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A Spike Lee Joint Revisited

Da Mayor: Doctor, always do the right thing. Mookie: That's it? I got it, I'm gone. Last night, I watched "Do The Right Thing" all the way through for the first time in six or seven years. The first time I saw it was on July 4, 1989 with my mother. Pure cinematic fireworks. All-American and revolutionary. We were both intrigued by this movie that had made such a splash at Cannes earlier that year. We didn't know anyone else who'd seen it, but we had seen Spike Lee's previous movie ("School Daze" featuring my Dad.) There were only another dozen viewers in that theatre in Jacksonville. We had no idea what we were getting into. When the movie was done, we all sat through the credits in stunned silence. DTRT became a lightning rod that summer amid blockbusters like "Batman," "Ghostbusters 2," and "Indiana Jones 3." The opening sequence is iconic: Public Enemy's aural assault, the visual style of DP Ernest Dickerson

Not Desert Island, But the First 10 Discs I Bought

After talking with Murdy yesterday, I realized that a top 10 albums list would take me too much thought right now. And I would have to go through all of my ticket stubs to rank the top 10 concerts I've attended. But John and I got to discussing the first CDs we purchased, back when buying a CD meant something. They were about $15 a pop on average in 1988. Doing the inflationary math that's roughly $27 to you and me now. And you think music is a rip-off today! Ha ha ha. The very first title I bought, sheepishly, because I didn't actually own a CD player and somehow I thought the store clerk would know, was the Beatles' "Help!" Got it at the Wiz in the Pentagon City metro stop in NoVa after doing a tour of *duh* the Pentagon. So jogging my imperfect memory, between May and July 4 th of 1988, I purchased, in order... 1. The Beatles, "Help!" The Wiz , Pentagon City. 2. Prince & The Revolution, "Parade." The Wiz , Georgetown. 3 &a

Just Keep Blogging

Hey all, don't know when Blogger will update my posts, so I'll just keep writing with faith that you'll be reading this soon.  In music news, a friend of mine has been plying me with tracks he's been working on for the past several months. Today, though he left one on my voicemail that was very enticing. All bleeps and blurps , but solid. It might be a one-off, but with yet another article in RS about the demise of the CD, that's probably the way to go for a new release: digital only.  I'm also pondering recording some of the acoustic numbers I've been doing at Church. Some of you might be interested in hearing my arrangements. We'll see.  As you may get from my previous posts, I'm listening to a lot of Dylan. I've reloaded all of Bob's material onto my iPod . Hadn't listened to Time Out Of Mind or Modern Times since late '06. Times was my favorite record that year. Word on the street is that Dylan's got a hard-country set co

Pressing On

Hey Family, Blogger is experiencing lots of glitches right now. So much of this may be repeated material from this week's blogs. Hopefully these past few posts will get published. This morning, Church was wonderful. Pastor Joey's message was deep. He discussed how our personal faith is a private matter. You've got as much right to ask me if I've been saved as I have to ask how much money you make. You can probably guess, no alter calls at our church. I know for a fact that I'm loved and I'm trying to get right with Christ. Life is still challenging and exhausting, but the reward is greater for the effort. Today during worship, I sang Pressing On from Dylan's 1980 LP Saved . This evening, I bought the whole disc (thanks Jackie & Medardo , it's a Birthday present!) from iTunes . It's an underrated work. I prefer it to Slow Train Coming , Dylan's first born-again record. I'm digging the title track, What Can I Do For You? and Solid Rock

Hands And Feet

Last night was our final drawing class at the Norton-Simon museum in Pasadena. It was part of a series of 4 lessons. I did fairly well with the head and face. But two sessions of the body/torso did me in. However, I made a nice comeback with the hands and feet. Didn't know I had it in me. It doesn't hurt to have 17 th and 18 th C. masters to study. I've mentioned my appreciation for the N-S before. Highly recommended. My previous blog met with lots of glitches. I still can't tell if it published. So, just in case, a reminder: tomorrow I will be singing the Just As We Are segment in church at 10:30. The selected song is Bob Dylan's Pressing On from his 1980 LP Saved . Time to work! Peace & Love

Random Notes From Hollywood On Ash Wednesday

Hey Y'all. Been a good week for you, I hope. Got in a little while ago from communion for Ash Wednesday. God only knows how much I needed it. It was a silent service in Boyer Chapel. One of my favorite spaces. Last night, we went to the Groundlings ' theatre to see Jeremy Rowley reprise his show Inland Empire . Some bits were reruns and there were several new sketches, but it was all inspired illness. Jeremy plays these unhinged characters from the Riverside area; his mathematically challenged Dad in " Family Dinner" was a favorite of mine. You may know Jeremy's voice from the Lost Untangled shorts on ABC. Or check out his shorts on YouTube: Kids are Safe is Germanic madness and I don't even know how he filmed Trippin ' At D-Land . Something that struck me going to the Groundlings on Melrose was the loss of the Gig. I must have played the Gig several dozen times between 1997-2006. It had been two-plus years since my last appearance there with R.H.S.

No Sophomore Slump

I just finished doing something I haven't done in a decade or two. I played several dozen Beatles songs, including I'll Be Back, Tell Me Why, Julia and Michelle , on my (new) acoustic guitar. Picked up an inexpensive Yamaha with birthday funds. It occurred to me that I've never actually owned a real acoustic guitar. The first guitar I ever bought, and it's displayed in the corner of this very room, is not a hollow body, but is considered an acoustic electric. It's not really good for either, but it's a piece of my musical history. Anyway, after the old Ibanez couldn't hold a tune in church today, I determined that it was time for a new member to join the family. It took me about 90 minutes to pick out a guitar and then the salesman brought out a minty fresh one from the stock room. Trying to help the musical economy! So this evening, I unwrapped the new guitar, tuned it up and went to town. First I worked on what will be the special music at church next m

GRAMMY Live Blog

11:29 PM Last year's Grammy Show was superior. Even though this one had Radiohead , U2 and Macca . I thought that Springsteen was invited. Glad we didn't go after all. Save the dough for next year. We have Springsteen and U2 to look forward to next time anyway. OK, in the morning, I'll format this blog into chronological order.  Checking the non-televised winners, I find some solace. Duffy won pop album of the year for Rockferry which improves with each play. Zappa Plays Zappa won best rock instrumental! Springsteen's Girls In Their Summer Clothes won best rock composition aka song. Hands down, the best lyric of the past several years in any genre. Peter Gabriel's spiritual Down To Earth from Wall-E   nabbed best song written for a film. My choice for video, Weezer's Pork & Beans was a winner. I got the long-form Grammy winner Peter Bogdonovich's Running Down A Dream for my birthday this weekend (thanks, cousin Chris). So the pre -awards would have

Happy Birthday, Stewart

Ah, post-Birthday musings. What a wonderful night last night. The Aroma cafe was perfect. Even if were outdoors and had waterfalls on three sides of our casbah . Some of you know that I sponsor a child through World Vision . His name is Stewart and he resides in Uganda with his family. I became connected to him through World Vision's Experience Africa exhibit last year. There were so many children in need of monetary and spiritual support to choose to sponsor. It was overwhelming. I selected Stewart because of his angelic face and because his birthday falls the day after mine. So, I'm taking the time to wish Stewart a very happy 8 th Birthday! I know he won't see this blog, but this little man, his family and village are in my daily prayers. Prayers for a long, healthy and happy life, free from violence, disease and poverty; full of fun, peace and God's love and care. I hope he got his present on time. Stewart's WV liaison wrote me a note that was decorated with

Rainy Night In NoHo

Thanks to everyone who sent their Birthday wishes. Extra thanks to those who braved the rain to join me for cake at Aroma. The donations to World Vision were wonderful. To my extended family and friends near and far, I want you to know that you are loved and appreciated. You make me feel so young! Peace & Love

The 100 Yard Dash Away From The 30's

Dog my cats, it's raining. I've spent the evening putting together a few collages for my birthday gathering tomorrow night. Yes, I will be working at the studio tomorrow. I've got performers counting on me. My new extended family. Anyway, I have boxes of pictures I haven't looked through in (gosh) a decade in some cases. Back to the Idle Kings, the beginning of my life in Los Angeles, my misspent youth. Just a few random thoughts. 1. Etta James is justified, little crazy, but so. She should have been invited to sing for the Obamas as long as At Last was part of the programming. This is Beyonce's second miscue, after last year's Grammy's when she called Tina the "Queen of Soul." Huh? Now, I know Beyonce is not responsible for either incident, but she's the common ground in each. 2. Franz Ferdinand continues to challenge me. This group puts out an album and makes me want to get right back at it. Tonight: Franz Ferdinand has some wonderf

Main Events I Won't Be Attending

Just when I thought it was safe to not attend the Grammys . The tickets are very expensive, even for voting members of the Academy. Plus, the nominees list wasn't that thrilling to me. So, I made the executive decision to stay home. Last year for the 50 th Grammy Awards, rumor was that McCartney and Michael would perform. Don't get me wrong: Tina tore the house down after Aretha raised the roof. It was a heckuva a show, but what if... Now in the past 72 hours came announcements that Macca , Springsteen, Radiohead and Jay-Z would be there. Oh, and then today comes word that Kid Rock, Robert Plant and U2 will be on the bill. Whaaaaa !? Well, I'm just going to watch it in HiDef in the comfort of my own home. Maybe I'll put on the tux and strut around the beige carpet and loiter by the bar in my kitchen nursing a glass of veggie juice. Still, no Michael, so I can rest easy. Then, in the e-mail this morning came the lineup for Coachella which Prince headlined last yea

Eli Stone Hits Britain

Thanks to the UK Soul Mates who alerted me that they heard " Everyone's Ingenue" on telly! Here in the States, the season premiere of Eli Stone was back in October. Nice to know that the show made it across the pond, my song intact. And better yet, that some of you caught it. In music news, I will not be performing at this year's IPO in Liverpool. But, I'm contemplating a return to the UK in 2010. Even numbered years seem to work out well. If God wills it, I will be there to entertain you... somehow. Peace & Disco Beats

"Definitely, Maybe" - Great LPs of My Lifetime (First In A Series)

Days like today remind me of my discovery of Oasis. Rain coming in sideways, dreary January mornings walking to the bus stop and then on to the studio with an uphill mush. The music on my walkman propelling my legs made by five lads from Manchester, England. It was the beginning of 1995. I had little exposure to British pop to that point. I knew Blur's campy Girls & Boys ; Elastica's booming Connection was all over modern rock radio. But that was about it. Then one night, I was in the Tower Records on Ventura when I spotted a magazine called MOJO . The headline was "The Band You've Always Wanted." Really? A few days later, I trotted into Hollywood to seek out this band's debut CD. For Christmas, I received a gift certificate to Blockbuster. They were pioneering the try before you buy model that eventually ran them out of business. It was my first time, so I sheepishly asked the attendant to listen to a disc called Definitely, Maybe . From the openi

Not So Chic, But Rock Hall Gets a Run(-DMC) For Its Money

Well, friends here we are a few days into the Obama administration and I'm still excited. Bought all the various newspapers I could. It will take me a while to read through them, but I'll do my best.  On to music. The Rock Hall class for 2009 was announced recently and as usual, I am disappointed by the omission of Chic. This band, not simply a disco act or one-hit wonder, deserves the recognition. Perhaps in another decade, founding member Nile Rodgers will be honored as an individual in a technical category for his production and writing prowess. Le Freak excites me every time I hear it. Their other big hits, I Want Your Love and Good Times form the basis of a great jazz influenced dance canon. Oh, well.  [Search my blogs for previous entries touting the worthiness of Chic's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.] As for this year's class, I'm only truly thrilled for Run- DMC . They are one of the cornerstones of hip-hop and modern rock. Yeah, I sa

King Day Thoughts

My first blog of the new year. Happy 2009 everyone. I am feeling optimistic and hopeful about the direction my life and the times are heading. I'm thinking about the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this morning. It's been several years since the last time I went to his childhood home in Atlanta. Yesterday I preached at church for the first time and used two excerpts from his speeches, the Nobel Prize Acceptance and the sermon the Drum Major Instinct. In researching Dr. King, a huge light bulb came on. I am actually a few months older now than King was at the time of his assassination.  Isn't that crazy? He was 35 when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. When I was 35, I hadn't even gotten the band to England.  My sermon was based on John 1:43-51, the calling of Phillip & Nathanael. It was entitled "Called (In The Name Of Love)." I spent time discussing how those disciples' reactions to their call was different, but ultimately yielded the same result;