Monday, February 05, 2007

Traditionally, when temperatures limbo under the 70 degree dash as they did last week, Floridians embrace their inner New Yorkers: halter tops are exchanged for plush, mushy cashmere sweaters and leather jackets, and flip flops become pointy-toed ankle boots. But last week there was nothing frigid about the wardrobes on the peninsula, in fact – it seems that everyone wore an inner layer of provocative instead of the more sensible silk-knit long johns. What gives? Clearly, everyone was feeling the convection heat of the hottest pop star to ever don purple velvet: Prince.
The foreplay began last Wednesday night when he played to a crowd of 5,000 at Hard Rock Live. “Is that a smoke machine?” Asked the woman sitting next to us as a hazy, dense, cloud rose up from under the stage engulfing the brass band that was playing Prince’s introductory song: a bleating, swinging medley of traditional barbershop harmonies, like “Old Grey Mare” and “Down by the Riverside”. Before long, the band and their black spy suits were veiled under the growing, swirling smoke screen. But we all knew the haze wasn’t caused by special effects; it was Prince’s purple pheromones dissipating into the theater. He was here.
“I’m going to do my best to make sure you are all satisfied tonight”, he flirted to the crowd. A promise he genuinely tried his best to keep, but spoiled slightly by filling the first half-hour with the less satisfying music from 3121 – a scandalless album recorded at Prince’s height of new-found divinity. The girl behind us was unhappy; “God, would everyone, just SIT DOWN!” The whining was probably a result of the world’s most deadly combination: having paid hundreds of dollars expecting the entire Purple Rain catalog (and beginning to realize that you might not hear any of it) and wearing monstrously treacherous stilettos to a narrow stadium environment. After the awkward half-hour of foreplay, Prince began gyrating to “Don’t Have to be Rich” and instantly the audience was electrified. His yellow suit tapered at the knee, so his kicks, swivels, and muscular hiccups looked as though they were being achieved independently of his body. Rapper Mickey Freed’s backup dancer jumped on stage during an extended rhythm break down and began throwin’ the “dance mac” on Prince’s back-up dynamos – a pair of sisters with looks similar to Beyoncé, the energy of a wheatgrass waterfall, and the uncanny ability to perform gymnastics in ten-story heels. But it was just that kind of party.
A dozen hits and two encores later, the salacious purple diva kissed the audience farewell. And while most of the ingredients had been present for us to be “satisfied”, there was a sense that we didn’t have his undivided attention during the romp. Maybe it’s because we were a one-night stand compared to the security of a long-term commitment (world tour), but there was certainly the feeling that he was forced upon us like an arranged marriage. The music was excellent; his guitar dexterity, superb; his dancing, seductive – but we were missing that spark that makes love grand. This was only further confirmed when Prince dodged his own after party next door. It was the musician’s equivalent of “uh, I’ll call you?” We’re still waiting by the phone.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

N.A.C.A.P. -- Not as Cool as Prince
Here is a short list of people I have encountered over the last few weeks who, while are bold in execution, are simply Not As Cool As Prince.

Take this guy for instance; sure, he looks like the life of the party – he’s got the “Hip to be Square” glasses on, he’s always cracking jokes, and he’s never looked thinner. But even this prankster skeleton can’t out suave the Purple One. Think about it, if skeleton dude over here did try to commandeer control of the microphone at tonight’s show, you would be so distracted by the clickety-clack of his metatarsals that you wouldn’t even be able to focus on hits like “1999” or “Little Red Corvette”. Good try, Mr. Bones, but I’m afraid you’re Not As Cool As Prince.

Whoa, now. I know what you’re thinking: “for premise of outfit alone, this guy MIGHT be As Cool As Prince.” But how quickly you turn, fickle fan, how quickly indeed. Let’s look at reasons why this guy can’t quite cut the mustard.
1. – Starter money. It’s sticking out of his pocket and he hasn’t even began performing as “Metal Statue Santa”. Prince would never try to fake out his public with money he hadn’t earned honestly, sure, he’ll charge $100 - $400 for tonight’s show (plus service charge), but at least he’s upfront about it. Who knows how much ‘Ol Rip-Me-Off-Saint-Nicholas here is going to take you for.
2. – The Renaissance Festival boots. Prince wouldn’t do you like that. He would never try to hang on to a piece of clothing that doesn’t match his new outfit, name, or persona’s over-all theme. But Mr. Metal Clause here has unapologetically clung to the mismatched item.
3. – Lastly, does he really need the Target lamp? Since you weren’t there, let me assure you that there was plenty of light already being cast his way from the glow of the nearby Orange Julius stand. Besides, Prince would simply command the sun to rise.

Damn. This is probably the only man alive who’s able to give Prince a run for his money. Here’s a little background on this badass: He showed up unannounced at Churchill’s Pub the night of the Agent Orange show. He came armed with a blowtorch, sunglasses, a tiger tee-shirt, and a bunch of long, fragile, pieces of glass that resembled the Doozers’ scaffoldings from Fraggle Rock. Not only did this guy have the skills to pay the bills, but he use to work for Disney World but quit out of principle because “they wouldn’t let me blow scorpion pipes.” Hell ya.

Amazing. In fact, here’s a picture of the scorpion pipe in question:
And yet still, I have to say that while I was intrigued by his story, and hypnotized by his fiery blowtorch; his life's tale couldn't have held my interest with musical narrative like Prince's did in Purple Rain. So Scorpion Dude, I'm afraid that you too are Not As Cool As Prince.

Last night I dreamt that Prince and I ran into each other at a pool party. Not a swanky Los Angeles-style, champagne hot tub-type, but more of a BBQ and water wings type. We chatted about his current projects and he apologized for the album 3121. When I woke up I'm pretty sure that little blue cartoon birds were singing above me. Why all this rehashing of my subconscious babble? Because, it's now nine hours to Prince.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The Countdown to His Purpleness
For me, tomorrow is the day all little girls wait for: MY FIRST PRINCE CONCERT.

Yeah yeah yeah, sure, we all looked forward fervently to other things as well (first kiss, graduating from high school, college, or a comparable animal husbandry program), but none actually matches the First of all Firsts -- An actual, physical viewing of the little purple devil himself. How tall is he? In what tributary-like flow will his sweat patterns follow? Could he possibly arouse from the stage, if say, my tickets are in the far rear of the theatre, just behind an obnoxiously large, yet necessary, support beam? The answers to these, and other, cult questions will be appeased at 8 p.m. tomorrow night. Can you handle it?

Friday, January 05, 2007

'82 Tonys--Dreamgirls

I mean, DAMN

Finding your DreamGirl, is sometimes best done in a local gay club. A fact proven by tomorrow night's (Saturday, Jan 6th) guest appearance of Divalicious Jennifer Holiday showing up at the Coliseum (2520 S Miami Rd., Fort Lauderdale).
For anyone not in the know, Holiday pioneered the character of Effie White on Broadway in the early 80's. And while I'm not hating on Hudson's portrayal of the outcast Dreamer in the new film version (WHHAAAT? The 'Girl's got pipes, what more do you want, people?!), it is a role that will ALWAYS belong to Jennifer Holiday. Nobody can scream, sob, and howl a solo like she can. And now? Well, I guess the dream's over, because the Coliseum doesn't even count as off-off-off-off Broadway.
Anyone who can, should really go view this spectacle, in fact here's the flyer:check it!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

One of the greatest parts of my job is when I get to follow up on unexpected e-mails, in this case a man from the JCC sent us a message that they were hosting a coffee shop series featuring Jewish musicians. This month, the group was having singer/but-mostly-songwriter PF Sloan perform. The name jarred a memory, but why? It turns out Sloan has one of the most interesting stories from the 60’s. He wrote songs for everyone and never got any real notoriety. He composed “Eve of Destruction”, “Secret Agent Man”, and tons of others to be made famous by groups like the Turtles and the Mammas and the Pappas – all by the age of 19. By the 70’s he vanished from Hollywood (it has been said that he suffered from a medical condition) and while he was gone, Brian Wilson’s psychiatrist to the stars, Eugene Landy, tried to steal his identity. After much soul searching, Sloan is back. He’s got a new album, Sailover, and is finally starting his first ever tour, all at the age of 62. (Only 50 years after he was first signed to a major lable. Isn’t life crazy? I spoke with Sloan today and he, in his gentle peaceful voice, explained to me why things don’t work out the way you think they might.

NewTimes:Will you be performing mostly songs from Sailover or other material as well?
Sloan: Yes, yes. Although I’ll probably do anything else that anyone would like to hear as well – at my age my problem is more getting off the stage than getting on.
And although you go by PF Sloan, neither the “F” or the Sloan are your actual name. How did you come to adopt this name and do you use it aside from songwriting?
No, no I don’t. Well, the “F” is part of an old nickname [his kid sister use to call him Flip], and the last name, well that was my father. He had to move us out to LA from NY because his wife had arthritis, [but when he] tried to open store, he found that he couldn’t get a lease because their was too much racial prejudice, so he changed it [from Schlein] to Sloan. It turned out that that was enough of a difference so he was able to get the property. I was about twelve then.
And that’s about the age when you met Elvis Presley?
Yeah. He taught me how to play guitar.
Was he the actual impetus for that, or were you fiddling around with guitar before Elvis?
Well, no. I had been playing around with a broken ukulele that I had found in the garbage. And my father purchased a guitar, so I took it to a music store and Elvis was there – he gave me a guitar lesson. Six months later I was on a Rhythm and Blues record label. It was Aladdin Records with Thurston Harris, Little Milton, Shirley & Lee.
How were you able to handle all of that success at such a young age? When I think of how I was at 12 or 13, those were such turbulent years with just adolescents in general, but you started an entire music career.
You know? I have no idea. I was just trying to impress this girl, her name was Sandy.
Did it work?
Uh, it never does. You know, the Sandys of the world are always like “I liked you when you were just a regular person and now you’re this music person.”
Music, in that regard, you have to be really careful with. Music never leads to the dreams that a rock ´n’ roller has in their lives. Instead what it leads to, if your lucky, is greater spiritual experiences that you realize as you get older is a gift that you’ve been given to see the unity throughout the world. But at that time, you’re only thinking about “me me me me me”. It’s never the dreams of money and fame and love, it never comes to that, it’s always the opposite of that. It’s almost impossible for adolescent thought of love and fame and blah blah blah to ever really happen – I think you find out in the end that it’s really the gift of talent that you were given and to see what you were able to do with it.
When did you first have one of those moments, when you started to see some clarity from your youth?
It wasn’t until I really left. Until I really let it all go. I got very ill around 1970 or 71, and it wasn’t until 1986 that I encountered a very powerful spiritual leader in India, and it began to give me clarity. And it takes a long time to really gain that, so I really admire it when I see it in politicians or artists or musicians or movies or books. We’re all in a state of evolution, it isn’t that anyone’s any better than anyone else, it’s just so nice when your able to appreciate and clarify what you life is really about. I mean, you find your dream and then you find out that there are bumps and jumps along the way, and you kind of loose your way – if your lucky, you rediscover your talent and you’re able to really enjoy what your doing then.
In that sense, was it difficult for you when you were younger, or even now, I don’t know, for you to have written so many ballads and catchy tunes that made so many other people famous? Was that difficult for you to deal with or did you kind of assume that that was your contribution?
Well, that’s certainly the clarity that comes later. If your looking for the fame that’s able to give you status in your own family, and in a way I think that’s what the teenage dream of Fame is about, it’s a recognition from your mother that you weren’t a mistake or from your father that you’re not a no-good, or from your sister who really likes Elvis or Ricky Nelson more than you. It’s that kind of fame that the teenage rock n’ roller going into music is really looking for, and basically that never happens. In my experience instead it alienates you from your whole family. They resent the fact that you seem to be more important than they are. So it just seems to be a great yin and yang of opposites: For every positive thing that you do, there’s a very strong negative coming at you that you have to learn from.

And how old were you when you wrote “On The Eve of Destruction”?
Well, let’s see. I was about 18 and a half, 19.
I heard an interview with you where you expressed distress in the way the song was interpreted, when to you it was a love song to America. Could you elaborate on that thought?
I can try…its interesting how the extreme left of the spectrum have just sort of denigrated it. It’s interesting how the extreme right have called it communist propaganda. But it was basically a divine message that I was receiving, it was basically an Americans prayer to America. You see, our generation didn’t think that things could proceed as they have – we thought that with enough muscle and voice we could change all of this.
It must be difficult for you to look at youth culture today, coming from a climate of such staunch political activism and faith. Do you feel that people, in general, have lost track of those things?
I don’t know about “people”, but here in America it certainly seems that there isn’t much descent. I mean, I’m sure that to the people that ARE descenting, they’re going to say, “Well, you’re just not aware of what we’re doing”. But really, to what Joe America sees, there really isn’t much descent throughout the colleges and newspapers. People have stopped looking microscopically at what’s going on.
Something else I was wondering about, was how did you handle it when Eugene Landy tried to steal your identity?
Well, he wasn’t the first.
Yeah, there were hundreds of people who were claiming to be PF Sloan, because I just wasn’t around – I mean, I really just let it all go. I knew Brian [Wilson], and worked with Brian back in ’63, and uhm, I love Brian Wilson and I was praying for him a lot. And so when I heard about Eugene Landy in Billboard Magazine, and they called me up and said “Can you prove that you're PF Sloan?”, I thought “Jeez! He’s been handed to me, delivered to me, I can get rid of him!” I mean, I don’t want to speak ill of someone who has passed away, we all make mistakes but that, well that was really a dumb one. I’m just glad it worked out the way it did. [Landy had his medical license revoked.]
I mean surely didn’t you have friends who were saying “Hey! This guy’s kinda full of it”? Didn’t people you had worked with in the past speak up and say “hey, we know this guy and he’s not him?
You know, believe it or not, Jerry Brown of California use to talk about mass amnesia? I don’t know what else to liken it to. You know the National Association of Songwriters that put out a monthly magazine of songwriters, they were told by Jimmy Webb that there was no PF Sloan – that he had “created the name”. And they wrote that and basically there was no one that said “No, wait, I know him and I’ve worked with him and he’s real.” No, nobody did for about twelve years.
That’s bizarre
Tell me about it.
But now your back and your recording and your songwriting, what kind of welcome home receptions have you been getting by these younger artists that you’ve been working with, like Frank Black[of the Pixies]?
Oh just amazing. I have a tremendous respect for his songwriting. And just being in the groove of whatever art and craft I do is so wonderful now. Whatever has been reenergized in me, I have no allusions or expectations about anymore, I’m just happy to out there and working again and meeting people, and hopefully being changed and changing people for the better.
Did you seek Frank out, or did he seek you out?
Well, Frank was being produced by my producer in Nashville and I had gone to his birthday party. I met Frank there and I hadn’t realized that he had been listening to my old albums on Dunhill, he and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins had been listening to my music and that it had influenced them in some way. So when Frank came down to Los Angeles, he had written a few new songs and he called me up and asked me if I could come down and play piano and do some things. He’s just an incredible musician and he knows about history of music too, he’s probably the best of the best. To me, he’s up there with Lennon in terms of innovative music writing.
And I should ask you about Secret Agent Man. OK, it’s so catchy and fun. The story is that there was a contest to come up with the soundtrack for this spy show and you wrote it and you won.
Yes. That is how it happened.
Right, so did that ever lead you towards guilty pleasures? Did you ever secretly compose television jingles or have the desire to?
No, I never really did and I never really cared for it, because the generation that we came from was kinda like, uhm, …
The opposite of selling things?
Yeah!(laughing) I mean you’d rather have a building fall on you. I mean, there was no pride, but there was a lot of prejudice in getting commercials. But [I was approached] about quite a few. They wanted to use "Eve of Destruction" for an underarm deodorant commercial.
Oh, yeah. The little molecules of underarm deodorant are singing “Eve of Destruction”, and to be honest with you, I just can’t go that far!
You don’t have to! Your touring with all of your own music now.
Yes, this will be my first tour.
Your first tour ever? Are you ready for that wild rock ´n’ roll life on the road?
Well, I’m surrounded by really good people.

Well it's official. All other newpapers and assorted media personell throughout the world were scooped on Friday, when the N.Y. Times broke this giant story on its front page -- "Those Inflatable Santas: Eyepoppers to Eyesores". Thank god someone is covering the important stuff, like "Inflatables" the air-filled lawn adornments that overly joyful families put up to disgust their nosey neighbors. Inspired, I went on a search for the greatest Inflatable and found it in a high-end neighborhood deep in the heart of Miami. You might be saying,"What-evs. I don't see what's so great about THIS Inflatable, why, it's not even the blustery snow-globe type!" While that is true, I would like to point out that this air-filled manger scene is nearly as tall as the actual house hiding beside it. Which means, this could double as a bounce house. Just think! A bounce house manger! You could play "crack the egg" with baby Jesus. I hope someone intends to do this. After all, it is Jesus' birthday, and someone really ought to through him a proper child's party.

Also to note around town last weekend. Torche played at Billabong on Saturday night, and let's just say the 'Bong was packed. They shredded furiously through their set until raw sound dredged thickly through my head, kind of like how you can feel your own pulse in a bruise. If that isn't praise enough,

this guy was there ===>

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bands? Yes. Battle? Eh, not so much.
Sunday’s final round in the Bodog Battle of the Bands lasted six, grueling hours. (Imagine watching the obligatory opening band at any generic rock show, but multiplied by 12.) Since the wound is still too fresh and odoriferous to open, all I will say about the battle is this: At least Dancing Rene showed up. For anyone who doesn’t know Dancing Rene, he started small – just your average writer, counselor, music enthusiast who loves to show up to local rock shows and dance the night away. But not one to shy away from corporate endeavors, Rene now videotapes his sweet moves and posts the footage up on his dance-video website, Sadly, I couldn't get a video to upload, so you're going to have to visit his website to view the splendor first hand.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Less Fartsy, More Artsy. Or is it the other way around?
Art Basel action will be engulfing our dangly little peninsula for only a few more nights. By now, I’m sure you’ve pre-pre-partied, pre-partied, anti-partied, and actually partied – and if you haven’t, well, its time to get hip. After all, we rarely get offered so many free drinks by so many fancy folk. If you plan on going out tonight, there is too much going on around Miami to explore in any real depth. Most of Broward county is waving white flags of surrender due to the mass exodus, but those trying to participate in Basel rebellion should check out the Circle Jerks show up at Respectable Street in W. Palm Beach.

My top picks for conquering Basel tonight:
* Cheer on local Broward noise tinkers Wicked Dream Foundation and Hydroplane. They are playing at PS 14 for “Art Bastard”, a night of low-brow, outsider, and performance art – all in chillax environment. (Rumor has it that a random N.Y. Doll or two might show up for a D.J. session) The confirmed full line-up is:
• Artists: Juan Sebastian, Fourpack, Ahol Sniffs Glue, Andrew the Sociopath, Kent Hernandez, Jackie Gomez, Elk Master, & Matthew Owen Reininger.
• DJs: Benton & Stravinsky, Matthew Owen Reininger, Saul D.
• Live WDF Vs. Hydroplane-Battle between two electronic musicians.

Try to get in the tabloids by gracing SoBe chic nightspot, Mynt, with your presence this evening. The to-do is being hosted by none other than nice-girl-gone-bad, Lindsay Lohan, and will certainly prove to be more a star-studded photo session masquerading as a party than anything holding the thinnest shred of cultural integrity. Oh, what the hell. Basel’s only once a year: Live it up.

Last, but not least; graffiti, sneakers, and graphic art all mash together at Prive (136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) tonight for the Couture Assassins show this evening.

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