Friday, May 30, 2008

The Punctuation Was My First Clue


This sign replaced the original one, which read:
Coming in June

T-shirts for the whole "family." To brighten up your "outfit." Because casual wear is "our thing." "Don" our shirts and get "ma' fia" money. In a foot race between innocuous-looking businesses, we'd be out "front." Systematically paying higher prices than ours would be an "organized crime." We won't SLAP Tsamaddayou? Why you gotta write your big mouth off with this sign? Why can't youse write the one line we talked about? Stop with the writing every word I SLAP

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today's Five O'Clock Rock (Episode 57)

Will Rock For Food.
The jungle recipe.

Tryin' Times / Donny Hathaway
Last Two Dollars / Johnnie Taylor
Can You Do Without? / The Meters
Poor Man's Song / Little Milton
I'm a Millionaire / Lee Fields
It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp / Three 6 Mafia
The Projects (PJays) / Handsome Boy Modeling School
Be Thankful for What You've Got / William DeVaughn
Patches / Clarence Carter
Lost My Job / Alex Chilton
I'm A Loser / UFO
Will the Wolf Survive? / Los Lobos
Hand To Mouth / The Flying Burrito Brothers
Poor Boy Boogie / Mac Davis
King Of The Road / Joe Tex
A Beggar For Your Kisses / The Diamonds
This Friday's Mix: Times Is Tough

Friday, May 09, 2008

Today's Five O'Clock Rock (Episode 56)

Non-driving rock and roll.

Bus Rider / The Guess Who
Walk Away / James Gang
Walk This Way / Aerosmith
Bad Motor Scooter / Montrose
Get On The Snake / Soundgarden
Cretin Hop / The Ramones
Kiss Me on the Bus / The Replacements
Hitch Hike / The Rolling Stones
Walkin' Thru The Park / Muddy Waters
Get Ready To Ride The Lion To Zion / Culture
Kick, Push / Lupe Fiasco
Les Bicyclettes de Belsize / Engelbert Humperdinck
I'll Stay / Funkadelic
This Friday's Mix: Alternate Transportation


Largo was/is a club in LA and the venue for some of the best shows I've seen, like Naked Trucker & T-Bones and Paul F. Tompkins. (I've been led to believe it also hosted some music.) Now the club is closing its doors on Fairfax, but reopens in June at a theater on La Cienega.

In the meantime, there's this cool-looking documentary capturing the old scenery, co-created by owner Mark Flanagan. (His friendly reservation-line messages were always a treat. I never met the guy, but I'd have sworn his recordings were inviting me by name.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"Baby, If You've Ever Wondered..."

... Wondered, whatever might be the best sitcom ever? With renewed certainty, I declare that it was WKRP in Cincinnati.

Finding episodes on last night convinced me of this again. I haven't watched the "Turkey" episode in years, and yet in one scene I could mirror Johnny Fever's exact hand gestures, for cry eye. That's how the true funny sticks.

Absolutely perfect ensemble work. Writing that goes from hilarious to mellow to moving to pleasantly weird. A show about rock music that actually liked rock music, using it authentically and integrally as a living character on the show.

And there, friends, is the rub. These Hulu episodes are clearly from the long-awaited and ultimately regrettable WKRP DVDs. To avoid the admittedly daunting and expensive task of licensing every single song fragment, the DVD producers ripped all songs out of the soundtrack, replacing them with generic rock-like substitutes.

The pilot episode's climactic scene, when Johnny launches WKRP's abrupt switch from "beautiful music" with Ted Nugent's "Queen of the Forest," is now so stunningly un-rocking, accompanied by a stock composition that certainly bears a title like "House Rockin' Guitar #12." The fan dies a little inside.

However, now that these Lucased episodes can be watched for free, I can let go of some of my fury. If nothing else, neutering the music does serve to focus further attention on the excellence of the performances. If Howard Hesseman can still make it look like "House Rockin' Guitar #12" is rocking his ass, it's because he's that good.

It's just too bad that anyone who missed the show in its original state will never know just how awesome it used to sound.

But really? There wasn't some deal to work out? DVDs that could breathe new life into hoary AOR tracks with links to buy the songs in each episode? Or even a deluxe edition that actually includes them?

A perfect example of today's craptastic state of rights management, and how the music industry slowly stabs itself to death with it. Then again, if rock radio can't pick its own songs, why let shows about rock radio do it?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, or Did Until the Nielsens Were Released

Two nights ago, I screamed in my sleep.

In my dream, some former coworkers and I were temporarily living together in this spooky old house. Like a Shirley Jackson reality show, but without the show or, in retrospect, the reality.

We gradually became aware of horrible music playing through loudspeakers in every room of the house. This sound... it was alive and growing louder. It would not let us sleep or think. It was monotonic. It was needles in the spine.

Soon the residents split up and began to hunt for its source. Throughout the building, people uncovered ancient, industrially sealed phonographs at work. But when the machines were destroyed, there was no effect on the aural terror filling the house.

Finally, I discovered a vulnerable turntable that was clearly playing the music in question. I grabbed the tonearm, and with deliberation, so that all my friends would hear our triumph, I dragged that needle across the platter, heavy and hard. I then stomped the life out of it. There was silence.

Seconds later, the music began again from somewhere else. Raising my clawed hands to the sky, I screamed.

Then the Ms. was standing over me. I'd awoken on the couch, where she'd run all the way from the bedroom. She asked what was wrong. Groggy and sheepish, I said, "I was being tortured."

Quickly, to defuse the moment, I added: "With calliope music."

Nearby the TV was playing the DVD menu screen of "Laugh Your Troubles Away: The Complete History of Riverview Park." It had probably been looping away for the thirty minutes or more since I'd dozed off watching it.

I'll never get my name on movie ads this way. This gentle, nostalgic documentary brings back the fun of yesteryear. "I screamed in my sleep!" -- Five O'Clock Rock

Welcome to my nightmare.