Tuesday, August 31, 2010

After Hours

Alice Cooper. Clones (We're All)

For several weeks back in 1980 - I remember it well - this song was the rage of the radio playlists. Alice Cooper had gone new wave and it was very big news. Back then, AC was a major player, nearly as big as Bowie and far, far more important than Springsteen or Costello. These days, the latter two have surpassed him. But still, in 1980 they played this tune every 15 minutes on KZAM. And it was a joy to hear. I find this video a bit surprising for its stripper-iffic qualities. I mean, I didn't think they invented lap dancing until the nineties. How wrong I was! The truly ironic thing is that in contemporary times - such as they are - all of these women would be deemed too fat for video work by casting agents. I would disagree. And if this video taught me anything, it's that all the people looking after clones walk and act like robots. That seems right. But I really must stress that this is one hell of a great song. Alice's album, Flush the Fashion, short as it may be, was one of the unsung masterpieces of the wave era. The guy had some very interesting stuff to say about the bygone modern times before he eventually became a harmless, heavy-metal boogeyman and a subsequent born-again Christian. For a while, though, he seemed like a genius. Just listen to Billion Dollar Babies and tell me that what you're hearing isn't completely brilliant. I dare you. That is all.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Your Sunday Squirrel

Here's another shot of the guy from last week. I gave him so many peanuts that he's probably still full. Anyhow, enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

After Hours

The Kinks. Till the End of the Day

Here's a bit of a shaky performance from one of the finest British bands of the sixties. Still, they sound quite good. The reason for the wavering tempo and occasionally bizarre harmonies is probably that they can't hear each other so good. Hey, I just heard that their original bassist, Pete Quaife, recently died. Well, as long as Ray Davies is safe, the world is still in good shape. A few years back, he played the good Samaritan in New Orleans and came to the rescue of a woman getting mugging. He got shot for his efforts. He was hit in the leg and he was fine, but it was a close call for everyone who digs classic songwriting. Well, anyway, poor Pete Quaife.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Your Sunday Squirrel

I went to Denny Park yesterday, not expecting much. I mean, there is a whole regiment of bums around the place. That seems to dampen squirrel activity. But there were two little guys out running around. This one pictured above was really quite friendly and cooperative. He kept coming back for peanuts. He was very hungry, I guess. Usually, you toss a squirrel a peanut and he runs off and buries it. But this fellow just devoured everything I gave him (some six peanuts) and came back for more. In the meantime, he stood still long enough for me to take some pretty nice, reasonably in-focus pictures of him. I'll post another next week.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

After Hours

The Moody Blues. Ride My See-Saw

OK, I'm not a huge fan of the MBs, but I really do dig this tune. It's about as rockin' as they got in the sixties. And yes, I realize they're lipsynching here, but the alternative is much worse. They weren't able to pull their stuff off live till the eighties, and by that time, they were pretty much a nostalgia act. So if you check out the version of this number live in Paris in 1970, you'll probably be disappointed. But, I mean, it's a free country. Do whatever you want. I'm not the music police. Not yet, at least. And tell me this: didn't one of those guys go on to become the Galloping Gourmet?

After 20 Years, Yakov Smirnoff Is Finally Funny

He just needs a little help from the Cheezburger Hive-Mind and a complete shift of context:

Complete genius. I'm pretty sure the dog and cat are good friends by now.

All this Commie nostalgia reminds me of that joke, sometimes attributed to Polish sources, sometimes to Russian. It goes like this:

Under Capitalism, man exploits man. Under Socialism, the opposite is true.

Ha! Thank you, I'll be here all week!

Here's Something Taking Place in Belltown!

You know, ever since I got back from my trip in June, you could accuse me of profound disinterest in my own neighborhood. And you'd be right. Sure, I've been working down in Pioneer Square for most of the summer, but that's no excuse. The truth is that since my return, instead of thinking about Seattle as a collection of neighborhoods - with Belltown being the king of them all - I'm really seeing this town as a whole community - and not necessarily an interesting one. I can't help it at the moment. I'm pretty sure that will change - I mean, last year I was posting 2-5 times a day (on average) about all kinds of small stuff taking place around here. And it was very fun for me. I suppose that my recent travel experience and in particular my time in Istanbul may have changed the way I look at Belltown. OK, let's blame those wonderful, friendly Turks and not the dour, unhelpful, semi-civilized Ukrainians for this change of heart. Sure, I've lived here for 20 years and all, but I didn't really expect to become this indifferent. Well, like I said, that will probably change. And to prove that I'm at least making an effort, I give you this:

Behold, the Cristalla! When I wrote about this place a while back, I spent some time ridiculing their south wall, saying that for a ritzy condo tower, such blankness was quite unbecoming - especially since the wall was gradually turning into a graffiti magnet. But it's a new day for the Cristalla! I'm not sure what they're doing, but at least it's something! Let's give them a round of applause.

Anyhow, so there you have it: developments in Belltown! Hooray! I'm sure my interest in the community will rekindle after I return from my next trip: October, same countries, slightly shorter time away. I think the key is to not have such a good time.

Happy Fun Joy Crane!

Whenever you see his sight, you always know that something cool is happening. This is the scene on 2nd, between University & Seneca, if my eyes serve me right. It's not Belltown, but big deal. I have no idea what they're trying to accomplish, but I'd like to think that they're moving somebody's pet elephant to the top of one of those buildings. See, the trick is to get them up there while they're still small enough to ride in the elevator. Once they're the elephant equivalent of a teenager, you'll need a crane like this one. Or perhaps they're installing a cell phone relay tower or a new HVAC unit. Yeah, yawn. I want elephants on top of our buildings.

Coming Soon to the Moore!

At first, this show reminded me in a very tangential way of The Office episode where Michael has a fun run to combat rabies. The point is made over and over again that rabies is a treatable disease and that the event is completely unnecessary. I kind of felt the same way about this show. I mean, BP has at least $20 billion to give away. That much cash can smooth over quite a few financial bumps amongst those who were impacted by the disaster. Plus the oil seems to be dissipating quite nicely, thank you very much. So why have a benefit concert? Well, it turns out that the proceeds go to the Gulf Restoration Network, an organization keeping a close eye on both the government and BP. That's a fine thing. In addition to having various Seattle musicians of note (Duff McKagan, Mike McCready, Kim Virant, Mark Pickerel and my personal backgammon nemesis, Ty Bailie, among others) onstage, there will be a silent auction AND a couple guys from Deadliest Catch talking about stuff. So yeah, my verdict: necessary.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Prisoner of Obama!

Well folks, as you may have heard, Obama was in town today. What I didn't know was that he was actually visiting the Grand Central Bakery building in Pioneer Square. I work in the creaky and fabulous Buttnick Building right next door. So yeah, we were on lockdown for his entire visit. It was supposed to last 20 minutes, but ended up being more than an hour. There was quite a crowd there just to catch a glimpse. Here's what it looked like at 1st S & Washington:

This was our dilemma: we were having this all-hands meeting. They had ordered pizza and its delivery time was uncertain. Of course, the guy showed up about five minutes after Obama (none of us could see him - Obama, not the delivery guy - but the throng gave a mighty cheer). The problem was that we couldn't get our pizzas. The guy was 50 feet away on the corner and there was this Bellevue cop who kept yelling at us when we touched the sidewalk. I contemplated making a dash for it, but that probably would have landed me in handcuffs. Instead, we had to send him away, go back upstairs and be hungry. When Obama did leave, one guy claimed to have seen his hand. I saw nothing. Soon they re-opened everything: streets, sidewalks, Occidental Square, etc. The pizzas (newer, fresher ones) eventually showed up and all was well. It's not every day when your movement is restricted by the president. It's also quite rare getting yelled at by a Bellevue cop in Seattle. But despite all that, I still like Obama quite a bit.

Oh, and on the way home, I went past the Larouchies at the Market with their Obama-with-Hitler-mustache signs. I don't think anyone ever told them that whenever somebody has to resort to Nazi symbolism or accusations, they've already lost the argument. Way to change minds, dumbasses.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Your Sunday Squirrel

I went to Denny Park this morning, but all the squirrels were in church, so here is a blurrel from the past. I had the perfect shot of him, but then he suddenly jumped and dashed around. He had his reasons, I'm sure.

Don't Call It a Block Party

It's the Founder's Day Fest! There's even a t-shirt to accompany the experience. Observe:

I had no idea this was happening until they were setting up on Saturday morning. This is a great idea. This being the inaugural year for it, the merchant presence was a little scant, but was the first University Street Fair a big deal? No, I'm certain it was not. This is just great. When was the last time they closed off 2nd Ave. for anything other than a fire or some crime-stuff? Never, I tells ya! Here is what it looked like in general:

Here's my favorite booth, the medical "pavilion:"

Oh yes, and there were bands. Many of them quite loud. The stage was at Bell Street and I could hear them very well from my apartment. I spent most of the day in Snohomish cleaning out my parents' garage, but the festivities seemed to gain steam as the day wore on. Gosh, I hope this isn't the only time it happens. There were lots of people during the nineties who tried to create a street fair-like event such as this and they all failed. This is really about the only cool community thing to happen around here all year. Let's do it again next year, OK?

And ID sez peace:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coming Soon to the Moore!

Joan's been around forever. She's released something like 19 albums and worked in a variety of styles. Why doesn't she have the following that most veteran performers garner? Well, it might be that she's not that great. I remember that back in the eighties, there was a big push for the album The Key and its single, "Drop the Pilot." It was on the radio for weeks. What struck me was that even back then, Armatrading had something of a reputation as a singer-songwriter of distinction and every tune I heard from that album was completely ordinary. In addition, her harmonic vocabulary never seemed to stray from the regular I-IV-V progression that rules all of pop music. So even though there were constant claims and assertions that Joan was an eclectic performer, what I was hearing was merely mainstream pop music. I haven't heard all 19 albums, so maybe I'm missing something, but for Pete's sake, she's been in the music biz as long as Elton John, and he still fills huge venues. Joan does not. Maybe the indifference is justified.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just Another Night in Belltown

The following was sent to me by a reader who was out the other night. Apparently, the guy on the stretcher had gotten beaten up. Observe:

This takes place on Blanchard St., in front of Fontana and across the street from my building. This has it all: an injured guy, a bunch of people milling around, a shirtless guy, a cop who looks confused and a guy, who may or may not be related to this incident, freaking out and storming away. There isn't a peep about it on the police blotter, so lord knows what caused it or if there were any consequences for anybody. According to my extremely unscientific estimate, only about one out of 20 of these things ever gets noticed. And when it does, it's like, "Oh my God! Society is crumbling just outside our doors! Quick, we must have the Chief of Police come and calm us down!" Well, Diaz did that last week. He addressed problems and allayed fears - and based on what I saw, he did a good job. That was the first time. Pretty soon, he'll get tired of making the trip, and things will be out of control once again. It really didn't take that long - just till the weekend.

My thanks to Bobby for the video.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

After Hours

Sylvie Vartan. Irresistiblement

I found a new version of this tune, which is one of the best of the sixties from any part of the world. This has Sylvie lipsynching like there's no tomorrow while hordes of zombies dance in the background. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Your Sunday Squirrel

This guy followed me around for about five minutes with this peanut hanging out of his mouth. I don't know what he wanted from me. My theory is that he forgot about the peanut that he had and wanted another. How do you forget about something like that? Well, I once went into a panic thinking that I'd lost my cell phone while I was talking on it. So whatever his excuse was, I'm sure it was a valid one.

In Case You Were Wondering...

The McGuire is still there. But this time next year, it'll probably be gone. Speaking of still-there-but-going-away, there are still quite a few Zeb tags around, but I find them rapidly disappearing.

Someday, all traces of this douchebag will be gone. That's a day we can all look forward to.

From the Obvious File...

I'm pretty sure that everybody knows about this, but Belltown Feed & Seed has closed. How long were they open? Gosh, at least 17 years. I don't know whether they were put out of business by Mud Bay or simply just got tired of the game, but they're gone now. Me, I've never had pets, so it's not like I was really attached to the place, but staying open for 17 years is quite an accomplishment. Anyhow, their dogsitting business continues.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

After Hours

Pearl Bailey & Nat King Cole. Two to Tango

We tend to forget the master performers of yesterday. Pearl Bailey was one of those supreme beings. Here she sings a double-entendre song from the fifties, which happened to be a pretty big hit for her. Of course, she and Nat corn it up quite a bit for the viewers at home, but it's all in good fun. I mean, I thought Argentina was all about the tango, but hey, why mention a four-syllable country when single-syllable one will do? Besides that, what's not to like?

Coming Soon to the Moore!

You remember this guy? He came through town last year. He's the Hasid who sings reggae tunes about religious devotion. Yeah, it's every bit as terrible as you can imagine. Me, after listening to Joanna Newsom sing on the YouTube, I have been to the edge. He's not as bad as that. It's just that pop music is all about conciseness and when you have a guy singing about the "foundation of the essence of the being," it sounds kind of clunky and contrived. But I've gotta hand it to him, he does fake reggae better than most. But he's still pretty terrible.

Just a Tiny Bit Outside of Belltown

This is the scene at Westlake & Virginia:

I ask you this: is there anything more depressing than tearing up a street on a rainy Saturday afternoon? Honestly, I don't think there is.

Monday, August 2, 2010

After Hours

Hector Berlioz. Requiem: Dies Irae

In addition to George Shangrow, I just learned that a former coworker of mine died over the weekend. I hope this bit of bombast will help pave their way to the Great Beyond. And George, when I get there, I'll still have words for you. Until then, rest in peace. You too, Melissa.

Shangrow Dies

I don't know whether you've heard about this, but you can read the details here. George Shangrow was a pretty prominent figure in the local classical scene. Five years ago when I was trying like hell to put on my own large-scale music production, I partnered up with him. He ended up royally screwing me over. Because of him, the performance of my piece ended up costing thousands more and was delayed by almost a year. I'm pretty sure that the experience took 10 years off my life. I thought that at some point, our paths would cross again, so that I could clear the air with the guy. Well, that's not gonna happen. Shangrow was a great musician, a fine conductor and a nice enough guy, but he was not a man of his word. That is as ill as I'll speak of the dead. This was not a fitting end for him. He deserved better. Rest in peace, George.

Coming Soon to the Moore!

No matter how hard we try, some sounds cannot be unheard. Newsom's voice is one of those. Sure, she's quite cute and a very capable harp player. But that voice... I'll try to describe it. OK, she sounds like a cross between an angry six-year-old and a crazy person. Her tone is grating, her pitch is uncertain at all times and she's constantly singing out of her range. Listening to her is a painful experience. Yes, I know that in the realm of indie music, having a distinctive voice is very important. Singing out of tune is pretty much de rigeur - or at least there are so many indie singers who can't carry a tune in a bucket that it seems like an unwritten rule. I realize that. That's fine. But Newsom's voice truly crosses the line from "distinctive" to "terrible." Anyone going to this show truly has my sympathy.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Torchlight Parade 2010!

OK, it was totally cold. I was freezin' my ass off, sweet people. This is July! That's not supposed to happen! Anyhow, the parade occurred. And I was there. I stood by for more than an hour. There were lots of armed forces bands. There was the Army...

...and their many flags...

...the Navy...

...the Marines...

...and, uh, the Coast Guard. Well, they didn't have enough talent to assemble a band, but they managed to get people together who could carry a very large flag.

Well, good for them! Conspicuously absent: the Merchant Marine. There were also balloons:

In case you're confused, that's a killer whale, a pirate and same pirate, different position. Last year, there were more balloons. But there were fewer Seahawks cheerleaders. This year, there were too many:

In addition, there were Koreans...

...bagpiping firemen...

...young ladies from Sunnyside...

...Mike McGinn, who, incidentally, want bars to stay open till 4am...

...(following the death of my camera's battery) the Budweiser horses...

...and the wonderful Chinese contingent:

Of course, it's impossible to have a Torchlight Parade without the dragon. Here it is:

If you can possibly stand it, here's more:

Yeah, beautiful, isn't it? After the dragon was gone, the parade was over for me. I didn't even see the hydros. Besides, it was totally cold. And there weren't nearly enough balloons. The end.

Your Sunday Squirrel

Here's more of last week's featured guy. I believe I saw him today, but the photo I took this morning isn't quite as good as this. I gave him a peanut and he followed me around. A crow also followed. I decided to toss the crow a peanut and he caught it in the air. I had no idea that crows were such artists. Whenever I throw a peanut to a squirrel, nine times out of ten, it ends up hitting them in the head. Crows are larger and possibly smarter, but they still can't climb trees very well.