Saturday, March 31, 2007

This morning, I witnessed a couple yoga chicks getting in a huge argument out on the street. It was beautiful. There they were in their pony tails, wearing their athletic clothes, holding their yoga mats, screaming at each other. I love Los Feliz.

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Check out my fire pix.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ever wanted to hear your name on Hudson & Gaines? Me too! Well, the folks at WBFK 1420-AM are here to offer you the deal of the century: If you can recruit one new fan of the show, we'll name a character after you! All you need to do is either have your like-minded bud become a MySpace friend with the show, or forward us an e-mail (goatlord44@gmail.com) in which the new fan is singing our praises.

Congratulations to COURTNEY FITZGERALD, who's already recruited one new fanatic!

What a deal: You get us one new fan, and you'll secure permanent citizenship in Great Haven!



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There's something very disturbing in the fact that the Los Angeles Police Department felt it had to commission manufacturers to invent a powerful flashlight that was so small it couldn't be used as a weapon. It's great that rogue cops won't be able to brain Angelenos with their torches anymore, but shouldn't there be a parallel effort to prevent cops from beating people in the first place? Call me crazy, but this seems to just be putting a Band-Aid over a bigger problem.



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I'd just like to point out that this didn't happen in Los Angeles. I'm just sayin'.



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Beth Jones is my favorite newspaper features writer in the United States. Hands down.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

This Stinks

There are reports now that Andrew Anthos died of natural causes rather than as the result of a beating because he was gay. I hope there's a little more independent investigation into this. Seems like someone is engaging in rotten deception. Not sure who yet, but someone out there isn't telling the truth.

Thanks to ... someone ... for the link.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ROCKET FEVER POLL


What song best describes
you, right now?




Thursday, March 22, 2007

Feelings

As most of you know, I have no feelings. I am a levitating and emotionless roboman. My rocket fuel is one part logic, one part ruthlessness. This is what makes me the copy-editing, blogging, podcasting ninja I am.

But some people do have feelings. Such as Joe Donnelly, deputy editor at the L.A. Weekly. I'm not sure why Joe would make the tactical error of admitting such a weakness, but I'm sure it'll be fascinating to watch. Enjoy.

Miiiike. You have some 'splainin' to do.

My guess? He's not a produce purveyor, but really a coyote.

(Image courtesy Lawrence "Larry Forbes/Everett Lawrence" Forbes)

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Who's Sour Grapes Magee? Check out The City Desk for details. Featuring the best Kaiser joke I've read in quite a while.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Support Our Troops

From the Los Angeles Times:

FT. LEWIS, WASH. — A sniper shot Sgt. Joe Baumann on a Baghdad street in April 2005. The AK-47 round ripped through his midsection, ricocheted off his Kevlar vest and shredded his abdomen.

The bullet also ignited tracer rounds in the magazine on his belt, setting Baumann on fire.

Almost two years later, the 22-year-old California National Guard soldier from Petaluma, walks with a cane, suffers from back problems and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps him from sleeping and holding a job.


These are times when we sacrifice the lives of servicemembers in ill-conceived, needless wars. Then we cheapen those sacrifices with trite, ostentatious slogans and media events that purport to "support the troops." But what happens when Sgt. Baumann returns home after his ordeal in Iraq?

The question pending before a military review board ... is whether to grant Baumann a military disability pension and healthcare or simply cut him an $8,000 check for his troubles. ...

In a preliminary ruling last month, the three-officer Physical Evaluation Board that is reviewing Baumann's case decided for the severance check, rating his disability at only 20% and characterizing his post-traumatic stress disorder as "anxiety disorder and depression."

If he accepted the $8,000, Baumann still would be eligible to apply for Veterans Affairs disability benefits. But VA benefits do not include retirement pay, family healthcare, and military post exchange and commissary privileges. In what many soldiers regard as the ultimate Catch-22, if he were accepted by the VA, he would have to pay the Army's $8,000 back.

Next time you encounter that "Support Our Troops" slogan, ask yourself what it really means. Who are our troops? Are they the young, inspiring, whole-bodied youth who make for good campaign ads and touching moments of television? Or are they also the mangled, broken people who return from these exercises in folly -- the ones who aren't so easy to make eye contact with?

Stories like these, which deal with the federal government's bureaucratic masturbation or the even more horrific conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center, too often serve as the other bookend to a soldier's story. The bands play and the flags wave when we send our men and women off to kill, but our dead or wounded too often come home to coldness and silence.

And there's certainly precedence for what happens to the veterans who come home broken and then fall through the cracks. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans:

The VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men ... has put on a uniform and served this country. According to the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Urban Institute, 1999), veterans account for 23% of all homeless people in America.

When I lived in Cleveland, my ex-wife was a case worker at a facility for homeless veterans. Almost all of the vets had addiction or mental health problems, and many of them had chosen to make mistakes that helped lead them to that facility. But there's little question that many of them developed their problems during the course of their military service. And there's no question that the military failed to adequately assist these folks after their discharges.

There are valid criticisms against the concept of serving in the military and fighting wars. There hasn't been a draft in decades; all the members of our military are volunteers. But there's no question that a government that can design a system to efficiently conquer lands and kill thousands of people has a fundamental moral responsibility to design and execute an equally efficient system to care for the people who volunteer for the fight.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New Mr. Deity! Mr. D is on a roll!



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The phrase "I'm just saying" has gained big-time currency lately. I'm hearing it everywhere. Lots of times from my own mouth. But what the hell does it mean?

"Listen, I think Hudson has turned into a real jerk ever since he got that new TV."

"C'mon, man, that's pretty harsh."

"Hey, I'm just saying."

You're just saying what? Just saying that Hudson has turned into a jerk? Isn't that what you previously stated? Or are you just saying it and not meaning it? In which case, you shouldn't say it in the first place. If you're just saying it, then the words are nothing more than empty sounds spilling out of your mouth.

Is this little rhetorical turn a product of the times? Maybe we're so bombarded with the news of horrible events and their consequences that we don't want to make waves. We want to stay in the conversation, but instead of leaning in to our words, giving them heft, we're just saying them. Just putting them out there. It's a way for us to simultaneously be and not be in the room. The conversational version of being an innocent bystander, a fly on the wall.

Has anyone else noticed a surge in this phrase lately? I've definitely heard it before, but in the past couple months it seems I've heard it more often.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rocket Fever Review: AMERICA IS OUR OFFICE | Charlie Don't Shake

Charlie Don't Shake splits time between the garage and the bedroom on its new EP.

The album kicks off with a couple songs familiar to anyone who's spent time on CDS' MySpace page in the past few months, "Shiloh" and "The Ballad of Pat Brown." These two rockers are a continuation of what followers of the Lansing/Chicago band have come to expect: growly vox from Craig Schmidt, mnemonically riffy guitar from Jeremy Whitwam, and tight, sharp drumming from Andy LeRoy. Both songs are good for drinking and singing to. Except that half the time I replace "White Sox" with "Tigers" in "Pat Brown," and I won't apologize for this.

"Early Times and Office Work" is a charming ditty to life in the cubicle culture, with boxcar harp work from the Blanks' Fancy Dan Nordheim. "But if everyone was happy, who would write the drinking songs?" Schmidty asks.

On "Skinny Fool," CDS starts to turn up the sex quotient with a loopy, smoky journey aided by an undeniable guitar riff, atmospheric keyboard work, and attitudinous dual vocals from Jeremy and Craig.

The band takes a noodley turn toward the psychedelic on "The Halo" before ending with a couple songs perfect for background music while making eyes at that girl at the bar. "Dance Party" takes that girl to task for wasting time at the wrong dance clubs and tries to persuade her to take her moves to a cooler part of town. "We got to find a way to get together, baby/Did you ever stop to think of all the times/A crafty or move or two would make your day/And yet you're all about the race to stand in line," Craig sings. It's kind of the same point made at the essential Hot Chicks with Douchebags: Baby, cut the crap and come hang out with a real cool dude.

After "Dance Party" persuades the girl to come back to your apartment and then stick around for a few years, "What Do You Think About Me?" tries to figure out what went wrong. "Baby, you don't look at me like you used to/Just one look would take all your pain away," Whitwam and Schmidt sing. The song, led by Jeremy's Curtis Mayfield-esque vocals, ends with one more crunchy guitar riff while asking the titular question.

These last two tracks are moody, rhythm-&-blues-influenced numbers. "What Do You Think About Me?" could be characterized as a slow jam. This points up the one problem with having good friends populate a band you like. If Charlie Don't Shake were made up of strangers, I'd have no problem putting these songs on a mix for the next time a girl stops by the apartment (recognizing this is all academic; it's, ah, been a while). But it's just plain weird to set the mood with music sung by a guy with whom you've gotten staggering drunk, driven across many states, and debated the finer points of AL Central baseball. I guess I'll just have to leave that to someone else.

Friday, March 16, 2007

It's a New Day

Episode 13 of Hudson & Gaines is alive and in your face!
  • Help find Wrinkles the Radio Cat!
  • What's the Great Haven Promise?
  • Meet the Tricounty's poet laureate of pain, Judith Rain!

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Over at Yahoo!, Rexrode takes Coach Knight to the woodshed (look for the John Oates reference!).

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Safe journey and cheerio to my Pop, who's over in London right now buying Sister dinner.

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I've once again conned the Weekly into letting me write a piece for the paper.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New Mr. Deity!

Get some religion!

Rexrode on Yahoo!

Our man Joe is a sports-writing machine!

Good luck in your brackets, everybody. I'm picking Wisconsin to win it all. Sorry, Beck.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

PISTON POWER!


Thomas Fitzpatrick found this gem in New York's Chinatown yesterday. I shall now start purchasing mass quantities of Il Hwa ginseng. (But is it microwavable?)

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Fred Woodhams found this magical gem about a controversial turkey's controversial death. (Plus, a community mourns.)

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Charlie Don't Shake's America Is Our Office is now available for Internet purchase. Rocket Fever has received a promotional copy, so look to this space for a review in the coming days.

Baby Rexrode 2.0!

Joe and Katie Rexrode are having another baby! S'news babies are popping up coast to coast! Huzzah and various types of congrats to the Rexies!

P.S. My Ma is a better blog reader than I am; she's the one who told me that Katie posted this fantastic news.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rad Diego

Civvie Mike Hudson and Petty Officer 2nd Class Charlie Kemp, U.S. Navy


Standing with Khalil Green


As I said, what an awesome weekend. Here are the highlights:

  • Hudson and I defied death and dismemberment to get his old big TV out of his apartment, down a narrow flight of steps, into his car (and then adjusting it after it toppled over five minutes into the trip), back out of his car, and into the minivan of Mary from Greenville. Steve Davis, you owe us steaks.
  • After an ill-advised trip to Wendy's, we headed to downtown San Diego, eventually making out way to Petco Park for the 2007 Tony Gwynn Classic. We caught a few innings of University of San Diego vs. University of Oklahoma. Highlight of the game: OU centerfielder Joseph Hughes making a diving, over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track. Well played, young Hughes.
  • Saturday evening, we met up with the pride of Greenville and the U.S. Navy, Petty Officer 2nd Class Charlie Kemp. We grabbed a beer with Charlie and some of his mates at an Irish bar in the Gaslamp District, then gave Charlie a ride back to Naval Base San Diego. After filling out the appropriate paper work, Charlie gave us a tour of his ship, the U.S.S. Chosin, a cruiser based out of Pearl Harbor. This was an incredibly cool experience. Charlie took us all over the ship (responsibly keeping us out of the areas where we shouldn't have been), including various computer rooms, his sleeping quarters (a grand total of 21 square feet), the room where they actually steer the thing, and all over the deck. There are approximately 8 billion pieces to a ship like this, and Charlie knows the name and function of each one. Pipes and gaskets and control panels and display monitors and choppers and guns and "mankiller" doors big enough to crush a human. This was the highlight of the trip and one of the more memorable experiences of my life. Many thanks to Charlie for the tour!
  • A Microsoft convention almost drove us out of town that night, but we finally found a Motel 6 that had one room left. With one bed. Better not to go into too much detail on this point.
  • Before heading home Sunday, we had a great breakfast downtown with Ryan Ahrens and his girl Kaitlin. Thanks for the vittles, R-Dub!
All in all, a helluva trip. It was great to get out of the city for a day, and San Diego showed us a great time. Huzzah!

Monday, March 12, 2007

  • Great, great, super-great weekend in San Diego. Details to follow.
  • Shane O'Dell was right all those years ago: Dusting is the most important aspect of cleaning.
  • Now I shall have some cereal.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

HD HUDSON


Welcome to the new normal.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Starchild Returns!

It's time for Jeffrey Starmichael to be honest with you, himself, and all of Great Haven. Do it to it!

Caution: This Post Discusses Balls

Brass balls. Hanging from a Chrysler New Yorker in my neighborhood.



But I'm getting ahead of myself.



I was walking behind an elderly couple last Friday while on the way to my car. This sweet old pair could play Funny Old Ethnic White People in any movie or TV show. Both of them were at least a foot shorter than me, their hunched posture making them even smaller. The gentleman wore a cardigan and white mesh baseball cap that may or may not have said "U.S.S. Lincoln" on the front. He walked with the assistance of a cane.



As I approached them from behind, a small moment of comedic goodness unfolded before my eyes. The three of us were walking toward the car (pictured below). It's a baby-blue job with flames on the side and other fanciful decorations. The crown jewel, so to speak, is a set of big, brass balls hanging from the rear bumper, below the license plate. I'd noted them often, chuckling to myself each time (because decorative brass balls are funny, see).



But the old gentleman wasn't quite sure what to make of these beauties. So the curious codger doddered his way into the street, slightly crouching to get a look. Still not satisfied with what he saw, he gave the balls an exploratory smack with his cane, which left the shiny testes gently swaying back and forth. He then said in his wonderfully raspy old-man voice, "Well, I don't know what these are for."



This all happened just as I was passing by. Friends and family, there are few things funnier than seeing an octogenarian whack a pair of hanging brass balls with his cane. I get the feeling the gentleman is quite used to striking things with his walking stick. (The legend in my family is that Grandpa Gaines selected his cane based on which one felt best while thumping my Uncle Jon in the leg.)



I've been in a sour, jumpy mood for the past couple weeks, but witnessing this little slice of funny gave me brief respite from my worries. These are moments to note, people. Treasure them.








Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fresh Hudson & Gaines

Episode 11* is up and running. Come get some!

*Story idea by L.A. Weekly photographer Rena Kosnett.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Shake Is Back!


Charlie Don't Shake, the official house band of Rocket Fever, has released America Is Our Office. I've had "The Ballad of Pat Brown" on my MySpace page for the past few weeks. I'm happy to report the song meets and substantially exceeds its rock quotient. I'm confident the rest of the album does too. Be a true member of the Rocket Fever family and purchase a copy at CD Baby once it's available.

It's Getting Worse

Now Lansing loses Robert Busby, who nurtured an art gallery and community on the North Side.
We only get a few people like Mr. Busby every go-around. He was the kind of man who gives a place its soul, its reason for being. We need to stop snuffing out the lights before they're ready to go.