Thursday, January 31, 2008

Alert the media outlets

I am officially throwing my weight behind Barack Obama.

In case you were wondering.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Newsflash: Jim DeRogatis Continues To Suck

The news that Chicago SunTimes music crit Jim DeRogatis "hated, hated, hated" Juno is actually good news. Because if you've read this blog for a while, you know all about my deep, abiding hatred of Jim DeRogatis. The man is actually the *exact opposite* of me in the taste department in every possible regard. Everything I like, he hates. Everything I hate, he likes. Every single fucking time, without fail.

Who is this Jim DeRogatis? Well, he's hysterically appointed himself as a World Class Expert on psychedelic music while actually liking only about five psychedelic records, and considers himself to be the top expert on Lester Bangs whilst himself possessing not a single iota of Bangs' poetic ability. He's edited a loathesome book dedicated to "debunking" the sacred cows of rock (ooh! Risky opinions! "Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds both suck!" Wow -- edgy!) and continues to publish a riotous weekly column in the SunTimes that I read as a kind of bellweather of what people in the world don't think.

But even beyond all that, he's been so ludicrously wrong so many times -- I especially loved the hardly-skinny-himself-by-any-criteria critic calling out Brian Wilson for being "fat" before ripping into "Smile" -- that its a wonder people take him seriously anymore, if, in fact, they actually do.

So if he'd liked Juno, I'd have to seriously wonder if there was something wrong with either the movie itself or my own perception of it.

But nope! All is well. Hated. Phew. Sanity resumes, all is well with the world.

(The funniest part of his article, which I'm not even gonna link to but you can read if you like: He knows that nobody really talks like Juno because he talks to the youth of America! Frequently! Yeah, dude, they're really gonna be themselves around a corpulent, badly-dressed critic from the local paper.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Smooth. Frighteningly, awesomely SMOOTH.

Long-time readers and dear friends know how much I fucking love Yacht Rock, the Channel 101 web phenom detailing the rise and fall of 70s smooth music. When I say "love," though, I actually mean "obsessed:" I know pretty much every episode BY HEART, I went as Kenny Loggins for Hallowe'en two years ago and actually bought several Mike McDonald, Kenny Loggins and Chris Cross records, and if you know what a fucking music snob I am you know what a big deal that actually is.

The show's been sadly defunct since 2006, but last night at Cinespace on Hollywood Blvd. the Yacht Rock guys premiered a BRAND NEW EPISODE of the show (I won't spoil it for you -- its going online in the next few days, but let's just say fans of Kevin Bacon might be quite surprised). And -- thrill of thrills -- I actually got to MEET THE GUYS FROM THE SHOW. And by "meet" I actually mean "stalk." Trix and I wedged our way in and demanded photos be taken like the crazed fangeeks we are.

"Hi! I'm Hollywood Steve! You've caught me entertaining a freaky bearded stalker."

Me and Fake Mike McDonald/show auteur/genius J.D. Ryznar, both sporting the Devil Eyes.

Trix and I with our "Get Your Dick Out Of Your Heart" Fake Oates t-shirts!

It was AWESOME. Total geek awesome. THIS is why I live in Los Angeles, folks.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Okay, you want me to break your heart? DO you?

God -- this song. FIrst off you get the brilliance of the Roger Nichols / Paul Williams songwriting team, which if you ask me was virtually unbeatable in terms of perfect pop for a five-year stretch. Second, you get Karen's unbelievable, soul-stirring, tear-jerking voice -- really one of the most underrated set of pipes in the history of pop ('cause, you know, god forbid soft-pop ever catch a break, critically, right?). Third, you get that BRILLIANT harmony arrangement -- that swell when Richard comes in. Its really just perfect in so many ways.

Plus, I'm sorry, this might be inappropriate for various reasons, but is Karen not hot in this video? Wow.

This heartbreak was brought to you by Diet-Rite soda.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Warning: Heavy philosophical thoughts to follow.

I'll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms
I'll miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world
I'll miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home
Yeah, I'll miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone

Those lyrics are by an LA band called MGMT, and when I heard them this morning in the car, I started inexplicably bawling. Which made me think quite heavily about a particular phenomenon I experience frequently -- a kind of overwhelming nostalgia that hits me periodically, usually when I'm sort of not at my happiest. Just about anything can trigger it, from lyrics like the above to hearing stuff from childhood I haven't heard in a while ("Free To Be...You And Me," for example, or, a few weeks ago, various songs from "Schoolhouse Rock" -- Kelly, I know you know what I mean, we've talked about this before!) to visiting places I used to visit as a child (I frickin' BAWLED when I found out they finally tore down, after all these years, my elementary school playground). And its powerful. Moreso than just regular depression, or plain ol "hey, I haven't heard this song in a while" nostalgia. It can kick my ass for weeks or months at a time, and makes me reach for stupid childhood stuff like old Sesame Street episodes or old songs I used to love.

I mean, if you analyze it in a negative way -- and I'm sure some of you are currently going holy shit, what a fucking pussy -- you could see it as the sad aging throes of a man that never fully grew up, or who never came to terms with adulthood or whatever. I mean, get over it, right? You're 37, you have a kid and a life and a job and just quit thinking about this stupid shit. Believe me, I've heard it before.

However. If I was to analyze it, I'd say what the overwhelming nostalgia is for is not childhood per se but the feelings associated with childhood -- innocence, safety, lack of feeling like the entire world is bearing down upon you, etc. When's the last time you felt truly safe like you did when you were a kid? When you knew your mom and dad were taking care of you and nothing could ever happen to you (which, of course, when you grow up you realize was just an illusion and you coulda gotten killed crossing the street or from malaria or something)? When's the last time you just kind of innocently stopped to appreciate how beautiful a sky was, or how fun, to quote 60s innocence-rockers the Free Design, kites are to fly? I mean, WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT YOUR BILLS OR OTHER SHIT YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF?

It has been a long goddamn time for me. And it strikes me more and more that I miss it. Just that feeling of non-worry. Like hey, life could be like this for a while. It isn't going to abruptly change. I'm safe. I'm okay.

I suppose part of this overwhelming feeling that overtakes me periodically is that my life has been fucking filled to bursting with DRASTIC LIFE CHANGES, right? Divorces, moves, job-changes, births, deaths, god knows what. That's what happens when you're a grownup -- you realize that nothing is permanent, no routine is forever, nothing is safe, nothing is secure. This is loss of innocence, and its part and parcel of being an adult. But man, I have been through it possibly more than some people, and not in the most positive way always, y'know? (I mean, I haven't had a *really close loved one die or kill themselves* or anything, so I'm lucky -- but still.)

And part of it is that you have a vision for how your life will go when you're a kid, and its pretty traditional, right? You're gonna get married. Settle down. Have a kid or two. Stay in one place your whole life like your parents (maybe) did, and everything's pretty constant. Except that's not how it goes anymore in this day and age, is it? That's certainly not how my life turned out -- that feeling of permanence, that feeling of security -- its really not there for me, and hasn't been since, well, I left home. Ever since then I've been in constant flux, and I'm not at all sure I like it. It's exciting but its also overwhelming.

I'm guessing all of the above creates that feeling of nostalgia. But for me its really pronounced -- and most often, its music that triggers it. Almost like people with synesthesia talk about music producing colors, but for me music produces THAT WEIRD FEELING, and I tend to gravitate towards music that produces it even though in many ways it overwhelms me and makes me sad. And it isn't music that's necessarily sad IN AND OF ITSELF. And it isn't just OLD music or RETRO music either. New stuff can do it too. Hard to explain.

Eh, so anyways, I can't imagine I'm alone. I've posted "Free To Be...You And Me" on YouTube before on my blog, and it got some pretty strong reactions.

But, ah, hell, here it is again.

If you're my age -- THIRTY-FREAKIN'-SEVEN -- I bet it does something to you besides make you retch these days.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My new band!

So this the band I just joined, Silver Phial. The band is based around Patrick Cleary and Cheryl Caddick, two extremely awesome singer/songwriters who are as obsessed with the sort of psych-country-"canyon-rock"-sound as I am. Patrick is a fucking DEAD RINGER for Gram Parsons, and Cheryl sings like a fucking angel. I'm playing keys and adding a third part to their already lovely harmony blend, and our first practice last Sunday kicked so much ass we were all grinning like mad fools.

Perhaps its too early to say, but I'm all aflush with my predictive abilities re: the Cody Oscar nom -- I PREDICT GREAT THINGS.

Congratu-fucking-lations Deebs for the Oscar nom.

I can say with great pride that I was the first person to predict it, precisely one second after I read the script. I knew. I just knew.

Good on ya, Deebs. You know you rock.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Brief Word about Rachel Dow

I just found out today that an old, dear friend of mine, Rachel Dow, died recently falling through the ice on the Mississippi. That completely breaks my heart. I knew Rachel for a long time -- she was probably more a friend of my daughter's mom but I always totally loved the hell out of her. If you're from Minneapolis and you frequent Chiang Mai Thai, you know Rachel. She was the totally friendly, beautiful, vivacious waitress/bartender who had so much energy it was almost frightening. She had an amazing old soul and always knew the right thing to say at any given time. She used to take my daughter for walks around the restaurant when she was a baby, and Nadija completely idolized her. And for good reason -- she epitomized punk rock spirit and was a damn cool person to boot.

So sad and tragic. Rest in peace, Rachel.

Jonny Answers His Critics

(First off: I'm sure you all read on Diablo's blog that we had our first lawyer meeting. It went awesome. We cracked jokes all the way through it (much to the dismay and confusion of our poor lawyer), and followed it up with beer and pub food at the Village Idiot, my fave LA watering hole. If there's an award for "best Hollywood divorce ever," I expect to win it, and in my speech I'm not gonna forget all the little people. Okay?)

Second of all: since I'm an extremely public and open person who wears his heart on his bloody, sodden sleeve, I'm just gonna come out and say this. There are people out there who have a problem with the fact that I'm in a relationship. And see, here's the thing: I was not aware that love had a set of rules. I always thought that emotions were emotions, and they happened when and how they happened, and sometimes they happen at inopportune times, but such is life. But what I didn't know was that there are laws, apparently set down by some irate ancient Greek who wasn't getting any. Here they are:

1. When you split up with someone, you have to wait a certain amount of time (six months, one year, two years, ten years) before you can get into another relationship. Either for mourning, or for just, y'know, prudence.

2. When you DO date again, you have to make sure the person you're dating is somebody random -- it can't be someone you knew already, and certainly can't be someone who dated someone else you know.

3. Make sure you know the difference between real love and the following: puppy love, lust, infatuation, confused feelings, depression, friendship, "like," etc.

There are others, but those are the three that people have made me the most aware of recently. The other correlaries ("You shouldn't date someone more than five inches shorter than you," "make sure they're relatively the same age as yourself," "never go ass to mouth," etc.) are like Love Misdemeanors. Those three are apparently the big Love Felonies, and if you break them, the Love Police comes, locks you up in Love Jail, and -- I don't know where I'm going with this, but bear with me.

Look, as I said before: love is love. You can't predict when it's gonna happen. It just happens. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Sometimes its with someone you just met, outta the blue, and sometimes its with someone you knew for a long, long time. Sometimes it happens at the right time, like when you've been single for two years and you're ready to cynically give up on romance and all of a sudden BAM the right person comes along (or so I'm told). And sometimes it happens at the wrong time, like when you're in a relationship or just out of one. But it happens when it happens.

And the thing is: there's no stopping it. I mean, yeah, you can deny yourself like some kind of crazed monk, lock yourself up in, uh, a Love Monestary with other Love Monks and go "I DENY THIS LOVE! I MUST PURGE IT FROM MY BEING!" Or you can, you know, be happy. I need to knock off the metaphors right now, but anyway, let me continue while I'm on a roll.

For the record: yeah, I mourned. I mourned like a motherfucker. The 20-some lbs. I lost (and then, depressingly, gained back, all to my stomach) are testament to my mourning. People mourn in their own ways, in their own times, and I mourned as long as I needed to mourn, and then, thanks mostly to the fact that Diablo and I are damn good friends still, began the "healing process" as they call it. Which was accelerated perhaps by the fact that Diablo and I didn't spend five months screaming at each other in a court of law, preferring instead to laugh over beers and crack jokes about our breakup (it was called, yesterday, "that break-up kerfuffle." Yeah. That's the attitude!)

So then I, y'know, I fell in love. What was I supposed to do? "So yeah, I'm in love with this person, and I know for a fact that I wanna spend my life with this person but, ah, heck, its just kinda inconvenient right now, and people are looking at me funny, and there's a few people kinda turning their noses up at it -- so hell with it, hell with my happiness, hell with her happiness, hell with our feelings, I'm going to DENY THEM and ditch this person to the (k/c)urb and WAIT UNTIL PEOPLE THINK ITS MORE PRUDENT."

Um, no. See, here's the deal you may not know about me: I like to break rules. Dunno if you knew that about me, but its true. I don't make any apology for love, thanks.

Also: I'm 37 years old. And for the record (I'm going on the record a lot these days!), I was married THREE TIMES (and before you all think I'm some kind of inherently flawed individual -- the first breakup is the only one that was entirely 100% my fault. Number two was entirely NOT my fault, and number three was just this thing that was neither of our fault. So circumstances were NOT the same. If anything I'm just a hopeless romantic and never lost faith in marriage. But I digress.) and I know the difference between love and not love. I know what lust feels like -- I read pornography, thanks. I know what puppy love feels like -- I was a fucking teenager. I know what "muddled feelings" feel like, having once before jumped too quickly into a really shitty relationship in post-breakup confusion and desire to find someone the exact opposite of the person I was with. So I'm not confused. I'm thirty-seven, I have lots of relationships behind me, and I know what I want out of life and what love is and what respect and relationships and all that stuff are about.

Dunno. Does any of this make any sense? Both Trixi and myself -- and lots of other people I know and respect -- have always been the kind of people to make no apologies about our feelings for people. And I think that's something to admire rather than pity.

And yes, I am extremely happy. If you know and love me, that should be what really matters.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My girlfriend:

Trixi and I had a totally delightful (yes -- I said "delightful," you heard right!) weekend this last weekend, doing absolutely fuck-all for four days (well -- except for get totally bent on Friday, and seeing Patton Oswalt at Largo on Monday) except eat and laugh our asses off. One of the finest times of my life was spent in a Baskin-Robbins over a cake-flavored ice cream cone that's saying something. We laughed so hard we had Daquiri Ice coming out our noses. Plans are underway to relocate her out here, and if you've tried to unload a house anytime in the last -- oh, year or so? I've still got TWO of the things floating around! -- you know how much that sucks. Also, if you've tried to get a job in Los Angeles anytime in the last -- I dunno, hundred years? -- knows that sucks almost as much. So send a prayer skyward to whatever Ultimate Being you worship (purple, multi-eyed, winged or otherwise) that it all goes smoothly.

The ex:

I get, as you know, so tired that the best the fucking Cody haters can muster is going after her appearance, her name (for the record, again: "Diablo" comes from the song "El Diablo" by Duran Duran spinoff band Arcadia, and Cody is from Cody, Wyoming. And if you're gonna call out "Diablo Cody" why not "Tom Cruise" or hundreds of other pseudonymed writers and actors in the world?) or the "stripper background" which, as you know because you've read the book and/or the website and/or have been following this story for a while, is a) true, b) was basically a "social experiment" for the sake of gonzo journalism, and c) not the fucking point. Again, I am forced to cry "sexism" loudly and with great force -- nobody'd ever go after a male writer for his fucking bangs. You know? The fact is: there's no way Juno would be getting the accolades and massive popular success just 'cause everybody on the planet is suddenly miraculously fascinated by stripping. Final word.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jonny Weighs In On The Magnetic Fields

Many of you know that I'm the music crit at the Daily Mole, an awesome Minneapolis based newspaper/blog/Web2.0Thang. Many of you don't. Therefore I am pointing you at my latest review -- the Magnetic Fields' latest, Distortion.

Do I like it? Do I hate it? Find Out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sorry! Busy!

1. Found a fucking awesome band to play with, and most of the people to constitute a West Coast version of Silvergirl. More later as things develop. Promise.

2. Busy designing posters. Brain totally taxed from a week of creative thinkin'.

3. Miss Trixi is in Los Angeles, which completely thrills the hell out of me. Just five days -- for now. We gotta make this a permanent gig, and pronto. Your Faithful Writer is in love.

4. Listening to: Miles Davis, the "On The Corner" sessions. If you like music that sounds like a human soul being rent from a body, this is your gig.

Your Faithful Writer needs a drink.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

HD-DVD -- actually not a scam!!

So after resisting for a long long long time -- with the attitude of "hell, HOW MUCH BETTER COULD IT BE? It's still in your living room, my eyes suck, and there's no way its anything close to being as good as an actual theatrical print!" -- I finally purchased a TINY HD TV (seriously -- my computer monitor is bigger!) and the CHEAPEST HD player I could find (did you *know* they were available for like a hundred bucks??) and settled down to watch "Blade Runner" which was my X-Mas present from my aforementioned New Girlfriend, Trixi (reason #3456 why she rules: she texted me yesterday randomly with the "tears in the rain" quote from Rutger Hauer's death scene! Yes, geeks, envy me now).

And WOW. Yeah. It really is LOTS OF BETTER. Lots and lots of better. I mean, noticeably, appreciably better. Like tons and tons of noticeably appreciably better. The picture is like so crystal clear you can make out every tiny miniscule detail on every gland on Harrison Ford's grizzled visage.

So in conclusion: HD doesn't suck, and you should all get it. And fuck this Blu-Ray thing, its the Beta of the 00's. Er, I think. Hell, like I know!

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Girlfriend!

Ladies and Gentlemen: Miss Trixi B.

(Note: That glass sex toy was actually filled with tequila. Promise.)

(Other note: for those of you who know him: I have finally morphed into Darren Roark. Mission complete.)

(Another other note: This New Years looks really festive, doesn't it? It doesn't show that I was actually *deathly horrifically ill* from bad ravioli all evening.)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Why Should I Like It, vol. 1

(ed. note: Yes, my Christmas was WONDER-FUCKING-FUL, as was my New Years. More on that later. Promise.)

Um, okay, today begins a new feature of Hatesexy, in which I talk about an album I just do not like no matter how hard I try, and you all, with your far superior and more intellectual taste (I mean, heck, you read me, right?), try to explain to me why I should like it.

First album we'll discuss: Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam.

I just. Do. Not. Get. It. I've tried -- I've listened to the thing like 20 times. I've tried listening to it as a freak-folk album, as a techno album, as a lo-fi album, and all the spaces in between. I've tried to dig into the songwriting, to the singing, to the production. I've read all the glowing reviews calling it a psychedelic cracked masterpiece and gone back and relistened with fresh ears.

To me, it sounds like two total fucking nerds who got a freaking casio and slopped the damn thing together with that paste the retarded kid from your class used to eat. And while that sounds like it might be charming, I don't hear a single charm. It sounds graceless. It sounds clunky. The rhythms jar, and not in a good way. It's all too loud and ugly, and also not in a good way. The synths sound like they were used by people who have only had synths DESCRIBED to them, poorly, by someone in a different language. And the voices GRATE. Oh, how they grate.

To quote Butthead:

"They should, like, try harder. Uh huh. Huh. Uh huh huh."

(Points, btw, for using a totally out-of-date pop culture reference that hasn't been relevant in about ten years, if that. Take THAT, Diablo Cody.)

So, folks: What am I missing?