October 25, 2014

John Coltrane, Bono and the return of the record

670px-paolo_steffan_portrait_of_john_coltrane_-_2007

There’s been quite a bit of discussion recently about record sales, or the lack thereof. While overall, sales of music are down, the humble record, the physical manifestation of untold hours of toil and trouble is making a comeback. Of course, for some of us, records never went away. In the same week that we learned the number of records to reach platinum status in 2014 is ZERO (for the first time ever), we also learned that when there is no option but a physical copy to purchase, and especially when the artist is a legend–even if the release is posthumous–well, records sell. Lots. And when you give something away, as we just saw with U2, you devalue yourself, your talent and your industry.

Footnote: In yet another example of the age of the amateur and the decline of quality in pretty much everything, the MTV story I linked here has glaring grammatical errors. But who needs professional writers and editors, right?

September 18, 2014

Best of Ventura County 2014

VCReporter’s most popular issue of the year is now on stands and online. Traditionally, those of us on staff as well as freelancers create our own categories. These are called Editor’s Picks. This year, one of my picks didn’t make the final cut due to space allowance, so I decided to post it here.

rock trivia

Best place to prove your metal: Music Trivia Night at Bombay Bar

Think you’re the biggest Beatles fan? Who was the third Beatle to tie the knot? Consider yourself well-versed in ’90s radio hits? Guess what artist spent 60 weeks at the No. 1 position on the charts and had 14 No. 1 singles?  Sure, your skull may be teeming with music-related minutiae, but do you know which George Jones love song is often referred to as the best country song of all time? For about the last year or so, every other Wednesday night (give or take a week) a motley crew of music nerds have been filing into Bombay Bar’s back room to answer these and other burning questions for the chance to win cash money and laugh at stoners trying to remember stuff.  Hosted by local rock band Rubberneck Lions, the questions range from fairly obvious to nearly impossible and cover a spectrum of genres, eras and categories. Teams of 3-4 with names like Jalapeno Face, Pollos Hermanos, Bono Sucks and Ice-T Baggers toss $20 in the pot and the winner takes all. Teams have 30 seconds to write their answers on mini white boards until the final round when the top two teams face-off with a bell. Everyone is welcome, and you never know who you might be competing against, but when it’s the bass player for a popular metal band who also happens to work at a record store, be prepared to lose. — Michel Miller

September 16, 2014

Eyes Wide (open)

I’ve heard the theory that Stanley Kubrick was hired by the U.S. government to fake the Apollo moon landings, but I never knew that during his youth, Kubrick was a crack photographer. (If you were born later than 1970, you probably don’t understand the previous sentence. That’s OK. You have Google.) Turns out the great director of such seminal films as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining, was a staff photographer for LOOK magazine in the 1940s. You can buy the book, buy me the book, and/or peruse some of them here. I’m particularly fond of this one:

10365_66cm_ 008

August 20, 2014

Jay Adams 1961-2014

VCR_dogtown cover

100 Percent Skateboarder (forever)

Last week, while doing my morning social media rounds,  I noticed a photo posted on  Facebook by actor and punk singer Brandon Cruz of himself with legendary skater Jay Adams. I didn’t think twice.  Adams has been on my friends list for years and tends to either post or get tagged in photos on a regular basis. Soon enough, though, I found out it wasn’t a normal day. At least not on Facebook, not in Southern California, probably not in Hawaii and definitely not in skating circles.  Adams had passed away from a heart attack. He was only 53.

Only 53. The same age as my mom when she died. The same age I will be in two years. The older you get, the more death you encounter. The more death you encounter, the more you tend to think about your own mortality.

In 2002, I wrote an article for VCReporter about some discord among the ranks involved with Stacy Peralta’s documentary film Dogtown and Z-Boys.  It was a complicated situation involving big money, old wounds and differing opinions.  I had exclusive access, and three days to get it to press.

Intense as it was,  the story remains a career highlight for me. Of all the people I spoke with at length (I imagine I logged at least 20 hours of interview time), Jay Adams was by far my favorite. He was working at Black Flys  in Hawaii, , and had to periodically put me on hold to help customers. What struck me most about him was his authenticity which was immediately noticeable. He really didn’t want to talk to me, but he knew his input was important. He was probably the only one who DIDN’T have an agenda.  His humility and candor were refreshing. There was no bullshit with him. No ulterior motive.

I was not a stranger to skating culture and had spent a good amount of time with some of the old school pioneers, most notably Tony Alva (after the story published and went viral, Thrasher magazine incorrectly referred to me as an “Alva confidante”), but for some reason I’d never met Jay, so it was especially exciting to have a chance to speak to the enigmatic, notorious and baddest of the Dogtown bad boys. For all his woes, his battles with drugs, time spent in prison, broken relationships, etc., there was an innocence about  him. He was a good man dealing with the consequences of bad decisions and hard living. He didn’t have the best start in life, but he became a champion and a hero—on and off the pavement, in and out of the water.

I can’t claim to have really known Jay Adams, yet I miss him. He was a one in a million man in a world that needs a new kind of math. But, for all the tragedy he endured (and some that he undoubtedly caused), his death is not tragic. Granted, he was relatively young, but life was really, really good. He was sober, he was strong in his faith, he was deeply in love with his wife, solid with his kids and riding the best waves of his entire life in Mexico. It’s all any of us can hope for in the end.

Nearly a week later, stories, condolences, photos and memories continue to flood his Facebook page, and when I see the updates in my feed, it seems like he’s still here posting messages of hope and candid pics of his lovely wife. Then I remember.

There might not ever be another Jay Adams, but there is plenty of room for more champions and heroes.

To quote the many who knew and loved him: “Rip in peace, Jay boy.”

 

 

July 20, 2014

THIS.

March 7, 2014

It’s Women’s History Month… again

I’m not really a feminist but for some reason I get fired up during Women’s History Month. I can’t think of many things more empowering than this young lady who has found her voice at the tender age of 6.

February 20, 2014

Thank you, Robert Crumb

r crumb

February 20, 2014

the modern court of popular opinion

I’ve been getting quite a lot of traffic for the past two weeks. Here’s why:

  • gracie gold bullshit
  • gracie gold bitch
  • ashely wagner slut
  • ashley wagner bitch face
  • gracie gold annoying
  • ashley wagner had a snotty face
  • gracie gold snobby interview

These are the most commonly used search phrases to land people on my humble blog recently. I agree with most of them.

 

 

February 15, 2014

The color of money

Before last night I was mildly obsessed with women’s figure skating and declared no interest whatsoever in men’s. That’s all changed. Besides all the delicious drama (someone quit, someone fell hard etc.), one of the skaters, Jason Brown, used music by Prince for his short program, a bold move to be sure. Upping the ante on the risk factor (no, I’m not talking about personal injury, though there may be lawyers involved) was the rather large Prince logo on his back.

Assuming he didn’t get the green light from the great purple one, would anyone be surprised if repercussions were in his future? The famously litigious Artist Recently Known as Asshole is beginning to rival another musician (who shall remain nameless seeing as I once had to endure a lengthy deposition at his lawyers’ behest. Hint: his band is usually associated with sunny California and mental illness ) and apparently fans are no more immune to the wrath of his ego than corporations. Shameful behavior.

On the other hand,  Brown’s performance, was anything but shameful and altogether stunning. Flamboyant, creative and technically near-perfect, it turned me into an instant fan of men in tights on ice. Yet, inexplicably, earned him no better than 9th place. NINTH PLACE.  I could go on about the injustice but I’d really like to know what you think.

February 11, 2014

Ashley Wagner, what do you meme this is bullshit?

I like Ashley Wagner.
Not as much as I dislike Gracie Gold and not nearly as much as I love a good meme.  It was painful for me to see Gracie perform her free skate so beautifully this weekend, seeing as I can’t bear her personality, the way she glares at Wagner or the fact that she used Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” for her Olympic routine. (Syd Barrett was  mumbling in his grave.) But my woe turned to whoa when 15 -year old Julia Lipnitskaia, the Russian phenom who Gold says has no spine (she didn’t mean it metaphorically, or did she?) took to the ice and left everyone in the dust of her gold medal.
By the way, I’m bringing “you ignorant slut” back into the cultural lexicon during these winter Olympics and maybe until SNL gets funny again.

Ashley-Wagner-at-first

Ashley-Wagner-Bullshit

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