Instead of watching the riot-lootin' be televised, my baby and me plugged in some classic footage of Billie Holiday performing - singing, vocalizing, whatever you want to call it - her revolutionary piano-and-voice protest/masterpiece, "Strange Fruit." With that song Lady said it all - music can transcend reality, censorship can't stop truth (the song was banned and Columbia refused to allow her to record it), and the black ain't jack in this white man's land. Riots are bullshit, as detrimental, in a different way, as the stated cause of their incitement. Nonetheless, the sour taste of that strange and bitter fruit remains. Those trees Lady set about musically chopping to the ground are growing tall and strong in Los Angeles - no, in America - and there's still blood on the leaves.
Show me: The Whiskey's pouring live blues on Monday with the mighty Joey Gilmore. Holy Terrors, who you've been reading so much about (ahem), are skedded Friday at the Institute. The Mavericks, whose album is coming out any minute now, join Nil Lara (fresh from SunFest) on Friday at Churchill's Hideaway, where the Mavs' video, partly shot there, will be shown. The Church - love that nickname, who coined it? - also hosts a WVUM-FM benefit starring the Rails, Second Coming, the Shrugs, and the UM Jazz Band on Saturday.
Me and Wayne Huizenga and Jerry Lewis and Choirboy Flood and 15,000 others rawed our throats at the first ever Miami Heat play-off game in the Arena last week. Workers gave out free "clackers" to attendees beforehand. Folks, you haven't lived until you've seen 14,999 people with either money, connections, or both (else they wouldn't be there), most of them grown adults, playing with clackers. What's worse is all the Miami Herald could write about the next day was those damn clackers. Nobody had either the brains or the balls to cite the game's most important factor: that Michael Jordan, who scored 56 points, is a cheatin'-ass son-of-a-bitch and the NBA is even dirtier for letting him get away with felonies. (Can you blame a guy for cheating when the officials permit him to do so?) Mike's left-hand-hook-your-man, off-the-dribble move was devastating - and it's also as illegal as hell. Never called it. And another thing. Pre-game activity included a laser and fireworks show. Bartender told me it cost $25,000. Gosh, with that kinda K you could almost build a community center in Overtown so disadvantaged young people could devote their plentiful spare time to learning The Game, maybe even an illegal off-the-dribble move that could make them billionaires one day. And another thing. The smoke from the fireworks filled the Arena, making it look like South-Central after the party. (The Cubs traded Andre Dawson to the Dodgers for a minor leaguer and two cops who can hit - I know, I know, there's nothing funny about it.) Anyway, the place is filled with smoke when the announcer comes on saying that fans are requested not to smoke as a favor to the players' health and your neighbors' comfort. Beauty. There was one wonderful thing about the whole affair - local stalwart Ruby Baker blew the roof off with her gorgeous reading of "America the Beautiful."
Crying tape: Haven't heard lately from one of my favorite bands, Glass Eye. That's okay, 'cause there's the new Arson Garden Wisteria to fill the void: bizarre guitar-bass-drum tripping with tortured, as a critic would say, vocals by April Combs. No, you can't dance to it, but you should definitely listen to it. Also out is a new/old collection of Ultra Vivid Scene stuff (look for the big toothbrush on the cover). I never cared much for Kurt Ralske's soporific approach, but you gotta love the lyrics to "The Whore of God." A sample: "But a kiss on the lips/Is far too much for anyone/So kneel and pray/Until you're sore/You're the whore of God."
Baby out on the streets: 1) You walk by a beat cop and hear his radio squawking "man beating woman at...."2) Some sportin' sharp boyz walk by a beggar, toss him some chump, and a few steps on, one of the boyz says, "Hear that, man, some `spare change'? How about getting a spare job." 3) Up at the Farm Store, little guy and an older woman working there, and the little guy has blood all over his pants, and there's a tiny puddle of the stuff, too, and he tells me it isn't his blood, then he goes over to talk to the cops, who've finally arrived. I saw a big guy walking away before the cops got there, and apparently he caused some trouble, so I ask the lady 'zup. Sure enough, the big guy had raised a ruckus. He scuffled with the little working man. And it's not his blood? The woman is a bit shaken, can't quite smile, but explains what went down with a word: "Karate." Justice on the streets? Wow. Guess it has to happen somewhere.
Okay, okay, I swore on a stack of Born to Runs I'd leave this to the hacks and whacks who think there's still something to say about Bruce Springsteen. So I lied. What else is new? If you wanna read my review of newbruce, dig out a copy of the November ish with the Parking Free hoax, change the song titles, and there you go. It all stands. Anything stands when it comes to lucubrating (or is it verbal masturbating?) about Big Bruce. I mean, the most insightful commentary I've seen - and baby I've seen plenty! - was in the Sun-Sentinel's "Teentime," which allows high school students to get off critically. Pitts and Wilker? Yeah, there's a couple of real hard-core Bruce-ites for ya. I just couldn't hardly wait to read what Leonard and Deb would come up with. Rolling Stone? Haven't read that one in a while, like about ten years, so dunno.
What I know is that I've now listened to Human Touch a few dozen times (hey, I get paid, albeit not enough, to listen to all kinds of shit) and the newbruce is derivative, mostly of Bruce Springsteen. "Soul Driver" is a reworking, and not a great one, of "This Little Girl Is Mine" from Gary U.S. Bonds's Dedication. "With Every Wish" is an inadequate rip-off of Greg Brown. Et cetera. Moreover, a lyric from Touch: "Now if you're lookin' for a hero/Someone to save the day/Well darlin' my feet/They're made of clay." An old lyric from Born to Run's "Thunder Road": "Well now I'm no hero that's understood/All the redemption I can offer girl is beneath this dirty hood." Shoulda stuck with the car metaphors, bossman. "Pony Boy"? Gimme a break. Keep it in your kids' bedrooms, dude. Go through the lyric sheet and note how many lines begin with the world "well." Well?
The dailies are saying as how Springsteen will appear this week on Saturday Night Live. Talk about 57 channels and nothin' on.
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So here's some real news involving Bruce, which we gathered even though his publicists have castrated us and cut us off since our little hoax last fall. Timmy Thomas is a vocalist with one of South Florida's finest bands, Gary King and the Dream. Two decades ago he had a huge hit, recently borrowed by McHammer for his Too Legit to Quit album. When he played live here, sources say, McHammer performed "Tell Me (Why Can't We Live Together)," and brought Thomas out as a special guest. The rumor was that McHammer planned to drop the track as the next single. Now, we hear, the new idea is to make a "We Are da World" type video of it featuring McHammer, Thomas, and, yup, Springsteen.
Butthorn of the week: Sony Music, Bruce Springsteen, and the whole bloody lot of 'em. But not because of the music. It's a rare day when I buy an album, because I get 'em all (except Bruce, of course) free from flacks hoping I'll plug 'em and you'll buy 'em. I literally don't have enough time to listen to everything people want me to listen to. But being a fiercely dedicated professional and all (not to mention that I'm reimbursed by my always-helpful employers), I moseyed to a CD store and bought a copy of Human Touch. (I don't get paid enough to listen to Lucky Town.) So what happens? First, walking out the store, alarms go off - the clerk forgot to debug the security stick-on. But finally I make it back to the office and pop the cassette in my brobox. Kzzklckllzz. Ate it like Mikey. Had to walk back to the store and get a copy that'd play. Caveat emptor, I'll say.
The media circus, part one: I did catch a bit of riot coverage on teevy. One correspondent said something to the effect of "the rules have been thrown out here." Profound. And poor Rick Sanchez on Channel 7 referred to the actions being taken by "President Reagan." The truth comes out!
The media circus, part two: The Miami Herald explained the universe recently, using a patronizing Q&A format so us dumb-dumbs could understand the Big Bang Theory. Third question: "Does The Big Bang shoot holes in the biblical account of creation?" Jesus. No, common sense does that, but thanks a lot for asking. Hasta la vista, baby.