Thursday, June 30, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Under Them Skies So Blue

With Added Dreams

Southern California is big.

Gigantic even.

I was out in the desert this weekend. In the middle of nowhere.

With a bunch of dreamers. All following their own paths. All brought together by a mutual love of something obscure and amazing.

And it was more than 100 degrees out -- sun beating down on us with no humidity.

From the top of a mountain, we barbecued. Talked. Drank. Laughed.

Shared stories.

Hundreds of miles from anywhere.

I remembered other summers. Other hot days. Other people.

And when I came back closer to the ocean yesterday, there was a street fair. Within a mile there were about a half-dozen great tribute bands.

There was a Steely Dan tribute band that rocked out next to the Ben & Jerry's.

There was a Tom Petty tribute band playing a few yards away from Davy Jones' Liquor Locker. Playing song after song everyone knew.

Not always playing the right chords. Not always hitting the right notes.

But the crowd sang along with everything.

Like every word they sang was meant to be.

Friday, June 24, 2011

All He Touches Turns To Dust

Before I Lose My Reason... and My Soul

I've got a great idea. Let's solve the problem of people not having jobs by cutting government programs, getting rid of pensions, destroying unions, and raising taxes and fees on people who can barely afford to live.

Oh, and let's let the insurance companies rack up record profits while we cut benefits to people who need them so that people who are unemployed literally cannot afford health care and decide that robbing a bank is a great way to get coverage since our society has ruled that depriving prison inmates of health care is cruel and unusual punishment (but depriving the poor is just the American way).

And then let's give tax breaks to people who don't need it and companies that already pay little or no tax.

Because, if you listen to anyone on the Sunday Morning Talk Shows, that's the only way to get ourselves out of this economic mess.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It Must Be Summer Cause I'm Falling Apart

For the longest day of the year

In a more just world, Fountains of Wayne would be bigger than U2 and not just a band known for an incredibly well-crafted and amazing novelty song.

But in the meantime, enjoy Summer Solstice with this white light of pure pop happiness:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Everybody's Free to Work on Their Act

Once he was the grinder, now he has to work for hire

"Your passive-aggressive mastery of the art of stealing office supplies does not make you James Bond," she said.

"Maybe not," he answered. "But I could kill you 16 different ways with a paper clip."

She nodded. "Fine talk from someone who doesn't even realize I've got your stapler."

He glanced down at her hands, distracted by the silver flash of the stapler, clearly marked "Property of Engineering Department - Do Not Remove." But here it was... in his apartment.

He began to sweat, wishing he'd worn something other than a white tuxedo.

"Do you expect me to talk?" he asked. "Do you want the launch codes? My secrets about the location of assets?"

She smiled and dropped the stapler. "No, Mr. Bond. I expect for you to go down to the casino, win thousands at baccarat, foil an evil scheme or two, and return to me."

He nodded. "I can do that."

But she was gone. Because he couldn't do that. Not in a hastily constructed cookie-cutter room above an Indian casino in the Midwest. Not when he was wearing a t-shirt and jeans instead of a tux and drinking vodka straight from the bottle.

And probably not even if he'd been in Monte Carlo and wasn't afraid to go into the casino.

Looking into the mirror, he realized that the dream he'd clung to since he was 8 in a darkened movie theater was slipping away.

Because he'd never be James Bond. No matter how many Uniball pens and sealed packets of Post-It notes he had hidden away in his closet at home.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Don't Want a Nation Under the New Media

Calling Out to Idiot America

I honestly don't know what's stupider -- the way Anthony Weiner acted or the fact that the Democrats allowed themselves to be bullied into demanding his resignation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

For Elizabeth

With apologies to Dr. Seuss

Liz is Betsy and Betsy is Liz and that’s the first thing you should know.
They grew up together (’cause they are the same person) near a mountain that’s covered with snow.

One wants the other (and she wants the first) as they visualize what they can’t do
I offer this up as a warning because – this could all happen to you.

It can be rough growing up in a small town where there are limited roles
And that’s doubly true for Betsy (and Liz) – in a village of 2 dozen souls.

Throughout the county, each person loved Betsy – and treated her like she was four.
This caused upset and much consternation – Betsy was hoping for more.

So Betsy went steady with some local boy who asked her Dad if they could wed
But Liz said no, she won’t settle down with a boy she hadn’t taken to bed.

Now Liz hates Betsy but Betsy loved Liz – and literally wanted to be her.
Each night she would dream of her future as Liz – happier, hipper, and free-er.

Town gossip was flying about the refusal of Betsy (and Liz) to get hitched
While Liz (and Betsy) yearned for escape and they couldn’t wait to get switched.

So when it came time to head off to college, Betsy packed up all her stuff.
But it was Liz who arrived at their dorm room, sexy and silky and tough.

Betsy at home was always the good girl, despite all she wanted to try
But Liz at school was always the bad girl, frequently – no, always – high.

Liz thought she’d get A’s without any effort – but that thought was far from the truth.
So she settled for C’s and the pills she was buying – washed down with the cheapest vermouth.

Liz dated jocks and Liz slept with teachers and did all the things she was able
And every one of the Sigma Chi pledges thought Liz looked hot on their pool table.

Liz did things that Betsy just dreamed of – drinking and smoking and sex
And Liz ate stuff that Betsy was scared of – pussies and cocks and Tex-Mex.

Then Liz got a tattoo and Liz did a three-way and late one night Liz pulled a train
While Betsy skulked 'round, witnessing Liz's common sense swirl down the drain.

As dawn was breaking, Lizzie would wake up, covered in cocaine and jizz
This would have never happened to Betsy, but it happened quite often to Liz.

Four years of debauchery flew by in a flash (another thing Liz loved to do)
For graduation, she smoked tons of hash (and stripped to show off her tattoo).

Then Liz got a job and Betsy took over and they moved in with some guy named Max
Now Liz and Betsy are both gulping Prozac to stave off their panic attacks.

In the corporate world, there’s no place for Liz, and Betsy’s again number one.
Which brings poor Liz much pain and frustration (plus the vague memory she had fun).

When the name’s what determines your baseline behavior, sanity’s not what it seems
For Liz and Betsy (and Betsy and Liz), it’s all about managing dreams.

So Max loves Betsy but lusts after Liz, which all works out perfect for him
But she’s still trying to figure it out – where does Betsy end and Liz begin?

In life we have chances to change and adapt – and it’s always a good thing to grow.
Still Liz is Betsy and Betsy is Liz and that’s the one thing that I know.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Moving Ahead So Life Won't Pass Me By

Sometimes there are benefits (pun intended) to living in Los Angeles.

Last night I went to a benefit concert put on by Charles Fox for the Fulfillment Fund (a mentoring group for at-risk High School students).

The concert featured Jeff Barry (who wrote so many great songs with Ellie Greenwich), David Pack (from the band Ambrosia), Richard Marx, Felix Cavaliere (from the Rascals), Norman Gimbel (Fox's longtime songwriting partner), songwriter Allee Willis, and many others.

Fox has written a ton of songs you know (including lots of 70s TV theme songs -- "Love American Style," "Happy Days," etc., etc.), but my favorite song that he wrote was "I Got a Name," recorded by Jim Croce in the early 1970s.

Yeah, it's got the requisite cheesy 70s strings, but I keep thinking the time is right for a great indie-rock remake of this song.

And in the meantime... enjoy Jim Croce singing a classic song written by Gimbel & Fox:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hand Me Down a Strong Panacea

One that's guaranteed to make me feel like Hercules...


I'm here. I'm listening.

I feel sick. I can feel the germs creeping into my bloodstream.

Then you should go to the doctor. Before it gets worse.

I don't trust doctors.



I'm here. I'm listening.

I was really mad at you. When you went on that three-day booze cruise and slept with that girl from Finland. The one with the fake tits.

That wasn't me. I've never been on a Cruise. I've never slept with a girl from Finland.



Well then I'm mad at you about leaving for Vegas without me when I was 10 minutes late coming back from Walgreens.

That was your ex-boyfriend. That wasn't me.

Are you sure? I remember running after your ancient BMW.

Your ex had the ancient BMW. It wasn't me. It's not my style to leave without you. It's more my style to wait and stew about it, then resent you for the entire trip.

Oh. Well, then I'm mad at you for forgetting my birthday.

No. I never forgot your birthday. Even when you weren't speaking to me, I'd remember your birthday. And send you cards you never acknowledged.

Oh. Then why am I mad at you?

I don't know. If I knew, I could do something about it.



I'm here. I'm listening.

I think maybe I need to spend some time alone. Maybe Howard Hughes had it right after all.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Real Piano vs. Blips and Bloops

Nice Way to End a Shit Week

Why is it that companies often hire people who are staggeringly incompetent (but aggressively arrogant at the same time)?

After a week of dealing with people like that (okay, just one person, but she's so heinous it feels like there are 4 of her), I need something relaxing... like this:

And here's the original:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Meanwhile Back on Ukulele

It's been a while since I checked in on the Beatles Complete on Ukulele project , which now boasts 124 Beatle songs performed in a variety of ways, in a variety of styles, but all with a Uke. New songs released each and every Tuesday.

Here's what caught my attention this time:

Erin Bowman combines great vocals, up-to-the-minute studio sounds, and back-to-the-50s Ukes for a bizarre and interesting take on "It's Only Love." Read more and listen here.

The Big V offer a more traditional rock take on "Misery" -- and the essay accompanying it say that Alan Clarke and Graham Nash (from the Hollies) threw in lyric suggestions that were included in the Beatles version. Yeah, the uke seems like an afterthought, but still, give it a listen.

Sharlotte Gibson brings phased, layered vocals, simple uke lines, and gorgeous string hits to a cover of "Hello Goodbye" that sounds like it could have been a hit in the early 70s. Listen here.