Happy BDay, Jimmy and Bob

Posted in Dancing about architecture, Somebody's birthday on April 21st, 2010 by bill

iggyking south-park
Cartoon versions of Iggy Pop and Robert Smith.

A couple of rock birthdays today: Iggy Pop turns 63 (!) and Robert Smith of the Cure, 51.

The continued existence of the man born James Osterberg as a living, breathing organism on planet Earth—along with those of his contemporaries Lou Reed and Keith Richards—must be considered something of a miracle. Consider this passage from Marc Spitz’s Bowie describing Iggy’s state in 1976:

Iggy Pop resurfaced again once the White Light tour rolled back into Los Angeles. Since being dropped from MainMan, Iggy had sunk even further. He was arrested for shoplifting, sleeping in a garage, and trying to write songs with James Williamson but mostly in a drug haze.

“Iggy was in such bad odor with the rest of L.A. that most of the dealers refused to let him into their apartments,” Nick Kent writes in his classic anthology The Dark Stuff. “He’d made such a mess of his life during the two years he’d been based in L.A. that everyone had him written off as nothing more than a washed up loser….”

When he began to vomit fluid of unrecognizable origin and indescribable color, and with the police threatening to prosecute him for vagrancy, he finally committed himself to the Neuropsychiatric Institute in L.A.

Read more »

Amy, Amy, Amy

Posted in Dancing about architecture, Somebody's birthday on September 14th, 2009 by bill
Amy Winehouse, before all the trouble started.

Amy Winehouse, before all the trouble started.

Today is the 26th birthday of the aptly named Amy Winehouse. This seems worth mentioning because there’s no guarantee she’s going to have a 27th, hell-bent as she is on self-destructing at an early age like her foremother Janis Joplin. This would secure her eternal street cred but would be a tremendous waste of talent. Amy not only possesses a freakish singing voice that had her sounding like the second coming of Dinah Washington at age 20 (despite the handicap of her Britishness), she can write songs, too. She is listed as the sole composer of stellar tunes like “Rehab” and “You Know I’m No Good.”

I recently bought Amy’s debut album, Frank, and was amazed to discover that she was actually pretty cute before she got heavily into drugs, tattoos, and excessive eye makeup. Truly, it’s a shame on many levels. Maybe it’s not too late. She could still pull out of it and end up living to a ripe old age, right? Right?

Rock me and roll me till I’m sick

Posted in Dancing about architecture, Somebody's birthday on July 29th, 2008 by bill

Mick%20Jagger%20dancing%20on%20stage-1.jpg
Jake the Poacher from Withnail and I would have called this “prancing like a tit.”

It has only just come to my attention that this weekend marked the 65th birthday of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger (DOB 7/26/43), prompting all sorts of hi-larious headlines about how the Mickster is now eligible for a pension. So a tip of the hat to Sir Michael Philip Jagger, who certainly seems to be enjoying his life, although he hasn’t made a good album for either 27 or 32 years, depending on whom you ask (I personally give the benefit of the doubt to 1981’s Tattoo You).

I wanted to post something by way of tribute, and I don’t know how I could do better than the following Mick tribute by Gilda Radner. A bit of setup: A couple of times on Saturday Night Live Gilda did a character called Candy Slice, a dirty punk rocker loosely but clearly based on Patti Smith. She revived the character for her post-SNL Broadway show, which was subsequently released as a movie called Gilda Live, from which this clip is taken. The song she’s doing, “Gimme Mick,” is a fairly simplistic punkish number, but energetically played and with great lyrics. In case you want to sing along, the chorus goes like this:

Gimme Mick, gimme Mick
Baby’s hair, bulging eyes
Lips so thick
Are you woman, are you man?
I’m your biggest funked-up fan
So rock me and roll me till I’m sick

Keep an eye out for Paul Shaffer (as Candy’s drummer/enabler) and guitarist G.E. Smith, Gilda’s pre–Gene Wilder husband (better known as the grinning skull who led the SNL band from 1985 to 1995).

Update 5/15: The clip from Gilda Live has been wiped from the internet by the forces of the Long Plastic Hallway. I fail to see how that helps anybody, but whatever. Here’s the SNL version instead:

Happy Birthday Libra Baby

Posted in Somebody's birthday on September 27th, 2007 by bill

180px-Libra2.jpg

As a rational, educated modern person, I believe that astrology is utter and complete bullshit. Except, of course, as it applies to me. Every astrology column I read somehow contains 11 horoscopes that are a total waste of time and one that is strangely illuminating.

That one is Libra, my sign and that of many of my friends. Again, it is my officially stated position that astrology is stupid. How can you be said to share an entire personality profile and predestined life path with one-twelfth of the human race, just because they were born at approximately the same time of the year as you? It’s utterly ridiculous.
And yet….
Read more »

He Is Your Slice of Life

Posted in Somebody's birthday on July 31st, 2007 by bill

danielash.bmp
Appropriated from Burkhart Studios

Turning 50 today: one of my musical idols, Daniel Ash of Bauhaus/Tones on Tail/Love and Rockets fame. Although not what you could call a household name, Ash has had a long and illustrious career that lifts him up high into the pantheon, just one notch below his obvious role model, David Bowie.

Bauhaus hit the scene in 1979 with “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” a nine-minute-long slice of idiot-savant strangeness from a band that barely knew how to play. For its first half, “Bela” consists of Peter Murphy’s moaning vocals riding a stuttering, bat-echo rhythm. The second half is all Daniel Ash and his effects pedals putting on a fireworks show. It’s freaky, off-kilter, borderline ridiculous, and oddly charming. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” remains a much-beloved underground chestnut to this day; when I saw Bauhaus in 2005, they played it as an encore and people went nuts.
Read more »

Rock’s Other Mick

Posted in Somebody's birthday on June 26th, 2007 by bill

mick_jones.jpg
Mick Jones, back when everybody thought he was cool

Born today in 1955: Clash guitarist/vocalist Mick Jones. I feel badly for Mick, and not just because of his scarifying English teeth. Although he was co-leader of the Clash — once known as “The Only Band That Matters” and still untouchably hip 30 years after hitting the scene — history has cast him as McCartney to Joe Strummer’s John Lennon. Conventional wisdom has it that Strummer was the band’s conscience, standing firm in defense of punk-rock purity, while Jones was the sellout who craved pop success.
Read more »

O Superwoman

Posted in Somebody's birthday on June 5th, 2007 by bill

ff_laurie_anderson_BW.jpg
A rare shot of Laurie Anderson with a normal haircut.

Musician, performance artist, and all-around intimidating brainiac babe Laurie Anderson turns 60 today. That’s right, 60. I found this hard to believe, but I double-checked and found it to be true. Yet more proof that Time Is Passing at an Alarming Rate.

I’ve been a fan ever since I heard Mr. Heartbreak, released in 1984, which featured Anderson’s trademark mix of cerebral detachment with strong senses of humor and melody. It also was my first exposure to the droll voice of William S. (Uncle Bill) Burroughs, who is heard intoning lines like “The sun’s coming up like a big bald head” and “It’s driving me crazy, it’s driving me nuts.”
Read more »

Happy Birthday, Norma Jean

Posted in Somebody's birthday on June 1st, 2006 by bill

Norma Jean Mortenson, a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe, would have been 80 today. What can I possibly say about Marilyn that would be new? That she was the living embodiment of movie star sex appeal? That 44 years after her death, her image continues to evoke desperate yearning in any man with a pulse? That her short, tragic life should serve as a cautionary tale for every woman who’s ever considered making a living off her beauty? Never mind all that; the look on this guy’s face says it all:

Marilyn Monroe - Hollywood Studio Magazine - 9-1970.jpg

Annual Report

Posted in Somebody's birthday on May 31st, 2006 by bill

Now that a year has passed since I started clogging up the Internet with my words and pictures, I’ve been reviewing the work (if you want to call it that) I’ve done so far. For the record, that’s 183 entries (and 147 comments, only about a hundred of them from Cecil).

Some updates and corrections:

• Against all odds, Abe Vigoda remains alive. I know this because I have installed a Firefox status bar that keeps me continually abreast of Abe’s well-being (in the broadest possible sense, i.e. whether he is alive or dead). You can get it for yourself here: http://www.vesterman.com/FirefoxExtensions/AbeVigodaStatus.
Read more »

They Had the Biggest Balls of Them All

Posted in Somebody's birthday on March 31st, 2006 by bill

acdc_007.jpg
That’s Angus out front, making a spectacle of himself as usual, as the soon-to-be-late Bon Scott peers over his shoulder. At left, Malcolm broods in the background.

Today’s birthday is AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young, born March 31, 1955. That makes Angus 51, and as far as I know, he’s still touring the world in his school uniform with short pants. Well, more power to him. As it were.

Coincidentally, I’ve been listening this week to Highway to Hell, which is pretty much flawless from the opening chords of the title track to the final fadeout of “Night Prowler,” where Bon Scott mutters “Shazbat. Nanu-nanu.” (Anybody born too late to understand what this means: Google “Mork and Mindy.”) Highway to Hell is the best album of its kind ever made, although it’s hard to say what kind that is exactly. AC/DC is a hard band to classify; they’re undoubtedly a rock band, but what kind of rock band? They’re too rhythmically nimble to be heavy metal, too heavy to be pop. Just calling them “hard rock” seems like a cop-out. It might be more accurate to say that AC/DC is a genre unto themselves. If you have High Voltage, Highway, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and maybe Back in Black, you have everything you need in the genre.
Read more »