New York City

It’s cold here!

When I left L.A. it was nearly ninety. Right now Dark Sky says it’s forty nine, and it feels like it. I put a fleece over my short sleeve shirt and the wind was blowing through my arms on the way to Halal Guys.

We’ve all got our pilgrimages. I don’t want to sit down and eat dinner at ten p.m. And I’m not a room service guy, I’ve never had a great room service meal. But I love the dives. The carts. My belief is you’ve got to eat to the best of your ability! No, that’s not right, that’s not clear, all I’m saying is you’ve got to get the best at the price level you’re at. No, that’s not right either, what I’m saying is everybody can live like a king in certain genres. We can all afford the best chocolate chip cookies. And go to In-N-Out instead of McDonald’s. The key is to be at the zenith of your chosen genre, and sometimes that genre is something everybody can afford.

Like Halal Guys.

I go every time I’m in New York. God, the only restaurant I know open til 4 A.M. in Los Angeles is that Thai dive on Hollywood Boulevard, east of the freeway, and the Pantry is open 24/7, but beyond that, not much. Whereas here in Fun City they expect you to wanna eat long after midnight. And I won’t say the line at ten was as long as it is during the middle of the day, but there was a line. And the guy taking the order had a big wad of cash, right there in the open, as if he was saying MUG ME! But ever since Giuliani the city has been safe. Not sure I’d endorse his methods, but Bloomberg made it even better and now it’s on the tipping point, will it go downhill once again? Elayne Boosler had that great joke, about her date asking if she wanted to go for a walk by the river. She said if you’d told me before, I WOULD HAVE LEFT MY VAGINA AT HOME! Elayne was the equal of Seinfeld and the rest of the men, she just never found the right venue, other than standup. Funny how you can remember a punch line, but the point is New York used to be unsafe. There were places you never walked, never mind after dark, and it is dark, it’s that time of year, when the sun goes down right after work and you know the winter is coming. Put on Joni Mitchell’s “Urge For Going” to get the feel.

And when I went to college in Vermont October was bad and November was brutal. When it was cold and gray and rainy, before the snow came. And I’m not sure quite why you snow-haters live in this environment, but there are many appealing elements.

Like the guy taking the order who expected me to know what I wanted. There are no questions in New York, they betray the fact you’re a newbie, that you’re not up to speed, you’re supposed to know what you want, it’s all hustle all the time and if you’re not plowing ahead, you’re falling behind.

And it used to be they asked you if you wanted sauce, now there are a zillion squeeze bottles on a rack on the side of the cart. And, since I was getting my chicken and gyro combo to go, they threw in some squeeze packets of white sauce. They literally said WHITE SAUCE! It’s the ethnicizing of America, salsa outsells ketchup and even babies have rich palates.

So I squeezed some white sauce on myself and then sauntered back to the hotel. And nobody walks in L.A., but if they do they’re a king, they have the right of way, I don’t know what the law says in New York, but it’s every man for himself, you’ve got to be totally aware. Who cares if you have the right of way, that ain’t gonna help you much when you’re dead. So you’re never quite sure when to walk and when not to. Everybody jaywalks and the cab drivers are so busy getting to where they’re going that if you live in California long enough, you’re confused.

I used to live on the east coast. Came to the city all the time. But you had to be hyper-aware, on high alert at all times, for fear of muggings, crime, even my mother had a necklace ripped right off her neck, in broad daylight.

But as I was walking past the skating rink, which my ex insisted we glide upon, I know no native who has otherwise partaken, a feeling came over me, that this time was different, that I was finally an adult.

And the great thing about New York is no one’s famous. Oh, you’ll see a face here and there but it’s not like L.A., where you’re guaranteed to see celebrities at certain haunts. And there are so many ethnicities and races. A family was riding down the elevator with me and I wondered where they were going at this hour, then they started speaking Spanish and I got it, that’s a late night culture. And I saw beturbaned men in Rockefeller Center. As well as some tourists watching the big screen, you come all the way from the hinterlands to watch television, what’s that about?

And L.A.’s all entertainment. But the rich in NYC could be in finance, a lot goes on behind closed doors you never know.

And Wendy Waldman’s “Wind In New York City” is playing through my head as I walk through the concrete canyons. And I get back to my hotel room and it’s baking, that’s how cold it is outside, and then I break the seal on my Halal Guys dinner and…

I take a bite and then cannot stop. The chicken is moist, the meat is roasted the way I like it, it’s crisp on the end, but the reason it all comes together is that damn white sauce.

So I’ll probably be up for hours because of the damn time change.

And then tomorrow I’ve got lunch and a gig, and I’ve learned that the key to travel is to stay busy, life is just about people, and I’m lucky enough to know someone seemingly everywhere I go so it’s less about place and more about party but the truth is there’s only one New York, and every time you come back you ask yourself why you ever left.

“Urge For Going” (the original, Tom Rush definitive version)

“The Wind In New York City”

More Weinstein

From: David Rubinson

This is such bullshit. And I must say that your willing participation in the bullshit machine is disappointing.
The Weinstein plot is another way to attack the “liberals.”
And Jewish/Left Hollywood.
And to distract us from Trump’s total destruction of the planet and rational global structure, and his fundamental racism, and inhuman acts of pure vileness on the weak and helpless.
Everyone in the business knew and knows that this goes on, every day.
But- it goes on everywhere. In Broadcast News for damn sure. In the last year it’s been an avalanche of disclosure.
The Pope had to form a special committee.
And, certainly at the top of the list, the US Congress, among the very worst perpetrators, in recent times and throughout history.
Weinstein is all over the Pimp Media.
Dennis Hastert and Gen Petraeus walked.

List of federal political sex scandals in the United States

Weinstein is a glaring symptom, not the disease.

 

Methinks he’s right.

For those of you unaware of David Rubinson, he’s a record producer famous for Herbie Hancock’s “Head Hunters” as well as albums by Moby Grape, the Pointer Sisters and Santana, you can check out his CV here:

David Rubinson

But that’s a man of the sixties, one thinking for himself and challenging convention, seeing through the b.s. and separating the wheat from the chaff.

Harvey Weinstein is a very sick man. I won’t say any more for fear of getting it wrong and having the left wing excoriate me. Did you see Mayim Bialik get caught in the crossfire?

“‘Big Bang Theory’ Actress Mayim Bialik Defends Sexual Harassment Comments – Star accused of ‘victim blaming’ after writing op-ed about Harvey Weinstein scandal”

You’ve got to hew the line on the left. But the problem is we’re all human and we sometimes fail to clarify and even make mistakes but we live in a zero tolerance society on the left, and the right are laughing all the way to elected office.

Harvey deserves to pay the price. And there are women who will never recover from his bad behavior. But what is fascinating is the scandal blew the atrocity in Vegas right off the front page. We can’t figure out the shooter’s motive and Harvey’s story is much more salacious, so it dominates the news and conversation. I’m sure Weinstein is praying for a war or a shooting to blow him right off the front page. Because that’s how it works, you release bad news on a Friday when the public is tuned out and you hope that your misdeeds are superseded by those of another.

But what I’m thinking is how this plays in the heartland. Gwyneth Paltrow is one of the most hated women in America. A laughable elitist to many. They don’t care if she paid a price. As for the rest of the Hollywood elite, the closest the hoi polloi can ever get to them is their Twitter feed, which oftentimes the stars don’t even write. So when you’re struggling to pay your bills in the heartland, the Weinstein story sounds like…

Self-satisfied, uppity white people preyed on by a fat Jew.

It’s great that the “Times” broke the story, kudos, but they keep piling on as they did after the Jayson Blair affair and Judith Miller’s bogus reporting. Meanwhile, did Fox or the “Wall Street Journal” do endless investigations of O’Reilly’s harassments? No, the right circled the wagons, tried to save Bill, and when they couldn’t, they replaced him with Tucker Carlson, who soon turned into a Mini-Bill.

First the right says we’re not taking Harvey’s behavior seriously, so we pile on and they continue to laugh as we destroy our solidarity, bickering amongst ourselves

I’m not saying sexual harassment is insignificant. I’m not saying that it’s limited to Hollywood. One can argue that Weinstein is an object lesson for all male/female relationships, that there’s harassment in the workplace everywhere.

But that’s not how those on the right see it. They see it as loudmouthed Jew in Hollywood. And when the news keeps talking about it, so do we.

So that’s where we are folks. We just gave justification to the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville. They said the Jews control the media and that’s what all the stories say, that Harvey used his power to not only win Oscars, but keep his behavior out of court and the press.

Meanwhile, the pussy-grabber in chief eviscerates these same right wing denizens’ health care and there’s nary a peep.

I laud the “New York Times” for printing both sides, but the truth is the right does not. The right is organized, it stays on message. One of the big messages is GOVERNMENT IS BAD! So government can’t fix Vegas and it can’t fix Puerto Rico and it can’t get it right with Harvey Weinstein.

So, you need to buy a gun and pay no taxes and take care of yourself.

Harvey Weinstein is done. Maybe execs in Hollywood will modify their behavior, let’s hope so. But I doubt the manager at Wendy’s will be affected. Because he doesn’t see himself in Weinstein’s league, he doesn’t think it applies to him.

So here we have it folks, the educated, left wing elite are piling on while the right kicks dirt on the whole thing. Mayim Bialik and Woody Allen didn’t get it exactly right and are beaten into submission while Puerto Ricans starve in darkness. Ever notice they’re both Jewish? Ever notice that the mayor of Chicago is also Jewish? And when they keep on talking about murders in that city the blame lies with Rahm Emanuel, who was born in America but has that foreign name?

The left thinks it’s winning.

But it’s not.

The left thinks it’s rooting out bad behavior.

But the right is amplifying faux pas while it circles its own wagons.

I’m not saying that Weinstein is innocent, that he shouldn’t be punished, but I am saying there’s a bigger game being played here, and the left is losing.

Walter Egan At McCabe’s

We sacrificed our lives for rock and roll.

Walter Egan graduated from Georgetown. His mother wondered when he’d get serious and live the straight life. But then he got a call to play guitar for Linda Ronstadt and he decamped for Los Angeles. The rest of the band stayed behind, in Washington, D.C., but Walter couldn’t turn the opportunity down.

In high school his buddy John Zambetti said if he got an electric guitar he could join the band. At the time, Walter only had an acoustic. We all had acoustics in the house. With wide necks and nylon strings, we learned chords to play folk tunes, which were rampant.

And then the Beatles hit.

We grew our hair long. We feigned British accents. And we bought instruments. Lots of them. We wanted to participate.

And we wanted to get rich and famous.

It was very different from today. All the action was outside the house. We’d go to battles of the bands, where teenagers played the hits of the day. We were addicted to the radio, no one did their homework without a transistor nearby, to hear the countdown, to hear their favorites.

And then the action switched from AM to FM and it was like going from dialup to broadband and the entire nation was swooped up by the sound, well, at least the younger generation, the baby boomers, who ruled as a result of their sheer numbers, and still believe they rule today, even though they’ve been passed by and don’t.

But the gig with Ronstadt fizzled. She said her guitar player wasn’t working out and then he did, that was Andrew Gold.

Walter Egan has got a lot of these brushes with greatness. He’s even got a big hit record. But now he pays his bills by being a substitute teacher, but he’s still got the dream, he’s still got that twinkle in his eye, even though he’s past Medicare age he’s still writing songs, still dreaming of a hit, whether it be a cover or an original, he’s plowing on, the rest of the world be damned.

We’re littered throughout society. The lifers. Who wanted to make the sound our own. Who needed to get closer. Who are sans IRAs, maybe don’t even own a home, but can tell you who played on what and who produced it even though it happened decades ago.

So, living in Pomona, with Chris Darrow, Walter starts to scramble. That’s the essence of being a musician, the hustle, the relationships, making the most of opportunities.

Not that Walter hadn’t been in the game back east, hell, he orchestrated the meeting of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris in his kitchen, but now he was in the big time.

He got a record deal. Dreamed of having Todd Rundgren produce his record. A household name. Instead he got Lindsey Buckingham, who the majordomo at Sound City recommended.

And his big hit emanated from a license plate he saw on a pimpmobile driving back to Pomona long after midnight, it said NOT SHY. Inspiration has to come from somewhere, and all your songs have stories, and Walter told them last night. He didn’t talk quite as much as Billy Bragg, but he linked his career together, made the connections with the songs. And there were tons of near-misses. Having success on Columbia but then enduring an A&R change, which quashed his career. Then getting a deal with Danny Bramson’s Backstreet but losing his bullet and said deal when Bramson lost a power struggle with Irving Azoff. You hear about the successes. You rarely hear about the misses. Mostly you know the never-beens, but some people take the risk, and some people succeed. “Magnet and Steel” is constantly synched. Eminem even licensed “Hot Summer Nights.” But ask someone under thirty who Walter Egan is and their face will draw a blank. Time marched on, we didn’t think it ever would. And we keep protesting that we want musicians, bands, people who can play their instruments.

Walter Egan comes from this background.

The second half of the show was the Malibooz, the surf/cover/original band that Egan fronts. The guitarist is the aforementioned John Zambetti, who followed his parents’ incantations to go to medical school. But he became an emergency doctor, so he could take off time and play.

Which he could. Astoundingly. We spent so much time in our bedrooms and our basements, rehearsing, getting it right, and it didn’t get us anywhere in modern society, those skills are truly monetizable by very few, but the sound is the bedrock of our life. Scratch a baby boomer professional and they’ll lament that they went straight, they live for the music, they go to the show, they need to be close.

And after the deals dried up, Walter went on the road with Spirit. And last night not only did the Malibooz do a spot-on rendition of “Nature’s Way,” they killed it on “I Got A Line On You.” Bringing back those tracks that made our lives. Reminding me of when you went to hear a cover band as opposed to a DJ.

And Walter played his hits. And the band rocked. And the crowd was small. But it was a perfect example of what once was. We’re old and lumpy and gray but when the amps are turned up and the musicians pick their Fenders we’re reminded…

So I’m talking to Walter after the show. After talking to Lincoln, who runs the joint.

Lincoln’s finally getting married, at 54, to a girl he’s had a crush on since grade school. But he’s living in rental property in Venice. If he chooses to move, where’s he gonna end up, El Monte?

That’s right, once upon a time the Westside of Los Angeles had a bohemian element. Hell, Walter once made whoopee in the median separating San Vicente. But today you’ve got to be rich to live there. Truly. Good luck finding real estate under seven figures. And to make that kind of money…

You need a straight job.

Oh, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham can afford property, but they’re icons, they strung together enough hits to still sell out arenas. But there are very few of them. And so many of us still enthralled, still trying.

So Walter moved to New York when he inherited the family home.

And then to Nashville to be closer to the music.

And he tried to go straight, he tried to sell insurance, but it didn’t take, no matter how much effort he put into it, he was called to be a musician, he’s spent his whole life being a musician.

Did he throw it away?

My parents wanted me to be a lawyer. Hell, after two years starving in Salt Lake City and then getting the world’s worst case of mononucleosis, I actually went to law school, and practiced for a minute or two, but it wasn’t me.

I went off into the wilderness. Went broke. My wife left me. All this came back when Walter was telling me his story. Women are attracted to artists, but the bills always have to be paid.

And I’ve suffered to get where I am now. Unfortunately, I don’t see another path, even if I was to start over. I was a mentor for tech startups for a day and realized those are not my people, I’m not a businessman…

But I don’t own a house. I don’t have any kids. I’ve got some money in the bank, but I’m parsimonious, I’m never sure where the next paycheck is coming from.

But I still dream of success. I still dream of the breakthrough. It keeps me going.

And Walter wants to play more gigs. And when you discuss music he lights up.

And here you have an entire generation, lost by today’s standards but fulfilled by our own. Hell, I know people who made multiple six figures a year in this industry who are now broke, living in rentals, divorced, eking by.

But they can’t stop talking about the music.

It’s in their blood.

It’s in mine too.

We had no internet, no social media, not even cable.

All we had was the radio and our records. And when the Beatles showed up we jumped on the bandwagon and we never got off. And now we’re in an unrecognizable place that oftentimes freaks us out. But when we go to the show…

It feels like home.

Better Call Saul

That’s Bob Odenkirk.

Did I ever tell you I’ve never watched “Game of Thrones”? Apple announces it’s coming to iTunes and I’m not excited at all, I’d rather see Eddy Cue testify about the Warriors. I’m just not into fantasy.

But I do feel left out. We all feel left out, that’s the modern condition.

But I want to belong. Be part of the discussion. The only thing we have in common is politics, which has eclipsed music and tech to drive the culture today.

But then there’s TV.

No, not the sitcoms written for a market, with the innuendo and the eye-rolls, but the cable and streaming stuff, and to tell you the truth “Breaking Bad” seemed like something from basic cable until Bob Odenkirk came on.

That’s right, we’re digging in. We’re now eight episodes into the second season. And I was anxious about devoting this much time to it. Fifty hours? Come on, in a world where I’ve got no time?

And it’s just not that good. Best show ever? It wasn’t even in the league of “The Sopranos,” until tonight, when Saul Goodman showed up, i.e. Bob Odenkirk.

Now I’m familiar with the man. I never quite got into “Mr. Show.” He’s earned a living. I even saw he was in this show. But I expected him to chew a little scenery and disappear. Instead, he lit the screen on fire.

That’s the power of the individual.

That’s something the baby boomers have right and the millennials have wrong. The millennials just want to be part of the group, they don’t want to do anything that undercuts that status. They’re wary of excelling. And when they do they rally around their compatriots. Whereas baby boomers are all about reaching for the brass ring. Reveling in their achievement.

So what makes Odenkirk’s character work here is his malleability. He’s got a code of conduct, a morality, but it doesn’t align with the one in the Bible, he’s doing what’s right for him. Which is what our parents did, which is what we wrestle with. That’s the truth of society, if you’re not bending the rules, working the edges, you’re not getting ahead.

Unless you’re an artist. Where the same rules apply but underneath there’s an honesty. That’s right, artists bend the rules, break convention all the time.

In the pursuit of truth.

That’s what’s crap about most of today’s art. It’s made with the audience in mind. It doesn’t want to make people uncomfortable, it doesn’t want to test limits. But when you do, people can align themselves with you, you give them something to believe in, something to live for, because they know deep inside they’ve got the same viewpoint, it’s just that they’re unwilling to take the risk.

It’s kinda like politics, on the left side. If you don’t hew to doctrine, you’re excommunicated. You’ve got to pay fealty to all ethnic groups, you can’t make an off-color joke, you’re neutered. Meanwhile, the right is breaking rules left and right and succeeding, ever think about that?

So Saul Goodman changed his name from McGill, because criminals want a Jewish attorney. You can’t say that in public, but you can say that in art, art speaks the unspeakable.

And Saul is not a miracle worker, just an efficiency machine.

But Bryan Cranston and his compatriot don’t want this efficiency, it puts them in the crosshairs, so they take matters into their own hands and Saul…

Starts quoting “The Godfather,” the bible of the baby boomers. Their favorite movie. Drama and wisdom all wrapped up into one.

And what we’re all looking for is a godfather. Someone who will take control and make everything right. Someone who sees the landscape in a way we can’t, who we’ll align ourselves with and will save us. And it’s always an outsider, never a government official, never a member of regular society, not so much an entrepreneur but a fixer, like the Wolf in “Pulp Fiction.”

So now I’m a member of the club, albeit half a decade late. Now I see what makes “Breaking Bad” so magical. Now when someone brings it up in conversation I can testify. And it’s all because of this one performance, where shyster Saul takes control. It’s a masterful thing to watch. He appears a bozo, but he knows where the land mines are buried.

Shall we all have a Saul in our life.

And either you know what I’m talking about…

Or you eventually will. “Breaking Bad” is hiding in plain sight on Netflix. This episode was the best of art, fiction but more true than life. That’s why I gave up reading most non-fiction, it wasn’t true. But in a great novel you glimpse into humanity, feelings.

Shall you strive for such in your art.

And if you’re not a creator you’re part of the vast audience, just waiting to be touched by art, to make sense of this bizarre lonely life where everybody tells you they know the answers but they don’t.

But when done right, the answers are in art.

Don’t you ever forget that.

Oh, deep inside you already know.