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In Memorium: Steve Richmond

Steve Richmond
3 AM just posted that — according to Ben Pleasants — Steve Richmond has died.

I met Steve once, and wrote to him a couple times. He lived in a small house right on the beach at Holister Street in Santa Monica. I was in Los Angeles to hear Ginsberg read at McCabes; it was the 30th of March, 1991, and I know that because I showed up at Richmond’s house — unannounced — right before I went to the reading. Later that night, Ginsberg was nice enough to inscribe a copy of Photographs to me and date it.

Steve’s house was the closest to the beach. He’d been living there since the mid-60’s (that I know of) right after dropping out of law school to become a poet.

Imagine telling your folks you’re dropping out of law school to be a poet.

And showing up at a poet’s door to say hello and ask for some books to be signed is something I’d never do today, but I was a young, overzealous book nut, and I liked Steve’s work enough to do such a silly thing. He barely opened the door…and it was just enough to lean into it and tell me to leave.

I can’t blame him, really.

I don’t blame him.

The picture above, from left to right: Ben Pleasants, Charles Bukowski, and Steve Richmond.

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The Holy Glow that is Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
Pin a gold medal on my chest for being the worst blogger west of Bakersfield. If you don’t believe me, just look at the recent posts: the last over a month ago; then, some cheap ones in July and May (videos posted here take me, like, 4 seconds to do); you have to go back to my Paris trip last March to read anything of substance…and that substance — like most of my blogs — is questionable at best.

And I’m not even gonna make any sort of claims that things are gonna get any better, either.

I caught Dylan at the Palladium on the first night of this three-night run. He was good. Not great. Not terrible. The highlight of my evening was my date (a beautiful red-head girl I’m crushing on as of late) and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.

The Red Head seems interested.

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” was done so perfectly (and early in the show) it set a standard I compared the rest of his show to, and maybe that’s why I was let down after it was all said and done.

He did “Like a Rolling Stone” and “All Along The Watchtower” and a bunch of new stuff I didn’t recognize, and it wasn’t like I expected a Greatest Hits Show; I kinda knew what to expect, and it’s pretty much what I got.

But it’s Dylan …right? How can you not go to a Dylan show these days, especially if it’s right down the street from where you live?

What I didn’t expect were the $14 beers, which, I suppose, is indicative to my night-time habits in Los Angeles. If I went out more I’d know it costs a small fortune to get drunk in Hollywood.

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Lee and Moon and Galaxie 500

Lee Moses
A week ago, my little brother sent me a link to Lee Moses’s time and place. “I’m not big on downloading boots,” I said. He said something like, this record is impossible to find and it’s impossible not to love. He also said the reissue was so limited it’s impossible to find, too, and what’s the point of reissuing anything a limited edition? Isn’t that why you reissue a rare record? So everyone could enjoy it? (apparently 500 copies is what I could come up with.) I agreed with him and grabbed the record and I’m really glad I did. It’s really something special.

It was so hot in LA today I decided to avoid the heat, even if it set me back $14.50…so I caught Moon. Again, kudos to Little Bro, cause he saw it last week and told me to see it ASAP. Imagine Phillip K. Dick slamming headfirst into 2001: A Space Odyssey. Imagine someone much better than I coming up with a better way to talk sensibly about the film — it shouldn’t be too difficult. Anyway, I really liked it. Duncan Jones directed Moon, but I like his birth name much better: Zowie Bowie.

Speaking of reissues, immediately after Moon I walked across the street to Amoeba and picked up Galaxie 500’s Today, On Fire, and This Is Our Music. I’m a big Luna fan, and I really didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to Galaxy 500 the first time around. I wish I did.

I also grabbed Dial “S” For Sonny and Mississippi Records’ latest Bishop Perry Tillis. All great stuff.

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Wilco -- the record

Wilco is streaming their new record called Wilco. You can listen to it right now…which I’d highly recommend.

I got hip to Wilco right about the time Being There was released. This was ’97, I think. I was in grad school, living in San Fransisco…and writing a whole bunch. I was living in a tiny room off Taylor Street in the TenderNob — right where the ‘Loin and Nob Hill meet.

I didn’t catch them live until their Sky Blue Sky tour. I went to their show at the Greek in Berkeley. Hours before I scored a nice, clean copy of Bud Powell’s Bud! (Blue Note 1571) from Peter Howard at his store Serendipity. I paid him a sawski for it.

As in 5 clams.

As in My Big Bargain of 2007.

If you hunt around at Peter’s store, go right to the flat files and scour them for broadsides and other weird ephemera. He has all sorts, and it’s really reasonably priced…although you’d never know what it’s priced, cause he doesn’t price most of that stuff. You just have to bring it up to him, and he prices it on the spot. Make sure you catch him in a good mood for the very best price (ie after the Giants win).

Someone set a day aside last month and called it “Record Store Day”. I don’t know who dreamnt it up. Did you hear about this? Indie record stores got all sorts of cool stuff in which you could only buy there — at your local indie shop.

Ashes of American Flags was Wilco’s contribution to Record Day, and it wasn’t even a record. It’s a DVD featuring three different shows with commentary in between some of the songs. It was totally sold out at Amoeba, which is where I shop most of the time for records while I’m in LA. In fact, most of the Record Store Day swag at Amoeba’s was long gone when I showed up the following Monday after Record Store Day. I did manage to find one last weekend when I went home to Phoenix for Mother’s Day. I also scored a great Pavement record, as well as a Dylan 45 of a new song, and a Flaming Lips 45, too.

Ashes of American Flags is most excellent.

I like the new record, too…but don’t ask me anything about Wilco and expect anything other than “it’s great!”, cause — as far as I’m concerned — Tweedy and Crew can do no wrong.

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The Los Angeles Festival of Books

The LA Festival of Books

April whizzed by and me — without a blog entry for the month.

Can I make some time in May for anything synaesthesia?

I did make it to the LA Festival of Books. It was great. I went two days in a row, cause I needed that much time to check it all out. Plus, the first day I walked around the campus with no direction, just taking all that Academia in; so, a lot of the time I was just in the middle of UCLA and no where near the books.

Publishers were there. Booksellers were there. Even radio stations were there.
McSweeney’s had a booth. So did Ammo.Vroman’s was there, as well as some used and out-of-print dealers I’ve never heard of before.

The Buddhists had a booth, and they handed out all sorts of fun stuff, and it was all free. Of course they were super friendly and didn’t try to cram anything down my throat.

The Scientologists were there, and their booth had three sets of E-Meters buzzing, and I was going to have my friend Debbie take a picture of me submitting to one of their tests, or quizzes, or whatever it is you submit yourself to while clutching their E-Meter, but I decided not to. I was gonna toss the pic up on my Facebook and write some witty caption about the whole experience, and as I was talking to Debbie about snapping the pic, one of the Scientologists actually approached me to take their test.

“I’m afraid you’re gonna try and brainwash me,” I said in a very friendly way. I know it might sound offensive, and I made sure she knew that wasn’t my intent. But The Scientologist kinda picked up on where I was going with my joke, and all of a sudden she got kinda creepy and weird making fun of herself — which meant I definitely didn’t want to take the E-Meter Scientology Quiz.

The Muslims had a booth, and they handed out all sorts of fun stuff, and it was all free. They were super friendly, too, and they didn’t try to cram anything down my throat.

There wasn’t a Christian Booth; however, near the Food Court one Christian lady was screaming and yelling at everyone who passed by, and she was yelling about how God took us all out the first time with water, and this time it was gonna be way worse — cause He’s gonna use fire. And it’s going to happen very soon. The Christian Lady wasn’t friendly at all, and she didn’t hand out a thing.

The people-watching was almost as good as all the books.

One of the girls at the McSweeney’s booth was really cute, so I bought a copy of Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman just to make some more small talk with her.

Next to the McSweeney’s booth there was 826 Valencia, which is McSweeney’s program to help young writers (middle schoolers and high schoolers) with after-school programs in the inner-city. I donated twenty bucks.

I think my very favorite part of the whole weekend were The Nicotines, a two-girl combo consisting of an accordion player and another on the saw.

I spent more money than I should have, but you already know that.

The Nicotines at the LA Festival of Books