My Resolve is strong: ‘What I am endeavoring to correct in the latter part of 2012’


Well I missed the boat.  The huge Italian-piloted-playboy-of a captain’s-type of boat that is.  Because well I’m just not the glitzy “12 lido decks” sailing type.  

"Lido Deck"

I like the impermanance of the warm and sea-worn dinghy.  I love the sheer mystery that goes with the wind in my hair and the”throw caution to the wind”  feeling of, “Will I make it to shore?”  So I missed the boat on putting to paper my “wants” for 2012.  First of all, I wanted the world to continue.  I did not REALLY believe that those crazy Mayans correctly foretold of the end of our spastic little attention deficit planet.  They were probably like….tired of tip tapping all that crazy angular text into stone and were like….Um…bro, I’m DONE! this sh*t’s TIRING!!! Or maybe there’s a “mayan Calendar part deux” buried beneath a behemoth pyramid and the archeologist types will unearth it and will be like…”crap….sorry…you mad bro?”   Not to knock Mayan, because I’m pretty sure their my ancestors.  I’m Mexican and Irish, which officially makes me a “Mexi-gringa” and my grandmother’s family comes from The Tarahumara Tribe.  all you need to know is that they actually chase (yes still) deer and whatever they want to eat, on foot. They wear crazy little skirts.  AND THOSE ARE THE MEN!!   They live in high altitude cliff dwellings in Mexico’s  Copper Canyon to be exact) …and drink a beverage called Iskiate that makes ecstasy look like baby food. So I don’t diss the Mayans.  I’m not an ancestry buff but i’ve a feeling the corn meal doesn’t  fall too far from the huarache if you know what I mean.    But I’m glad they got it wrong.  VERY WRONG.  Because that means we all have more time to ignore Super-Pacs, not stand up for Women’s rights on contraception etc.,  I guess what I’m saying is…DOES IT TAKE THE IMPENDING END OF THE WORLD TO GET FIRED UP ABOUT THESE THINGS?! People…PEOPLE!!!! …..  Seriously.  If you’re gonna get fired up and change things…ahem…then these are some starting points.

I’m also endeavoring to figure out why young female children are hanging their entire tiny self esteems on the millions of mostly hardened YouTube Viewer’s opinions! Patt Morrison of KPCC devoted one of her radio shows to this question the other day.  I was lucky enough to have one of my comments read on the air by Patt, (I can’t tell you how exciting this was…) but my thoughts on this subject have not been entirely aired and I wish to explore this phenomena more fully here! You lucky readers!  Okay you four readers of mine, (you know who you are…)   Personally I don’t remember being wary of my self esteem as a child never mind manically  questioning  whether I was “pretty” or not.  Not much of a thought to tell you the truth.  Not until my next door neighbor, the evil Yvette Lopez,  told me that I got to borrow the ‘ugly Barbie’ because as she put it, ‘I was ‘ugly too.’  I remember being angry, and not really believing her.  I guess my parents had done some work there and made sure my  intrinsic self esteem was intact and somewhat unretractable in a way.  Some sort of positive verbal massaging of the spirit went on.  I do know that I did not own Barbies, either by the sheer prospect of borderline poverty or by ideal I know not.  I do know, however, I was the eager recipient of an occasional chicharone or  pan dulce whilst watching 1970’s basketball with my dad.  My mother had me busy with art projects.  As for Yvette?  I wanted to punch her lights out and began making mud pies to launch over the wall into her front yard.  Being resourceful, I enlisted my little brother and the offensive began.   Looking back, that was my first taste of justice and haven’t’ lost the thirst for it.  Today I’m wondering why America has been resting on it’s laurels with regard to women’s issues.  Not only are we on the razor’s edge of losing contraception rights, we are okay with so much misogyny in our media once again.  I wasn’t around for the 50’s and I was just a wee tot in the 60’s and all I know is that in the 70’s women’s issues were important. I felt it. I saw it.  Women were in a fight.  Gloria Steinem was a common visual on my parent’s magnavox. Cher might’ve been in a tiny deerskin bikini but she was a strong woman.   Women with caftans, flared pants large flowered prints were pissed and on guard.  They wanted to be respected for the women they were.  In the eighties the idea of ‘being an airhead’ or one’s entire self-esteem being soley based on looks still didn’t fly.  There was an enduring radar out there just daring any inkling of disrespect to waft within it’s general airspace.  How did things change so quickly? Now we have The Kardashians, The Bachelor, Jersey Shore’s women put out there as defacto role models for young girls.  Women in bikinis selling hamburgers.  Maybe the ladies on Hee Haw or Petty Coat Junction we’rent perfect but they certainly weren’t bouncing booze soaked ice cubes off the pecs of half naked guido boys! There was enough strong feminist vibe going on that even girls as young as I was knew that we weren’t to be messed with or disrespected and most of all? I had more than my looks to make me feel whole.

Thankfully there is a group called G.A.T.E. (Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment) spearheaded by John Raatz, Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle

John Raatz, Eckhart Tolle and JIm Carrey : G.A.T.E.

…and they endeavor to change some of the tendencies in Hollywood that culminate in movies and shows that lower that self-esteem bar.  Basically GATE is trying to raise the bar making Hollywood responsible for what is conveyed in their productions.  Can we tell a good story that people want to see without all the gratuitous sex or stereotypical demography that we now use so wantonly? Can we make an impact without the gratuitous violence?  Can we merely allude to the violence in the story if it is a necessary part of the storytelling?  but not glorify it’s detail? Can we get past using sex and violence as cash cows? and raise our cinema arts to a new level?   Can we tell better stories? and can we tell stories that are more impactful and help us all get along on this tiny blue idiosyncratic planet?  I think so.  And if we do…succeed that is, in making Hollywood just a little less attention starved, we will we have an impact on young children.  We must do this because young kids  are starting to show signs of  the hyper sexualization and adult drama that they encounter everywhere in out society.  A ten year old asking the world if she’s pretty, an eleven year old worried that she’s ‘not hot’.  it’s worrisome.   Endeavor with me.  Eyes on the prize.

Micachu and the Shapes: Bite your lip, get up and Dance.



The Precocious, multi-instrumentality of Micachu and the Shapes is like camping on an English moor full of howling wolves as you dance to a Kraftwerk album with Gavin Friday, Marke E. Smith and Guggi.  You’ll need a tour-guide in for this moor party because it’s a bafflingly intricate, yet uneasy place. Walking at night, you feel your feet sink into the moor, tin pans crash, an acoustic guitar rants and a shock of Roux-like hair bounces in and out of the frame. Just aloft you spy Colin Newman stoking a sonic campfire as he types on his iphone.  The fire crackles repetitively with a  waffle and snap.  You are at a zeitgeist sleepover, a tempiscore melding of sense datum.   Yes, you are overloaded but in a playful dreamlike state, these things are expected!   In fact it feels downright amazing, the music in the background has a restless energy,   a crack, a pop.   Set against a nefarious groan or the heaving low hum of soft machines, this eclectic pop is tamed by a warm and yet  distinctive androgynous voice.    That is the sound of Micachu and the Shapes, and it’s not a dream.  Micachu (Mica Levi) is tangible! and in a club somewhere tonight playing a vacuum cleaner.

Mica sits staccato, with an unexpected and painterly face. Her voice and  demeanor  project an element of confident-uneasiness. a careless androgyne, tall with a complex grin,  she is an ‘artiste de artist,’  one  bringing sounds useful to Dee jays, club-goers and the lucky and hard working denizens of Rough Trade, San Francisco.  So far everyone fron Bjork to Beck are calling her one of their “influences.”  or at at least “the most un-classifiable pop experimental music existing today.”   That’s pretty good when the avant-garde of the uber popular alternative are calling you “one of the lovely bones with which we are collectively building this thing we call popular music”.

Straddling many genres of music at one time, Michachu has got the concept cornered. How does someone play front instruments, sing,  and add the sound of a vacuum cleaner along with pops and clacks purposfully (and perfectly) set in time to a thick bumping background track? In my humble opinion the only contemporary rock band able to cross this boundary and do well with so many genres was  The White Stripes.  Jack White did whatever he wanted, and Meg was the co-ideator / conspirator in those avant experiments that turned into great songs.   The only constant was his voice as the music always surprised, swelled and dipped as he wailed and groaned in new and different ways.   Experimental, though, it was not.    It was exploratory. In Micachu and the Shapes’  type of ‘experimental’,   there’s  an element of  “I don’t care, I do what I want, what feels right at the time, and by the way… to hell with this ‘image thing”.   It seems  Levi and company do not ascribe to any specific assemblage of their art, it simply is… “what it is.”

Micachu and The Shapes’ songs arent’ about punching other girls in bars, thanks Lilly, we’ve had enough of that.  It was fun in the begining, but now we have to see other people.   The female role in new music must get some plaster and lathe ready and quick, because Micachu just ripped that house a hole in the wall.

As Micachu swoons into a neutral plastic bounce, “Golden Phone,”  seems to reference her ‘style,’ that is, if she could be categorized…

How could they even care it’s a nonsense sound
This sound is everywhere but it can’t be found
Find Nancy fool around and the noise went white
It built the warmth back and there was light

Crimes everywhere yeah, but I don’t want that
Love’s all around yeah, but I don’t want that
Gold in my hair yeah, but I don’t want that
Bring me that nonsense sound and I’ll be back

Well, crushed up bit of stuff, can you pull their ear?
Their legs are far too stiff and they can’t get near
I’ll make this call back to you in a year
Mongrels, this nonsense sound won’t disappear

The song ‘Lips’ explores grime and punk crossover sounds.  Not unlike the likes of early Gang of Four, or Wire, Mica and the Shapes sharp and staccato dithering make you wanna get up and dance.

Die, die, die, your lips  a big lie

You lie all the time, but you still get by.

You bite your tongue but you don’t comply

Dry your tears away with your tie

You drive that truck but you’re still let by

Drop, drop, drop, your lips a big lie

In ‘Sweetheart’ and ‘Eat your Teeth’ Mica samples and manipulates every squeal and stray breath.  She and The Shapes, processes them into pop staccato explosions.  In contrast,  ‘Golden Phone’ is a dirty punk song, breathless and beguiling.

This is the Golden phone, can you ring me back?

Ten mongrels home alone bring the panic back

Sound traveled in the air then they blew it back

The took out all the noise and it all went black

How could they even care it’s a nonsense sound

This sound is everywhere but it can’t be found

Find Nancy fool around and the noise went white

It built the warmth back and there was light

‘Worst Bastard’ is pure punk brilliance; whilst “Vultures” may have the same basic background as Glen Branca’s, “The Ascension” Lesson No. 1″  I could be wrong though.  Branca’s wall of sound is exactly  the intricacy Micachu uses in their swirling and full soundscapes, and especially on this song.   The new Shapes’ album “Jewellery” is on track for album British Album of the year and I’m not surprised.  It may have to fight with La Roux’s signature album “La Roux” but they really are different territory.

In “Curly teeth”, Micachu uses a squeaky sound as a background layer and a dissonence that actually works under her defined and short shap vocals. “Curly teeth” does not dissapoint in fact as with other Shapes’ songs, it surprises once again.

I stumbled upon Micachu and the Shapes about 3 months ago via my favorite performance artiste chanteuse Bjork, and in my humble opinion, this unclassfiable band headed up by Mica Levi  is  channeling the best of electronica, rough wire, punk, avant-garde, pop, and dance. This stateside inhabitant will be sure to see them when they turn up at any venue within 40 miles of me.  Even if you just go to see someone use a vacuum cleaner onstage, don’t miss them when they come to town.

How to make a Mars Volta – Recipe for a rainy day.


Take one part Steve Wynn Dream Syndicate guitar, 2 parts Raspberry puree, one part voice of emotive  the love child of Serj Tankian and Tommy Shaw (find it in the  alt / prog rock section of your local Trader’s preferably the one in Glendale,) dust lightly with some finely ground Mothers of Invention, and finally add a pinch “Exploding Plastic Inevitable”.   Mix well.  Add two teaspoons John Fruisciante  into the mixture and boil down to a nice reduction.  Let cool, add two drops of alt / prog / Roger Waters and whip to a slight screamo (wait until you see peaks).   Mix some  Thurston Moore (be sure not to use any Kim Gordon though) pour into  a  9×12 ungreased pan and set aside.  Now, prepare your oven.  setting it to “burn / sizzle and pop” and trip out on the fog that forms inside.  Put the visceral confection in the oven at 425 for 30 minutes.  Soon the concoction will ignite and send sparks in all directions!  What you have here is a creation that will burn your hands but… you won’t be able to move away!!  Pour this eclectic, yummy paroxysm into your limited edition “Nick Cave” serving plate and enjoy!  Feel the sweet burn as each bite of this prodidgeous culinary course goes down.  Aint it kinda beautiful?

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Sounds West: Paul Plagens, Patria Jacobs, Greg Franco and more…


PlagensThe best music in Los Angeles right now…

There’s an electric feeling that shivers right up your spine when a singer nails your head and heart at the same time. Whether that song radiates from the artist’s illium, Sacrum or the “I’ve been to the depths of my personal hell, and I’m back to tell you about it!”   You just know when it’s the real deal.   When someone unearths an uncanny knack for finding your bruises and putting a thumb to them, it makes you take notice. Such is the case with John Doe and Exene of “X”, John Prine,  and Alex Chilton, in my humble estimation anyway.  These folks might hail from different times and places within the rock music continuum,  but in my book,they all aged artistically, and experienced new stages of life.  They are still-expanding musical nebulae.  For John Doe,  Moving deep into the California mountains, gave him the ability  to focus on his land, his community and on the tools of songwriting.  The result was the birth of  his  album, “A Year In The Wilderness.”  Far from he and Exene’s 1987 release “See How We are,”  Doe became less plaintive on depicting the visuals for his songs and instead embedded them adeptly into the sounds and song structures that seem to identify ‘The New Americana”  Doe still uses his  lyrics to “tell” the listener what to “see”but  his writing became more complex and compelling for sure.
Not since John Prine have I seen songwriting this affecting and visual. In John Prine we saw a man in “some deep kind of  funk”,  longing or loving,  whether it was for a woman or his own child, Prine’s songs,sometimes sweet, alot of times funny, share two common links with the writers I mentioned earlier,  irony and brazen honesty.  Mr. Prine kept it country and nailed our funny bone just when we needed it most.

Giving me shivers up my spine as a college kid, not only for his looks, but for the mere sound of his voice,  Alex Chilton’s incandescent, “Big Star”  paired deep suffering growls, poppy eclectic grooves with desirous falsettos. Chilton made me melt and best of all I could see a  creative process at work.    It’s that “well thought out” lyrical muscle that was flexed by some and now seems frighteningly flabby in most writers nowadays.  What about that  lyrical twist? Where are the words that make you think?

I decided to wrestle my dial from NPR just for a brief moment this morning as I was feeling a bit  “song-sick.”  I needed  an anthem for the day.  I often seek out something specifically intended to swirl around in my head for the rest of  the day.  All I found was a “sea of nauseatiatingly common method songwriting” or songs wantonly layered with a multitude of trance tracks with  “Akon-like vocal overlays” that simply use alliteration in efforts to qualify as “the new hybrid rap.”

Even though mainstream top 40 charts seem to have lately produced  a world of “word-weary copy-cats”, the musical landscape does reveal shimmers of placer.  At the urging of a friend  I gave a listen to the very English “Duffy” and immediately downloaded her entire album. Her voice was at once very “antique” yet freshly familiar. “A Fine Frenzy” (one Allison Sudol , apparently enamoured with the imagery of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”),  offers a finely tuned sweet and athletic voice.   Her deft lyrics are organic, lively and refreshing and surprising in structure.  Sudol’s Fine Frenzy is guilty of keeping one or two songs in my head for several days now.   If you ever followed Amy Farris  (how we’ll miss that lady…), whether it’s was Dave Alvin’s Guilty Women or a Brian Wilson record, you would again,found that soulful straightforward style, this time with a Viola or a violin.

While bright spots like Duffy, A Fine Frenzy and others are capturing the hearts and minds of listeners nationwide,  “The singer-songwriter genre,” is alive and tangible in our clubs. A trip into Los Angeles reveals the likes of some of the current autuers:  Paul Plagens, Patria Jacobs, Greg Franco of Rough Church and his “big in New Zealand” solo project:  “Greg Franco’s Wandering Bear.” Also sharing a multi-directional inspired genius is Suki Ewers who brings her swirling  personally lyrical songs that take off where Mazzy Star left off.

The great American art of  songwriting didn’t end with Robert Zimmerman, Arlo or Woody, it’s alive and well and it’s here for the listening.

1. Paul Plagens

The”perfect mix” of all the aspects that make a songsmith shine.  Not unlike a contemporary John Prine, Plagens just cannot be missed. I was invited to 2nd St. Jazz for my birthday back in June of this year,  where Patria Jacobs Tex-Pate and former leader of “RubyFish”  consistently hammers  out one after another “Patriaworld”  experiences.  The lean and cool  Plagens played songs such as:  Lovesick Car and others.  That night Paul stood out with his soulful songs and uncommon humor. He’s been a member of the rock / alt band “Greta”, and done tons of studio work for ‘more than famous folks.  In addition to his own projects Plagens “sings honest” affecting well-crafted alliterative stories of real life interspersed  with unexpected hilarity.   He’s a treat to see and experience and in my opinion seems to inhabit that fruitful web of  artists in the vein of Prine, Doe, and Chilton.  Not yet  having garnered the movement that the luxury of time provides, I believe he’s poised to be “that next great singer-songwriter.  Obviously you should not miss Paul Plagens!

2. Patria Jacobs

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“Tex-pate” (L.A. transplant or many years now) and Chanteuse of American indie pop,  Patria’s swooning visceral songs define anyone’s emotional landscape.  Her deft and oceanic songs are not to be missed.  On her new release “Poison of the Sea” Patria’s smoky growl will have you enraptured. From her time as the co-conspirator behind “RubyFish” with Russ Chaput, to the eclectic forary into the pop/electronic visage that is her single “Do the Pink,”  Patria is a purveyor of fine music of Los Angeles often found hammering out another “Patriaworld” where she spotlights great singer-songwriters and multi-member local bands. Always a great host and performer  herself, she is expanding and changing the L.A. music scene.

3. Greg Franco

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The L.A. Weekly called Greg Franco “An Iconic Auteur,” who began his stay on the Los Angeles scene in the very early eighties with the seminal low brow band, The Blashpemous Yellow.   B.Y., sported some type of pounding and often times sweet bleating “grunky” (Grungy-Punk) type of thing… picture the musical love-child resulting from some  operatic tryst between “The Minute and Men” and “Gang of Four” then you might have an idea of the sound.  Crooning about the barrios of Chavez Ravine, and  the dusty in-betweens of San Fernando road, Franco et. al., haunted all the venues that would have them.  Venues such as  The Anti-Club, the Lhasa, The Music Machine, Madame Wong’s, Al’s Bar and many others.   Later the front-man for “Ferdinand”, a  four piece including Laura Smith and David Guerrero of  Third Grade Teacher, shook Silverlake and other venues up and down the coast with crunch alternative rock and roll that you had to eat with a fork.   Franco’s current troupe, Rough Church, is a “states-living but New Zealand famous” quartet. As if Rough Church wasn’t enough, Franco must believe he’s got  more hands than the Hindu god Vishnu herself, as he’s also working on his flagship personal project, “Greg Franco’s wandering bear.”  You can’t keep a good man down.

I can’t wait for these interviews, and videos, which are coming soon.  However, pictures are below.  But come back soon and we’ll finish the gig.

Below are: Patria Jacobs, Paul Plagens and Greg Franco.


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Some celebrities are blessed to have their “looks” (whether natural or manufactured,or a combination of both) for a long time. Some are not. Some hold on to hairstyles that are frighteningly obvious nods to their past glory.  Take Nick Nolte’s blonde slightly wavy early 90’s tresses, that he  had to cooley brush away as he crouched against the fender of a car whilst he slowly grabbing for his gun to take sniperly aim at some nefarious character.  Those tresses are still being rocked!  And now…they’re only food for papparazi. The vermin that creeps along our city streets stalking celebrities just minding their own business (ruthless and innane hairstlyes or not), seems to parallel the massive increase in Celebrity Worship Syndrome.   A man not helping the situation is one Donald Trump!  Maybe his inspiration for the super-wide girth of the comb-over that he mashes down every AM with some type of sheening potion, was the inspired result of his attendance at a “Player” concert back in 1977? (Remember Player’s “Baby Come Back?)….On the original album cover, Check the guy to extreme the left of the lead singer-the bassist Ron Moss.  The Donald must’ve fancied himself as au’ courant as brother Moss. Obviously vulnerable  to the smallest chinook, these folks have got to know how un-daily life-friendly their coiffes actually are, but still they can’t wrangle themselves from the visual ties to their past. Whether it’s the oft heard, “Hey!  it’s trendy again! mantra,…IT’S JUST FOOD FOR THE PAPARAZZI!!   Public complaints from these  waning nebulai about those predatory plebians falls at least on my deaf ears, as these grumps wait with baded breath to get the holy grail of bad hair shots. For example one Mr. Trump, saunters across Las Vegas Boulebard one breezy afternoon (possibly 12 bodyguards in tow),  a soft chinook sweeps across the stinky cigarette and piss soaked Las Vegas Boulevard and  circles up the belly of The Donald, where it devilishly lifts up Mr. Trump’s rug! OOPS!  SNAP!!!  CLICK!!! Literally taking flight (un-Falcon-Heene-like), the “combie” seems to actually wave back at the photog!  Not unlike catching a senegalese tiger in the depths of India in some natural act ‘never before captured on camera,’ the photog is eccstatic! What a snap, what a day!  ‘I don’t have to work for three months!’  I can drive my daughter to Kindercare in the mornings! My wife can dance later at Spearamint Rhino tonight!

..The Donald’s “faux-woven” (new word alert: “Fauxven”) was merely  hanging on by a few fine strands.  More appropriate for a sail than a toupee, Mr. Trump will have gained lift by the time the wind dies down.  Calling for his “boy” to come and re-coiffe his appendage.  The Donald  quickly re-gains swagger and returns on this path to the limo.   Donald, Mr. Nolte, Ms. Lohan and others REALLY ARE good for the economy.  Lessening depression as they wallow in their own, giving people a laugh and helping papparazi and the entire supply chain that goes with those magazines keep their children in Lucky Brand Jeans.  It’s a rough job, but someone’s gotta do it.Picture 23
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