Monday, December 31, 2007

Our Santa Knocks

When Tim Santa comes to our house on Christmas Eve, he uses the door. This is why.



Saturday, December 29, 2007

A beautiful idea

Sure, it may well suck - it probably will. But I'm in. Bruce, you can put my $10 in your pocket right now.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Drunk History

An idea so legendary that I am beyond peeved it was not mine.

I've got wood

Lots and lots of wood. We had a 9 am delivery of firewood today, the picture was taken halfway through the stacking. The only place I could find on Craigslist that seemed legit was selling 80% of a cord for 200 bucks. Fall of 2006 we got a whole cord for that much, but what are you gonna do, he asked rhetorically? We enjoy our fireplace time at Chez Best. Especially in a not-very-well-insulated 1946 house.

Back from the dead

Hey! I'm back!

After a few grueling weeks of work, a non-hostile acquisition, and many trips to the glory that is the Inland Empire, I made it home for the holidays.

Next came five - count 'em - FIVE days in a row that included naps, zero work and much fun with family and friends. A massive Xmas Eve party was held too, as it is every year in the Crustodio compound. The drunkening received stellar reviews and the homestead withstood only the most minimal of damage. A success by any standard.

And finally today I am back in the office. I cannot say exactly why, as there is nothing to be done - and not another soul here. I will probably depart early so I can visit the doctor to examine what seems to be a dislocated finger. Alas, it is a mystery wound with no explanation. I woke up this morning and there it was, a misshapen mess on my right hand.

As always in these situations, A heartfelt thanks goes to Mr. Best for posting me through the deluge of work. I am back and your work was not in vain.

Huzzah!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pete Best in NOLA, Day 3

Read Day 2 first?

We got up on Friday feeling pretty refreshed and walked up Canal St to pick up our rental car. We then drove to Uptown and made our way to the Camellia Grill for breakfast. They had only recently re-opened after closing in the aftermath of Katrina. But, as far as I could tell, it was the same place I had loved from my Tulane days. The food may not be that great, but the wait staff are so excellent and quirky that it's always a pleasant meal.

As we walked back to the car, I heard my name being yelled from a passing car. I looked over and saw it was Robinson Mills, an old friend from my House Levelers years. He ran a studio in town called the Egyptian Room. I hadn't seem him in at least 12 years, but somehow he recognized me - which made me feel pretty good. We chatted a while and got caught up.

Then we headed off to take a walk around Audubon Park and hopefully work off some of the massive amounts of butter we had just eaten. It was a beautiful day and hot enough that I took my socks and shoes off to walk barefoot in the grass. Very nice. After circumnavigating the park we walked across the street to Gibson Hall on the Tulane campus for a bathroom break. Tulane was established in 1834 and has a beautiful campus, but we didn't really feel like walking around anymore, so we took off.

Next stop, the Tree of Life. This is a massive and ancient oak tree on the outskirts of the park, near the Zoo. There are actually several of these gigantic trees in this area. Generations of people have come down to hang out by the tree. To climb it or have a picnic or in my case, eat mushrooms and hug the hell out of it. One of my absolute favorite places in the world - I even wrote a song about it.

I had this obsession to take a picture of every house or apartment I had lived in during my nine years in the city. There were ten of them and we hit a couple of the early ones next.

My first New Orleans house was between Broadway and S Carrollton, near one of the classic above-ground graveyards. We stopped and took a few pictures, but I felt like we were trespassing and we didn't linger.

After driving around Uptown and the Garden District for a few hours we had worked up another hunger and headed back up to Carrollton to get a po-boy and crawfish at Cooter Browns, an old favorite college bar. Unfortunately, they no longer served crawfish and the catfish po-boy was just okay.

We then headed back down to the apartment in the Quarter to chill before the evening's activities. After a little nap time we walked over to the Port of Call for dinner. I love this place. Small, dark, crowded with a cheesy/seedy nautical theme, it just screams New Orleans to me.

Plus, you can't beat the Monsoon. Similar to a Hurricane, it's fruit juice and a ton of rum served in a 32 oz cup. Drinker beware. The place was packed but we managed to quickly snag 2 seats at the bar. I was in heaven. They have delicious hamburgers served with giant baked potatoes slathered in sour cream, butter chives and bacon bits. Making me drool as I type...

No trip to NOLA is complete without a stop at the Saturn Bar. It's in the 9th Ward, which is a pretty bad neighborhood. It's become famous as the classic weird dive bar, very charming in it's unique way. Many famous folks have visited and done photo shoots there (including the House Levelers for our "Sponsored by Abita Beer" poster). Famous for it's clutter and bizarre paintings it was closed for awhile after Katrina. Longtime owner and barman O'Neil survived the flood, but sadly died of a heart attack a few months after Katrina. His family members now run the bar and have cleaned it up considerably, though it still retains it's quirky charm. The have not cleaned up the bathroom, which is still one of the worst I've ever encountered.

The addition of video poker machines kind of ruined the vibe for me, but was enjoyed by Mrs. Best. I also missed the old jukebox with it's scratchy 45's. The giant turtle hanging from the ceiling with CANDY spelled out in neon letters was still there. Besides running the bar, O'Neil repaired air conditioners, so there were always old air conditioners and parts and tools scattered all over in the back room. Now it's all cleared out and a band was setting up to play back there. The paintings seemed to still be in good shape. One mysterious artist has many of his pieces up on the walls. He was a primitive artist, I guess it's called outside art now, sort of like the Rev. Howard Finster. One of my favorites has a giant raisin or something on an alien landscape, with what appears to be a key sticking out of one side of it's head(?). The raisin thing has one glaring eye and the phrase "You are being watch" is scrawled above it in black. Awesome.

We didn't stay too long, because we were off to see Dash Rip Rock play at the Rock N Bowl. Dash was a very big band for me when I was starting out in music. They sort of mentored the House Levelers when we were starting out, and took us on tour with them a few times. Plus, Bill Davis played on a few tracks of an album I did as Noisecandy in 1994 - including The Tree of Life!

They were unbelievably good and funny back in the day. Their live show was just incredible, especially when singing drummer Fred LeBlanc (now of Cowboy Mouth) was still in the group. Fred and Bill wrote some great songs on their early albums, but then over the years seemed to go down the novelty act/bar band road, which was a shame. I always wish they had stuck to their more serious cowpunk material. In any case, they are still entertaining. We bowled a few games while the band played, then hung out a bit to listen and chat with Bill and Eric Padua again. Then it was time to head back home and get a good night's sleep in preparation for Saturday's wedding.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

If there's a Beatle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now...

...it's just a spring clean for the May Pang*.

A brilliant version of Stairway To Heaven done in an early Beatles style.


Thanks to stupid Beatle-haters Blogtown, PDX.

Living in a chariot, down by the cloudbank*

PopCandy reminded me that this is the 10th anniversary of the death of Chris Farley. What a loss. While watching the clip below, and also seeing Phil Hartman, it made me stop and wonder. Oh, cruel Gods - how could Spade survive and these 2 geniuses die?

NOTE: the original clip I posted was taken offline by NBC, so here is a compilation clip put together by another YouTuber. The motivational speaker segment I refer to above comes in after about 5 minutes.


*The title refers to my 3rd grade ideal of heaven, which is about the last time I believed in it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Better to Byrne Out Than Fade Away

Cool article written by David Byrne about the future of the music industry. No real news here, he just lays it out really well. I think he may be smart.

Now who will keep U2 from totally sucking?

Legendary producer and musician Brian Eno has become a political adviser on youth issues to Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrat party in the UK. Because a 59 year old guy who works with bands in their late 40's knows what's up with the "kids".

Apparently, Riff Raff was unavailable for the position.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Performance Review, December 15th, 1987

I found this letter a few months ago and thought I would post it today, it's 20th anniversary. I received it from Buzz Podewell, my professor at Tulane University. I was in grad school, going after my master's in directing for the theatre.

"Dear Peter,

As we mentioned in our review, I believe you have made some progress this last term in leaning to believe in and trust the beat and tactic process as the only valid way to work with actors. And your skills in turning out shows and entertainments (the Improv Troupe) that are popular and very well-like remains impressive. I remain concerned, however, that your interest in theatre doesn't go beyond this. I keep wondering what Peter is concerned about; what Peter deeply believes in. I don't know the answer. It could, of course, be nothing more than the generation differences between us. But I can't help feeling that until you discover another burning desire to do theatre, other than producing plays that everyone will like and laugh at, you are going to remain only a very gifted craftsman.

In light of this, I think I want you to spend the vacation reading through plays that touch on something you feel strongly about. This doesn't mean that they have to be tragic or even serious. But I want you to have a personal stake in whatever you pick for the Spring slot. I know you can do a commedia (so do you); I don't know about the other.

Best,

Buzz"

Boy, did he nail it. I really wasn't interested in theatre, I was interested in being creative and having fun, but theatre was just where I ended up. I finished the program up 2 years later and got my degree, but as soon as I graduated I dived right into the musicians's life (the House Levelers had just formed) and never looked back. I haven't done any theatre in 20 years. It's weird how you can just abandon something you spent such a long time focusing on (for me 7 years of school). I guess that's true for a lot of people. It seems like it's more rare to go in the field you studied in college than not.

The line about remaining just a gifted craftsman really rings true for me, too. I don't know what I deeply believe in. That's a weird thing to realize about your self. I mean I'm concerned with the usual progressive stuff, politics, enviornment and stuff like that, but I think what I'm most concerned about is not having to put too much effort into stuff, being able to do my thing and just be comfortable. Which is kinda lame.

I've been playing music for the last 20 years, and while I have been committed to it and been in the moment when recording and performing, I never felt I lived it like a real artist. I think of people like Corrina Repp or Grayson Capps that I played in bands with, and they just seem to live and breath music so much more than I. They've followed their muse to wherever it led. I just like to make catchy songs and rock out.

I remember being so frustrated with the both of them in similar ways - for making bad and arbitrary decisions and choices that seemed to go against common sense. I realize now that they were just following their own weird sense of what was right and wrong for their art. I don't think I ever made a decision that would have made my art unlikable or unpopular, I always just wanted it to be liked. And the both of them are still going strong, while my songwriting well dried up about 7 years ago.

I guess in the long run, I should have gone into advertising or television, fields that seem to be more about craft than art.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fuckin' Howdy!

That was a catch phrase from my first band, the House Levelers. It came from this weird surfy-y instrumental song called Cliff Goes Surfin', where we intoned "Fuckin' howdy, let's go surfing" in the breaks. I have no recollection how that phrase developed, but I'm sure drugs were involved. For the hell of it, I just created a MySpace page for the band. We were active in New Orleans and the South from 1988 - 1992.

We were a very weird band, and I'm not even sure if we were good - but, we were very wild and pretty popular, and I regularly hear from old fans who find me on my own MySpace page. I uploaded six songs to our profile, so you can now judge for yourself....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Whenever you hear a bell ring, a concept dies



An unrelated big thanks to Mr. Best for posting like a true professional. Work has taken over my life lately, so he's really stepped up to the plate.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pete's Best Ten of 2007

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
This is it - the epic sound of indie rock taken to the extreme with heart and soul intact. Anthemic but still intimate. The future of rock.
Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Solo project from Animal Collective's drummer. Hypnotic, repetitive, melodic.
Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of
Singer-songriter avoids cliches and crafts a crafty record.
A Band of Bees - Octopus
The Beta Band meet Dr. Dog and spend the day jamming on The Rutles' "Living In Hope"
The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
Not as immediately catchy as the previous two, but a mature, solid record - and still heads and shoulders above any other pop songwriter.
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Another year, another excellent Spoon record.
Voxtrot
Just a solid, expansive and melodic indie-rock record. "Cheer me up, cheer me up, I'm a miserable fuck..."
Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
Originally I wrote them off as My Morning Shins, but this record is a big improvement over the debut. They dropped the reverb dirges and wrote some great hooks. Catchy as hell.
Au Revoir Simone - The Bird of Music
Not generally a big keyboard fan, but this record won me over with it's beds of keyboard and lush lady vocals. It warmed my soul.
Deerhunter - Cryptograms
This is some experimental shit, but oddly warm and engaging.

Honorable Mention: Bruce Springsteen - Magic, Caribou - Andorra, The Besnard Lakes - Are the Dark Horse, They Might Be Giants - The Else, The Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil, Mooney Suzuki - Have Mercy, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand, The Shaky Hands, Okkervil River - The Stage Names, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - Living with the Living

Plus, 2007's Top Ten "Top Ten" Albums That Were A Disappointment:

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Neil Young - Chrome Dreams II
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
KIngs of Leon - Because of the Times
Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight
White Stripes - Icky Thump
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
Interpol - Our Love to Admire
Feist - The Reminder
The National - The Boxer

And finally, since we didn't know each other that well back then, the Best Ten of 2006:


Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
Lily Allen - Alright Still
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones
Ben Kweller
Vetiver - To Find Me Gone
Tom Petty - Highway Companion
The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
We Are Scientists - With Love and Squalor
Mates of State - Bring it Back
The M's - Future Women

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tampons are funny

We've been binging on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes recently. If you haven't seen this show yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. It contains massive amounts of humor. In related news, I just saw this unrelated clip from Funny or Die with occasional cast member Mary Elizabeth Ellis. Sort of NSFW.

Pete Best in NOLA, Day 2

Read Day 1 first?

Wednesday was a long day and a late night, so we ended up sleeping in pretty late on Thursday. Plus, Mrs. Best was feeling cruddy with her cold, so we took it pretty easy. Eventually we got up and took a walk through the Quarter. First stop: Walgreens, for cold meds. Next stop: one of the dozens of numbingly identical t-shirt/souvenir stores to pick up a Cajun In Your Pocket toy to bring back for Marty, our housesitter. My old friend Steve Winn is the mastermind behind these products. Press one of the several buttons to get a different saying. You haven't lived until you're pressed the Cajun "Aieeee!" button hundreds and hundreds of times. Steve has a whole line of these now, including Mr T and Rocky. My top suggestion would be "Ahnold In Your Pocket". Those would be huge in Cali. Top sayings: "I'll be back!" "Ice to see you!" and of course, "I'm going to... pump... you up!" (Did he ever actually say that...?)

I made a list of all the places I needed to eat while in town. We then hit one of the first on the list, Central Grocery for a huge-ass muffuletta. One sandwich is more than enough for one person. It's basically a giant round sandwich filled with Italian cold cuts, cheese and their special olive dressing. There's always a long line that snakes through the store, which is in no way modernized. The shelves are filled with many obscure and interesting Italian delicacies. The guys who run the store have these thousand yard stares that look right through you as you order. They seem to be bored out of their fucking minds, serving the same sandwich day in/day out for 40 years. We headed back to our pad to eat the muffeletta in our courtyard. Those suckers are greasy as you can tell from the photo below - I think I got olive oil on the camera lens for that special soft-focus effect...

We chilled out after lunch. Mrs. Best took a nap while I tried in vain to find a decent WiFi connection. At 5pm we headed down to Cafe Du Monde to meet Grant for a cafe au lait and beignets. It's such a touristy thing to do, but as usual in NOLA, things are always a bit skewed. For such a popular destination, it's amazing just how filthy the place is. I noticed this at the Camellia Grill, too. I guess that's part of the New Orleans charm - you don't get funky without a little grease.

Maybe I'm just getting cranky in my old age, but the street performers outside Cafe Du Mond were so friggin' loud we had to move tables. It's one thing to have a little amplification, but this was like being inside a nightclub. Of course, back in the day, the House Levelers got chased off a few street corners in the Quarter for playing too loud...

Ok, it's Thursday night - time for the Bachelor party. Mrs. Best and Elise headed off to dinner with the bride, while Sterling and I went to meet up with Pete and his friends. We met in a little hole in the wall bar right outside the Quarter. We stayed there for 3 hours, drinking 1 dollar Pabsts and eating tray after tray of fried food. (Breaded and deep-fried brocolli? That was a new one.)

It's always hard to get a big group of people motivated, especially in New Orleans where everyone is loaded and drinking in the streets. Plus, we had a crew of Germans in tow, who had come over for the wedding. Just as the crew was heading out of the bar, ELO's Strange Magic came on the stereo. I don't know what it is with me and ELO, but it seems like almost everyone I know is also in total thrall to the Jeff Lynne godhead. I stood in a circle of friends and strangers as we watched Lee, the party organizer, tenderly emote along with the song, while the rest of us sang all the crazy falsetto backing parts. It was totally hilarious, and a great way to leave the bar. I was wishing for a giant boombox to carry on my shoulder, blasting ELO's greatest hits...

So we headed out onto Bourbon Street. I'll tell you right now, I hate Bourbon Street with a passion - especially after having worked in the Quarter for 3 years. But, hey, I was there for my boy - and as gross and repugnant as Bourbon is, it's never boring. (I did have fun in the old days when you could buy whip-its in the t-shirt stores.) But the endless stream of drunken people, frat boys, party chicks, tourists, scammers, street people, plus the blare of music and glare of neon lights - it's just a nightmare. Hey, I love my party time as much as the next guy, but being on Bourbon Street is like going to the mall 2 days before Xmas - and everybody in the place is shitfaced and ugly. No, thanks.

It was hard to keep the group together, every time we made a stop we'd start to go, then wait for someone, then someone else would order a drink and we'd be there another 15 minutes. Eventually we got down to a club where a friend of Pete's was playing guitar in a cover band. This guy was a really outstanding player, even though the scene was cheeseball city. They quickly invited Pete on the stage, and for the second time in 24 hours he sang Cheap Trick's Surrender! At that point, I was wondering if he was going to sing it at the wedding, as well... Pete is a great singer and is one of the few people I know who can handle Robin Zander's vocal parts. He then sang another Cheap Trick tune (I Want You To Want Me) and exited the stage to much applause. (I guess everyone I know worships Cheap Trick as well as ELO...)

Things started to fall apart around then. Lee, our leader, was well into his cups and disappeared on us. We weren't sure were to go next. The Germans were gung ho to hit some strip clubs. Pete wasn't really into that idea. I suggested we go down to the quieter end of Bourbon St, to one of my favorite places, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (which was built sometime before 1772). Pete readily agreed and we made the long trek down there. Of course, the walk wasn't so bad, since in New Orleans you can walk around anywhere with a drink in your hand. Man, I love that.

The Blacksmith Shop is small and dark with a fireplace, and occasionally a piano player. There was a guy playing that night with a bunch of people sitting around the piano. He was okay, but as Sterling said, "Dr. John called - he wants his shtick back". I requested Living Loving Maid, as I do at every piano bar. I'm obsessed with hearing someone play that sometime. I'm not sure why, but there it is.

The place was too dead and absent of chicks for most of the crew, so we took off pretty quickly and headed back to the other end of Bourbon. At that point, I took my leave. It was already 1:30 and I was doing my best to pace myself in the early stages of our trip. The last thing I wanted was a crippling hangover. Plus, we wanted to get up early and pick up our rental car and see some other parts of the city. I bid the gang adieu and walked the few blocks back to the apartment and went to bed. All in all, another very fun day.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pete Best in NOLA, Day 1

As I sit back and bask in the glow of the fireplace and a New Orleans Saints blowout of their arch-rivals the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, I finally have some time and energy to report on our trip to the Big Sleazy.

We returned a week ago tonight, and as reported elsewhere, I was suffering from an outbreak of a crippling man cold. But even through the misery of that night and the next few days, I was still aglow from the utter awesomeness of the trip. We were there for Pete and Nina's wedding. They had gotten married in Germany this summer (Nina is German), but wanted to have a New Orleans wedding for all their friends who couldn't make the overseas trip. We had lots of fun wedding activities, but also plenty of time to hang with friends and tool around the city.

I lived in New Orleans from 1986 - 1995, so I was excited to show Mrs. Best around (she had a brief 2 day Mardi Gras visit in the early 90's). After I moved to Portland in '95, I had gone back for weddings in '96 (former House Levelers and Noisecandy bandmate Sterling) and '98 (former roommate Grant). So, it had been nine years since my last visit, and here I was again - for another wedding. Weird.

Mrs. Best and I left Portland on Wednesday morning. We had an unfortunate episode at LAX on the way down. When our Alaska flight arrived at LAX there was no information anywhere on how to get to our connecting Delta flight. We asked an Alaska employee how to get to the Delta terminal and she directed us to go down towards baggage claim. That seemed a little weird but we followed her directions. At the end of a long basement hallway we were basically forced to go through revolving doors and out into baggage claim and outside of the security zone. We suddenly realized with a sinking feeling that we would have to go through security again. Fuck!

We had to walk outside for about 20 minutes to get to the other terminal and have our boarding passes reprinted for some idiotic reason. Then go back through a long security line. Of course, the tube of toothpaste that I got through PDX was seized by the LAX crew and thrown away. Great. Just for the hell of it, I argued that even though it was a 6 oz tube, because it was folded over and half empty, it should fit the requirements of being no more than 3 oz. I also explained that it was clearly a paste, not a liquid - but to no avail.

So, is that really LAX's policy - make you leave the secure area and go through security again to change flights?? Other airports let you stay within the zone and will even take you in a shuttle bus from terminal to terminal without making you leave the secure area. LAX - you are fucked. Other than that, the flight was fine, though an hour late to NOLA.

We got in around 6:30 pm and caught a cab from the airport down to the French Quarter to our rental apartment/condo. It was a small place, but nicely furnished and endearingly quirky like most New Orleans apartments. We had rented the apartment through the Vacation Rentals By Owner website, for about a hundred bucks a night. Not necessarily a bargain, but pretty reasonable for the Quarter - plus we had our own place and none of that boring hotel room sterility. There was a cute little courtyard to hang out in and for the most part, no one else around. (More on that later.) While Oregon and Washington were going through a major winter storm with some serious flooding, we had great weather down there - in the 70's and sunny.


We unpacked quickly, showered and headed out to meet Grant and Sterling & his wife Elise (who flew down from NYC) for dinner at Lilette. After a great meal and some excellent wine picked out by Sterling, our personal sommelier, we took off for Carrollton Station. On the way over, Grant played us his new cd Ballroom Dance Is Dead. It's a moody instrumental record, featuring Grant's bass playing and production. Sort of a New York no-wave/post-rock/jazz/dub type of thing - I'm not sure how to describe it, but I've been playing it constantly since we got home.


Like Grant, Sterling and myself, Pete is also a musician. He's had a long-running relationship with Carrollton Station, playing gigs, running sound, booking shows, so he had the great idea of having a night of music by, and for, his friends. A bunch of people played, including Susan Cowsill, one of my favorite singers. Susan was a member of the Continental Drifters, but more famously, The Cowsills - the 60's family act that was the inspiration for the Partridge Family. Pete's been playing bass with her for a while. He also sat in later with Dash Rip Rock, one of the original cowpunk bands. Sterling was easily coaxed up to play drums for a few songs. Finally, they were joined by Nina on cowbell, as the picture at the top can attest.


Then it was my turn to do a set. Pete had been kind enough to ask me to do some songs and I leapt at the chance. Carrollton Station was where I played my first show ever. It was with the House Levelers, and we went on to play there many, many times. So I bashed through a few songs on an acoustic guitar and at the end of the set, Sterling got up on stage and we sang 2 old House Levelers songs that we hadn't done in 16 years. Hell, we hadn't even sung together in 13 years! It was a blast, and I'm thankful everyone was drunk at the time. I reconnected with a lot of old musician friends that night, it was great to catch up with them and laugh at all the old stories. Mrs. Best was suffering through her own nasty cold right then, but was a real trouper and made it through most of the night.

Finally Pete got up and did a set. I hadn't heard him do his songs acoustically before and it was a real treat. He also took the treacherous trip down memory lane when he brought up his former Of Human Bondage bandmates Matt and Eric to do some of their old songs. Nina joined him at the end of the set and sang a rousing version of 99 Luftballons in German. Then total drunkenness prevailed, and Sterling, Pete and I got on stage and ripped through a bunch of half-remembered covers by Cheap Trick, The Cars, The Kinks and the Ramones (I played the bass so hard I developed a giant blood blister.). Everyone danced and we got very silly and sweaty. More drinks at the bar and a cab ride home. First night: total success!

BREAKING NEWS - Legendary Metal Band Bonham Reunites in London!

Tonight in London, famed 80's metal heroes Bonham reunited in front of 20,000 rabid fans. Unfortunately, only original drummer Jason Bonham was present. Founding members Ian Hatton, John Smithson and Daniel MacMaster were unable to make the gig, being replaced by ex-The Firm guitarist Jimmy Page, Allison Kraus's duet partner Robert Plant and R.E.M. string arranger John Paul Jones. For this one-off gig, they were know as The Lead Zeppelins.

Ok, enough of that tomfoolery. Fucking Zeppelin, dude! YES!!

Sure, I was never that big of a fan as a kid, but they are a truly undeniable band. Our pal Marty passed on this email with details of the Led Zeppelin set list from today's reunion concert in London.

I quickly recreated it on an iTunes playlist. That's a perfect example of why I prefer the whole iTunes/mp3 technology over vinyl and cds. It's also a perfect example of why I used to rarely get laid.


'Good Times Bad Times'
"The set started with a clip from 'The Song Remains
The Same' DVD with an American news clip telling of
they broke The Beatles' attendance record for a gig in
1973 in California. Simple stage set, video screen
behind the band."

'Ramble On'
"'Ramble On' done in extremely slow, bluesy manner,
with shards of electric guitar from Jimmy Page."

'Black Dog'
"Page wearing dark shades, quite muddy sound. Crowd
singing the 'ah-ah' bits back at Plant."

'In My Time Of Dying'
"Page is playing bottleneck guitar. Plant spoke for
the first time before song, saying 'Good evening'."

'For Your Life'
"That's not something you get to hear often these
days, Led Zeppelin giving a song its live debut."

'Trampled Under Foot'
"Before starting Plant told the crowd it was the
band's attempt to sound like Robert Johnson's
'Terraplane Blues'."

'Nobody's Fault But Mine'
"There are huge screen's dominating the O2 Arena, they
split into four sometimes, goes monochrome, colour
etc...quite spectacular."

'No Quarter'
"Following the song Plant paid tribute to John Paul
Jones, who played keyboards and bass on the track."

'Since I've Been Loving You'
"A bit of a style guide for you, all the band are
dressed in black bar Page who is rocking a white
shirt. As for the song they gone for the epic
version....very bluesy."

'Dazed And Confused'
"Settle yourselves in, we're expecting a ten minute
version of this classic... it was. At the end of it of
the song Plant told the audience 'On guitar Jimmy
Page, just as he did on 'The Song Remains The Same'
DVD which was filmed in Madison Square Garden in the
70s."

'Stairway To Heaven'
"What do you think happened? Right! From the moment
those opening notes rang out the whole audience went
absolutely crazy. The atmosphere is electric.
Afterwards Plant said "Ahmet, we did it!"

'The Song Remains The Same'
"A fairly straight version of the classic. The sound
is still a bit muddy and quiet though."

'Misty Mountain Hop'
"Plant kicked this one off by praising the job drummer
Jason Bonham has been doing, stepping into his late
father's shoes tonight."

'Kashmir'
"Yet another epic, as this song cracks the ten minute
mark. Plant introduced this one declaring 'We've got
people from 50 countries here and this is the 51st'.
Afterwards they left the stage to loud applause. Will
they do an encore? What do you reckon..."

'Whole Lotta Love'
"... of course they come back to deafening applause.
And it's an extended version of the old 'Top Of The
Pops' theme. Then once more the band leave the stage
with a visibly emotional Plant declaring:
'Thanks to everybody. Thanks Ahmet Ertegun, this one
for is Ahmet Ertegun as we remember the days when
Atlantic Records was the best label on the planet!'."

'Rock And Roll'
"Just time for one more, as after two hours the night
reaches its climax, and what a stomper to go out on."

Oh, the pain, the pain

Interesting article in Wired about the development of a non-lethal "pain beam". They claim that it may be a while before it hits the streets: "it's currently mounted on a Hummer and costs millions of dollars". Hmm, I'm not sure that's much of a deterrent. Hummer + millions of dollars = new weapon. That's the perfect equation for any number of filthy rich scumbags...

Making It Rain in Oregon

Like we need help with precipitation? No way, Jose. I'm talking about everyone going crazy with their kicker checks! We got ours on Saturday and it was pretty hefty - and sorely needed with the recent NOLA trip, xmas coming up very soon and the Grafitti Table roadtrip to Mexico set for February. We will be making it rain all month long, like good little capitalists...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Special New Orleans Condiment Quiz

First let me apologize for being off line for so long. Our trip to New Orleans was great, and I plan to post about it extensively. Unfortunately I got sick on the way home, and am now just getting back to normal. So that was about 10 days without blogging. Yikes. Thanks Crustodio, for keeping the home fries burning.

And on with the quiz....

Ok, let's take a look at this picture, taken at the wonderful Camellia Grill in New Orleans. At first glance, a typical array of condiments. You got your Tabasco. Your A-1. You have your syrup. Your mustard, Your catsup. A rack of jams and jellies. But wait - what is that bright yellow substance between the syrup and catsup? Is that... orange juice? It looks like orange juice, but why would you have that as a condiment? OK, I give it up. Excuse, me Mr. Waiter. What's that yellow stuff?

"Butter."

Butter! Jesus, that's a hell of a lot of butter to put on something. You know why butter comes in those hard little squares? Because it is so bad for you, it needs to be difficult to put on your food. That's called self-preservation. Butter should not be that readily available. It's like crack - it needs to be in small little blocks so you don't overdo it.

No wonder everything is so goddamned delicious in New Orleans - everything is cooked with insane shitloads of butter. I'm shocked that everyone in NOLA isn't morbidly obese. Every time we went out to eat we had something with about 10 sticks of butter in it. I'm surprised they weren't serving butter daiquiris in the Quarter. Hmm, that actually doesn't sound so bad...

Not counting the accents, it's like they were filming in Pete's house



Thanks, Dooce

Just One in a Sea of Pet Peeves

These knee-slapper poses for the camera have been perpetrated approximately 956,685,222 times since 1992. Stop.



Thanks, The Franklin Blog

Thursday, December 06, 2007

International Conversation

Instead of shuffling all of us high school kids down to the "language lab" to put on big-ass headphones and listen to cassettes, this would have been a far more effective method of teaching us a foreign language.



Then again, in my day, this impressive lecture would have been presented on a filmstrip. Hardly the impact we get with this educational video.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A scheduled break is just what you need

All hell has broken loose here at the Crustodio Copy for Hire Compound. Clients here, presentations there, projects dropping out of the sky and business travel on the horizon.

And Pete Best is busy livin' it up in New Orleans. What a bunch of crap.

Anyway, I stumbled across this gem while taking a sanity break and I simply have to share. I recently finished Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin, a wonderful-but-way-too-brief mini-biography, and this video should be required watching for anyone who reads it.

Slippin' one past the client



Thanks, AdPulp

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Stylin' in '76

The year is just a guess, but I do remember posing for this picture with my dad on one of our many visits to Hale Farm and Village...or was it Virginia Kendall Park? Ahh, the photo-sensitive glasses, bell bottoms - and that coat!

The haircut, however, is totally 2007.



Oh, and I'll bet even money that my dad is wearing a dickey...

Friday, November 30, 2007

This one hurts

Evel Knievel is dead.

This is the guy who would never die. This is the guy who was the perfect hero for me, jumping crazy shit when I was at the perfect impressionable age to go ga-ga over how freakin' BRAVE he was.

And jesus, he was brave. Stupid? Sure. But he made today's dickheads like Johnny Knoxsville and Bam What's-His-Name look like the pussies they truly are. Daredevils my ass.

C'mon, that jump at Caesar's Palace? Seriously.



Balls.

I had the toy too. That kick-ass toy.



And he was even in the news just days ago, settling a lawsuit with Kanye West. Mostly worth it for the frame-worthy photograph that ran with the story:



Give the man credit. He made to 69. I doubt anyone 30 years ago would have guessed he'd be flirting with 70 before he shuffled his larger-than-mortal coil.

God bless, Evel. May your heaven be ache-and-pain-free, with tons of ramps, safe landings, and another shot at Snake River Canyon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Get Yer Holiday On



Check it out - 101 (give or take) classic (some are, some aren't) Christmas videos you can watch online.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Get Creative. Can Do. Rock On.

This is more Crustodio's baileywick, but since he's apparently taking a 5-day weekend, it's up to me to post this video from the Singapore Media Development Authority. Thanks, TechCrunch.

Relaxation Fun Center

A couple times a year we set up the Relaxation Fun Center. What does that entail, you ask? Well, we drag the mattress out of the guest room and put it down in the living room in front of the tv. Then we gather snacks, beverages, magazines, books, laptops and pets. Still in our jammies, we climb in and start relaxing. If there are any pain meds or muscle relaxers left over in the medicine cabinet, they are taken. Thanksgiving leftovers are eaten.

Sort of like John and Yoko's Bed-In, but without the reporters or peace.

During this latest edition we ended up watching more tv than usual, but I had just received a bootleg dvd with several movies on it, including American Gangster (so-so) and This Is England (recommended). We also got caught up on Weeds, Friday Night Lights and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

The rest of the 4 day weekend was also very relaxing. I was working on a project, transferring some old Super 8 home movies to dvd. Mrs. Best did some sewing. I didn't leave the house for days, it was awesome. I got home from work Wednesday night and didn't leave the house till afternoon on Sunday, when I went to the gym. Luckily, my muscles hadn't totally atrophied by that point.

It was great to take it easy and rest up - because we leave for New Orleans in 2 days. We will need all the energy at our disposal to get through the wild wedding weekend...

Friday, November 23, 2007

The intertubes and print collide

I suppose this will be an everyday occurrence in the future, but for now it makes me giggle.



Bizarre side note: Comic synchronicity . I'm sure there's some joke about these two comics appearing on my wedding anniversary. But no good would come from making the comparison.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving - Brought to you by Johnson and Johnson

Product placement is so clever these days. Three cheers for the unnamed marketing manager at this major American company.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

He Will, He Will... TEACH YOU!

Queen guitarist Brian May is named chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University. He was awarded a PhD for his 48,000 word thesis, A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.

My suggestion for the next thesis? Maintaining the Same Full Poodlecut Haircut for 35 Years in the Everchanging Entertainment Industry.

His first move as chancellor? Free scholarships to all fat-bottomed girls!

One of my favorite things about Queen is that all 4 guys in the band wrote, and all 4 had hits. Everyone knows Freddie's stuff like Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, Killer Queen. But May brought it too, with (of course) We Will Rock You, Fat Bottomed Girls, plus Tie Your Mother Down and many others. John Deacon wrote Another One Bites the Dust, You're My Best Friend among others and Roger Taylor had a hit with Radio Ga Ga, plus lucked out with I'm in Love with My Car as the b-side of Bohemian Rhapsody. Roger and Brian also sang lead vocals on a couple songs per album. My favorite Brian May tune that he wrote and sang would be '39 from A Night at the Opera.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ok, yes, I am a Star Trek fan - but only the original series and not any of the other ones including the Next Generation

Both Crustodio and the Sizzler sent me this link today, so I might as well post it. These monsters looked a lot better when I was 12 and watching the episodes through the bad reception on Channel 61 in Cleveland.

It doesn't say Cox unless I say it tastes like Cox

I'm really hoping that Walk Hard is going to be as good as it could be. If this is any indication, it should be chock-full of 14-year old humor.

In other words, perfect.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Silverwomen

Cool story on Sarah Silverman, written by her sister - a rabbi living on a kibbutz in Israel. The part about Sarah's speech at her daughter's Bat Mitzvah is priceless. Also, I love this:

"When all four sisters are together, we lie on our mother's bed, with our mother, Beth Ann O'Hara, and stepmother, Janice Silverman, and talk and laugh. The fathers (Donald and our step-father, John) wander in and out, impatient for us to come into the living room with them and the grandchildren (my kids), but we want girl time. We want to laugh in the way we only laugh with each other. Now my older daughters, Aliza and Hallel, pile on as well. It makes us all happy that a third generation is growing to laugh with us."

I've laughed a lot, with a lot of different people, but there's nothing better than a moment of family hilarity. I'll never forget the time my mom reduced my sister and I to tears as she tried to demonstrate the Wechselschritt, some German dance move barely remembered from her youth.

Thanks, PopCandy.

R.I.P. Super Advertising Legend



Mr. Whipple has left the building.

Don't get into a war of words with writers

The folks at United Hollywood do their homework. They fight hard and fair. And, unlike our nightly news on a regular basis, they use facts to back what they're saying.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Stanchion Smancion

“It’s about time this franchise got a call,” Dawson said.

Man, oh man. The weird calls ALWAYS go against my Browns. Finally. F'n finally - the refs got it right and a season (and probably a coach's job) were saved.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Post After Dying

They're dropping like flies. Ira Levin passed away yesterday. While no Norman Mailer, Levin was a great craftsman and wrote a handful of books and plays that have permeated popular culture. Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives, The Boys from Brazil, A Kiss Before Dying and Deathtrap. Not too shabby. (We'll forgive him Sliver and Son of Rosemary.)

I was really into his stuff as a young man. Like they say, he wasn't a great stylist - but he had a knack for showing that evil could be unbelievable and mundane at the same time.

Rosemary's Baby - one of the few instances where both the book and movie adaptation are excellent. Couple that with Mia Farrow's close-cropped haircut and androgynous style, plus the fact she was Frank Sinatra's wife - it was an pop culture perfect storm.

Levin wasn't prolific, but he had a great batting average. I'll miss him.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Protect My Straight Marriage!

You all said it wouldn't get worse. Well, you were wrong. Dead wrong. See what happens once when we start letting the gays have our sacred rituals?

THIS! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS!

Thanks, Dooce

Don't Let Them Be Like Todd Bridges

More Strike Goodness:



Thanks, Pamie. Who, by the way, is a striking writer. Had to walk away from her first "big hit" show. I can't imagine how tough that had to be.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I love YouTube

.. and the random stuff you find. Here's our old college buddy Brad Sherwood in a Second City sketch with Steve Carell from 1991.

Not the Daily Show, With Some Writer

Lots of good stuff out there about the writer's strike. Count on the Daily Show folk to put in their two cents:

Put on a Goddamn Tie, Hipster

The times are a-changing boys. And you're grown up. Some of you have kids. Put on a damn tie once in a while, why dontcha?

As a public service, here's the best-looking tie wearer I've seen in a while, here to teach you how to tie that tie you haven't been wearing:




Please note: I'm more of a half-Windsor guy, but this'll do.

Scaring the Stupid

"There's nothing over the top about this," Bay Buchanan, Tancredo's campaign manager told CNN. "It's quite accurate."

In reference to Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo's latest TV ad:




When, still, almost a third of Americans approve of Bush's job as president, I guess it's easy to scare the fuck out of the low hanging fruit.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Little Annie's Orphans

A gallery of Annie Lebowitz's covers for Vanity Fair. It's funny to see some of those older ones where they feature Hollywood's "next big things" - some of those actor/actress's careers really went down the toilet. Johnathon Schaech, anybody? Alison Elliott? Hello...? Is there an Annie Lebowitz curse...?

Rockin' Robyn

Great interview with Robyn Hitchcock, another one of my favorite musicians of all time. He's got some interesting things to say about Portland and his current home, Seattle. He's playing with his band, the Venus 3 (which includes R.E.M.'s Peter Buck on guitar) in Seattle on November 28/29 at the Triple Door and in Portland at the Doug Fir. If I wasn't in New Orleans that weekend, I'd be there. We saw him this summer and it was a great show. Besides the wondeful music, his improvised in-between-song banter is priceless.