Friday, January 31, 2014

Around the Horn: January 2014

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


Weird month. I got stuck in NYC for a lot longer than I wanted and it really threw the start of 2014 out of whack for me. I was in limbo for what seemed like 10 days while I was holed up in NYC due to a few incidents of bad weather that postponed my flight back to sunny SoCal.

I had hoped to write something everyday, ya know, that ten minute brain dump thing but time was against me this month. Although I posted some random things here, by the time I got back to LA I was so far behind the eight ball with work and new projects and old projects and life, that it's going to take me half of February to catch up.

Anyway, here's the limited highlights from January on Tao...
Soon Come - I have several new projects in 2014 including something I'm collaborating on with Shaniac. It's a new podcast. Coming... soon.

Happy 2014 and Back to Driving the Bus - Getting back on the creativity train. Hoping it will be a big year... at the least... I'll be doing some new things.

52 Books from 2013 - I read 52 books last year. Yeah, one a week. I started about 20-25 more but never finished those. Anyway, I wrote a sentence or two about each book I consumed last year.

Grizzly Bear vs. Silverback Gorilla - Who wins a fight? Otis has been asking that question a lot over the last year. I managed to get the debate on a highly popular podcast by the editor of ESPN Magazine and a well-known Vegas bookmaker.

Snowed In - Bad weather blows. I was supposed to return to NYC, but Mother Nature and Karl Rove's Weather Machine had other ideas.

Boxed Memories - While stuck in NYC due to weather delays, I took some time to dig through old boxes in storage. I came across plenty of memories I nearly forgot about.

Stranded by JetBlueBalls - Fuck fucking JetBlue. They left me hanging twice. I got stuck in NYC because of their incompetence and had to fly Virgin America back to LA.

Some Phishy Things and Ode to Russell Wilson - I wrote a few things about Phish's run at MSG to end 2013. I also posted a video by NFL Films, who had a special segment on Phish's connection with the Seattle Seahawks.

Deep Freeze, Freeze Dried Balls - My testicles were frozen by the polar vortex.

DOA Blogs - Blog on life support? Will they die on arrival? Or is it officially over?

Color Me Obsessed - While holed up during the polar vortex, I caught up on music docs including one about The Replacements, a highly-influential punk band from Minneapolis. 

Almost Big Star - I watched a music doc on the best band from the early 70s you never heard of... Big Star. I know it won't ring a bell, but they were the ones who did the song that That 70s Show used as its theme song.

Rando Random Pic Dump - Some pictures from NYC.

Pic Dump: NYC Extras - A few more random leftover shots from my month in NYC.

GIRLS: Truth, Dare, or Consequences - Yes, the dirty old man lewd recaps hath returned. Alas, I wish I had more time to write about every episode of the new season of GIRLS. I will... eventually. For now, I wrote about the first two episodes that were aired as an hour-long season premiere.

Best Picture? - I watched several of the films nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. Of course, I loved The Wolf of Wall Street, but was let down with HER.

Wordy Dreams - Having strange dreams again. Sort of.

The Warriors (1979) - I found the entire film on YouTube! This was filmed in the gritty NYC of my youth. My brother and I watched this a lot when we were growing up.

Hard Day Gonna Fall - I watched the Beatles film A Hard Day's Night. Lots of groovy memories. Loved the opening scene the best when they are getting chased around London.

The Long Winding Road of Beatles Albums - I now wish I devoted more time to this half-baked post that I cranked out one morning before work. But, I sort of rambled on superficially about how my favorite Beatles album changed over the years.

The Time the Doobie Brothers Were on 'What's Happening' - Yeah, I was flipping the channels and came across an old episode of What's Happening and it was the infamous episode when Rerun tried to illegally tape the Doobies concert.

Larry David Being a Dick - A compilation video of the best of Larry David being an asshole to people on his show.

TAD: The Urinal Destroyer - I've been on a TAD kick recently, the best band from Seattle in the 90s you never heard of.

City of Lights: L.A. - An amazing time lapse video of Los Angeles.

Oh and here's some January Writing Music that I migrated here from Tumblr, its former home...
Born Under a Bad Sign by Albert King
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco
Soultrane by John Coltrane

Thursday, January 30, 2014

TAD: The Urinal Destroyer

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm on a TAD kick. I never got to party with TAD when I lived in Seattle, but I once ran into Kurt in a bar and he was pretty fucking wasted.

Here's a documentary about TAD... the band that never quite hit the big time during the so-called "grunge era"...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

City Lights: L.A.

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Colin Rich makes L.A. look amazing. It's truly the city of lights.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Soon Come... Soon Come

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


About a decade ago, a Jamaican restaurant opened up near the subway station where I grew up in the Bronx. But it took several months before the joint finally opened. During that extended time, the windows were covered up and there was a handwritten note in the door. It was scribbled in a Sharpie.
SOON COME
My brother and I loved the phrasing of the note. It actually comes from a Jamaican expression: Mi Soon Come.

We frequently saw the sign when we passed the soon-to-be eatery. We wondered when it would finally open. We were jonesin' for some old-school meat patties and some jerk chicken.

The Jamaican joint eventually opened its doors, but it closed down eventually. They did not do enough business and had to close up shop. That small space eventually became a Dunkin' Donuts.

***

I'm working on a new start-up with my friend Shaniac, who is a poker pro/writer who lives in LA. He approached me several months ago with a brilliant idea and we've been slowly working on it. Everyone in LA has plenty of lofty aspirations and grandiose ideas, but this one was different. It had been a while since someone approached me with a kernel of an idea that I was super excited about.

The difficult part was bringing Shaniac's idea from the conceptual phase to an actual product. The last couple of weeks have been a little crazy. I'm in the middle of working on multiple projects (both freelance and personal), but we're very close to the finish line with this new start-up.

Hopefully we'll be able to launch it in a week or so. That's our timetable. It's coming down to the wire.

SOON COME.

And no... it's not a Jamaican restaurant.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Writing Music: Albert King

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My bud TC turned me onto Albert King. I kinda overlooked the blues legend all these years. He was listed among Jerry Garcia's favorite guitar players, so I should have delved into King's collection a lot sooner. But hey, better late than never right?

And yes... I know I posted this in December. It's a repeat. But a damn fine repeat if you ask me.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Writing Music: Soultrane

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Heavy rotation this week. Soultrane never lets me down. I posted this last month too.

Soultrane (1958) is often underrated when mentioning John Coltrane's best albums. Soultrane was recorded a couple of days after the infamous Milestones sessions with Miles Davis. At the time, Coltrane was best known as being in Miles Davis' band, but he didn't waste his chance to make his own mark with the Soultrane sessions. I suspect some of the band was dabbling in speed at the time because they play a quick-fire version of Russian Lullaby that Coltrane often snarked that the track should have been titles "Rushin' Lullaby."


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Time the Doobie Brothers Were on What's Happening

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I never heard of the Doobie Brothers until I saw an episode of What's Happening. I must've been 10 or 11 years old. It was the episode when Rerun was duped by a bootleger. He gave Rerun front row tickets in exchange for secretly recording a Doobie Brothers concert with a recorder underneath his coat. Rerun almost got away with it until the last song when he started jumping up and down and the recorder fell out. Classic hijinks.

I missed those 70s sitcoms and stumbled upon it by accident. I turned off a basketball game and starting flipping through the dial. It's something I rarely do because I'm not an avid TV watcher unless it's something specific. I rarely waste idle time zoning out in front of the TV. I'd rather do that by falling down a fell rabbit holes on YouTube.

Anyway, I cam across an offshoot of Starz that showed old 70s sitcoms. Diff'rent Strokes and the What's Happening were on back-to-back. Best part of those old sitcoms being on Starz (a premium cable station), is that all the commercials were cut out.

Here's the Doobies performing Takin it to the Streets...


I probably could ramble on 15K words about the culturally significance of Diff'rent Strokes but I'm out of time. I'll save that rant for another day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Long and Winding Road of Beatles Albums

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


I go through different periods of the Beatles. If you asked me 20 years ago what my favorite album was, I'd tell you something different 20 months ago, let alone 20 days ago. Keeps moving around. Like a moving target. Sometimes I just get sick of an album, other times I gravitate toward another one. It's just that there's so much material that I identify with different songs and albums the older I get.

The White Album

The first Beatles album I bought. Actual double album, er a double CD. During college, both discs were stolen at separate times. I recovered one and never recovered the other. I purchased it a second time in NYC after I graduated and ended up selling it at a used record store in Seattle near UW. It had some of my favorites like Helter Skelter that I'm not embarrassed to admit I heard about the nefarious shit involved with the album through U2's version of Helter Skelter. "Here's a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles... and we're stealing it back." Phish covered While My Guitar Gently Weeps at Madison Square Garden one night and my mind was blown. Maybe it was the mushrooms. But I came to the realization the George Harrison was the most talented musician out of the four and most underrated. He was too passive and let Paul and John butt heads.

Abbey Road

This is probably the album I listened to the most from start to finish. It was in heavy rotation many years in my 6-CD disc changer as part of continuous writing music. How many albums can you listen from start to finish without skipping a song? That's how strong this album was... which was really intended to be the last-ever album, which is why the last song was titled The End. FYI... Let It Be was recorded before Abbey Road, but released afterwards. So technically speaking, Abbey Road was the last-ever album. I dig Here Comes the Sun because of all the psychedelic imagery attached to it. Another Harrison track that he supposedly wrote after tripping balls all night and watching the sun rise.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band

Theme album that was a loosely based theme. Beatles trying to make music under the guise of this character Sgt. Pepper. Keep eating acid, guys. But it has one of my favorite hooks... from Sgt. Pepper Reprise. This album reached its peak for me in college, when we were experimenting with a shit-ton of mind altering drugs. You never forget the day when you figure out Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is an acronym for LSD. Like I said... keep eating acid, brahs.

Magical Mystery Road

Sort of the extras that never quite made the cut for Sgt. Peppers. This is more like Junior Varsity Beatles (JVB). It included Strawberry Fields which I was familiar with growing up in New York City. The parks department named an area after the song. It was located just inside Central Park at 72nd Street, close to where John Lennon had lived and was gunned down. As a kid, I assumed Lennon was talking about Central Park but it was a real place that he passed on his way to school everyday in England.

Revolver

This was one of those albums that I overlooked for many years, but gravitated toward as an adult. It was the first acid-album... or one of the first albums when you put it on and was like... holy shitballs, these guys are fried to the tits on a delicious batch of liquid sunshine. Lyrics can be interpreted thousands of ways, but it's rooted deeply in that psychedelic awakening that happens right after that frightening ROAR when you don't know what the fuck is happening to you.  This was 1966... just before the summer of love and the hippie explosion. You can say that this album encouraged many wayward teens to take the leap into the unknown. The Beatles were the first batch of mainstream musicians to furrow deep into the rabbit hole. They tried to explain those experiences on this album. The last track Tomorrow Never Knows is a glimpse into the future... and it's dark and scary. That is one of those songs that is a true litmus test. In Mad Men, Megan tries to get Don to understand her and the 60s by playing him the song, but he's way to square to get it.

Rubber Soul

The Beatles' songs from Rubber Soul heavily influenced the sonic weight and exploration of Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, which was Brian Wilson's response to Rubber Soul. In turn, the Beach Boys' vocal harmonies had heavily influenced the Beatles. Both the Byrds and Bob Dylan were also influential to Lennon/McCartney. Dylan encouraged the Beatles to take huge leaps away from their bubble gum pop hits and take some risks with deeper lyrical exploration. If anything, this is the album when the Beatles turned the corner. Maybe it was because Dylan introduced them to weed and it truly opened up some doors that they never knew existed. This album was the bridge from the early 60s innocence to late 60s drug-induced decadence.

Let It Be

The last album? Actually the penultimate album. The Beatles had gotten too fancy in the studio embracing technology and multi-track recording. They wanted to return to basics and be a live band again, and they even added Billy Preston on keyboards to help give them a funkier sound. But they were rusty and testy and tired of being the Beatles. It didn't help that Lennon insisted Yoko be in the studio with them. Even though she never said a word, that irked the rest of the band and caused serious friction. The band was in deeper trouble that everyone realized and the Let It Be sessions were the first stages of breaking up, but they still pulled it together to make a couple of remarkable songs like Get Back and Don't Let Me Down. This is the album that the band played on the roof of their offices. That infamous rooftop concert is something that will go down in history as the last time the Beatles ever performed together in a public setting.

Watch it here:


A Hard Day's Night

I'm trying to learn guitar and I got sucked into early Beatles. Some gems on there... back at a time when the Beatles were ahead of the curve. Simple, yet catchy.


I know there's some other albums I left out... but I'm out of time.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Writing Music: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Been on a Wilco kick which is odd because I'm not really a Wilco fan after Jeff Tweedy kicked Jeff Bennett out of the band almost a decade ago.

Anyway, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is getting consistent airplay. Maybe it's all that sonic texturing?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hard Day Gonna Fall

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Love the intro and first scene to A Hard Day's Night  with the Beatles running down the street being chased by the public. George trips and takes out Ringo, and John cracks up because it wasn't supposed to happen like that. They both bounced up and continued running into the train station.

Here's the entire film...


I couldn't find HELP! anywhere. Nicky told me a funny story that she and her sister would watch HELP! everyday after school the first thing they did upon returning home. Both agreed the subject matter was a little freaky for little kids, but their mom was a huge fan and approved of the daily viewing.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Warriors (1979)

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

When I was a kid, I thought The Warriors was a bad ass movie because it referenced the Bronx. The film was supposed to take place in the near future in a dystopian NYC when gangs ran the city and outnumbered the cops 5 to 1. The scary thing is that NYC at the end of the 70s had plunged into mayhem with rising crime, so the so-called future was now. The city was a dark and scary place and this flick represented that paranoia about going out and/or riding the subways at night.

Brief plot... The Warriors get framed for killing a gang leader, and they have to get from the Bronx to Coney Island with every gang in the city looking to kill them. The face dozens of gangs along the way, including the bad ass Baseball Furies, who wear pinstripe baseball uniforms and paint their faces different colors like KISS.

I found the entire flick via YouTube. Watch it ASAP before the YT police yank it down...


Random tidbits... The original script for The Warriors was set in LA. Tony Scott was slated to direct a remake, but he passed away before the film could be developed.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wordy Dreams

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


When I first moved to Vegas almost a decade ago, I kept a voice recorder near the bed. Something strange and peculiar was going on when I slept. I assumed it was the over-stimulus from being inside casinos most of the waking hours. I wanted to take detailed notes about the Vegas dreams. I had this fantasy that one day I'd convert a dream into a screenplay and sell it for a few bucks because I felt my subconscious was a funnier writer than me during waking hours. So, I kept a voice recorder. Usually I got nothing out of it. I stopped doing it because everything never made an sense anyway. Like why would I be swimming on Pluto?

Twenty years ago, I kept a pen and notepad on the nightstand. I used it to write down dreams. That was the first time I became curious with the sleeping world. I had a theory that we were time traveling and that dreams were not info dumps, but rather real experiences in the collective consciousness of the universe.

When I first recorded dreams, I didn't have chronic insomnia and slept through most nights. Although, I experienced a sleepless night at least once a week or every ten nights. Had no idea it would get progressively worse as I got older. Today, I typically only get an average night's rest one night a week. That's six nights as a zombie. Anyway, I tried really hard to log good notes about dreams. I'd jot it down on scratch paper than transfer the dreams onto index cards, which I filed away.

Yeah, dreams on index cards.

Remember the 90s when you actually had to write shit down? I had a Macintosh but my actual dream journal was a small shoebox with stacks of index cards. I started tracking dreams during my last year in college because I wanted to see of my dreams were different on the night after (and ensuing nights) I ingested shrooms or acid. After I graduated and moved back to NYC, my first serious girlfriend was heavily into Egyptian mysticism and dream analysis. Sometimes the two overlapped. Every morning, she loved tearing apart my dreams to find hidden meanings, but all of those symbols came obvious to her. She gave me a few books on  Carl Jung and dream interpretations.

Ah, symbolism. It can mean everything or mean nothing.

I argued that dream symbols were generalizations and you could never really know what skating on a pond with purple ice means different to Wayne Gretzky than it does to me, or some random person in Iowa who had a similar dream. But for shits and giggles, I went along with those loose interpretations. There used to be a nice racket selling dream dictionaries back when people bought books. Now you can just Google it and get a quick assessment of what's going down in your dreamworld.

So in the early-mid 1990s, I actively recorded dream cycles and even attempted lucid dreaming (that's time for another story/post). Most of the time I generated a couple of disjointed rambling sentences. I always tried to pick out a couple of specific details that stood out, but mostly I tried to get as much down as I remember before the dream faded into oblivion. The hard part was remembering all of the dreams. Think about the millions of dreams you had that never recalled? Some people have amazing recall of dreams. Others? Can't remember anything.

One night, I experienced such and insane and vivid dream that I quickly grabbed a pen and tried to write down every detail. I must've taken twenty minutes to get re-tell the dream and everything done. I was so drained from reliving the dream that I rolled over and went back to sleep. When I woke up, I looked over at the notebook. It only had one word.

Siege.

Sounds like the title to a bad Steven Segal movie. It's so weird that I thought I wrote for a good twenty minutes until my hand cramped up, yet all I had was a one-word note. I looked on the floor to see if I had written it down on paper that fell to the ground or under the bed. Nope. Nothing. I checked the wastebasket in my room and the garbage in the kitchen. Nothing.

Baffled. I either never wrote down the dream. Or the dreammasters dispatched agents to my abode in Park Slope to extract the entry from my dream notes.

Or maybe my dream was that... I awoke from a dream and spent twenty minutes writing it down.

Or maybe I just ate too much acid.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Best Picture?

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"How the fuck do you give an award for art?"

Jeff Ament said that. Who the hell is that? Jeff was a jock in high school in Montana, almost played college ball, became an art school dropout, took up a shitty job pulling espresso in downtown Seattle, then became most famous for being the guy with funky hats who played bass for Pearl Jam.

How do you give an award for art?

Awards are meaningless unless you win one. Hollywood is one of the only places in the world that counts how many times you almost won an award. Nominations. The Noms are worth more than gold, botox, cocaine in this town.

Not everyone wins, but Noms are currency. It's something you can chisel into the top of your resume. And by chance if you ever win one, you're the cat's balls for a year and get free meals/drinks/drugs/sex before the next batch of winners get announced. Usually, as a winner you have a seven years to do something (e.g. rake in cash for a studio) in this town. And if not, then it's going to be tough to get your calls/emails answered. You might get lucky a decade or more down the line, but only because you won an award for art. And if nothing else ever happens, at least you'll be be referenced when you die.

OSCAR WINNER DIES IN BIZARRE GARDENING ACCIDENT

I was up before dawn. Weird sleep schedule. Weirder dreams. Woke up in a torrential sweat last few nights. Brought two pairs of PJs to bed... one to wear and one to change into when I woke up shivering. I have a feeling I'm running marathons in my dreams, or maybe I'm going swimming on Pluto. Who the fuck knows. Within seconds of waking, all those dreams disappear. I'm sure its somewhere deep inside my brain somewhere, but for whatever reason I can't have instant access. Not that I care these days.

Out by Midnight. Up at 3am. Usually it only takes a few days for my body to readjust ET to PT. But maybe a month away really set things out of whack. I'm up way before the dawn and can't fall back asleep.

I stayed in bed, huddled around Nicky. Hoping I can catch another hour of ZZZZZs. I did somethign stupid... took the phone to bed instead of leaving it in my office. I breezed through the alleys and gutters of Twitter and sportsbetting forums. That didn't help and made me more alert. I didn't want to go the pharmaceutical route because I don't like sleeping pills, especially Ambien, which I haven't used since the infamous marble floor incident in Australia 1. Medical marijuana usually does the trick. Helps me fall back asleep. Not that time.

Up way early. Woke up at 3am and couldn't back fall asleep. Went into my office to read so I wouldn't disturb Nicky because she had to get up and go to work in a few hours.

I watched the Oscar nominations, something I never do but I got pinged by one of my screenwriter friends and he reminded me that nominations were coming at 5:30am. Why so early? It's tradition! Guess that means anyone who associated with the industry stayed up all night or woke up super early. Either way, there was a significant amount of cocaine involved.

I watched a few of the actual films nominated this year. But when did the list get expanded to like 40? I'm exaggerating. Used to be five, now its nine. Why? Noms are worth currency in this town. It's diluting the market. Like printing more money to devalue the currency.

So I caught 4.5 of the nine flicks nominated for best film. Usually I only see one. But I had access to "screeners." Finally the benefitis of dating someone in the entertainment industry paid off. Free movies with watermarks of FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION stamped at random intervals.

I dug Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, and Gravity. I was on the fence with HER and never finished Dallas Buyer's Club but it was good enough I want to see the end. I saw the trailers for 12 Years A Slave, the Tom Hanks pirate movie and the tear-jerker with Judi Dench. I heard a ton about Nebraska... it was a film that friends either loved or hated. I'll eventually see all of those except the pirate movie because I can't watch a pirate movie that does not have Johnny Depp or Keira Knightly.

Too bad the Woody Allen movie or Fruitvale Station didn't get nods, but ya know... how do you really give an award for art when there's money and politicking involved?

HER was something that put Nicky to sleep twice. She tried watching it on two instances this week. Okay, I'll let the first incident slide because it was late and she'd been working a lot. But the second time she fell asleep? That's never a good sign.

I liked the subtle dystopian slant of HER. The LA of the future has NO CARS and skyscrapers. That was a little too out-of-bounds for me. Who builds all those tall buildings in a high-seismic region? California is supposed to sink into the ocean someday, right? And an LA without cars? Only in the fucking movies.

As a sci-fi flick, HER had plenty of merit and I found myself intrigued by the concept of the machines becoming sentient beings the most. But unfortunately, it was a chick flick disguised as a sci-fi flick which is why it missed the boat for me. I'd love to read a Philip K. Dick slant on the same story. It would be far more of a mind-fuck and less chick-flicky. Maybe some tech geeks in Mountain View can create a PKD operating system and let it write new short stories and novels in the same voice as the original PKD?

If I could create a bot that could write about poker in my style, then I would have kept Tao of Poker going on forever... and no one would have noticed. I mean, you hear stories about best-selling authors (e.g. James Frey and Tom Clancy) who hired a team of younger writers to generate manuscripts in his style. Sort of like Andy Warhol's factory cranking out pop art for the masses.

Going into HER, I already had a preconceived notion that the film was an apology from the director Spiek Jones to his ex-wife Sofia Coppola. She apparently took Jones behind the shed with Lost in Translation, a film that on the surface was about alienation by the main character played by Scarlett Bobbies, who was over-privileged, over-educated and adrift at sea in confusing Japan. Yet, when you dug deeper, Lost in Translation was an indictment on her failed relationship with Jones which contributed to her over malaise and detachment from the world.

Lost in Translation was a fuck you from Sofia to Spike Jones, and HER was his awkward and apology to Sofia.

The weird thing? They used Scarlett Boobies as the messenger. But then it gets weirder. The original voice of the OS was Samantha Morton, but they added Scarlett Boobie's voice at the last minute to give it more a human feel because Morton was too... robotic.

You know what was missing from HER? Super-Ludes. If everyone took Quualudes, especially the machines, it could have been a funnier movie.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

GIRLS: Truth, Dare or Consequences

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The dirty old man lewd recaps return!

Season 3 of Girls premiered on Sunday. I finally watched both episodes. If you haven't read these lascivious recaps before, check out a few from the second half of Season 2.

If you're easily offended, you should leave right now. If you're a sick fucker like I think you are, you'll stay put and read this thrice.

**** 

My dearest Shoshanna,

I missed my favorite vixen. Badly. Like spank-it-six-times-a-day-miss-you.

Hop up on Santa's lap. He knows you've been naughty and wants to hear all the sordid details of your trollop phase. Don't pretend to be offended with these pointed, chauvinist remarks. You, me, Santa, and Chanukah Harry all know you're secretly turned on by this dirty talk. We're all thrilled you blossomed into a neurotic nympho. That's my wheelhouse. Don't be embarrassed with your metamorphosis into an Anais Nin clone. Happens to every college student who pops their cherry and then they lose all self-control and feel like they have to make up for missed time.

Raw genitals is a good thing. Means your living. L-I-V-I-N. Welcome to the Big City.

Let's all take this moment to applaud the new-and-improved sexually adventurous Shosh. You've turned into a Lioness. It's your bedroom spirit animal. RAWR! I know the plethora of booty calls are making you tired and preventing you from binge watching Dance Mom and The Real Housewives. Super tired? Here's my solution: handjobs for Adderall. Guys will be lining up in front of your dorm room for a quick tug. If you want to multitask, you can wank off two guys at once. Double the tug, double the fun. You'll get a jar of Addy in no time and be able to stay up for a week straight studying, watching pointless reality TV, and schtupping every other guy you meet on Tinder.

So you think handjobs are gross? Truth or Dare time... I dare you to rob one of your boytoys. Next time you sneak off at the crack of dawn, raid the medicine cabinet and steal whatever pharmies before you embark on the Walk of Shame. Free Adderall. Just hook me up with any painkillers you find and I'll stop digging through your trash.

Shitty music alert. One More Night by Maroon 5? Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you? I want to put a fork in my eye. Maroonmania? Did your overly protective parents give you double vaccinations as a kid? Blowing bath salts up your cooter with bendy straws? Sweet Jesus, girl! Get your shit together. Come over to my place and I'll play 70s soul all night like Al Green that'll turn your crotch into Niagara Falls.

I really should stop writing you for not recognizing the Rolling Stones? Where you born behind the Berlin Wall or something? You need to be punished. Severely. I'm going to tear off your Juicy sweats, tie you to a rustic rocking chair, and drip candles on your nipples while Let It Bleed album plays on a loop until you learn all the lyrics yo You Can't Always Get What You Want.

Yours in lust,
P

P.S. My third worse nightmare is getting stuck in an elevator with you, Hannah, and Marnie... but I don't have any booze or drugs and you guys are bouncing off the walls singing Maroon 5 songs the entire time while Hannah simultaneously wolfs down a box of Twinkies and Marnie is balled up in the corner sobbing.

***

Yo Ray,

I loved how you were rubbing one out behind the counter when the feisty shiksa from Roswell was going off on Hannah and Adam.

Keep on being a dweeb,
P
 
P.S. Do you have any of Shosh's panties you want to trade for a tray of pot brownies?

***

Darling Jessa,

I used to fall madly in love with dainty girls like you... spoiled rotten with severe daddy issues. It's always a fun romp for three weeks until you go all bi-polar on me, point out invisible flaws, then book a six-month trip to Bhutan to teach English and live in a tree house.

How was Sheltering Winds? Did they hook you up with any good detox meds? You claimed you got hooked on heroin, but I'm guessing it was one of those pussy-ass benders like Philip Seymour Hoffman who had one horrendous weekend on the H-train, puked on himself, and immediately checked himself into Promises Malibu.

Rehab? Really? That bad, huh? Only rich people get to go to rehab. Poor addicts go to jail or to end up sleeping on subway grates. Pathetic that your own friends got sick of you and the only way you could garner any attention was to make up some fake disease -- like a heroin addiction -- so you can have all eyes on you while sitting in a circle in a small, steamy hot room where you lash out at vulnerable people. If that makes you feel better, well shit, you're doing it all wrong and don't have to go to rehab to do it! You can get paid to shit on people. Yeah, an actual job. Now that the stock market is doing well, being a dominatrix is in high demand.

BTW... I can't believe you were tooling on Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. In your group meeting, you called her METH FACE! You're lucky she didn't break her chair and shove a couple of legs up your ass.

Listen to the wisdom of the creepy, pill-popping old Brit. He warned you that you're going to have daddy issues the rest of your life. Chow all the box you want but Daddy Dearest is never going to go away.

Then again, you seem to know how the world really works. Best way to get wealthy without working? Marry a rich guy, hire a lawyer, and then get a check for half his net worth. It's a good racket. Keep marrying wealthy guys 20-25 years older than you, then fleece them for a shit-ton of cash, so you can go on holiday for a year-long bender, wash up in rehab, then go hook another dude after you get kicked out of rehab.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Things were so bad that you called Hannah to bail you out? That reeks of desperation.You two deserve each other. Like Sid and Nancy. The odds are 3/1 that you scoop Hannah's eyeballs out by the end of the season.

Kind regards,
P

P.S. Know where I can score some quality blow? Best place to meet dealers? The parking lot of rehab clinics.

***

Yo Adam,

BTW, thumbs up for nailing the nature of female friendship: "Ignore all logic." Very astute to realize that female-female relationships are like primal fights to the death due to the "vortex of guilt and jealousy with each other that clouds their judgement."

We have a lot in common. I hate Hannah's friends too. Hell is being stuck with all four of them in a car while driving cross country. I think I'd rather have a nail hammered through my scrotum than sit in a car for two hours with Hannah.

Your main job is to feed the proper happy pills to Hannah, but one day she's gonna go off them. That's when shit'll get ugly. Fast. My advice to you... bail. ASAP. Make sure you knock boots with Shosh before you leave that clique in the dust.

Later on,
P

 ***

Marnie Marnie Marnie,

Rainbow Brite? And you consider yourself an artist? Pfffffft.

Your issues are rooted in your cougar mom. She's like grandma age and thinks she's in her 20s, which is scary. No wonder you can't move on from failed relationships. People drift in and out of your life. Why? Because that's life. Suck it up, buttercup. Get over it.

You're deplorable. I can't stand whiny, over-educated, insecure, grossly-entitled young women who think that they need a boyfriend to validate their existence. You'll never find yourself if your identity is hinged upon a relationship. No wonder you're taking the Charlie break up so badly.

Yet you tell Shosh the most hypocritical thing possible: "If you can avoid love and feelings and matters of the heart and soul, you'll be so much better off."

You know who always avoids love, feelings and matters of the heart and soul? Hookers and politicians.

Ditch the tweener sheets. Ditch your cougar mom (she's toxic). Flush the sand out of the vag and turn your pain into art. Until then, try snorting Xannax. They hit you faster that way.

Incredulously yours,
P

P.S. Your new apartment smells like a Korean food truck crashed into a Sephora.

***

Oh Hannah,

What's the deal with the JFK haircut? Is Lilith Fair on tour?

Also, do you always dress like you're in a rush? That was the LULZ. Love it when someone calls you out for wearing dresses like if my immigrant grandma took acid and went shopping at a Salvation Army donation dumpster.

Hannah... some things never change. You're more self-absorbed than ever before. Even your own chant-happy therapist can't stand you.Your friend Jessa ditched you and you go running at her the moment she needs your help. Talk about a terrible co-dependent relationship. She was in need of serious help (not drugs, but emotional issues) yet you decided to help her flee rehab because you thought it would be a good story for your e-book. Lame sauce times twelve. Exploiting your friends to get paid? Despicable.

Finish that e-book ASAP before you lose your mud and build up a tolerance to happy pills, or Adam flips out and adds rat poison to your pancakes. By the way... keep an eye on him. I have a feeling that he's gonna dump you for Shosh. Those two make a cute couple. Now she can be Marshall of the "cum parade."

Oh, and the first time you got fingered was during Truth or Dare? I feel sorry for the kid who got dared. He's lucky his hand didn't wither up and die.

Derp,
P

P.S. Jerking off kidney stone guy? You need to show Shosh how it's done properly.

***

Natalia,

What's up honeypot? Adam is a moron. Not worth the hassle. Glad you told him and Hannah off. Funny shit.

Let me know what you and your crazy BFF are up to so we can hang out sometime and make fun of Hannah's outfits.

See ya,
P

****
More recaps of Girls can be found here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

52 Books from 2013

By Pauly
New York City


Senor was looking for a book recommendation. I recommended Wolf of Wall Street last month and he quickly finished it. He wanted a couple new suggestions. I told him to pick up American Desperado (written by Evan Wright) about a former mob hitman who became one of the notorious cocaine cowboys in Miami in the 1980s.

I had a few other ideas but asked the Twitterverse what they were reading. My bud Jesse send me a an amazing list of books that Matt Matros read in 2013. Matros, a writer/poker pro from New York, wanted to read one book a week, an ambitious yet inspiring pursuit.

That list got me thinking about generating a similar list. Several books crossed my path in 2013. Most of those books come in two categories: finished or start-stop. I also re-read a few books for different reasons. Both work and pleasure.

When I tallied it up, it came out to be... 52.

Wow... one a week. Benefits of an insomniac.

I started the year on a biography kick after I considered ghost-writing a book for a poker pro, so I brushed up on autobiographies and memoirs. In the last half of the year, I went on a music bender while researching a new project (screenplay that turned into a NaNo novel). In the process, I acquired several memoirs and a few books on music criticism from the 33 1/3 series.

With the exception of two e-books, which I read on my girlfriend's Kindle, everything on this list was a old-school book. Real books. I'm such an annoying Luddite, but I'll gladly accept Kindle royalties. Yes, in 2013 Kindle sales of Lost Vegas and Jack Tripper Stole My Dog crushed actual book sales.

This list of fiction and non-fiction is in chronological order. If I didn't finish a book, I made a notation...

2013 Book Consumption

The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams by Darcy Frey -- My editor, Lance, suggested this book about four budding stars from Lincoln High School in Coney Island who desperately wanted to get out of the Brooklyn projects by earning scholarships to play basketball. One of them was Stephon Marbury.

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky -- Author gets commissioned by Rolling Stone to interview DFW and follow him around while he does a press junket for Infinite Jest. Due to bad weather, the two rent a car to attend a few stops on the tour. DFW reveals some very candid moments in the author's presence. Lipsky never finished the article. DFW killed himself. Lipsky decided to assemble the majority of the interview's audio clips into book form.

Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin -- Novella by postmodern minimalist and uber-hipster Tao Lin. Shortest book I read all year. Finished it in under an hour. Couldn't tell if this was pure genius for the economy of words or utter laziness. I dig Lin's overall sparse style.

Like Life: Stories by Lorrie Moore -- Short story collection. DFW thought Lorrie Moore was one of the greatest American short story writers. I read an interview with Tao Lin, who also sung Moore's praises. I was familiar with her style, but never read this collection.

The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace -- Re-read. I first picked it up in the late 90s. Decided to check it out since it was DFW's debut novel.

Seven Seconds or Less: My Season on the Bench with the Runnin' and Gunnin' Phoenix Suns by Jack McCallum -- I got this used for a penny. Funny that the Lakers would end up firing their head coach and hiring Mike D'Antoni, the offensive guru who helped transform the landscape of the NBA with his spread offense philosophy.Legendary sportswriter Jack McCallum hung out in coaches meetings, and logged time with the team during down time, at practices, and on the road.

The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot -- Some scientists believe that reality is just a hologram and that the entire universe is nothing more than a hologram. Heavy stuff. Does not require mushrooms or other psychedelics to read, but it is heavy on the science stuff. I never finished it, but skimmed the second half.

Pain Killers: A Novel by Jerry Stahl -- Everyone knows Stahl as a former-junkie-TV writer from his memoir Permanent Midnight (in the film version he was played by Ben Stiller). One of his most recent novels is about trying to find a notorious Nazi criminal, Josef Mengele, inside of a California prison. I never finished it. I went on a trip and by time I returned I had a new pile of books to read.

A Tiny Space to Move and Breathe: Notes from the Fall, 1997 by Walter G. Holland -- Also known in music circles as Wax Banks, the author shared his thoughts about Phish's entire Fall 1997 tour when the band delved into serious funk jamming.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain -- I reread this. Almost reads like a junkie-drunken novel. I originally read it in Barnes and Nobles spread out over a couple of weeks in the early 00s. I picked it up again because I wanted to refresh myself before I read his newer book.

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain -- His first book read more like a novel, this read more like a collection of unrelated blog posts. Didn't dig it as much as K.C.

Damascus by Joshua Mohr -- Hipster lit. Takes place in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood. Not the best story, but I like Mohr's style.

Criminal Enterprise (A Stevens and Windermere Novel) by Owen Laukkanen -- This is the second novel by Owen. We used to work together so I'm biased. But this is a great page-turner thriller.

11/22/63 -- Via KINDLE. Stephen King's novel about a guy who stumbles upon a time warp to try to stop the JFK assassination.

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Aggasi - My colleague Brian Balsbaugh said this was one of the best books he's ever read. I concur. One of the best memoirs I've come across. I'm not into tennis at all and always thought Aggasi was a bit of a jerkoff until I read his story. Raw and honest. I hate those celeb bios that whitewash everything. But Aggasi did not pull any punches.

The Other Glass Teat by Harlan Ellison -- Surly sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison wrote about TV for a local LA newspaper in the 1960s-70s. This is a collection of some of those columns.

Nothing in This Book Is True, But It's Exactly How Things Are by Bob Frissell -- If you have never taken psychedelics, then just skip this book. If you believe in interdimensions and other hokey superstitions, then this is right up your alley.

Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001) by Don Felder -- Felder wrote one of the most popular songs in the history of rock n roll -- Hotel California. Felder was probably the best musician in the Eagles, he was eventually booted from the band because Glen Frey is a straight-up asshole. If you enjoyed the Eagles documentary, well this book is Don Felder's account of the events. Many music writers think that this book actually inspired Frey/Henley to commission a documentary so they can tell their side of the story. Even if you hate the Eagles, this is a crazy fucking ride. Just skim the first few chapters about Felder's life growing up in Florida (although he mentions how he gave a skinny little kid named Tom Petty his first guitar lesson) and cut to the best parts about cocaine and groupies and Frey douchebaggery

Sports Guy: In Search of Corkball, Warroad Hockey, Hooters Golf, Tiger Woods, and the Big, Big Game by Charles P. Pierce -- Pierce is one of America's best sports writers and he's probably the most underrated political writers. Both industries need more journalists like Pierce.

Hello, He Lied -- and Other Tales from the Hollywood Trenches by Lynda Obst -- Nicky has had this on her shelf for years. I finally picked it up. Hollywood producer dishes on how to properly survive working in Hollywood. I wish I read this before I got into the poker industry.

The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers, and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever by Alan Sepinwall -- Via KINDLE. This guy writes some of the best recaps of TV shows. Loved his take on The Wire, Sopranos, and even Breaking Bad.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe --  Your typical whitewashed Hollywood auto-bio. But you get some great and funny stories about the making of The Outsiders along with The West Wing.

Born to Lose: Memoirs of a Compulsive Gambler by Bill Lee -- Another gambling memoir. Bill Lee grew up in the mean streets of Chinatown and was a degen gambler from an early age before he lost his fortune several times over. Amazing rollercoaster story. He also wrote a book about the gangs of SF's Chinatown and one of the mob bosses put a contract out on his life. Crazy shit, eh?

Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis -- Autobiography by lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It ended up being a good primer on the LA punk scene in the late70s and early 80s. Kiedis is an admitted junkie and he had plenty of low moments during the peak of his addiction.

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier -- Tech guru dishes on how digital society is altering our future, whether we like it or not.

Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood by Michael Walker -- Well-written, but made me want to read more stories about some of the bands and musicians he mentioned. This book only touched the surface. Trippy as fuck cover art.

Ball Four by Jim Bouton -- I re-read this. Reads like a daily blog and going back in time to the late 60s. Former NY Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton got traded to an expansion team Seattle Mariners. This is essentially his daily diary from that season. This book got Bouton in trouble with MLB suits because he mentions rampant use of greenies (speed).

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman -- The newly anticipated book by Klosterman who delves into our fascination with bad guys.

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce -- Great read about the dumbification of America.

You Don't Know Me but You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music's Most Maligned Tribes by Nathan Rabin -- The author decides to immerse himself in two diverse (yet somewhat similar) music communities -- Phisheads and Juggalos. The Phish stuff was meh, but the Juggalo stuff was fascinating.

Dynomite!: Good Times, Bad Times, Our Times--A Memoir by Jimmie Walker -- You all know comedian Jimmie Walker, most known as JJ from Good Times. He pulls no punches in this memoir about breaking into the entertainment industry and has crazy stories about coming up through LA's comedy circuit.

Taipei by Tao Lin -- Minimalist hipster writer penned a long-form novel. Hit a little too close to home as the Adderall-chomping author eats mushrooms in Vegas.

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke -- Javier and Josh told me that this was one of their all-time favorite books. I know it had inspired other sci-fi films (like V) but I had never read it before. Arthur C. Clarke is most known as the guy who wrote the book 2001, that inspired the controversial Stanley Kubrick films.

Hotel California: The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends by Barney Hoskyns -- Long ass title. I originally had this a few years ago but never finished it. I'm a time of my life when I appreciate that era much more so it was a fun read on that account.

The True Adventures of the "Rolling Stones" by Stanley Booth -- Took almost two decades to write, but this is one of the best books ever written about the Stones and one of the best "on tour with the band" books ever published.

Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan -- Always a great re-read. Dylan gives you the straight dope on some of the earliest parts of his career. Reminded me of Llewlyn Davis.

Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen -- Anticipated memoir by co-founder of Steely Dan. Half of the book is a collection of essays on art/music and the other half is a tour journal (but not in Steely Dan, but a side project with Micheal McDonald and Boz Skaggs). Fagen is an exquisite writer with a knack for storytelling. Short book. Wanted to hear more road stories and hijinks.

Candy by Luke Davies -- Johnnie W sent me this book from an Aussie writer. More junkie lit. This one is a love story.

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman -- I re-read this because I wanted to get familiar with Klosterman's original book before I participated in a Klosterman email exchange about his new book with my friend Jess (that we still have yet to do!).

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon -- One of my favorite authors with a new book that takes place around 9/11. My brother gave me this book for my birthday.

The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. (33 1/3) by Bill Janovitz -- This was one of the first books from the 33 1/3 series that I read. Basically authors write about their favorite albums. Janovitz gave a little background behind the Stones double album Exile on Main Street.

They Live! (Deep Focus) by Jonathan Lethem -- Brooklyn novelist Lethem sheds some insight into the cult film They Live! by John Carpenter.

Drinking With Strangers by Butch Walker -- I re-read this one. Former musician turned producer turned songwriter shared this fun memoir about the music industry. He tried to make it big in the 80s with hair metal bands, reinvented himself as a pop-punk band, then eventually became a bona fide hitmaker as a song writer.

The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique (33 1/3) by Dan LeRoy -- Great tales about the making of the Beastie Boys second album, which they produced in LA. One of my favorites from the 33 1/3 series.

Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile by Nate Jackson -- Former journeyman NFL player gives you a hard-hitting behind the scenes look into the modern game. And painkillers. Lots of painkillers, that he often had to get on the street because team doctors would only dispatch enough pain meds for one day.

Attempting Normal by Marc Maron -- Comedia and podcaster Marc Maron lets you inside his twisted mind in this cantankerous memoir of sorts.

Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields by Charles Bowden -- Haunting book on rampant violence in Mexican border town Juarez. Long-time journalist Chuck Bowden digs deep into the rash of murders that plague the city across the border from El Paso, TX. This book inspired part of a screenplay I'm developing with Joe Dubs.

Nirvana's in Utero (33 1/3) by Gillian G. Gaar -- Nirvana's last album was recorded in seclusion in Minnesota in order to keep away the parasites and Courtney Love. Some Nirvana fans will say this is their best album (of three). I'm indifferent about the album but fascinated to hear the stories behind its production.

The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort -- Hookers and blow. Better than the movie (in which he's played by Leo). The crimes admitted in this book occurred just before I headed to Wall Street. Crazy shit. Lots of cocaine and high-priced hookers. Did  I mention hookers and blow?

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% A True Story by Chuck Klosterman -- I re-read this over Christmas when I couldn't sleep. I didn't like it at the time because it was more about Klosterman's previous relationships than about the death of rock stars.

The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower--and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion by Phil Stutz -- Christmas gift. I'm not one to read self-help books, but this one had some interesting advice on breaking out of creative ruts.

AJA (33 1/3) by Don Breithaupt -- One of the more complex books in the 33 1/3 series, mainly because the music of Steely Dan is rather complex. Read this twice because it was short but very challenging because I'm not a musician.

That's it for now. I read a bunch of fun books in 2013. Already began a new pile thus far.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Almost Big Star

By Pauly
New York City


Over the last week, I watched a pair of documentaries about two bands that never quite hit it big, yet they inspired numerous other bands. The other night I penned something about Color Me Obsessed, a documentary about The Replacements. Today, the focus is on a band with a highly ironic name -- Big Star.

You know at least one Big Star song. Seriously. In the Street.

Familiar? It is most known as the theme song from That 70s Show. I think the first few seasons used a cover version by Cheap Trick before the original by Big Star finally aired. Guess what? People bitched and moaned about it. They didn't like the original! What a bunch of fucktards.

Big Star is the best band you never heard of. Well, that's not exactly true. But they're one of those tragic bands that had so much potential that was never fully realized due to some circumstances beyond their control. Suits and liquor and self-doubt. That did them in. They had problems with their label and shuffled around different members before the original guitarist Chris Bell died in a car accident at the age of 27.

The scene... Memphis in the late 60s and early 70s. Alex Chilton had gained some notoriety for being the lead singer of a one-hit wonder band The Box Tops back in August 1967. They sold over 4 million singles with their hit song The Letter. Chilton was still in high school when he joined The Box Tops and rumors suggest he was even younger than he let on. Chilton had a dynamic yet eerie voice, both melodic and haunting.

Here's what made Chilton initially famous:



Flash forward a few years to 1971. Chilton bailed from the Box Tops and linked up with guitarist Chris Bell. They formed a group and had a highly hysterical sense of humor because they called themselves Big Star. They were in the right place at the right time. Stax Records was looking to build a stable of rock n roll acts on a subsidiary label -- Ardent Records. Big Star was right up their alley and they got a deal.

Big Star was one of those bands that sounded awesome in a live setting. They were also very adept inside the studio. Chris Bell knew his way around a mixing board, especially the state of the art equipment that Ardent's recording studios had at the time. He became a quick master at manipulating different sounds and he was the sole reason why Big Star's first album had some unique sonic textures.

Chilton and Bell had a twisted sense of humor which spilled over into the title of their first album #1 Record. Although the songs on their debut album were worthy of a potential big hit, the band got screwed by Stax's poor marketing and advertising concepts. Long story short, the band had a few great songs but the label screwed the pooch and did a shitty job at promoting and distributing the album to key markets. Alas, Big Star's first album went virtually unnoticed outside of Memphis.

Big Star hoped their luck would change when Atlantic Records acquired Stax (and its subsidiaries like Ardent). However, Atlantic Records had zero interest in the Ardent label and they cockblocked any distributions of Ardent records, including Big Star's first or second albums.

Talk about a wicked bad beat. Big Star got caught up in the gears of the music industry. Big Star got swallowed up and spit out by greedy fat cats running major record labels. It's difficult enough to make good music. It's gotta be frustrating to have that music get ignored due to corporate bullshit.

Big Star was also having problems internally. Chris Bell and Alex Chilton were being dubbed as Memphis' Lennon and McCartney. However, most of the press fawned over Chilton, which left Bell bitter and jealous. The rest of the limited reviews were not very good, which send Bell into a morbid depression. He started drinking heavily to cope and his remaining days in the band were numbered.

Chris Bell is often mentioned as a lesser known member of the 27 Club... a group of legendary musicians who died when they were 27. Bell was a few weeks shy of his 28th birthday, but he did not die of an overdose. Bell died in a car crash when he hit a telephone pole. He wasn't drunk/on drugs, but he supposedly was day dreaming and thinking about a song when he spaced out and crashed.

Chilton continued on and finished the second album with limited contributions. By the time the third album rolled around, Chilton was the only original member remaining.

The first album, #1 Hit, is sort of like taking a time machine back to 1973. Half of the album is filled with balls-to-the-wall classic rock songs... the kind of songs that you love to hear in your car while on a road trip, or cranked up while ripping a few bong hits in your buddy's basement. The other half is very mellow -- acoustic guitars and floating vocals -- extremely reflective of the singer/songwriter scene that was exploding in the early 70s. Yeah, Big Star was the best of both worlds. It was a band that equally drew in both male and female fans.

When art meets commerce, those crossroads usually suck the entire lifeforce out of creative people. They create things that need to be created, rather than creating things for a specific reason of mass consumption. Big Star got caught up in those massive gears. They might have been too good for their own good, but they were also downright unlucky.

Alex Chilton went on to form other bands -- mostly punk or art bands in the early 80s. Chilton had a compelling career from 60s one-hit wonder to 70s rocker to 80s punk/art freak.

Despite Big Star's lack of commercial success, the band inspired several other bands. Peter Buck, the guitarist of R.E.M. adored Big Star not to mention the guys in The Posies, Teenage Fanclub and of course The Replacements, which named a song in honor of Alex Chilton.

Take a ride with Big Star...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Color Me Obsessed

By Pauly
New York City


I watched a good doc -- The Replacements - Color Me Obsessed -- which included interviews with a few guys from Husker Du (except Bob Mould). However, no one from the actual Replacements were interviewed and the producers never got permission to use The Replacements' music. Despite those two big drawbacks, the doc was essentially an oral history of the band as told by their friends/family/peers/music journalists.

The Replacements were spawned from the mean streets of Minneapolis in 1979. Bob Stinson was worried that his kid brother, Tommy, was going to end up in jail unless the wayward teenager found some direction. Tommy was only 11 when Bob (himself a high school dropout who was a budding musician and guitar player) handed his kid brother a bass guitar and the two started jamming. Music kept Tommy off the streets and the two brothers formed a garage band. Literally. They called themselves DOGBREATH and jammed in their garage every day. As legend has it, Paul Westerberg  heard random music while walking home from work. All these twisted and disturbing noises were coming out of the Stinson's house, but Westerberg hung outside to listen. He loved the weirdness so much he returned day after day. Just to listen. Eventually Westerberg joined the band and the rest is history.

In 1980, the group changed their name to THE IMPEDIMENTS and eventually settled on THE REPLACEMENTS. Due to an error on one of their gig posters, among their faithful and ever growing fan base, they were often referred to as THE MATS.

The Replacements were a unique post-punk band. They were accomplished musicians for someone in the punk scene (it was less about virtuosity and more about sheer, raw, energy and explosions of FUCK EVERYTHING), yet they always emphasized a 'who gives a fuck attitude.' They never cared what anyone thought about them or their music. They were in it for the fun. That philosophy doesn't always mean you're going to get the best possible music, because most of the time, the actual music suffered when the band had tons of fun and consumed redonk amounts of liquor. Majority of the time, the music was an afterthought and the hijinks on stage were the focal point.

Someone described The Replacements as the "best live band and the worst live band." That was generally the consensus of most punk bands of the era. For example, The Germs had become notorious in the LA punk scene for their epic shows because riots always broke out, and you never knew what was going to happen or if the lead singer was going to break a beer bottle and carve out chunks of his own flesh. But the Replacements were not the types of guys who were up on stage for shock value. They were in it for the fun. No human grenades like GG Allin, who'd be covered in blood and feces by the end of the show (most of it was his own). But then again, the MATS would get so blistering drunk that they'd beat the shit out of each other onstage, which sometimes spilled into the crowd.

One music writer put it best, "The Mats were like a drunken art project or performance art on some level."

The emphasis was fun. The songs were catchy and lathered in angst. The Replacements bass player, Tommy, was still an angry teen when he joined the band. Tommy's peers were the target audience -- disaffected youths -- so the crowd latched onto The Replacements because it was a band that had 'one of them' in it.

I loved their attitude: "We don't really care what you think... we're having fun."

That's a bare-bones philosophy for both art and life. It's something I try to employ as much as possible. It falls in line with the Luis Guzman line from Boogie Nights... "If you dig it, it's cool."

Lesson from The Replacements: If something is fun... then keep doing it.

Seriously, who gives a fuck if others don't dig it? I'm not really one to hide a guilty pleasure. Why feel guilty about something that brings you happiness? That's why if you get worried about what the masses think, they'll sneer at your fun because 1) they're not having fun, or 2) incapable of fun, or 3) simply outright jealous, or 4) miserable fucks that want you to sink to their level so they rain on your parade in hopes you give up on having fun.

Good rule of thumb... if it's not fun, then try to find some fun in it. But if something is not inherently fun, or you can't squeeze the fun out if it, then it's probably best you skip it.

Anyway, those guys in The Replacements didn't really care about hitting it big. They had plenty of opportunities to go mainstream. They had the talent, but they lacked the ambition. Best example of that attitude is their first and only music video. They had a huge shot with MTV, but instead of shooting an edgy video, all they did was have a camera film a stereo speaker while the song played. It's kinda funny. It's definitely punk rock (FUCK THE MAN!), but it's also incredibly stupid. If you don't want to make a video... then don't make videos. But if you get a shot, you should make it count. But that's the beauty behind the twisted genius of The Replacements.... they didn't give a fuck.

The Replacements were one of a handful of performers banned from Saturday Night Live. The MATS' drunken hijinks did not bode well with SNL suits. They totally trashed their dressing room and went berserk backstage. Bob supposedly took a dump in an ice bucket and sent the bucket down to the lobby in the elevator. The Replacments joined the ranks of other bands banned from SNL like Elvis Costello (The infamous Radio, Radio stunt), Cypress Hill (smoking weed onstage), Fear (trashed the set), and Sinead O'Connnor (ripping up picture of The Pope). Elvis eventually got un-banned, but the rest of those musicians are persona non grata at 30 Rock.

G-Money gave me a bunch of Replacements albums. He was a big fan, especially Westerbeg's contributions. "Amazing melodies, good lyrics and brilliant but unbelievable ballads like Answering Machine."

I stumbled upon Westerberg in the early 90s when he emerged as a singer/songwriter. I knew he was from this crazy Minnesota punk band in the 80s called The Replacements, but I had never heard of any of their stuff until I finally dabbled in punk when I moved to Seattle in the late 90s.

The funny thing about The Replacements is how they never really got too big, yet they inspired many bands in the 80s-90s. I guess they were Minnesota's Velvet Underground in that regard... a band that inspired multiple generations of bands.

It's also interesting to note that Westerberg had a huge solo career while Tommy Stinson ended up playing bass in Guns N Roses (touring band) for 17 years. Sadly, Tommy's older brother Bob became a cautionary tale. He was a bad alkie, so bad that he got kicked out of the band that was notorious for being a band of drunks. Bob never really had post-MATS success akin to Tommy or Westerberg. He struggled with the bottle for many years and lived a sad existence in Minneapolis in a tiny apartment above a bowling alley or liquor store. Chuck Klosterman wrote something about how his friends in Minneapolis would get drunk then drive over to where they thought Bob lived and they sat outside in a parked car hoping to catch a glimpse of the former guitarist from The Replacements.

One last note.... The Replacements were fans of Big Star. So much so, they wrote a song called Alex Chilton. Ah, it all comes full circle.

Check out this week's writing music: The Replacements.

And here's there underground hit Fuck School:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Writing Music: Big Star and The Replacements

By Pauly
New York City

This week's writing music has been exclusively two bands -- Big Star and The Replacements. Thanks to G-Money for hooking me up with albums that have been on repeat the last few days.

Stay tuned for a longer post about both bands. I saw a documentary on each band that in turn inspired scores of more popular bands. I will sit down to write about the interesting link between Big Star (an early 70s classic rock band from Memphis) and The Replacements (a post-punk band from Minneapolis in the 80s).

Here's Big Star and their debut album...


Here's The Replacements cheecky album titled Let It Be...

Thursday, January 09, 2014

DOA Blogs

By Pauly
New York City


Kottke wrote an obit for blogs. Check out R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013.

I first saw the link on Tony Pierce's post The End of Blogging.

To quickly sum up... blogging is no longer kitschy and like Tony said, it lost its buzz. But, there's some hope.... long-form writers will always stick with the format because it caters to lengthy, rambling content. Plus blogs are best suited to provide coverage of breaking news stories. So it won't go away completely, but there's been a significant shift away from long-form content over the last few years. Trends and short attention spans are a bitch.

I admired Tony's dedication to his old-school blog. When I first started out, I found inspiration in several of his posts, especially on How to Leave a Comment. That was just before online trolling became a national pasttime. To this day, it's one of the best blog posts I've read.

Timing is everything. I started a blog at the right time too. My college roommate Skippy, who wrote for a major newspaper at the time, told me about Blogger in 2002 and I signed up. The rest is history. I guess I was one of those early adopters. The blog was an amazing resume to attract potential clients. That was the perfect storm too because I had spent the previous decade struggling to break into the writing biz in any capacity. Funny how I snuck in the backdoor through blogs, particularly poker blogs. I nearly parlayed a rinky dink deen gambling poker blog into a book deal. That deal fell apart but most of the Vegas-centric content of the blog became the bulk of the first draft of Lost Vegas.

There was a time in the middle 00s when everyone and their grandmother had a blog and blogs became the new tattoos. That's when I knew it was time to migrate elsewhere (even though by then I had started at least 20-30 different blogs either for myself or for work). But other social media platforms became a lot more appealing becase let's face it... blogs are word centric and we're an image-based culture that hates to read. Facebook and Twitter were much more appealing to a broader audience.

And then Tumblr came along and was mobile-format friendly which appealed to many folks in the middle of the road between old-school blogs and micro-blogging (FB/Twitter). I guess Tumblr is like medium-blogging. Then again, if you're on Tumblr, it's because you're a teenage girl, or you're addicted to oodles of free (and virus-free) porn. There's a huge crossover in the middle there. I'll let you draw your own naughty conclusions.

And yes, I'm on Tumblr. I'm an early adopter and I dig porn. I liked using it as a middle-of-road platform when 140 characters on Twitter was not enough. But these days, Medium is overtaking Tumblr in that department, which is why it's doomed to be a site for teenage emo girls and porn addicts. I won't dabble much in Tumblr this year. I had two Tumblrs that I tried to maintain, but made a decision to consolidate shit. Tumblr got left out of the mix when I sketched out 2014 Projects. Alas, I migrated 'Writing Music' to this blog and I moved Daily Sports Betting Picks from Ocelot's Tumblr over to its main website.

Iggy once told me that this corner of the web was going to be the biggest blog of mine someday. I thought he was smoking PCP because it's impossible to trump the traffic that Tao of Poker had reached at the height of its popularity every summer, nor could it come close to a post on Coventry smack in the middle of Phish tour. I hope Iggy is right someday. Until that happens... I'll keep plugging away. But consolidating stuff is a wise plan. It's putting more eyeballs back here... the source and launching pad for everything else.

Social media becomes a reflection of my current interests and ever-changing philosophy. I'm in the middle of a consolidation phase. I got stretched thin and want to focus on fewer of those projects. I'm going for a less is more approach, but hoping the less means much stronger or more focused content... whatever that is.

Management of social media is a pain-in-the-ass task and sucks up chunks of time sifting through the static. It's much easier to water a couple of house plants then have to service multiple greenhouses. I got too ambitious and bit off more than I could chew. With other creative things on my plate, I learned the hard way that if I shovel too much shit into my mouth, then I'm going to puke everything up an potentially choke on my own vomit.