Monday, January 31, 2005

Tony Levin - Part II

Yay - Eric uploaded the pics for me.

Eric and Tony Levin

Julie and Eric

Julie with pick in mouth

Louie and Tony Levin


CJ Tywoniak

Julie and Kenny Liu

Julie and Kenny

Max DiMezza and Louie Graff

Julie's boyfriend Matt and CJ

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Last night with Tony Levin...

So last night my son Eric and a few other Rock School kids opened for former King Crimson/Yes bass player Tony Levin and the California Guitar Trio, featuring former King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto. And yes, I took a million digital pics but I have to wait for Eric to come home and upload them for me. (one of these days I'm going to learn how to do that myself...sigh...)

Anyway, this was pretty exciting because Eric basically put this show together while Paul was in Salt Lake City, Utah for the screening of Rock School at the Sundance Film Festival. And he was the only drummer on all five songs. The show also marked the return of retired rock school greats - my daughter Julie and boyfriend Matt on bass and my "adopted" son, Louie, on guitar. They were joined by other rock school legends Kenny Liu and CJ Tywoniak on guitars, and Max DiMezza and Mike Connor on bass.

The venue was completely sold out because the concert is part of a Prog Rock series being promoted on the east coast and from the minutes the kids opened with a cover of King Crimson's 21st Century Schizoid Man, as is usual and customary with Rock School All-Star shows, the crowd went nuts. They were so awesome, clapping and whistling and of course, wearing the looks of utter disbelief I love so much. That's the great thing about being at shows away from the downtown Philadelphia venues the kids usually play -- I get to see the shock and awe (ha!) on the faces of people who can't believe what they are hearing from kids.

We had one weird moment after the show and we were all kinds of upset about it but Tony Levin keeps an on line journal so I was waiting to see if he wrote anything today before I reported what happened here. I'm glad I did and a cool head prevailed because as you'll read below, he had nothing but nice things to say.

What happened was this: The kids ended the show with King Crimson's Elephant Talk, which Tony Levin wrote. They do an awesome rendition of it...Louie rules in that song with CJ on guitar, Max DiMezza is just amazing on bass, and Eric brilliant on drums. Studying with Gary Chaffee and Rob Brosh at University of the Arts is giving his playing a whole new dimension. So after they finish the song, the set is finished and they walk off the stage. Tony Levin is leaning against the wall and what does he say to them?

"You guys played that too fast."

Louie said something to him, I'm pretty sure it was "Hey, I just found out I was in this show three days ago and had to re-learn the song"...I'm not sure exactly what he said but Louie also hasn't been in a show since the summer when he graduated Rock School.

Tony replied "Did you guys ever listen to the record?"

Yeah, Tony, like only a million times. They love your music.

So it was kind of a crushing remark but in retrospect, I think he was being the crusty teacher, the elder statesman rock and roller, wanting respect from the kiddies who just nailed some very difficult music. And besides, and of course this is only my opinion, but since when are you supposed to play a cover song note for note? Aren't you supposed to do your own interpretation? All I know is, both Eric and Louie were a bit shaken...but they won't be when they read Tony's blog entry. I guess I should only post the pertinent part, but it's kind of interesting so I'm posting the entire thing. Also, as a side note, drummer Pat Mastelotto couldn't have been cooler, letting Eric play his trillion dollar drum set and being really kind, supportive...and impressed.

Tony's Journal:

Jan 29, Pennsylvania Turnpike

This tour, the California Guitar Trio plus Pat Mastelotto on drums and me on bass, has had three shows so far this week. I'm writing an update from my car (Eric, our tour merch person and general helper, is driving now - I see we've put over 900 miles on my car since we began.)

On our drive down to Anapolis for the first show, Eric told me of a funny coincidence: the last time he was there was way back in 1990, when he went there for a show of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe - never imagining that sometime in the future he'd be driving back there with the bass player, and that we're even doing one of the same pieces, Heart of the Sunrise in the show.

I've got very few photos because the stage isn't well lit - so I'll stick to mostly a journal report of this tour, rather than adding separate pages of photos.
Things got off to a lively start when the band arrived in Anapolis from all over the place - we drove down from New York State, and the others flew in from various cities. But we soon found that the drums were delayed in shipment, and had not arrived. Made for an interesting first soundcheck - Pat spent the day on the phone, looking for a local drummer who could lend us his kit. And, we know from experience, it's a hard call to choose where to try for delivery on Pat's drums - some bands have spent whole tours with instruments following them around, never connecting up with the players!

We found drums, of course, and the show went fine. The following shows were the same situation - borrowing drums at each. Hopefully Pat's drums will arrive in Kingston in time for Saturday's show.

Second show was in Morgantown, West Virginia. Very nice small theater, and a fun show for us. There was a Spinal Tap moment, however. After the first five songs, Pat and I leave the stage and the trio does a few pieces on their own. There was no proper dressing room to disappear to, just a hallway parallel to the venue, with locked door to the outside. Pat went off somewhere and I sat making a phone call. It was a bit loud, so I removed the chair propping open the door into the venue. Sometime during that call, I came to realize that the door was self locking, and there was now no way out of the room. Knocking on the door did no good - couldn't be heard with the volume of the show. I thought ahead to the setlist - it was a group improv that they expected me to return for - would they come looking for me, or think it was my improvisation to not appear? I thought, ah, I'll just the venue on my cell phone, to tell them to come unlock my door -- but, embarassingly, I couldn't remember the name of the city we were playing in! (I told you this was a Spinal Tap moment.)

Obviously, I'm not doing this web update from that room, so I was indeed rescued (choosing the right quiet moment in the music to knock loudly on the door was the trick!)

Next show was at Coatsville, Pennsylvania, at a "School of Rock". We met some very nice and talented kids during the day, and spoke to them quite a bit. (Should I have instructed them to never get locked in a dressing room?) Amazingly, the opening act, comprised of some of the students, aged 16 to 18, played a King Crimson repertoire. Included 21st Century Schizoid Man and Elephant Talk! Wow.

Now we're heading for my home area, Kingston, NY, where we'll play at Keegan's Ales - a great local brewery I've played at before.
More reports soon.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Oh no! RIP Jim Capaldi...

FUCK! I just got the news that Jim Capaldi died. I am so depressed you have no idea. I saw him with Dave Mason in concert a few years ago and they were as awesome as ever. My love affair with Jim goes back many years, back to when he was a member of Traffic. Of course the pic I posted above is of a much younger Jim but this is one I adore.

He died today after a brief fight with stomach cancer, his publicist said.

The 60-year-old Capaldi, born in England of Italian immigrant parents, died in his sleep at the London Clinic in the early hours with his wife and family at his bedside.

Capaldi, whose driving rock rhythms and songwriting ability helped make groundbreaking band Traffic a household name in the 1960s and '70s with -- among others -- Steve Winwood and Dave Mason -- also had an illustrious solo career.

"Steve rang me when he heard this morning. He is very upset. They were very close and had plans to record and tour again. He was praying Jim would recover from his illness," Winwood's manager Mick Newton said.

Capaldi was inducted with Traffic last spring into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, just five months before being diagnosed with terminal cancer. A reunion tour was in the works but was scotched last August due to Capaldi suffering what at the time was described only as a "severe gastric ulcer."

When Traffic finally broke up in 1974 after releasing 11 albums, Capaldi busied himself with solo projects. Traffic eventually reformed to tour in 1993-94, and Capaldi toured in 1998 with fellow band founder Mason.

Julie's annual birthday lunch at Le Bec Fin

So today is daughter Julie's annual birthday lunch at Le Bec Fin, Philadelphia's only five star French restaurant. We started this tradition seven years ago when she was twelve and even through it means re-mortgaging our house every year ha ha, it's not one the two of us are willing to break. For all you food freaks out there, here's their luncheon menu.

Mille-feuille de saumon fumé, courgettes roties en salad
Layered terrine of house smoked salmon served with roasted zucchini salad

Cassolette d’escargots aux noisettes en hommage a Monsieur Cleuvenot
Cassolette of Snails in a Champagne and Hazelnut Garlic Butter Sauce

Ravioli de homard, sauce ivoire
Lobster ravioli with mushroom, ivory sauce

Ceviche de coquille Saint-Jacques, huitres, composte d'aubergines, mouse de safran
Scallop ceviche, oysters, eggplant compote, saffron foam

Soupe du jour

Terrine de chevreuil et legumes vinaigres
Venison terrine with pickled vegetables

Galette de crabe aux haricots verts
Chef Perrier’s own crab cake, a “signature dish”

Filet de rascasse roti, compote de rhubarbe, feuilles de moutarde, sauce a la citronnelle et wasabi
Roasted filet of red snapper, rhubarb compote, mustard greens, lemongrass and wasabi sauce

Saumon rôti, fenouil et tomates cerise confits, puree de navets parfumee al a moutarde d'estragon, emulsion de romarin
Roasted salmon, fennel and cherry tomato confit, parsnip puree, tarragon-mustard, rosemary emulsion

Filet de loup grille, racine de lotus au vinaigre, fricassee de celeri et kholrabi, suace "Huitlacoche"
Grilled stripped bass, pickled lotus root, celriac and kholrabi fricassee, "Huitlacoche" sauce

Mahi-Mahi roti, purée de pommes douces, epinards nouveaux, jus de betterave parfume a la gousse de vanille et au vinaigre de Xeres
Roasted Mahi-Mahi, sweet potato puree, baby spinach, beet reduction perfumed with vanilla bean and sherry vinegar

Filet de boeuf poele, gratin de legumes oublies "pommes de terre, topinembours, celeris", sauce Bordelaise
Seared beef tenderloin, gratin of potato, sun choke and celeriac, Bordelaise sauce

Carre d'agneau roti avec sa pomponette farcie aux fruits secs et noix, jus d'agneau a la lavande
Rack of lamb, collard greens stuffed with dried fruits and nuts, lavender lamb jus

Duo de veau et de ris-de-veau, fricassee de marrons, puree de prunes, jus de veau epice
filet of veal and sweetbreads, chestnut fricasse, plum puree, spiced veal jus

Supreme de poulet roti, fricasse de choux au lard, salsifis et airelles auctes, jus de poulet parfume au vinaigre de framboise
Roasted chicken breast, napa cabbage fricassee with bacon, sauteed salsify and cranberry, raspberry vinegar emulsion

La charette de desserts
Our world renowned dessert cart

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Stinkfest 2005

Here's a digital pic of the police dusting the office for the intruder who pooped at my desk:

Holy crap! (and I mean that literally)

So today I have jury duty. I'm terrified because while this has happened before and they've never picked me due to my clearly prejudicial views (i.e., working in a lawfirm for over two decades), I could still be sequestered in a murder trial (since I've never done any criminal work, only civil) and this just can't happen. It's my daughter's birthday and my son is opening for Tony Levin tomorrow night. So with my stupid luck...oh god...I don't even want to think about it. I just wish I could bring my laptop with me but they won't even let us bring cell phones.

But that's not all. Let me take you back to last night.

I was sitting at my computer, kicking back with a few drinks, talking writing with my best cyber pal as is our custom every Wednesday night. The telephone rings, and I don't even look at the caller I.D. because I'm so mellow and so into my conversation with my friend.

"Hello, Robin?"


"This is your boss."

Uh-oh. Immediate paranoia. I see by my AOL buddy list he's still in the office on line. What didn't I do? What did I forget? Am I fired? What?

"Hi, Craig. What's up?" (it came out as a squeak. Plus I was a little drunk and you know how it is when you know you're high and you try to act normal? Arghhh....)

"I know you have jury duty tomorrow and won't be in, but um, you'd better bring some cleaner with you on Friday."


"Yeah, the police were just here. They've dusted your phone for fingerprints. Someone took a crap near your desk and then sat in your chair and started making telephone calls."

"What??? What the hell....what do you mean?" Okay, I started rambling because basically, when he told me the police dusted my phone for fingerprints, my brain immediately started blocking everything else out and in my inebriated state, wondered if I was in trouble for something horrific but of course sober today, like, what the fuck could that have been anyway.

"Well, I stayed late tonight to do some work, and I heard the front door to the office open. This guy comes in, he looks like a street person, and he starts going in all of the offices in the suite. I came out and asked him what he was doing here. He smelled absolutely horrible, but he had a box with him and he immediately started picking up papers and said he was maintenance. He then asked if he could come in my office."

"Oh my god, Craig. Were you scared to death?"

"Yeah, I was scared. But he didn't threaten me, he pretended to be doing work but I was watching him. But the smell got worse - I could smell shit."

"And then?"

"Then I look out of my office and I see he's sitting in your chair, making phone calls, rifling through things on your desk. I called the police and he ran out the door. I called downstairs to the lobby and had the doorman hold him. He told the doorman, 'You can't hold me, all I did was take a shit in the office' and he smelled so bad he twisted away and ran. Apparently he'd already stolen something else from other offices in the building, too - he had a laptop."

"Wait...he took a shit at my desk, no toilet paper, and sat in my chair?"


"And he used my phone?"


"Oh my god!"

"So when the police came, they dusted your whole area for prints. You're really going to want to bring in some Lysol or something Friday."'re really going to have to buy me a new chair, desk and phone, dude.

No, seriously, how can I sit there on Friday? Hopefully they will have the cleaning service in the building come up today -- I mean, really, how can an office full of people work with that stench -- and it'll all be gone when I come back. Which hopefully will be Friday and I won't be holed up with eleven other jurors in some heinous murder trial for two weeks.

But why my desk? Jesus Christ, there are ten other desks in that suite. Couldn't he have sat somewhere else? (kidding, kidding...this is really terrible and I shouldn't joke)

Or, um, couldn't our building have better security? (That is no joke -- this isn't the first break-in we've had)

Craig must have been so totally frightened there all alone at night with this character. Thank god he wasn't dangerous, just crazy. The intruder, I mean. Ha.

Oh well. In two hours I have to report for jury duty. To further help my chances of not getting selected, I'll be wearing my John Lennon Revolution t-shirt and ripped jeans.

I so, so, so do not want to do this, but under the circumstances, I'm kind of glad I don't have to be at the office first thing today. At least not before the cleaning people get there.

Anyway, I guess more news from Sundance and the music world later tonight.

Assuming I don't get sequestered.

Oh god.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hahaha - I told you so...Dave Mustaine Part II

So here's Megadeath's Dave Mustaine's post in his forum about recording with my kids. Remember when he originally posted "don't be too critical, they're just kids"?

Hahahahaha - have a read as to what he says now. I told you so!



Well, today was very interesting indeed. I was approached to sing over a cover version of "Peace Sells" for a movie/soundtrack. This version was done by young kids from the "Real" School of Rock, the story that Jack Black based his hilarious comedy film on.

Things got interesting when I got to the studio and Lance said that the producers never sent the drives with all of the tracks on it. Uh, whoops?!?

So, hours are grumbling by, and we finally get the track downloaded off of the internet, but naturally it is not in the correct format. Now, a great deal of time later we finally start working and things are clicking. I only had to make a slight adjustment to the arrangement, but excluding that, THESE KIDS WERE TERRIFIC!

Thank God for that, because from the moment I walked back into Phase Four, I absolutely hated it. It seems that the owner has built a patio over the parking lot, got a liqour license, and now runs a very public bar over what SHOULD be a very private studio.

I asked him (the owner) about having the place locked out (which means I am the only one there - that's how I like to work) because I heard a lot of people talking and he said, "I specifically said there was a bar now, and no one was to come down these steps, blah, blah, blah, biddy-boop a lop, an a jizz jazz a razz." I guess you can see I turned off my ears while he was playing hot shot telling me about his "bar" meanwhile a wanker bartender comes down the steps right after his sermon.

I had hoped to have time to go see Mike Learn, Mike Ferguson – the fabricator making the new drum rack (so we can get rid of the one Nick played), and get my ears lowered, but the day was completely shot. I did however see Ralph Patlan and we talked about a lot of cool stuff coming up. I wish you all could meet this dude; he is awesome!

Anyway, "Peace Sells" has now been officially sung by me with the "School of Rock" kids and will be hopefully in yer sweaty mitts sometime soon. If not for the awesome version that these kids did, then just for the fact that they are little guys playing Megadeth.

Thanks to my dear friend Bob Chipardi for the tremendous opportunity to get outside of the box and do something that I would not normally do. And thanks to the kids and the "School of Rock" for even thinking about me. I look forward to meeting you all personally soon!

So that's the latest from Dave. Ha! And err...these aren't "little kids", the average age is 17, but okay, whatever. In other news, in case you've missed my other billboards posted all over the web, the soundtrack comes out April 12.

And Eric will be playing with the Rock School All-Stars down in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 19 at the Broward Center. I don't think I can make it but if anyone reading this is in the area and wants to attend, drop me an email. There is also talk of an east coast tour the week before the All-Stars go to Germany August 4-7 which would be NYC, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., etc. and as soon as I get more news in that regard, trust me, I'll post it here.

Rock School at Sundance - Part II

(Daughter Julie on bass and CJ on guitar on stage in Germany at the finale of the movie)

Oh yeah! The great reviews from the Sundance Film Festival for Rock School keep rolling in. This one just posted today at "Ain't It Cool News"

Rock School (5 out of 5)

Wow. This is one hell of a documentary.

Anyone that has seen School of Rock, meet Paul Green – the real Jack Black. Paul is a teacher of 120 students; all kids under the age of 17 who want to learn how to play rock. Not some pansy 311, Sheryl Crow, shitty punk band music as they will all tell you – real rock and roll. They’ll start off learning some Black Sabbath, work up a bit to some more advanced Van Halen and AC/DC with some serious solos, and end playing some of the top of the line Frank Zappa where the best of the school hope to go on to Germany to play at a 5 day Zappa fest. You might not be a fan of some of the music, but I dare anyone to see these kids and tell me they aren’t impressed.

Paul and the kids are all a perfect choice for any documentary. Any parent that would want their kids to learn how to play the guitar or drums would likely never send their kids to Paul’s school – as he’s more of an in-your-face coach dropping the F bomb every other word and screaming his lungs out at any kid that argues with him. But he’s also hysterical. You question if he’s just putting on a show in front of the cameras or he’s always like this, but his comments and remarks fly out at a Robin Williams pace and you’ll simply be shocked by half of what he says. Even if he comes off as a complete asshole half the time, you can see that he is just a kid at heart and I found it very hard not to like him – even if I would never agree with half of his teaching methods.

Out of all the kids, the one that will likely stand out the most is CJ. This kid is destined for fame, fortune, and Playboy models – he is single handedly one of the best guitar players you could imagine seeing and he’s only around 12 years old. His fingers fly up and down the guitar and he could carry a 10 minute solo with every single member of an audience with their jaw on the floor. Simply amazing.

The documentary has an excellent structure as it shows us the starting point for some of these kids and the all-stars that head off to Germany. As a filmmaker, you couldn’t be luckier to see this story unfold in front of your camera as it would be such a remarkable story for Hollywood that they likely wouldn’t believe it. Sure, these are just kids playing rock and roll – but what we see look like little prodigies kicking their feet through the doors and sticking it to the man better than anyone could imagine. A number of kids grow up and want to become rock stars, but none of them would ever expect to be this good and be able to handle the caliber of music as the ones featured here.

Simply put, Rock School is the Super Size Me of this years Sundance. It’s a simple story told wonderfully and could not have been executed better.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Rock School at Sundance!

So since I know Rock School is currently being shown at the Sundance Film Festival, I've been trawling Google for articles. I found a good one which I've pasted below!

Oh, and by the way, the above is the official poster for the movie, and if you squint real hard, you can see my son, Eric, and I do believe daughter Julie is in there somewhere as well but this computer monitor sucks and I can't see it. Hahaha - of course that's both Julie and Eric to whom the reporter refers when he says "immensely talented kids" well as the other Rock School All-Stars of course.

And for the record, the Jack Black film totally ripped off Paul and his Rock School, but that'll all come out when the movie premiers in April. And guess what? There is going to be a big Philadelphia premier! I don't live in fantasy world after all!

I see this has already been reported on, so I'll say that I agree with everything the reviewer, Castor, stated on this one. This is one of those wildly entertaining documentaries, easy to watch with plenty of laughs and engaging characters.
I?m sure the filmmakers wanted to name this School of Rock? (It IS about the Paul Green School of Rock, whose website is but of course there was the Jack Black film that stole the title and even the concept. I got the impression during the Q&A that the filmmakers were more than a little annoyed about that, but I personally think it will only help the film since people are now acquainted with the idea of rock-n-roll instruction for kids; the marketing campaign will practically write itself.
One of the biggest challenges for the filmmakers was getting the rights to use the rock songs in the movie. As it turned out, Eddie Van Halen was a real jerk and wouldn't let them use a smokin riff that CJ (the prolific 12-year-old guitarist) performed while, at the other end of the spectrum, Black Sabbath was awesome and gave them free reign on their whole discography. In the end, song accessibility helped shaped the direction the movie took and, I think, made it a lot more interesting by not having the most obvious bands or songs highlighted (ie AC-DC, Aerosmith). I'd never heard a Frank Zappa song in my life, but the concert in Germany was a huge highlight of the film. These kids are immensely talented and it will be very interesting to see what happens to them after they get out into the real world.
There are plans to open more Rock Schools nationwide: right now there are a cluster of them in Pennsylvania/New Jersey, one in San Francisco, and a branch will be opening next month here in Salt Lake City, of all places!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Gustavo Schmidt

Wow. This guy is incredible. I stumbled upon him while reading a great lit 'zine, Failbetter, which is featuring his art in their current issue. Anyway, here's a link to more of his work:

Gustavo Schmidt

Ooh ooh, one quick note....

I'm Mistress of the List this week at Phaze Books, meaning, you can chat with me all week via the Yahoo Phaze Group discussion board. Please follow the link and feel free to ask me anything...hahahaha..within reason, that is.

Hmm..I just realized that by following the above link, you still need to register for Yahoo Groups if you aren't already a member. Here's the link to Phaze Books. Scroll down and you'll see the Phaze Discussion List link. (There are two links, one is Phaze Announcements, the other is the Discussion List which is where you'll find me this week). We do not kill you with 100 emails a day but if you join and don't want to receive emails with all of our posts, you're given the option at Yahoo to just be able to view the message board so I suggest you handle it that way if you don't want to hear from us all via your mailbox.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.



This week is just too exciting for me. A foot of snow over the weekend, the Eagles in the Super Bowl, Friday brings Julie's annual birthday lunch at Le Bec Fin, a five star French restaurant (more on that later in the week) and of course as previously posted, Friday night Eric's got the big gig opening for Tony Levin and the California Guitar Trio.

Only bummer is Thursday I have jury duty. How that happens I have no idea. I've worked in a lawfirm for over two decades and doh, do you think I'm prejudiced and would not be a fair juror? Err...duh. First of all, I know probably 90% of all attorneys in Philadelphia. Secondly, if I was assigned a personal injury case, of course I'm going to be in full favor of the Plaintiff since I've been a Plaintiff's paralegal all of these years; if I'm assigned a criminal case, well, everyone knows I'm a bleeding heart any event, they of course never pick me but they won't let me leave, either; I have to sit there all day, bored to tears, after which they hand me an $11.00 check for my time. The worst is first thing in the morning when we get all these forms to fill out to determine our eligibility and to allegedly "learn a little" about us. Half the people assigned along with me will be illiterate so they make us watch a step by step film on how to properly fill out the form.

(1) Put your name on line one.
(2) Put your address on line two.

And this goes on for 100 questions. By the time they get to #15 I'm ready to start screaming and banging my head repeatedly on the desk.

But I do like when they get to the meatier questions: Do you have any religious reasons which would keep you from serving?

Yeah, if I swear on a Bible it means nothing because I'm an agnostic. about radical political beliefs?

Why, yes. I'd like to see every Republican boiled in acid.


Oh, one more funny story about that. Remember last week, I made fun of all those stupid rubber band bracelets people are wearing - red ones for Republicans, blue ones for Democrats, yellow ones to support Lance Armstrong's foundation?

Ugh. I'm wearing a green Eagles one. Okay, the money went to charity a la Lance Armstrong. My whole family is sporting them, even Eric and my "son in law", Matt. And now we have to wear them for the next two weeks, until the Super Bowl.

Oh god. I'm such a fucking dork.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Please join me tonight!

I will be chatting tonight, along with my other partners in crime at Phaze Books, at The Romance Studio from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. eastern.

C'mon. You know you can't resist hanging out with me for an hour. And you know you're dying to buy and read my book, right? I'll even autograph you name it.

I'm on my knees here...does that help?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Today's news...

That's Tony Levin, formerly of YES and King Crimson, and the California Guitar Trio, featuring Pat Mastelotto also of King Crimson.

In case you're not a complete music nut/historian like I am, here's a link to all of the bands with whom Tony Levin has played/recorded.

So why am I posting this?


Oh god, I'm so freaked out. And there's a Meet and Greet the Band party before the concert so be prepared for a ton of personal Slick photos shortly thereafter. Eric will be playing three King Crimson songs in tribute: 21st Century Schizoid Man, Indiscipline, and Elephant Talk. With Eric will be Louie, my adopted son(YAY), Julia, CJ, and Kenny Liu (all from The Tour) on guitars and my daughter's boyfriend Matt will be on cool is that. Eric is constantly compared to Bill Bruford on drums, when he's not being compared to Ginger Baker and Keith Moon that is. Of course he's got the whole jazz thing going on as well, which is what makes him stand out from the crowd. For those who don't know, Bill Bruford is the former drummer of King Crimson and YES.

What's really wild is that I found out via Google that Tony Levin keeps a daily blog on his tour experiences, and if I read about my son next week I may be impossible to live with. Okay, I'm already impossible to live with...I just mean the whole motherly bragging thing may get a little obnoxious and out of hand, but oh well, too fucking bad.

As for daughter Julie, while she won't be playing bass on this gig, she'll be recording it. (Well, her brother, not Tony Levin. Somehow I don't think that will be allowed). Her career as recording engineer is really taking off though of course she's still actively pursuing her band as well and things are really coming together in that regard...more on that later. I'm hoping to be able to post some MP3s in the near future.

In other news -- we're expecting up to fifteen inches of snow today in Philadelphia. That just doesn't happen here. Between the news of Eric's concert next week and the snow, I may die of excitement.

And of course there's the Tall Poppy cocktail party going on all weekend. Tonight I shall attend as the Ice Queen. (yeah right...hahahahaha - as if. More like the naked, intoxicated snow that's an idea. Maybe later today I'll go out and build me some interesting snow people and freak out the yuppies on the block)

And as if this isn't enough, tomorrow is the NFC Championship game with the Philadelphia Eagles having a bona fide chance to make it into the Super Bowl. Wait... no more talk about that. Don't want to jinx them. is good.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I went to bed a Robin and woke up a Poppy....

So apparently, the Aussie word for a "high achieving woman" is a Tall Poppy and my nomination as Best New Blog of 2004 has qualified me for a membership in their club and attendance at a huge gala affair as evidenced by the post in the comments section in my TUMS and Vodka rant below.

Hahahaha - I knew I was high, but high achieving? Well, okay, I'm willing to play make believe. Anyone who really knows me is well aware I live in fantasy world, so this is a perfect fit. I've given myself the rather uninspired name of "writer poppy" which hopefully will appear on their site later. Update: I've just asked them to change it to "psychotic writer poppy".

But oh dear, it appears I will need both formal attire and a date with whom to stroll down the red carpet. This is going to take some thought. I mean, obviously I will wear something black and clingy with a plunging neckline, but who do I want on my arm? I mean, should it be someone I actually know or since this is cyberdreamworld, can it be like, JD Salinger? (Though if you've read author Joyce Maynard's autobiography, he's not a great lover so forget it!) Can I bring back someone from the dead like, say, John Lennon or George Harrison? Hmmm...anyway, so you don't think I've totally lost my mind, here's the link: Tall Poppy Diaries

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Grasping for TUMS, vodka....anything to ease the pain

Yes, cowboy boots with the Presidential seal.

This is what Dubya will be wearing with his tuxedo at his inauguration festivities.

The hell with TUMS and vodka, it's too late. Pass me the puke bucket please.

The only good news is, he's got the lowest approval rating of any President about to be sworn in.


Can you say...theft? Fraud? Brother Jeb in Florida? Brainwashed trailer park mentality in the US of A? The filthy rich I don't give a shit about anything but myself and my money part of the population? Or the poor, elderly Americans he scared into voting for him because only He (ha) can protect us against the terrorists...said elderly who will soon see their Social Security and Medicare benefits cut despite his empty campaign promises to the contrary.

Oh, and I read the list of entertainers performing at these heinous inaugural events. Of course Ted Nugent, whom I already hated for his music (pardon me, that's not music, what was I thinking), pro-hunting stance and his right wing political views, will be on stage along with ZZ Top. I used to like ZZ Top. Somewhat, anyway, at least their early albums. Well, add them to my list of FUCKWITS TO WHOM I WILL NEVER LISTEN AGAIN.

Okay, it's been years since I listened to anything by ZZ Top but this seals the deal.

Lyle Lovett will also be performing but he's such a non-entity to me I wasn't even going to mention it. But I read his former wife, the brainless "look at my smile I practiced it in front of the mirror for thirty years and it's all I know how to do in every movie I'm in" Julia Roberts, is close friends with Donald Rumsfield and just bought some real estate from him - apparently they're neighbors on adjoining ranches.

Yee-haw, I'm just so fucking proud to be an American.



Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Today's headlines courtesy of Yahoo and Netscape news:

(1)High Court Asked to Overturn Roe v Wade.

I can't even talk about this right now but trust me, I will at a later date.

Next headline on Netscape earlier today....
(2) Who Cares about the President at his Inauguration, See what Jenna and Barbara will be Wearing!

Err..I'm more interested in what they will be drinking and snorting. Oh please oh please let them disobey Daddy and misbehave. I can just see that smarmy smirk. "Well, they're chips off the old block, what can I say?"

And finally...courtesy of AP News, Netscape, Yahoo, Reuters, you name it:
(3) F-bomb explodes at inauguration bash.

Regarding #3, maybe you were as excited as I was when you first read it...thinking...what, a security breach...did someone attack a Republican? But nooo...scandal has erupted in Washington after Brett Scallions, lead singer for the otherwise dull modern rock band Fuel, dared to swear during an inaugural celebration hosted by first daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush (a pair who surely never use foul language) last night (January 18). During Fuel's set, Scallion, obviously overcome with excitement, yelped "Welcome to the greatest fucking country in the world!"

Gee, I'm sure sad I missed that concert. Also on the bill was Hillary Duff.

"Luckily, the President, who is apparently far too fragile to withstand off-colour language, was not yet in the building when Fuel played their set. He did, however, reportedly say that he thought Hilary Duff was "fantastic"...

And tomorrow, Mr. Far Too Fragile gets sworn into office for another four years.

Do you see what I mean? Armageddon.

I got nothing...

Yep, I got nothing. No news, either exciting or otherwise; I've been working on the sequel to Three Days in New York City and some short stories so I haven't been in "gossip" mode.

Funny story, though. I was trawling Google images for a pic to go with "I've got nothing" and found the above, which is a two song CD by Iggy and The Stooges. The tracks are "I Got Nothing" and, err, "Cock In My Pocket".

Well, yeah, if you have a cock in your pocket instead of where it belongs, then man, you really do have nothing. Unless of course it reaches all the way...oh god, never mind, I'm in no condition to go there right now.

Bleh. My weak attempt at humor at 6:03 a.m. on one cup of coffee.

So I'm bugged because I can't take my own advice about Black Thursday - having missed last week with the flu, I'm not about to call in sick in protest, but I will wear a black arm band. There was a whole movement before the election that we should wear red on Friday to protest the President, but since I now associate red with Republicans and winning states and I never looked good in that color anyway, forget it. I see a bunch of people are now sporting those blue bracelets a la the yellow Lance Armstrong ones which signify you are a blue state voter or at least a Democrat, but have I mentioned how much I fucking hate fads? I'll wear the black arm band on Thursday as my own private protest to make myself feel better. Not that I own a black arm band...I guess I'll tie a black scarf around my forearm which is sure to bring snarky comments from the lawyers in the office...yikes...forget it...I'll just skip it and walk around miserable all day.

See how I'm rambling here? I told you I got nothing.

Next week, though, I will be hosting a chat every day via my publisher's website, but I'll give more info on that as the time approaches. And it will be more like every night as opposed to morning or afternoon. Somehow I don't think my boss will take kindly to my hanging in a chat room all day in an effort to sell my book so I can quit my job and write full time.

Ha! There I go living in fantasy world again.

Monday, January 17, 2005


The Idea Is Simple.
Just Like The President.

This January 20th:
- Call in sick to work
- Don't buy anything
...and write to your newspaper, your
senator and your representative
to tell them why.

Here's the link for more info: BLACK THURSDAY.


My freaking life...

Yes, that is a broken pipe. is a national holiday for Martin Luther King's birthday but I was out of work all last week with the flu so I'm at the office.

About two hours ago, we got an evacuate the building notice, which usually means a false alarm or a toaster fire where some idiot forgot they had a bagel cooking, but when we called downstairs, they told us Don't worry, it's just a pipe which burst.

Couple of things about that. One, when we get that notice to evacuate, strobe lights go off continuously, the biggest of which is right over my desk. I feel like I'm in a nightclub during the disco years (or in my parents' basement during the pot smoking years). I've had this thing blinking in my left eye since 11:00 a.m.

Two, a broken pipe means no toilets or running water. So even if you use the ladies room and don't flush like some of the morons here are doing, you can't wash your hands afterwards.

As for me, well, there's a four star hotel a few doors down from my office, The Bellevue, and I found a lovely ladies' room on the 13th floor with scented soaps and everything, including a woman sitting there who expects a tip everytime you pee. (Yes, I'm well aware there's a great joke waiting to be told as concerns that last remark but I can't think of it so feel free to post one in comments if anyone reading this is so inspired.) Round trip back and forth to the hotel only takes about 10-15 minutes and costs $2.00 per tinkle. Ha.

Except for the fact that it's like twenty below zero outside and I drank an entire pot of coffee this morning...ARGHHH...and oh god, I just realized there's asparagus in my lunch salad.


Saturday, January 15, 2005


So tonight is kind of a bummer. Eric is playing in one of his last shows for Rock School - the music of Jesus Christ Superstar - and I'm still not feeling well enough to go. Luckily his dad and Julie are there or I'd really feel guilty. I missed his last show, too, but that was because it was King Diamond and well - Eric knows it and he's cool with it - I can't handle their music. Of course I'm not crazy about the music of Jesus Christ Superstar, either, but I've never even missed one concert in all these years let alone two in a row and I would have been there for sure tonight if I didn't feel like such crap.

Oh god I'm getting old. I never thought I'd ever hear myself utter those words. When I was younger I thought hmpff, I'm never going to get old because I'm always going to love rock music blah blah never occurred to me that rock music as I knew it would change. Or that I would be so crotchety. But it's true. I'm losing patience with everyone these days and I know it's me. Okay, I think it's me, but I'm not one hundred per cent sure. It's entirely possible the rest of the world has gone stupid.

Nah, it's me.

Meanwhile, Eric's had this amazing week. Monday he took the train to Boston (like over a five hour ride) to have a drum lesson with Gary Chaffee. He mapquested the walk to his house and it was over five miles but Eric walks all over Philadelphia and is used to it -- but what was really wild was that in Boston, there was snow everywhere. He's so cool and unafraid; he walked all over the city; went to his lesson, which was this three hour, really intensive incredible thing, and then walked five miles in the snow back to the train station for another five and a half hour ride. He left the house at 6:00 a.m. that morning and got home 2:00 a.m. And Gary Chaffee is taking him on as a student! This means he'll do this once a month. It freaks me out that a seventeen year old is so dedicated to his art. Hmm...just thinking about this now is making me less cranky already.

Then, he did rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar all week, played one show last night after which he played another gig at the Troc - a benefit for Pig Iron. He played drums on two songs - White Lines and Sympathy for the Devil. Then he's doing another show tonight...he's in fucking heaven.

In other news, as I continue to live vicariously through Eric and Julie, they told me the movie soundtrack they're recording will be released April 12 by Jive Records, and that the official movie premiere is April 15. I started thinking that there's going to be a big Philadelphia premiere with a red carpet, etc. and then I realized I totally live in fantasy world.

But hey, you never know -- it could happen.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Last time I checked...

Yeah, last time I checked, I'm still living in America and I do believe we still have free speech here. But as far as our REPUBLICAN government is concerned, well...

Since I'm a writer, stay tuned for an essay on said subject.

Do I sound pissed? You betcha.


Update: You know what? I have other things to write at the moment so I will work on the essay at a later date. But here's a very interesting article I found in my preliminary research: God I hate Republicans (my own subtitle)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I want one of these for my desk!

Hahahaha - I could have designed this thing.

Sooo...unless a miracle occurs, I have the distinction of last place in Best New Blog 2004. But not to sound like a crappy actress, it was so cool being nominated and better to be last place then mediocre in the middle.

What did I just say?

I have no idea.

Remember a few days ago I posted about my pal Ellen Meister? Well, she's got an unbelievable mention at Hobart Pulp. Go take a look and order this great magazine for God sakes!
Ellen and a few other, oh, not so famous (ha ha) authors

I have left my sick bed...

Okay, even I can't stay in bed for four straight days.

So today's news:

(1) I have a tongue in cheek interview in the Santa Fe Writers Project today, courtesy of fellow writer Alan Baird and I invite you to please check it out. Hopefully it will also entice you to buy my book!

(2) The kids (well, not by name) are once again mentioned in today's Philadelphia Daily News as recording their movie soundtrack and now the name of Deep Purple's Ian Gilliam has been added to the mix as he's going to record "Highway Star" with them next week. Don't know the song and I'm gonna admit it, I was never a Deep Purple fan, but I'm sure I will be one now.

Or not.

Ugh, I really am sick. Physically, I mean. We already know about mentally. It's been confirmed by several people, even me.

Anyway, more later.

I hope.


Sorry...I've been battling the flu all week.

Updates on everything as soon as I can sit in the chair for more than a minute without feeling like I'm going to fall the hell off.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Julie and C.J., performing at Zappanale, which is the finale of Rock School, the movie.

Yeah! Finally! When you go to the Newmarket Films website, you can read the synopsis of Rock School, and oh hell, I see they've pushed the release date back to April 15. Tax day? Yikes! Ha. Anyway, here's what they have on their site, which, interestingly enough, is basically just how I describe Paul in my memoir, The Tour.


Rocks Stars. Guitar Gods. Kids. At some point in most everyone's life, we dream of becoming a rock star: feeling the roar of the crowd; basking in the adoration of legions of fans; experiencing the adventures of life on the road. Now imagine fulfilling that fantasy as a child. Welcome to ROCK SCHOOL.

First time feature documentary filmmaker Don Argott traces the ups-and-downs of the Paul Green School of Rock Music, a unique institution founded in Philadelphia in 1999, dedicated to teaching children ages nine through 17 the ins-and-outs of rock and roll.

That’s rock and roll, kids. Not hip-hop. Not Britney. Not Limp Bizkit. But a thunderous roll call of musical greats: Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd. Black Sabbath. Carlos Santana. Frank Zappa.

ROCK SCHOOL follows an entire season of classes, in the process establishing school founder, director, and self-proclaimed “überlord” Paul Green as one of the most complex, contradictory, and unforgettable characters in recent films. A whirling dervish of manic, pinball-machine energy, Green is at once sensitive and verbally abusive; generous-spirited and mercilessly critical. As tornado-like as his tantrum-filled teaching style can be, however, Paul’s commitment to his student’s goal of achieving musical greatness is never in doubt.

Paul’s thorny relationship with his students is the true subject of ROCK SCHOOL. For while the sight of nine-year-olds performing Black Sabbath songs outfitted in full heavy metal regalia is charming, ROCK SCHOOL goes deeper: posing tough questions about the nature of prodigal talent and flamed-out youth. Is Paul—a failed guitar God himself—fostering his students’ gifts or inhibiting them? Is he living vicariously through his students? Or using the school to fulfill the rock and roll dream of suspended adolescence?

Filmed cinéma vérité to provide an intimate portrait of this one-of-a-kind instructor and his eagerly aspiring students, ROCK SCHOOL reaches its climax in Bad Doberon, Germany, where the School of Rock Music honor roll is invited to perform the music of Frank Zappa. This special festival dedicated to the prog-rocker’s oeuvre features Zappa legends such as Ike Willis and Napoleon Murphy-Brock. . .and the kids prove they can rock with the very best of them.

A meditation on talent and teaching, ROCK SCHOOL is a celebration of youthful promise and steadfast dreams. It is also a kick-ass music movie that should be played loud!

ROCK SCHOOL is directed by Don Argott and produced by Sheena M. Joyce and Don Argott.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Oh hell...

Yes. That is the international symbol for the flu bug.

God damn it, it found my house. Worse, it found me.

Be back later. Must go upstairs and pass out.

Figures. I have the usual gossip of the day but I'm too sick to share at the moment. Just came down to check my email and no one even wrote to me.

Worse, I am in LAST PLACE in the current 2004 Best New Blog contest.

What, I have no friends? I'm not cheating? What?

The foot fetish guy is running away with second place.

Please help me. And please buy my book. And if you know of any who still make house calls, please send a doctor to my house with some medicine.


Sunday, January 09, 2005

Tonight was Caribbean night at my house....

So…I know you’re all dying to ask: How is it that you had Caribbean night at your house on Sunday?

Well, it all started with a gift certificate from Kitchen Kapers, an upscale store for aspiring gourmet cooks. Matt gave one to Julie for Christmas because this is her latest hobby. I guess it's her back up in case rock and roll stardom doesn't happen, I dunno.

Actually, no, let me say that it all started with my new stove, which Julie insisted I get for Christmas, so that she could begin her new career as a professional hobbyist chef.

Because I am me, the new stove sat near the entrance to the kitchen for a week while the old stove remained connected in the kitchen because (a) there are only so many hours in a day and (b) I was terrified by what might be behind the old stove and (c) I was also afraid, the stove being gas, that something would happen in disconnecting and re-connecting process that would cause us all to blow up.

So things have been tight around here as this is a fairly small house. Oh yeah, let me also add that the dishwasher died last week. Now, I will definitely be getting a new dishwasher. But first the stove had to be dealt with. In the meantime, I’ve been begging people around here to wash their dishes as they use them, but, well, as we all know, no one ever listens to me. I give up. The latest excuse is “I don’t want to think about the germs and I can’t make the water hot enough.” Oh yeah, and “the sponge smells”. (even though it's brand new and I throw the old one out every day).

Therefore, things are not only tight, the countertops, etc. are cluttered.

Now. Let us get back to Julie’s gift certificate. She spent an hour in Kitchen Kapers with Matt and couldn’t decide how to use it. After all, she still lives here, and face it, I have most everything.

Well, okay, I don’t have the $400.00 set of knives she now wants (but she’s very lucky at the moment I do not har har).

So she asks me to go with her and help decide.

I found the perfect thing right away: An ice cream maker.

I mean, what else could this family possibly use?

Julie is so excited, she gets home, goes on line for recipes, finds one for coconut ice cream, and hence, the beginning of Caribbean night as she starts to plan a whole meal around dessert.

This was Friday. She has to go to Rock School to record a show that evening and Saturday, so she decides to make this meal on Sunday for all of us…Matt, and even possibly Eric’s new girlfriend, who just got back from a vacation in Ireland. But as she reads the directions for her new ice cream maker, she learns that there’s certain prepping to be done – the mixing bowl has to remain in the freezer 24 hours; the actual ice cream mixture itself should really marinate and chill in the refrigerator, etc.

So she decides to make the “batter” for the coconut ice cream on Friday and leave it in the frig until Sunday.

She works really hard on this; toasting coconut, cooking eggs…it’s a whole involved process. It takes her over an hour, but she finishes up, goes to school, says “Bye Mom, I won’t see you tonight, I’m sleeping at Matt’s after the show…see you late Saturday night, I can’t wait until dinner Sunday can you?”

I smile and give her a hug.

Let’s fast forward to Saturday night at midnight. I wake up for no reason at all, which is weird. I haven’t seen either Julie or Eric since Friday, and I know midnight on a Saturday is way too early for either of them to be home.

But I have an uneasy kind of insomnia. I never get out of bed when I can’t sleep – I merely put on the TV, the CD player, or read a book. It’s also very unusual for me to have insomnia anyway….I wake up at dawn to write so I can never make it past ten o’clock at night usually and I’m dead to the world at 12:00 a.m.

Anyway, for some unknown reason, something told me to go downstairs.

I see Eric first, standing by the dining room table. And all I can hear are Julie’s sobs in the kitchen.

“What’s wrong? What is it?”

Eric points down at the carpet.

We’re both standing in two inches of coconut cream.

“I spilled it, I spilled it,” she cries.

“I can see that. Eric, get me some paper towels. What happened?”

“I just wanted to check on it and the kitchen was so messy I came out into the dining room and the new stove was there and I had no room and the bag opened and all of my ice cream spilled…all of my hard work,” she cried.

Oh God.

Meanwhile, I know I can’t look at Eric because we’ll both laugh. It’s not funny, we know that, just like we also know she’ll stab us if she catches us so much as grinning…but we get nervous, we giggle.

Eric mops up the mess while I try and calm her down until I tell him to go to bed and let me deal with it.

Julie is inconsolable but I’m like, Jules, we’re both wide awake, let’s just clean this up and you can make a new batch.

“But we don’t have the ingredients…:”

“What do you need?”

“Cream, coconut…”

“Julie, this is our house you’re talking about. We have things like cream and coconut the way other people have milk and eggs. They’re our staples, baby.” (hence my high blood pressure but let’s not go there).

Anyway, I stay up with her while she makes the ice cream mixture all over again, and discusses the rest of her planned meal. For like an hour. Make that two hours.

Jerked chicken skewers, home made pineapple salsa, salad with baby spinach, clementines, walnuts, and jasmine rice.

Okay, I’m cool with that. Even though it’s now 2:00 a.m. and I know I’m not getting any more sleep.

The next morning we finally deal with the new stove. Take the old one out and don’t find anything dead behind it but do find, oddly enough, toys from when the kids were babies which made me cry. A wooden block with a “J” on it. A pink plastic teacup. A doll’s shoe. I guess they must have somehow gotten kicked under the stove when itty bitty Julie and Eric would zoom through the kitchen in their Big Wheels.

So she’s all set for her big dinner when the phone rings. It’s Matt. He’s at his dorm, sick as a dog.

Ay yay yay, Caribbean night it is cursed, senors and senoritas.

But she woos him with promises of milkshakes made with the new ice cream maker to be served in bed, so he comes over anyway and she takes care of him. He decides he feels well enough to have dinner up there as well, and then when he has his milkshake, even feels well enough for Jules to make him hand cut french fries. Hahahahaha – I love those two, I really do.

Do not love not having a dishwasher, though.

Arghh…next project.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Hahahaha - apparently Dave Mustaine has never heard these "kids"...

This is too funny. Dave Mustaine of Megadeath does daily posts on his website. Have a look at this:

Gear and Rock School

The last of the touring gear showed up here in Fallbrook yesterday. And excluding the new gear that we had to get, (James bass cab cases) only my horses are left to complete my move back to Cali.

I really miss Arizona already, and I will be trying go back and visit all my friends, fans, and the land out there that I love. Other than that I am readjusting back to California life. Remember, I am a California native that was born in San Diego, so I just have to do some re-adjusting.

Now, some news: Bob Chippardi asked me if I would be interested in singing "Peace Sells" for a movie soundtrack, and I asked for more info. It seems there is a real "Rock School" behind the movie of the same name.

And the students have recorded "Peace Sells," to which I am honored and am going to be cutting vocals for a special edition of this classic for them. It should be good fun, and please don't get all critical and stuff! Its kids!

So that's that!

Okay, I'm laughing my ass off at "Dave's" post because he's telling his fans "good fun and don't get all's kids!"

Hahahahaha - these "kids" play circles around everyone. He's gonna fucking die when he hears the tape of my son and Brandon King on drums and my daughter on bass performing Peace Sells along with Rock School greats guitarists Dan Nitz and my other "son", Louie. I wish I could be there to watch his jaw drop to the ground. It's gonna leave a six foot hole in the earth!

But...let's give him a high five for calling his fans "droogies" because as anyone who knows me is aware, that term is from the brilliant Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, which is my all time favorite film and one of my favorite classic books.

And oh crap. This means I'm gonna have to visit the Megadeath forum board every day now to see what he says when he has his first listen to the kids' treatment of Peace Sells.

Woo hoo.

MTV confirms what I've been telling you all along...(revised)

01.06.2005 5:55 PM EST

Alice Cooper and Dave Mustaine are among the hard rock heavyweights slated to beef up the soundtrack to the documentary "Rock School," which focuses on the Paul Green School of Rock, a Philadelphia school that teaches its students music by dividing them up into bands. The documentary will be screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival later this month and released in theaters nationwide in March. According to a recent interview with the school's founder in the Philadelphia paper The Daily Local, the soundtrack will feature a host of artists, including Cooper and Mustaine, who will record a series of covers with the students.
— MTV News staff report

P.S. Regarding the Philadephia paper "The Daily Local", to my knowledge no such paper exists, and I'm thinking they mean the Philadelphia Daily News. I did a google search and came up empty so maybe it will be appearing in the newspaper today or tomorrow. Watch this space! Also, the MTV article is not quite that accurate - Paul does not teach by "dividing students into bands" but oh well, it's MTV, what can I say. The movie Rock School, the tour, and subsequent sound track are the School of Rock All-Stars, twenty plus members of the best and brightest students, two of whom are Julie and Eric Slick. Julie of course has since graduated the program but is back for the soundtrack in both a performance and production role since the movie Rock School was filmed while she was in fact a major part of the All Star team.

P.P.S. And of course if you are a frequent visitor to my blog, you already know they've been recording for the past two weeks!

P.P.P.S. Hey! Apparently there is a Daily Local out in the Philly suburbs and I do believe I just found the article to which MTV refers:

THOMAS McKEE, Staff Writer

Students at the Paul Green School of Rock are used to big news.

In the past year, the school has received its fair share of the national spotlight as the subject of a documentary that debuted in June at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

In addition, the school’s most advanced students performed all over the country as part of the school’s first West Coast tour -- in its very own tour bus -- and a national audience watched as one of the students performed on MTV.

As good as 2004 was for Paul Green and his rock stars in training, it appears 2005 will be even better.

The documentary, titled "Rock School," will be screened this week at the Sundance Film Festival and then released in theaters nationwide in March. It will be distributed by New Market Films, which has distributed noted films such as "The Passion of the Christ" and "Donnie Darko."

The documentary is the work of Don Argott, a local filmmaker who graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Argott said he met Green about two years ago, while searching for an idea to base a documentary on.

According to Argott, he had seen the posters Green had been hanging around the city for upcoming performances and eventually grew intrigued enough to call the school and seek out more information. Green invited him to a performance the school was doing that night, a concert of Frank Zappa material at Indre Studios in Philadelphia. Argott went, and was blown away by what he saw.

"Three minutes in, I said, ‘There’s no way I can’t do this,’" Argott said. "I called Paul the next day and we talked and set up some appointments and things kept getting bigger and bigger and before I knew it, I was there for nine months."

The school, which is based in Philadelphia with a campus in Downingtown, teaches music to children by grouping them into bands and introducing them to the catalogs of rock and roll’s musical giants. Everything from AC/DC to Zappa is fair game, with plenty of Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Queen mixed in for good measure.

Green holds recitals in the shape of concerts at venues like the Trocadero in Philadelphia, and promotes them well enough that they are usually sold out. He also finds unique performance opportunities for the students -- like the West Coast tour, the MTV appearance and a 2003 appearance at the Zappanale festival in Germany, which spotlighted the music of Frank Zappa.

"Teaching kids to play music is the easy part," Green said. "If that’s all we were doing, we wouldn’t be as cool as we are. My job is to keep finding cool, unique and exciting opportunities for the kids. It’s about creating excitement for them."

Green and his students are currently recording the soundtrack for the film, working alongside producer Phil Nicolo. Nicolo has worked with artists as diverse as John Lennon, Billy Joel and Aerosmith.

Green said the soundtrack for the documentary will be a mix of cover songs played by the students along with the original artists. Alice Cooper, Dave Mustaine of Metallica and Megadeath and several other prominent artists are already working on the project.

The documentary focuses on Green’s interaction with his students and his unique teaching style.

"When I first watched it with my wife, I was a little worried that maybe it wasn’t balanced, but when I saw it later with the test audiences, I realized it actually was right on," Green said. "People laughed when they were supposed to be laughing and it tells both sides of our story. I come off as a dictator with a heart of gold."

Argott said there are several moments in the film that took on a magical quality as they were happening.

"They were doing a Guitar Gods show -- music like Santana and Van Halen, stuff like that." Argott said. "The second song they played was ‘Black Magic Woman’ and I knew it was going to be the opening sequence of the film. I watched it and said, ‘That’s the opening.’ And that’s been the opening of the film since before we were done shooting."

Argott said New Market Films was the best option for distribution.

"We premiered the film at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June and five days later we got an offer from New Market," Argott said. "From the very first screening they were extremely interested in it."

In addition to the documentary release, Green will begin the new year by opening three new branches of the school, in New York City, San Francisco and Salt Lake City. In addition to the Downingtown campus, the school has branches in Montgomery County and Cherry Hill, N.J.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Ellen Meister

This is my good friend, author Ellen Meister. She is one of the most terrific women I've had the pleasure of meeting. We're partners in crime at New York City Zoetrope meet-ups (Zoetrope being our on line writing community). Though of course Ellen is no criminal, that would be me. Anyway, without further ado, let me post what I read about her in the "Recent Deals" section of Publishers Marketplace this morning:
5 January, 2005
Debut Ellen Meister's debut novel, GEORGE CLOONEY AND OTHER SECRET LONGINGS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA, a frank suburban comedy about three PTA women who are transformed when Hollywood announces plans to shoot a movie in their town, to Carrie Feron at Morrow/Avon, for publication in early 2006, by Andrea Cirillo and Annelise Robey at the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

How freaking cool is that! To give you a little more info, Ellen signed a hardcover deal with a major publisher and this is her first novel! I mean, you know her book is amazing because that just doesn't happen in today's financial climate. Way to go, Ellen!
Here's a link to Ellen's Publishers Marketplace webpage.

And in a shameless bit of promotion on my own behalf, here's a link to my new, improved Publishers Marketplace webpage

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Okay at last! Some more photos from the studio...

Last night, taking a much needed break after hours of recording, we have, left to right, Marky Ramone, crazy Joey Randazzo (if you read my book The Tour, he's the one who drank water out of my son's dirty rain-soaked sock, put on a dress to sing a punked out version of Scenes from an Italian Restaurant...and is just the consummate performer on stage)and of course next to Joey is my handsome wildly talented drummer son, Eric, and next to Eric is one of the best 17 year old female lead guitar players in the universe - Ms. Grace Hollander (yep, also mentioned in The Tour).

And here's one of Marky jamming out. Wow. I wonder what it must feel like, being the lone surviving Ramone. Kind of surreal, I'd imagine.

In case you're wondering where daughter Julie is, she's both the photographer and the recording engineer. But I hear a rumor someone snapped her pic so as soon as I get it, I'll post it!

Whoops -- this just in -- here's a couple more pics:

That would be Marky on drums and Grace Hollander and Madison Flego on guitar...and if you read The Tour, you already know how I feel about Madison and her fantastic vocals, plus she plays a mean guitar as well. Both of these girls are the two sweetest people you'd ever want to meet.

And that's Madison and Marky again, and the kid hunched over and hiding in the hooded sweatshirt is Madison's boyfriend and my adopted son, Louie, one of the best 18 year old male lead guitar players ever - he'd embarrass some seasoned vets...this kid grew up with my kids and he'd pick up a guitar when he'd come over to play video games since we have guitars out in stands all over the house and I could tell he had enormous talent so I hooked him up with Paul when he was fourteen/fifteen years old and now he's making a fucking CD with Marky Ramone and oh man, Eric said I have to stop mentioning the other stars involved or I'll get them all in trouble.

Hang on - Julie's in that photo! That's her in the denim coat and jeans with her face (of course) turned away from the camera.

Anyway, I'll get even with Louie for hiding when his pic was being taken - here's one of him on stage this summer in the red t-shirt and tan shorts. That's Haffie on the far left - another awesome guitarist and mentioned prominently in The Tour, and of course Napoleon again on vocals, my son on drums, and our resident diva, Teddi in the skirt and if you squint hard, daughter Julie is in there, too, playing bass on the right in the back.

So. I'm still not allowed to tell any studio stories but I did find out one thing: Both kids in unison said "Marky is really, really nice!".

When feeling bored and depressed I go to Google...

While I wait for them to wake up and upload the pics of Marky Ramone from yesterday, I googled my kids and found these awesome pictures of them in concert:

Here's Julie:

Here's Eric, looking so young I can't believe it - this was only a year and a half ago but what a difference that makes when you are 17 (and you decide to grow your hair really long)

But of course here's how Eric looks now sitting behind the drums - just in concert with Napoleon Murphy Brock, Julie, C.J. on guitar, and Napoleon's friend Steve on keyboards:

Here's one of the crowd watching them perform in adoration and you can see my blonde head in there, in the front middle, next to Ric, the guy in the white hat and yellow press pass around his neck (and that would be C.J.'s dad, Ric, as formally introduced in The Tour archived here)

And here's one of my future son-in-law Matt looking even younger than my son last year though I suppose a year with Julie would age anyone (ha ha)...