Does this beard make me look fat

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The beard rises again: 2012 Mission Statement: It's go time

First, to address the hiatus. Sorry about that. Secondly, a mission statement for 2012. We march bravely into another year with wild expectations of pole shifting, overexposure to pro wrestler/politician posturing, and a feeling that the caffeine has finally left us on the wheel with no way to dismount. Life will leave you feeling as though you had jumped into a less amusing, slightly accelerated Benny Hill sketch, or maybe that's the first sixty years....right stay focused... mission statement. Well soldiers, I'd like to drop a line on you like "Ask not what your country can do for you" or "I had a dream" but all I can think about is how uncertain the future is and how maybe you/I should ask for some Sterno and a decent tent for your birthday cause it feels like the world is collapsing and when civilization restarts you definitely want to be the guy with the nicest tent in the camp. Also, for those about to rock, we salute's go time!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marty Mc Fly's Nike's or how Buffalo Bill stays lit

I know this guy and we'll call him Samson. Samson sells weed. Not by the boat or truck or bale load but enough to warrant a lengthy stay in any one of our country's fine correctional facilities. I asked Samson if he ever considered the possibility that the law of average would indicate he may very well get arrested one day? Samson didn't like this. Samson told me that "players and hustlers don't think like that. It gets in the way of the game. And just my bringing up the notion was bad enough." The only reason I even mentioned it to Samson was I'd be greatly concerned about Samson's abilities to hold his own in the penitentiary and that all the things you only saw in prison movies and heard mentioned in NWA lyrics would most certainly befall upon Samson within his introductory week of incarceration.

I asked Samson why he doesn't just give up "the hustle" now, while he's felony free and unversed in sodomy? Samson says it comes down to shoes. His shoe fetish is a lavish one that can only be satiated through the procurement of more Nike's and Jordan's. His dream is to buy a pair of the replicas of the shoes Michael J. Fox wore in Back To The Future, but he says he'd have to sell weed for the next decade to be able to afford them. I had to find a picture of these highly coveted shoes, and they are in fact, hideous and reek of geek from a minimum of 10 yards. They tell the onlooker "Yes, I know what a jigawatt is. And yes, I have a gold medal in masturbation." But I can't throw footwear stones cause I wore Doc Martens for the better part of the nineties and Doc's say "Yes I'm edgy and yes my parents bought me these boots. Now hand me my nose ring."

Over the years I have referred some people to Samson. I don't especially care for this at all as I'm the poster boy for squares. I don't smoke anything, don't drink all that much. My only verifiable vice is caffeine and it is a monkey I continue to try to shake yet manages to fling pooh, start working the hand cymbals only then to jump right back on my back and instruct me to order something vaguely Italian sounding with a shit ton of superfluous words that could be boiled down to "coffee, with milk and sugar." So when I refer any future clients to Samson, I do so with the best intentions coupled with zero accountability for how bizarre or text book druggie they might turn out to be.

Take Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill is a friend of a friend of a friend who moved to town and needed to be on an altered mental plane to deal with a town that boasts a pyramid, towering clown and a pirate ship as landmarks. I referred Buffalo Bill to Samson who discovered Bill was a cross dresser with a hard cold Star Wars penchant. But he didn't love Lucas' intergalactic money maker in it's entirety. No, his adoration was solely focused on Darth Maul. This love is demonstrated and displayed by Bill's Darth Maul tattoo that spans the better length of his arm. And the cross dressing? Bill routinely opens his front door in panty hose, hastily applied make up and do-rags, which is a weird pile up of hip hop fashion, gender bending and Star Wars geek on the highway of life. Samson's thoughts: Buffalo Bill's a weirdo but his money spends like anyone else's.

Another guy I referred to Samson was a guy we named Dapper Dan for his affinity for slicking his hair back in the same fashion that George Clooney does in "O, Brother Where Art Thou". Clooney used the fictional hair pomade "Dapper Dan", hence the name, "Dapper Dan". I worked with Dapper Dan, and he seemed alright. So I sent him to Samson. Samson said Dapper was an alright guy. That is, till Samson went to Dapper's house recently and the strangest thing I've ever heard transpire in the midst of a drug deal occurred. Samson and Dapper had smoked some of Samson's self-proclaimed heroically potent weed when Samson got up to head for the door. Dapper got up behind him and told Samson to hold up a second. As Samson turned around, Dapper grabbed Samson's butt.

Now, I don't know if it was a pinch, or a full on hands on both cheeks stereo grab of user on dealer sexual harassment, or just a blink and you'd miss it poorly thought out attempt at joking around. But Samson had to inquire as to what the intention of the pinching of his derrière by his client was, which sounded exactly like "Dude, did you just grab my ass?" Dapper could only blame his badly received pass on the potency of Samson's weed. Samson left immediately and called me. I had to ask if this meant Dapper would be cut off? Do dealer's have a code of conduct or policies that are in place as to circumvent the occurrence of such acts? If this was workplace harassment, does that mean Dapper's living room, festooned with black light posters, KFC buckets and X-BOX 360 games is Samson's workplace? Is a 10% fee for contending with future pinches absurd? Samson said he'd still take care of Dapper but he'd no longer go to Dapper's home as he couldn't count out the possibility of anything else happening. I told Samson to keep his back to the wall at all times, then he'd be good. He said that's an idea.

I hope Samson gives up the hustle and bustle of selling weed. I told him to get a job at Footlocker, then he'd get great discounts on shoes and he'd be making an honest dollar. He said you can't buy a Benz with money made selling Keds. Samson offered to put me on "the payroll. I told him I wouldn't make a good dealer. I'd spend my time telling people to eat more fruit and vegetables, less processed meat and to phase out the marijuana. I would however openly encourage them to try angel dust as I've read it's the closest you'll ever come to having super powers.

Love yer high on life pal, LMF

Monday, August 15, 2011

Naiveté in the face of Cherry Pie

Jani Lane, the former singer of Warrant, died last week somewhere in a Comfort Inn, somewhere in California. I stopped celebrating Jani's music sometime after the 7th grade, so I can't say I was heartbroken but it did remind me of my brief hair metal fandom and how all signs indicated I wasn't long for a world ruled by leather trousers adorned with codpieces, men with pursed lips and Tom Keifer. Tom Keifer is the lead singer of Cinderella. Tom was created in a lab by combining the DNA of an ugly woman and a Steven Tyler scarf for he is both not a looker and dresses like a gypsy.

Hair metal was mostly tuned to the frequencies emitted from eager groins and that was never disputed. Yet all the sexually charged innuendo flew high over my head as my naivete is strong and knows no limits. I watched the video for "Cherry Pie" and thought, "These guys must really love desert, particularly cherry pie." Or my enormous poster of Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue wearing a shirt that said "Suck it". I'd look at the poster of Nikki and think "Yeah Nikki, you tell em' to suck it, whoever they happen to be and regardless of what "it" was."

You got the sense that hair metal bands lacked quality control, or any inkling that their demise was nigh with the release of Nevermind. And why or how could they? They were occupied with more pressing issues like fitting into leather pants, shipments of Aqua Net by the crate full, and stretching the traditional limits of mother and daughter relationships. And yet, for all the glory Warrant and their ilk enjoyed for the lion's share of the 80's and sliver of the nineties, there's was a temporal sound simply because it was all groin based, lacking thought or sincerity. It breaks down like this:

If the Talking Heads, Paul Simon, Radiohead, Tool, etc...are the brains of music; Sam Cooke, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, etc..are the heart of music; The Clash, MC5, Public Enemy, etc..are the hands, namely the middle fingers of music; you could continue working your way down to the rectum and that's where you'd find Warrant, lining the rectum of music.

But I guess I feel sorry for Jani Lane after seeing an interview where he talked about being coerced into writing a song similar in style to "Love In An Elevator" while never anticipating that the song he'd write "Cherry Pie", would come to define him, saying that he could shoot himself in the head for having written that song. I dunno, I think that's harsh. That song about "whip my hair back and forth" is equally terrible. Everything Creed ever laid to wax is horrendous. There's plenty of things to be more ashamed of than writing "Cherry Pie" like: Bad breath, and by that I mean halitosis. A real cringe inducing breath. Or baloney. It deserves disdain. Or guys that wear clown wigs to sporting events.

If Jani Lane had never penned his Cherry flavored opus, then the strippers of the world would still be resorting to the ever weary, old stand by of "Girls, Girls, Girls" to shake down hapless married men to. Let's assume said strippers heart is aglow whilst dancing to Motley Crue's musical ode to those who disrobe publicly in three minute intervals, isn't that what matters most? Making a stripper's heart glow? Well, that and incorporating a third tier desert into a rock song. I realize there's nothing sexually charged about tiramisù or a cannoli but they both have it all over cherry pie. I realize I'm digressing, but still, my brain never got past how gross literal cherry pie is. Maybe that's why I never full embraced "Cherry Pie" in the first place.

So Jani, where ever you may be, I hope your afterlife is a non-stop reiteration of 1990, and you never have to face up to having written a song just slightly worse than "I Touch Myself".

Your former fan, turned sympathizer, LMF

Saturday, July 16, 2011

For Clarence

Clarence Clemons, saxophonist for the E Street Band for 29 years, died last month at the age of 69. I'm not sure if that qualifies as a ripe old age, or even at what age someone begins to ripen, or if you'd even want to ripen, but either way, the man was 69 when he passed. And I'm not one to get worked up when people I don't know and have no connection to pass. I'm not being calloused or cold, I just can't get too worked up when one of the remaining Golden Girls passes. But there are exceptions and Clarence Clemons is one.

Many Springsteen tracks utilize the "wall of sound", more is more, approach. I've read Born To Run had more than 30 guitars on it. And yet, amidst the slightly cacophonous sound of the best E-Street tracks, Clarence's horn was easily discernible, reliably moving and never the novelty many a band's horn man can be made out to me.

In all actuality, Clarence was the fingerprint of the E-Street. Bruce is the voice, certainly, but it could be said that Clarence's horn parts paired with Bruce's voice indicated that their blood and soul coursed through their music. That the target was hybrid soul steeped in brotherhood and ethereal white noise without a scant trace of temporal fodder. The sax solo near the end of Thunder Road that follows the lyric "It's town full of losers and I'm pulling out of here to win" could be a number of things, but maybe its a call to action, a bellow of possibility in the face of unsavory circumstances and it remains one of the single most moving recordings I've ever heard.

Obviously the E Street will find a guy to stand in for Clarence, to fill the chasm left in his absence, that goes without saying. His horn parts were an integral portion of the bands sound, but it's a damn shame he's a gone. He brought such a wonderful element of balance within the sound of the E Street with his melodies drenched in heavenly light in contrast to the multi guitar assault his sax encountered for nearly three decades.

And so Clarence has shuffled off this mortal coil, dissipating into the ether, taking his place amongst the cosmos. But know that long after time has had its way with us all, someone somewhere will listen to Thunder Road, and it'll change them and they'll harness that change and do something with it. And what's better than that?

Monday, June 20, 2011

What I did on my 32 year vacation and how it pertains to line dancing

I turned 32 today. Not a real impressive age to become. Well, it's impressive to little kids, cause that's this many (flashes hands a bunch of times) and that means you're ancient. But in the grand scheme of things, 32 isn't really a land mark age. 30 has some significance because when you think back to when you were younger and you thought of 30, you thought, holy crap, that's damn old. And then you hit 30 and you take stock of things, your life, your hairline, your expanding waist, your bank account that constantly flirts with overdraft fees and you go "eh, it comes with the turf of your 30's" and you roll with the punches till the next mile marker age of significance, mine being 35.

To me though, it seems like you should take something from each year that passes. You know that reflectiveness that comes over people on New Years Eve when they're wearing hats made of paper and glasses spelling out the number of the approaching year (maybe not the attire for the deepest of thoughts). And you start thinking of the road behind you and the remaining portion ahead. And that's how I get on my birthday.

So what have I learned over the past year? Well, I learned that Nevada has a terrible health care system when my pregnant eye socket was put on the back burner via insurance companies. I learned the Pixies still have it, in all their quiet loud quiet glory. I learned that, try as you may, you will eventually no longer fit in size 32 pants and that the reason men's styles become more JC Penny/Home Depot and less Abercrombie and Fitch/American Eagle is heroin chic bodies don't normally belong in sweats and Dockers. So you adopt your father's fashion sensibilities not voluntarily per se, but out of necessity as that's all you can find in your super sized mature man pants size. I learned that eventually all the footwear you adored in your youth will fail you in terms of providing you the adequate support to carry you through your daily routine. Your Doc's and Chuck's will give way to Nike's and New Balance's. I learned that not all cops are pigs when a cop stopped traffic to let me cross in the crosswalk. I learned that it will take a mountain of some random oil barren's money to get the Afghan Whigs back together (per Greg Dulli).

But most importantly, I think the vital takeaway from 31-32 for me is the realization of the importance of the individual in the grand scheme of things. What choo talkin' bout Willis? Well, what I'm saying is don't discount the breadth of your presence in other people's lives. Know that you can impact other people's lives in positive ways and let that impact be your reward. So many people put the emphasis on the superficial be it money, booty....hmmm, there's a big drop off after those two things as it could be said that they both run the world. But you get what I'm saying, homes. You give just a little of yourself and that sliver balances out the depravity. It reminds you that mankind isn't a cancer. Sure mankind is responsible for a great deal of heinous things, like, you know, wars, state fair foods, country line dancing, stuff like that. But you start to realize that all people are redeemable and it makes your heart swell and your eyes well but it feels good because you know you're right and that this world is actually not that bad.

Has the Beard come across the Richard Simmons pills in the medicine cabinet and foolishly consumed the whole bottle? Not really. I just realized that I have a great deal of wonderful people in my life and what matters most in life. Nothing against booty and money, if either of them took offense, I apologize. Now get out there and do something meaningful and tell them the Beard sent you.

Your slightly older, not necessarily wiser friend, LMF

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Devil don't dabble in produce

It's Father's Day! If you're celebrating that means you got it together long enough to convince a woman that your stock is of top shelf quality and that all the other heathens pale in comparison to a man of your undeniable charisma. Your magnetic charm. And you, yes you sir, have been chosen to usher another human being into our crowded elevator world teetering on the brink of overpopulation. But you know what? You got clothes to remove, alcohol to drink quickly, and moody 80's records to trip the lights fantastic to first. And then, one ill-timed thrust later, yer a papa son. And that ain't so bad.

My Dad, Charlie, is a great Dad. A man's man who's only real flaw is his frugality or perhaps his blind acceptance of Wendy's dollar menu as an undeniable value. My Dad Charlie dabbles in staunch, Rosary heavy Catholicism, that leads him to routinely say things like "Fuck Satan" or "What can Satan do? Can Satan grow food? No!" I didn't know the words hypothetical, goateed nemesis ever even gave the notion of farming any thought what with war, cancer, premature ejaculation (yes, I blame the devil, it's just easier) all on the Dark Prince's eternally burning front burner.

Charlie has 10 children, which means he's all about the ladies and virile. Highly virile. When we lived in Northern Arizona, we had a house out in the country, with some acreage, and a farm. Charlie would raise and slaughter animals, one execution of which I got to witness. It was a random chicken I had no emotional attachment to outside of general sympathy for the soon to be headless fowl. As the ax was raised, I tried to initiate a stay of execution but my Dad said "this chicken's name is dinner" and chopped his head clean off. And you know, if you played the Benny Hill theme song while watching the decapitated chicken's body run around the yard, it'd be amusing in some strange way.

So big up's to the Father's of the world for, you know, chopping off chicken heads, staying the course, digging the heels in when the times get rough and the waters of life choppy, and ultimately for deciding that Jack Nicholson was right when he said that condoms are for those who dabble in deprivation.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Older Mike Watt Interview

S: So Watt, how are you?

W: Well, I've been busy lately. I just was in Japan with the Stooges, and then I was in England with the Secondmen, my bass, organ, and drums trio. And for the first time I played the entire new album that will be out August 7th, it's called “The Secondman's Middle Stand.” And that was at the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival in England.

S: In the spring of 1996, I read a quote of yours in Rolling Stone that mentioned J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. being abducted by aliens. Do you remember that quote?

W: That's what he told me. He told me he had a mark on his leg too to show me, and that a light came down but he doesn’t remember a whole lot. But uh, he thinks he was abducted. He's a great guy, he's very serious too, and so I wouldn’t doubt him. He's a little shy too. He's going to come back out on the road; he's got a band with Dave Skools from Widespread Panic. I’m too busy for that now, but I was in the Fog for a couple of tours. It's very interesting playing with J. He's very loud.

S: You recently came thru Vegas with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who also dedicated "Blood Sugar Sex Magic" to you. Why can't those guys keep their pants on?

W: I go way back with those guys, you know their second gig was opening up for the Minutemen, but I think they just like getting wild.

S: You toured with both Eddie Vedder, and Dave Grohl on the 1995 Ball Hog tour, and they were in your backing band. Did you ever have to reach back and smack the ego out of anyone in that van?

W: That was a trippy tour for me, cause I rode by myself cause Ed was in Hovercraft and Dave was in the Foo Fighters, and so they would ride in their van. But it was cool. It was a trippy kind of situation, a little bit of hype because of celebrityitis, I guess. But that had nothing to do with those guys; it was just some people coming to the shows just to see them. But I never had to smack anyone.

S: You’ll be touring with Iggy and the Stooges through June. Is Iggy laying off the broken glass and peanut butter these days?

W: Yeah, I’m gonna play some some countries I’ve never played before like Greece, Serbia, and Portugal. Even though it’ll be my 52nd tour, there’s always new places to play. But Iggy isn’t cutting himself up, but he is doing stage dives and he’s 64 years old. That dude, man, he’s the bow of the boat. He is something else. Sings his heart out. He tells everybody you know, by the way he plays things, does his thing that yeah, time is gonna try and make you old but it doesn’t have to make your mind old. Yeah, he is incredible.

S: Are the Stooges doing U.S. dates?
W: Soon. Yeah, I mean you would dig it. It ain’t no fucking sleeper oldies act. And this is an intense band. And with the Stooges you go right to the source.

S: What are your thought’s on the nostalgia rock revival we’re seeing in music right now?

W: Well the Darkness is obviously having some fun. And you gotta understand when I was a kid they were pushing Happy Days and American Graffiti really hard. The idea of selling nostalgia is always gonna be around. But just because that’s going on now doesn’t mean it’s a new scam, or hype. It’s just a retread. And I guess the seventies are back far enough that you can be a little nostalgic, wear bellbottoms. A lot of it’s about fashion, and its funny about the word fashion. In the word fashion, the root word is fasha, which is face. And that’s about it. Its just surface. Shallow shit, you know? I think every era has things to teach people, but you got to kind of live in your own times too. So it’s a mixed bag like anything else. It’s always easier to try and reproduce the past though, then forge ahead and invent new stuff.

S: I caught one of your first shows after you were hospitalized for a burst abscess in the perineum, and I was amazed at the resilience of your playing skills. You also managed to shed a noticeable amount of weight as well.

W: Yeah, but I was weak. I definitely don’t recommend the program. That was a hell ride. That’s why I made an album out of it. It’s so intense. That’s what the new record is all about. But I thought the only real way to get back was to jump on the horse and ride. It was really strange. You know I started playing at thirteen, D.Boon and me, and had never really stopped until that sickness. You know I’m laying in bed with tubes and I couldn’t really play bass and when I went to play again I couldn’t do it. And it freaked me out big time. It really freaked me out. So what I started doing was playing Stooges songs, not a lot of chord changes, you know, it’s all about feel. And I couldn’t do scales. I couldn’t do rhythm. I couldn’t do anything. I was really atrophied. Lost all the muscles in my fingers. And so the Stooges actually helped me get better. I never imagined I’d be playing in the Stooges. I first heard them when I was sixteen and its weird how they came back in my life, and really helped me out. That music is timeless. I listen to Funhouse and can’t believe it was recorded in 1970.

S: I feel the same way about the first Clash record, I think it’s a classic.

W: Yeah, that’s the one I like, the green one.

S: The Minutemen never got the chance to tour with the Clash, did they?

W: No, I never toured with them. But I saw them play. D. Boon and me saw them play in Santa Monica with the Dills, and Bo Diddley. They were great. It was 1979. D. Boon and me grew up with arena rock, and what really tripped me out, I mean we were really close, that’s the great thing about punk gigs you know. You can get right up close, even at the Santa Monica Civic. And Joe Strummer’s eyes weren’t blood shot. It was the first rock and roller that I saw that didn’t have blood shot eyes. That was a trip. In fact, people were packed in so close I had to piss bad, and pissed right there between everybody’s legs, and no one could really look down. It was shoulder to shoulder, so I pissed right on the deck and no one noticed. But I was kinda drunk too.

S: It’s been said that some of your most notorious tours were in the early nineteen eighties where the Minutemen were paired up with Black Flag, who were being fronted by a then newly added Henry Rollins.

W: Oh yeah, the first time the Minutemen went to Europe and our first big U.S. tour was with Black Flag. Not only with them, but also in the van with them. All ten of us. So it was kind of cramped quarters, but a lot of fun. Wild adventures. It was Henry Rollins’ second tour with Black Flag. They were so good. Yeah, it was smoking. It was right when they were doing the “Slip It In” songs. Henry writes all about those days in the “Get In The Van” book. One time we were playing in Vienna, and the first note of the first song all the power goes out. And it comes right back on and I’m covered with used condoms. I had been hit in the face. And a couple of kids were throwing paper bags of shit and vomit up at us that would rip open when they hit the stage. It was pretty intense. But still, like I said it was an adventure. And for any hell there was, it was well worth it. Yeah, I was laughing. I couldn’t believe what they would throw, hanging on my bass, on my chest. It was gross.

S: I’ve read that you have an intense respect for skaters, and have integrated some of the spirituality of skateboarding into your own bass playing.

W: Well, I never got to skate. I had knee surgery in my early twenties. But skating really changed in the seventies. When I was a kid a lot of dudes had to ride these things sitting down, so you had to put so much weight, and lower the center of gravity, and stay on the sidewalk cause even the tinniest rock would flip you. But I have so much respect for skaters. In fact, when I’m playing my bass I’m pretending it’s a skateboard. I love the how when you’re riding a skateboard you don’t just stand there. You gotta put your whole body into it, and that’s what I try to do on the bass guitar. To me, skating is real individualistic expression. You know what I mean? It doesn’t take a lot of money. You can do it anywhere, on any part of the street. To me it’s so natural. So I look up to it. I’m inspired by it when I try to make music on the bass. Cause it’s all a human being and a machine. And some machines lend so much to the individual person. And I think the skateboard is one of them, and just as much as the bass guitar.

S: How did you go about assembling the roster of people on “Ball Hog or Tugboat”? The liner notes read like a who’s who of alternative music icons, with Eddie Vedder, Evan Dando, Flea, the Beasties, etc…. You should Ebay your Rolodex.

W: Well you know, a record you can do stuff like that. It’s hard to fit forty guys into a van, but in the studio what my plan was there was seventeen songs, so to have seventeen different bands. And it was a theory I had that if the bass player knew the songs then anyone could come in and play guitar, or sing, or play drums. So that’s what you had. A lot of those guys hadn’t even heard the song. They’d come in there, and then I’d show them the tune, go through it a few times, and then go to take. They’re all beautiful guys.

S: What’s the Watt view of the political climate right now?

W: It’s pretty creepy. But I think people in their gut can feel they’re being had. But you gotta remember the Minutemen were making music during Ronald Regan’s regime, so I'm kind of used to this. Things come in cycles. And any farmer would tell you if you want a good crop, use a lot of manure. So I say he’s piling it on.

S: So why aren’t you running for president this time around? You seem to be more in tune with the people, then our current commander in chief.

W: I’m probably better on bass; I mean we all got different gigs.

S: And finally, finish this Carpenter’s lyric: What the world needs now is…

W: More righteous tunes. But it also needs a little more humbleness and kindness towards each other, but that would probably come from some more interesting music. I don’t know how exactly it’s connected, but I think it would help. It worked for me. You know, like the Clash, some stuff just changes your life. Gives you different perspectives. But you see a lot of cats can’t choose cause they don’t know about all the choices. So when the choices get out there, then people can exercise their freedom a little more. It ain’t real freedom if you don’t know what’s out there.

S: Well Watt, it was great talking to you, thanks for the spiel.

W: Oh, much respect to you. You asked me some great things. Keep going. You know the knowing is in the doing.