Thursday, June 29, 2006

Robert Downey Jr is my favorite Cokehead in the world

After his work in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", Robert Downey Jr. still tops my poll for favorite cokehead in the world. Considering that the World Cup is going on, I'll give the nod to Diego Maradona from Argentina as my second favorite cokehead in the world. Downey Jr's manic addled performance in the brilliant film noir/Hollywood send up "Kiss Kiss, Ban Bang" will keep him a top of the cokehead polls for awhile. Val Kilmer as "Gay Perry" hasn't been this good since his tour-de-force performance with Elizabeth Shue in "The Saint". No, I never did see "The Saint". Perhaps the most stupefying thing about the movie is that it was written by Shane Black. His previous writing gigs include Lethal Weapon and the Last Boy Scout. I have never watched a Lethal Weapon movie in its entirety. As far as the Last Boy Scout is concerned, I am not much of a fan of Damon Wayans. I much prefer the nuanced subtle performances from his colleague David Alan Grier. Mr Black skewers everything he did in the 90's with a huge wink and fuck you, I got paid for writing this shit. With its violent twists and staccato dialogue, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" is easily the most entertaining film of the year not starring Steve Carell or Jeff Daniels.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Morph the Cat

I remember my sister in high school fancying herself some Fagen. Donald! she would cry before succumbing to a soul-sucking daze that would usually last until the following Spring.

‘Hey Nineteen,’ sang Donald in Steely Dan and Heidi, who was nineteen at the time, sang ‘hey’ right back. Hillsboro High School’s Most Photogenic Senior Afflicted With Scoliosis kept a vinyl talisman next to her bed at all times: Steely Dan’s Aja. She even went with a guy who years later named his daughter that. Peculiar.

When I was nineteen and armed with fake I.D., Heidi and I performed a brutal rendition of Aja’s 'Deacon Blues' that got us permanently ejected from Pudgy’s, a karaoke bar on the Oregon Coast specialising in triple-shot green cocktails. Heidi adored that tune more than any major girl ever had any right to but after that night the song was damaged goods — she would never be able to hear it the same way ever again. Meanwhile I went from strength to strength. Age 21 the essence of my insufferable style was encapsulated by two T-shirts: Jack Kerouac and Steely Dan. And my best friend was Jimbo, but I called him Deacon.

The Dan were an AM band championed by the FM dial (they still record, but it’s no scratch on their 70s heyday). They flawlessly fused rock, pop and soul music using big-time jazz chops and ‘fine Columbian’ beats. They liked their comedy the same way they liked their coffee (black) and they were whipsmart NY intellectuals. Now the Don puts out a solo record every decade or so, 'Morph the Cat' is his third and in a curious way it neatly obsesses over death, dying and such biz.

It’s a good record with a genius hook. Imagine a charismatic cat floating over NY City; a rather sophisticated feline who occasionally imbibes a latte or twelve, excreting an opiate mist upon the metropolis, prompting its inhabitants to burst into a fit of giggles. Young racketeers, teenage models and the old ladies can all feel it. Morph the Cat.

The production is smoother than a woman’s leg after a clean shave and slicker than an ice rink. Fagen often requires five guitars, a triumvirate of saxophone and (crucially) vibes to make these epic tunes rip in a hip, albeit geriatric fashion. 'What I Do', a chat with Ray Charles, is almost as smooth and sexy as the Dave Graney sound. Elsewhere, Parliament’s Mothership abducts The Dan’s Josie ('Brite Nightgown'). Two trippy cuts make my head bob: 'The Night Belongs to Mona' (a funk number about a NY babe in a funk) and 'Mary Shut the Garden Door', container of delicious, vicious vibes. The melodica solo from the Don is as textured as lacy lingerie. Heidi wouldn’t wear it if she could (not that she can’t, who am I to say, but she won’t), but she will dig it, oh yes she will.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Rather Ripped indeed

Sonic Youth's latest opus "Rather Ripped" is a spermy soaked power pop album. The perfect summer record for popping the cork on your third bottle of champagne alone in your basement.
On the opening track "Reena", Kim Gordon mellifluosly coos over syrupy guitars about lesbionic tryists while reassuring her lover that "you keep me coming home again". This is her best outing since Goo. Chuck D was not available for comment. Gone are the guttural growls that marred her past 'avant garde' performances. This is her album. She continues to shine with "Jams Run free" and "Turquoise Boy". Kim's delivery may have mellowed, but her attitude has not. She still remembers the exact dimensions of hell.
Thurston Moore, the godfather of post-punk/ proto-indie, answers her battle cry with "Incinerate" and "Do you believe in Rapture?". Rather Ripped is like the anti-Ira Kaplan/Georgia Hubley (the other NY/NJ power couple) album. RR delves into the mind fucks that are perpetuated by couples in love/lust/ or just settling for you right now mode. With doe eyed abandon Thurston asks 'Do you believe in rapture' as the guitars gurgle below the surface. They never explode into the crescendo that has been expected since "Murray Street". Coitus interruptus. Stop fucking like a rabbit. Pull out and pray you poor bastard, her parents are home. By all accounts I usually enjoy the masturbatory guitar histrionics that usually mark the end of a SY song. With Rather Ripped I found myself enjoying the tension and lack of release. Very tantric.
Lee Renaldo has his usual standout wah-wah track with "Rats". His contributions are always the rug that ties the room together. Fill in your favorite Big Lebowski quote here. Mine is "We are Nihilists. We believe in nothing."
Rather Ripped is a non-saccharine filled "Pop" album. instead of the ohh-laa-laa bullshit, we are given pseudophederine fuelled guitars that gradually melt your face away. It is a pop album that I can embrace. Usually the only pop that I want on a summery Sunday afternoon is the sound of a champagne cork rattling around my basement.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Good-time rock and roll, Grossly reliable pizza

De Campo estimates we drank a keg of Stella last night at The Empress. I’m not surprised. I was very parched and given what work had mentally done to me the last three days I probably seemed anxious to tie one on.

I must say the quality of the beer coming out the tap was very good.

The quality of the music coming out of the p.a. was even better. With Mia on piano, New Estate rocked the house. Tugboat were musically tighter than a jam jar and art school kids World Ends Press played some of the neatest postpunk I have heard since the whole tedious revival started.

I was keen to follow the party to The Lair (Marc and Toby’s) afterwards, but the anti-nausea pills De Campo was taking had made her nauseous, so I focussed on hailing a cab, getting home and ordering a pizza.

Intersection CafĂ© at 1.30am was my only choice and their pizza is pretty gross, but I’ve ate hamburgers prepared by street vendors in Mexico, who look after dogs infested with ticks the size of mobile phones. I could handle this.

The order was placed despite it requiring more motor skills than I had access to. De Campo was in bed by then so I had no one to help me find my wallet which I had suddenly misplaced and couldn’t find anywhere. I called the cab company and then traced my steps outside. The pizza would be delivered any moment and I wouldn’t have any money to give him. I eventually found the wallet under a couple pizza brochures on the kitchen bench. Then there was a knock at the door.

I ate pizza and watched some of The Corporation, which isn’t interesting in the slightest. It was stupid and I hated it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Second week in a row we have tried to see Hidden and second time in a row we have been denied. Last week it was sold out, this week it was a showtime that shouldn't have been listed in the newspaper. The box office girl said if we wanted to see something else we could for free. Factotum seemed interesting and it was starting within the hour so we got tickets to that and then went to Readings Books. De Campo bought a Bukowski and I bought a Micallef. She also snared John Water's Pecker (No, she didn't buy his penis, although she did enquire and the clerk led her to this movie he made in the 90s that co-stars Martha Plimpton). I bought the Galaxie 500 Peel Sessions too, in fact I am listening to Blue Thunder right now.

I read Factotum in one sitting on a dark night of the soul in a doctor's villa on The South Coast of Spain back in 1998. My groin was pink from dozing off nude on the Mediterranean while meditating in the sun with my free-spirited cousin Jim. I was a lot older then, I am younger than that now. So anyway, Factotum. The book was seedy yet easy to like and the sentences rollicked one right after the other. Reading about dingy bars and deadbeat jobs was indeed disconcerting in sunny, sexy Spain but Bukowski is extremely funny and quite impressive the first time you read him. Watching him fail at job after job got me thinking about a few of the crap jobs I have had.

I picked strawberries every summer as a kid and the stint felt like an eternity (it was probably a few weeks). The first season I used my earnings ($70) to buy my first walkman and a tape of The Scorpions' Blackout. I was 10 years-old and hell on wheels. For the rest of the summer when I tried to erase memories of waking up at dawn every morning, there were berry stains on my fingers to remind me.

My second job was stocking the fridge in my friend's parent's 7-11.

My third job required me to load large wooden boxes with burlap bags full of frozen king crab. One of the crew was a cocky Mexican named Julio who hardly spoke any English. He told me he was hot stuff on the basketball court and I took that as a challenge to get some of my white suburban friends together to take on some of his Mexican brethren, Sharks vs. Jets-style. We clashed in a ghetto locale. I ended up twisting my ankle and holding back the tears as the Mexicans routed us.

When I was 17 and on summer break a bunch of Safeway employees went on strike and a job opened up for me in their produce section. Every morning I passed picketers standing outside who called me scab. A 20 year-old who I later learned thought I looked like her boyfriend who died the previous summer took a liking to me and we started hanging out. She took me to a party and I ended up getting really sick and embarrassing myself and the relationship fizzled out before I even got the chance to kiss her.

Before my first year at college I worked at the steel foundry my Dad did 40 years at. From 9.30pm to 6am I flogged steel castings with a sledge hammer. My boss looked like Bill Gaines from Mad Magazine and had a crazy addiction to Habanero Peppers. A chain link fence separated my work area from the railroad tracks and every so often a train would roll past. Once the Barnum and Bailey circus train went by and I saw lions and tigers and elephants and zebras, and for a brief moment there, the world was unreal.

So anyway, Factotum. To these eyes, Matt Dillon can only play a form of Matt Dillon, so playing the grand asshole of late 20th century letters is a bit of a stretch. Factotum is pretty boring, even though I quite liked the scene where he gets crabs. Bye!

Friday, June 16, 2006

He knows how to have fun at his computer, do you?

C’mon Everybody! It’s happy fun day, let’s have a good time!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gus Van Sant is a silent movie director trapped in the body of a promiscuous art-school hottie.

Ate tacos and watched his lugubrious Last Days, a movie in memory of Cobain. Mumbles is played by Michael Pitt and he manages to make it through the entire movie without saying anything redeemable. He wanders a large estate in yellow shades and a Freddy Krueger top he got off Johnny Depp in the first Nightmare on Elm Street picture. Every so often a pack of his so-called friends drop by, and ask him for heaters, a plane ticket to Idaho, song lessons, etc. No dice. Even the kittens end up starving.

According to a depressing on-set extra that came with the DVD Van Sant likes his actors, mostly these art-damaged nitwits, to improvise their scenes. The results see Michael Pitt making macaroni and cheese believing it's art. Features a well-placed Boyz II Men song.

Despite efforts of self-sabotage, the movie doesn't diminish Gus in the slightest. He’s still a hottie.