Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Earthquake Country

It wasn't the Big One. But it was pretty big.

It shook for a long time.

I stepped outside to remove myself from where our 70 year old stone chimney would land if it shook any stronger.

And still it shook. The windows were rattling and the dogs went wiggy (We just this moment had a small aftershock).

Our neighbor nearly fell over in her bushes.

The wiff called to check on us. She was on the second floor of a university building.

It was a 5.8, later downgraded to a 5.6 or a 5.4. The shaking lasted for about a minute.

Most if not all Cali quakes are shallow. This one was about 7 miles down.

1 in 20 chance it was a preshock to a bigger one. As the clock ticks on the chances are less. More likely it we will feel aftershocks for a week or two.

Princess and I went to the store to buy some bottled water and a first aid kit right after it hit. We had water, but not enough to sustain us during the Bush administration.

Back when I was an actor I once asked an Earthquake Professor guy I knew where was the safest place to be in a theatre during an earthquake.

He said "Outside!"

Our natural disasters are better than your natural disasters any day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ah, Fame, You Glorious Bauble

Last night we played in various combo configurations at the Folk Music Center Open Mic in Claremont. Leemie, Princess, Bro Atom Bomb, the Legendary Donita Curiouso and moi all played a song or two at some point with others of us being accompanists for each other and with great success. It was a rowdy evening with a boisterous crowd, great playing and singing and a night like Atlanta in August. We were sweatin' like rancid pork.

High points were Jerry and Ellen doing a smokin' version of I Shall Be Released and Mac doing a song about trying to square dance after many mint juleps in Tennessee.

Flash forward to today at about 3:00 PM. Leemy and I are in Trader Joe's, a good 40 miles away from the FMC, talking with our favorite checkout girl, Joanie, when the guy behind us says to Leemy "Hey, weren't you at the Folk Music Center last night?"

Leemy says "Why yes." And they guy starts telling him how great he was.

I says "I was there too!" and the guy sorta blows me off. Hmmpf. And he says "We're from Denver and we're traveling around playing at open mics all across the country."

That's great see ya later.

And in co-ink-ee-dink con multipo, on our way out, someone at another checkout was overheard saying "I been playin' the horses in Del Mar," a place where we have been known to haunt. And lose.

So Leemy and moi sang "It's a Small World" all the way to the truck, hopped in and cruised off in to the purple haze.

Billy's Dream No. 3 or 4

For some reason I parked my truck on the sand at Newport Beach just a few yards away from the boardwalk. Albie and I got out of the truck and walked over to Henry's to rent surfboards and then down the block to Blacky's to hang out and have a beer with the Dorreyman.

When we got back to the truck, the tide had come in and gone back out, leaving the truck half-buried in sand and in a sinkhole. I decided to back it out. I got in, turned on the stereo and turned the key. The wheels started to spin, throwing sand all over the place and slowly lifting the truck out of the hole. Suddenly, the truck broke free and began spinning wildly backwards in concentric circles and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was dodging traffic and people and spinning faster and faster on the beach and skillfully avoiding passersby. The spinning began a sand whirlwind that rose higher and higher into the sky and as it moved towards the ocean it began to lift water and sand, sandcrabs, seaweed, beachballs, towels, umbrellas and all manner of tourist property slowly up, up, up into the blue sky in a mad dervish of beachy artifacts. At the center of the swirl was Albie, spinning like a top and shouting at the top of his lungs "How do ya turn this thing off?!!! I'm getting carsick!!!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Liman was talking on the phone to his bud named Bunjie at about 2 AM this morning when suddenly he hears this horrifiic scream coming from Bunjie's end of the phone.

Bunjie lives in the Toolies and it seems some creep took some girl out to the Toolies to make out and the make out turned into an attempted (or actual) rape. The girl made it into Bunjie's backyard and was screaming like crazy. Bunjie turned on the giant lights in the back and found the girl naked, hysterical and very drunk (drugged?). Bunjie and his Ma and Pa took the girl inside and clothed her and called cops. The perp ran off into the Toolie hills and, as I hear it, was captured. One can only hope.

Nearly one year ago to the day Bunjie was carjacked and threatened by another creep, who was captured.

Liman says he is haunted still by that scream.

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's All Happenin' at the ZOO

Bro Atom Bomb, Pammmmmm, Bil, Lola and Lola's Squeeze and Yours Truly went to the zoo today. The one in San Diego. We all drove in seperate but equal cars so as to do our own personal part to encourage Global Warming. We are so so bad.

I headed out about 10:00 AM and zipped down the Rio Nada Expressway at a tidy 80 miles per hour with the stereo at about 97 decibels. It was a beautiful day. I did notice that the are alot of mansions being built along the freeway in the hills. This is bad. The hills were just fine the way they were.

I stopped at Larryland to do the whizz thang and to check the theatre marquee to see if I knew anyone in the show. Not a soul. They are all so young. That acting biz is a kids gig fer shure, dude.

I also recalled that now I am a member of the Larryland demographic.

I bought a can of chips and a root beer at the Larryland Market and toodled off in a southerly direction.

I pulled into the Zoo parking lot and parked in the two-humped camel section. I bought my ticket and walked over to wait for Bro by the stinky flamingos. Pammmmm and friends were already at the Zoo near the pandas. I decided to do the whiz thang again whilst waiting for Bro. As I was standing at the Whizzer (waterless at the San Diego Zoo), doing what one do at the Whizzer, my phone, which is buried deep in my pocket, goes off, playing my newest ringtone: Heath Ledger saying in his Joker voice "It's simple, we kill the batman!" It doesn't just play once, it plays over and over as I stand there at the Whizzer. The place cleared out pretty fast.

The Zoo was a great time. Of special note was the lizard outdoor enclosure containing all manner of tiny lizards running about catching flies and doing some sort of lizard mating dance whilst gazing at Bro ( Maybe Bro is the actual Lizard King). We also hung out at the Zoo's the three huge aviaries. We just sat in the big bird cages watching and listening. At first you would see one bird, then another and then all of a sudden you realize that there are hundreds of birds in these enclosures. Neat and Tweet!

As we were leaving, a skywriter was writing what eventually said "Seek the Six" so that the entire city could see it. But nobody knew what it meant. The City of San Diego is freakin' tonight!

Bro and I left the Zoo nature sated, yet hungry. So we cruised up the Pacific Coast Highway and stopped at the world famous Encinitas Cafe and ate a scrumptious dinner of mac and cheese with brocolli and roll for he and a salmon burger with tater salad for me.

As we hopped in our cars and tore out there, our waitress, a lady named Twinkles, ran to the door and waved and we could hear her say as we drove off into the sea mist "Come back, O.K.?"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Q-Tip in My Brain

Last night I had a weird dream. Usually, I only remember the ones involving nudity and the Muppets. But I guess this one was special.

I had a Q-Tip in my brain. It got stuck in my nose and somehow traveled all the way up into my brain. The doctors showed me an X-Ray that looked like one of those guys that accidently shoot a nail into their head with a nail gun. But this was a Q-Tip. It was lodged in the part of my brain that governs humor. Man, scary.

Knock Knock.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Big Mama Thornton and the Wee Teens

Today a couple of carloads of Canary family and friends, some from Rio Nada and some from the land of the Amish drove down to Newport Beach. We used to hang out at Newport when we were teeny kiddies and wee teens. I haven't been there much in the last thirty years or so, but much of it looks pretty much the same. We went looking for a parking place near the Newport Pier so as to gobble up some chili at that chili place were an ex-teen girlfriend worked for awhile many years ago.

A parking place by the chili place on a Sunday afternoon in July? HaHaHaHa!

We ended up in a parking lot gigante just North of the Wedge by the Balboa Pier. We drove around that lot like drooling feral dogs looking for a chihuahua.
We got lucky and found a space after about an hour and a half.


Forty or so years ago, near the land end of the pier, there was a coffee house called The Prison of Socrates, a small place that served tea and cider. It was one of a coastal chain of places that served up live jazz, blues and folk music (The Golden Bear and another place in Seal Beach, I forget the name, were part of that group).

When I was 13 or so years old some wee teen friends and myself were wandering around Newport during Spring Break smoking Terryton Cigarettes with cinnamon toothpicks stuck in them and drinking bubble gum root beers and just generally trying to look cool, when we found the Prison. So in we went, ordered some ciders and sat down near the stage. We were giggling because the stage was littered with Silvertone amps, guitars and even a Silvertone drum set. Silvertone equipment was very gauche in my teen days.

The lights went down and out walked four nattily dressed thin black gentlemen and a wall of a woman in a bowling shirt.

For two hours we sat digging Willy Mae "Big Mama" Thornton and her band. We had never heard of her and certainly never forgot her. She just plain ripped the place to tiny pieces.

Afterwards, we three wee teens stood out at the side of the brick Prison talking with Big Mama for about twenty minutes. What a class lady.

Hard to believe she could be sitting across the table from Johnny Ace when he lost at Russian Roullette.

So today I thought I'd walk down to where the Prison was to see if the building was still there. It was easy to spot. It's a Pizza Place now, nice looking and crowded. I spoke to the manager/owner who was very aware of the history of his place and was interested to hear my story.

I looked over to where the stage was andto about where we were seated, then walked outside to check out the spot where we talked with Miss Thornton.

My son Liam was with me. I don't think he could fully understand how cool it was to sorta relive that moment from 40 years ago. But I know he'll be doing the same things with his kids when he's older.

I can still hear the twang, shake and shudder that night: "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog..."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Canaries in San Bernardino

We're not Italian, we're Swedish.

Nevertheless, we have a huge extended family. My Pa, Charles Canary, had 13 brothers and sisters. All were born and raised in Iowa in a dink of a town called Vale.

They grew up dirt poor and for giggles they smoked cornsilk in a pipe and tipped over outhouses on Halloween. Charles and a few of his brothers were arrested one night for their pranks and were thrown in the Vale Jail. They removed the bars and climbed out the jailhouse window, quickly escaping into the night.

Grampa and Gramma Canary were married in Sweden and came to the U.S. in their teen years, landing with all other immigrants on Ellis Island. Gramps' real name was John Johnson, so the story goes, and because nearly every Swedish male immigrant was also named John Johnson, the Ellis Island authorities changed his name to John Odin, after Odinsthorpe, the area of Sweden where he was raised.

Gramps and Gramma settled snug and comfortable to start a new life in Vale. But sadly, soon after, Gramps died in a train wreck, of which pictures of the piled and bent cars were taken and passed from brother to sister and cousin to cousin as evidence of the tragedy.

Any money Gramps had accrued in his short lived USA prosperity was soon history. So, with a Joadesquian sweep, Gramma and the kids packed the car and hit the road for Ca-li-forn-i-a. Los Angeles, in particular. And on the way they changed their name to Canary after Gramma's pet bird, which lost a battle of food chain supriority with a raggedy tomcat in Fruita, Colorado, whilst Gramma cleaned her spectacles.

Nearly 70 years have past. The daughters and sons of John and Wilhemina Odin/Canary are gone. But dozens of their progeny and hundreds of their progenies progeny thrive on and prosper in shakey, smoggy SoCal.

Which brings us, dear reader, to San Bernardino.

A second Canary cousin was married last night on a hilltop overlooking San Bernardino in a restaurant called the Castaway. An elegant place with a lovely view of the valley and the San Gorgonio Mountains.

Hundreds of Canaries and Canary friends were at the wedding and the first reunion of us all after 3 or 4 years of not seeing each other. It was superb. Much hugging and kissing and catching up was done. Some have maintained a healthy crop of hair and most have their teeth. Although we are rounder and more furrowed, we still are a proud and handsome lot. Who would have guessed that such a scruffy, dirty, squawking and demanding band of blondie kids would turn out so seismo cool?