Thursday, November 29, 2012

MIKE WATT: They Don't Come Any More Impassioned...


"Be brave, Watt..."  

Brave, without question. Impassioned..."They don't come any more impassioned than Mike Watt, a top chap," wrote Carlton Sandercock, head of EasyAction Records, and the world concurs. One of his estimated dozens of bands, this presentation of Watt's theme piece/scat jazz/rock opera "Hyphenated Man" by Mike Watt and the Missingmen marked its final public performance. It's just as we want him to be, heartfelt, wailing, grinding out his multi-personae response to a combatitive world at 1,000 mph, occasionally slowing to whisper/heartbeat for reflection on love and overall endurance through life.


Drummer Raul Morales and guitarist Tom Watson aided Watt working his bass to a packed Liquid Kitty Punk Rock Barbeque audience this last weekend in November. (Earlier, grilled comestibles duly had been served gratis at the West L.A. club.)

Who was that bonus guy onstage laden with art implements? Norton Wisdom provided ever-changing performance painting tied to each band's style and content throughout the evening. I loved this extra, as it reminded me of liquid light shows and projected movies behind bands at "dance concerts" (Fillmore/Avalon/Shrine Auditorium ballrooms) during the 1960s.

Above, "And the mouse a mouse" ("Mouse-Headed Man", Mike Watt and The Missingmen.)

At left, earlier act Lawndale, venerable SST Records OGs, playing surf music instrumentals a la Dave Brubeck versus Jimmy Page slugging it out at the Olympic Auditorium Battle Royale. 

Post-gig Photo Ops with Mike Watt, his chic photographer friend Eiko Kobayashi, Eric Rasmussen all the way from Michigan, and self. 

 ...while Eric's daughter Katie
uses palm tree pedestal
to become extremely limber
statuary in front of Mike's
  white van, beloved of his
always entertaining,
stream-of-consciousness Hoot page
diary in the unique Wattage lexicon,
see LINK.


A D-maxed* out photograph of Paula Pierce of The Pandoras, circa 1984, right after band bisection (see LINK.) At least her insouciant confidence still shines through.

*color degradation over time due to inherent chemical instability in the "analog" days of photo-processing.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Last night's film was "Ashura," more fun than the three most recent "Star Wars" movies put together. One of the leads is a real Kabuki actor playing a Kabuki actor who is also a demon-slayer, very "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as he's also a hottie. His performance in the onstage scenes made Kabuki very understandable to me for the first time. For everyone else, a great period action/fantasy film circa 2005 with an upside-down castle in the sky, malevolent nuns, entire Edo (old Tokyo) on fire, interesting leads, hot sex, conflicted demons and gorgeous art direction...

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Spoiler to tweak your interest: had Joe Meek been paid what he was owed for his international hit "Telstar" written and produced for The Tornados, it would have amounted to $21 million by today's inflated lucre. After years of nuisance litigation and concomitant hardships, his settlement monies arrived in the mails in full two weeks after Meek's suicide.  As Lou Reed once noted, "It's called bad luck." It's also a compelling cautionary tale of a much-beleaguered mad genius.

Newly available for sale or whatnot in America, the 2008 film "Telstar: the Joe Meek Story" presents a great rock and roll story unbeknownst to most U.S. music fans, with an authentic feel alternating betwixt hilarious and horrifying. It's cast with names you do know, say, Kevin Spacey or Carl Barat of The Libertines as singer Gene Vincent, and many you'll retain for future reference such as its amazing lead, Con O'Neil who perfected his manic but sympathetic portrayal in the stage play source material.

Throughout the 1950s and '60s, record producer Joe Meek pioneered separation of sound and instruments, the latest soundwave-synthesizing keyboards, controlled feedback for special effects and reverb, all achieved gerry-rigged to the max in a both figurative and literal home studio, up and down assorted floors of a flat above a shop. Props to the art director for visuals depicting these techno experiments in the studio, all Rube Goldberg wiring and 'Brazil'-esque ducts, vents and toilet plumbing pipes.

The gory ending made me feel for the real Patrick (known by a passel of A.K.A. stage names,) Meek's assistant who innocently witnessed this ghastly suicide, then falsely was charged with two murders (no spoiler forthcoming now: see this film!) 

At least abundant humor provides sufficient counterbalance. Ofttimes it was subtle, like someone rushing to adjust the mike stand two feet down for a television star to sing, or the newspaper headline which followed a promotional stunt for Screaming Lord Sutch, "IDIOT ANNOYS LOCALS!" (screen capture at top.) Despite this nomenclature, Justin Hawkins (lead singer of The Darkness so yes, that's his real hairdo) fashioned a quite suitable screaming lord onscreen, providing several of the film's genuinely LOL scenes. Based on "Telstar," Hawkins and Barat both continue to act...

Sampler film teaser below:
 NOTE: link directly back to if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Life in the "Deep End" and yours too

Okay, here's a cine-challenge. There are some films that take you back to a particular time in your life at absolute warp speed. Frequently, these films are reasonably universal, but their associations might be obfuscated, personal and subjective, never understood even by your friends unless explained. 

One such film, which chronicled absolute obsessive teenage love and its destructiveness was a wake-up call to a frequent, formerly obsessive type, myself in my misspent youth. This and the film's innate mastery instantly time-travel me back to days that were simultaneously more innocent and more complicated than today, late night smoky college discussions in a candle-lit apartments. And that film would be "Deep End" directed by Jerzy Skowlimowski, pal of Roman Polanski, with the same great mix of bizarre sensibilities and takes on life, done in professional, Hollywood-caliber production, even if on an indie budget. 

It's from 1970, featuring music by Cat Stevens (Yusef Islam now to the non-infidel) and two unbelievably strong leads: a 15-year-old John Moulder Brown and 25-year-old Jane Asher (Paul McCartney's 1960's trophy girlfriend.) I never even knew Asher had these acting chops: she outdoes Susan Sarandon (similar well-to-do background) for letting us in on the nuances of a naturally pretty, low-to-moderate income young person. Moulder-Brown was the go-to kid for late 60's/early 70's films that required a teen to actually act. (Both are still working, happily.) 

This is a dance of death pas de deux between a teen boy working at a grimy public pool in Britain, all hormones and eagerness, and his slightly older female co-worker, who's both a beauty and a inveterate tease. These two should never have been allowed to work together, as he quickly fixates on her, stalks her, and she tries to control the situation with her normal, over the top sexual flirting. 

It's pretty light and entertaining for a while, then it goes south... The title is "Deep End," after all. I've rarely seen a such a disturbing, creepy film about young lust that still has you rooting for everyone involved, no matter how wrongly they both behave. That's the sign of a sure cinematic touch.  

Here's a Youtube taste of the newly restored re-release:  

and an older one with the devastatingly apropos music: LINK 

NOTE: link directly back to if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.

Happy Birthday, Roy Wood!

Roy Wood, godhead maestro of The Move, ELO, Wizzard and that all female orchestra amongst other configurations, was also a Birthday Boy this last November 8th. This shot was taken at a Wizzard show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1974. I was so thrilled finally to see and photograph him...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

JOHNNY RIVERS, birthday boy!

Happy Birthday Johnny Rivers, resilient rocker of the Sunset Strip! (although he calls Las Vegas home these days, and himself an "artiste chanteur, auteur compositeur" on Facebook. I'm into Franglais aussi, moi.*) Rivers' brand of rowdy guitar-based rock that nonetheless encompassed bigtime chart hits helped forge the musical identity of the Sunset Strip in the early to mid 1960s. He proved to club owners that audiences ecshewed the old nightclub template of cocktail lounging and wanted to rawk! with Rivers' invariably sold out shows.

The above shot was taken at the 2008 Tribute to Elmer Valentine, late owner of the Whisky A Gogo that also featured former Strip denizens Stephen Stills, John Mayall, Chris Hillman and Hugh Masekela performing, see LINK for all my photos. "Secret Agent Man!" rules okay!

*Although my better half Mr. Twister insists this translates as "I'm an Australian!"


 My favorite still life session ever, for Milk & Krunchies. Not only was the food ultra-appealing in and of itself, but the business owners Melissa and Kathleen, best friends who were law students at the time of the session, had an advanced sense of modern design and did all the styling duties themselves superbly. Check out their product's website here LINK.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


 Good deeds and a great show: Reesi Rocca's ROCKtober gig with her band in Marina Del Rey on 10.25.12 donated its proceeds to two worthy animal charities, Star Paws Dog Rescue and Forgotten Dog Rescue. Stadium star-voiced Reesi evinces both a kind heart and a dynamic stage presence: view the latter below...

Some photo ops before and after the gig below as follows: casual garb at sound check; Reesi with a young fan whose parents drove him several hours just to see this show; after a timely video interview with Darryl and Reesi's own canine promotional ambassador, their Golden Retriever MJ!

                                                                                                            Above far right, Reesi with MJ exhausted after her ambassadorial duties; below, Reesi and Darryl, good people!


One of my favorite masterpieces in art history: Puppy playing with a pheasant feather, ink on silk scroll by 16th century Korean artist Yi Am. Of royal lineage, he rightly was celebrated both in Korea and Japan for his animal paintings, particularly of dogs. This puppy's palpable glee with his prize remains so well observed by this artist that one can be sure he enjoyed dogs for their own charming sakes, not just as the occasional comestibles of the era.
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