Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"My thoughts I confess, verge on dirty"

It took less than four hours from wheels hitting runway to find myself listening to Come on Eileen on a store music stream for what will not be the first time.

On Edit: Now listening to Bohemian Rhapsody. Apparently there's a musical at Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1.

The time is the future, in a place that was once called Earth. Globalisation is complete!

Everywhere, the kids watch the same movies, wear the same fashions and think the same thoughts.

It's a safe, happy, Ga Ga world. Unless you're a rebel. Unless you want to Rock. On Planet Mall all musical instruments are banned. The Company Computers generate the tunes and everybody downloads them. It is an age of Boy Bands and of Girl Bands. Of Boy and Girl Bands. Of Girl Bands with a couple of boys in them that look like girls anyway. Nothing is left to chance, hits are scheduled years in advance.

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality

Goodness! How distopian.

Still, my Friday nite plans aren't firm, so this one is on the list. If only so it can be bumped by something else.

22 Grand Job in the City

Heathrow gets passing marks today, I'm amazed to say. Still remodelling those long labyrinthine hallways of theirs, but the lines were short and the baggage appeared unmolested by its travels. A young rock band was checking in behind me. Two guitar cases, a drum kit and a keyboard. They aren't too famous, because no screaming groupies greeted us at arrivals. They also aren't EU citizens because I spent time with them in the Passport line. Just a young group travelling and getting a few gigs on the way.

But Virgin is looking a little shopworn these days. Not as free with the online refreshments as before. And I miss the "Think Pink" radio stream with Jackie Clune.

The town is now a 'university' town, and there's the new movie theatre/bowling alley shopping complex to explore. Went into an MVC and Johnny and June were singing about Going to Jackson, which I'll accept as a good omen. Still: no copy of The Rakes. My taxi driver was a Hawkwind fan and his kids can't stand his taste in music. We had a great talk about everything including politics, media, the sorry state of the world and -- naturally -- music.

Off to check the work emails now.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

75mg: a new album from the Duke De Mondo

I honestly don't know how people close to him can stand the Duke De Mondo.

To be in any real-time proximity must be wearing as all hell.

First there's the writing. His seven-part series 72 Hours Raw in Dublin was like a Red Bull and cigarette-fueled collaboration between Jack Kerouac and Patrick McCabe holed up in the Talbot Street Comfort Inn with nothing but Shane MacGowan and Pete Doherty songs on the mp3 playlist. When I first read it, I actually thought I was encountering someone with decades of writing experience behind him. Not so.

Then there's the website, linked above. One guestbook visitor said "My favorite amateur website ever." It does read a little dark on my own workstation screen, but that screen may be a thing of the past now, so whatever. The design, layout and graphics are -- again -- something you'd expect from someone with years of experience. And it is loaded with essays and rants, sound files and pictures, and god knows what else. I haven't even visited the Asia Extreme section.

And then there's the podcasts. Here, for the first time, we have a chance to hear the early forays of inexperience. Mondo Irelando Podcasts 1 through 3 are worth a listen and probably hold up against 95% of the other podcasts out there. Also, my drop-jawed admiration for anyone who would play a Charles Manson composition (indeed creeping out the audience with the actual recording of Manson singing it) and then follow it with one of their own songs! But I'm getting ahead of the story.

With Podcast 4, there's something more that gets started. And the way that he handled "the following program contains obscene language that may be inappropriate for some listeners" in Podcast 6 should have Stan Freberg crawling out of the grave and dragging his bones to Belfast just to shake the Duke's hand. Podcast 13: brilliant. Simply brilliant.

I've got the gap between Podcast 8 to 12 to cover, and there's apparently a Podcast 14 on its way.

Okay. What else? He's some sort of bigwig at Bubba Ho-Tep review picked at random there.)

And on top of that...he's a songwriter. Because none of that other stuff is apparently enough.

I mean: damn!

I came on this with 120 Removed (April Songs), which I thought was a breakup album with his muse Sinead. Indeed, I still haven't figured that one out, but the first song "I Do Believe You Are the Devil" seemed to be the cathartic release of inviting your buddies over and trashing some poor person from a past relationship. The lyrics described the sort of thing people in San Francisco will pay top dollar for in certain Folsom Street establishments:

I do believe you are the devil,
Got me bent naked for the lash,
Those 120 days of Sodom heading up this way,
Twisting and writhing in the ash.

I'd been listening to buckets of Nick Cave at the time, so I wasn't immediately impressed. Did appreciate the Soggy Bottom Boys chorus of the other guys in the background.

But then there was Chicks Dig Whinin.' "Ah HA!" I thought. I just knew this would be some misogynistic piece of male superiority laughing at female sentiments that I could download and post to the good ladies of Guerilla Girls, who would, in turn, administer a post-feminist cyber-pounding on his ass. But the song did not play out as expected. Instead, it revealed an understanding of female psychology that I'm not too pleased to know is in the hands of the opposite side in this eternal battle of the sexes we've all got going on.

Taken as advice, the song could help a lot of guys get a lot of action:

Chicks dig whinin’, this I know,
Their sympathetic eyes say so,
And whispering to friends – “It’s true,
Man, he’s so cute when he’s so blue”

Chicks dig guys who fantasise,
Bout helping dry her weeping eyes,
And guys who choke on hateful lies,
“I’m sorry! I apologise!”

Chicks dig songs bout loneliness,
And songs bout life that sound like death,
And pausing for to catch my breath…
And cough the shit from out my chest

Chicks dig talk of Jesus from a fella’s not a preacher,
Just some fool left to make sense of senselessness,
And all my senses,
They are dragging me towards her and I’m scared I’ll never reach her,
Chicks dig weary resignated sighs…
Chicks dig when a man can’t help but cry

And it is sung to the tune of Jesus Loves Me. Again: brilliant. Just brilliant.

But he's got a new album out now, and all that's going to happen is everyone who is already a slavering online fan of his hyper-creative output is just going to download it and praise it and pass it along to their friends. (I haven't had a chance yet, but the one track on Mondo Irelando Podcast 13 was pretty damn good.)

What he needs is some new, impartial listeners. Listeners steeped in the full five decades of rock music and not easily swayed by clever graphics or streams of prose. I believe a few Horslips fans should get in there and make their opinions known, certainly, but I encourage any and all to check out 75 mg.

There! Thank God that's finished. It makes me tired just writing about him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Did you know that Van Morrison wrote a song about Heathrow Airport?

For Roger H and Peter S: so it's a work-related post!

Heathrow Shuffle

Ba-ba-doo-day, ba-ba-doo-day, ba-ba-doo-day
Ba-ba-doo-day, ba-ba-doo-day, ba-ba-doo-day
Ba-ba-doo-day, ba-ba-doo-day, ba-ba-doo-day
Heathrow shuffle, Heathrow shuffle, yeah
Heathrow shuffle, Heathrow shuffle, yeah
Gotta go to Heathrow, gotta go to Heathrow, yeah

Okay. I could have written that! Maybe it's the way Van sings it.

But there you are, Roger and Peter: can't wait to be the Virgil to your Dantes as we descend to the ninth circle of baggage check!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"The Duchess, so charming.

Does she share your passion for organic farming?"

When last we left the dynamic royal duo, they were but two degrees of separation away from my coworker. And one of those degrees was via the Guerneville leather community.

Me: Well! Go on. As the Pink Ladies said to Sandy "Tell me more. Tell me more."
Coworker: Okay. Now Saturday was the Russian River Mr Leather competition. And I was Judge's Boy.
Me: I know that you've put in a great deal of community work on this. Well done.
Coworker: But the M.C. was Donna Sachet.
Me: Who?
Coworker: Donna Sachet is the 30th Empress of San Francisco.
Me: Ah! I see. Royalty.
Coworker: She was elected as Empress in 1995.
Me: Now that's the way to run a monarchy!

"Her Majesty is a pretty nice girl

but she doesn't have a lot to say."

(From Donna Sachet's own site, linked above.)

Coworker: And Donna and I sat together at the evening's awards dinner.
Me: Because protocal dictates that Judge's Boy sits to the right of the Empress of San Francisco.
Coworker: Exactly. And we were having a great time discussing things, but Donna needed to make it an early evening so she could get back to the City for her next social engagement.
Me: And that was?
Coworker: Escorting Prince Charles to see Beach Blanket Babylon.

I let this significant chain of events soak in. (I'm quite pleased with that 'chain' metaphor, by the way.) I was deeply impressed. But I rallied.

Me: Oh good! Perhaps she'll give him some fashion and accessorizing tips to pass along to his mother.
Coworker: I'm going back to my desk.

Now Beach Blanket Babylon is just the sort of thing that the rest of America deplores about the Bay Area. We even offended Hollywood with it! I suppose it is our combination of scenery, weather, fantastic restaurants, and an all-embracing liberal ethos for life's pleasures -- and the 'pains' we take to get those pleasures -- that makes San Francisco the target of others' ire and poorly-masked inadequacies. (Yes, I AM looking right at you Bill O'Reilly. Anything happens to Coit Tower and you are going to find yourself waking up with a crowd around you. That last name buys you nothing with Gavin Newsom. Or me.)

Me: Rambling again, aren't I?
Coworker: Yes, but it was worth it for the Bill O'Reilly swipe.
Me: He's a bastard! But go on.
Coworker: They say that the design of Coit Tower is based on the nozzle of a fireman's hose.
Me: Do they really?

Me: Oh Yes. I see that now. Was there a particular fireman they had in mind?
Coworker: So anyway, I'm sure that there's been some coverage of Charles and Camilla at the show.
Me: I'll check.

From the Contra Costa Times:

Outside Club Fugazi, a red carpet and patient paparazzi. Inside, spines are straight. Language is proper. There is no denim in sight. It feels like a European city, not an American one.

Dressed in suits and sequins, San Francisco's glitterati is on its best behavior, laughing a little harder at a show they've seen dozens of times. This San Francisco institution is the longest running musical in history, and even the prince's mum likes it.

A rosy-cheeked Prince of Wales, dressed in a navy suit and seated next to his wife, Camilla, leans forward, grins, and asks a local dignitary, "How many times have you seen this show?" The prince knows: This is the place to bring visiting heads of state.

And when a show can be tailored to tickle even the most royal funny bone, why not? In tonight's journey to find her prince, Snow White is escorted by a French-prostitute-Italian-waitress-Jewish-yenta who introduces her to celebs of the past decade.

Enter Hillary Clinton, dressed as the Statue of Liberty in a 2008 presidential campaign and gripping a larger-than-life bottle of Viagra for her hubby, Bill, who's busy flirting with anything that moves.

Outdated, yes, but roars ensue regardless. It is safe to laugh. When weapons of mass destruction or Scooter Libby's career come up, the laughs are thinner, more hesitant. The closest we get to current politics lands Snow White in "gay" Paris, where a flamboyant Louis XIV in a Pepto-pink wig croons, "I'm still a twosome/Thanks to Gavin Newsom."

And indeed, there's a new page on the Beach Blanket site with photos of the royal visit. They take ages to load. But if you click on it, you'll enjoy the site of Prince Charles and King Louis XIV sharing the stage.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"But it’s my destiny to be the King of Pain"

At work on Monday, the mood is hectic. But my co-worker and I still found a chance to talk about the weekend's big visit:

Co-worker: Do you wanna play 'Degrees of Separation' with Charles and Camilla?
Me: Sure, I'm two degrees.
Co-worker: I'm one!

My disgust mingled with impressed envy. Is that possible?

Co-worker: Guess it is TWO then.
Me: Well yes. It's always ONE from anyone. Otherwise, they are YOU. But what's your 'two'? I'm sure it's better than mine.
Co-Worker: know that this last weekend was Leather Weekend in Guerneville...
Me: It's already way better than mine...

And with that, our potential new employee showed up for his interview, and I couldn't very well say "Go on, my fellow office-mate. Tell me how the Guerneville Leather Community puts in two degrees of separation from your good self and Prince Charles..."

to be continued

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Well, there's gonna be a freaker's ball.

Tonight at the Freaker's Hall.

And you know you're invited one and all...

Quite a bit of news escaped me in the last few days. I was dimly aware that Bono's recent lunchtime partner had added Charles and Camilla to his dining agenda as well. And I respected their trip to Louisiana, which may do some good:

Despite the inconvenience the visit caused to the recovering city, some residents said it was worthwhile.

Mary Prinz, 66, said she had thanked Charles "for coming and giving us some publicity. We need people to come down here and see how bad it is. Maybe the senators and congressmen from up north will come down now that he's led the way."

Charles and Camilla also went to the Cathedral Academy, a Catholic school in the French Quarter.

They were greeted by singing students, one of whom appeared confused about where Charles was from. "Is there a map around here so I could show him where England is?" Charles asked. None was easily available.

But what absolutely took me by surprise was the headline on the Marin IJ that greeted me on Friday:

West Marin Revved Up For Royals

Fred, a carrot-eating, 15-year-old pug dog that hangs out at the Old Western Saloon in Point Reyes Station, might have a date to meet the Prince of Wales.

Well, that's one of the rumors floating around the community in anticipation of a visit from Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who will be spending time at the town's organic farmers market Saturday.

"He is supposed to come over here for a pint or something; he wants to go into an old saloon, and he is interested in meeting our pug," said Kathy "Yummy" Sparling, who tends bar at the Old Western Saloon.

Which means, at this very moment, my county is hosting the visit! But it gets creepier:

The couple later were flying to San Francisco, where their tour is due to end Tuesday. On the royal duo's California itinerary is a stop in Bolinas, an outpost of artists, farmers and vintage hippies perched on the tip of a peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean, about 30 miles north of San Francisco.

But the couple shouldn't expect too much fanfare. A few days before the planned visit, the seaside village was mellow, from the sun sliding over the silk-smooth surface of the Bolinas Lagoon to the affable yellow dog stretched out on the floor of Smiley's Schooner Saloon, a local landmark.

"I've got a British flag somewhere," said Smiley's owner, Don Deane, as he mused over what to do in honor of the royal entourage. "I may fly that if I can find it."

I interviewed for a job with Don Deane! (He also runs the town newspaper.) If the royal couple stop by Smileys (And why wouldn't they? They seem to have the Old Western Saloon in the sites! Never too far from a pint are they?) then it is just going to be two degrees of separation between me and the Prince of Wales. And that's three degrees of separation between me and a whole lot of mess I don't want to think about!

Whatever could have possibly attracted Charles and Camilla to the Bay Area?

In Berkeley, it was the same scene witnessed in West Marin all week, a flurry of activity to primp and shine in time for an aristocratic inspection. Daria Curtis was one of many volunteers hauling around wheelbarrows and raking up leaves on Friday in preparation for the arrival of the Prince and the Duchess.

"We don't usually have volunteer days on weekdays. We usually have them on weekends," Curtis told KCBS reporter Janice Wright as she raked the one-acre garden and kitchen classroom created by renowned chef Alice Waters to promote healthy eating habits among school kids.

The rain had them running a little behind schedule.

"We're especially working on the more prominent paths, the things that are going to be more visible," Curtis said.

The school plans to give the couple a hands-on demonstration of the same organic farming techniques the kids learn.

"We're going to build a compost pile," said Curtis, "and we're going to process some of the amaranth and lemon verbena that we've harvested."

Building a compost pile. It's just a life of 24/7 glitz and glamour with the royals, isn't it?

But apparently, this is indeed the draw:

Bolinas has to be taken on its own terms: "You've got what you've got," said organic farmer Dennis Dierks, who runs Paradise Valley Produce with his wife, Sandy.

Bolinas' thriving organic scene is what attracted Charles and Camilla.

Oh YEAH…thriving organic scene. Yes indeed! This is how that one’s going to play out: after a visit to the Medical Marijuana Clinic, they’re all going to end up back at Lazer Nightsky’s goat farm, staring up at the vast starry night from the roof of Lazer’s ’77 Chevy van and doing that thing where you say a word over and over until it loses its cognitive meaning [try it with ‘window’next time] and you start giggling because the train of reality has just slipped a little off the tracks and revealed a limitless dimension of possibilities. I mean, if we’ve all just agreed that these sounds -- this ‘window’ -- means what it does...and it could have been any collection of sounds that we picked to mean...well dude! We can just, like, say anything and agree that it means anything we want and there’s nothing really linking the signifier and the signified is there? I mean, beyond our mutual consent, you know? And if we can wrap our minds around that, that’s when we’ll be free of the whole machine. Dig?

The FBI is dancin' with the junkies
All the straights, swingin' with the funkies
Across the floor and up the wall
We're freakin' at the freaker's ball, y'all
We're freakin' at the freaker's ball