Beth Lissick, Tony Joe White and Milos Forman
Tony Joe White
Tony Joe White at the Café Du Nord
He comes from so far deep within the swamps of Louisiana, to him Mill Valley may as well be England. And San Francisco, the moon.
Last Thursday night at the Café Du Nord, Tony Joe appeared from the back stage closet, sat down, plugged in his Strat and spun a wicked web. Those in attendance were held rapt. At least until his amp blew up that is. I myself was under his spell enough to not hesitate for a second to run home and grab my own personal tube amp so Toni could carry on. All in all about a 10 minute interruption. The man got his groove right back in no time. In fact, come to think of it, my amp never sounded better.
I don't remember the verse in original Pork Salad Annie about "hanging that shit on the clothes line, drying it out and smoking it". Huh? She's a bad girl that mean, vicious, wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin' woman. that Annie.
It was a veritable who's-who at the Du Nord. From high priest of lounge, Dick Bright, down the to the lowliest little Muskrat, Jay Rosen. I can get down there for sure, but by comparison, I sound like I'm singing high on helium. All of us were down at his feet looking up Tony's nose wondering where does that voice come from? From deep down the well of love, I imagine.
Hey kids, did you know that in Saudi Arabia women can't drive a car but in the USA they can strap on a dildo and drive it anywhere they want....?
Like a lot of people Beth has a band. Somehow, maybe as an act of defiance, she gets through the whole book refusing to even mention her band but once. I dug her band a whole lot. Particularly that "teen model" song where she would do a kind of roller girl moonwalk while performing.
I loved this book as the alternative to the alternative it is. Know this: She's got zero issues with her mommy and daddy. Don't ya just hate her? Well don't, as you'd be missing out on this great collection of spewage. A smart, funny and brutally honest read. All that funny sad shit you know you love. Yeah, there's some obligatory lesbo action but, a girls got to do what.... after all, she's on the same press as Scott Peterson's ex. Fear not, she spares us the most obvious of details. Oh yeah, she's a performance artist too. Not the kind that gives performance art a bad wrap. Really, she's funnier than eight Carrie Bradshaw's . Got some real heart. I identified. Maybe it's because I grew up with three sisters, maybe it's because B and B's aren't my idea of a good time either. The humor, misadventures, the heinousness of it make her book the perfect 10 van reading of the year. The rhythm of her language agrees with me, she talks like people from the neighborhood I grew up in. A rare thing. Turns hanging with the Nuns a kind of you-had-to-be-there kind of trip. Anyone who can make minimum wage drudgery sound half that interesting... Not 24 hours after being crowned prom queen and within hours of parading around the football field sporting a crown, she learns one of life's most valuable lessons: Everyone wants a blow job from a 14 year old girl.
Betty Harris made a handful of singles in the 60's. First with the great Bert Berns behind the glass in NYC and later with the elegantly funky Alan Toussaint masterminding. The Toussaint produced records were cut in N.O.LA. and employed the Meters as the rhythm section.
I'm not sure where I first heard Betty Harris, maybe on a cassette comp. Paul Bradshaw made me. I was hooked. This was some divine shit. Soul perfection. Or better yet, Soul Imperfection. Funky yes, but dramatic too. Betty sings like some unbridled genius. And like a soul George Jones, milking just a few words for all they're worth. She'll feed you and leaving you hungry for more. And with Leo Nocentelli playing the bent guitar fills around her pleas for love, those singles were pure unrequited, untamed, longing at it's best.
It doesn't get any more heart wrenching than Nearer to You. Like a mystery I could never solve -- I'm still listening for clues. There's probably not two records out there that I've memorized to the point of closing my eyes and recreating the entire landscape in my head.
Betty Harris cut those records and disappeared. Was she was dead or alive? Very very little was known about her (and believe me, I dug around). Unbelievable, she was recently found alive and well raising her family up north somewhere.
The way I heard it is that her daughter, while attending college, was doing some googling and stumbled on a fan site dedicated to her mom. The word got out. "Hey Mom, you're famous!"
An appearance at the Ponderosa Stomp in NOLA made it official.
My close pal Andy Taub, had no choice but to crack open his ample piggy bank and book her for his wedding. A wedding Stephie and I were lucky enough to attend. Straight from the airport after a nasty flight back from Spain, we arrived in Manhattan just as the band kicked in. Like something out of a dream, fireworks exploding over the water behind us, seated around the white table cloth dinner table on the edge of the dance floor, she came out off the bandstand up to our table with a hand held mike and looked right into my face. I dropped my fork, paralyzed. A magical night.
Congratulations Andy and Sue! We still owe you a gift. To try to match the one you gave us is a hell of a challenge.
Wacky Jacky's Charter Fishing Boat (Fisherman's Wharf)
Deep sea fishing the San Francisco bay and beyond. Me and my good pal Mark Kozelek boarded the Wacky Jacky at 5:00 AM recently in search of big salmon. Losing our minds and melting in the sun—it wasn't until after four or five hours before Mark and I were in the swing of things baiting each others hooks and talking to the fish and our fellow seamen like were knew what we were doing. Guess we should've brought a camera, but we didn't. Can't imagine going out and doing it again on any other boat than the Wacky with Jacky and her loyal crew (some of whom go back DECADES). A well kept secret and yes, I'm sure it'll stay that way. Unless, the next time we play the Starry Plough and load out at 3:00 AM we load up everyone in the van and head for Fishermans's Wharf. What do ya say?
I found myself on a kind of Czech obsession of late. We at CP inc. have always carved out enough time on our Europeon tour itineraries to include a couple of dates in the Czech Republic. Not sure why, the money isn't "all that" and the drive is without fail, a trial. And come to think of it, the crowds have been of the few-and-proud variety. Guess I've got a sweet spot for all things Czech.
It only took Netflixs a couple of months, but they finally got around to sending me Czech director Milos Forman's first film, "Black Peter". Although made in `64 or `65, or so, I was immediately struck by what seemed a kind of meandering primitiveness. Watching this film that amounted to a quirky, non narrative, wobbly, dare I say, ART FLICK. Not really sure why I was surprised or what I expected, but what I found in Black Peter was a cool movie that doesn't seem dated. It's no wonder that the American film making intelligentsia looked to him as a guiding light.
The DVD had extras of course. An Australian Film Society interview that followed with Forman circa pre Oscar Amadeus, provided some strange revelations. Milos' loves: Splash, Airplane ("those guys are honest, love what they're doing").
Forman goes on to defend Heavens Gate excess. "It's not the directors fault, he'd only directed one film—blame the people that gave him the money." Forman, as I'm sure you know, went on to direct One Flew Under the Cuckoo's Nest". Did you know "Cookoos Nest" grossed like 100 million and cost a mere 4 to make.
I learned that although exiled in 1968, Forman's has no score to settle. The system in Czechoslovakia couldn't have been further from Hollywood. Which, having said that, it should really come as no surprise that they managed to make films like this one as well as a boatload of cool, influential films. As Forman tells it: "...no commercial pressures, no ideological pressures". The "the powers that be" if you will, would only look at your script and decide if you have good intentions to do quality work.
Once you were given the `go word', they sent you on your merry way minus any meddling whatsoever. The most ideal system ever! Of course, the only drawback is that you can spend two or three years developing a script only to have it rejected upon which, you GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!!
Whereas in Hollywood you can bang on doors until your knuckles are raw and then ask your dental surgeon neighbor if he'd like a producers credit.