Monday, June 26, 2006

He Was Lost, But Now He's Found

I found my friend P. Justus Price after 25 years of nothingness. He got out of Rio Nada while the getting was good. Went to Eureka. Then, and this is where he made a mistake, he returned to Rio Nada for a woman. And like most things in town, it didn't last. So he made like a sheep and got the flock out here.

He has been hiding in Sacramento working for Willie B. Now he's an environmental lobbyist.

P. Justus was in LA doing political stuff at Paramount Studios and when he was finished, we met in beautiful Claremont at the famous Folk Music Center. We goofed around with ukuleles and bazoukis, talked with FMC Jerry and then tootled around the corner to a place known as The Press, a trendy, hip, hep and tasty bistro. Megan the waitress brought us a bottle of Ravenswood Merlot and sliced her finger open upon opening the bottle. Could it have been a cheap tip ploy? Did she take us for a couple of chump hayseed touristas from Sunnymead?

Maybe. We were talking loud and cussing a lot.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Princess Canary Takes a Dive

One of the true joys of summer is having to get up at some ungodly hour every morning to take your non-driving teen progeny to some place on the other side of the Universe when you should be sleeping til noon.

Such is the case with Princess Canary, who has decided that water polo is the sport for her.

Last summer it was cross country at 6:00 A.M. This summer it is water polo at 7:00 A.M.

This morning I stayed at the pool to watch her play. She has decided to play goalie because she played keeper in soccer and it must be the same. She also thinks that goalies do not have to swim as much as the other team members.

And you know what? She's pretty good! She's only been playing a week and she was blocking shots from the left and right. Some pretty hard shots from 10 feet out. No problem!

But I'm a little worried. She is just getting over a pernicious case of shin splints from running. I am afraid that, with all this swimming, she might get a case of fin splints.........

Get it? Fin splints. It's a pun, see. Shin Splints-Fin Splints...Hey! Hello? Can you hear me? Is this mic on? Testes, testes, one, two. Whew! I'm stinkin' up the house! Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Canaries on Rye With Cheese

The Canaries showed up at The Backstreet last night with a hankerin' to pluck and grin. Luigi Canarioso (He's adopted) was playing some Italian guitar tunes from a long time ago for the crowd as they chomped and chatted round their sandwiches. They did a bunch of that, nearly obliterating the graceful virtuosity of Senor Canarioso. But the tips seemed reasonable.

At Luigi's first break, the Canaries grabbed the stage. I played a rendition of Del Shannon's "Go To Pieces", but the key was lowered a step due to a capo malfunction. So the money note was chump change. Still, a few went to pieces with me.

Brother Atom Bomb of Reflection followed with a snappy run through of his standard, the "Oobie Doo Song" from the Jungle Book. He really rips with that one. It's to bad he can't dance.

Liam Canary sang "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" with aplomb. He gets better everytime he sings. The genetic propensity for song is rearing it's lovely head with this kid.

We closed the evening with a three part harmony version of "I Shall Be Released" which was sweet. But I must confess to a wee bit of air uke, as the chords fled my head. And there are three of them.

Princess Canary then suggested we do "Amazing Grace" a cappella, which we did. It didn't have the polish of previous performances, but the song always floats the soul. And Princess was lyrical on her part. Again, the lovely head of genetic propensity.

There is a small memorial near the entrance to the Backstreet near the jasmine. It is a dedicated to R. Dyer, a man who was unmatched in his involvement in theatre in Rio Nada. He was a mentor of mine during the acting days. He cast me in my first play at Rio Nada College. It was Man of La Mancha, the first of 8 or so productions of The Man... I have done over the years. He was a teacher, a director and an actor. He used to sit in the chair below the plaque every afternoon, pulling slowly on his cigarette. He died a few years ago. In his last show he played a somewhat daffy and addled actor named Henry. His last line, just before his exit was "Remember me in light!" He was gone a few months later.

Blasto Pasto

Schnikeys! Geggy A. called today! He was a baby employee at ol' Licorice Pizza. I have not talked to him since Mike's (of Spike and....) funeral on the bluffs of La Jolla some 15 years ago. I think he shot some photos of Dickey Mo and yours truly shagging some golf balls with a 5 iron off the bluff and into a group of surfers. There were few casualties. We'll have to try harder next time.

Geggy is working for an indie record company designing cd covers. He was recently in a near tragic Vespa crash. He was seriously injured but seems to have recovered save for some creaky joints and a gap where a tooth ought to be. To visit his website and view his photos go to:

He was the youngest of the young when he worked at LP and he had/has a driven passion for music that is impressive.

We talked about that great parade of characters that worked at Licorice Pizza: the late Drew Blood, Roderick, Nancy, Dickey Mo, Vivage, D. Davis, Little Ricky, Che, Coco DeLuxe, Reading Rob the Fly Fisherman... All faded away to their own glories and passions.

Never shall such a troupe emerge from the ooze again.

Bless 'em all.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

200 Motels

"Lord have mercy on the people in England for the terrible food these people must eat!"

200 Motels was released around 1972 and actually played at the De Anza Theatre in Rio Nada. Impressive! Rio Nada was like Zappa's "everytown", Centerville. A real nice place to raise your kids up.

Zappa had a loyal and large following in Rio Nada. His dad even taught at a Catholic high school in town. Whenever a new high school is built, there are municipal rumblings about naming the school Zappa High. Tommy Level bought four $100 seats at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to hear Frank and the L.A. Philharmonic play a concert version of Lumpy Gravy (Unfortunately, Tommy altered his conciousness the night before and showed up at the Chandler a day late and $400 hundred dollars short). My friend Luigi still sends Frank a card every Mother's Day and he's been dead for 10 years now (Frank not Luigi).

I was pretty anxious to get down to the De Anza before everybody else. I asked this girl, Oona Withers, if she would be my date. She had luxuriously long brown hair and a deep sultry voice. Perfect! But she lived way out in Cabbageland, so I had to hurry.

We got to the theatre 10 minutes late. I bought the tickets and hurried into the theatre. There were only two people in the whole place. Len Bass and his girl friend Joanie Waylon. Like my friend Tommy, they had altered their conciousnesses and became a bit edgy. 200 Motels is not what you would call a visually or musically soothing movie.

Oona did not care for it either. She said "Take me home." So I did.

She later became a successful real estate agent in Santa Barbara. Perfect!

So last night I am surfing the cable and what should I see? 200 Motels! Keith Moon dressed as a nun, Ringo disguised as Zappa, Flo and Eddy singing their livers out. Cheesy sets and Eclectic Helicopter montages. Bare breasts and potty humor. And Jimmy Carl Black... watta drummer! All so oblique and atonal and lovely in its own angular way.

And, oh, the Big Finish. Still gives me shivers! The entire cast, chorus and full orchestra are captive in a concentration camp replete with barbed wire and faux Nazi guards. Zappa is in one of the guard towers conducting the whole zany mess. Just as everyone says throughout the movie, he MADE them do it.

It can't happen here!

The Canaries: Bigger that the Beatles!

The Canaries are the serendipitous musical decoupage of Billy Canary (baritone ukulele and juevo), Brother Atom Bomb of Reflection (concert and soprano ukulele), Liam Canary,(guitar and harmonica), Princess Canary (saxomaphone and fashion plate)and anyone else who walks in the barn door. Everybody sings.

At times we play together and at times we play solo. We break up a lot. We get together a lot.

One day, we will be bigger than the Beatles.

The Canaries have appeared many times at two places: The famous Folk Music Center in Claremont, CA. and a joint called the Coffee Dump in Rio Nada, which is, ironically, closed on Saturday for decaffeinated religious reasons. So we drink beer that night.

A partial list of songs heard from the general direction of the Canaries would include Satellite of Love, Brother Can You Spare a Dime, Maggie's Farm, Space Oddity, Little Red Riding Hood and two partial renditions of Home On the Range.

Musical influences swing wildly from Wild Man Fisher to Neal Sedaka, from Sun Ra to Camper Van Beethoven. They do showtunes too.

The Canaries: Bigger than the Beatles!