Monthly Archives: December 2011

Welcome to Miami

Remember when flying used to be a fun adventure, not a fraught stressfest? You would dress up for a trip, hope to get bumped to first class, maybe join the 1000-mile club. Now you just try to pack as many things into as few bags as possible to avoid luggage fees, wear clothes that are easy to unbelt and unshoe at security, and make sure none of your fellow passengers are packing bombs in their underwear.

We had an easy flight from Los Angeles to Miami, driven by pilots name Axel and Buzz — is this a plane or a rock band? Behind us sat two little girls with the cutest baby labradoodle puppy. After the dog had given Cole a good tongue bath, the littlest girl — her hair in perfect twists — pronounced, “He likes to eat poop!” That tyke was all self-assured mouth.

“She is …” I didn’t finish.

“She is!” her grandmother agreed. “A shake comes with those fries.” And the rear of the train laughed.

It was a sweet start to a vacation, until we landed at MIA and waited 50 minutes for our baggage to be unloaded. As one irate passenger noted, we paid to have our bags be late. Remember when checked luggage was free, and came off the plane before you did?

The new American wing at MIA is shiny and beautiful. I felt like I was walking though a luxury emporium. Cuban restaurants beckoned with their pork and rice. It’s good to be home, Cole says. Miami may just be one of the places I’ve lived, but it is his home.

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Lovely Lita

Lita Ford has had a rough year (D-I-V-O-R-C-E), so it’s great to see her looking  so good in this recent interview. I talked to her briefly on the phone today, and she sounded in much better spirits than the last times we had talked. She and Joan Jett have reconciled. And she’s recording a new album. It’s interesting to hear her embrace the punk era in this video, since some people say Lita and Sandy went metal when Joan went Pistols, and that’s why the Runaways broke up. I believe that’s a simplistic breakdown, and, according to this interview, so does Lita.

Earle Mankey, who coproduced the Runaways’ second album, Queens of Noise, told me he was blown away by the then-teenaged Lita’s musicianship. “It’s just astounding how young she was and how amazingly good she played,” he said. ” I knew lots of guys 30 or older who couldn’t play like that.”

Lita Ford Interview at M3 Rock Festival 2011 – YouTube.

via Lita Ford Interview at M3 Rock Festival 2011 – YouTube.

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I Heart Lisbeth

Stieg Larsson silently witnessed a gang rape when he was a teenager, and his intense guilt over his complicity made him a lifelong feminist and anti-racism activist. The Swedish author named his greatest creation in honor of that poor woman. But Lisbeth Salander is no victim. She’s such a kick-ass heroine that she has been the saving grace of three overwritten bestselling novels and now four overwrought movies, most recently David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which I had the popcorn-venus pleasure of watching this evening.

Mara Rooney is riveting as Lisbeth — no more or less than Noomi Rapace in the Swedish version of Larsson’s Men Who Hate Women (I confer the mystery its original title). She’s hot and cool and icey and complicated and never warm but miraculously smart, tough, resourceful, and — her downfall — caring. The American version makes her more vulnerable, I think. Still, she’s a Hollywood rarity: “ugly beautiful,” as the French say, until she’s just plain beautiful.


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Los Angeles Times book critic David Ulin wrote a nice piece about the reissue of Patti Smith’s Hanuman book of poems Woolgathering. Of course, I have the original in my Smith collection. She talks about her melancholia during the years she lived in a suburban rook in Detroit, essentially being a housewife. I interviewed her there and I could feel her loneliness — the loneliness of parenting.

Patti Smith is practical, mythic in ‘Woolgathering’ –

via “Woolgathering”.

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Pop on Jett

Joan Jett at the Tropicana by Brad Elterman

Joan Jett intimidates Iggy Pop. Back in the mid-’70s, when he first encountered the then-Runaway at the Tropicana — the Hollywood motel where they both sometimes lived — “I remember thinking, ‘That’s a real competitor,” he told me in an interview for Queens of Noise today. “That’s a real strong force.'”

Admittedly, Mr. Osterberg doesn’t recall a lot about that time period. “It’s not too far off the mark to say that’s what I’m told,” he answered, when I said he was living in LA back then. Hollywood was not then or now a place for a person with raging drug inclinations to get sober. But he managed to pull some funny and insightful memories of Kim Fowley, the Agora in Cleveland, and the Runaways at the Rat in Boston out of the foggy haze.

He did not wax nostalgic about Rodney’s English Disco, where he performed one of the venue’s rare live gigs, his infamous Death of a Virgin.  “It was like a hobby for a sick person. It wasn’t like a business or anything. There was no good reason for that place to exist. There were lots of bad reasons for it to exist.”

He admits that Jett, whom he runs into occasionally, still makes him nervous. “She’s hot. She’s good. Her stuff cuts right across. Anyone can understand it.”

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Brad Shoots Joan

Joan Jett By Brad Elterman

Brad Elterman took this stunning shot of Joan Jett, and many others, back in summer of 1977. In the days before stylists and Photoshop made everyone look perfect, not to mention the same, he and other great photographers — Jenny Lens, Donna Santisi, Richard Creamer — captured the Runaways in all their raw rebel power. Joan, Elterman says, had that “thing” about her: star power, charisma, magnetism. He said he felt that way only a couple times when he was shooting — also, for Bob Dylan and Bobby DeNiro, together. Joan, she shone all on her own. “Joan had this essence of coolness which I’d never seen before,” he told me, as we looked through old photos at his Beverly Glen bungalow.

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An Easy Nutcracker to Relish

Noel and Cole

The Nutcracker can be a holiday obligation, like fruit cake, politely consumed but scarcely relished. Not in the hands of the San Pedro City Ballet. Artistic directors Cynthia Bradley and Patrick David Bradley stage a show that has the homespun sweetness of community theater, with the joy intended by Tchaikovksy. There’s a lightness, breath, and daring to this production that even had the house painter next to me smiling. The gorgeous costumes and sets are professional quality — I particularly loved the ruffled bloomers and the rat on wheels. Yes, there’s pride in seeing local faces on stage: a lot of beaming mamas and papas in the audience. In the gorgeous art deco setting of the Warner Grand Theater, in spitting distance of Hollywood, a little miracle unfolds: delight in human form and expression, shared with neighbors.

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