Monday, November 29, 2010

It's All Right...

George Harrison died 9 years ago

RIP doesn't seem right for George Harrison.

But any use of the word "Transmogrify" would seem pretentious...

So here he is with Pete Ham from Badfinger at the Concert for Bangladesh:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Who Knew?

Season of Surprises

You live long enough you discover that real life is much stranger than you ever thought.

For example, who knew that Billy Joel does such a good Springsteen impression?

Bruce's impression of Billy Joel, however, is not so great -- but you gotta give him props for trying.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Orange Wallet

Better Hurry Cause It's Going Fast...

We were gathered, waiting.

It was the day, it was the time. The flyers in the paper told us where to go. The news reporters waited in the dark.

And then the crowd rushed forward. To the TVs, the laptops, the very limited selection of the very latest gadgets.

And he was first.

But he didn't seem to want to pay. He wanted make conversation.

At 4:32 in the morning.

He was stalling, not wanting the transaction to end.

Behind him in line, hundreds of sleepy shoppers grumbled and cursed him.

And then he reached into his pocket and took out a bright orange wallet.

And he withdrew a handful of cash. And he paid.

And the crowd was strangely quiet, suddenly noticing the man's bright orange hair. And his glowing orange pants.

What kind of crazy man carries a bright orange wallet? And wears glowing orange pants accessorized to his bright orange hair?

Clearly someone who marched to the beat of a drummer no one in their right mind would ever hear.

And he turned towards us, his eyes glowing with the madness of an idea that none of us wanted to know about.

We turned away. All of us.

Because, clearly, that man was insane. That sudden realization washed like a rogue wave over the crowd. The crowd who'd gotten up in the middle of the night for a $250 HD TV or a $300 laptop or one of two Viking Stoves that were being sold for $199.99.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

30 Years On...

No One's to Blame, I Know Time Flies So Quickly

Yeah, there's some whitewashing by certain people who've built second careers around milking the myth of their friendships with John & Yoko.

And yeah, he was probably a bit of an asshole more than some of the time.

And yeah, some of the music seems quaint and naive these days.

But there's something about John Lennon that is still larger than life.

Even 30 years on.

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wordless and Painful and Old

Even Tried Voodoo Right Outside Your Home

There was an author. He struggled for years writing novels that no one read.

Then, on a foggy night with a full moon out, he took a pen name. And started churning out short stories. Simple, witty, memorable pieces. Quick reads. And always centered around a tragic love affair.

And as the stories grew more and more popular, Hollywood came calling. Six of the stories were turned into movies. But the movies were all horrible and the author took his name off the credits of all of them.

Nearly all the stories were narrated by broken men, devastated by heartbreak and unwilling or unable to come to terms with their pasts.

For years, the author avoided interviews, until he learned he was dying and finally agreed to talk to the press.

The question they all wanted to know was how he could write such memorable and completely different women -- each of whom managed to break his narrators' hearts in completely different ways.

And each time he admitted that he had no special gift for female characters. All the women were the same woman. The one who'd broken his heart in a million pieces. The one he pretended he'd forgotten.

The one who haunted him every day of his life.

Because he thought that maybe, if he just talked about her, he could finally break free of the hold she had on him.

And it might have worked -- except that each of the interviews and articles ran long and had to be cut. And in every case, the fact that the different women were all the same was edited out before publication.

Which wasn't what he wanted... but was the way he would have written it himself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

MUSH (The Movie)

A Brief Cross-Promotional Post

So... I made this movie.

Longtime readers might know that I have a soft spot for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The last several years, I've gone up to Alaska for parts of the race (which runs more than a thousand miles from Anchorage to Nome, across some of the most beautiful -- and coldest -- areas of the world).

Although the race as a sporting event is amazing, I became fascinated by the rest of the race: the traditions, the rules regarding rest stops, the infrastructure of thousands of volunteers who come in from all over the world to make the race possible, and the inspiring personal stories of everyone involved.

The coverage of the race is great year after year (at least if you know where to find it), but there's very little coverage of all the other stuff.

I knew if someone could capture that other stuff, it would make a great movie. And no one else seemed to be making that movie.

So I did.

And now I'm thrilled that my Iditarod documentary MUSH will premiere in December at the Anchorage International Film Festival in December. Visit the movie's website and Facebook page.

I'll be up in Anchorage for the festival... so if you're around, come say hi.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hey Mother Earth!

I'd rather be back on the pad...

I watched the movie Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him) the other day.

Great movie. Ultimately a sad story.

In the movie, Richard Perry talks about how amazed he was by Nilsson's talents as a singer and songwriter. And how Nilsson became more interested in partying and making sessions into a joke.

Until what should have been a decades-long career of a superstar, instead flamed out after a few short years.

And yeah, there would be a few flashes of brilliance in even Nilsson's worst albums. But the last half of his professional life is noted for his devotion to epic drink-and-drug-fueled adventures instead of creating music.

Sad to think what might have been. What should have been.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Summer Turns to Winter Overnight

Or Basingstoke. Or Reading.

This is the most depressing day of the year. At least if you have a job.

The day after the clocks change in the Fall.

The sunset has been getting earlier and earlier. But you could maybe pretend it wasn't true. That you were still stuck in that endless summer lull.

But not today.

It's one thing for the sun to set at 7. Or even 6.

But when it's dark at 5 or 4, you know the winter's coming on.

And with it all the darkness the year has kept at bay.

It's a smooth, long glide into dead trees and snowfall.

And then the long, cold winter.

But maybe this winter will be the exception.

An endless railroad trip north. Farther north than you can imagine.

Until the sound of the wheels on the track fades away and the sound of ice and snow under your boots takes over.

And you wonder again, as you have every year around this time, if this is the year you finally push yourself over the edge to madness.

And you turn up your collar, brace yourself against the cold, and head home in the dark, knowing every day you'll lose a little more daylight.

And every night you'll have a little more time.

To dream.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hey Kinks!

I am in paradise

(With another h/t to Peter's Power Pop blog...)

You don't get this at Sadly.

I was in a used bookstore the other day. In a part of town that had 10 used bookstores 15 years ago... and now only has one.

It was 95 degrees and I didn't want to go back outside. So I hung around, thumbing through volumes in sections I ordinarily avoid.

And there, in the poetry section, in a thin paperback of free verse, was a single, yellowed sheet of lined notebook paper. Folded over neatly, but thin to the touch -- like it had been unfolded, read, studied, and stored away again many times.

On that paper was this poem (or maybe a letter from someone whose identity was so obvious it wasn't necessary to sign it):

Your touch, light like the sun peeking through clouds
Your kiss tender and sweet.
You sprinkle smiles down on me from above
Making me so happy I forget you make me mad.

I struggle for words.
Of nonsense. Ridiculousness.

And then you smile.
Billions of years of evolution
To lead to your smile.
And I almost forget everything.

Remember this when you go away next week.
Remember the times.
Remember me.


There was no name in the book. No way to track down the former owner and find out what happened, how it ended, why it was finally time to get rid of the poem (or letter).

So I spun the tale in my head. Inventing dozens of reasons, excuses, and scenarios.

Dozens of possibilities. All hauntingly familiar, but none exactly sounding right.

And then I was late. And I had to get going. 95 degrees or not.

I tucked the book back into the shelves. Leaving it to someone else to find, someone else to unravel the mystery.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hey Lord, Don't Ask About Screenings...

Graham Parker via Michael Gramaglia

There's a certain irony in naming a documentary Don't Ask Me Questions, but that's the name of the just-completed Graham Parker doc. Directed by Michael Gramaglia, who did the amazing Ramones doc End of the Century.

Here's an account of the first (semi-)public screening from Graham Parker himself.

Can't wait to see it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hey Kid

Ridiculous stereo panning alert

I was in Whole Foods the other day and they played this song:

And all I could think was What is it about stuttering rhythms, absurd stereo panning of individual bleats, bass lines that go nowhere, and nonsensical lyrics about teenage longing delivered in an overly dramatic (but not quite melodramatic) style that desperately makes me want to buy overpriced artisanal cheeses?

Where do we go from here? Which is the way that's clear?

Who knows? But we do what we must.

Which, apparently, is rocking on.