoes:
"he then spends the rest of the film discovering the joys of interstellar sex with a keeper of feral children (Ugo Tognazzi), a blind, beatific angel (John Phillip Law), and an inept revolutionary named Dildano (David Hemmings)."

It also stars Anita Pallenberg!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

US Festival, San Bernardino, CA, 1982

Searching for live performances of my favorite bands on youtube, I started to recognize the same rainbow background, the same giant video screen seemingly a mile above the performers' heads, the same desert, the same never-ending crowd. Turns out they were all from the US Festival in San Bernardino, California, Labor Day Weekend, 1982. Apple's Steve Wozniak created the US Festival, supposedly an attempt to merge technology and music, with tech booths featuring early drum machines, music-processing computers, and keyboards. They repeated the festival the next year in 1983, although Wozniak reportedly lost $12.5 million the first year, $20 million total in 1983 USD.

It's all that's great and terrible about 80's music in three days. The styles varied from punk to new-wave to electronic to metal to classic rockers, but they were all rock bands, and, if nothing else, they could at least compete with each other to see who was the best band at the Fest, and, ostensibly, the world, which always provides for some inspired performances, or, in David Lee Roth's case, getting so wasted he's unable to do anything music-related, but, after recieving a shot of whiskey from a little person in a tuxedo, insults the Clash, seemingly jealous of their credibility: "the only people who put iced tea in Jack Daniel's bottles are The Clash, baby!" Diamond Dave couldn't even remember the lyrics to his biggest songs but he did throw-in some trademark kick-jumps, which come at a hefty price, considering Van Halen received $1.5 million to headline US Festival.

Van Halen "Jamie's Cryin"

The Clash, who honorably refused to play until Apple pledged to donate some of the proceeds to charity, seemed angry at the festival and Americans in general, and insulted both several times during their set. I mean, I get it, the world's disgusting, but you did agree to play the show, right? One festival-goer noted that most people took off during their show in the face of cold desert winds. The days were plagued by 115 degree heat. Although the festival was smartly equipped with water sprinklers, hoses, and showers, when the sun set, wet concert-goers fled the cold.

Paul Simonon featured on "Guns of Brixton"

Punk-legends Gang of Four, Talking Heads, The Ramones, and The Pretenders also played the 1st day.

Chrissie Hynde

A Ramones fan recounts his experience:
"116 degree heat. No shade. Performers refusing to play. Chaos. Dust flying so high you could barely see the stage. Me in a prone position, too hot to raise my head. The Ramones came on and I stood up and cheered. Joey did the entire set without removing his leather jacket."

Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?

Another US festival goer's memories:
"I was 25 and single so I just took off work and flew out there. They picked me up and we walking up that long hill to the entrance. Like most people, we brought lawn chairs and coolers. But rather than toss all that stuff, two went back to the car and the rest of us went inside...and would see them when they came back in. It seemed plausible at the time. We soon were on our way to an altered state and wandered to the biggest led display I had ever seen. As the bands come and went, we realized the odds of us running into them in the crowd would be as likely as winning the lottery. But we looked all over all day and started getting worried. Several beer gardens later and ready to accept the fact we could not find our way back to the car and our hotel, out of the blue
here they come. We almost wept with joy since we were pretty ripped by

Nikki Sixx being metal during Motley Crue's performance. I didn't really see any metal bands besides Ozzy put on a good-show. The electronically-influenced bands made more sense and played more inspired, although Vince Neil was quoted as saying: "It was the day new-wave died and rock n' roll took over," referring to the overwhelming (375,000) numbers that showed for Metal Day in 1983. In fact, the "New-Wave" bands were pretty much just metal or punk bands with keyboards, as The Eurythmics were probably the closest to a true "electronic" act, and they stuck close to pop structures.

Annie Lennox of The Eurythmics

Keyboard heavy New-Wave bands were a natural fit for the tech-show Woodstock atmosphere, and some early trendsetters for the MTV age were on-hand.

Oingo Boingo - "Private Life"

Berlin - "Masquerade"

INXS performing "The One Thing" from their best album "Shabooh Shoobah"... so post-punk!!

One of my favorites, The B-52's, played, and for the first time I noticed the subtle vocal differences between Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson, even with the poor quality, as most of these videos were transferred from a home-recording of a cable broadcast. Some even feature a view-obstructing timer box for tracking or god knows what.


Some classic rockers like Fleetwood Mac, The Kinks, David Bowie, and Tom Petty performed, but the Festival wisely booked a bill that reflected current tastes, and really was a comprehensive gathering of the best in popular music at that time.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers "So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star?"

The Police's drummer, Stewart Copeland, has a great HD look at US Festival in his documentary, Everyone Stares.

The Police "Message in a Bottle"

$20 !?!@&$%!

Dale Bozzio in her own top made out of plexiglass bowls, tubing, foil, and a drill.

For my money, Missing Person were the best in show, as they combined metal, punk, and dance sensibilities into a powerful and eccentric sound. Ok I might just be in love with Dale.

Missing Persons "Window"