Tag Archives: Patti Smith

Radio ON.

I’m sitting on my bed listening to a recording of my old radio show.  My main one.  “Dancing Barefoot.”  It aired once a week on KZSC Santa Cruz from 8:30PM to 10:30PM.  It began in June 2008 and ended in June 2010.  Sometimes it was on a Tuesday night and sometimes it was on a Wednesday night.  For about 10 weeks, it was on Tuesdays from 6:00AM to 9:00AM.  It wasn’t a dance music show.  It wasn’t a Patti Smith show.  It was both.  And neither.  But there was still a formula.  There definitely was.

The recording I’m listening to right now is dated May 11, 2010.  The disc says “Part One.”

I just heard my 23-year-old self say the following:

“You’re listening to KZSC Santa Cruz!  Under the moonlight!  THE SERIOUS MOONLIGHT!  MY SHOES ARE OFF!  TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, DANGNABBIT, AND DANCE!

Then I played “Walkin’ on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.

That was actually pretty cool to hear.  To hear me.  Me, being loud and bold and silly.  Good for you, 23-year-old Steff.

Yoga is great.  Walking is great.  Running is great.  Meditation is great.  Fine wine is great.  Hot baths are great.  Chocolate-dipped Animal Fries are great.  (I assume.)  But there is no stress relief in this world quite as affective as hosting a fucking radio show.  It’s absolute catharsis.  It’s romantic exorcism.  It’s energizing.  It’s soothing.  It’s stressful.  It’s a fucked up Zen garden riddled with nerves and noise.

(“Planet Claire.”  Good for you, 23-year-old Steff.)

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would rather blow off steam by drinking and screwing, and those activities do have their place.  For me, though, there’s nothing like talking into a massive microphone, addressing an attentive-yet-invisible audience and challenging yourself to play a series of three (or four…) songs in a row that flow together perfectly…and end right at the exact moment you have to go on the air and give the Bat Time and the Bat Station…

You can’t ignore things when you’re hosting a music program.  You can’t force yourself to forget things when you’re hosting a music program.  You can’t move on to the next thing when you’re hosting a music program.  You can (and have to) put on your best “I’m chipper!  Let’s rock!” voice, but after you’ve hit “Play” on a certain song and there’s nothing for you to do but listen and wait, you are gonna sit and think about exactly what’s inspired you to put on that certain song.  And it will be loud.

The air room.  The motherfuckin’ KZSC air room.

This recording.  It’s killing me.  In a good way.

“Just Like Heaven.”  I played “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure after making a brief announcement.

I am now sitting on my bed, at age 26, singing “Just Like Heaven.”  When I was 13 (unless I was 12), I sat up in my bed rather late listening to this song on repeat (on a Discman, no less), deliberately memorizing the lyrics.  And on May 11th 2010, 23-year-old me felt it necessary to play this song on the air.

Wow.  I must have been in a serious 80’s mood the night of May 11th, 2010.  I followed “Just Like Heaven” with “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs.

“Love My Way” is on the first volume of The Wedding Singer soundtrack.  Adam Sandler was my first love.  By listening to the soundtrack to The Wedding Singer, I felt like I was somehow close to my beloved Adam.  I was 10.

And now I’m 26.  And I am singing my heart out to these songs alone in my room while listening to a recording of my 23-year-old self spin these synthesized love ballads for an attentive-yet-invisible audience.  I had a slew of problems back then.  I have a slew of problems now.  I guess I also had problems when I was 13 and 10.  What’s nice, though, is that sitting here in my bedroom listening to this recording is helping me remember that Stephanie Callas, regardless of age and life experience and whatever bullshit gets played on KROQ, has always been the same damn person.  Will always BE the same damn person.

“Age of Consent” by New Order.

I wonder what I was thinking about the night of May 11th, 2010.  Well, lemme take that back: I know exactly what I was thinking about that night.  For the sake of time and not turning this post into a total downer, I’m gonna keep the secret to myself.  Still, as I said a moment ago, Stephanie Callas is still Stephanie Callas.  Still sorting through the same stuff.  Still reflecting on stuff and healing from stuff and listening to New Order when necessary.

“I had a Patti Smith request.  Someone wants to hear something off ‘Easter.’  So, here’s the first track off of that album.  It’s The Patti Smith Group with ‘Till Victory.'”

You either like Patti Smith or you don’t.

I saw Patti Smith in San Francisco when I was 21.  I had been in L.A. that weekend.  I had to make it to S.F. by a certain time.  I was driving a minivan and I got a speeding ticket somewhere outside Montecito.  I made it to S.F. in time.  The show was incredible and I was standing right against the stage and at one point Patti Smith sat down and held my hand and looked straight into my eyes.  I mouthed “I love you.”  It was during the interlude of her song…called “Dancing Barefoot.”

Again.  You either like Patti Smith or you don’t.  Because Patti Smith is never going to be exactly what you want her to be.  And nothing upsets shitty people like disobedient women.

The disc is over.  Maybe “May 11th 2010 Part Two” is somewhere in this CD case.  The recording ended with “(Sittin) on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding followed by “Oh! Sweet Nuthin” by The Velvet Underground.  I think that transition encapsulates what I was always tryin’ to go for — unlikely harmony.

Unlikely harmony.

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Strange Bedfellows.

Last week, my parents discovered they had bed bugs.  In their bed.  Only their bed.  I wasn’t bitten up and my brother wasn’t bitten up; just Steve and Barbara.  They don’t know how it happened.  They’re both rather fastidious people.

On Monday morning my mom had someone spray the house with all-natural, yet highly allergenic whatnot in order to kill the little bastard bed bugs.  The night before the insurgence, my mom brought a gray suitcase into my room and dropped it on my sofa.

“Ya may wanna pick up the stuff piled next to your bed,” she said.  “They’re gonna be spraying your carpet.”

I took her suggestion.  The suitcase is 3/4 full.  Its contents?  A veritable cornucopia of Dorky.

I shall now list for you the “stuff piled next to my bed” that has now been transferred to a gray suitcase on top of my sofa.

1. The Godfather Trilogy DVD Collection. 

Fully remastered.  The bouquet Johnny Fontaine sends to Don Corleone is so damn COLORFUL.

2. A Bag of Crackers

My mom brought this to me the night I came home from work after spending nearly two hours in the nurse’s office battling dehydration and low blood sugar.  Mom had also brought me soup, but I kept the crackers in case I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.  Rather, still feeling like a twitchy, malnourished mess.

3. A Burned DVD copy of A Streetcar Named Desire

No one, but NO ONE, is sexier than Marlon Brando in his skin tight t-shirt.  I fell asleep to this movie every night for a good six months.

4. The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud

It has the English translations and the original French.  I memorized “Sensation.”  I was determined to memorize it in French, too.  I still haven’t done that.  I bought the book last October.  Damn.

5. An Illustrated Copy of The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle

Some people keep The Bible by their beds.  And so do I.

6. A Green Journal with a Butterfly on the Cover That I Bought at Logos Bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA

Page One:

2-20-11

In Santa Cruz for the weekend.  This paper is incredible.  I can’t tell if the guy next to me is cute. Ya know, this bar isn’t ideal for writing.  Well, the vibe is, but the position I’m in is slightly uncomfortable.  I saw an absolutely beautiful guy downtown.  He was playing guitar and singing his heart out.  He looked and sounded so gorgeous. 

7. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Picked this up last November.  I found it on eBay.  The last time I picked it up was one day in December when I was sitting in the waiting room of an Urgent Care in Westlake Village waiting to talk to a doctor about a bizarre ailment I was convinced was killing me.  It didn’t kill me, and I never finished this book.

8. Planet News by Allen Ginsberg

I bought this book of poetry in San Francisco.  I was there last February for five or six days.  I spent my first day there walking around North Beach.  After having a few beers at Cafe Vesuvio I wandered over to The Beat Museum to ask if they had copies of the poems I submitted to them for a poetry contest they held back in 2007.  They didn’t have copies, but the guy behind the counter searched the internet archives for a good twenty minutes trying to help me out.  I felt kinda guilty for making him look, so I bought something.

9. A Black, Ringed Journal My Parents Bought for Me at Citylights Books When I Was 19

The opening lines of “HOWL” are printed on the front cover.

Page One:

3-06-06

When I get angry I feel my shoulder blade muscles tense up and form a knot that hurts for days.

I can feel it pinching back there whenever I try to write

or type

or just fucking hold a book.

I once tried to work out the knot by wearing Icy-Hot bandages at night

But they just soothed the area around the hubbub of angst.*

I’d peel the bandage off in the morning and my skin would

smell like chemicals.

God knows what kind of cancer it’ll give me.

Maybe the doctors will prescribe me some pot.

Then I could sell it on the streets and use the money to hire a masseuse. 

(*I feel like kicking my own ass for “hubbub of angst.”)

10. Light Blue Journal I Bought from Paper Source in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m not sharing Page One.  I can’t.  I will, however, reveal that it was written on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 12:54pm.

It was interesting to read Page One of this cute little unfinished journal, because it’s my retelling of the beginning of what turned out to be a very frustrating, rather sad story.  It was all so seemingly innocent at the time, but now that I’m looking at these scribbled words written by the 22-year-old version of myself, it’s obvious that this very frustrating period of my life left a rather sad impression on my ability to trust people.  Perfectly sweet people.

Perfectly sweet male people.

That Fucker.

11. A “One Line A Day: Five Year Memory” Journal from Barnes and Noble

I am so bad at keeping up with this thing.  There is literally just enough space to write one sentence per day.  I thought it seemed interesting.  I haven’t written any memories in it since January 9, 2012.  I wrote, “First unemployed Monday.”  That was a fun day, actually.  Mom and I went to the zoo.

12.  A Tennessee Williams Collection

Includes Summer and Smoke, Orpheus Descending, Suddenly Last Summer, and Period of Adjustment.  It also includes a personal essay by Tennessee that spoke to me so profoundly the first time I read it that I literally threw the book across the room.

So much for the past and present.  The future is called “perhaps,” which is the only possible thing to call the future.  And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.

13. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir I had to read for my writing group.  I was intrigued for the first few chapters, but the whole thing became so damn indulgent after a certain point that by the end I found the narrator annoying and stupid.  I must take great care to never become an annoying, stupid narrator.

14. Another Tennessee Williams Collection

This one includes Battle of Angels, The Glass Menagerie, and A Streetcar Named Desire.  I read this one on a flight from JFK to LAX.  Despite having watched A Streetcar Named Desire a dozen fucking times, I still teared up while I was reading it.  Tennessee may be damn easy to lampoon, but he’s also really fucking hard to beat.

15. The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 by Richard Brautigan

There are sex scenes in books that make you want to have sex, but not often do you come across sex scenes in books that make you want to cry.  Cry for what?  I don’t know.  Nostalgia?  Longing?  Loneliness?  Wishing and hoping that somewhere out there someone remembers you and your body just like Richard Brautigan saw this girl and her body…

It’s a hard decision whether to start at the top or the bottom of a girl.  With Vida I just didn’t know where to begin.  It was really a problem.

After she reached up awkwardly and put my face in a small container which was her hands and kissed me quietly again and again, I had to start somewhere.

She stared up at me all the time, her eyes never leaving me as if they were an airfield.

I changed the container and her face became a flower in my hands.  I slowly let my hands drift down her face while I kissed her and then further down her neck to her shoulders.

I could see the future being moved in her mind while I arrived at the boundaries of her bosom.  Her breasts were so large, so perfectly formed under her sweater that my stomach was standing on a step-ladder when I touched them for the first time.

Her eyes never left me and I could see in her eyes the act of my touching her breasts.  It was like brief blue lightning.

I was almost hesitant in a librarian sort of way.

“I promise,” she said, reaching up and awkwardly pressing my hands harder against her breasts.  She of course had no idea what that did to me.  The step-ladder started swirling.

She kissed me again, but this time with her tongue.  Her tongue slid past my tongue like a piece of hot glass.

16. A Light Blue Guitar Pick from Amoeba Music in Berkely, CA.

I’ve now been to all three Amoebas.  The one in Hollywood is The Best.

17. Jason Webley’s Only Just Beginning

This is his favorite album of his.  This is also my favorite album of his.  It’s just his best album of his.  “Music That Puts Everything Together” brings me to my knees.  Oh Jesus, and “Map.”  And “Icarus.”  And “With.”  And “Coda.”

Of course they’re all better live.  I’m damn lucky that I know that firsthand.  Jason Webley live is more life affirming than…anything, really.  Except maybe Leonard Cohen live.  Speaking of which…

18. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen

This is a Hell of a novel.  There is a scene where two men — The Narrator and his friend, F. — are driving at top speed in F.’s car down a dark highway.  F. is pleasuring himself while he drives.

F., put it back.  Enough is enough.

Never put it back when it gets like this.

My God, I’ve never seen you so big!  What’s going on in your mind?  What are you thinking of?  Please teach me how to do it.  Can I hold it?

No!  This is between me and God.

Who but Leonard Fucking Cohen would come up with “This is between me and God”?

I had Jason Webley sign my copy.  I knew he was a Leonard Cohen fan and I wanted to impress him with my dorkiness.  Because, ya know, traveling to Seattle to catch his 11-11-11 show wasn’t dorky enough.

Stephanie

I’m glad I remember your name.

And I’m glad that you came so far for my concert.

And I’m glad that you like this book.

♥ jason

11-11-11

approximately

18. And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave

Nick, I love you with all my heart and soul, but this novel is no Beautiful Losers.

19. Scattered Poems by Jack Kerouac

Gotta love a poem called “Pull My Daisy.”

20. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, light of my life.  Fire of my loins.

‘Nuff said.

21. A DVD Copy of the Remake of Alfie Starring Jude Law

I bought this from the Blockbuster in Westlake right before the damn thing closed down for good.  Ya know what?  This is a terrible movie.  It is.  But damn, I really get a kick out of it.  It’s so atrocious it’s funny and Jude Law is just POSING the whole Goddamn time, which is all at once hilarious and fucking hot.  He’s so hot I wanna punch him in the face.

22. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

An award-winning play my mom read earlier this year that she insisted I read as well.  Still haven’t gotten around to doing that.

23. Writing the Memoir: from Truth to Art by Judith Barrington

I have a lot to say about this book, but right now I am completely distracted by the fact that the author’s last name is Barrington.  I purchased this book before that last name became such a significant part of my life.  Co-workers of mine who are reading this, I’m sorry.

24. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Patti Smith is really into this book.  I found a copy of it on my mom’s bookshelf on a rainy day last November.  I read the first page, and then I decided to go buy a ukulele.

I attempted to make a video for you of me playing the ukulele, but my mom interrupted when she came in to ask me if I wanted anything from Lassen’s.

25. A Blue and Black Leather-bound Journal Given to Me by My High School Journalism Teacher

Page One is humiliating.

Here’s something from Page 12:

12:00am August 10, 2005 Wednesday

I bought a CD today.  I’m listening to it now.  It feels great.  Not as great as kissing.  Music makes me think of kissing — probably because I sometimes kiss to music.

26. A DVD Copy of The Graduate

Two nights before I moved back to my parents’s house after living in Santa Cruz for five years, I downloaded this movie and bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon.  At this point, I had already moved 99% of my furniture out of my apartment.  All I had was my twin-sized mattress, which was, at that point, pathetically sitting on the floor of my bedroom.  I sat on my pathetic mattress, drank my pathetic cheap wine, and watched Benjamin Braddock try his best not to be pathetic.  I cried a lot.

27. A DVD Copy of The Road to God Knows Where

Behind the scenes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds touring the United States after Tender Prey was released.  They’re all so young and beautiful.  I fall asleep to this one a lot.  Nick is such a jerk to journalists, but not in a Bob Dylan in Don’t Look Back kind of way.  All the journalists that appear in this movie are such idiots that it really isn’t Nick’s fault that he comes off as so smart and so snide.  The people interviewing him really have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.

28.  A DVD Copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I will defend this movie until the end of time.  If, someday, I find myself with some spare time and some spare money (by the way, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!), I plan on writing an in-depth analysis of all four (or, by then, 15) Pirates films.  No one will publish it and no one will read it, so I’ll probably just send the manusctipt to Johnny Depp and wait for his reaction.  Maybe I’ll get to become one of his various best friends and I’ll start getting invitations to parties at Keith Richards’s house.

29. A DVD Copy of The Ruling Class

Just watch it.

30. The Complete Fawlty Towers

This show never got boring or bad because the British know when it’s time for a television show to end.  There are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers, but they are all perfect.

31. A DVD Copy of Blue Velvet

I watched this not too long ago.  I had a 103 degree fever and I was sitting on the couch in my empty house shivering and sniffling and coughing.

A video is worth 1,000 words:

32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live DVD: God Is in the House

It’s pretty good, but Warren Ellis had joined the band by this point, and it’s upsetting to watch Nick try to divvy up his affection between Warren and Blixa.  And Blixa just looks BORED out of his mind, even during “The Carny.”  It saddens me.

33. A DVD Copy of The Darjeeling Limited

I can’t listen to people criticize Wes Andseron.  It’s a sin.

34. A DVD Copy of If….

My Malcolm McDowell obsession was one of the best things to ever happen to me.  He made a lot of crap movies, but it doesn’t matter, because he also made If….

This movie should be shown to everyone everywhere.  Politicians should watch and be warned.

35.  The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

I read two chapters of this self-help book in May right before the training period for my new job began.  I had been diagnosing myself with various terminal illnesses every day for two weeks and I was losing my Goddamn mind.  I had been unemployed since January and I was at my absolute wit’s end.  Two chapters of this thing had me back to normal.  (As in, I was suddenly cured of my lung cancer, throat cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, and Parkinson’s Disease.)

36. A DVD Copy of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at Brixton Academy, London Thursday, November 11 2004

As long as I can shut my bedroom door, sit down by myself and watch this shit, then I can never really lose sight of the fact that my life is rather good.  And that I’m a bad motherfucker.

So, yeah.  I’m thinkin’ I’ll just put all this stuff back where I found it — piled up next to my bed.

 

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Neutral Milk Tradition.

On Thanksgiving, when I was 17, my big brother changed my life when he handed me a brand new copy of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel.  At the time, I only listened to bands who had reached the height of their popularity in the late 1960’s or early [to mid -] 1970’s.  My favorite movie was The Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus.  I still felt buzzed from the David Bowie concert I had seen months earlier.  I had written my 11th grade research paper on the cultural influence of Punk Rock, for which I received — and didn’t care that I received! — a good ol’ mediocre 75%.  Why, dear God, did my brother hand me a copy of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea?  All he said was, “I think you’ll like it.”

I’m positive the only reason I listened to the album was because my big brother told me to.  We weren’t little kids anymore, but that didn’t matter; handing me that album incited the same sense of urgency and fear I felt when I was seven-years-old and he handed me a copy of Soundgarden’s Superunknown.  I was given a task, and if I followed through that would mean I was Cool.  I took my copy of Raw Power out of my CD player, and replaced it with the CD my brother had just given me.  What I heard was all at once everything I loved about my classic stuff, as well as unlike anything I’d ever heard before.  It was dark in a Jim Morrison way, but not at all Bohemian.  Could Bob Dylan have written this?  Leonard Cohen?  Patti Smith?  Maybe, yeah, in another world…but that’s not how things panned out, was it?

Somehow, the rest of my family got turned on to that album.  Perhaps it was because my big brother also gave a copy to my little brother — or was it me who did that? — and then it was eventually played for my parents.  Regardless of the real explanation, it eventually got to the point where all five of us were singing, “What a beautiful face I have found in this place…”.

(My family’s love for this song gives my love for this cover a bit of extra umph).

A few weeks later, when my big brother was home for Christmas, he handed me a copy of On Avery Island.  Similar to the Aeroplane phenomenon, the remaining family members fell in love.  I distinctly remember listening to “3 Peaches” as a family on our way back home from a car trip somewhere.  Was it Vegas?  How…appropriate?

As I became a bigger fan, I learned that the band was formed in the 1990’s and that the lead singer’s name was Jeff Mangum.  When I learned about the band’s indefinite hiatus, I really, truly felt sad.  Bowie Buzz be damned, I wanted to hear “Oh Comely” live!

My prayers were answered, in a way, a year later.  I was a freshman in college, and my mom came to Santa Cruz to drive me home for Thanksgiving.  To keep us entertained during the six-hour-long trip, she brought a copy of Live at Jittery Joe’s.  She was especially excited for me to hear, “I Love How You Love Me” because it was “nothing like the original version!”  She also loved how the crying baby in the background punctuated Mangum’s performance.  “Isn’t it just so good and weird?” she said.

As a result of all this, Thanksgiving makes me think of Neutral Milk Hotel.  When Halloween is over and it finally starts to get a little bit cold (here in Southern California, that is) and people start thinking about ordering turkeys and learning how the Hell to make cranberry sauce, all I can think about is trumpets and Anne Frank.  Every morning, afternoon and night, regardless of where I am, I am either listening to, or thinking about In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.

***

On Thursday night, after all of our esteemed guests had left the building, the five of us sat down in the family room to decompress and digest.  I was on the couch between my dad and my big brother.  My Big Brother.  My Big Brother who wanted me to stop listening to my Ren & Stimpy CD and start listening to grunge.  My Big Brother who changed my life when he handed me a brand new copy of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

I turned to him and said, “Thanksgiving makes me think of Neutral Milk Hotel.”  “Oh yeah?” he said.  I then told him that he had given me that album on Thanksgiving years before, and what an impression that album had made on me.  He said, “I loved that band so much in college and I was so upset that I would never be able to see them live.  I once had a dream I did.  It was very…emotional.” As someone who knows all about emotional concerts and emotional dreams, I felt very close to My Big Brother in that moment.  “Brother see, we are one in the same…”.

My dad and I mentioned that Jeff Mangum played at Occupy Wall Street.  “No way!” My Big Brother said.  “He did a show?”  He wanted to know when, where, and how we knew.  We explained that we had seen a segment on Democracy Now! where Amy Goodman talked about Occupy, and that during the segment she showed a few seconds of Jeff Mangum singing “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” for a crowd of people.  This really blew My Big Brother’s mind.  He didn’t seem to believe what we were telling him.  “I’m sure it’s on YouTube,” I said.

My Big Brother found a forty minute and fifty-nine-second long video of Jeff Mangum’s Occupy Wall Street set, and, as a family, we listened to all of it.  We sang along to every song: “Holland 1945,” “Song Against Sex,” “Two Headed Boy Part 2,” “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” “King of Carrot Flowers Part 1,” and “Oh Comely.”  During “Two Headed Boy Part 2,” when all of us took a break from singing to just listen, my younger brother — who is awesome — couldn’t help but repeat after Jeff Mangum when he sang, “God is a place where some holy spectacle lies.”  “Wow,” my little brother said.  “God is a PLACE.”  At the risk of sounding like a sentimental nut, I have to agree; and maybe, just maybe, it’s a place I’ve been to.  All I know is that I spent the night of Thanksgiving sitting on my couch singing about “how strange it is to be anything at all” with the two people who brought me into this world and the two people who I will always be inextricably linked to.  Does it get much better?  You tell me.

It is now the evening of Sunday, November 27th.  Thanksgiving of 2011 has come and gone.  While I’ve had a great time eating mashed potatoes and pie and stuffing for the last three days (curse you, delicious leftovers!), I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when I plan on ingesting some green vegetables and going to the gym.  The food binge may have reached its end, but the feeling of thankfulness will continue.  For as long as I have my Neutral Milk Hotel CDs, what ISN’T there to be thankful for?

Thanks mom and dad, for the obvious.  Thanks, little brother, for the awesomeness.  Thanks, Big Brother for more than you know…

And thanks, YouTube, for the sweet covers.

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Anybody Want Anything?

want |wänt; wônt|

verb

1 [ trans. ] have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for : I want an apple | [with infinitive ] we want to go to the beach | [ trans. ] she wanted me to go to her room | [ intrans. ] I’ll give you a lift into town if you want.

     • desire (someone) sexually : I’ve wanted you since the first moment I saw you.

noun

1 chiefly archaic; a lack or deficiency of something: Victorian houses which are in want of repair | it won’t be through want of trying.

     • the state of being poor and in need of essentials; poverty : freedom from want.

2 a desire for something : the expression of our wants and desires.

Ever heard of California Chicken Cafe?  It’s a restaurant chain here in Southern Cali.  Most everything on the menu involves chicken, and, rest assured, the items that don’t contain chicken contain avocado.  You can also add chicken to any non-chicken item for $1.75.

You don’t know what you’re missing.  Really.  ::Cough::

California Chicken Cafe is a popular lunch option at the office where I work.  I, myself, rarely participate in the California Chicken Cafe extravaganzas.  No, I don’t think I’m better than everyone, I just can’t be spendin’ money on shit that doesn’t bring me immense joy.  Plus, I spent all my money on baked clams and cannoli last week at San Gennaro in New York City.

I regret nothing.

Today, a co-worker was about to make a chicken run when he suddenly cried out, “Anybody else want anything from California?”

There was a pause, and then I asked, “From California?”

“Yeah.”

I thought for a moment, and then said, “I want a house near the ocean.”

My co-worker laughed.

“No, no, as in, do you want anything from California Chicken Cafe.”

I didn’t want any damn chicken.  I did, however, proceed to ramble about some of the things I do, in fact, want.  When it was time for me to shut up and get back to work, the rambling continued in my head.

I now present to you Ten Random Things I Want.  Some of them are unique to California, and some of them…well…

♥♥♥

Ten Random Things I Want

by Stephanie Callas

10.

I want a house near the ocean.  I will live there by my damn self until I decide I want company.  I have not yet decided the exact location of this house, but I know it will be North of Pismo.  It will be impeccably decorated, and feature a killer sound system.

9.

I want my car to be paid the Hell off.  No more monthly car payments.  None.

8.

I want a bulldog.  An English Bulldog.  I will name him Brando and he will be my buddy.  He will be a healthy boy, with no respiratory problems or hip dysplasia, and he will not die of heatstroke like so many English Bulldogs tend to do.  He will be chubby and cute and he will love The Godfather as much as I do.

7.

I want to know how to program computer viruses.   Ya never know when ya may need to rip someone off.

6.

I want the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney.  People will come from all over the world just to get a glimpse of it, and I will charge admission based on my personal prejudices.  60-year-old man in an Armani suit with a 23-year-old socialite on his arm?  $10,000.  Cute hippie-boy with a beard and a beanie who wants to stop and see The Walt on his way to Mexico?  Admission is free!  (This is, of course, not including the food and wine he will inevitably purchase in his effort to seduce me).

5.

I want to be able to travel.  I’m talkin’ far and wide.  I want to wake up, decide that I should spend the weekend in Barcelona drinking from a wine skin and speaking in an English accent and introducing myself as Brett, and then go do it.

4.

I want to be friends with John Waters.  I want to be on a first name basis with him.  When he’s not visiting me in my fabulous house by the ocean, he will be sending me funny text messages and buying me semi-perverted presents.  We will Skype every Monday morning while we’re having our coffee.  He will say things like, “Mondays are just such a DRAG,” and I will say, “Honey, you WISH you were a DRAG,” and he will say, “Honey, the world couldn’t HANDLE all THIS in DRAG,” and I will say, “Honey, you WISH the world couldn’t handle YOU in DRAG”…

3.

I want to speak fluent French.  I will go to Farmer’s Markets all over the world and ONLY speak French.

2.

I want a box of cannoli from Ferrara’s bakery to be delivered to my door every Friday night.  FRESH.  I want them to be all different varieties — regular, chocolate, Nutella, pistachio — and they will all have perfect shells and perfect filling.  I will serve the cannoli to all of my fabulous dinner guests.  Some parties will be small, and others will put Woodstock to shame.  Brando will be everyone’s favorite couch companion, and John Waters will bring out everyone’s inner freak.  Tom Waits will be playing the piano and Patti Smith will be playing the clarinet.  Peter O’Toole will be serving champagne and Leonard Cohen will be handing out white lilies.  Nick Cave and Barbara Streisand will perform duets that bring the guests to their knees in cathartic abandon.  My parents will be excited to be out of the house and my brothers will be happy to be away from school and work, even though school and work is treating them just fine.  All my friends will bring fabulous dates — no assholes, no losers, no fuddy-duddies — and those who do not will be more than thrilled to spend an evening unattached and irresponsible.  No one will get drunk, and everyone will get happy.  The next morning, I won’t have to do one bit of cleaning.  While everyone is driving home, not one person will be thinking about work problems or school problems or money problems or family problems or marriage problems or credit card problems or plumbing problems or love problems.  No one will think, “I should have just stayed home and studied,” or, “I should have stayed in and searched for a new job,” or, “I wish that guy had called me back,” or, “I wish that girl hadn’t been there.”  All they will be thinking is, “I can’t believe I got a picture with the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney.”

1.

I guess it goes without say that I want World Peace, so fuck it — I want Don Draper.

The End?

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part I: Mark Renton

Yesterday, I got to have a good, long Skype session with my friend Zach, a former KZSC comrade.  Our conversation, I am happy to report, was quite brilliant.  We discussed the rise and fall of Microsoft and Nintendo, the inferior design of Facebook, and Yahoo’s inability to even try to compete with The Google Overlords.  During a brief moment of non-internet related banter, Zach mentioned that he was planning on teaching himself how to play the accordion.  I said that I could imagine him playing at The Poet And The Patriot; a bar in downtown Santa Cruz that only serves the finest beers and the cheapest wines.  We then got to talking about how fantastic it is to sit at the bar at The Poet and watch the frat boys and sorority girls order shorts of Jaeger and Patron, only to be turned down by the hard-assed, Irish bartenders.  “It helps keep out the riff-raff,” said Zach.  “If they want that shit, they can go to The Red.”

The Red is as trendy as it gets when it comes to downtown Santa Cruz drinking establishments.  There are drinks with funny names, or “signature cocktails,” if you prefer.  The girls are wearin’ mini-skirts, and everyone looks like they’ve showered.  The place smells of cologne and sugar cane, and it’s impossible for bums to sneak inside.  Despite all this, I could still walk in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and no one would glare at me.

There is a lower-level of The Red that is quite unlike its upstairs counterpart.  The lower-level allows smoking.  The lower-level isn’t as well-lit.  The lower-level isn’t the place to go for a neon pink “signature cocktail.”  The lower-level attracts girls in mini-skirts with tattoos on their arms.  The lower-level…just…feels more like home.  I used to hang out at the lower Red with my good friend, Ellanee, when we were in college.  We’d stay until closing time, having a blast being total assholes to all the poor fuckers who offered to buy us drinks.

“Ya know what I always loved?” I said to Zach, “The lower-Red.  It’s scuzzier.”  Zach laughed and said, “You would like the lower-Red, you classy, classy lady.”  I knew he was being ironic, which I found rather funny.  I also found it a bit perplexing.  In what ways, I wondered, am I not perfectly classy?  I burp in front of people, and I don’t give a shit if I’m caught grocery shopping in my pajama bottoms, but I don’t consider myself especially unclassy.  I had to settle this.  I said to Zach, “You know what?  It’s because I’m too much of a chicken to actually be scuzzy, so I’m attracted to people who really are.  I live vicariously.  It’s like I’m Lawrence Ferlinghetti and I’m just chillin’ watching all the Neil Cassadys run around.  They’ll all die, and I’ll be an old person riding my bike to my prestigious bookstore.”  Zach just laughed and said, “Imagining you as an old lady on a bike is funny.”

***

Scuzzy people.  Scuzzy fuckin’ low-life people.  I love them; especially, you guessed it, the males.  Yes, I am a Good Girl who loves Bad Fuckin’ Boys.  Not just any bad boy, mind you.  I’m talkin’ vagabonds.  Drifters.  Rockstars.  DIRTY HIPPIES!  The poets, the painters, the shitty novelists, the song-writers, the filmmakers…All that bullshit.  I love ’em stoned, I love ’em drunk, I love ’em strung out in the street quoting T.S. Eliot.  I love ’em in torn clothing with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and knowing smirks on their lips.  I love five o’clock shadows and dirty coats that smell like bourbon and old shoes.  I love long hair and bare feet and sage-scented panchos.  I love paint-covered hands.  I love foul mouths.  I love bar fights and run-ins with the police.

Oh, how we danced away all of the lights, We’ve always been out of our minds…

I know, of course, deep-down, that I could never ever have a meaningful romantic relationship with a scuzzy son-of-a-bitch.  I know that.  I really, really do.  However, until I find my sensitive, loyal, well-mannered family man who makes six (or more) figures per year, I plan on continuing to fall in love with all the wrong men — at least the ones I see on the silver screen and hear on my shitty speakers.

I am not sure what my love for scuzzy men means.  Is it purely voyeuristic?  And why?  Am I rebelling against my suburban upbringing by idolizing vagrants?  Do I think that I have the power to take a starving artist and transform him into a well-to-do member of society?  Do I just wish Nick Cave’s “Hard On For Love” were about me?  Is this my specific take on penis envy?  Again, I am not sure.  All I know is that pictures of young Marlon Brando are great, but stories about young Marlon Brando living in his dirty New York apartment with a pet raccoon excite me even more.  I can’t explain it; I can only explore it.

Let the exploration begin!

SCUZZY SON-OF-A-BITCH #1:

Mark Renton

The Derelict That Started It All

(2002)

Those skin-tight jeans.  Those red Adidas.  That thick Scottish brogue.  That foul mouth.  Yes, Mark Renton is definitely my kind of sexy motherfucker.   Add to the mix a debilitating heroin addiction, and I’m in Good Girl Heaven.

My friend, Melanie, and I fell in love with Ewan McGregor via Moulin Rouge!  It wasn’t long before we had the damn movie memorized (including the u2/KISS/David Bowie mash-ups) and were desperate to see more of Ewan McGregor’s work; I have no idea why we chose to watch Trainspotting after months of  singing along to the “Elephant Love Medley.”

It was a Sunday afternoon.  I was 14-years-old.  When I saw Mark Renton overdose on heroin and sink into The Mother Superior’s living room floor while Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” oozed through the room, everything suddenly made sense.  “This is it,” I realized.  “I’ve always loved this stuff, and I’ve never known it.”

 NOTHING was the same for me after that.  Eve6 and Blink 182 and Dave Matthews Band were replaced by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and David Bowie.  If a book involved heroin, I had to read it.  My poor mother had to listen to Nevermind The Bollocks everyday as she drove me home from school.  I found a dusty old copy of Naked Lunch on my parents’ bookshelf.  Everything that came out of the UK was kickass, and everyone who made music in the 1970’s was a God.

Conversely, everything that was popular sucked.  It sucked hard, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Thanks to that period of my life, I own way too many obscure Ewan McGregor movies on VHS (if anyone would like to join me to watch Lipstick On Your Collar or Scarlet & Black, please let me know), way too many books about punk rock (still haven’t read Lipstick Traces), and way too many copies of The Velvet Underground & Nico (CD, vinyl, two-disc remastered, burned copy of the two-disc remastered…).  Clutter aside, when I think about what may have happened to me if I had never fallen in lust with a fictional drug addict, I get very Existential.  For example, if I hadn’t fallen in love with Mark Renton, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with old music, and if I hadn’t fallen in love with old music I wouldn’t have fallen in love with old records, and if I hadn’t fallen in love with old records I wouldn’t have fallen in love with Jim Morrison (MORE ON HIM LATER), and if I hadn’t fallen in love with Jim Morrison…Would I have gone to UC Santa Cruz?  Would I have had my own radio show?  Would I have met half the people I consider my friends?  Would I have seen Patti Smith live?

Would I be into GAGA?

Life is just extraordinary, isn’t it?  If it hadn’t been for a little crush on an actor that turned into a tremendous fascination with various human subcultures…I mean, there’s nothing else I can possibly say, really.  I can’t possibly add more profundity by writing a few more measly words, can I?

How about this: thanks, Mark Renton, for being so Goddamn tragic.  And HOT.

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