Coffee in the morning to wake up, Tylenol PM in the evening to fall asleep....it's the cycle of life at the moment. And since it's rated PG, I don't think I will end up dying on the toilet or anything anytime soon at least.
But I digress.....
Speaking of R-Rated drug/alcohol habits, after about 6 months of picking it up and putting it down again, I finally finished the biography of Townes Van Zandt I've been reading. It's called To Live's To Fly, and it just came out this March after almost a year's delay.
As far as interesting lives go, Townes is right up there with Roland Kirk and Brian Wilson. He went through it all.
Born into a family so well off in the oil business it had an entire county in Texas named after it, Townes shunned his family's wealth and took to a life of alcoholism, rambling and flawless song writing. I love that in the summers he would take off for Colorado with just a horse and a pack. I've written about him on this blog before, so I won't go through his whole life history and bore all y'all, but if you have ever heard one of his records, like really listened to it, chances are it stuck with you. So you probably don't need an explanation from me.
I've been waiting for years for someone out there to research and write a great bio of Townes cause his life was so crazy and lived to the fullest. Last year's well made documentary Be Here To Love Me contains beautiful shots and interviews but ultimately scratches the surface of Townes' life and leaves rabid fans like myself with even more unanswered questions than before.
One of the most damaging drugs of our age has to be crystal meth (aka Tina, Crank, Speed, Ice, etc.), which doesn't discriminate when it comes to those who get caught up and spun into its dangerously addictive web. It seems to attract and in turn hook members of every age, gender, race, economic background, and sexual orientation it can, if given half the chance. However, of all the groups that fall prey to the drug, it seems that the urban gay communities are the most resourceful in their fight against meth, or at least in disseminating useful information about the drug's dangers. But others are active too, including the infamous, sobering Multnomah County Oregon State campaign that shows the before-and-after pictures of meth abusers. The visually powerful project began when a deputy in the Corrections Division Classification Unit put together mug shots of persons booked into Oregon's Multnomah County Detention Center -- not pretty. Although not one of these meth offenders booked into the North West detention center, Mark E. Smith of the Fall (right), who is an admitted longtime speed freak (inspiration for the Fall's classic "Totally Wired" came from somewhere), could easily qualify as a part of this shocking-but-effective anti-drug campaign. One of meth's side effects is the awful damage it does to teeth.
The Los Angeles bus-stop poster (above) photographed directly outside Amoeba Music Hollywood about a month ago was sponsored by West Hollywood's weholife.org, which is funded by the City of West Hollywood. According to this organization and other US health groups, longterm and widespread methamphetamine abuse can lead to devastating medical, psychological, and social consequences. Its abuse can include such adverse health effects as memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, heart damage, malnutrition and severe dental problems. Additionally, according to one health care organization, it can "contribute to increased transmission of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, and can infuse whole communities with new waves of crime, unemployment, child neglect or abuse, and other social ills."
The Lookout was written and directed by Scott Frank. It took ten years to get made and is a labor of love... and a big piece of crap. Two thumbs down from Ngoc and me.
It's set in Kansas City. Why? Scott Frank says, "I spent time there, but mostly what I loved was that there was an urban environment right next to a rural environment and they're very close together. He can live downtown but work two hours away in the middle of nowhere and I really liked that." That is true, if you drive two hours outside Kansas City you're in the sticks, or another city. So, the setting is very important obviously. Kansas City is like a character in the film, you might say. Of course, his observation applies to nearly every city in the country between the east and west coasts. Obviously Frank had a window seat on a cross country flight or maybe a just layover at Kansas City International. And the in-flight entertainment, I'm guessing, was Memento.
"I really didn't know why, but I just loved where it was. I loved that the mob was no longer there, that it was sort of a dying mob city and more of a "sons and sons of" place now. I just thought it was kind of interesting. I ended up doing a lot of research." Apparently meaning he watched lots of old movies with Kansas City in the title because Kansas City has a very high crime rate and most gangs there don't look much like the Lookout's.
Note to Frank: If you'd googled "Kansas City" and "mafia," you'd have learned this:
Despite being in prison in 1995, Anthony “Tony Ripes” Civella was seen as the new crime boss. In 1992 he had been convicted of a scheme to divert pharmaceutical drugs from traditional sellers on to the gray market. He was convicted and sentenced to 4 years. Since 1996 he has been free and very active. The remaining Las Vegas interests fall under power of Kansas City LCN Family member Peter Ribaste. His underboss is William Cammisano, Jr. In 1997 all three were placed in Las Vegas’s Black Book and are barred from casinos in that area. Today the Kansas City LCN [la Cosa Nostra] Family is reported to have 20-30 “made” members and is a very tight knit group controlling many street-level rackets.
While the Bay Guardian, The Examiner, the Onion, and SF Weekly may be the widely known and widely available free papers around San Francisco, they are by no means the only free newspapers to pick up and read in the City by the Bay. Other free papers, which are usually weekly or monthly and in the tabloid size format, include the Noe Valley Voice, Bay Times San Francisco, Marina Times, San Francisco Bay View, The Potrero View, and the Bay Area Reporter (aka BAR). There are numerous other free papers found around San Francisco but I just want to take a quick overview of these ones and the aforementioned Bay Guardian, Onion, Examiner, and SF Weekly. Please add in COMMENTS below any omissions that you see.
The daily San Francisco Examiner (which has gone through a lot of changes over the years) is currently in a tabloid size format and is free. While it gets critiqued for running stories from other papers and wire-services, overall it's not such a bad read on the bus or train, as it offers a decent blend of local and national news (usually accompanied by clever, eye-catching headlines) with a pretty decent San Francisco entertainment guide, often doing stories on SF events not covered by the Guardian or the Weekly. Meanwhile the always fun to-read Onion, the parody newspaper that publishes in ten US cities, including SF, offers a really good local entertainment listing in its (straight-faced & serious) A.V. Club section.
The SF Weekly, while owned by New Times (the Clear Channel of the 'alternative weeklies'), is not all bad and offers some strong investigative pieces on local politics in addition to some excellent music reviews/interviews (especially local San Francisco/Bay Area artists). But like many of the New Times imprints, the Weekly is often given to smart-ass editorializing that seems more geared to getting a reaction than making a concrete point. That aside, it is a good read overall with good entertainment listings. Additionally, their website is really good with up to the minute reports on news items that eclipse the paper's Wednesday street date. For example after MF Doom's pathetic 12 minutes (possibly lip-synced) show at San Francisco's Independent club last Wednesday night that had concert goers demanding refunds, the SF Weekly online version the next day around noon, based on an email from a reader, opened a discussion group about MF Doom's SF-diss. Good stuff!