Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Okay, I'm over yesterday's angst. The blog lives on. Long live the blog!
Wow. I'm really overwhelmed by the tons of emails I received yesterday urging me to "stay open". I heard from total strangers and a couple of emails really blew me away altogether -- like those from Cindy and Luis Urrea. Luis is a writer, Cindy is his wife -- and in a Twilight Zone moment, they have a son also named Eric who is 17 years old and plays the drums. It was just so, so cool to learn that they enjoy reading my blog every day. The emails were written by Cindy and it was a lot of fun to meet a kindred spirit...she's a writer, too (former newspaper woman, now research assistant, scheduling person, all around right hand woman to Luis) and a groupie mom for her son who seems to have the same intensity about his music that my son has. I laughed at her tale of driving all over the place to see her boy play. Oh, what the parents of drummers really have to endure. Contrary to popular belief, we love the drums and the "noise" doesn't bother us...but think about it. Every time our kids play a show, we have to transport those things and they aren't exactly small and light. Eric's dad had to get a big, ugly, yuppie gas guzzling SUV just for drum chauffeur duties. The minute the lease is up next year, if I know Gary, he'll be at the car dealership at 9:00 a.m. that morning so he can trade it in for a mid-life crisis two seater convertible because by then Eric will have his own wheels.
And while I'm on the subject of drummers, they're always the most wiped out after a performance but always the last to leave the venue...the drums have to be taken apart, stacked, carefully arranged in the car...arghhh....back in the old days, when Eric was younger, the other Rock School parents with their wussy guitar playing kids were already home asleep in bed before I'd even left the club. My standard line to Eric: "Why couldn't you have played the flute?"
The best was when he would pull this one: After a show, he'd want to go out with his friends. So he'd look at me all doe-eyed.
"Can you take my drums home for me?"
Yeah, like that was easy. Load the car, unload the car. Double park outside, take them in, one piece at a time; bass drum, snare, etc., cymbals, cymbal stands, double bass pedal...up the steps, down the steps. By the time I was done, I'd have to pass out on the sofa for an hour before I could make my way back upstairs.
I wouldn't trade it for the world.
And like I said, if I could get to every city he's playing on the Project Object tour this April/May, I would. And might!
Anyway, back to Cindy and Luis. Naturally after getting their email, I immediately went to Luis' website and what's the first thing I read:
"Luis Alberto Urrea, 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph..."
I almost fell off my chair.
Wow. And Luis and Cindy like the way I write. I seriously blushed all afternoon.
I've put an Amazon link to his book, The Hummingbird's Daughter, on the right under the lovely Susan Henderson's Motorhead, and hope that you'll check it out.
And please notice I've also placed an Amazon link for David Niall Wilson's "Deep Blue" on the right hand side, too. This was a great read, especially for music lovers with a dark side. Wait. What music lover doesn't have a dark side? Of course I'm talking real music lovers here, not Jesus Take the Wheel pop crap fans.
You know, I don't think that I've ever loved anyone who isn't a music lover with a dark side.
I'm sure that will come as a big surprise to all of you.
So again, thanks for the kind words and encouragement yesterday and yeah, yeah, I'll keep this journal going after all. I mean, come on, if I delete it, I'll lose Neil Gaiman's post where he gives me fountain pen recommendations and we can't have that!
Hmmm, speaking of Neil, I could use a twisted moment. Susan of Motorhead fame, which one do you prefer -- what I now refer to as the "classic" with the blue glasses or the new one with the beard? Or the one at the desk in the writing cabin? Or, as I am adding now as per your post in today's comment section, Neil in glasses?
Damn if I can decide. I know, let's have an orgy...I mean, let's have a vote in the comments section or something. Here are the candidates:
Yeah, cast your vote and maybe we'll email him the results. I'm not digging the one on his journal now and it's on every page of his newly designed website, which I really love other than that photo. He's so much better looking than that in real life.
Ha ha - speaking of a real life, I should get one, huh.
In other news, it pays to be a friend of Playgirl Magazine. As I broadcasted all over the universe, I was in their December, 2005 issue and I've got an interview coming up in a future issue as well as an excerpt from my novel. In today's mail I received an interesting looking padded envelope addressed to me from Trans Digital Media. Hmmm, what was this? It felt like a DVD and I knew I didn't order any DVDs but ooh, ooh, maybe someone sent me a gift?
Yep. And it was a DVD alright.
The promo lines on the cover say "Private Pleasures. Every Woman Has Them. Maybe You'll See Yours In...PLAYGIRL PRIVATE PLEASURES."
It came with a note:
Please enclosed find a note from your friends at Playgirl. Private Pleasures is the first Playgirl TV DVD available for home use. I hope you enjoy this complimentary copy and....
Yep, you guessed it. I got a free DVD called PLAYGIRL PRIVATE PLEASURES (and by the way, the guy on the front cover looks like Johnny Depp) and they want me to watch it and write a review.
Oh, I think that can be arranged.
My son saw it on the coffee table and said "Ewwwwwwwwww"
I took it away from him and just put it upstairs next to my bed where it belongs.
(Now you can really say "Ewwwwwwwwww", Eric)
Monday, February 27, 2006
This is a painting by Alonso Cano and it's called "Descent into Limbo" which is exactly how I feel right now.
Quick art history lesson: Cano was a Spanish sculptor, painter, architect, and draughtsman, sometimes called "the Spanish Michelangelo" because of the diversity of his talents.
He was born and died in Granada, and worked there and in Seville and Madrid. His movements were partly dictated by his tempestuous character -- he either fled or was expelled from the city he was working in (once for the suspected murder of his wife). In spite of his violent temperament, his work tends to be serene and often sweet.
Yeah, so anyway, I'm in limbo and I hate it. I have stories, essays, and a novel out there in waiting to be published land and I know the only way to get over the agony of waiting is to keep writing and finish my new book.
So that's what I'm doing.
I'm on temporary hiatus from everything.
To be honest, I'm even thinking of putting this blog on hiatus permanently. When I first started it in 2004, it was used as a vehicle for National Novel Writing Month - I wrote a 50,000 word novel in thirty days (since deleted; don't bother looking for it). Then I realized it was a great way to promote my writing, and my friends' writing, and especially my kids and their music. And then, interestingly enough, because I am such a private (and happily reclusive) person in the real world, it morphed into a personal diary of sorts which was really a great outlet for me.
Only one problem. I underestimated the power of Google.
Ha - but I know me -- all I have to do is get one acceptance letter today or get any good news at all and I'll be back with a much more animated post. Actually, I might be back this afternoon when I talk to Eric because he's in heavy rehearsal mode now for his tour with Project Object - he didn't get in until well after midnight last night and I know he's got another lengthy rehearsal tonight so I'll probably report on that when I finally get a chance to sit down and talk with him.
So I'm obviously very conflicted about this blog thing. Another option would be to delete this one and start another which is not published...meaning, Google won't pick it up...and I'll only furnish the address to a chosen few. And then maybe start a new, published blog which just concentrates on my writing and gives out no personal information at all.
I dunno. Like I said, I'm feeling extremely frustrated at the moment.
So right now I'm just going to concentrate on my finishing my novel.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Eric Slick drinking a milkshake made for him by his sister Julie and served in one of my new expensive champagne glasses...with a straw.
Oh, the things I miss when I'm asleep.
And not only do they leave the evidence in the sink for me to find the next morning...i.e., the dirty glass..grrr...they took a picture with my camera.
So I'm sharing it with you.
I'm so fucking happy today. I hate using terms like this, but I had a breakthrough with my novel yesterday thanks to my pal, Ellen. I won't bore you with the details only to say that I've been miserable for months because I wasn't happy with the first chapter...I didn't feel it was strong enough and yet it was necessary to lay down certain groundwork since this is the type of book which needed to be written in linear fashion. Obviously it's not exactly a good thing to lack confidence in your opener and it was messing with my head bigtime. Ellen suggested something in the nature of a prologue, and while I didn't use her exact idea per se, she pointed me in the right direction and after mulling it over a couple of hours, I had a whole new beginning which has me so excited I pounded out 4,000 words yesterday.
Okay, by the time I edit this morning it will be more like 2,000 but still. Yay!
And now everything else is falling into place because the book is basically written...all I have to do is go in and fine tune. Or something like that. It's only the book I've wanted to write for the past five years but didn't have the guts until now.
In other news...
Every once in a while, I google myself. Oh okay, I'm an obsessive compulsive dork (yes, Lori, you were right) who googles herself. This is because of the Oh Great My Story Is Appearing Simultaneously In Two Magazines Which Do Not Take Previously Published Work incident. A couple of years ago, I simul-subbed a story to two well-respected magazines and much to my shock/joy, they both accepted it -- only one of them had a computer melt down and the acceptance letter never went out. The result was that the story appeared simultaneously in both magazines, which did not make the editors happy and left me with the world's reddest face. Sooo...I google myself from time to time as a precautionary thing.
Anyway, the reason I mention this is that I just found two new entries when googling my name in quotes like this "Robin Slick" (in case you are technically challenged and do not know this, using quotes prevents you from getting anything other than exactly what you want...i.e., Robin Slick, not Robin's wet slick...ahem....having this last name...you have no idea what happens when I don't use quotes).
Well, apparently the quotes didn't make a difference this time. I once wrote a story for Smokelong Quarterly called "Picnic" which mentioned a "pretty plump wife". Today I see under my name "Robin Slick: Pretty Plump Girls Fucked The Python's Wife".
Okay, explain something to me. Obviously this is a story about lesbians...but the python's wife? Is this the female spouse of a snake? The mate of a member of Monty Python? I wish I could give you the answer to this, but when I clicked on the link, I immediately got this:
"Big and wet and ready to roll these beautiful Faties!"
What the hell is a Fatie?
I can't tell you because the page was so pornographic I had to close the screen at once, only you know what happens with those freaking sites, another one popped up, and this one said "Join Real Big Nudes" and it wasn't pretty. Arghh...I think I've been temporarily blinded.
However, failing to be daunted by this experience at 5:00 a.m. this morning, I continued on and blinked twice when I came upon the entry "Robin Slick and Jessica Biel's pussy".
Who is Jessica Biel and what would I be doing with her cat?
Oh why oh why did I click on that one. First of all, it comes with a video. Now even I'm not crazy enough to download that. But how do you like the review this film gets?
"Robin Slick -- Cozy moon things next station jessica biel pussy. Sisters has our wanted lot nord jessica biel pussy pierre only gone. Wanted younger jessica biel pussy as slightly book about sisters early knows. Small jessica biel pussy since cast or the late. Danzig mustache night run wanted jessica biel pussy gare even. Waited is school reading events jessica biel pussy vision internet lodging directory."
Okay....if you say so. I googled Jessica Biel and at least now I know who she is. Yawn. Anyway, here's the funny part. In the last sentence, the word "internet lodging directory" is a link.
I can't bring myself to click on it. The options are too mind boggling in my current state.
Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, I did watch the Olympic ice skating finals last night on television with the sound turned off so that I could live out my warped fantasy of choosing their music for them and giving them rock instead of Send in the Clowns or Memories. But before each girl skated, I did give them the benefit of the doubt before making my selection. Yikes, it was totally appalling...freaking circus music. Anyway, just so you know, I had the first one skating to vintage Zombies...but the obscure stuff, like "I Love You" and "I Want You Back Again" though I did throw in "She's Not There"...but then much to my shock, the chick from Finland, I could not believe, skated to blues guitar...and I'm pretty sure it was B.B. King. I almost had heart failure I was so excited.
(Be quiet, Lori...I've already admitted I'm a dork)
Anyway, then I cranked out Blondie, Joe Jackson (Look Sharp - awesome), Kinks (the Percy soundtrack - if you don't have it, buy it immediately. Don't even ask questions.)...and I really think I've missed my calling in life. Those skaters never looked better.
Finally, this should be another good writing weekend. Julie and Eric are doing some recording tonight; Julie works the weekend and Eric has Project Object rehearsals and I'm thinking marathon, baby...where I start writing like now and don't stop until Sunday night. I've done it before and it's the world's greatest high.
And for further inspiration, today's twisted Neil Gaiman moment:
Yep, I'm inspired alright.
And I made Gaiman a link because you should really click on his latest post today. I bet the lucky bastard gets himself one of those. A quick glance around my house tells me there are no viable rooms for this, but I could be wrong. I must check into it further because I WANT ONE! (But the question is, how to keep it secret from the rest of the family. Because if they knew about it, it would defeat the whole purpose. Ah...the fantasy of actually being able to disappear at will...)
Oh...one more thing. Eric just got some more confirmed dates for his tour with Project Object:
April 23 St. Louis, MO -- Cicero's
April 24 Detroit, MI -- Magic Bag
April 25 Milwaukee, WI -- Shank Hall
April 28 Asheville, NC -- Stella Blue
And the show on April 13 will be in Sayreville, NJ at the Starland Ballroom featuring the Mahavishnu Project.
Screw it. I'm flying out to every show.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Eric Slick sitting in with Project Object during their tour last April...before he was their "official drummer". I guess he passed the audition, huh.
So the Project Object tour is shaping up nicely and Eric just got word of some venues for the first leg - the tour actually ends May 14, I believe, and you can check for updates daily at Pollstar, and yeah, yeah, I know...I've just introduced you all to another very cool site. Nah, you knew about Pollstar already, didn't you?
Wed 04/12/06 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live
Thu 04/13/06 Sayreville, NJ TBA
Fri 04/14/06 Albany, NY Valentine's
Sat 04/15/06 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground
Sun 04/16/06 Northampton, MA Iron Horse Music Hall
Mon 04/17/06 Providence, RI Century Lounge
Tue 04/18/06 Allston, MA Harpers Ferry
Wed 04/19/06 New Haven, CT Toad's Place
Fri 04/21/06 Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
Sat 04/22/06 Chicago, IL Martyrs'
Sun 04/23/06 Saint Louis, MO TBA
Mon 04/24/06 Milwaukee, WI TBA
Tue 04/25/06 Detroit, MI TBA
Wed 04/26/06 Cincinnati, OH TBA
Thu 04/27/06 Louisville, KY Headliners
Just off the top of my head, I can see a bunch of cities I've never visited, particularly those in New England, so I'm going to try and make as many of those shows as I can, and damn, I have friends in Wisconsin, Cincinatti, Detroit and Kentucky...arghh...already I want to be at every show and I don't even have the whole list yet.
Robin Slick, groupie mom. Oh right, I'm working on a novel about that as we speak. Sort of, anyway. Anyway, in truth there's no way I'll be able to make every concert, but I will try to hit as many as possible.
So I'm sure you all know about this by now: Bush Was Unaware of Ports Deal Before Approval.
Oh my god. I can't even comment on it.
And here's something else I just can't bear to think about...and who in their right mind would give a shit let alone want to watch something as repulsive as this?
For me, it would be a dietary aid. If unable to resist having a peek, I wouldn't be able to eat for a month. But there's really no danger of that. I find all parties involved repulsive, both physically and musically. In fact, just using the word music with those two is a sacrilege.
Anyway, Eric will is off to New York and Julie has class and then jets right over to work until late tonight. So in a perfect world, I can make up for a lot of lost time in the writing department today.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Ah, remember this one? (Blurry) Joey Randazzo, Eric Slick, and Branden King sharing percussion duties on the final evening of the west coast tour at that condemned transvestite truck stop hotel in Las Vegas -- when they played what had to be the world's greatest version of Black Magic Woman.
I'll never forget that night. For some reason, two images come to mind. Everyone jumping in the pool fully clothed after the show...and cake. Didn't we have like seventeen congratulation cakes?
Oh okay, I remember lots of alcohol, too, but I'm still pretty sure we had an excess of cake.
So Eric's show with the Shannon Penn Band this Friday night at World Cafe Live has been postponed, however, while checking out their site I discovered that Eric kicks off his U.S. tour with Project Object on April 12 at World Cafe Live, and here's the information regarding the concert and tickets.
Eric's in full madman musician mode right now -- tomorrow he heads to New York City for his Rock School Zappa gig -- the weekend will be spent rehearsing for the tour. Last night Eric and Julie jammed here and they sounded so tight I had the shivers -- she's also going to be recording him playing the mandolin (yeah, he plays that, too) in the next day or two so that she can add it to a track she's recording for a local band. Of course as mother hen of this family this makes me very happy. I also learned that Eric's going to be singing a couple of Zappa tunes on the Project Object tour and I'm pretty psyched about that, too. When he sang The Band's "The Weight" with Rock School I could never make it through the entire song without bursting into tears. Though singing drummers...err...Ringo and Phil Collins come to mind and I'd better quit while I'm ahead.
Just kidding, just kidding. Eric's the man.
And while I'm talking about Eric and music for a change, Eric saw Heart of Gold yesterday and told me I have to immediately go see it because it's incredible. So maybe I will.
Finally, it's well known that I despise the Bush Administration and basically every individual who supports him. But his latest fucked up act of dictatorship has me repeatedly banging my head on my desk. Want to know the real reason our ports are going to be managed by a Dubai company? Here ya go...
W AIDES' BIZ TIES TO ARAB FIRM
BY MICHAEL McAULIFF
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
Breaking news update: Bush shrugs off objections to port deal
WASHINGTON - The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.
One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.
Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.
The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.
The ties raised more concerns about the decision to give port control to a company owned by a nation linked to the 9/11 hijackers.
"The more you look at this deal, the more the deal is called into question," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said the deal was rubber-stamped in advance - even before DP World formally agreed to buy London's P&O port company.
Besides operations in New York and Jersey, Dubai would also run port facilities in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Baltimore and Miami.
The political fallout over the deal only grows.
"It's particularly troubling that the United States would turn over its port security not only to a foreign company, but a state-owned one," said western New York's Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee. Reynolds is responsible for helping Republicans keep their majority in the House.
Snow's Treasury Department runs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which includes 11 other agencies.
"It always raises flags" when administration officials have ties to a firm, Rep. Vito Fossella (R-S.I.) said, but insisted that stopping the deal was more important.
The Daily News has learned that lawmakers also want to know if a detailed 45-day probe should have been conducted instead of one that lasted no more than 25 days.
According to a 1993 congressional measure, the longer review is mandated when the company is owned by a foreign government and the purchase "could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the U.S. that could affect the national security of the U.S."
Congressional sources said the President has until March 2 to trigger that harder look.
"The most important thing is for someone to explain how this is consistent with our national security," Fossella said.
Oh well. Today is full of fun things like Eric and I getting our long locks trimmed (but only an inch, don't worry), a visit to the bank, druggist, etc. and then maybe a nice lunch out. We're out of here in another hour and will be gone until the afternoon so I guess writing is out the window until tomorrow but that's cool, I could use a day off.
To quote Porky Pig --
That's all, folks
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Julie Slick on stage
Hey, Julie gets a mention in the City Paper this week which is way cool:
"But what of the evening's playmate, Space 1026's head-banded Thom Lessner and his rudely lyrical, aerobic-synth act Sweatheart, who drop their nards-dangling debut, So Cherri (produced by 19-year-old Julie Slick!) that night? "We wanna put on shows that make people cherish life," says Lessner before shooting a video for "Fingerbangin'" with Spankrock gal pal Amanda Blank. "We wanna make everybody horny, happy and wanna look good doing so."
I'm usually so busy giving our Eric's performance schedules that I neglect to mention that Julie's a music industry major at Drexel University, which means she's doing everything from producing to performing to -- bleh -- studying contracts. She's really an awesome producer which is why Thom Lessner chose her to record his CD. But as far as her other courses at Drexel go, this semester (she's in her third/junior year) she had to take a statistics class and an ethics class. And I do believe it's the ethics class which is the source of her recent switch to quasi-vegetarianism. (She still eats seafood, has given up beef and pork, but is presently undecided about poultry.) The professor had them watch a movie about slaughterhouses or something...I dunno...when she started telling me about it I tuned her out because in theory, I could be a vegetarian because I love animals so much...in reality...oh man, I adore steak and barbecued hamburgers and roasted chicken with oranges and fresh rosemary...
But yeah, if I allow myself to think about it, I'll not only go vegetarian, I'll be a total vegan, and then I'll only eat stuff like hummus and cous cous and greens and be completely miserable. Though of course for once in my life I'd also extremely be healthy...but since when do I care about stuff like that?
Julie (who is no longer 19 as stated in the article -- she turned 20 three weeks ago) and Eric also sit in on bass and drums respectively with Sweatheart from time to time. I wasn't aware that they were out there making people horny, but oh well, here's a test of whether I'm as liberal as I say. Okay, deep breath. Concerned parent moment here.
Ha! Tricked you. Like I'm really worried. I think it's hilarious.
Anyway, I'm only popping online today to occasionally check e-mail because I'm in full writing mode, but if anything interesting occurs, I'll be back to edit this post and add whatever.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Yours truly in black and the usual dark glasses at brunch with my gal pals from Zoetrope writers' workshop (and one of their husbands)...and those usually responsible for these tags.
I wasn't going to blog today; I really need to finish my novel so I can get back to a few agents who are querying me. But my good friend Myfanwy (who is not in the above photo, damn it, because she was unavailable that day) tagged me and I couldn't resist.
So once again, some fun facts about me that you probably already know if we're friends or if you are a regular reader here (is there such a thing?)...
Seven things to do before I die:
1. Write at least ten more novels which are not considered mainstream but are financially successful nonetheless;
2. Go back to England for an extended period of time;
3. Learn how to update my website myself;
4. Visit Italy;
5. Learn how to throw a pot (meaning, I’d like to take a pottery class);
6. Have all the rooms in my house clean at the same time (yeah, like that’ll happen any time soon);
7. Be around long enough to see how my kids turn out as adults.
Seven things I cannot do:
1. Go on amusement rides;
2. Be in the presence of religious zealot right-winger/Republicans;
3. Drive without hitting something or being pulled over by a cop. (So I don’t have a license. And the world is a much safer place)
4. Listen to rap music;
5. Sing on key; (or so I’m told by my kids. I personally think I sound great. Just this morning I wailed (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman in the shower and I made all the neighborhood dogs bark in utter joy.)
6. Stop worrying;
7. Respect anyone who watches/enjoys American Idol.
Seven things I say:
1. Does anyone need anything at the store?
2. Why didn’t you tell me you needed that when I asked if you needed anything before I went to the store?
3. I seriously wish you’d leave me alone;
4. I’m sooo hungry;
5. Bush is a dickhead;
6. Please don’t try and censor me;
7. Yeah, okay, I’ll do it. (When I really mean no and won’t)
Seven books I love:
1. Catcher in the Rye;
2. A Clockwork Orange;
3. A Prayer for Owen Meany;
4. High Fidelity;
5. Ham on Rye;
6. Fear of Flying;
7. Smoke and Mirrors (which is of course by Neil Gaiman, and here’s today’s twisted moment…though it’s not twisted at all, only if you are me and planning on printing it out, making a mask, and super-glue-ing it to your significant other's face while he’s asleep.)
(That's a photo of Neil in his bedroom, by the way...which he posted on his own blog yesterday, really to show us his new painting but I think it's more like to torture us with that new sexy beard)
Seven movies that I've loved:
1. Rock School;
2. A Clockwork Orange;
3. A Hard Days Night;
4. King of Hearts;
5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail;
7. The Last Waltz.
It appears that I am the last of my “group” to be tagged and I have no idea which seven people I should hit next, so if you want to play on your own blog, feel free. Just remember to give me credit. Wait, this isn't like a chain letter where I'm going to die in a horrific accident if I don't send it on, is it?
Oh well. Hope not.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
So, class...today's question is: What do Robin Trower and Lawrence Welk have in common?
Answer: Absolutely nothing.
In my world, however, they represent a true Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz moment.
Last night, I was working on my novel. Okay, I wasn't writing in my journal or sitting at the computer, I was basically writing in my head. Every author has their own way of doing things, and I've never been one for outlines or anything structured at all, really. I'm jealous of people so organized, but it just doesn't work that way for me. I daydream and get an idea for a story, let my mind wander and flesh out the characters, and by the time I sit down and write, I've got it all pretty much figured out. And because I'm a music nut, while I'm doing this "head writing", I always have something inspiring on in the background, which really helps my thought process further.
I was in a Robin Trower mood last night, bigtime. Quick music history lesson: Trower was the original guitarist for Procol Harum. (Meanwhile, I cannot believe how cheesy Procol Harum's website is...what's up with that?) If you want to hear some really interesting stuff, check out their early albums with Trower on guitar. Of course, A Salty Dog is a fucking classic, but listen to the Broken Barricades CD, particularly the cut Song for a Dreamer...and I dunno, maybe it's just me, but his guitar playing makes my soul rise and it bothers me that he's never mentioned in the Guitar Gods discussions/articles I come across.
Trower left Procol Harum and went solo. He's amazing, though I guess, yeah, I know, it's stoner music -- very spacey -- I can't listen to it without smelling pot smoke in the basement -- but anyway, that's what I was listening to last night and at the same time, I had the television on with the sound off. It was the PBS channel, and on Saturday nights, they broadcast reruns of the old Lawrence Welk show. Terrible, terrible stuff. Accordian players, tap dancers, and gruesome late sixties-early seventies hair and fashion horrors. You can tell that blow dryers were new on the scene - the men are wearing their hair like Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits...poufy and cut over their ears...and the women all look like they're part of some weird Florence Henderson/Mary Tyler Moore cult in pastel mini-dresses and glazed over eyes which give out those "I HAVE BEEN SAVED!" vibes.
Just as Trower launches into this totally psychedelic guitar solo, I look at the t.v. and there's a whole choir of Welk people, men dressed in pink tuxedos with pink ruffly shirts and the aforesaid poufy hair. And they're singing and swaying in perfect synchronicity to the Trower solo with the aforesaid glazed over eyes. Trower starts shredding and out comes the accordian player, and he's really into it, he's shaking his heiney with that thing and tossing his helmet hair and I start giggling because he's wiggling that butt in perfect time with Trower, too, and then, the tap dancer comes out and I swear to god, that's when Trower's drummer went into a solo.
Total Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz moment. If you don't know what I mean, look it up. Oh hell, here's a link for you.
So after I stopped laughing, I shut off the television, continued listening to Trower, and actually thought out a couple more chapters which I'm busy typing up now. Okay, so I'm taking a break to write this, but I'm going back to my novel in a minute.
Give Trower a listen if you're not already hip to him, okay?
In other news, I just learned that my publisher has sent Three Days in New York City, Leigh Ellwood's Truth or Dare and Devi Sparks' Fairy Godlover to the acquisitions department at Borders Books for consideration. Three Days in NYC is available at some brick and mortar stores, but not Borders, and it would be great if this happens, especially with the sequel coming out. So that's pretty cool.
And I got an invitation to join something called Philly Writers. So I did.
Finally, the moment you are all waiting for -- today's twisted Neil Gaiman fact: He wears black long underwear. Says so in his journal post of February 18. Thanks for sharing, Neil.
I mean that sincerely.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Photo of Eric taken in LA last month at the Mark and Brian Show, KLOS Radio. I don't remember if I posted this pic before or not, but wtf, I love it so here it is again.
ETA: I'm such a dork. I had the wrong link for my favorite new "brilliant" place on the web. I've corrected it below. No wonder the website looked so nondescript...it was the wrong freaking one! If you visited this blog earlier, I apologize...I'm making this correction at 5:35 p.m. Now go click on the link...here...I'll put one up now and you will realize I haven't lost my mind altogether.
Wow. What a crazy couple of days. I'm sort of glad to have the house to myself this weekend and am happy to say I'm progressing nicely with the new novel. Finally. Both Eric and Julie will be at Downingtown Rock School tonight to see Eric's girlfriend, Carolyn, perform in her last D-team show so if you're looking for something cool to do this evening, I highly recommend that concert - you can find details here; Julie as usual is working at Rembrandts during the day today and all day/early evening tomorrow; Eric then begins rehearsals on Monday for his up-coming tour with Project Object, and then on February 24 (which I cannot believe is six days from now -- where the hell is time going?), he'll be behind the drums with the Shannon Penn Band at World Cafe Life (click here to buy tickets). This is an all ages show so it would be cool if Eric's friends would come to the concert this Friday night and support him.
Okay, enough about the kiddies -- I'm going upstairs to write.
Oh wait, I know what else. A story of mine is nominated for a Million Writers Award. I don't know the guy who nominated me so Ken Tritoni, whoever you are, thank you! I spent this morning reading some of the other nominations and man, I'd hate to be a judge in this contest. There's some remarkable short fiction on that list, and if you want to spend a few totally enjoyable hours, click on the links provided on the Million Writers site.
One more thing. Hopefully by now, you've all discovered and are in love with this website. If you haven't, don't be fooled by its non-descript appearance. It's one of the most brilliant finds of 2006 for me, anyway, other than what's become my own private radio station. Ha ha. If the government is keeping tabs on the music I select and the websites I visit each day, I am in BIG TROUBLE.
Like I give a shit.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Yeah! Ellen Meister got her ARCS (advance review copies) of her book yesterday! Aren't they gorgeous?
So also yesterday I got an e-mail from my agent, Britta Steiner Alexander, who has "decided to leave the agenting business". She wrote me a dear and generous note which made me feel really great about my writing and well, myself in general. So I'm considering other agents at the moment and wish Britta the best in her new endeavors.
Then I got the exciting news that Ellen has received her ARCS...and I'm so thrilled for her, it's almost like I wrote the book. Ha! I wish! It's an amazing novel, and though I did get a chance to read the original manuscript, it was so incredible I opted not to finish it and instead wait for the HARDCOVER -- yep, hardcover, version to come out this August. It almost killed me, it was impossible to put down, and then it got even more difficult when Ellen read a chapter I hadn't read yet at a party last June thrown in her honor by her fabulous husband Mike. I was dying to find out what happened next, but there's something about getting a brand new book...and the fact that it's written by one of my closest writer pals...well, I had to exercise uncharacteristic restraint but I managed. At least I have so far...
Well, anyway, that's all for now. I'm determined to have a productive day writing, and I'm starting out by listening to some Patti Smith on my iPod.
But I'm thinking I could also use something really pretty to look at right now, too, so I give up, I admit it, here it is -- my daily twisted tribute to Neil Gaiman:
Ah, all better now.
Just kidding. But hey, he posts these photos on his blog, nine million people read it per day, so I'm guessing he won't mind if I steal them. Tsk tsk...he's trying to kill all of us poor women, isn't he?
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Okay, this has got to be a dream and I'm really asleep, right?
Sorry...I know I'm supposed to be upstairs writing, but I just found a review online of the Philadelphia Poets and Writers Festival kick-off two weeks ago in which I read my "hilarious" story about meeting author Neil Gaiman...and oh my god, I'm blushing!
Here's the link!
You have to scroll down a bit....oh, what the hell, I'm so excited, let me cut and paste the applicable part here anyway:
"...Finally, Robin Slick, novelist and former editor of Philadelphia Stories Magazine, discussed her first novel, Three Days in New York City. The sequel to this novel, Another Bite of the Apple, will be available soon. Instead of reading a portion of her novel, Robin treated the audience to a mini memoir, sharing her experiences of feeling like “a dork” while attending a reading and book signing with her twenty-something rock star son. Her memoir brought this otherwise mundane event to life. It was witty, riddled with humor, and true to life. The audience felt the simultaneous thrill of meeting a writer she admired and the utter mortification of her son being forced to endure his mother’s actions as an adoring fan. The Poets and Writers Festival Kickoff ended with a series of questions and answers with the panel of Philadelphia Stories’ editors and contributors...."
Okay. Today has gotten significantly better, and yes, yes, yes, I've knocked out three newly revised chapters of my thrice revised novel!
Not quite. Maybe that horoscope was off by day? But at least I didn't get any rejections; just no acceptances. Sometimes when I submit a lot of work I feel like it's all going into a giant black hole. I check my e-mail seventeen times a day...argh...but that's it; today I am limiting my on line time altogether and sitting upstairs with my fountain pen and Neil Gaiman autographed Moleskin journal (ha ha - how many days did you think would pass before I brought that up again) and I'm going to work like a demon on my novel....no more procrastinating with short stories, instant messaging, or the obsessive e-mail thing. As of today, I am through thinking about anything other than finishing my book and sending it off.
But it's been an awfully good week for my friend Myfanwy Collins. She's the author I gave a teaser about a few days ago but now that she's announced it in her own blog, I can do the same: One of her incredible, incredible stories has been accepted for publication in the Kenyon Review and will appear in the summer 2007 issue. If you're not familiar with Myfanwy's stories, Google her and prepare to be mesmerized.
And here's something else that made me smile:
That's my handsome son, Eric, and his beautiful girlfriend, Carolyn, posing for me in my living room prior to their Valentine dinner out last night at Bistro St. Tropez. Don't they look awesome? Anyway, if you are in the Philadelphia area and have never eaten there, you really need to pay a visit, preferrably at night when it's dark, because the view of the river is spectacular and inside is all done up in high tech colored lights and chrome. But it's the food that's really incredible -- have a look at the menus and take the virtual tour on the site. What's really fun about this restaurant is that unless you live in Philadelphia or have a friend who knows about it, you'll never find it and it's one of our best kept secrets. It's hidden on the fourth floor of the Marketplace Design Center in a basically deserted part of town -- in between Center City and University City right before you approach the bridge over the river which will take you to said University City -- at 2400 Market Street. So in essence, if you go at night, you walk into what looks like a closed office building, but once inside, because it is the design center, you are treated to many (closed) stores -- it's like the world's most upscale mall -- full of the most beautiful and obscenely expensive furniture, rugs, artwork -- because this is a place only open during the day to interior designers. I could window shop in there for hours and we all know I hate shopping, but the stuff in there is to die for. I once spent a half hour with my face pressed to a window, coveting a bed. (Okay, keep your smutty thoughts to yourself...ha ha...or not, whatever). Anyway, you walk past a few of these stores, make a right to go on what is just one fairly hidden elevator, take it to the fourth floor, and there is this jewel of a restaurant.
So they had a blast -- and they got to both eat the filet mignon I mentioned yesterday I wished I was going to eat -- Eric had an appetizer of wild mushrooms with truffle oil (he's come a long way since potato chip and ketchup sandwiches on white bread) and I think Carolyn had tuna tartare but she didn't know it was raw fish...I'm gonna have to check with Eric on that...I don't remember if she actually ordered it or not but she was grossed out talking about it...oh wait, now I remember, she ordered prawns which she loved, and then they had this molten chocolate dessert with homemade banana ice cream -- it was one of those hot chocolate flourless cakes and when you stuck your fork in, all this warm runny imported chocolate poured out.
Ah, nice to be young, beautiful and in love, huh.
Speaking of Eric, he has a new gig which is really cool. He's going to be working at New York City Rock School every Thursday as assistant director of their Frank Zappa program. What's nice about this is that New York Rock School Zappa is going to open for Project Object when they play New York City, so Eric will not only be running the opening act, he'll be drumming for the headliner.
By the way, Paul is quoted, with photos, in the current issue of Rolling Stone. I posted a link to the on-line version, but the actual hard copy has photos. I heard it's the cover story but I haven't seen the mag yet so I can't say for sure...I'm gonna pick it up today or tomorrow.
Yeah yeah, it's hard for me to disconnect and move on -- while I'm thrilled for Paul, I'm sad my kids are graduates; especially with all the exciting stuff going on, like the recent tour with Adrian Belew. But hey, as I posted here a few days ago, in the article which was published in the Washington Post they do mention that Paul brought in his graduates (Julie, Eric, Louie Graff, etc.) to jam with Adrian to show him the magnitude of talent coming out of his school, and who knows, maybe some of them will have the chance to work with Adrian in the future in the studio or on tour. Hey, stranger things have happened!
But on the other hand, we were there at the beginning, when Paul had seventeen students whom he taught in his apartment and he used to call me the day of a show, begging me to bake brownies to sell so we could break even on the rent he had to pay for the venue. And the Memorial Day barbecues, Saturday morning Rock School baseball/basketball/football games where all the kids and parents bonded (though I do remember a miserable Eric who hated all sports and just wanted to hang out on the sidelines with the grown-ups and an overly competitive Julie who was actually booted out of games by Paul (and rightfully so) and forced to go sit with the parents when she threw tantrums on the field when other players on her team didn't live up to her expectations -- heh -- some things never change), and the insane Christmas parties where we had to use toilet paper as napkins because we were all so disorganized. Now, with thousands of students nationwide, a CEO, an ambitious franchise plan, it's a whole different ballgame. So we got the best of Rock School as it was growing; the kids today are getting the fruits of Paul's (and the original seventeen families') hard work and dedication. It all evens out in the end.
Just like life.
Hopefully, that is.
Okay, this time I mean it. Upstairs I go, journal and fountain pen in hand.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
That's me on the left. No, wait, sorry, I'm the one on the right.
Oh okay, I'm the one hiding under the bed.
So have I mentioned I hate Valentines Day?
It's just another of those stupid Hallmark holidays.
And I can't eat chocolate this year so it really totally sucks.
Yeah, so it's just no fun anymore. Julie and Eric are always dieting and Julie announced she is now a vegetarian though she does eat seafood and the occasional chicken breast so let's just say she's given up beef and pork and leave it at that.
I could go for a filet mignon for dinner but there are two things standing in my way (1) My grill is completely covered in snow and so is my backyard and to eat steak that isn't barbecued but broiled in a conventional oven or worse, pan fried, is a travesty; and (2) I'd rather starve than eat out on a special occasion night at a restaurant. Actually...
Also, both Matt and Julie agreed their past weekend in Montreal was their Valentine celebration (three days at the Ritz Carlton and eating at the best French restaurants...yeah, I'd say so), so Matt will be teaching bass as usual tonight at Downingtown Rock School and Julie will be waitressing at Rembrandts, where she will be busting her ass for the aforesaid holiday diners. And Eric has a very special surprise date planned for Carolyn, so...
There I go remembering the old days again, when we used to get both kids huge fancy hearts filled with chocolate from Young's, a candy store in existence since the turn of the century on Girard Avenue in Philadelphia where they still make their own candy and hand fill the boxes one by one. When Oprah Winfrey was in town filming Beloved, before she was skinny, mentally well-adjusted Oprah, she used to send her assistant over to Young's to stock up on goodies.
Anyway, Julie and Eric used to get so excited on Valentines Day I'm getting depressed remembering...but watching them with their current significant others and how loving they are...every once in a while I realize I'm not a complete fuck-up and did something right with those two.
Oh well. I've decided I'm going to be happy today.
Even my horoscope, which is from the most dead on site I've ever discovered (well, okay, I didn't discover it, Ellen Meister did), said today I'm having the best day ever so who am I to disagree.
I will let you know.
Hey wait: Something cool did just happen! As I've been broadcasting, Eric is going on tour with Project Object as their new drummer this spring, and here's the first advertised show! They'll be at Martyrs in Chicago on April 22.
How exciting, I've never been to Chicago, maybe I'll fly out there for this one:
TICKETS AVAILABLE THROUGH:
(800) 594-TIXX Saturday, Apr 22 - 10pm - $17
Project/Object featuring Ike Willis performing the music of Frank Zappa
The members of PROJECT/OBJECT feel that Frank Zappa is one of the 20th Century's greatest and most important composers, and they are on a mission to bring his music to the masses by faithfully recreating the live Zappa experience.
"As former Zappa collaborators Ike Willis (guitar/vocals) and Napoleon Murphy Brock (sax/flute/vocals) took to the stage, the performance became as much a revival as a tribute." - Creative Loafing
Zappa repeatedly said his music was to be experienced live, and the band promises to deliver. Every night will be an intriguing mix of classic Zappa. You can count on hearing a lot of material from Ike Willis and Napoleon Murphy Brocks era with Zappa, a lot of other Mothers and Zappa material, as well as new Zappa tunes that Project/Object has never played before. No two set lists will be identical and fans will once again experience the classic and obscure in the same night. "It's incredible to me that over 10 years have passed since Zappa's death," says Cholmondeley. "What's even more incredible is that we continue to turn on new generations to his unmatched genius. My goal is to keep on honoring Frank. I still remember the family's answering machine shortly after his death. Just play his music if you're musicians, and otherwise, play his music anyway. That will be enough for him."
Ike Willis (1978-88) is one of Zappa''s most durable and beloved sidemen, whose soulful vocal hysterics are best remembered as the voice of Joe on the Joe's Garage rock opera trilogy. He toured the world six times with the maestro and was the voice of his music for 14 years on countess recordings, many still unreleased...
So that's pretty fantastic. Okay, bring on the rest of the good news...
Monday, February 13, 2006
Photo taken by Eric Slick yesterday -- I still can't believe that's our backyard. I've never seen that happen before -- so much snow, the trees looking like that. It's so cool I can't stop staring out the back doors. Doesn't my snow covered smoker grill look like a snowman? I should go out there and stick on a pickle nose and maybe two tennis balls for eyes (since I took a quick look around and in the frig and am sad to report that's about it in this house right now for what I can use that no one will yell at me for putting outside in the cold and wet).
Or maybe I should just forget that plan and take the dog out for a long, long walk down by the Art Museum where I am bound to get into less trouble and have a better time.
So Julie made it back okay from Montreal. She said it was only a seven hour drive, and that was in the snow, so I can't believe I've never even attempted a Canadian visit myself before. Julie also remarked it was really, really cool -- kind of like driving to Europe -- parts reminded her of Newcastle and Manchester in the UK...and she finally got to use her eight years of French in Quebec. She brought her Dad back two really cool CDs you can't find here - Hendrix out-takes, and as for me, well, I got two dozen bagels.
Yeah, I know.
Actually, I love bagels, and who would have thought Montreal is famous for them? They are way less yeasty and therefore way less fattening than our version...when I toasted a sesame version this morning it was almost like eating a cracker. Very, very good.
But now I'm starving and could probably eat another four, but I keep thinking of the blood pressure doctor and those extra meds and I guess if I'm smart I'll do 100 jumping jacks instead and walk the dog as mentioned above.
So two very exciting announcements coming up for two friends of mine in the writing world...one who just signed a "significant" deal with Viking Press for a short story collection...yeah -- you read that right -- significant deal for short stories -- yeah!!!!...and the other who will have a story of hers appear in one of the most prestigious literary magazines in the world. But because I'm superstitious and should let my friends make their own announcements first, anyway, I'm just throwing in these teasers and don't bother writing to me, I will not spill any more details. But watch this space!
I've been on an insane submissions tear the last couple of weeks and will probably be slashing my wrists shortly. Ha ha. Just kidding. About the wrists, that is. But yeah, I've been writing and subbing like a madwoman...but mostly short stuff and one essay.
In the meantime, it's back to work on my novel. There's no new music news for either kid at the moment though things are in the works, but as for now, Julie is at Drexel through the evening with classes and a recording project; Eric teaches drums today/tonight, and tomorrow both kids are involved with Valentines Day so that means two straight days of solitude and writing for me.
Could be worse...
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Wow. We have over a foot of snow in downtown Philadelphia already and we're still in white out conditions.
Monty adores this weather so I let him out and took a few shots of him and a photo of what's going on in my back yard right now.
I'm in full mother panic mode because yep, Julie is leaving Montreal in a few hours and she's got to head back home through upstate New York to get here and they are getting the worst of this storm later this morning.
Eric is bummed because Carolyn slept over last night and the two of them are supposed to be starring in a music video being filmed at noon but unless the shoot is all paid for and all of the "players" are in downtown Philly, they aren't going anywhere. I can't even see my front steps from the time a half hour ago I took those pics of Monty until now.
Right now they are sitting here in the living room with me and I'm like "Don't you want to go out and play in this? Can I give you guys some money to have breakfast out?"
Oh well. I guess I should be good mom and offer to make pancakes or something, huh.
I'll be back...
Friday, February 10, 2006
More art from Bill Saunders. Thank God I have something to make me happy today.
Yeah, this wasn't one of my better days. Julie and Matt left for their holiday in Montreal at 2:00 a.m. and I love Julie so much, but she felt the need to wake me before leaving and I couldn't fall back asleep. I was worried about the two of them driving to Canada in the middle of the night; I was worried about the approaching snow storm; I'm worried as I sit here now because I just heard we may have twelve inches by Sunday night and then it's moving north and that's when and from where they're driving home.
Conversely, I am also very happy about the snow. Playing with the dog outside when we have a substantial amount is one of the simple pleasures of my life. And now that I no longer have to walk to work in it, I'm back to being a kid again and I get all excited when I hear we may be having a blizzard.
But today really did suck..
I started out by seeing my doctor who told me my blood pressure had soared again and wants me to double my meds, which means I'm going to be a complete zombie. So I went online and have been studying hypertension all day, and in between being positive I'm going to die, I've been realizing what an idiot I am because I hate to exercise and I hate to diet and if I would just walk a couple miles a day, join a gym, and give up white sugar and coffee and fried food, I might not need meds at all. Because I'm extremely worried that if I do need to double them, I'm going to end up seriously fucked because they really affect my creativity and writing in general.
So that's the plan. And I am doing yoga. I just need those people to stop chanting. I can't handle the chanting. I need to sneak in my iPod. But then I won't hear what the instructor is telling us to do, and she'll make an example of me when I fuck up, just like in every exercise type class I've ever been in, starting with first grade at Julia Ward Howe elementary school.
"What do you mean you can't do a push-up, Robin?"
"Everyone can do a push-up! You're not trying!"
Okay, if you say so. I still can't do a push-up. Or it's evil twin, the chin-up.
"Where's your gymsuit, Robin? What? You don't like wearing one piece periwinkle blue bloomers which snap all the way up to your neck and have your name embroidered in big white letters across your tits? What, you think you can wear your black hippie clothes in here?"
And then they made us square dance. Good lord. I was a senior in high school in the freaking seventies and they still made us square dance with each other. And in those bright blue bloomers. The guys had gym in a separate room but for square dancing, they were allowed to join us. They had to wear thin white shorts and white t-shirts.
Err...you can just imagine. They had it worse than we did, for sure. Because we noticed everything.
But our bloomers were ridiculous. If you had to pee, you had to unsnap the entire thing and get naked in a girls' communal bathroom (you know I never wore a bra and yeah, yeah, we all noticed who had big boobs and who had tiny bumps and who used crumpled tissues har har). Oh, the agony. The things kids do not have to endure today...they haven't a clue. Though I was really distressed when they recently reinstituted dress codes in Philadelphia public schools. It was my generation who abolished them...I remember having to wear a dress in elementary school and then all of a sudden we were allowed to wear jeans and I felt so free! Now, like everything else in this fucking country, we've taken a giant step backwards into the fifties. Bleh. Have I mentioned how much I hate Republicans and the whole conservative/right wing movement lately? Oh well, 'nuff said about that...there's a million blogs out there who do it better.
Oh and the reason I can't join a gym is because of spandex, exhibitionists, and disco music. I don't think I have to elaborate any further on that one. But I did once give it a try and yep, you guessed it, was immediately made an example of in the step class. Apparently I can't even walk up and down a step properly.
Anyway, Eric was kind of mentioned in today's Daily News because they interviewed Adrian Belew about his involvement with Rock School. Here's the article where they refer to him without saying his name...I'll underline the applicable part:
Belew to mentor, teach & solo at School of Rock
By JONATHAN TAKIFF
Adrian Belew has let his "twang bark" guitar howl in some pretty incredible company through the years, recording and touring with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, the Talking Heads and its offshoot, Tom Tom Club, on some of their most memorable projects.
Belew also pops up several times on the Greatest Progressive Artists list as a core member of the No. 1-rated King Crimson, for his sunny, pop/rock projects with the Bears and as the front man of his own trio and solo discs. (A track from his "Side One" CD was nominated for but lost out at the Grammys Wednesday night in the best rock instrumental category.)
This weekend, Belew is really working through that grand old man of rock thing. He's been cast as mentor, visiting professor and guest soloist for the School of Rock, the Philly-rooted and now nationally expanded music school.
Tomorrow afternoon, Belew conducts a seminar for students at the Downingtown SOR branch. That night, he'll perform with several bunches of the young (age 11 through mid-teen) players for two shows at World Cafe Live. It's actually the third stop of the crew's four-city East Coast mini-tour, concluding Sunday at New York's Knitting Factory.
School of Rock founder Paul Green - a steadfast advocate for complex, progressive rock - had been in hot pursuit of Belew for some time.
"They sent me their documentary to watch [which included guest appearances by other Zappa band alumni], then I went to the Web site and thought, 'This is a really cool thing,' " Belew shared in a chat on Wednesday.
"We rehearsed for the first time last night, and it went very well. Paul and I picked out the material, mostly from my catalog but also including Beatles and Hendrix songs. The idea is to challenge these kids a bit. It's difficult stuff for them to play, and they did really well."
While they're billed as the School of Rock All-Stars, Belew is performing strictly with current students and will gently steer the jams "so the best players get a solo or two."
But for the first rehearsal, Green also brought in some SOR graduates "so we could play just for fun and I could see what happens with these kids when they move on," Belew explained. "A couple are now teaching, others have moved on to college. You can definitely see the progression, how much better they've gotten. It's pretty inspiring."
Enough to make him think about joining the School of Rock faculty in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn.? "I don't have time for a regular teaching gig, but I'm definitely thinking about how I can help out there."
Playing the go anywhere, do anything, gun-for-hire role is something this dexterous talent "really enjoys," he said. (And when not playing, he sidelines as a abstract painter.) "But frankly, it's also what it takes to survive in the music business these days, if you're not in a first-tier band that tours and records all the time."
Belew has also been enticed in recent years to produce albums with the Mexican progressive rock leaning Jaguares, "who're sort of a Spanish-speaking U2, very strong, spiritual," and tracks with the Christian rock band Jars of Clay. And in his kick-butt power trio, he's collaborated with longtime devotees Les Claypool of Primus and Danny Carey of Tool.
"Now those are musicians that the School of Rock kids can identify with," he modestly declared.
So that's cool, at least. Continuing on with the day from hell, the next thing that happened is that Eric's brand new Mac laptop died today and it said "fatal error" which means the hard drive fried. That was his Christmas present and it's not even two months old! He's really freaked out, because even though we have Apple Care and it's under warranty, he's afraid he's lost all of this music he's written in the past month.
Let's just hope that the nice techie men in the Apple Store can help us tomorrow and fix things assuming they aren't closed due to our approaching snow storm.
Anyway, that's it for me. I think I'll curl up with the dog and watch a DVD. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
So as I mentioned yesterday, my son, Eric, also is drummer for a wonderful Captain Beefheart tribute band founded by Bill Saunders, a/k/a Doctor Dark. When we visited Bill at his home last fall and I saw his artwork, I fell in love and have been meaning to showcase some of his paintings here for some time. Now is as good a time as any, huh. I have lots more pictures and I hear there are some great stories behind each painting -- I just need to get them from Bill! Or, if you are interested in hearing them first hand from the artist, there is contact information on his website. Cool? Cool.
Amazing, though, how many musicians and writers are also talented artists. Just off the top of my head: John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, and John Entwistle. I made John a link because you should really go visit his site -- there's a wonderful memorial to him where there are several stories from "regular" people who've met him; there's artwork and CDs for sale, etc. I went to John's opening at an art gallery in Philadelphia about a year before his death...he was sitting in a loft like second floor peering down at us...apparently his hearing was so bad at that point that the sounds coming from crowds of people upset him terribly and the only way we could have a one on one meeting with him would be to buy a painting and have him personalize it. Weird. Who would want a personalized painting? It's one thing to have an autographed book from Neil Gaiman (ha ha), but to have "To Robin, Love, John" on a painting? Bleh! Anyway, when he realized everyone else pretty much felt the same, especially as his paintings started in the thousands, he eventually came down and joined the crowd with earplugs.
And if you're not hip to his solo album with Joe Walsh, oh my God, you are missing a classic from your collection. It's called Too Late The Hero and I've provided you with my absolute favorite place to buy hard to find CDs on line, Djangos. Too Late The Hero is a song which will give you chills, but I'm partial to another song on the CD called "Talk Dirty". (Big surprise) and "Try Me", which has lyrics I naturally adore and if you know me personally, you'll see why when I give you a little taste now:
I can tell by the smile you're trapped in
You've been smoking your breakfast again
Real life specimen, Space Captain
Know where to stop but you don't know when.
Try me, I could be all that you need to get high
Try me, I don't promise to teach you to fly
Try me, I could be all that you need to get high
Try me, I don't promise to teach you to fly.
Yeah, so all I need is to meet a "Me". Ha ha -- just kidding. No, really, I am. But I can never resist a cheap joke.
Speaking of music, one of my pals attended the Grammys last night because he played keyboards on a nominated song. He may not want me to identify him because of the nature of his "playful" e-mail, so I'll keep him anonymous....but here's what he had to say:
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Well, ----- didn't win and neither did Nickel Creek. However, I really had an AMAZING time at the Grammys tonight. It was really excellent! There were so many great performances and not very many lame ones.
The performances I enjoyed the most were by U2 with Mary J. Blige doing "One," Bruce Springsteen playing "Devils & Dust" by himself, Kelly Clarkson was stunning, Paul McCartney played "Helter Skelter" which made me freak out because I LOVE that song so much, and then Linkin Park took the stage with Jay-Z and eventually Paul McCartney and they did "Yesterday" which was also really amazing. I also enjoyed seeing Madonna.
So I had a really great time. And no, _____ didn't win, and neither did Nickel Creek, and sadly, Kanye West did manage to win a couple, but I had an excellent time and I hope that I will have the honor of attending again in the near future. And I can still say that I played on a song that was NOMINATED for a Grammy and that's still pretty freaking cool.
Music is the best.
P.S. The lamest thing Kanye did, which wasn't on the telecast, was that after he lost for "Record of the Year," he walked around the stage trying to get people to cheer for him.
So that's from my Grammy nominated pal, straight from the event last night. Pretty wild, huh?
I'm gonna forgive him for loving Kelly Clarkson and Madonna, etc. because he's only 27 years old and he's an amazing, amazing musician...but otherwise, I'd be giving him major shit about that. And ugh, have I mentioned how much I loathe Bruce Springsteen? Oh well. Nobody's perfect, not even my aforesaid talented pal.
I also really, really despise U2 and can't believe they won 5 Grammys...wait a second, this is a country who voted for George Bush, Sr. and Jr. so I guess I can believe anything.
In other news, readers of this blog will recall my bizarre "encounter" with author David Niall Wilson a couple of days ago and David is now my e-mail buddy. I am in the middle of reading his wonderful, wonderful book, Deep Blue.
Here's a synopsis:
Brandt is a down-and-out guitarist and vocalist who believes his life has hit rock bottom. He can barely make the rent on his apartment, he drinks so much he can barely make it to the crappy gig that keeps his band afloat, let alone play when he gets there. When he leaves the bar one dark night with a bottle of Jose Cuervo in one hand and his guitar case in the other, he finds he's locked out of his apartment with nowhere to go. As he stands alone in the dark and feeling sorry for himself, he hears a lone harmonica being played in the distance. The sound is deep and powerful, and something in the music draws him away from his doorway and into an old alley where the homeless gather around garbage-can fires. What he finds there is the harmonica player -- an old black man who can play the blues like Brandt dreams of doing himself. When he begs the old man to teach him, Brandt finds that he has been both gifted and cursed.
Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say about Deep Blue:
In this engrossing, poetic novel of spiritual evil and the possibility of salvation from Wilson (This Is My Blood), a burned-out musician, Brandt, is playing in an obscure band when he hears a homeless black man, Wally, play the purest blues on the harmonica he has ever heard, music that encapsulates all the pain of the world. Brandt begs Wally to teach him how to play the same way. He disregards Wally's warning that he would have to take the pain into himself, and then play to purge it lest it consume him. Brandt's performance that evening changes the lives of his fellow band members. Together they discover that they can play not to wake the dead but to settle restlessly roaming spirits. Opposing them is a sinister figure masquerading as a man of God, who wishes the pain to go on and on. As Brandt and the other band members slowly and convincingly come to realize that a larger world surrounds them, Wilson demonstrates that a horror novel doesn't need gallons of blood to succeed, that spiritual terror can be even more effective.
Of course once I finish up reading I'll have more to add as well, but if you do nothing else today, buy this book, pick up the Entwistle CD, and get in touch with Bill Saunders a/k/a Doctor Dark about his amazing artwork.
Trust me - you'll end up having an awesome time.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Okay, obviously I had a camera problem last evening. Yeah, that's right. It was the camera. That's Eric with his band, Flamingo, at the Knitting Factory.
The second photo shows my drummer son playing guitar on a Flaming Lips cover. Who knew? (I did. He also plays sax, marimbas, piano, bass...sigh.)
So that's Flamingo, minus lead guitarist Haffie who had to be at a Jesuit retreat as part of a class project so he couldn't be there. Somehow that strikes me as hilarious.
Eric had quite a day - he jammed with Adrian Belew (so did Julie), they had a blast, and then it was off to the Knitting Factory.
Fun show. The crowd was sparse, and about age 12 (okay, it was an over 21 show but...ack, never mind), and the few people who were there really seemed to enjoy the music.
I was really touched that Bill Saunders, a/k/a Doctor Dark surprised us and showed up with the lovely Nancy and also bestowed...get this...a comic book on me that he wrote and illustrated. You have no idea how cool it is. I need to take some photos and post them, along with Bill's art. I promised that months ago and will fulfill it! If you click on Bill's website, you will see he has a familiar drummer!
And now, speaking of comic books, in the "This Just Isn't Right" Department...what seems to be my daily tribute to Neil Gaiman as I fan myself and apply cold compresses to my forehead:
And to my writer pal in Long Island...yeah, you know who you are...save yourself the trouble of e-mailing this to me...and my crystal ball tells me it's your new screen saver until hubby sees it.
I want a writing cabin (Susan...I mean, anonymous writer pal)...don't you? Christ, and at first all I aspired to own was a vintage fountain pen. Then it was a Moleskine journal. And now I won't rest until I have a writing cabin.
But in the meantime, sorry for the abreviated post. I have much more to say, as well as posting some of Bill's aforesaid art. But it's like a lunatic asylum in here right now and I must go make nice with my family.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Sorry - I know I've posted this photo of Julie and Eric in Hollywood before but I will never get tired of it and can't even believe it was taken only around six-seven months ago.
So both Julie and Eric are performing for Adrian Belew tonight in a private showcase at the downtown Philadelphia branch of Rock School. I wish I could be there, but as previously stated, it's probably better I'm not going because I'd probably do the proud mother crying thing and act like an idiot in general.
In case you are too lazy to click on the Belew link and don't know who he is, he was the guitarist for everyone from King Crimson to Frank Zappa to David Bowie and now he's gone solo with a band of his own.
After that, we literally have to jet to the Knitting Factory in New York because Eric's got a gig at 10:00 p.m. with his band, Flamingo.
I'm kind of worried (wait -- when aren't I worried) that the Knitting Factory isn't exactly going to be packed on a Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m. for a relatively unknown band from Philadelphia so if you live in New York and are reading this and you're able to make it, I'll be your friend forever and buy you a beer.
Though even Eric is anxious about this show because they are missing one of their lead guitar players -- he's got to go on a Jesuit retreat as part of his senior project for St. Joe's prep.
Ah, it's not easy being a rock star but one thing Eric has is plenty of experience with adversity after touring with Rock School for years. Ha ha - who will ever forget the west coast tour of 2004. We had everything from floods in Denver (yeah, Denver) to transvestites at a condemned hotel in Las Vegas.
Man it was the best time of my life only I didn't appreciate it while it was happening.
Quick John Lennon quote: "Life is what happens while you are busy making plans".
And: "He who stands with one foot in the past and one foot in the future is pissing on the present".
Actually, regarding the west coast of 2004 tour, check that. The Seattle and LA Rock School movie tour this past summer was the best time of my life, followed by the Les Paul gig at the Roseland Ballroom in October.
Wait, no, Zappanale in Bad Doberan, East Germany, 2003 -- that was it.
Or...hmmm...England with Julie and Matt while she toured with McRad in October, 2005.
Okay, Rob, time to stop living vicariously through the kiddies. What was your best time?
Signing books at the Phaze Authors In the Pink Event at the Pink Banana in Virginia with a giant penis balloon bobbing over your head? Ha! That was way wild, as was the tour of the S&M dungeon in a residential Virginia neighborhood.
Hey, speaking of Phaze, here is how we did as a group in the 2005 Preditors and Editors Poll:
2005 Readers Poll Results
21: Dare Me, Leigh Ellwood (Phaze)
23: Apocalypse Dance, M. Barnette (Phaze)
11: Three Days in New York City, Robin Slick (Phaze)
16: Erotique, Alessia Brio (Phaze)
16: Jack of Hearts, Leigh Ellwood (Phaze)
17: Sweet Seductress, Mae Powers (Phaze)
14: Heat Wave, Eden Bradley (Phaze)
15: Night of Inspiration, Jenna Allen (Phaze)
16: Walls, Bridget Midway (Phaze)
16: Eden Bradley
19: Emily Veinglory
20: Bridget Midway
21: Robin Slick
21: Leigh Ellwood
Pretty cool, huh. We rock! And hey, I always wanted to be 21 again.
Not really. Well, I'd like my 21 year old face and body back -- but that's it. I don't know what the hell my brain was thinking back then but trust me, it wasn't good.
Okay, gotta fly for now. Eric and I are watching 200 Motels on the Sundance Channel. I'm in a state of shock over seeing former Zappa band members Don Preston and Jimmy Carl Black as their young, hippie selves. (In Germany at Zappanale, Jimmy Carl Black and I got very, very drunk together and he's another one who told me Eric is like the best fucking drummer he's ever heard. And Jimmy's a drummer! And Eric was only 16 at the time!)
Right. Back to the movie. And oh look, there's Ringo!
Monday, February 06, 2006
Spiderman must have morphed with Dubya, huh
And um, speaking of spiders...
You know, I don't believe in supernatural stuff and I'm no new age weirdo, but certain odd things have been happening to me lately which are really freaking me out. So I figured I'd share them.
First of all, I learned that the poem which Neil Gaiman read at Temple University, The Day the Saucers Came, is up at Spider Words. While I'm there reading early this morning, I see Spider Words is also featuring another poet, David Niall Wilson. I click on Wilson's work and really like his stuff. I make a mental note to myself: Check this guy out further later today.
Not even an hour later, I had an important errand to run, but obviously I have some strange form of cyber OCD because before I could walk out the door, I had to quickly click on my various online haunts first, and one of them is Susan Henderson's blog at Publishers Marketplace.
Imagine my shock to see that her featured writer of the day was David Niall Wilson. Before I could properly digest that information, I had to go out on said errand, came home around two hours later, and the AOL "You've got mail" thing was flashing.
I open the e-mail and literally gasped out loud. Can you guess why?
The e-mail was from David Niall Wilson!
I was reading your page at PM and thought I'd drop you a line. I wonder if you remember a group from the very early 70s and late sixties named Mind Garage? I'm currently working on a sort of pseudo-biographical book about the band and their years together. They performed what they called The Electric Liturgy and were on stage with Iron Butterfly and a few other big names -- came out on RCA. I'm looking for anyone with memories of them actually playing...and I'll be honest, even the band members don't have great memories about those days...I love the premise of your book, by the way....
David Niall Wilson
"The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone else he can blame it on."
- Robert Bloch
I mean, really. Who else could this happen to?
Do I have a higher power with a warped sense of humor or what? I know one thing, though. I really love that Robert Bloch quote.
But though I pride myself on my knowledge of music of that era, Mind Garage did not ring any bells. So I quickly went to their website and learned they had an encounter with my hero, John Lennon. Anyway, after having a thoroughly enjoyable time poking around, I wrote back to David with the news that I couldn't help him, but then of course because we're both music-obsessed writers and everyone knows writers love to e-mail, we started corresponding back and forth.
In the middle of all of this, I get a telephone call from Susan Henderson, who has never called me in the four years since I first met her -- I didn't even know she had my phone number.
We talked about David Niall Wilson among other things...but the best part of the conversation was that she calmed me down about my new book and gave me the tools I needed to focus (i.e., forget the word "agent" and just write..d'oh)
In the middle of all this -- David Niall Wilson sends me a PDF of his book, Deep Blue, because I told him all about my music connections and this book is about music and I told him I'd read it and promote it here.
I skimmed it briefly and got the chills. I can already tell it's going to be a fantastic read - I'll do a formal review in a day or two.
In the middle of all this -- I bought Susan Henderson's short story, Motorhead, off of Amazon shorts -- and oh my god, it's unbelievable. I have the Amazon link on the right hand side here as well -- buy it -- read it -- it'll be the best forty-nine cents you'll ever spend.
In the middle of all this, I get another email from David Niall Wilson, who tells me he has a new, unannounced "art" book, LOST AND FOUND, coming out later this year featuring work by Neil Gaiman and Lisa Snellings-Clark.
I never heard of Lisa Snellings-Clark until Saturday, when I learned I would be at something called Balticon.
And as readers of this blog know ad nauseam, I never heard of Neil Gaiman until I accidentally read his book four months ago and I've since met him and had some fun adventures as a result.
It turns out that Lisa and Neil are good friends -- he's even got her moving sculpture installed in his home.
Okay. So what does all this mean?
Damned if I know.
But if you ask me, I should be writing up a storm now, huh. I think these messages are just muses in disguise.
Though in the middle of all of this, I just got not one but two rejections for short stories I sent out. Oddly enough, both editors said "I really like this, but it's not right for us."
Having heard that line repeatedly from agents and publishers over the past several years, I'm thinking of having it tattooed on my chest. The only line I've heard more times is "We love this but it's just not marketable in today's climate"...whatever the fuck that means.
Let's see. I write about sex, drugs, rock and roll...dysfunctional relationships...hmmm...I guess the majority of the population would rather read about...what???
Ah, I wish I could give up, but I can't. I'm obsessed, possessed, whatever, with writing and other than my kids, little else matters. Okay, music. And the dog. And good sushi. But other than that, my needs are basic.
Actually, and this is true, now that it's been confirmed I'm an official uberdork, I do believe I'm going to try my hand at science fiction.
Why the hell not.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
The Happy Ending Lounge
Ha ha - forgive the Hullo. I'm whipped this morning -- I didn't get back from New York last night until maybe 2:00 a.m. and I kept falling asleep on the train, which of course naturally made me paranoid I was going to sleep through the stop in Philadelphia and wake up in Washington, D.C. so after struggling to stay awake on the ride home, I was in fact awake all night when I got here.
And I'm actually insane enough to be considering hopping back on a train for New York in a few hours to say Hi to Lou Reed (again) and attending the Opium gala tonight.
Last night's Opium Magazine reading was so much fun! As I said in my prior post, it was held at The Happy Ending, which is a former whorehouse...I mean, massage parlor...I mean...Asian Heath Food Store (cos' as you can see, that's what it says on their very pink awning...) and when you walk in, because of that awning, you feel like you're entering a secret society because there is no sign which says "Happy Ending".
Meanwhile, I just realized how funny that is. A whorehouse named "Happy Ending".
I should hope so!
Wait...before I go on with this story any further, I know I said I was through talking about Neil Gaiman, or gaimanizing, but my life is too fucking weird. I just got an email from my publisher (Mundania/Phaze) about participating in this year's Balticon. What the hell is Balticon, I wondered? Is it in Baltimore? I can do a book signing in Baltimore, that's like an hour and a half from Philly by train, and I could certainly do a four day event there; I even know a few people who live in the area and I'd love to hang out with them.
I clicked on the link and almost had a heart attack.
So yeah, looks like my publisher and therefore I will have a table there. Holy shit.
Getting back to last night...
The evening began with a poem by Tao Lin. He's unbelievable. It was crazy. Todd Zuniga, editor of Opium, who is a brilliant writer in his own right, was going to co-read with him but the audience was given a choice of three or four languages for his lines: French, Rumanian, or Swedish. (I think there was in fact a fourth choice but damn if I can remember what it was...it certainly wasn't something easy like Spanish). We of course being hipsters all shouted for Rumanian, which unfortunately meant Todd, who is not fluent in Rumanian but fluent in Swedish, did not read along with him but some gorgeous Rumanian writer guy with a shaved head read in his place and hmmm...note to self: Find out who he is!
Then we heard from a writer named Mike Sacks, who read this piece. Frat humor for sure but I loved it.
The next reader, Tom Lombardi, was hilarious. Oh my god, he read a piece about a hapless guy fucking all twelve members of his yoga class. At the same time. And each woman of course was another hilarious character - yuppie, artist, CPA...ha! Laugh out loud funny. And he wasn't even the headliner.
Up next was the totally insane and outrageously sexy Jim Ruland who read what was more like a performance...we were all so busy watching Jim deliver the goods...plus, he had a "plant" in the audience...and no one can convince me she wasn't a plant but it was all in great fun...who allegedly did not know him but read a few lines with him and somehow was able to execute them perfectly without one error even though it was very dark in there (and Robin thought to herself Thank god I've learned the print out in 16 font and memorize your story first rule).
Finally, we had Sam Lipsyte, and that link will also take you to Amazon to buy his book, which is totally hysterical. The premise of it is this: His character keeps writing to his high school alumni newsletter with updates that are never published but our hero just keeps on writing them anyway, and they are so fucking brilliant...he covers all kinds of crazy ground in each "update" he sends them. Buy the book! Ack, I was talking with him briefly before the reading. (See? I can talk to other writers without fainting, drooling, or clutching anyone's arm) He's got a twenty month old baby, he writes this magnficent book, and nevertheless has a full time job, affording him very little time to write at all. That sucks.
I was my usual great self. Brought the house down.
All kidding aside, I drank club soda last night - no alcohol, because I've also learned the "no alcohol prior to taking Amtrak" rule, having spent one too many times with my face in their disgusting train toilet. I also met Will Layman! I love Will Layman! And, I hung out some Zoers I've never had the pleasure of meeting prior to last night - writers Anne Elliott and Carol Novack -- as well as Zoers I have met like Ellen Meister, Don Capone, and sort of Zoetroper but former Philadelphian and now I'm-so-jealous-of him-New Yorker Dennis DiClaudio, who wrote a book with the absolutely hilarious title of
Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have.
Actually, talking to Dennis, who is probably young enough to be my son, damn it, was one of the highlights of my night. (Other than hanging with Ellen, who is just so cool and if only I had a pal in Philadelphia like her, but then again, we'd probably get sick of each other and resent spending time away from our writing so maybe it's better she lives in New York and I just come for visits). Getting back to Dennis, he's so terrific! Funny, warm...I dunno, sometimes for whatever reason you just really, really like a person and click with them and that's the way I felt talking to him. Can't wait to read the book!
So that's it for the writing part of my life right now -- I'm still trying to decide whether to return to New York later today.
In music news, I know you are all dying to know how Eric made out at the audition I mentioned the other night. Well, I'm not allowed to say much, just that the person for whom he auditioned said he was a "slam dunk".
I really should not throw in these teasers but can't resist...all I can say is, next week I should have a lot more to say.
But let's put it like this: My very talented and lucky son will be in L.A. sooner than later, and in the meantime, he's getting ready for rehearsals to go out on tour with Project Object this spring. I'm still waiting for Project Object to update their website and when they do, I'll post the link.
Okay...what to do, what to do. I guess I'll drink some coffee, which will at least eliminate the going back to sleep aspect of my decision making.