Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Where the Seats Have No Name"

Ancient Gaelic on the walls and perfume in the ladies’ room
Dark wood tables, each brought over

Piece by piece from Boru’s tomb
Bridgid brings a round of Smithwick’s plus a Power’s on the rocks
Raven tresses though her sister sports the wild fiery locks

Pints in glasses, raise a din
They never shoulda let us in
We’re all wicked liquored up at the upscale downtown Irish pub

Shortly after New Year’s Eve, I was walking around O’Farrell and Cyril Magnin and happened to notice that Johnny Foley’s was closed for seismic retro-fitting. A quick count of weeks to mid-March told me this would either be [a] the fastest seismic retrofitting in town which means someone had an inside track with the Building Permit Department – not a far stretch, really - and dust would fly or [b] Johnny Foley’s was perhaps not to return.

But Johnny Foley’s returned to great fanfare in the California Irish Herald and the local grapevine. And in time for the big day.

A week or so after the last green plastic cup was carted off to the local landfill, I stopped by to say 'hello' to the good folks I used to see on a regular basis until the hamburgers jumped to $9.95 and they started charging extra for the bleu cheese.

Marie met me at the door and showed off the remodel with proprietorial pride. She made me list all the improvements I could see, without telling me first.

Me: New wallpaper, I see that right off, and it’s beautiful. I love that color. New art nouveau sconces, nice! And new taps…that’s a lot of brass there! Okay, what else? Those stairs to the cellar, that’s a whole partition now. And the bookcase over there, well that’s gone. And – hey! -- the ‘Hippies Use the Side Door’ sign, that’s gone too!
Marie: And so’s the side door.
Me: I can see that! But I liked that sign!
Marie: It’s over here, by the bathrooms. And we’ve got new pictures up by there too.
Me: Fidel Castro with a bottle of Powers. Cool.
Marie: What else do you see?
Me: The whole bathroom layout is different, obviously, no more payphones here and the coat rack is gone. And…oh my god!
Marie: What?
Me: That’s a stunning portrait of Bono you got there!

One week later, I had Mssrs Pachinko & Hoover down to see this. Their reaction was near to mine. We hadn’t planned on staying for a meal, but the new waitress mistook our interest and seated us right at this most august of tables.

(Joe Pachinko, San Francisco poet. Photographer: Miss Templeton)

I tried to convince my friends of the significance of this addition to the time-honored, tradition bound iconography of the joints I had known most of my life. "Look," I said. "This puts the man in a whole new realm. This is beyond lunch with the President of the United States or meeting the Pope or being in a video with Sting. Love him or don’t, we now have to give Bono the respect of someone who is Up on the Wall of a Pub."

Although my lunch mates were dubious, I warmed to the theme. "First of all, almost everyone else in a gilded frame in this room is dead. And not of old age either. And with Bono, we are clearly beyond the categories of politics, literature, and sport."

"Maybe he fits under 'literature' as a writer. A songwriter." Hoover offered.

We gave that some thought as we ordered another round.

"Perhaps," I said. "But it is still new ground. Songwriting as poetry? It’s a pretty bold step forward! Why, next there will be women on the wall!"

My companions hugged their glasses close and inched away, cringing against the lightening sure to strike me at this blasphemy.* But the moment of danger passed.

"No," I said. "This is historic. This is the dawn of a new era in pub décor."

It’s a new phenomenon, one for a new millennium
Sippin’ in a classy joint and not a dive just like some bum
This is grand, we’re well-behaved with voices at a decent pitch
Mind your language and the doorman, he’s a big son of a bitch!

Pints in glasses, raise a din
They never shoulda let us in
We’re all wicked liquored up at the upscale downtown Irish pub

*EXTRACT from DO THE RIGHT FECKIN’ THING, Draft of Spike Lee’s 1989 film with Jennifer Connolly as Buggin’ Out, Aidan Quinn as Brian, and Martin Sheen as Mike. Script was subsequently re-written for a different cast.

________________________________BUGGIN' OUT
-------------------------Mike, how come you ain't got no
-------------------------sisters up on the wall here?

_________________________ ______MIKE
-------------------------You want sisters up on the Wall
-------------------------of Fame, you open up your own
-------------------------business, then you can do what you wanna
-------------------------do. My Irish bar, men up on the wall.

-------------------------Take it easy, Mike.

-------------------------Don't start on me today.

_______________________________BUGGIN' OUT
-------------------------Mike, that might be fine, you own
-------------------------this, but not only do I see men

-------------------------eating in here, I see women.
-------------------------So since we spend much money, we do have some say.

-------------------- You a troublemaker?

Brian walks over to Buggin' Out.

--------------------You making trouble.

_______________________________BUGGIN' OUT
--------------------Put some sisters up on this Wall
------------------______-of Fame. We want Mother Jones,
-----------------_____---Maureen O’Sullivan, Rosie O’Donnell

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"They gave me a sneer and a guitar pick, and a yellow dandelion."

"I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgment Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak and love. And Mother. And God."
--John Cash.

Look here. About a month ago, I left for Dublin on the southbound train from the Portadown station hours before some strike or another that would hit on Tuesday 28 March, and checked into an airport-side hotel in Dublin in happy anticipation of a flight home via Paris on that same day.

And that very Tuesday morning found me at the Dublin Airport staring at the word "Cancelled" next to my Air France flight.

"What I can do is book you for the same flight tomorrow." said the sweet young thing at the Air France counter after handing me a government-funded mimeograph that explained how there wasn't a whole lot I could do about any of this.
"But what if the strike is still going on tomorrow!" wailed I, good-nature falling apart like a set of EuroDisney mouse-ears left in the rain.
"At this, we would say 'C'est la Vie.'" she replied. "Do you wish the ticket or not?"

So it was WEDNESDAY, March 29 that found me racing through the Parisienne Airport with a scant twenty minutes to catch the plane that would take me home to beloved San Francisco. O it was horrible! Every ugly American impulse to complain, to speak loudly, to demand to see management pounded in my veins. One of the security men actually made a bit of fun of my whimpering. But then...they held the flight for us! And they booked all of us in first class.

When the flight attendent came by for the first meal, he asked my wine preference. "Oh, red wine please" I said. Can't do white. "Very good," he replied. "2003 Merlot or 2002 Pinot Noir?" And then two bottles were flourished for my perusal. A choice of wines on a flight! I wanted to stand up and kiss him. I wanted to say "Condoleezza Rice is so f*ckin' outta line, man. France rocks!" Instead I said "Let's start with the Merlot and see where the flight takes us."

And with a meal of fresh salmon and a glass of a pleasantly brash Merlot, I turned to the inflight entertainment. And that's where I finally saw Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon going to Jackson -- and Nashville and Vegas and San Quentin -- in Walk the Line.

I should have written this film up long before. But fortunately, Duke De Mondo has taken care of all that for me:

The line Walk The Line walks most perilously is the one atween Selective Portrayal an Fuckin Slander. The flaws it presents; took a buncha pills an did some shaggin around; are sparks in the furthest flung corners a the gargantuan fires Cash scorched himself within. The virtues; he was a good lad wrote a good song; are further still from the pulsatin brilliance of his true beauty.

The flick, y’unnerstann, is shallow an predictable where Johnny Cash had the depth a the Mariana’s Trench an the unpredictability o’ an erection in a convent. It’s enjoyable an emotional an touchin, most certainly, but when the credits roll an the real Johnny an June are rippin the speakers apart every which way, a fella can’t help but reflect on the disservice it does to the man.

The True Story Of Johny Cash. Here it is;

Johnny Cash Live At Folsom Prison.

Johnny Cash Live At San Quentin.

Bitter Tears.

America – A 200 Year Salute In Story And Song.

Johnny Cash Sings The Ballads Of The True West.

Songs Of Our Soil.

American Recordings III – Solitary Man.

When those records’ve eaten into your every wakin moment till hardly a note passes your ear ‘thout facin comparison wi those incendiary, astounding, achingly beautiful pieces a work, then most likely you can assume you know as much as there is to know.

Records like shots a blazin fuck to the back a the brains, records about life an about justice an about redemption doesn’t come as easy as the cold turkey montage would have a fella believe. Records that sound like the rumble a the Earth’s gut one minute, an like the opium sanctity a sleep the next.

Records serve as teachers an pupils, records to feed the hunger in the dream-space, y’unnerstann.

Whoever he was, this man Johnny Cash wi the feet all scorched an blistered on account a the heat o’ those dunes, whoever he was, ain't much sight of him in Walk The Line.

Just found myself in the Duke's link list this weekend. So I'll have to repay that courtesy with lots and lots of visits to Mondo Irelando.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Diary of Johann August Sutter

January 28th. [1848]

Marshall arrived in the evening, it was raining very heavy, but he told me he came on important business. After we was alone in a private Room he showed me the first Specimens of Gold, that is he was not certain if it was Gold or not, but he thought it might be; immediately I made the proof and found that it was Gold. I told him even that most of all is 23 Carat Gold; he wished that I should come up with him immediately, but I told him that I have to give first my orders to the people in all my factories and shops.

(Could have been this morning at the Union Square Post Office. Why don't more people file their taxes online!?! Image from

So it's goodbye Molly Durkin, I'm sick and tired of workin'
And my heart is nearly broken, but no longer I'll be fooled;
And as sure as my name is Cooney, I'm bound for Califooney
And instead of diggin' mortar I'll be diggin' lumps of gold.

Well, I landed in Castle Garden, sure I met a man named Burke
And he told me remain in New York until he got me work.
But he hasn't got it for me, so tonight I'll tell him plain,
For San Francisco in the morn I'm going to take a train.

Trains. Trains are a whole other story! But as we've finally managed to work it back to music, I'm bringing this series of posts to a close. But remember: keep 72 hours worth of food, bleach, and fresh water in the house. Check those flashlight batteries and discuss alternate transit strategies with your household today. At work, they recommend that all employees keep a change of frillies (or male equivalent thereof) and a toothbrush and toothpaste at the office for unexpected overnight stays. That's not a bad idea either.

Oct. 15 OAKLAND (Moore) 5

San Francisco (Reuschel) 1

1989 World Series

Known variously as the Bay Area Series and BART Series (for Bay Area Rapid Transit), the 1989 Fall Classic opened in Oakland, and Athletics ace Dave Stewart was brilliant, tossing a complete-game five-hitter to shut out the Giants, 5-0.

The results were similar in Game 2. Mike Moore and two relievers limited the Giants to four hits and one run, while the A's tallied four in the fourth inning - highlighted by Terry Steinbach's three-run homer - on their way to a 5-1 victory.

(Logo from

Earthquake hits San Francisco

A powerful earthquake has rocked San Francisco killing nine people and injuring hundreds.

The number of dead is expected to rise significantly. The two tier Bay Bridge and Nimintz freeway both partially collapsed and rescuers are waiting to recover bodies from cars crushed by the quake.

The epicentre of the quake, which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale, is thought to have been Loma Prieta, 10 miles north of Santa Cruz on the San Andreas fault.

A massive rescue effort is now underway in what experts believe is the second biggest earthquake ever to hit the United States.

Officials have reported "unbelievable damage to infrastructure" with collapsed bridges and freeways, fires, shattered buildings, gaping cracks in roads and land slides.

Tremors from the quake, which lasted 15 seconds, were reported 400 miles away in Los Angeles and 200 miles away in Reno, Nevada.

The quake struck at 1704 local time (18 October, 0004 GMT), as people were making their way home after work. Traffic was brought to a standstill and many homes left without power.

Fans waiting to see the baseball World Series match at Candlestick Park were also caught up in the quake. Supporters ran onto the pitch as the whole stadium swayed.

(Image from the

U.S. Geological Survey Intensity Map for the 1989 Loma Prieta Quake

The highest concentration of fatalities, 42, occurred in the collapse of the Cypress Street Viaduct on the Nimitz Freeway (Interstate 880), where a double-decker portion of the freeway collapsed, crushing the cars on the lower deck. One 50-foot (15 m) section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge also collapsed, causing two cars to fall to the deck below, leading to the single fatality on the bridge. The bridge was closed for repairs for a month and one day, reopening on November 18. While the bridge was closed, ridership on Bay Area Rapid Transit and ferry services soared.

Wikipedia Entry on Loma Prieta Quake

(Embarcadero Freeway blocking Ferry Building from the city, 1960s. Image from

(Where the Embarcadero Freeway once stood. Image from Mike Humbert's Idiosyncratic Guide to San Francisco)

"The Bay Area is so beautiful, I hesitate to preach about heaven while I'm here."
~Billy Graham

"You are fortunate to live here. If I were your President, I would levy a tax on you for living in San Francisco!"
~Mikhail Gorbachev

"Somehow the great cities of America have taken their places in a mythology that shapes their destiny: Money lives in New York. Power sits in Washington. Freedom sips Cappuccino in a sidewalk cafe in San Francisco."
~Joe Flower

From the San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2005:

In 2001, a FEMA report ranked hurricane damage to New Orleans as one of the three most likely catastrophes facing the country (the other two were a terrorist attack on New York City and an earthquake in San Francisco).

"Mary Ann Singleton was twenty-five years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time."

Heros and Icons: Harvey Milk

But banking bored him, and the gay Greenwich Village milieu that he slipped into was full of scruffy radicals, drug-addled theater queens and goofy twentysomethings fleeing Midwest bigotry. Milk befriended or had sex with many of them (including Craig Rodwell, who would help lead the 1969 riots outside the Stonewall bar that launched the gay movement). By the early 1970s, Milk had moved to San Francisco, enraptured by its flourishing hippie sensibilities.

The few gays who had scratched their way into the city's establishment blanched when Milk announced his first run for supervisor in 1973, but Milk had a powerful idea: he would reach downward, not upward, for support. He convinced the growing gay masses of "Sodom by the Sea" that they could have a role in city leadership, and they turned out to form "human billboards" for him along major thoroughfares. In doing so, they outed themselves in a way once unthinkable. It was invigorating.

(From Woodmere N.Y. to San Francisco CA. Harvey Milk and Market Street in the mid-70s. Image from

A long, long time ago, let's say 1976, in a place very far away (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), a convent of Roman Catholic nuns lent some retired habits to a group of men performing their version of The Sound of Music. Three years later, those habits resurfaced in the streets of San Francisco's Castro district...
(From Sistory: A Blow by Blow History of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence)

Despite the characters' rueful and frequently baffled quest for romantic fulfillment, there's a giddiness in the very fabric of the Tales; it's the rush of liberation, an elixir familiar to any misfit who ever relocated to San Francisco, including Maupin. The author, who remembers himself as an "uptight, archconservative, racist brat" during his Southern youth (he even worked briefly for Senator Jesse Helms), came to San Francisco at the age of twenty-seven and came out of the closet shortly thereafter. His work as a journalist made him privy to all manner of gossip about society high and low, and his participation in the emergence of a new kind of society-a sort of republic of pleasure-fed his desire to write.

Literary site for Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City

SF Pride Parade: Official Site and 2006 Registration Entry Form

While his first three tries for office failed, they lent Milk the credibility and positive media focus that probably no openly gay person ever had. Not everyone cheered, of course, and death threats multiplied. Milk spoke often of his ineluctable assassination, even recording a will naming acceptable successors to his seat and containing the famous line: "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."

Candlelight March for Harvey Milk, Market Street, November 27, 1978

"There was cowboy Neal at the wheel

Of a bus to never-ever land"

San Francisco in the middle 60's was a very special time and place to be a part of. But no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive, in that corner of time in the world. Whatever it meant. There was madness in any direction. At any hour, you could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right. That we were winning. And that I think was the handle. That sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil. Not in any mean or military sense. We didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail.
-Hunter S. Thompson

"The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer -- they think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer."
-Ken Kesey

Tarnished Galahad: The Prose and Pranks of Ken Kesey

(Scanned from private collection.)

By 1968, though, Bill Fuller’s attention was firmly focussed on one of his greatest dreams yet: building an Irish village in Galway Bay. While he was doing this, the American rock promoter Bill Graham flew to Ireland in a desperate attempt to obtain the lease on The Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco. It was easier than Graham had imagined. Fuller was waiting for him when he arrived at Shannon Airport at 8am, ordered a bottle of bourbon, shook hands on a deal, finished the remaining shots of liquor and then announced that he was going back to work on his building site. By 5pm, Graham was on a flight home, all set to turn The Carousel into the legendary rock venue, the Fillmore West.

We had all the momentum. We were riding the crest, of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west. And with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high watermark...that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
-Hunter S. Thompson

But as Garcia said, you know, the '60s ain't over till the fat lady gets high. And that means that whatever it takes to get you high: sometimes grief, sometimes it's prayer, fasting. I prefer a joint.
-Ken Kesey

"riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening"

"It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness of the late afternoon of time."
-Sal Paradise, On The Road

(In the road ... Bob Donlin, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Robert La Vigne and Lawrence Ferlinghetti outside the City Lights bookstore in 1956. Photograph: Allen Ginsberg/Corbis as reprinted in the

"Jack Kerouac opened a million coffee bars and sold a million Levis to both sexes."
-William Burroughs

About Levi Strauss & Co.

Sunflower Sutra, Allen Ginsberg

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and
....sat down under the huge shade of a Southern
....Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron
....pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts
....of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed,
....surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun
....sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves
....rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums
....on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray
....shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting
....dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust--
--I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower,
....memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem...

The mad road, lonely, leading around the bend into the openings of space towards the horizon Wasatch snows promised us in the vision of the West, spine heights at the world's end, coast of blue Pacific starry night—nobone halfbanana moons sloping in the tangled night sky, the torments of great formations in mist, the huddled invisible insect in the car racing onwards, illuminate.—The raw cut, the drag, the butte, the star, the draw, the sunflower in the grass—orangebutted west lands of Arcadia, forlorn sands of the isolate earth, dewy exposures to infinity in black space, home of the rattlesnake and the gopher the level of the world, low and flat: the charging restless mute unvoiced road keening in a seizure of tarpaulin power into the route.

"Always forgive your enemies;

nothing annoys them so much."

AMERICAN BARBARISM: The Apostle of Estheticism Exposes Our Sins, San Francisco Daily Chronicle, March 30, 1882

A scene of considerable excitement occurred yesterday afternoon when Oscar Wilde ventured out in search of Celestial handiwork. In company with a lady and an escort, he called at a Chinese store on Sacramento street, below Kearny. No sooner had he been seen to leave his carriage than a general rush took place, and in a moment the street in front of the store was utterly impassable, and it required the bear-efforts of Officer Curtis to prevent the spectators from precipitating themselves into the store.

(Image from

"It's an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world."
-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Grey, 1891

San Francisco City Search: Wilde Oscar's

"49 square miles surrounded by reality"

~Paul Kantner rock band Jefferson Airplane

(Image available for purchase at

"I will sing in San Francisco if I have to sing in the streets, for I know that the streets of San Francisco are Free."
~Luisa Tetrazzini, San Francisco's all time favorite soprano, on the occasion of breaking her New York contract

"One is the loneliest number"

U2's 'One' Voted Britain's Favorite Lyric

LONDON - The Irish band U2 has given Britain its favorite song lyric, according to a survey released Monday.

ONE more sentence and I'd be quoting that one in full.

Also, I promise the full story with picture of Bono and Johnny Foley's seismic-retrofitting remodel job. Maybe tonight. Oh! And speaking of seismic retrofitting:

I never will forget Jeanette MacDonald...

(An affordable fixer-upper, Just three mil on the market.)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More Metal Fret-Wankery on MySpace

Part of the fun of the John Matrix Blues Quintet is seeing what genres its members consider themselves. The current choice of "Death Metal / Afro-beat / Psychobilly" starts out on the right track and then just becomes a mockery of every earnest MySpace band's desire to pigeonhole their music in the proper category so that it will come to the attention of the hordes of American teens taking a break from snapping incriminating cellphone-cam shots of each other.

Before this I believe the JMBQ saw itself as "House / Psychedelic / Disco" - a delightful trio of styles right there.

Two new tracks: The Nib Atrocity and Shoelace Metal Symphony. I detect a Pink Floyd influence myself. Or perhaps Aker Bilk.

The responsible parties for this music also contributed to a round-table discussion on Chick Flicks over at It comes as a pleasant surprise that Duke "Chicks Dig Whinin'" de Mondo is a bit of a romantic:

But if we are to assume, as Sir Fleming did, that two flicks are being presented to yours truly, and that I know nothing about them save for the fact that one's called some shit like Zero Degree X and the other's called Two Folks Love For A Time, I'm gonna go with the fella meets the lady and the lady likes the fella but woe! He's married to some filthy whore treats him like a bag o' busted bladders. Dump that ho, I'll say, and get with that woman writes you songs and then sings them to you but pretends they're covers of Sheryl Crow b-sides cause she knows you got a ring on yonder finger.

Also, such a motion picture is more likely to feature Kirsten Dunst and be written and directed by Woody Allen.

But the Duke also warns:

But if the rest of the flick sucks, well, don't matter how many montages it's got all about he misses her, she misses him, maybe they should put their differences aside and get filthin' again, it ain't gonna save it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"'Cause they'll be rockin on Bandstand

In Philadelphia P.A."

Kids today! They don't know how it was. They don't know!

Back in my day, one week away from your usual online routine usually meant a bare hour or so to clear out the email box and delete the invites to those enticing online casinos, the charming solicitations from various and sundry ladies of alluring names -- I'm reminded here of the Tom Waits line in 9th and Hennepin: "All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes" -- and that whole medicine show of various pharmacopeias of invigorating strength and vitality to add inches to your life. (Which were probably useful products to ingest before a virtual night on town at the Texas-Hold'Em online casino with the lovely French Crueller by your cyber-side.)

And now there's MySpace. 24 hours away from this little virtual social network, and you will return to a pile of friend requests, messages, event invites, and bulletin board readings that will make you wonder if the Luddites had the right idea all along.

How did this happen? How did a website that has all the aesthetic charm of Winston Smith's description of the Victory Cafe emerge in 2005 as one of the top ten most visited websites in the world?

Because as far as I can tell, MySpace only has two things: teenagers and rock-n-roll.

And nothing good ever came from that combination.

There are points to consider. The basic template style is fairly uninspired:

Trading ’spaces
Why your MySpace page isn’t nearly as cool as Pinback’s

So they just came out with this new thing that’s pretty awesome. The local bands are all about it—not just the cool ones, but all of ’em. It’s called MySpace. Heard of it? No? Oh, man, it’s all about that six degrees of separation shit and how the whole world’s connected through technology and the democratization of art and how our generation doesn’t need fucking radio or MTV or any of that shit to get our music out.

OK, while all of that is true (sorta) and, yes, MySpace is (kinda) mind blowing, we need to back up a minute.

First, MySpace was reportedly designed by super nerds who could have cured cancer if their dream hadn’t been bringing people (and stalkers) together online. So why are so many bands’ pages either really boring or look like a 9-year-old designed them on a Speak & Spell?

And if it’s all about individuality and creativity, then why do all these bands’ fans (read: mostly young women) look so alike (read: mostly slightly blurry camera-phone pics of young women with puckered lips slathered in a dozen tubes’ worth of cheap lip gloss)? Surely, there’s more to MySpace than this...

Possibly, MySpace has already sold out to The Man:

Skate Company Builds MySpace® Army to Promote their Store

"Our customers are a moving target" says Rick Davis, one of the company's owners. "They are extremely passionate and fiercely loyal. Skating is not a sport, it's a lifestyle. If you can win them over, they will go to end of the world for you."

So how do you win these kids loyalty? Davis says "Almost everyone underestimates them. These are intelligent, savvy kids. They have been exposed to the most extreme marketing techniques in the history of mankind since their birth. A 13-year old can smell a sales pitch coming from a mile away." So what is the trick? According to Davis, there's not one. "Just be sincere. You have to be truly sincere in what you do and say. Be absolutely consumed with delivering whatever is best for your customer. They know the difference. Try to fake it and they'll leave you cold."

Fueling this MySpace marketing concept is the age old snowball effect. On the news ticker that Roller Warehouse developed, each topic delivered contains the first 30 to 40 words of the article. Each topic is hyperlinked; clicking it will take you back to the company's original blog page where you can read the entire text. On the blog page, the option to add the news ticker to your own page appears. Thus, the cycle is repeated.

There's the legitimate concerns of parents at all this sudden connectivity between the children in the family and the world:

Parents beware: Teens using Web site to build social status

On the surface the idea is fine, but like most things it has become reflective of the worst of society. MySpace has been taken over by teens and young people ("tweens") who are putting up all manner of content about themselves on the sites. We're at a perfect storm here when it comes to issues like these.

First, kids now have access to digital cameras and can take photographs of themselves and their friends that never pass through the editors of my day, namely my parents and the photolab. That means MySpace is full of photographs of risque photos, to put it politely.

What the kids of today don't seem to understand is the Web is forever. On the practical side, that photo of you with your underwear on your head using a beer bong may be kinda funny to you today, but won't be all that amusing 10 years later at your Senate confirmation hearing or your job interview for law partner.

Man! It's that old principal's threat made real "This is going on your permanent record, young man!"

And there is the equally legitimate concern that anyone using the net extensively must acknowledge:

Internet 'Friends'

'The problem is that kids have this false sense of security online,' said Joseph Donahue, a State Police investigator who works in the Albany headquarters of the Computer Crime Unit's ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force.

'If they're not meeting people face-to-face, they feel like they're 8 feet tall and bulletproof. They feel nobody can bother them, but that's naïve and makes them much more vulnerable.'

What has raised the concern of law enforcement is Since it was launched three years ago, the Web site now counts more than 60 million members, and is growing daily. The majority of those congregating are teenage girls, according to Donahue.

The secret to its popularity is in its simplicity. With an e-mail account, users can join up and create their own personal pages, post photographs, movies, music and share diary-like commentary with the world.

More on all stories at the links.

I started looking for MySpace stories on the blurred line between Official and Unofficial music sites as the accidental result of becoming a 'friend' of two separate Boomtown Rats sites. The second one is more informative and professional looking. Also, they invited ME to be a friend, so I'm kinda hoping they are the Official one. I also believe that the role of MySpace in popular music will rival that of earlier technologies such as the jukebox, transistor radio, the FM broadcast frequency, and the 45 rpm single.

"Sweet Little Sixteen
She's just got to have
About half a million
Framed autographs
Her profile's filled with pictures
She gets 'em one by one
She gets so excited
Watch her look at her run..."