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Time Flew By So Quickly!
Happy New Year! All I’m saying is where did 2006 go? Well, I know where mine went, into lots of working, hitting some LA hot spots, taking an amazing trip to Italy, and getting caught up in holiday fever!
My December holiday madness was capped by the John Water’s Christmas Show at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The “King of Filth” was in peak form with his one-man monologue — now in its third year — that gave Waters fans insight to the man behind the camera. And what a mind is tickin’ in there! Always the “Crackpot” the director/artist who brought us Pink Flamingos, Cry-Baby and Hairspray and the divine Divine to the big screen, gave us a one-hour rant about what he wants, and doesn’t want, for the holidays. A few items on his what-I-hate list – fruit baskets (“Who wants a bunch of pears for Christmas?”) and crowds. On his holiday wish list – rare books and a sticker bush wreath (“Wouldn’t that be fun?!”) Now you know – only a few hundred shopping days until next Christmas!
Opening for Waters was none other the original punk with a beat-up heart on his sleeve, geek-gone-wild Jonathan Richman. Armed with a guitar and Tommy Larkins on drums, Richman gave the kind of sparse performance only he could pull off, tackling some of his best loved tunes such as “Pablo Picasso.” And though he frequently couldn’t contain his feet during songs and broke out into dance, don’t let his goofy footwork fool you, Richman is no slacker in the intelligence department. He proved his worldliness by busting out his heartfelt laments in English, French and Italian. He’s one Modern Lover indeed!
I had the pleasure of doing a fun interview with Jonathan Richman a few years ago, you can check it out HERE.
Recently two books have hit the shelves documenting a time period I know well. I just happened to move to Los Angeles in the mid-80s just as the glam metal scene was exploding. Two rock journalists brought back a few memories of my nights stomping around clubs from Cathouse to the Sunset Strip. So when the authors did the required book tour appearances, I had to check it out – even if the vibe was much more civilized than any Guns N’ Roses gig.
First stop, in the very tame interior of Barnes and Noble in Encino, former Rip Magazine editor Lonn Friend held court to promote “Life on Planet Rock” his best-of collection of memories from his days flying around on private jets and flashing backstage passes as the editor of one of the country’s biggest hard rock glossy magazines and later as a trial-by-fire A&R rep, crossing to the dark side of working for the record biz.
Now Friend has settled into his new title of author, answering questions about those good ol’ days of rock’s reign on the charts. Although the crowd that turned up on this particular night was more like a high school reunion than a rock gig, consisting mainly of Friend’s old classmates from Grant Valley High school, we did get a few rock tales as Friend told an emotional story about channeling Dime Bag after his on-stage slaying, and had a slight rant when posed the question “who of the people you interviewed and hung out with back then is still your friend?” To which he responded by saying everyone “kissed his ass” when he was the publisher of a rock magazine, now Aerosmith isn’t returning his calls and Tommy Lee hasn’t showed up to a reading after promising he’d be the first in line. Sorry Lonn, it’s one of show biz’s hardest lessons – the term “friend” is relative.
While Friend hoped to have some rock stars show up at his reading, I sat next to Vixen guitarist Jan Kuehnemund who turned up for Steven Blush’s Book Soup reading of his latest, “American Hair Metal.”
With deadpan documentation of the hair metal daze, Blush hits on some of the key points of the movement, from the opening page featuring a lone photo of Aqua Net hairspray to the worthy observations such as the rise of the Alpha Male, the flashy fashion sense, the objectification of women, and the egocentric self delusion as told “Decline of the Western Civilization the Metal Years”-style, through in-the-moment quotes pulled from magazines such as Circus and Hit Parader. Don’t look for any recent interviews or where-are-they-now updates however, Blush amusingly states they were attempted but didn’t glean much info because the rockers either didn’t have much to say, had put those times behind them, or were too embarrassed to admit to the antics of their hair metal years.
Flipping through the book it’s funny to see the period analyzed in the present tense, because it all really did seem to be a good idea at the time! Although I had to disagree when Blush talked about how it was damaging to be a punk who got into hair metal. I did it, and found many similarities in the energy of punk and glam metal – the anti-establishment attitude, the extreme look, and having a scene all its own with like-minded souls driven by the power of music. After all, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll and we love it!
Another rocker who made a profession out of documenting the stars is Neal Preston whose photo exhibit brought the crowds into the recently opened Morrison Hotel Gallery on Sunset. Live concert photos of such rock heavies as Springsteen and the Stones stand out, as Preston’s cred through the rock world has included touring with Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Billy Joel as well as being the official photographer for Live Aid and Amnesty International’s world tour, and special unit photography for feature films Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky. His showing was the perfect launch of this now bi-coastal fine art gallery, specializing in rock photography. It’s worth a stop by any fan to check it out!
I got my girly fix on by heading downtown to check out the perfume exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) for the Fashion Makes Scents exhibit, which celebrated the opening of The Annette Green Perfume Museum. With a show of over 1,600 perfume bottles from collector Annette Green’s personal collection, the exhibit was a stunning display of sexy packaging and marketing concepts mixed in with designer gowns and style trends proving how scent, fashion and the culture of the times are interwoven.
There was also fun to be had in the gift shop which featured special fragrance-related novelties including a signature scent commissioned just for the exhibit from scent expert Neil Harris who created “Musée Femme,” a light floral with top notes of mandarin and ivy leaves and a hint of champaca flowers, heart notes of orchids, roses and violets and base notes of damascus plum, wood and blackberry musk. The limited 150 bottles are only available at the Museum for $50 a pop.
I stopped in for Tongue & Groove, a monthly reading event at the Hotel Café featuring local LA minds who wield a good pen. One recent event featured a Jewish twist with short stories and book excerpts that humorously dealt with stereotypes, classic Jewish guilt, and resisting the embrace of family roots and holiday traditions. Showcasing their works were David Ulin, author of “The Myth of Solid Ground,” Bruce Bauman, author of “And the Word Was,” Loren Kantor, Leda Rogers, Jeremy Deutchman and an acoustic musical performance by Rykarda Parasol. Hosted by Conrad Romo, who introduces his guests with a brief bio and posing the questions: What was the first album you bought and what was the first concert you attended? Telling details indeed.
Speak your mind,