Friday, February 27, 2015

RIP Nimoy and In Search Of...

Los Angeles, CA

Leonard Nimoy passed away today. Spock. Everyone knows that iconic role, but I remember Nimoy differently. I was not a Trekkie as a kid. Sure, I watched the original show because it was always on one of the local NY stations (I vaguely recall it being on channel 9 or channel 11), but I was more of a Star Wars kid after I got indoctrinated into that sci-fi cult.

When I think of Nimoy, his voice that comes to mind. He was the narrator and host of In Search Of.... Truly ahead of its time. Sort of a documentary-style program that explored the greatest mysteries of the world like... Big Foot, the Bermuda Triangle, who built the pyramids, and UFOs. It's weird but super cool that my father let me watch that semi-controversial when I was only 6-7 years old. Then again, my father allowed my brother and myself to watch Benny Hill... despite the boobies and crude humor.

"It's on PBS. It's British. It's culture."

In 2015, In Search Of... would be considered conspiracy fodder  similar to Ancient Aliens. Then again, what the fuck is Ancient Aliens doing on the HISTORY CHANNEL?  Anyway, ensuing discussions about episodes of In Search Of... showed me that curiosity is a good thing and that I should always question the official story if I have issues with the authenticity of said story. If you ever wondered about the origins of the Tao of Fear, you have to credit Nimoy and In Search Of... The seeds of doubt were planted early by my father.

I was hooked on In Search Of... from the get-go. Here's one of the first episodes I saw, which spurred a fascination about the lost city of Atlantis and all things mysterious...

RIP Nimoy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ten Years Later: HST RIP

Los Angeles, CA

Ten years flies by. I cannot believe it's the 10th anniversary of the death of Hunter Thompson. I attempted to write something in 2005 about what the tragic news meant to me at the time.

Even though I have ten years behind me... I'm still at a loss for words. In 2005 I was mostly overcome by shock, whereas today, I'm overcome by sadness.

When the words flow easy, writing is the best drug in the world. When the words are not, writing becomes an excruciating and humiliating task... sort of like having constipation, finally ripping a fart, then shitting yourself.

Suicide is a prickly topic. There's zero heroism in the deed... but the older I get, the more I can understand the "why"... because when you're that troubled and drowning in your own misery, you have a clouded perspective, so death is the most plausible option.

The photo above inspires me.

In 1961, Hunter Thompson lived in Big Sur, CA. Hell of a writing space if you ask me. If I didn't tell you the guy in the pic was Hunter, then it could have been some other writer... maybe one of the beats. Doesn't really matter, because the image represents commitment. But I also know it's Hunter and he's working on his craft and perfecting the voice that we've become accustomed to reading. On the surface, this photo tells you that all you need is a typewriter, pot of coffee, a pipe, and something to say... because in that scene, it seems like the words will flow gracefully.

Every time I see this picture, I also tell myself: "You only have a short time here... on Earth... in life. Say what you gotta say before it's too late."

Ten years later... I'm still at a loss for words. RIP Hunter.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

David Byrne, Architecture and Music Evolution

Los Angeles, CA

I've been to over a thousand live concerts, which is probably why my hearing is not so great these days. I visited hundreds of music venues, both indoor and outdoor, and music is shaped by the space where you hear it. David Byrne from the Talking Heads gave a great lecture on how architecture shaped how music evolved.

Elements from this TED Talk also appeared in David Byrne's book How Music Works...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Inside Dope: The Dope Stories Reunion Show

Los Angeles, CA

We're back.... for one episode.

Remember Dope Stories? It was a fun project and podcast I co-hosted last year. Dope Stories ran for 27 episodes (plus a special Broke Stories spinoff) and some of our guests included the gang from High Maintenance, Dr. Carl Hart, and WSOP world champion Greg Merson. A couple of our friends came on too including marijuana activist Sean Azzariti, poker pro Jordan Morgan, and even Nicky made a token appearance.

We attempted to have a rational discussion about drugs with Dope Stories and we managed to pull it off for half a year before we ran out of gas and time and money and ideas. Yeah, the weekly grind of creating an hour-long podcast every week with Dope Stories was much harder than we anticipated. But along the way, I got to tell a bunch of stories and share some wild tales. Fun times for sure.

Over the last six or seven months, I missed hanging out with Shane once a week to record episodes. So when Shane suggested that we reunite to record a single episode of Dope Stories for a special reunion show... I was definitely in. We even got our producer to return. With DJ Trent in... the band was officially back together.

The reunion show commemorates the one year anniversary of the launch of Dope Stories. We released the first episode on 2/6/2014 or Bob Marley's birthday. You can listen to old episodes via Dope Stories archives.

The topics for the reunion show included... Shane's recent trip to Jamaica, the George Clinton biography, the differences between cocaine usage by Sly Stone and George Clinton, Shane's new-found respect for Phish after seeing a show in LA, my intense trip in Vegas, the direction of my new novel Fried Peaches, and why exactly Shane wanted to have a reunion show.

Will we reboot the podcast? No. There is no desire to crank out weekly episodes again. However, who knows if/when we return with another special episode. Maybe we'll make it a yearly thing?

Here is the "setlist" for the reunion show...

Listen to Episode 28 aka The Reunion...

Download Link for Episode 28 - Reunion Show.

Quick links: Dope Archives | Twitter | Donate | Soundcloud | Subscribe iTunes | RSS

Monday, February 09, 2015

Writing Music: Beck's Sea Change

Los Angeles, CA

Depressed Beck, eh?

I always overlooked this album and follow up to one of my favorite Beck albums Midnite Vultures, but I recently found out the origins of this album... Beck wrote many of these songs after he was dumped by his long-time girlfriend.

And yeah, it's weird that Beck won a Grammy last night for best rock album. I liken it to him winning a lifetime achievement award for his entire body of work. Kinda like when Steely Dan won a Grammy by beating out Radiohead's Kid A. The Grammy people handed over an award to Walter Becker/Donald Fagen not for the album they were nominated... but more for their entire body of work and the fact they overlooked Aja and their first two albums.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Radiohead Meeting People

Los Angeles, CA

Good, but atypical (music) documentary film. Radiohead circa 1997-98. Film on the road during worldwide tours to promote OK Computer.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Open the Mind, Expand the Wallet

Los Angeles, CA

Can LSD make you a billionaire? I love click bait with a psychedelic edge. Open the mind, and expand the wallet.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Parliament Funkadelic 1978 Capitol Theatre

Los Angeles, CA

Thanks to Shaniac for tipping me off to this full concert video of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic from 1978...

BTW, check out this piece Shaniac wrote about George Clinton's memoir.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Skirt Guy and David Geffen's Fax Machine

Los Angeles, CA

Up at 5am.  Crying babies. Not mine. 

Quick writing burst before a walk. But not to grab breakfast. The coffeeshop is closed this week to give their staff a much-needed vacation. I took an unusual walk this morning. Using the alleys. If you are a fan of cinema, Southern California is strewn with alleys. One f the greatest foot chasing of all times is an alley-centric adrenaline rush in Point Break.

I know the majority of the homeless folks in my neighborhood. A daily flow of dumpster divers and can fairies pass through the alley. I do my own alley wandering and know the hassle-free spots where the local homeless prefer to hole up during the night or during really hot days. On rainy nights some of them hole up at the 24-hour fast food joint. Usually the manager is cool and let's them hang out so long as they don't bother and random walk-ins... but then again, a couple of harmless street people seeking warmth and dry place to sit seems to be a lot easier to deal with than the crazies who walk into a Jack in the Box at 4am...crocked out, tweaked up, stoned of their minds, or liquored up.

When I'm at the coffeeshop at the crack of dawn, you get to see the last remnants of the night people trying to scurry off and become invisible before the normal folks wake have to keep up appearances, especially in a city that is constructed solely on fabricated images. If a bum if passed out in the alley in the middle of the night... well, that's socially acceptable because that's out of sight. But camping out is frowned upon during the day, with women and children and tourists out and about, so you need to keep up pristine appearances and maintain property values, which means keeping the homeless folks at a distance...but they slip through the cracks. Usually hiding underneath the behemoth freeway system.

There's one guy who wears a dress. I dunno if that's his thing or if it's comfortable, or what. But he has a winter coat over a dress and over-sized work boots. He always sports a hat and a bushy beard. I see him a couple of times a week, always early in the mornings. He probably crashes in the alley behind one of the auto body shops, where a small group of other invisibles spent their evenings before they split up and hit up their "day spots"to hide out or their "jobs" (panhandling, collecting cans) or wandering throughout the adjacent neighborhoods scavenging during the day.

Most of the invisibles are night people... by habit... its a survival thing. The crazies come out at night, so it's less likely they get robbed during the day time... so long as they find a spot to crash and hide out. It's hard to find a good day spot that no one else knows about...usually alleys and doorways of empty stores, or underneath the entangled spaghetti-like freeways.

Then there's the lady with the blanket who talks to herself and steals sugar packets from the outside tables at the coffeeshop. Her usual post-midnight crash spot is in front of a hipster furniture store. There's a spot near entrance where it's perfect spot to curl up and sleep... and that's where I will often find her early mornings. Sullen image. Something like a melancholic Frank Rich photo... juxtaposition of a homeless person sleeping in front of a slightly lit, modern design furniture store.

Skirt Guy once offered to sell me a fax machine. I had seen the shell of 80s-90s technology the day before a couple of streets away. Someone finally threw it out and left it on the curb near the base of a palm tree along with a broken folding chair. I presume he snatched up the fax and thought he could clean it up and fence it for a few bucks. He set the starting price at $37. I assumed he would settle on $20-25... but started high to have some negotiating room. I told him no way. Faxes were out of style. Technology killed the fax. He'd be lucky to get $1 for gutting the insides and finding some random piece of circuitry.

I gave him some free consulting advice, "Tell people that the fax belonged to David Geffen. No one cares about faxes, but everyone wants a piece of celebrity memorabilia."

"Who the hell is David Guffin?" Skirt Guy asked.

"Geffen. And he's this mogul... ah, nevermind."