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Angry old punks, naked anti-hunks, blowing chunks and a funk-y little monkey named Prince
by Reverand Thom Fowler

One Sunday at the Parlor, I was in the back room, minding my own business as I usually do. This guy, drunk, flops down and pokes his lips out at me like he’s the hot ticket and I just won the lottery. I’ve got a few rules about bars. 1) I don’t drink. 2)I don’t flirt with drunk people. 3) I don’t go home with drunk people and then have sex with them because that’s just cheap. While he’s sitting half on my lap and swarmed over by his friends, one of them jumps on the coffee table (the Parlour is kind of like hanging out in your living room. Well not YOUR living room, but if you hang out in the furniture section of a thrift store, THAT living room) and yanks down his pants and starts shaking his meth deprived ass in my face, testicles slamming happily between his thighs. Was I supposed to tip him?

Poochy lips is on me all night and eventually I walk to a taco shop with him and watch him eat while he tries to focus on me through his beer goggles. I must’ve been looking pretty good because he gave me his phone number and says “call me”. Like he’ll even remember. I play the game and give him mine. He calls me the next day and says, “I found your phone number in my pocket and thought I’d call.”

And you are? And you are calling because?

His friend tells me, “he’s only like that when he’s drunk”.

The Parlour is my default home away from home because it feels most like a place that would be filled with people I knew if I knew anyone in Los Angeles. Occasionally, I’ll make an acquaintance like Lenny, the owner, and his charming English boyfriend Andrew, who also runs The Attic in San Francisco, a tiny little bar I had to admit that I never even heard of, which of course means that it doesn’t matter. But I have heard of The Parlour and so it matters a tiny bit.

Lydia Lunch’s Unhappy Hour continues to be hit and miss. While waiting for the somewhat disappointing headline reader Tony Adolescent, who has mellowed with fatherhood but still has a grudge against grunge and the “whoring” of punk rock, I heard Jim Money Ruland read his compelling erotica that was more windswept romance a la Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son) then porn. Ruland paints a pristine and rich picture from a few words, a few phrases.

After the reading, the bar shifts gears and becomes DaDa, which originally was supposed to feature music from the 20’s to the now, an idea I thought was fabulous. But in actual practice, it hosts a passel of those neo-post-punk safety pins, bedhead and thick glasses, like the kids you find on makeoutclub.com (and if you’ve never been there, prepare to be cutified. ) That look sells for mere dollars in thrift stores but Prada and every obscure high end fashion magazines you’ve never heard of (the kind of thing you buy to figure out how out of step you are with the ultra-chic, and ultra-young, and ultra-thin, and ultra-cool) will help you get it for hundreds more.

Roman Coppola’s soon to be released film, CQ, toys with Vietnam war era European anarchism as a leitmotif. But who doesn’t look good in a black cat suit and beret. Vive La Revolution!

I was in line for a taping of The Tonight Show at the NBC Studios, which I do from time to time and standing behind a woman who was telling a story to her friend about “how that couldn’t have been a coincidence. There must be something funny going on”.

I was also standing in front of the guy who does the voice of Goofy in all current Disney productions. He obliged me with a demonstration. Goofy looks like he came straight out of Margaritaville. He arrived in LA by way of Kansas through an agent in Dallas.

“There are talent agents in Dallas”, I ask. Mostly for commercials, he tells me.

And then, as if LA wasn’t showing itself to be incestuous enough, the woman in front of me who was going on about weird coincidences is the real estate agent for Goofy. We got to talking, “I’m a writer”.
“Oh, my nephew has a list of screen credits as long as Mulholland Drive.”
Well, isn’t that nice.
All movies you’ve heard of that have made shitloads of money. And I am … and I’m here because …?

Erik McCormick from Will and Grace was the guest. I’m sure it’s a fabulous show. What with its wacky storyline and super-fruity cast of characters. Because you know, America has never seen those images of gay life before. Its so inventive and innovative.

I know, its just TV. However, if they wanted to hire me to write a whole new edge into the series, I’d be happy to comply. It should be more punishing, more astute, slightly wicked. Will as a meth ho who loses it in a fit of delirious drama at 4 am, two days into the circuit weekend, screaming, “I’M FAT, I KNOW IT AND NOBODY WILL FUCK ME!”. His character is anything but, kind of a rail, actually. And that’s what would make it seem real. And Grace is his straight girl counterpart. She lives off cucumbers and wonders why she can’t meet a guy when she spends all her time hanging out with homos. Throw some Bondage and Hepatitis in there and we’ve got a show.

You know what’s weird, straight guys who shop at Abercrombie and Fitch. I think someone just isn’t getting it.

“Hold me like you should so we can keep on dancing.”

Quote: “Remember when Underground culture moved slowly? Before the Internet …esoterica was transmitted person to person. There were no daily messages in your inbox with the subject line “check it out – interesting”; exploring the cultural margins was work” (Joshuah Bearman, LA Weekly, Vol 24. No. 22, p.39). He goes on to say, “and you cherished the latest copy of V.Vale’s Re/Search that was handed to you by someone who handed it to them.” The V.Vale reference will be important later.

I do remember all that. I also remember getting beat up and taunted in high school in the mid 80’s for having pink hair and a pierced nose and I wanted to ACCELERATE and PROPOGATE underground culture so that it BECAME the culture. I wrote in another essay that in the same suburban hole where I used to take a lot of shit, all the kids have green hair and a pierced face. That can only mean one thing. We won.

So its not as precious anymore, but it is still a lot of work to go out and put on performances and self-publish and throw together intimate salons and make the scene and support all the other undefinables. While I am not happy that you can’t just assume that anyone with a mohawk is going to share your same socio-economic-political opinions, I am glad that boundaries of self-expression have been pushed out a little bit because we need to get as far away from the primal “organization man/woman” as we can.

The corporate uniform and the military uniform. The rank and file, the generals and ceo’s. They all push one idea … conformity and obedience.

It’s difficult enough to have an enriching life of the mind and spirit when economic survival depends in large part on giving up those very things.

This is my lasting obsession. Is there a way out? Why wait until you are 65 to stare at the sky and smell the lilacs. Do it now!

I celebrate the struggle of the every day artist, trying to wrench herself free from the iron grasp of commerce and productivity. The working folks who are trying to reclaim their lives from the soul-killing oppression of a 60 hour work week. I say, revolt, subvert, resist. If you are the boss, tell your employees to call in sick and spend a day doing something they want to do. But if you just want to stick a paper clip in the copy machine, that’d be fine too.

But if you are one of those people that have managed to find their way off the wheel and you find food appears on the table simply because you do what you love to do, then take a minute to appreciate that.

I know this is supposed to be about Los Angeles, but this next bit is good and topical.

Prince approaches DJ Rafael spinning at Ruby Skye in San Francisco and demands that he hand over the possibly illegal bootleg Prince mix he’s playing. The Royal One takes the record and with his two enormous body guards in tow, walks off. Rafael left the plate spinning to give chase. The record was returned without incident.

Jello Biafra is still angry. ‘nuff said. Biafra hosted his annual Alternative Tentacles (http://www.alternativetentacles.com) showcase at the Great American Music Hall, the most beautiful place to see a show in SF. In between bands he gave us a dose of world shattering anti-military/industrial complex polemic. The Phantom Limbs headlined and by the end of the night, the lead singer and a fan were naked and wrestling. “I got a little dick”, screamed the fan to the nonplussed crowd. And it was, how do you say, unnoticeable, “but wait till I get it in ya.”

V.Vale, (take note from earlier) who proudly supported the Dead Kennedy’s in his seminal punk/new wave magazine Search and Destroy and later Re/Search, (Modern Primitives, Angry Women, Modern Pagans), hosted a May Day ritual to promote Modern Pagans, hot of the Re/Search presses.

While Jello wasn’t supposed to show up, The Mechanical Bride, [http://www.bomp.com/bomp/MechBride.html], who directed me toward the mayday fete, thought he would be there just because. He could used some springtime cheer. He’s lost the rights to Dead Kennedy’s songs and he wants them back. Did I say he was angry? Marilyn Manson and Biafra have been playing tag recently. I wonder they’re up to? I wonder what he’s ever up to. And how exactly did he end up on the Oscar broadcast?

Vale sold me a stack of original Re/Search and Search and Destroy. The kids at the Parlour look just like the SF New Wavers from 1978. Exactly. Those were the people I thought were cool when I was like, 8. “Mommy, when I grow up, I wanna be a punk!”. Oi. The pre-fame interviews with Talking Heads, Devo, David Lynch and John Waters was well worth the price of admission.

What you could do with galley sheets, exacto knives and spray adhesive in those days. I used to produce public service announcements for KALX Berkeley on a reel to reel with splicing tape and razor blades. If the punk aesthetic continues to use the production methods from the first time around, then today’s producers would be something like an Art’s and Crafts renaissance in electronic media. I’m not going to give up Framemaker or Photoshop anytime soon, though.

It’s probably quaint that digital era producers like me are “discovering” the “outmoded” tools that created radio, print and television for half a century and more and nobody even noticed there was a change.

Lastly, if you are the cool kid in the southland, you hang out at Zuma beach Lifeguard stand number 7. A native Valley-eno, Steve Siebert – design aficionado, explained the system to me. Who you hang out with and your level of “cool” determines what beach and what lifeguard stand you congregate at.

Summer lovin’ of the smart set happens at Zuma 7. Did he hang out at Zuma 7? No.

What is “cool” exactly?


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=572
originally posted: 05/10/02 16:16:05
last updated: 06/11/02 20:31:39
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