Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The big Tom Tuerff Resurgence is apparently on and I had no idea...

XM Satellite radio is playing old Dr. Demento shows, including some of the shows from '01 that I was on.

And Pab Sungenis,a guy in New Jersey with a syndicated, Demento-like show, recently played, of all things, "Infomercial Man." I think that's a first.

I don't even play that song anymore.

Plus, other sicko radio shows have been tossing one song or another on the air occasionally in the last six months.

Why am I even bothering to make another CD?

Oh that's right, people want it.

The only things standing in my way now are countless delays and a lack of money.

But it will come.


I'm not religious, but I appreciate good music even if it's religious. And I have a question.

Why does all modern white gospel music suck?

I love that fast, foot-stomping, black Baptist stuff. It has SOUL. They're HAPPY about it.
















White folks' gospel music is all guilt-ridden and they never sound like they're all that happy about finding salvation:

(Plunka Plunka Plinka Plinka)

Oh, Lordy I love Jesus
Yes Indeed I do
Lordy I love Jesus
'Cause Preacher told me to
When I go to heaven
With Jesus I will sit
He'll teach me to think for myself
And we can chew 'n spit.

(Insert bad, guilt-ridden fiddle solo)

I think what it all boils down to is that for whatever reason most white people just don't know how to enjoy themselves. They're afraid to make noise. We've been programmed to believe that, whether we like it or not, everything enjoyable is bad.

In my own way though, I've tried to work through that. I've been a nudist since I was 13. I learned massage in college, I've kept up the hobby to this day and I make sure I get as well as give. As my music points out, I will make fun of just about anything that won't initiate a fatwa.

Life's too short to be uptight. If there are any uptight white Christian people reading this, CHANGE YOUR WAYS. NOW. Jesus doesn't want to spend eternity with a bunch of boring people. You just KNOW he's gonna hang out in the black neighborhood. The music will be better and the people will be more than willing to play it!


Monday, March 28, 2005

I don't think I'm even going to bother to read the article attached to this headline, because what I'm making up in my head is probably a hundred times better:

• Boy's hands, foot, reattached after basketball accident

Consarn it, coach, I told 'em not to hang on the basket 'cuz I done replaced the rims with razor-sharp wire. But did that stop 'em? No! He goes up fer a dunk and hangs on that rim and Shloop! Right through his damn hands. But the basket gives way anyway, pops off the backboard, lands on his foot and shloop, it's a goddam bloody mess, is what it is...

As I'm typing this I'm hearing that another quake has hit indonesia. Maybe this time they'll get a clue... RUN!


Thursday, March 24, 2005

What a great show! Check this out before it goes away:



Don't know whether to weigh in on the Terri Schiavo thing except to say that Jan and I have living wills so if either of us is ever in a situation like that, there will be no question about what to do.


I got a note today from a REAL agent asking if I'd be interested in playing cruise ships.


(I told him my real job might get in the way, but weekend jobs on land outside of Arizona would definitely interest me.)

How lucky are the new owners of the Diamondbacks that their first series of the season is at home, with the CUBS? Won't be a seat for miles. Your HOUSE will be full of ex-Chicagoans watching the games.

I can't help it -- I love baseball. Not enough to pay outlandish prices (although I still owe Adam a baseball game -- long story) but I love watching it. Some people can't stand the pace (and if it's an American League game I agree with you), but there's a psychological battle of wits going on every time a guy steps up to the plate and tries to outguess the pitcher. It's fascinating. My wife and kids just don't get it and they don't have to.

By the way, I couldn't give a rat's ass if everyone in the majors was drinking Steroid fizzies. If you wanna do that to your body, and take the risk of malfunctioning liver, kidneys, heart, brain and (most important to rich, attractive ballplayers) penis, go ahead. The more home runs, the merrier.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

For the purposes of this post I have declared myself King of the World.

All Hail Me.

Now, my first proclamation:


If you're not on chemo, you have no excuse. You look stupid. ESPECIALLY those of you who clearly are doing it because all the other guys are doing it. If you have a good head of hair, GROW IT. If you have the classic bald top hairy sides, I guess I can see why you might want to just shave it all off but the fact is you all look like a buncha Marine wannabes, neo-nazis or just plain dumb guys.

Only black guys like Isaac Hayes should be bald. Buddhist Monks should be bald.
White guys with two cars and a rider mower should not be bald. You don't look good, and you're not fooling anybody. (Had I been faced with the possibility of baldness I would have quickly gone for hair replacement. My head has an indentation on the top which would look really bizarre without hair on it.)


Okay, I'm not King anymore. I'm abdicating.


Whether you've ever heard of her or not, you need to go see pianist Carla Bley's website: www.wattxtrawatt.com

This may be the most entertaining personal website you'll ever see.

Even if you're not familiar with Carla's music (imagine John Coltrane, Charles Ives, Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa and Verdi colliding in a horrible train wreck, and you're getting there), her site is a riot. Actually it's a prison, and you're not allowed to riot...oh, just go there. (Click the submit button when asked; just hitting "return" doesn't work.)


The other night my wife Jan (as opposed to my wife Evelyn -- WTF??) and I were laying in bed playing remote roulette when we got to ESPN 2 and watched several episodes of a show called "Cheap Seats." It's essentially MST3K, but they heckle old sports programs. It's really funny! It's hosted by two guys I've never heard of but my wife and kids know who they are. I think they're brothers. Look and see when it's on and check it out yourself.

To show you how MUCH it's like MST3k, at one point in one show, the hosts need to roll back the tape of something THEY'VE just done. When they do, the silhouettes of Crow, Servo and Mike Nelson have a seat and poke fun at the hosts.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Sometimes it's nice to know that even though you, dear reader, and I, are aging rapidly, other members of the human race, even people we admire, are doing the same.

To wit: http://www.fouryoureyes.com

Fouryoureyes is a vintage eyeglass store on Venice Blvd. in Los Angeles. It's motif is definitely 1960s and the owner, a fella named Dave Hart, has clientele that include lots of guys who were famous for whatever reason during the 60s. This is usually, but not always, formerly famous rock 'n rollers.

Click the photo gallery and check out the aging process in action. But I'm WARNING you: Mark Hamill is not aging gracefully. To say nothing of the Electric Prunes.

However, the point I wanted to make about this is: Look at the owner, Dave Hart, in all of these pictures. After a page or two, you begin to think that Dave is nothing more than a cardboard cutout. Same EXACT smile, picture after picture. It's eerie.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Let's take a look at this year's inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

U2: I have NEVER liked U2. I don't deny they're talented; I don't deny they're famous, but I've simply never liked their stuff. Bono's political and religious leanings in his songs may be sincere but I don't have to like it and I don't.
If there is any argument that the R&R HOF has become a popularity contest, this is the election that does it.

The Pretenders: Definitely. Chrissie Hynde was the second female in Rock to get me sexually aroused simply from her music. (Patti Smith was first; I distinctly remember being in a record store in '75 or '6 when "Horses" came out. The guy was playing the album and I got so horny I had to leave.) "Brass in Pocket," "Middle of the Road" and "My City Was Gone" are all excellent reasons why the Pretenders are in on the first ballot.

Percy Sledge: Is Percy the first guy to get in on the strength of basically one song? But what a song: "When a MAAAAAAAAAAN Loves a Woman..." Actually, my favorite Percy Sledge song was the follow-up: "Take Time To Know Her."

Buddy Guy: Yeah, I know he played the rock festivals, I know he's one of the three best living electric guitarists in the world. But he's a BLUES guy. I never think of Buddy Guy as a Rock and Roller. I bet he's as surprised as I am. Of course, maybe they're just recognizing that the blues is just as important an element to rock as soul music and R&B. Which brings me to:

The O'Jays: Sure. "Love Train," "Backstabbers," all the others. Good choice.

But now I have a gripe:

Why the hell isn't Leon Russell in the R&R Hall of Fame? Has he ever even been nominated? Here's a guy who played on literally hundreds of hits in the 60s, helped to make Joe Cocker a household name, had a great career in the 70s and composed some of the best songs ever: "This Masquerade," "Tightrope," "Superstar," "A Song For You," "Delta Lady," "Lady Blue," "Roll Away The Stone," and more. And nobody has better hair than Leon.

Now I'll be fair and nominate somebody I don't even like: Neil Diamond. Started as one of Don Kirshner's churn-em-out songwriters in the mid-60s and wrote "I'm a Believer." Made a name for himself with "You Got To Me," "Cherry Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman." Kept writing hits for EONs. Hasn't even been discussed as a R&R HOF nominee. I don't get it.


Had a good time at the Phoenix folk festival yesterday. Pulled an audience pretty much from park passersby and we all had fun. My friend Nancy Freeman sang with me and we always sound good. I cut the tip of my middle finger on my strumming hand, and consequently bled on my picks. That was fun.


I found out a couple of days ago that a high school friend of mine had passed away just before Christmas. Steve Schoblaska was an interesting guy, full of ideas and intelligent as all get-out. But he never seemed to have much incentive to do more than just get by. He was obese pretty much his entire life, he smoked like a chimney (pipes), went through marijuana like a penguin goes through fish and had dietary practices that were at best, shocking. So when I heard he died from complications of diabetes I wasn't surprised. ( I once saw the guy eat breakfast: A simple bowl of Cheerios. Covered in brown sugar. With some corn syrup on top of it, because he said otherwise it "wasn't sweet enough."

But I do have lots of great memories of the guy. He was blind as a bat, like me, but he didn't ever wear glasses. I remember once breaking mine and he pulled a pair out of his pocket and said, "here, try these, I don't use them." They were perfect. I asked him, "How the hell are you walking around without grabbing walls?" He had no answer but from then on I was always a little wary of getting into his car.

But given all that I don't think the guy ever had an enemy in the world. We lost track of each other about 20 years ago but I always knew he was around. And it's always sad when the world loses a nice guy.


Monday, March 14, 2005

My previous hometown, the one I lived in before I moved here in my teens, just got itself on the news: Brookfield, Wisconsin.

I'd like to say it's for a good reason, but it's not. Apparently some guy entered the Brookfield Sheraton hotel, where there was a church service being held in one of the conference rooms, and blew away seven people and himself. Wounded four more.

Not the best reason to find your city in the newspaper.

Look, I'm not saying that religion isn't good. (Well, yes I am, but that's for another time). But when it makes you snap (apparently the gunman, who was on the verge of losing his job, was upset over a sermon that said that misfortunes happen to people because they DESERVE it. This obviously made him believe he wasn't worth anything, so he took it out on the church where he found out he was a nobody), then it's NOT GOOD FOR YOU ANYMORE.

Granted, not everybody goes postal for religious reasons. But look at all the people in just the last five years who've been taken out of the movie we call "earth" due to the beliefs of supposedly "religious" people.

If I was God, I'd call a moratorium. One year.

No one is allowed for one year to mention, pray to, worship, honor, fund, build a church to or even THINK about asking a favor from the God of their choice for ONE YEAR. No festivals, no holidays, all religious TV and Radio, kaput for one year. You couldn't even play "God Only Knows" on the oldies station. All churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, pagan circles, whathaveyou, off limits for 365 days.

In that year we all have to learn how to get along as if this is all that matters, ever.

Then in one year, if everything has been worked out, if people really felt they STILL needed a deity in their life, they could start praying again. But I bet you most people wouldn't.

If any of you reading this ever get the idea in your heads that it would REALLY SHOW THE WORLD something if you went ballistic with a pistol in an amusement park as a tribute to God, or for any reason at all, do us all a favor and shoot yourself in the head FIRST. Then, if you STILL feel like doing something, fire away.

Why do these people always have to SHOOT others to make their point? Why couldn't you see more stories like: "A clearly insane man waltzed naked down the aisle of Our Lady of Perpetual Motion Church today, hurling hastily-made cream pies at the priests and altar boys." Just ONCE. That's all I ask.

Well, regardless, Brookfield Wisconsin is a nice place. Don't let the religious loonies scare you.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

George Carlin says in his latest book that Michael Jackson has put out so much GOOD music over the years that they should let him do whatever he wants. To whoever he wants. Seems like an even trade.

Not sure I agree with that but being about his age and from Gary Indiana I can remember visiting relatives there in the late 60s (after we had moved) and seeing posters up all over the place to concerts featuring the pre-famous Jackson 5. Maybe pushing them that hard is what made them all crazy.

And they ARE all crazy. A few years ago, Randy Jackson, the youngest brother and the one who replaced Jermaine Jackson when he left the group to go solo, felt it was important to release a list of Jackson 5 hits to the press that his brother Jermaine did NOT perform on. He apparently did this because Randy's wife had recently divorced him in order to marry Jermaine.

Still, "I Want You Back" is in my top ten list of best debut singles ever released by anybody, simply because it's a great freakin' song and even though Michael was like, a FETUS when he recorded it he sings with more soul than the entire white population of the world can muster up in their little fingers. And Jermaine's counter-voice to Michael's is just perfect. Having a good backing band for the session didn't hurt either. How can you not get excited when you hear the first couple of beats of "I Want You Back?" Even before they start singing, you just wanna dance, even if you can't. And I can't.


Other Great Debut Singles:

"Do It Again" -- Steely Dan
Why? Because it's completely unpredictable. Unique chord changes,original melody, and lyrics about a determined loser who won't give up. Were YOU expecting this in 1972 when you first heard it on the radio? Of course not.

"Please Please Me" -- The Beatles
Far from their best song, but those "Come On" harmonies in the chorus indicated that there was a force to be reckoned with brewing. (I just found out that apparently John Lennon wrote this song to a girlfriend who refused to go down on him, even though he was quite willingly and happily servicing her in that way on a regular basis. Think about the lyrics to that song in that perspective and it's absolutely hilarious.)

"Wuthering Heights" -- Kate Bush

Why? See "Do It Again" and replace 1972 with '77. Okay, in this case it's the GHOST of a determined loser. But still...


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

This is interesting...

...I just received a junk e-mail asking if I'd like to receive, at a very fair price, a real "Rollax" watch.

You know, if you're gonna fleece somebody, at least learn how to spell. Or go back out on the streets in New York where you sell this garbage on the street and you don't have to write.


This weekend on my show Zappa Universe (6 p.m. MST) on www.radiofreephoenix.com, I'm going to be taking a look at Frank's more avant-garde work. Think Varese-influenced. Webern. Stravinsky. Music-concrete. The tough stuff. I think America is ready for that. Listen in and see how long you last.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

When I was driving to work today I thought it would be a good idea to use this blog to tell my prostitute story.

Trust me, it's not what you think.

And it's not THAT, either. Those days are behind me.

Okay. It's January, 1993 or '94. (It was the week Babylon 5 premiered. The ONLY reason I remember that is because it's a corollary to my prostitute story that has no bearing on the tale per se, but if you ask I'll tell you how and why I remember this.)

I was in San Francisco for the NATPE convention. NATPE stands for National Association of Television Production Executives. It's a big,expensive show where people go to buy the shows you're going to be watching in syndication two years from now. In a nutshell.

It's also where lesser-informed people (like me at the time) go to try and pitch shows to companies who wish you'd just go away.

With me on this trip was my good pal Susie. We were up there to pitch an idea to whoever would listen about a new-age style newsmagazine. (Trust me, it was a pretty good idea but we realized early on that it wasn't what the BIG GUYS were looking for.) We were also up there to pitch an idea of Susie's, a game show idea that, son of a gun, a big-time foreign game show producer DID give us the time to pitch and actually optioned for about a year (although no money changed hands, dammit).

Anyway, one night while we were up there, Susie and I drove down to one of the nearby Santas -- Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, I don't remember anymore, and had dinner with a couple of friends of hers. Great time. Good food, good conversation, FANTASTIC wine, as I recall.

Then we drove back to San Francisco.

Now, I have to tell you something about Susie. I love her to death. To this DAY one of our dearest friends. At the time (and maybe even now), Susie had the remarkable ability of falling asleep almost literally on command. We got in the car and she said, "I'm going to sleep. Wake me up when we get to the hotel." And within seconds, she was sleeping her way up the freeway. (Don't worry; I was driving.)

Now, if you've ever been to San Francisco, you know that the GOOD parts, the parts people think of when they say "San Francisco," are situated on a maze of one-way streets. You can't just drive to where you want to go. That would be too easy. You have to "negotiate" with San Francisco. Reason with it. Say nice things to it. To wit: We stayed at this funky old hotel down near the Tenderloin (that's the area you don't go into at night) called the Mark Twain. It's called that because he stayed there once. Anyway, I pulled off the freeway right near the hotel, and the road put me right in front of the hotel.

But this being San Francisco, access to the parking garage for the hotel was not on the main street, but on the north side of the corner where the Mark Twain was situated. Which meant lefting and righting for about five minutes until you could get on the street where the entrance was, all while going the right way. Follow me?

So anyway, I'm parked at a red light in front of the Twain. It's a January night. It's San Francisco. It's FREEZING outside, and standing at the corner are several prostitutes, dressed like it's summer in Phoenix. Shivering. Hard. Obviously in pain.

As I'm waiting at the light, the smallest prostitute (now THERE's a Hallmark Hall of Fame Special: The Littlest Prostitute!) walks up to the car, shivering, makes eye contact with me, and yells, in a voice that I'm sure could be heard in one of the Santas:


I cracked up.

Susie slept right through it.

I'm making hand signals (I'm not ABOUT to roll down the window) that no, I'm not interested, shrugging sorry, etc.

The hooker points at Susie, still snuggled in the suicide seat.

"Oh, come ON, man! SHE ain't gonna give you SHIT tonight!"

I started laughing so hard I nearly missed my green light. I mouthed "Sorry" to the Hooker and went navigating my way around to the parking garage. This caused me to pass the hookers again, but I didn't have to stop that time.

When we finally parked I woke Susie and told her the story. She LAAAAUGHED....

Poor little prostitute. I hope she found somebody that night.

But that's my prostitute story. That's what I get for having Catholic morals...


Had a good time last weekend at the Fiddler's Dream festival. One of the highlights for me was a trio consisting of a harmonica player/singer, guitar player and stand-up bassist who played with a bow. After doing a series of not-very impressive originals they ended with a version of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" (based on Cream's arrangement) that blew everybody away. The Bass player bowed the familiar Claptonian intro, and it was off to the races. Place went nuts.

My wife Jan and the Fair Melissa gave a fine bellydance demo and class and my sons kicked ass as last-minute musicians for the demo. I'm so proud.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Last year, many months ago, I was in a store buying something and the guy asked me if I'd like to get eight free weeks of Sports Illustrated. I said sure, because this was the same place that asked me if I wanted eight free issues of Entertainment Weekly, which I've now been receiving for FREE for nearly three years.

So, as you might imagine, the eight weeks came and went, and I'm still getting Sports Illustrated. Free.

Which means that for the first time in my life, I have a copy of one of the much-ballyhooed swimsuit issues.

To give you an idea of the panicked excitement that the arrival of this esteemed tome caused in a house with two heterosexual teenage boys, I will attempt to describe the scene:

It came one day in the mail. It then sat for nearly two weeks in our mail basket unnoticed until I went through it looking for bills.

The thing is, the SI swimsuit issue just isn't that big of a deal anymore. You know what you're gonna get. The photography is wonderful, the models are incredibly beautiful and frequently, amazingly good sports. You get a pointless article on how the issue came together this year; you get to see a lot of bathing suits.

There is, however, one aspect of the issue that just fascinates the hell out of me:

It's the suggested retail prices of the bathing suits.

I have long had this theory that the less material it takes to make a bathing suit, the more it costs. I don't understand this, except that you literally are paying top dollar to have the right to be as naked as you wanna be. (Never mind that most of these beaches you see the models on are clothing-optional anyway, and a normal person would just doff their duds and spend NOTHING to go to the beach, save the trip getting there. At the most, they might go to Target and buy a $15 bathing suit.)

Case in point: On one page there's a picture of a model with a standard, rather conservative bikini bottom (not sure the price but it's more than $100!), and on top, she's wearing a soaking wet, see-through shirt. The SRP of this flimsy piece of material? $300+!

I wouldn't spend 300 bucks on a SUIT without good reason. Sheesh.

I wonder if a single bathing suit has ever been sold from appearing in Sports Illustrated. I wonder if they care. The designers get free publicity; what more can you ask for?


Fiddler's Dream is having its annual spring festival this Saturday. I'm closing the joint at 10:30. My wife's dance troupe is (I think) performing at some point during the day in the Quaker big building. Come check it out! $5 gets you in and out all day! Joe Bethancourt at 9! Woo Hoo!


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I just read an interesting article about Antonio Stradivari, the stringed instrument maker from which we get the so-called "Stradivarius" violins and other similar instruments.

It says if you think you have one, you most probably don't. He only made about 1100 instruments in his lifetime; most were violins, but not all. More than half of all those instruments survive, 512 of them are violins and they are ALL accounted for.
They even know what happened to most of the violins that were lost.

(A good number of them were lost in the bombing of Dresden; others went down in ships, got sat on, etc.)

There are however, literally MILLIONS of copies. Some are so good they can only be detected by appraisers who know what they're doing.

Others go out of their way to say they're authentic looking copies but that doesn't keep people from thinking what they want to think.

All of this got me thinking.

Yes, Stradivari was a great violin maker. That we know. But I'm willing to bet you this:

His first violin sucked.

Think about it. The first thing YOU made in wood shop looked like shit. Your mother only put it in the kitchen 'cause it held cookbooks and to that end, it covered the bulk of the wooden atrocity that you got a "C" on from Mr. Reynolds (or Mr. Loomis -- wood shop teachers all have DAR-approved American names like Reynolds and Loomis) the bloated gearhead drafting teacher who worked with tools every day, and couldn't hear worth shit because he always had the buzz saw on. All I ever wanted to do in wood shop was try to make a fucking baseball bat. But would they let us do that? NO! It's the old ugly bookshelf for you.

MY bookshelf was so atrocious it ended up in MY room. Also my mom didn't have a lot of cookbooks.

But think about that first Stradivarius. He probably didn't even sign his name to it. He probably went, "Gad, this is fucking impossible! Why did I decide to learn how to do this? This thing is lopsided, it's got splinters, it sounds like a dying beagle...fuck it. I wanna go meet girls." Then he tossed it in the trash, went out to the bar and eventually got pooched by an Italian hottie named Mona.

Yep. The very first Stradivarius probably ended up in the dumper. And a few more with it, I bet.

Hell, would you want the first Martin guitar? Not me. There are Martin guitars TODAY that I wouldn't want. The good ones are great but the bad ones can drive you nuts.

I probably woulda sent the Wright Brothers back for more testing after Kitty Hawk too.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?