Program Notes

I've got more than some and less than plenty, but one thing I have of real value is old friends. Plenty of enemies, too, but I'm not going to waste time and space on them. One old friend is Rich Ulloa, mentioned here because he nailed it when he said, "This guy's a true American original" during Steve Forbert's [insert strong, positive adjective here] concert at Stephen Talkhouse. I've always liked Forbert's stuff, especially his past two albums, but this was over the top. Little Stevie Orbit and his guitar unrolled songs covering his career, including a late-set rendering of "Romeo's Tune" that, with a resonance and surety not captured on vinyl, made my ears curl. Even though the beer money had long-before vanished into a Rolling Rock black hole, I didn't want the show to end, ever, and neither did the bright, enthusiastic crowd, which loudly demanded encores. You can't win if you don't play, and it's tough going alone with just an acoustic guitar, but Forbert won big time. He was so moved by the passionate audience response that he invited everyone over to his place -- Room 412 of the Essex House -- for beer and champagne afterward. Opening act Mary Karlzen (she gets all the good gigs), acoustic and mostly solo, came through with another sparkling effort.

I also dropped by Cactus Cantina for Chris Smither, who can really play, but Forbert had pretty much ruined solo-acoustic performance for me for a while. The Choirboy, a good old friend, had joined us at the Forbert thang, so we then moseyed over to Rebar. (Yes, I set foot in Rebar. No, I'm not hallucinating.) Rebar was packed like a bong, gracious to our party, and mind-boggling, in that I'm just too old and tired to get it. Then Choirboy dropped us off at the Essex to party with Steve Forbert in Room 412. It took us some stumbling around the hotel before we realized that it has only three floors.

Show going: Gary King and the Dream try to bolster the local action with a gig tonight (Wednesday) at Talkhouse. Ho Chi Minh are back with a solid four-song tape and a show this Friday at Washington Square 'round midnight. Earlier the same night, this Friday that is, poet Lionel Goldbart, an old friend of mine, reads and speaks his formidable mind on WDNA-FM's Poet's Word show from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at 88.9 on your dial -- expect him to dis the book fair for missing the local boat. The daytime part of Friday is filled with the first annual Lumpy Sue Music Fest (noon at Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach), where all "guitarists, harmonica players, bongo drummers, and ex-hippies" should show up for music, relaxation, fun, and flashbacks. The vibe promises to be totally groovy; call 653-1974.

You can buy the new cassingle by Apples & Oranges ("Love Is What We Got" b/w a Spanish-language version of same) because it's solid synth-style pop. Or you can buy it because James Rosenquist contributed the cover art. Or you can buy it because proceeds will go to the Camillus Health Concern to help in the hurricane recovery process. You can buy it at Spec's, Y&T, Uncle Sam's, and Do Re Mi (in Little Havana).

Old friend Billy Mann -- a future superstar if I've ever had one play in my living room -- is doing just fine over in London, working with all sorts of biggies and soberly claiming via long-distance that Right Said Fred's members are actually cool guys (he opened one of their shows). Billy the Mann, as reported in "On the Beat" this past January, is carefully plotting his career, and all those fanatics who went nuts at his Washington Square gigs will be happy to know he's progressing as planned. Reason for the mention is that all the attention paid to the Suits, who played Talkhouse this past Friday, stuck to the fact that the guitar player is married to Kathleen Turner and that she would probably show up. Big deal. The Suits' bass player, Ron Bienstock, is Mann's attorney.

My old friend Max Weinberg, former E Street Band super drummer, is spaced out. The Mighty One is a terrific human being, and we liked a lot, and said so, his post-Bruce album Scene of the Crime by his new band Killer Joe. So does the crew of the space shuttle; they called it the favorite of the recordings they took into space recently. Weinberg says he was surprised about that news, adding that it gives new meaning to "worldwide release."

Butthorn of the week: More of an update/follow-up, really, although I guess the dis dishonor is all mine this week. "Your butthorn last week was totally a lie," bleats publicist Woody Graber on behalf of Stephen Talkhouse. "Ronnie and his band were invited guests and were invited on-stage by Evangeline. Ronnie Wood was the last one up there, he had to be coaxed. Evangeline was playing their third set, which they did as a courtesy to us so that there would be a chance for a jam. What those people saw that night was an incredibly special evening. They saw something special and it was in poor taste for you to make those statements." A bewildered and bemused Peter Honerkamp (Talkhouse co-owner) called to say the item was inaccurate (it wasn't; someone did bitch, and I granted him space, the rest is subjective) and unprofessional (finally a compliment!). More comments are still welcome, with this caveat: One reader's opinion -- any reader's, and any opinion -- counts a hell of lot more with me than what promoters, managers, club owners, publicists, publishers, record-company execs, or anyone else who thinks power and money grants them special treatment has to say. All that money music-biz powerbrokers collect comes from people working at Burger King, mowing lawns, heaving luggage at the airport, performing brain surgery, mopping floors, selling merchandise.... The person on the street -- the woman standing in line for tickets, the guy in the nosebleed seats -- is number one in this space. Period. Now if you want some juicy butthorns, just flip on the teevy during ratings sweep (this month) and you'll see plenty...

The media circus:...plenty of sex, natch. To be or become intellectually well-rounded one must occasionally invest time in teevy journalism. Last week such heady pursuits allowed one to view naked people involved in various sex acts, the sort of thing you normally have to go to the video store for. Dateline NBC on November 17 offered "Sex and the Media," an ironic title if ever. With all the journalistic substance of a Marmaduke comic panel, the report was nothing more that a blatantly hypocritical excuse to show some T&A while superficially addressing the effect of teevy T&A on young people. Silly, stupid, naive stuff, although I must admit I do see how a Prince video, or Prince itself for that matter, could lead to sexual confusion. The next night we were (mis)treated to 48 Hours' "Porn in the U.S.A." It was even more offensive because it was an hour's worth of fairly substantial reporting. No problem with the nudity and actual nontraditional sex acts shown, but the slant was way skewed, and there's the harm. Much of the sometimes hysterical reporting attempted to lend credence to the notion that porn somehow "brainwashes" people into going out and committing rape or murder. One guy had watched a sicko flick over and over, then committed a heinous act, and one legislator pitched a bill that would hold filmmakers, distributors, and retailers liable for such crimes. Might as well add an amendment that says you can sue Denny's if you're the victim of a crime perpetrated by someone who ate breakfast there.

Pet corner: Ever thought about leopards? I was reading where the males have distinct territories each to his own, but will also cross onto females' property, and not just during the weeklong mating period. Besides the patriarchal societal structure, distaff leopards have an accelerated gestation period (three months) so the family-valueless feline mother can hunt for herself and the young she must raise alone. Leopards possess sensory strength -- particularly hearing and sight -- several times that of humans. Solitary by nature, they're also aware of their planet -- they can be deposited hundreds of miles away and find their way back home. The gorgeous animals once ranged over most of Africa and Asia, but leopards (including the misnomered "black panther") are now, of course, protected because of wildly declining populations. This Friday is Fur Free Friday. If you see any animals, namely humans, wearing leopard-skin wraps, poach them.

Greg Brown lyric of the week: Yeah, yeah, I'm always mouthing off about how great this guy is, so here are some other opinions about Brown and his latest album, Dream Cafe: "MacArthur Foundation: Give Greg Brown a genius grant" (Utne Reader). "Dream Cafe's songs rival those on Dylan's masterpiece, Blood on the Tracks" (Z Magazine). "An unassuming triumph" (Washington Post). As for dissenting opinions, I haven't seen any.