Saturday, June 28, 2008


You won't be seeing this picture on Broadway!

Mark Campos told me the Broadway mural has been vandalized, and the segment I illustrated -- the jazz trio shown above -- was razored from the wall and stolen. The piece was an illustration of the Nat King Cole Trio, blown up to 6 x 6 feet, on a vinyl banner.

To quote Campos in the LiveJournal: "Art thieves have vandalized the Friends of the Nib mural at the old Jack In The Box location on Broadway. A segment of the mural, which is printed on vinyl banner material, was razored out of its place on the wall and removed. Below is a picture of the missing segment, which was created by renowned local painter and illustrator Robert Rini."

The missing link

"Renowned" might be going too far, Mark, but thanks for putting the word out. I participated in the mural project with my fellow Friends of the Nib (including Mark), and the project was sponsored by the city, Sound Transit, to beautify a boarded-up Jack in the Box. The artwork would have been up eight months on a highly traveled block of Broadway, in Seattle, if the vandals hadn't ruined it. Write if you know anything.

More pictures of the mural HERE.

Friday, June 27, 2008


A fella by the name of Chester Arthur Burnett, otherwise known as Howlin' Wolf, possessed a voice that could topple buildings. Born in White Station, Mississippi, he sang, played blues harp, and bent steel rails with his bare hands. When he sang, wild animals cowered, strong men wept, and clocks ran backwards. He joined the army in World War II, and worked as a radioman in Seattle.


After the Beatles show-- A civic leader speaks his mind

Thursday, June 26, 2008


SHEA STADIUM, 1965. The Beatles flew into New York City on August 13th, 1965 to begin a tour of the United States. On August 14th they rehearsed and recorded a live tape at CBS studios to be shown on the Ed Sullivan Show later that evening. Throughout the city, the excitement was palpable. The Beatles were in town! The following day, August 15th, they officially opened the US tour with a concert at Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets.

This was an amazing show. The boys were in top form. The fans screamed and fainted and were carried away by New York's Finest. This was the first time in the history of pop music that a stadium was used for a rock concert! 55,600 adoring fans witnessed rock history. The take at the box office was a record $304,000 -- of which the Beatles took a whopping $160, 000!

Happy Birthday, Bekki!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


What's Italian? The Olive Garden? Chef Boy-r-dee? Everyone loves pizza, pasta and The Godfather. Maybe everyone's part Italian, but there's more to it than that, shidrool.

Here's an interview with professor Fred Gardaphé, director of Italian-American Studies at Stoney Brook. His books include Italian Signs, American Streets: The Evolution of Italian American Narrative; Moustache Pete is Dead!; Leaving Little Italy; and From Wiseguys to Wise Men: The Gangster and Italian American Masculinities.

Here Gardaphè comments on America's favorite Italian-Americans, The Sopranos.

Dr. Gardaphé's website:


Some people have complained that they can't play YouTube videos -- they start the video and it freezes up after two seconds, and there is no sound. Digging around on the web, I discovered the problem is widespread. Some say it might be due to excessive bandwidth use, others say it might be a bug that effects Youtube.

It seems to only happen when you're viewing via Mozilla Firefox. I'm not positive about this, but it doesn't seem to happen on Internet Explorer. Make sure your add-ons are enabled. Here's a video to try. Compare.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Gogol Bordello is a fiery stew of gypsy music, punk rock, bawdy cabaret, Slavic dirges, and three-penny Brechtian opera for the common man. Rough and tumble and surreal, these artful dodgers are debauched yet somehow innocent as ragamuffin pickpockets. Take their leader, Eugene Hütz. A mystical outsider, a far-flung scatterling from the post-Soviet diaspora, Hütz is originally from the Ukraine and has lived as a refugee in Poland, Hungary, Austria and Italy. He is a patchwork effigy of all these places, a crazy quilt flag of many flags, and he leads the band with the ragged determination of a survivor. Gogol Bordello would be great for a party or a revolution, but you probably wouldn't want them moving in upstairs.

Eugene Hütz of Gogol Bordello


It's summertime! Sorry to be so "boomercentric", but I came across these short clips about the "The Summer of Love," and had to post them. One is a "straight" documentary for TV news about the "hippie temptation." The grim expose style of the piece belies it's objectivity as square news media tries to make sense of the counter-culture.

We'll get to that, but first is a clip from a documentary on the same scene, but from the inside. This is an entirely different planet. Joy and celebration -- and sex and dope -- replaces fear and guilt. Afghan vests and love beads replace the gray flannel straight-jacket. True, it's not objective, and it doesn't claim to be.

Something's happening, and you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?

A famous educator once said: the person who has the hardest time learning something new is the person who has all the answers -- or thinks he does. That fits Mr. Newsman to a tee.

The Hippie Temptation: straight news on the subculture

Finally, you have to play the music. Here is a sweet soulful sixties gal, and a big part of the Haight Ashbury scene, infiltrating plastic mainstream America; Janis Joplin on "Hollywood Palace." In spite of the cheesy setting, she sings her heart out on "Summertime" and "I Need a Man to Love." She represents. Afterward, host Don Adams tries to make fun of her-- typical for this era when you've caught a real live hippie. Don't worry, Janis can handle that little twerp. She zaps him with love.

Monday, June 23, 2008


World renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku discusses time travel, parallel universes, and reality. In his newest book "Physics of the Impossible," Dr. Kaku suggests time travel may not be impossible.

What if you went back in time -- would you meet your younger self? Could you go back and kill Hitler, say, and alter history? Would there be a "butterfly effect?" Would you want to visit another time? Would you want to see the future?

However it will look, we know one thing: It won't look like this movie trailer for "The Time Machine."

Science fiction has played with these questions for years, with varying degrees of success. There are many time travel movies -- a recent favorite being the low budget, indie film "Primer."

"Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies Unravels Problems in Time" is a website worth investigating. Click HERE for the connecting wormhole.

Michio Kaku's website is HERE.

GEORGE CARLIN (1937-2008)

An early appearance on Hollywood Palace, 1966

We're sorry to hear that comedian George Carlin just passed away at the age of 71. "Passed away" is a euphemism Carlin wouldn't stand for; let's say he died. He worked to the very end -- coincidentally, my parents saw him perform in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago.

Like Lenny Bruce, Carlin used words that we hear all the time -- shocking to censors, perhaps, but commonplace in the real world. In his famous routine, "The Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV," he ridiculed our hypocrisy. The routine, by the way, led to a key Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, so maybe we're a little freer thanks to George. Fittingly, the following video has language suitable for mature intelligent people only. If words scare you, be warned!

Performing recently, "Religion is bullshit"

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Ray Bradbury (b. August 27, 1920) sci-fi writer, wrote such imaginative books as THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, FAHRENHEIT 451 and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. At 87 Bradbury still writes every day, a lifelong habit he attributes to an incident in 1932 when a carnival entertainer, Mr. Electro touched him with an electrified sword, made his hair stand on end, and shouted, "Live forever!"

Back when I was twelve years old I was madly in love with L. Frank Baum and the Oz books, along with the novels of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and especially the Tarzan books and the John Carter, Warlord of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I began to think about becoming a writer at that time.

Simultaneously I saw Blackstone the Magician on stage and thought, what a wonderful life it would be if I could grow up and become a magician.

In many ways that is exactly what I did. - Ray Bradbury, 2001

Ray Bradbury speaking at the "Writers' Symposium by the Sea."

During the summers after fifth and sixth grade, my family moved to Corvallis where Dad worked on his master's degree at Oregon State. During those golden summers I rode my bike all over that drowsy college town, exploring a different stretch each day, with only a couple guaranteed stops: an old fashioned ice cream parlor and the public library on Monroe. After hours on my three-speed bike, I'd curl up in the library stacks with science fiction by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein. Bradbury was a particular favorite, and I spent a good part of those summers trekking through his Martian vistas and dark magical carnivals, traveling in time machines, visiting space stations and distant planets and future worlds where the imagination was outlawed and firemen burned the books. What amazing stuff!

Something I didn't know about Ray Bradbury, that I found in Wikipedia:

"Bradbury was a close friend of Charles Addams and collaborated with him on the creation of the macabre "Family" enjoyed by New Yorker readers for many years and later popularized as The Addams Family." It figures. I'm also a big Addams fan.


Etta James, Chaka Khan and Gladys Night, with B.B. King on guitar, performing "Ain't Nobody's Business." It doesn't get any better than this.

You've seen those books, "Chicken Soup for the Soul"?

This is "Soul Food for the Soul." Listening to this is good for you. In a world gone bland, this is spicy, down home, and real. Skip the lunchables. This is chitlins and ham hocks, fried chicken, corn bread, collard greens, and a big fat slice of sweet potato pie. Enjoy!

soul food for your soul

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I've been working on a novel, and preparing to attend a summer writers' conference in July. A few years ago, I spent a couple weeks in a workshop guided by writers Tim O'Brien and Amy Hempel. They were good teachers, a well as writers. During my stay, Tim line-edited seventy-five pages of my manuscript. He was very supportive, but ruthless about cutting extraneous "stuff" that didn't ring true, or failed to move the story forward. It was a bracing experience. He was the same way about his own work. Before his reading one evening, he showed me his copy of "The Things They Carried," which was already published, and the printed pages were filled with his own handwritten corrections and changes, some major.

Hempel and O'Brien were opposites on the surface, but formed quite a good teaching team. What do these writers have in common? A woman who went to Sarah Lawrence, and a man who went to Vietnam? An obsession with truth. Strange as it seems, these writers of fiction struggled to create truth in their work-- and the way truth plays with imagination, memory, and myth.

O'Brien says there is "story-truth" (the truth of fiction) and "happening-truth" (the truth of fact or occurrence), and "story-truth is sometimes truer than happening-truth."

If you haven't read any of Amy Hempel's short stories, do so immediately. Her "Collected Stories" came out in 2006, and can be purchased here. An especially good place to start is the frequently anthologized story, "In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried."

If you haven't read Tim O'Brien's work, you should. "Going After Cacciato" (which won the National Book Award in 1979) and "The Things They Carried" are contemporary classics. "Things" was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger. For more O'Brien and his work, click this link (you will need to sign in to the New York Times) HERE.

Buy Tim O'Brien's books here.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I couldn't help posting another Jimi Hendrix performance after showing him playing back-up to Buddy and Stacey in 1965. Here is Hendrix just two years later, when he burst on the scene at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. That's the Summer of Love, right? Jimi was always a big Dylan fan (you remember his version of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," right?) and here he's giving the treatment to "Like a Rolling Stone." A classic moment from an historic concert. Can you dig it?


This is a video from 1965, featuring Buddy and Stacey performing "Shotgun" on Nashville's WLAC-TV. The rendition is pretty generic, but the guitar player is a young Jimi Hendrix.

This is the oldest known film of Hendrix performing -- paying his dues in a back-up band. Check out the young avatar a full two years before his fiery debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967!

Jimi in 1965

Thursday, June 19, 2008


While Cindy McCain was busy getting her batteries changed, Michelle Obama showed up on "The View" to chat with the ladies. After weathering Republican attacks that were both personal and just plain weird -- I loved the one where conservatives were sure her "fist-bump" to husband Barrack was some secret terrorist handshake -- Michelle came to hang out. It must have reassured nervous voters, though I doubt it helped with mouth-breathers who seem to dislike both women and blacks. Still, it was a positive move. It turns out she's smart (another strike against her in Stepford World) and not a bomb-throwing Nee-grow that might appear in nightmares in America's Heartland. And for those who need to know, yes, she is quite capable of handling a vapid daytime television show with good grace and charm.


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The auction house thought the portrait was a 17th century Rembrandt knockoff, and valued it at just $3,100. But the British buyer who paid about 1,500 times more than that apparently knew what he was doing.

Experts have confirmed "Rembrandt Laughing" — bought for a bargain price of $4.5 million at an English auction house in October — is a self-portrait by the Dutch master himself, depicted with his head tilted back in easygoing laughter.

William Noortman from Noortman Master Paintings, specializing in Dutch and Flemish masters, said it's worth $30 million to $40 million, adding: "I'm very surprised it didn't make more at auction."

- Associated Press

For other Rembrandt self portraits, click HERE.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Check out this video...this is real truth in advertising. These Republicans are being honest about their reasons for voting Republican.

Thanks for sending this in, Tom.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The Ventures, the most popular instrumental combo in rock, were just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It took them long enough!

It all started back in 1959, when two construction workers and amateur guitar players from Tacoma, Washington -- Bob Bogle and Don Wilson -- formed a band called "The Impacts." They played gigs around Washington state and Idaho, and even tried a little recording. After a demo tape was roundly rejected, they formed their own label, Blue Horizon, and released "Cookies and Coke," a single vocal recording that went nowhere. After that, they decided to become an instrumental band, and signed on bass-player Nokie Edwards, and drummer Skip Moore. Then, as The Ventures, they recorded a song that became a news lead-in on a local Seattle radio station -- thanks to a friend on the inside. The song, "Walk Don't Run," became a smash hit in 1960, and The Ventures, with their twangy Mosrite guitars, became a national success. They remain an important influence in rock and surf music to this day.

I first heard The Ventures at my cousin Mike's house. Now he's a middle-aged plumber with grandkids but back then he rode a motorcycle and had some great records: the Ventures, early Elvis, and one of my favorites, a great hot rod collection called "Shut Down." I recently found this gem on CD and it still sounds cool, with classics like "Dead Man's Curve" and "Little Deuce Coupe" and "Thunder Road." Great driving music...if only gas were cheaper!


Stan Winston, the special effects wizard who created the cool monsters in Aliens, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, and many other movies, died at the age of 62 at his home in Malibu. Winston won four Oscars for his amazing work with animatronics and puppets in film. He most recently worked on Iron Man, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Stan Winston and friend

To visit the Stan Winston Studio, click HERE.
Read the NYTimes obituary HERE.

Monday, June 16, 2008


My Morning Jacket has a great new album called "Evil Urges." The album is all over the map, a carnival of musical styles ranging from their patented wailing Americana, to basement-tape era Band, to Prince-style funk. Go buy it. The video clip above isn't on the album, but I couldn't resist posting MMJ playing with the Boston Pops on Letterman.

Below is title track from the new album. Please click the button to listen:


With Barack Obama as the nominee, racism will undoubtedly be a factor in the upcoming Presidential election. Some people just won't vote for him because he's black, and it's a shame.

The elephant in the room isn't race, exactly, but the fact that racism is a sign of ignorance. Simply put, racists are stupid. No one wants to risk "alienating" these voters, but everyone knows racism is prevalent among less-educated, less knowledgeable people. All the politically correct commentators trip all over themselves to avoid saying "stupid," citing sociological factors, economic determinants, political differences, religious upbringing, psychology, xenophobia, but let's be honest. Racists are stupid. Everyone knows it. It's like believing the world is flat; racism is an outdated position that's not backed up by the facts. There aren't two sides to the issue. Instead of red and blue states, we should have smart and dumb states, then people might be embarrassed and try to grow up.

I know I sound elitist, but our country is in dire need of intelligent leadership -- especially after such a long stretch of stupidity. By now, even the slow learners are beginning to see that ignorance doesn't work. It's time to get over primitive fear-mongering based on race -- and gender, and class, as well. It's time to give up such antiquated superstitions. It's time to get smart.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Two songs for Father's Day from across the generations: First up, Frank Sinatra sings "New York, New York." To my father's generation, Frank Sinatra was the kid who fought his way out of the slums, who became "The Voice." who did it his way, and with style. He meant a lot to folks my father's age. Since my Dad is an Italian-American from Brooklyn, New York, he means even more.

Pete Hamill, a writer who hung out with Frank in saloons and casinos, explains: "He wasn't simply an entertainer...Through a combination of artistic originality, great passion, and immense will, he transcended several eras and indirectly helped change the way all of us lived. He was formed by an America that is long gone: the country of the European immigrants and the virulent America-for-Americans nativism that was directed at them; the country in which a mindless Puritanism, allied with that scapegoating nativism, imposed Prohibition upon the land and helped create the Mob; a country undergoing a vast transformation from a fundamentally rural society to one dominated by cities; a country that passed through Depression and war into the uncertain realities of peace. They were extraordinary times, and in his own way, driven by his own confusions, neuroses, angers, and ambitions, Frank Sinatra helped push the country forward."

Maybe the Frank Generation didn't know what to make of the next generation -- the Beatles Generation, the Dylan Generation. The world had changed drastically, the rules had shifted, and fathers looked at their sons across a great chasm. Maybe they always have, since time began. Maybe the Beatles Generation doesn't know what to make of the Radiohead Generation, or the Arctic Monkeys Generation, and so on. Anyway, here is a song about that gap, Cat Stevens singing "Father and Son."

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Last night, at the art opening, a trio played bossa nova and punk rock, and Jim asked if we knew Os Mutantes.

The psychedelic Brazilian band was an important part of the Tropicalia movement, a 1960s Brazilian art movement that encompassed music, theater, art, and poetry -- a renaissance that flowered until the military government saw them as politically subversive and tried to wipe them out. Tropicalistos were creative experimenters who smashed down walls, and weren't afraid to address social issues; as a result, many were jailed, tortured, and exiled. Founders Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso were incarcerated, then exiled.

Musically, the movement was all over the map. Tropicalistos combined pop, bossa nova, African music, Bahian folk, Portuguese fado, and rock.
Os Mutantes ( "The Mutants" in Portuguese) played a particularly bright psychedelic mix. Formed by the Baptista brothers, Arnaldo and Sergio, and lead singer Rita Lee, in 1965, they released many popular albums that showed a love of traditional Brazilian forms as well as the psychedelic music of The Beatles, Hendrix, and Sly and the Family Stone. They met and worked with Gilberto Gil, who got them into the center of the movement. Predictably, they were threatened by the military government but managed to elude those narrow-minded thugs and produce some wild, free, crazy music we still enjoy today.

Os Mutantes went on to influence everyone from David Byrne to Beck. The above clip is the trailer from an upcoming documentary about the group.

Click button to hear A Minha Menina by Os Mutantes

Friday, June 13, 2008


Yes, this is just a pop song. More important things are going on. Gitmo is in the news again. The Supreme Court smacked Bush and restored habeas corpus, and struck down a key part of the Military Commissions Act. Republicans are busy avoiding the issues, and trying to trash Michelle Obama, who has more class than all of them, especially those standard issue Stepford wives. Bush met the Pope, and I swear he said "Lookin' good, yer Excellency!" What a dipstick.

And now, a pop song:

Meet Tegan and Sara. These post-folk punk identical twins look just like bookends. This song is 19. This goes out to everyone who is 19. Good luck.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Come to the animal benefit -- and help us raise some dough for a good cause. Click on poster to enlarge.


The Ramones come in at #18 on the Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitar Songs. I interviewed these bad boys in 1978, mostly out of curiosity -- at first I thought they were just plain dumb, and then once they unleashed the Ramones' energy I thoroughly enjoyed myself . They were proudly at odds with the overproduced pop songs of the day (Fleetwood Mac's Rumours? The Eagles Greatest Hits?) and defiantly carried on the tradition of American garage music typified by the primitive proto-punk of "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen, "Dirty Water" by the Standells, and "I Fought the Law" by the Bobby Fuller Four. In concert, they were young, dumb, and fun. Good summer music. Hey, ho! Let's go!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I saw an amazing show last night: guitar wizard Bill Frisell, playing with violinist Eyvind Kang and drummer Rudy Royston. Frisell masterfully led the trio through an incredible range of music, touching upon folk, jazz, country, avant garde, classical, soul, surf, bluegrass, blues, and some unnamed music from an undiscovered planet accessible only to Frisell. The trio turned on a dime from be-bop and experimental composition to Americana such as "Shenandoah," all expertly played, switching gears effortlessly. One highlight among many was a heartbreaking version of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" that turned into Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" and had the house cheering.

It's easy to see why Bill Frisell was named Best Guitarist for the fourth year in a row (and seventh in 10 years) in the latest Downbeat Critics Poll, and a three time Downbeat Readers Poll winner for Best Guitarist. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists, filmmakers and legendary musicians, a list that includes filmmaker Gus Van Sant, cartoonists Gary Larsen and Jim Woodring, and musicians ranging from Brian Eno to Ry Cooder, Elvis Costello to Norah Jones.

Bill Frisell has a brand new record out called "History, Mystery," a two disc record, one of which was composed for a multimedia collaboration - Mysterio Sympatico - with artist Jim Woodring, whose work has graced Frisell's albums. Also includes compositions by Thelonius Monk, Lee Konitz, and Sam Cooke, including the aforementioned "A Change is Gonna Come."

Do yourself a favor. Listen to Bill Frisell.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Michael Chabon and Oakley Hall chat in the library of UC Berkeley. The video is pretty dark, so think of it as a good radio show.

Michael Chabon wrote "Wonder Boys" and "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," which won the Pulitzer Prize. His latest book is the critically acclaimed "The Yiddish Policemen's Union."

Oakley Hall died last month, on May 12, 2008. Hall wrote "Warlock," a twisted literary western, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1958. Thomas Pynchon once remarked that he and Richard Farina formed a "mini-cult" around this book.

For years, Hall was considered the dean of West Coast fiction. He taught an impressive array of talented writers at UC at Irvine, including Chabon and Richard Ford. Some of his teaching was distilled in "The Art and Craft of Novel Writing," a book Robert Stone says is "simply the best book in print to examine the strategies and necessities involved in the making of a novel."

Oakley Hall, American writer and teacher, 1920-2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008


This is a big graduation weekend. Students and teachers are eyeballing summer like alley cats in a fish market. When I saw this movie in sixth grade, I thought high school was going to be like this. It wasn't. We could have used Lulu. Sure it's corny, but at the time I got a little choked up. I was eleven years old, for godsakes! These kids gave this poor teacher a hard time all year long, but he finally gets through to them. Then Lulu sings.


Curtis Mayfield (1942-1999), soul singer, songwriter, former leader of the Impressions, performing "People Get Ready." Taylor Dane provides backing vocals. #20 from the Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar songs.


Hillary Clinton conceded, finally. She took her own sweet time, but she's out now, right? Why does she look like she's still running for something? Maybe I shouldn't worry. Hillary is throwing her total support behind Barack Obama, and the party is finally united...right?

Wrong. Hillary deserves something, her fans say. She got eighteen million votes and she deserves to be Vice President, or get a cabinet position -- some kind of consolation prize, at least -- or they won't play ball. She lost, you say! She shouldn't be calling the shots!

Obama is in a bind. Some of these sore losers say they'll skip the election entirely if Hillary isn't included. That's dumb and dumber. Does he really need their support? Remember what this is all about. The real fight is against McCain and the status quo of the greedy, lying Bushies. Defeat the war machine in November. Give us a change we can believe in. Go, Obama!

What went wrong with Hillary's campaign? Read an article from Huff-Po HERE.


Rolling Stone magazine came out with it's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of all time. You might disagree with some of the placings, but it's a good conversation starter for all your list-making, "High Fidelity" friends. We've played some of these on the blog already, and just hit the Kinks a couple days ago, but I figured we'd play a few more.

As you would expect, the list is weighted to the past. Guitars are a rarity in much contemprary music, dance and hip hop. Alternative and indie-rock, with it's Pro-Tooled textures and deliberately naive playing, places low priority on musical virtuosity, so riffage is kept at a minimum. For maximum riffage, we turn to classic rock, and as you can see there is an abundance of rock dinosaurs crowding the list. Among dinosaurs, Eric Clapton is Rex. Even though he only placed as high as #3, I had to play this clip of "Layla." This is not the clean-cut and questionable acoustic version, what you might call "Layla for Lawyers," but the fiery Jurassic jam of heartbreak and hot molten lava. The original, if you recall, had twin guitar leads between Clapton and the late, great Duane Allman.

25 The Rolling Stones - "Can't You Hear Me Knocking"
24 Rage Against the Machine- "Killing in the Name"
23 The Yardbirds - "Over Under Sideways Down"
22 The Beatles - "A Hard Day's Night"
21 The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"
20 The Impressions - "People Get Ready"
19 Prince and the Revolution - "Purple Rain"
18 Ramones - "Blitzkrieg Bop"
17 Black Sabbath - "Black Sabbath"
16 Neil Young with Crazy Horse - "Cowgirl in the Sand"
15 The Who - "My Generation"
14 Bruce Springsteen - "Born to Run"
13 Derek and the Dominos - "Layla"
12 The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)"
11 Led Zeppelin - "Whole Lotta Love"
10 Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
09 The Allman Brothers Band - "Statesboro Blues"
08 Led Zeppelin - "Stairway to Heaven"
07 The Beatles - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
06 Van Halen - "Eruption"
05 Rolling Stones - "Brown Sugar"
04 The Kinks - "You Really Got Me"
03 Cream - "Crossroads"
02 Jimi Hendrix - "Purple Haze"
01 Chuck Berry - "Johnny B. Goode

Saturday, June 7, 2008


"Sex and the City" is breaking all attendance records in the movie theaters, but I wouldn't watch this dreck if you set my head on fire. Why pay ten bucks to watch shallow material girls drinking Cosmos and wearing expensive shoes -- when you can watch them on TV for free? Or in countless bars across the city, where your sawbuck also entitles you to a drink?

I admit, I'm not in the target demographic for this one, not by a long shot. Maybe there's something clever and unpredictable about these mannequins I've missed, something buried deep beneath the surface, but I doubt it. Like the poet said, sometimes under the surface there's just more surface.

Here is a funny parody from the folks at TV Land -- a cool website that allows you to play old clips and shows from the golden days of television. Check out TV Land HERE. Explore this cool site!


A long-delayed Senate committee report has concluded that President Bush and his aides built the public case for the Iraq War by exaggerating available intelligence and ignoring disagreements among spy agencies about Iraq’s weapons programs and Saddam's links to Al Qaeda.

Bush and his cronies are liars -- but this is old news, right? Everyone -- including former insider Scott McClellan, who actually spoonfed the Bush line to the obedient media -- have said as much. Bush lied.

The rest of us knew way back when, when Democrats and Republicans alike were afraid to look unpatriotic. We marched in the streets and wrote letters to deaf ears, while the generals were the go-to interviews and military analysts made a second career as TV regulars. The game was rigged. Media was a conduit for policy, though some outlets later apologized for not questioning enough at the time. It wasn't convenient to tell the truth at that point, with the numbers skewed that way, so most people kept their mouths shut. Not our finest hour.

Finally, after the war has destroyed so many thousands of Americans and Iraqis lives and the shithouse is completely in flames, the cowards emerge from the crapper. What do they expect, a medal? It's a damn shame it took so long to tell the truth.

Throw the bums out!


Dylan is a busy man. When not writing and performing songs tirelessly, deejaying a popular radio show, or writing his award-winning memoirs, he's busy drawing pictures.

After a successful art show in Germany last year, the songwriter has an art show opening at the Halcyon Gallery in London next week, featuring a collection of over 200 pictures, mostly color variations on the artwork published in "Drawn Blank."

In a rare new interview in the London Times Dylan discussed his art, his memoirs, and Barack Obama.

“Well, you know right now America is in a state of upheaval,” he says. “Poverty is demoralizing. You can't expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor. But we've got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up...Barack Obama. He's redefining what a politician is, so we'll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I'm hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to.” He offers a parting handshake. “You should always take the best from the past, leave the worst back there and go forward into the future,” he notes as the door closes between us."

For more information:
The Halcyon Gallery, London.
Buy "Drawn Blank" at

Friday, June 6, 2008


JUNE 6TH, 1944: Allied forces cross the English Channel to invade Nazi-occupied France at Normandy. Click to enlarge map.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Garage rock and punk started right here, with this fuzzy guitar riff in "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks. Ray Davies wrote the song, and his brother Dave played the guitar through an amp shredded with a single-sided Gillette razor blade, launching a thousand distorted guitars. The rest is history. Listen, and see why this was rated 4th in the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.

Still kinky in 1970, the boys play "Lola," a song about a strange date with a man dressed like a woman. Between garage rock origins and nearly baroque songs about English country life -- with the occasional kinky episode thrown in for good measure -- these rockers have secured a prominent place in the pop music pantheon.

To read the Rolling Stone article, click HERE.


Plague, pestilence, famine...what next?

Countrywide is foreclosing on Ed Mcmahon. Mcmahon, the former sweepstakes pitchman and chortling Johnny Carson sidekick, has defaulted on his multimillion-dollar Beverly Hills home, says the AP. His house has been on the market for two years, but is located so close to Britney Spears' house that he's having trouble selling it. A spokesperson for Ed says he's been unable to work since breaking his neck 18 months ago.
Coincidentally, Countrywide, the questionable mortgage lender, has also fallen on rough times lately.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Alton Kelley passed away Sunday

Psychedelic poster artist Alton Kelley died Sunday at the age of 67. Kelley, who teamed up with longtime collaborator Stanley Mouse (pictured below, Kelley on the left) created some of the greatest psychedelic posters of the Summer of Love, Haight-Asbury hippie scene, including iconic work for the Avalon Ballroom, the Family Dog, Winterland, the Fillmore, and various Bay Area bands like the Airplane and the Grateful Dead. They designed the covers of Dead albums "American Beauty" and "Workingman's Dead."

Kelley and Mouse helped create the acid-infused look of san francisco in the 1960s

"Stanley and I had no idea what we were doing," Kelley told The SF Chronicle last year. "But we went ahead and looked at American Indian stuff, Chinese stuff, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Modern, Bauhaus, whatever. We were stunned by what we found and what we were able to do. We had free rein to just go graphically crazy. Where before that, all advertising was pretty much just typeset with a photograph of something."


A moment that will define a generation.


Michelle Obama gives Barack a pound. I love this clip.

Breaking News: CNN announces Barrack Obama winning the nomination. Obama gave a rousing speech, and magnanimously praised his rivals, particularly Hillary Clinton. (For her part, Hillary still hasn't dropped out of the race or made a concession speech).

Now it's on to beat McCain and the disastrous policies of George W. Bush!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Patti Smith Group. A song of hope.


Milton Berle was said to possess a huge parahippocampal gyrus

Sarcasm. I'm sure you know all about it. Dr. Katherine Rankin, a neuropsychologist and assistant professor in the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, has just completed a scientific study of sarcasm. She used an MRI to locate the seat of sarcasm in the brain, which turned out to be the right parahippocampal gyrus -- a big surprise. For years, neurologists thought it resided in the left side of the brain, which handles language and social interactions. But you knew that.

Don Rickles, master of if you'd know, hockey puck

Rankin also discovered that people with certain head injuries or frontotemporal dementias were unable to perceive sarcasm through paralinguistic clues. Videotapes that showed people expressing straightforward thoughts were juxtaposed with the same script read sarcastically (for example saying "What nice weather" in the middle of a thunder storm). Alzheimer's patients did fine on the tests, and understood sarcasm as well as anyone, but those with semantic dementia just "didn't get it."

By the way, humor resides in the right frontal lobe. Funny people are extraordinarily well-endowed in this area. If you're not, don't fall for the frontal lobe enhancement ads in the back of magazines; you're stuck with what God gave you, and you're just not funny. Try compensating by driving a big truck with huge tires, and stick a urinating Calvin decal in the window. That should fool people.

For more about the Rankin study, see the article in the New York Times HERE.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Ellas Otha Bates was born in McComb, Mississippi in 1928, and he died today. Known to the world as Bo Diddley, he invented the Bo Diddley beat, which is a boogie beat that sounds like "shave and a haircut, two bits," and the foundation of such rock and roll classics as "Who Do You Love?"

I walk 47 miles of barbed wire,
Use a cobra snake for a neck tie.
Got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made out of rattlesnake hide.
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of human skulls.
Now come on darling let's take a little walk, tell me,
Who do you love

Bo Diddley appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in November of 1955, and really ticked off the old man. "I did two songs and he got mad," Bo Diddley later recalled. "Ed Sullivan said that I was one of the first colored boys to ever double-cross him. Said that I wouldn't last six months".

Lucky for the rest of us, he proved Ed Sullivan wrong. He was a big hit, and lasted seventy nine long years. On top of that, he had a tombstone hand and a graveyard mind, and from what I hear he wasn't scared of dying.


Old dogs and new tricks: Neil Young looks over his 1959 Lincoln Continental that has been converted from an inefficient fuel guzzler to a hybrid electric that can potentially get over 100 miles per gallon.
Johnathan Goodwin works on the motor that powers Neil's Lincoln. The two are cooperating on a project to make a car that has no emissions and requires no roadside stops. Why don't we all have electric hyrbid cars? For one thing, we don't have Neil Young's money to spend. More importantly, the automobile and oil lobbies have tried to squash the hybrid. For a great documentary that will get your blood boiling, rent "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Sunday, June 1, 2008


June 1st is the birthday of legendary screen goddess Marilyn Monroe. She would have been 82 today.

"We think of Marilyn who was every man's love affair with America. Marilyn Monroe who was blonde and beautiful and had a sweet little rinky-dink of a voice and all the cleanliness of all the clean American backyards." - Norman Mailer, 1973

"I'm for the individual as opposed to the corporation. The way it is the individual is the underdog, and with all the things a corporation has going for them the individual comes out banged on her head. The artist is nothing. It's really tragic. Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul." - Marilyn Monroe

1953 Coca Cola commercial with Marilyn Monroe