Tag Archives: The Doors

No One Important Reads My Blog, But You’re All Important to Me.

This is a Dorky Dorky Dorky thing.

This is a Mother Hen thing.

This is a Post That Doesn’t Necessarily Actually Need to Be Posted thing.

I’m not trying to go for a, “Back in high school I’d be hangin’ with Sam and Rado and Shaun” bullshit name-dropping “Behind the Music” thing.

I can’t say, “I can get you backstage.”

I can’t say, “I saw them all last week in my apartment for tempeh taco night.”

I can’t say, “All the guys pitched in to buy me a jukebox with all my favorite songs arranged in chronological order starting from when I fell in love with The Velvet Underground and ending with “Backstreets” by Bruce Springsteen because that’s the only song I wanted to hear last week LOLZ they’re so #sweet.”

None of that.  Much less than that.  Regardless, I’m proud.  I just wanna tell the world, “I’m proud.”

I’m proud they never stopped.  Impressed, really.  Impressed because it was so long ago that I first heard a silly song about a Passport.  Then a song about a Pumpkin Patch.  Then Dog Day Afternoon was parodied [kind of] and Jesus was Fun Fun.  I commented on every MySpace blog from afar because I was a fan and because I meant it and because I had nothing else to do between classes freshman year.  I also requested they make me their tambourine girl, which never happened…

There were live shows.  They were good and they were silly and sometimes they weren’t all that great because they were just boys.  They kept going, though.  They actually kept going, which is the best thing anyone with an idea can do.

Small places.  Bigger places.  Places of some notoriety and then smaller places.  And it was a joke.  And it was serious.  And the songs got better and the shows got better and things changed and changed again.

A year ago someone put on some music and I said, “This is Foxygen,” and he said, “Yeah,” and I said, “Where the hell did you get this?” and he said, “iTunes,” so I went to iTunes and did the same thing, and it was weird, because for the first time I wasn’t getting the music from my younger brother or directly from one of the guys — the guys who were not at my apartment for tempeh taco night but have always been on my radar because Agoura Hills is a small place and we all have to grow up somewhere.

How the fuck did this happen?  How the fuck did I sit down at my computer and find a way to watch them play at Coachella from hundreds of miles away?  Because things have changed.  Globally.  Personally.  Foxygenlly.  You guys are great.  You guys are among my favorites.  You guys make me wanna be a better artist.  You guys make it look easy.

Thank you.  I’m proud of you.  Stay hydrated.

 

 

 

 

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11.

Sometimes you feel like going for a run.

It doesn’t happen often, but it happened today, because today was an interesting day.

You put on the yoga pants and the sport bra you bought last year when you signed up for that gym membership that you canceled after four months and you put on the only pair of sneakers you own and you load some Amanda Palmer onto your iPhone and you walk out the door.

Run for one song, walk for one song.  You decide to let shuffle do the decision-making, because you’re out of breath and now is not the time to stare at your music library on a hand-held screen.

Run for “Supergeil.”  Walk for “Peaches en Regalia.”  Walk for “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.”  Run for “Streets of Sorrow / Birmingham Six.”

It’s dark.  You’re sweating.  Your lungs feel small.  It’s time to walk home.  Your iPhone decides you need to hear “Indian Summer.”  You get really happy.  You love “Indian Summer.”  You loved it the first time you heard it and you love it tonight.  You loved it that one night you listened to it on that mix tape you made and you imagine yourself dancing to it at your wedding with a faceless person you haven’t met and you wonder if that’s lame.

You look up at the moon.  Jim tells you he loves you the best, better than all the rest that he’ll meet in the summer.

Summer.

You think about why today was interesting and you get a little annoyed.  You wonder why you’re even annoyed at all because you should be above it all because you’ve been through it all and you’ve been through a lot.

You contemplate the Human Condition and wonder what it even specifically means.  Does it refer to the way we’re all gonna die and we know it?  Or is that Existentialism?  And are you allowed to pay attention to coincidences when you’re an Existentialist?  Or do Existentialists not believe in coincidences?  Or do they think coincidences are just coincidences and not anything to pay any attention to?

You wonder why you don’t tell more people to fuck off.  You wonder why your first instinct is to get to know why a total asshole is a total asshole so that maybe, one day, you and that total asshole can be friends.  But why would you wanna be friends with a total asshole?  But aren’t we supposed to make friends while we’re here?  And is there something innate in all of us that makes us want to hang out with each other and not kill each other?

Is that what God is?  Is God the voice in your head that stops you from punching someone in the face?  Is God the voice in your head that tells you to apologize?  Is God the voice in your head that stops you from telling more people to fuck off?

Yes.  You’re contemplating the existence of the divine.  Not Divine: the divine.  You’re wondering why more people don’t talk about how God may be a force of energy as opposed to a man who keeps tabs on everyone.  You wonder why paying attention to things — things like coincidences — is considered silly and spooky, and yet condemning groups of people for the way they live in the name of God is allowed in the year 2014.

“Indian Summer” ends.  You’re alone with the passing cars and the sound of your own footsteps.  You look at the sign for the LA River and think of an episode of Six Feet Under, immediately followed by a scene from Inside Llewyn Davis.

Suddenly, loudly and beautifully and perfectly, “In the Aeroplane over the Sea” fills your ears and your brain and — perhaps? — your soul.

You love this song.  You really, really love this song.  You think about the people you love, and how some of them also love this song, and you think about how maybe you really should start paying more attention to what music other people like, because if they don’t like music that you like, that’s kind of actually a big deal.  Or maybe they don’t need to like all the music you like, but they do need to like music, because if they don’t like music then what the hell are they doing?

You turn on to the crowded boulevard and you look at the neon signs and you feel almost like you live in a cool city, and there’s that bar you like and there’s that sushi place you like and you still have to go into that weird little shop and check out their Tibetan prayer flags.  For Tibet.

Looking at your neighborhood reminds you that it’s the 11th.  It’s March 11th.  You moved into your apartment exactly one year ago.

One year ago.

You remember what was happening one year ago.  You remember how afraid you were one year ago and how much more broke you were one year ago and dear God — thank God it’s no longer one year ago.

You pass the stupid lingerie store you’ve never been inside of and Mick and Keith take over and sing to you about “Wild Horses” and remind you you’ll ride them.  Someday.

You wonder if you should write when you get home.  You wonder who even reads your writing.  You wonder if people read your writing and never tell you they read your writing.  You wonder if people read your writing and tell you they love it but really they don’t.  You wonder if people purposely avoid reading your writing because they don’t actually care about you when you’re not around.  You wonder if you’ll ever write some more.  Some more meaningful stuff.  Stuff that more people see.

Here’s your street.  You hang a right.  Your feet hurt because your sneakers really weren’t designed to be used for running on concrete and your shirt is plastered to your back but yeah, man, going for a run was a good idea.

You think, Wasn’t it weird how your iTunes shuffle came up with such a perfect little set of songs?  It was great, wasn’t it?  You almost want to keep walking just to see what comes on next…

Warren Zevon comes on next.

Everybody’s restless and they’ve got no place to go
Someone’s always trying to tell them
Something they already know
So their anger and resentment flow

But don’t it make you want to rock and roll
All night long
Mohammed’s Radio
I heard somebody singing sweet and soulful
On the radio, Mohammed’s Radio

You stop.  You laugh.  You can hardly believe your iPhone chose to play you a song that implies a divine figure is spinning rock and roll for the restless.  On the 11th.

You open the gate, walk up the stairs, unlock the door to your apartment and step inside.  You hang up your key and walk straight to your bedroom, where you plop down on the floor, set your laptop on your bed, and open up your blog that some people sometimes read.

And now you’re finished.  And you’re hungry.  And you’re excited to take a shower and put on your pajamas and watch another episode of Twin Peaks.  You’re also a little freaked out and excited by how Twin Peaks is all about mysteries and synchronies and coincidences, and you think about Agent Dale Cooper and how he’s nice to everyone and never gets mad or annoyed or nasty

So.  What have you learned today?

And what do you think will happen tomorrow?

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The Scuzzy Sons-of-Bitches Who Light Up My Life Part IV: Jim Morrison

John or Paul?

Jim.

Mick or Keith?

Jim.  With all due respect.

Page or Plant?

::Yawn::  

Jim.

 Hendrix or Clapton?

I want “Bold As Love” to be played at my wedding, and I don’t even want to hear “Sunshine of Your Love” at my funeral.  

Anyway, Jim.

 Cream or The Who? 

Go away.

Beatles or Stones?

Doors.  

Scuzzy Son-Of-A-Bitch #4:

 Jim Morrison

My Black Clad Leather Patronus

(2003)

Part One

“C’mon people, don’t ya look so down 
You know the rain man’s comin’ ta town
Change the weather, change your luck
And then he’ll teach ya how ta…find yourself “
 

My Jim Morrison idolization began on a hot afternoon in August, 2003.  It was the last day of summer vacation, I was sixteen, and I was about to make out with my new boyfriend for the second time.  It had only been 24 hours since our first kiss, and due to our youth and lack of experience (and, perhaps, to his Catholicism), we decided that one make out session equalled monogamy.  Despite our official relationship status, I was a bit nervous about that afternoon’s proposed itinerary, and my nervousness only increased when my boyfriend suggested we put on some music.  I sat down on his couch, and he began browsing through his record collection.  Of course I knew that the music selection ritual was a prelude to hormonal teenage madness, and while that delighted me, it terrified me just the same.  In my opinion, it was awkward enough that we both knew we were about to make out — why prolong that in-between phase of the process?  How was I supposed to act?  Seductive?  Casual?  What if he lost interest during his hunt for the perfect tunes?  What if he forgot what we were there to do?  What if he didn’t like the way I looked sitting on his couch?   Should I strike a pose?  I wondered.

After a few minutes he held up a record that had a dark reddish brown and yellowish gold cover.  “All right, herewego.  The Doors,” he said, pulling the record out of the sleeve.   He looked at me, and I feigned approval.  The truth was I hadn’t listened to The Doors since I was in 8th grade and wanted to listen to some “cool” music while I did my math homework.  For as much as I enjoyed “Break On Through,” I soon had to turn off the music and concentrate on pre-algebra.  Naturally, I didn’t bother telling him this — I didn’t want to say anything that might make him second guess his selection.  Plus, I had only been his girlfriend for 24 hours; it was too early to start losing my allure.

He admired the record for a second, and then, all of a sudden, he looked up at the ceiling and said, “Of course we bow down to you, Jim Morrison, in all your rock and roll glory.” He put the record on the player, set the needle down, and turned up the volume.  It was “L’america” — track one, side two of L.A. Woman.  Four minutes and thirty-eight seconds later, he skipped “Hyacinth House” and went straight to “Crawling Kingsnake.”  Whether this action was sickeningly smooth or just plain sickening is up for debate.  Either way, it worked; too well.  In the midst of all that was happening, I found myself wondering if my parents had any Doors vinyl at home.

When “Riders On The Storm” had long since ended and I arrived back at my house, I went straight for my dad’s record shelf.  Sandwiched between Donovan and The Dream Academy was the dark reddish brown and yellowish gold record.  I pulled it off the shelf and brought it upstairs to my room, where it remained for many, many years.


Something had shifted, and I knew it.  After that day, there was no going back.  I devoured the entire Doors catalogue with the kind of voracity that only a 16-year-old girl is capable of.  Soon, the aviator sunglasses showed up; then the boots.  I’d leave my hair wavy not because I was lazy, but because I realized I actually liked the way it looked unkempt.

For me, Jim Morrison’s music (and I say “Jim Morrison’s music” because it was Jim Morrison who made the music matter) was the perfect soundtrack for adolescence — dark, flawed, and endlessly libidinous.  When I felt fantastic I’d put on “Roadhouse Blues,” and when I felt like killing someone I’d put on “The End.”  This is not to say that Jim was the first musical artist to speak to my tortured teenage soul; for example, my first two years of high school would have been Hell without Lou Reed.  Still, there was something about listening to “Not to Touch The Earth” on a bad day that resonated with me in ways that made the second side of Berlin seem irrelevant.  For as much as I loved Lou’s weirdness, I needed Jim’s ferocity.  After all, I was a straight edged 16-year-old living in suburbia; a savage hero was a necessity.  

Part 2

“When the music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end” 
 

While Jim’s premature death automatically made him a rock and roll legend, that does not appropriately explain his allure.  What it comes down to is the fact that even while he was alive, he was something of a supernatural being.  What other popular musician — and I mean Tiger Beat popular — sang about patricide?  And “dead President’s corpses”?  And horses being blinded with whips?  And dared to ask, “What have we done to the earth?” It takes guts to willingly scare the Hell out of your fans, and to do it without the use of fake blood or creepy masks or lighting effects, well, that’s just genius.  So much of Jim’s music is dark, and when it isn’t dark it’s twisted.

There are, of course, some safer Doors compositions.  Even when they’re safe, though, they’re not that safe.  “Light My Fire,” which was originally brought to the table by Robby Krieger, is one of the most well-known Doors songs.  Just because it is popular, however, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have teeth.  Jim added a verse to the song that rhymes  “wallow in the mire” with “funeral pyre” (From Wikipedia: A pyre (Greek: πυρά, pyrá, from πυρ, pýr, fire), also known as a funeral pyre, is a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite. As a form of cremation, a body is placed upon the pyre, which is then set on fire), and his delivery is nothing short of primal.  When Jim wails, “TRY TO SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE,” there’s nothing safe about it.  He’s not just asking you to light his fire, he’s demanding it; who knows what he’ll do if he doesn’t get his way?

His seduction power, his theatricality, his animalistic passion — THIS is what gives The Doors staying power.  THIS is what sets Jim apart from other notable front men.  THIS…  ::sigh::

 

 Although it may feel like it was only yesterday, my junior year of high school was a long time ago.  I may not be 16 anymore, but I still wear big black boots, I still hate hair products, and I still love Jim Morrison.   I still look forward to the day I can listen to “The Unknown Solider” without feeling angry, I still recite “The Movie” to myself when I’m sitting in dark theaters, and I still listen to “When The Music’s Over” while I’m driving around at night.   Sometimes, I wonder what my world would be like if Jim were still alive.  Maybe he would have graced the cover of Rolling Stone one more time.  Maybe he would have had a minor role in Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Maybe he would have written a book.  And Lord knows, his take on George W. Bush’s presidency would have been priceless.  Would The Doors be worth seeing live?  Would Jim be giving Mick a run for his money?

For as phenomenal as it would be to hear Jim mutter, “Fuck George Bush” on national television, I have no illusions about the situation.  Jim was an alcoholic and a drug user, and everything I’ve read about him suggests that he had some kind of chemical imbalance (phrases such as “Manic Depressive Disorder” and “Bipolar Disorder” weren’t spoken as trippingly on the tongue during the 1960’s). Yet, somehow, by some miracle, Jim’s legacy is nothing but rockin’.  The image of him in tight leather pants will always overshadow the image of him in his puffy latter-days, and he will always be a vibrant young superstar and never a washed up burnout.  The fact that I will never see him live is overshadowed by the fact that I will also never have to watch him perform a painful rendition of “Touch Me” on American Idol.  As my younger brother said to me when we watched Bob Dylan mumble his way through his set list at the Santa Monica Civic in 2008, “It’s moments like this when I realize it’s better that Morrison’s dead.”  Yes, he’s dead, but he’s not dead dead.  He was so full of life he never really died.

Epilogue

“It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me…”
 

One Sunday night in November of 2004, I sat down at my desk to fill out my University of California application.  At that point, I wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to go to college.  To be frank, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go at all.  Why move away?  Why leave all the people I loved?  More importantly, why move away and leave all the people I loved just to go to school?  I didn’t understand it.  To me, all college represented was “Goodbye,” and that was torture.

I got through the “Name, Age, Social Security Number” crap in record time, and then, suddenly, I was face-to-face with an essay assignment.  TWO essay assignments.  The first essay was only supposed to be around 200 words, and the prompt was so simple I don’t even remember what I wrote.  After I finished the first assignment, the doorbell rang.  When I opened the door, no one was there.  I looked down at the ground, and sitting on my doormat was a chocolate bar, a white envelope, and a Doors pin.  Inside the envelope was a note that said:

 “This fine European chocolate reminded me of your fine European figure.  
I hope Mr. Morrison keeps you warm on this cold evening.”
 

I smiled.  I knew my boyfriend had left me the present, but not because of the flattering note.  The Doors was still our band.  When I got back inside I read the note again, and, quite suddenly, the idea of going away to college seemed ten times as miserable.

Reluctantly, I went back to my room and sat at my desk.  The second essay prompt was glowing on my computer screen:

Open-ended

Rationale: This question seeks to give students the opportunity to share important aspects of their schooling or their lives — such as their personal circumstances, family experiences and opportunities that were or were not available at their school or college — that may not have been sufficiently addressed elsewhere in the application.

• Is there anything you would like us to know about you or your academic record that you have not had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in this application?

I was flabbergasted.  “Is there anything you would like us to know about you or your academic record“?  This pissed me off.  Me OR my academic record?  In my opinion, those were two very different things.  What had I not “had the opportunity to describe elsewhere in this application”?  The application asked for my email address, my nationality, and my GPA — none of those things were a reflection of the real ME.  Just who the Hell did these UC people think they were?

I was so angry I could scream.  I was about to spend a decent amount of my precious time trying to convince people I already hated that they should let me into one of their disgusting establishments.  I took a deep breath, unwrapped that bar of fine European chocolate, and took a bite.   When I was ready, I placed my hands back on the keyboard and let loose:

Before I sink
Into the big sleep
I want to hear
I want to hear
The scream of the butterfly  

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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Rain Dogs

I went for a walk this evening after burning a few CDs for my younger brother, Michael.  He had to drive to Hollywood for his weekly acting class, and he wanted some Pogues albums for the road.  Hollywood is only 30 miles away, but the trip can take two hours if you leave at the wrong time.  (Remind me why Carmageddon got so much publicity?)  I gave him The Pogues’ sophomore album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, as well as their first album, Red Roses For Me.  He had requested those two — he’s been on a Pogues kick ever since he found my dad’s copy of The Best of The Pogues on the CD shelf behind the bar in the family roomThe third CD I burned him was a copy of a playlist I recently made, which goes like this:

Rain Dogs — Tom Waits

Stagger Lee — Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

Bowery Blues — Jack Kerouac

Dharma Brains — Foxygen

Hard On For Love — Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

The Shower — Charles Bukowski

Tom Traubert’s Blues — Tom Waits

It’s A Motherfucker — Eels

The Moon Her Majesty — Jack Kerouac

The Stranger Song  — Leonard Cohen

Map — Jason Webley

Whiskey, Mystics, And Men — The Doors

Scum — Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

Honey In The Hair — Blackbird Raum

Broken Cup — Jason Webley

Children’s Story — Tom Waits

Desperadoes Under The Eaves — Warren Zevon

Last Song — Jason Webley

Readings From On The Road & Visions of Cody — Jack Kerouac

Anywhere I Lay My Head — Tom Waits

Looking at the list all typed out makes me smile.  Honestly, it looks Just Like a typical hour of “Dancing Barefoot,” my old radio show on KZSC Santa Cruz.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I once did play “Tom Traubert’s Blues” followed by “It’s A Motherfucker.”

What’d I call the playlist?  “Rain Dogs,” of course.  I get a real “Rain Dogs” vibe from all of these songs — vagabonds wandering city streets and all that.

I left for my walk at the same time Mike left for his class.  I decided to go ahead and listen to my playlist to see if it actually worked as well as I thought it did.  I walked up my street and around the corner, which takes you down a long hill that leads to Kanan Road, a street that, by suburban terms, is loud and crowded.  Not crowded with people, of course — Kanan is crowded with SUVs and luxury autos and the occasional Prius.  Once you reach the strip mall with the Starbuck’s and the Ralph’s and the Carl’s Jr/Green Burrito, then yes, you see some people.  Mainly, Kanan is all hustle and bustle because it leads to the freeway.

I’m sure Walt Whitman could make it sound poetic; he’s dead, though.

During “Dharma Brains,” I turned onto a cul-de-sac, and after about one minute I started hearing this weird click-clacking sound that I knew wasn’t part of the song.  (I should know, for it is one of my favorite songs.  For serious.)  At first I thought it was due to my headphones being old and shitty, but after a few minutes, I felt that familiar “I think someone’s behind me” vibe.  I turned, and there were two 14(ish)-year-old boys walking behind me.  They didn’t scare me, but the sight of them definitely startled me.  I smiled at them, and then when I turned back around I saw a white plastic spoon land in front of my feet.  I turned around again, and, low-and-behold, the boys had run away.

The little jerks had thrown a spoon at me.

I laughed to myself and kept walking.

I thought about when I was in middle school and used to wander the same exact streets doing stupid things.   I used to walk around with a friend of mine writing bizarre messages on notecards and taping them to people’s doors.  On one notecard we drew a picture of an alien with a word bubble coming out of its mouth that said, “Hmmm…bagels…interesting.”  It nearly killed me.  I thought that it was the most hilarious thing that ever appeared on paper.

When I came to the end of the cul-de-sac and turned onto the street, I saw The Little Jerks looking right at me, plastic spoons in hand, ready to open fire.  I stopped walking, took off my head phones, and said, “How ya doin?”

“Good,” said the smaller one.

“What’s goin’ on?” I asked.

“Nothin’,” said the smaller one, thus establishing himself as the dominant Little Jerk.

I decided to just be blunt with them in hopes that it would freak them out.  After all, my bluntness has scared away men in the past, even when I didn’t want it to.

“Are you gonna throw that spoon at me?” I asked.

“Maaaaaaaaybe,” said the smaller one, shit-eating grin plastered to his face.  I didn’t let it intimidate me.

“Well, please don’t.”

“Okay.”

I put my headphones back on, disappointed that The Little Jerks had made me miss the first half of “Hard On For Love.”  I started the song over, and after about thirty seconds I felt the “I think someone’s behind me” vibe once again.  I turned, and, sure enough, The Little Jerks were there.

I stopped walking and said, “Are you guys seriously gonna throw those spoons at me?”

“Yes.”

Why?”

“I don’t know.”

I spread my arms out, threw back my head, and said, “I’ll give you a free shot.  Go for it.”

Nothing happened.

I looked at them, and the dominant Little Jerk stepped forward, wound up, and threw his spoon.  He missed me by about 10 inches.  When the spoon landed on the sidewalk, I bent down and picked it up.  “Next?” I said.

The quiet Little Jerk missed me by about two feet.  I picked up his spoon, too.

“How old are you guys?”  I asked.

“Seventeen.”

“You’re seventeen?”

“Twenty-one!”

“Thirty-four!”

“Forty-seven!”

“Fourteen.”

Pause.

“You’re fourteen?”

“Maybe.”

They were pretty cute, really.  Still, I was done with their game.

“You guys should go do something else,” I said.

This seemed to confuse them.

“Can we have our spoons back?” asked the dominant Little Jerk.

“No,” I said.

The quiet one laughed.

“You guys go on home, now,” I said, shooing them away with my hands.

They turned away and took a few steps, and then turned around to see if I was still watching them; I was.  They took a few more steps, then turned again.  I was still there, waiting for them to walk away.

I watched them as they made their way back up the hill.  Every few seconds they’d turn around to look at me, or spin around pretending they were spinning around just for fun.  For a good three minutes I stood my ground, staring right back at The Little Jerks.  I never wavered.  I waited and waited and waited until they were far away, and then, when they disappeared and hid behind a tree, I waited some more.

Finally, I put my headphones back on and continued down the road.  I didn’t hit “Play” right away — I wanted to be able to hear The Little Jerks in case they came back with their spoons.

I made my way down Kanan, passed the Starbuck’s and the Ralph’s and the Carl’s Jr/Green Burrito, and as I turned to head up Thousand Oaks Boulevard and back to my neighborhood, I hit “Play.”  “Tom Traubert’s Blues” came on.  I listened to it once the whole way through, and then I thought to myself, “I wonder if I know all the words.”  I started the song over, and sang at the top of my lungs.

The Little Jerks never reappeared.  Maybe I really did scare them away with my confidence, or maybe they really did go home.  Maybe they found a different unsuspecting victim and lost two more precious spoons.  Regardless, I hope to Hell they have fun this summer.  I hope they ring a lot of stranger’s door bells and dial a lot of random numbers.  I hope they make a ton of noise inside of Rite Aid and get thrown out of Blockbuster for knocking movies off the shelves.  I hope they run home laughing their heads off after terrorizing some college kid who works at Baskin Robbins.  I hope they Double Dare each other to steal candy bars from CVS, and end up feeling twice the rush when they almost go through with it.  I hope they never forget this summer, and how badass they felt when that 24-year-old chick in the “Protect Our Oceans” t-shirt and ripped jeans threw her head back and said, “I’ll give you a free shot.”  Most of all, I hope they never forget how dorky and annoying and awkward and brilliant they were when they were fourteen-years-old — for they are Rain Dogs, too.

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DON’T Hang The DJ!

Where are we going, Jim Morrison?

The Doors close in an hour.

Which way does your beer point tonight?

Ready?  Okay.

About a month before I moved back to Southern California after living in Santa Cruz for five ridiculous years, I experienced an unexpected life-affirming moment while shopping in a local hippy-dippy grocery store.

At that time, my favorite brand of Kombucha was being re-examined by the FDA (go ahead, laugh), and I was desperate to find a worthy substitute.  As I scoured the tea aisle for possible contenders, I heard “Riders on the Storm” come on over the speakers. I was beyond delighted that someone had the good sense to spin a Jim Jam on a hot summer’s day, so I dropped my shopping basket and danced by myself in the aisle. After a few minutes, the hippy-dippy grocery store suddenly looked a lot different.  Everything seemed special: the Kombucha drought, the rows of Guayaki Yerba Mate promising health and vitality, the sound of a seven-minute-long Doors song about “a killer on the road” oozing through the store while happy families shopped for baby bok-choy and slabs of seasoned tempeh; the realization that this was a good moment, which is all a person can really hope for.

Harmonious coincidences like these make me wonder how difficult it must be to be a [good] music supervisor. The Graduate, for example, is an undeniably great bit of movie-making, but can you imagine it without “The Sound of Silence”? Or Harold and Maude without Cat Stevens’ silky baritone?  And would Uma Thurman’s overdose in Pulp Fiction be as jarring if it weren’t preceded by her dance to Urge Overkill’s cover of “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon”?

When a music supervisor’s work is done, he has helped transform a few measly minutes of film into something deeply moving. When moments like this happen in real life completely by accident, it is important to listen.  Dancing to “Riders on the Storm” in the hippy-dippy grocery store reminded me that my time in Santa Cruz was limited, and that I should get to work enjoying myself.  I also felt reassured that the previous five ridiculous years of my life hadn’t been a waste — there had been plenty of moments of epic triumph, personal growth, and dancing in the aisles. There was no reason to feel that I was returning to Southern California because it was time to start over; it was time to continue.  As Maude would say, it was time to, “Go and love some more.”

I listen to the wind

To the wind of my soul

Where I’ll end up, well, I mean,

Who the Hell really knows?

It has now been about a year since my one-woman dance party, and while I do miss my Santa Cruz beach shack (and the enchiladas at Taqueria Las Palmas and the Hemp Ale at The Poet & The Patriot and the psychic cats on Pacific Avenue…), my suburban situation isn’t so bad.  There have been some great times and some not so-great times, and, in the grand scheme of things, I can’t complain. Sadly, the last few months have been of the not-so-great variety.

Fuck that.  They’ve been shitty.

The shitty time started in March when I had a terrible panic attack while I was getting a haircut.  Now, I had experienced panic prior to this incident.  In the past, I had been able to link panic attacks to specific events in my life — I experienced them pretty frequently right before graduating from college, for example — but I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I freaked out during my haircut.  Sure, I would rather not have had to trim my wild mane, but it was nothing to panic about.

Days later I had another attack while lounging — yes, lounging — with some of my best friends, drinking beer and watching On The Waterfront. It was a Sunday afternoon, we were all wearing bathrobes, and we had just finished feasting on some seriously sexy food. Even in this downright Dionysian situation, my body still found a way to go into adrenal overdrive.

Things became scary when I started panicking in cars pretty regularly. No matter where I was going or whether I was the driver or the passenger, I inevitably felt like jumping out of my skin. Again, I had definitely felt panicked on the road before — most people who have driven on the 405-S in rush hour traffic have probably had nerve-related episodes — but panicking while riding shotgun on the way to the damn mall that’s a whole ten minutes away from my house… that was something new.

When I could no longer get through a whole day of work without having to go hide in the back room and steady myself against the Xerox machine, I figured it was time to get some help.

There’s a Callas on the road,

Her brain is squirmin’ like a toad…

I’ll spare you the details about the drug peddling doctors and the brief, yet powerful feelings of total despair.  In short, I eventually got help from someone who doesn’t deserve to be reported to the Board of Behavioral Sciences, and, after a few months, the panic waned significantly. Despite my noticeable improvement, however, the thought of “When will the next attack hit?” was always present in my mind.

Worse than all of that, I couldn’t write.  No matter how hard I tried to sit down and scribble something halfway intelligent, my writing was mostly limited to what Allen Ginsberg referred to as “unpublishable private literature.” Of course, his “unpublishable” scrawl was about drunken nights in Chinatown and wild sex with Neal Cassady, IE: The Good Life. My Top-Secret “unpublishable” portfolio of recent scribblings is so boring it doesn’t even deserve to be sacrificially burned.

And they brought me their comfort,

And later they brought me this song

O, I hope you run into them

You, who’ve been scribbling so long…

One evening not too long ago, I was feeling exceptionally down.  Utterly defeatedMorrissey defeated.  I was a twenty-something year old celibate nail-biter who couldn’t even write in her own diary.  Work sucked, panic sucked — I felt trapped and lonely and boring and I just wanted to go to bed.  Before hitting the sack I took a quick look at my facebook (Duh), and I saw that my friend Zach was going to be hosting his last radio show on KZSC Santa Cruz that night. Out of respect for Zach, KZSC, and Santa Cruz as a whole, I decided to tune in to the web stream for at least a little while.  At first, hearing Zach read the corny Underwriting Announcements and play the corny Public Service Announcements just made me miss my KZSC radio show, which didn’t help my mood.  As I contemplated turning out the light, Zach, that beautiful, bloody bastard, put on a tune called “Last Song” by an artist named Jason Webley.

Imagine if, while floating in the pool the day after sleeping with Mrs. Robinson, Benjamin Braddock actually heard “The Sound of Silence” playing somewhere in the distance.  It would have blown his mind, right?  Well, I wasn’t in the pool and I hadn’t slept with Mrs. Robinson, but dammit, when I heard “Last Song,” I literally felt something inside me shift.  Or stretch.  Or break.  Regardless, I felt profoundly healed.  Did I think Jason Webley was singing directly to me?  No.  I’m not deranged.  All the same, the song’s message of hope told through images of imminent apocalypse and waking up in alleys was exactly what I needed to hear that night.

And he shows you where to look

Among the urine, alcohol, trash and gasoline

And the flowers…

In search of Jason Webley’s discography, I visited his website. The first thing I discovered was that he’s been around for over a decade, which made me feel like a total dork.  Where the fuck had I been?  I clicked the “Concerts” tab to see if he was going to be touring at all in the near future.  What did I find?  He was on tour, all right; almost smack dab in the middle of his farewell tour. There were no L.A. dates on his website, but there was a show in San Jose on the schedule.  My first thought was, “San Jose?  Right by Santa Cruz?  Road trip time!” Sure enough, my second thought was, “How the fuck am I going to get there if I can’t drive more than a few minutes without panicking?” For a moment I considered flying, but then I wondered how panicking in an airplane would be better than panicking in a car…

I decided that there was no way I was going to miss the show.  I was going to get myself there, panic be damned.  I would spend a few nights in Santa Cruz with some of my favorite people in the world, and then I would see Jason Webley perform in a small art gallery in downtown San Jose.  Who was I to forbid myself from doing all that?

If I go there will be trouble,

And if I stay…

So, what happened?  Well, I spent a few nights in Santa Cruz with some of my favorite people in the world, and then I saw Jason Webley perform in a small art gallery in downtown San Jose.  T’was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I know I should probably say more about the show, but, true to the nature of the writing beast, I am suddenly at a loss for words.  I’m hesitant to dissect the evening as if I’m trying to convince people that he’s worth checking out. I also don’t want to make any grand assumptions about his artistic intentions — who am I to say what his songs are about, or to draw parallels between him and other performers?  All I know is that the show was well worth the trip.  I loved every minute of it.

There was an interesting moment — kind of freaky, really, but in a great way — where he took a break from singing and just talked. He thanked us for our support, he thanked the gallery owners for letting him play, and then he talked about his upcoming hiatus.  He reflected on how blessed his past 10+ years have been, and then — oh, then — he talked about how some people in the audience may have recently had their “lives turned inside out,” and how neat it was that we were all together “bearing witness to that.”

I kind of got chills.  I kind of felt exposed.  It kind of felt great.  Of all things for him to say, right?  And then, Jason Webley, the ever-brilliant music supervisor, played “Last Song.”

(I’m aware that I keep writing his full name.  I wouldn’t say, “Cohen,” I’d say, “Leonard Cohen.”  I wouldn’t say “Reed,” I’d say, “Lou Reed.”  I wouldn’t say “Smith,” I’d say “Patti Smith.”  And so on.  And so on.)

Yes, I got to meet him.  Yes, I got a picture.  Yes, I was terrified I would say something that would make me sound stupid, and yes, I’m sure my terror was obvious.  He asked me if I had ever been to one of his shows before, and when I told him I hadn’t, I somehow managed to mention that I had driven up from L.A.  He paused, and then said, “You drove all the way from L.A. to come to the show?”  I managed to nod and utter a nervous, “Yeah.”  Inside, though, I was beaming with pride.  I drove all the way from L.A. for the show, and I had no guarantee I wouldn’t end up hyperventilating on the side of the highway.  Go Steff.

I’m not the kind of person who chalks everything up to fate or destiny or God’s Great Plan.  I do, however, think that moments of eerie accidental profundity should not be ignored.  No, I don’t think that I was “meant” to find out about Jason Webley in order to take a roadie to Santa Cruz and prove to myself that I had the strength to fight this whole panic thing, but that is what happened.  In my opinion, the idea that it happened completely by accident is truly awesome. If I hadn’t decided to look at my facebook one bummer night before going to bed, I wouldn’t have heard “Last Song,” and I wouldn’t have gone to Jason Webley’s website, and I wouldn’t have read that this was his farewell tour. More importantly, I wouldn’t have found an excuse to get in the car and see what happened. Low and behold, what happened? Nothing. Nothing, except I had an excellent fucking weekend.

(By the way, in case you were wondering, Jason Webley has more than one great song.  For sure.)

Bravo, Jason Webley.  Bravo, Zach.  Bravo, hippy-dippy grocery store employee who wanted to hear “Riders on the Storm.”  Keep doing what you’re doing and continue to accidentally provide killer driving music and poignant road signs to weary travelers everywhere.

And Allen, “unpublishable private literature”?  Maybe not.

Just maybe.


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