Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

20
Aug
19

Maisel Day Expounded!

Palisades Village – The Bay by Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas on Amazon Prime Video’s “Maisel Day”. All Photos ©Billy Bennight

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been nominated for 20 Emmys and Amazon Prime Video has celebrated the momentous occasion of being the most Emmy nominated comedy for 2019. Amazon Prime Video has treated Los Angeles with “Maisel Day” where various retailers throughout the various communities in the city offered special 1959 pricing from a host of opportunities ranging from food to hotel rooms.

My Maisel Day started on Wednesday night as I dropped by The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to find out when I could book a room for $40.00 a night. My research yielded a 9 Am call to line up for a room. Following this research expedition, I ended up late to bed and an unfortunately early to rise.

In the morning my first priority was The Roosevelt. Walking up it was immediately apparent there was a line. That line ran all the way from the door of The Roosevelt to the corner and possibly beyond. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be able to book a room.

It was time to continue to the next level of my Maisel Day’s plan. There were a lot of great places to experience on Maisel Day like Canter’s Deli or Starring by Ted Gibson. But considering the prospect of long lines and possible dubious outcomes, I set my sights on the Pacific Palisades.

I rarely visit the Pacific Palisades and didn’t realize how serendipitous my decision was until I found myself in Palisades Village where all the action was happening. My first move was securing an appointment at Gornik & Drucker for my $3.00 haircut.

See’s Candies

Felicia and Liz on Maisel Day 2019

Once this key part of my itinerary was secured, with a five hours plus wait laying in front of me, I moved quickly to get the most of my Maisel Day. I set my sights on the See’s Candies for $1.50 of candy which was a $21.00 value. While the idea of securing great values and bargains it is also exciting to imagine or internalize the mid-century world that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel inhabited. The See’s candy line was long but in the world of lines it proved to move speedily and I had my chance with the candies in about 45 minutes. Rick Caruso accompanied with a handful of other gentlemen passed us by coming from the See’s candy area when a man next to me called out to ask him how his day was going. Rick answered back with a salutation indicating his day is going fine. It’s unusual to spot the owner of The Grove and the Palisades Village, a billionaire publically strolling any mall but there he was checking out Maisel Day with the rest of us. A See’s employee who had been handing out candies came around to count us out. We made it but soon after the count supplies ran out. See’s Candies offered p their last supplies while I was at the register. From there people moved on to their day or sought a new line to take advantage for Maisel Day goodies. I had my eye set on the Rueben at Hank’s.

Continue reading ‘Maisel Day Expounded!’

06
Jul
19

A View of the Mighty Blue Whale

Photos of ©Billy Bennight for Extravagant Behavior

It is Blue Whale watching season with the return of the mighty Blue Whale to Southern California. Every year around this time Harbor Breeze Cruises and Aquarium of the Pacific sponsor a special media whale watching excursion out of Long Beach to explore the edge of Pacific Ocean’s waters off of San Pedro and Long Beach to view these mighty, majestic and beautiful creatures while they feed and navigate in these deep coastal waters filled with krill and other wonderful sea life.

On this excursion, we slipped through the foggy morning air far out into the Pacific Ocean. We eventually settled miles out running parallel with Palos Verdes near a research boat and skip busily tagging a young whale to study its habits and behaviors. The researcher motored over in their Zodiac Hurricane to our Harbor Breeze boat for a mid-water rendezvous where the scientist took the time to explain the process of tagging the whale and the information he was hoping to acquire from his work. It was a first on the many excursions I have taken and a welcome surprise.

After our meet up we continued further out crossing the path of a pod of dolphins until be happened on a large Blue Whale named “Kinko” feeding in the deep on krill. The Aquarium of the Pacific expert recognized the marking of the whale that indicated it was the whale researchers like to call Kinko. Every whale has distinctive markings that make them identifiable. We spent about an hour with Kinko as he would dive and surface in 12 to 15 minutes intervals. It was pretty much a regular day of whale watching and whale feeding as the fog was slowly burning off. Kinko fluked twice while we were there. Once everyone had had their time shooting video or taking pictures we were on way back returning to Rainbow Harbor and Shore Line Village.

Continue reading ‘A View of the Mighty Blue Whale’

04
Jul
19

APOLLO 11 – The Immersive Live Show – Opens the 5th of July

The Lunar Module Apollo 11 media preview event in Lunar Dome at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. ©Billy Bennight

It was nearly 50 years ago when I had just turned thirteen when the lunar module set down on the moon and Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the lunar surface. Being a young boy in love with Star Trek and brimming with outer space fantasies made this the most important and dramatic event in my young life. From the moment Apollo 11 surged into the sky off of Cape Canaveral to start its tenuous and epic journey to the moon. Like all Americans and the world as a whole, we were all on pins and needles the whole journey with anticipation for this unmatched achievement of science and technology. We all set around the television every night to watch this journey unfold. The Apollo 11 flight generated trepidation, wonder, and unrestrained excitement that still sparks the human imagination to this day.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since that epic launch and its return to Mother Earth. Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin all returned heroes and celebrities. That excitement and interest still exist to this day.  So it comes with little surprise that some imaginative folks have found a way to regenerate the passion of the moon mission to once again activate people’s imagination and create a fascinating recount of the Apollo 11 story by commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 with the APOLLO 11The Immersive Live Show. Apollo 11 retells this remarkable moment in human history by using cutting edge and visionary technology to tell the story finding a way to engage every aspect of our senses.

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29
Jun
19

Mezcalero’s New Drink Menu: It will Delight the taste buds and feed the soul!


Mezcalero has been an exciting addition on Broadway in DTLA for a couple of years now. It’s gained a reputation for its exceptional take on bar food and its adventurous drink program focusing mezcal from the beginning with all the blessed fruits of the agave plant. Mezcalero’s beverage director Nathan McCullough has reshuffled the cocktail menu for Spring and Summer with new exciting new takes on the mezcal inspired cocktail by incorporating clever foodie ideas and birthing them into fascinating beverage choices that shortcircuit the idea of food and drink as being 2 different things.  The question arises  “Do you drink it or eat it?”

Yes, his new mixes are still beverages and they are crafted in marvelous new combinations. For the presser, I (we) sat down and did the hard work of sipping and tasting these new concoctions. No tasting is complete without a few yummy bites to activate the palette. We all shared the mandatory chips, salsa, and guacamole before we ordered our food. My food choices were the Carne Asada taco (salsa verde, onion, and cilantro) and the Braised Tinga taco (braised chicken, onion, tomato and chipotle). Each was a delight as sips and bites intermingled as every new beverage was served.

The first of the 2 tasting rounds arrived  that included “Tig Bitty Fresca”, “Shady Cricketry”, ‘Cheesus Take the Wheel” “Salty Affair” and the “Maria Concita”. Tig Bitty Fresca was a light and lively, a sweet delight, while Shady Cricketry was darker earthy umami owed its flavor to the use of “Chapulin”, real crickets, infused mezcal to the drink. Cheesus Take the Wheel sung deliciously all the way through and was a wonderful flavor surprise of Spanish goat cheese, cheese without the farm – no gaminess and pure enduring cheese satisfaction! Salty Affair paid homage to carnitas in a pickle back way with its a saline tip of the hat to pork and peppers dotted with swimming peppercorns that zested up the drink. Maria Conchita was as delightful and it was delicious set in what looks like a terracotta pear cup is fruity fresh and wild with a lively tropical zing.

Continue reading ‘Mezcalero’s New Drink Menu: It will Delight the taste buds and feed the soul!’

03
May
19

The Martin Atkins Interview

Martin Atkins Extravagant Behavior Interview and photo shoot. Photos © Billy Bennight all Rights Reserved.

On a Tuesday afternoon, I join longtime friend Austin’s cultural arts and SXSW insider Peggy Ellithorpe with her friends for drinks at the Hampton Inn and Suites’ balcony for happy hour. I had been in Austin since Saturday for SXSW and it seemed to be the perfect time to get together and catch up. The balcony overlooked the Austin Convention Center from the east along with clubs, bar and venues interlaced and resting around the nexus of SXSW activities. It was a lazy and friendly affair as introductions were offered and conversations developed between us. Soon a stately gentleman with a definitive Rock and Roll persona and a young lady joined us for drinks. This was when the energy in our circle ramped up. The gentleman was Martin Atkins and his manager, Molly. Martin Atkins has legendary status as the drummer for Public Image Limited besides being a producer, a creative and driving force in Brian Brain, Public Image LtdMinistryNine Inch NailsPigface, and Killing Joke over the passing decades. We enjoyed an introduction and brief chat then I struck up an enjoyable conversation with Molly and arranged an interview with Martin the following day. 

Monday through Thursday the Hampton Inn has a happy hour starting around 4 and going till 7. The second floor of the hotel is a comfortable space with a welcoming interior and the “NOLA styled balcony” outside with big picture windows offers a satisfying view of the city. It was there I met up with Martin again and slid to a quieter corner of the hotel’s common area for our meet-up. Over the years I’ve met many people who were associated with the Sex Pistols or PIL. Among them were Steve Jones, Jah Wobble, Glen Matlock, Dennis Morris, and producer Nick Launay. The former three I’ve had extensive conversations with about those early heady days about the Pistols and PIL. So it is understandable I was excited to get yet another authoritative point of view from a key member of this musical watershed that spun out in so many directions changing music and the relationship of music to its audience forever. Martin is a smart and detailed individual keenly focused on his work with his own artistic and business contributions offering me a compelling insightful view of the workings of the Post Punk phenomenon of Public Image LTD. He further honed in my understanding of those tumultuous years with Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon) at the helm of these musical juggernauts with portraiture and analysis of who Johnny is as a person and as an artist. Martin’s many gifts outside of being a talented drummer is an entrepreneur, an engineer/producer, head of his own record label, a writer, a college instructor among other things. To say the least he is busy and has his fingers in many different pies. 

We sat down for the better part of an hour and chewed the metaphoric fat and got down to a very matter of fact discussion of PIL, the music business and the creative forces that drive a creative genius like himself. Dig in folks because this is one hellacious wild ride and one interview I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. It’s that cool!

Extravagant Behavior: The first thing that came to mind when I was reading the article… I spoke to Nick (Nick Launay) when he was there (in the studio for Flowers of Romance years ago) when him and John locked out the producer. It brought back that memory. I thought, were you there when that happened?

Martin Atkins: I’m not sure. I remember some of these stories and I have my own stories I remember.

Extravagant Behavior:…and you can tell those stories.

Martin Atkins: Right… I do remember we recorded, I think Nick could be talking about something called “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. I think Nick has talked about doing a couple of dub versions. One extremely insane dub version, which was his first credit. When you listen back, you’re like “oh my god”, it’s like anything you overuse some tools when you first discover them. Then he re-did “Home Is Where The Heart Is” that was kind of chilled out. Around that period I also remember an assistant engineer that we put in the vocal booth and say okay we are going to have you test the mic. But he wasn’t testing the mic, he wasn’t testing it with the track. (the engineer called out) “Hahaha!, I had the oven repaired. Home, home is where the heart is…” and John just took whatever he was saying and turned it into a song. Which then they miscredited to Jim Walker the original drummer. Then Quintin Hailen (sic), who I will see in Tulsa Oklahoma, he wrote a book called “Rise and Fall” about PIL (Public Image Limited). He then dissected my drumming and juxtaposed it with Jim Walker’s drumming showing evidence that my drumming – Jim Walker was so much better than I was because of my drumming on “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. Which I drummed on and co-wrote was miscredited. I’m just like… yeah! But I know that was a really special time for Nick. It was his first 10 weeks in the business and part of my first 10 months in the business. The relationship I had then with Nick was kind of gleeful… would be the word I’d use. Gleeful children, because we were. I think I was 19, maybe twenty. I don’t know how old he was, probably the same age. Gleefully in the studio where Phil Collins recorded “In The Air Tonight” – just me and him! I’ve heard, and I talk about this in my book a bit. It’s about memories and how we remember things. John now thinks he was the mastermind behind the stuff as does Keith. The truth is, Nick and I laid down the basic tracks, if not, 90% of the musical part of “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. “Banging The Door”, “Four Closes Walls”, (it was in) 1981 and this was released as part of the “This Is What You Want” sessions. But this was released as part of the Flowers Of Romance recording sessions. For one reason or another Keith, John didn’t choose all of those tracks to be on Flowers that might have been more cohesive than it ended up being. I might put a Spotify playlist together of… 

Extravagant Behavior:…of what it might have sounded like?

Martin Atkins: Yeah! I do remember we, I just did a bunch of tracks and left on tour with my punk band Brian Brain in the US. I know there is a song called “Vampire” which was released on the 40th year box set. And I just thought, “Oh shit!” I’ve been holding onto this track for 40 years, maybe 35 years. So I went to Spotify to listen to it with just my drums. I don’t know what they’re doing by releasing that because I have the version with bass. keyboards and fully formed vocals. “Why wouldn’t they say hey Martin?” Because they know I’m gonna say, “what are you going to give me?”

Extravagant Behavior: Because it’s still works, and it’s still your artistry.

Martin Atkins: Yeah, and I’ve held on to it and they didn’t, so fuck off!

Continue reading ‘The Martin Atkins Interview’
09
Mar
19

Movie Review: “Meow Wolf: Origin Story”

Meow Wold: Origin Story

Meow Wold: Origin Story

Meow Wolf art collective got my attention a number of years ago because of a friend, Liberty Yablon, who was part of that community. Then when another friend, Cherry Shore, enthusiastically reported her experience when she discovered the “Maximalist” installation of “House of Eternal Return”. Cherry posted a lot of photos from inside House of Eternal Return and really caught my attention then. After this happened anything to do with Meow Wolf got my immediate attention. Surprisingly, when I was shooting the WGA Awards red carpet George R.R.Martin and I had a conversation about it. Based on our conversation George was very enthusiastic about the prospects of Meow Wolf’s artistic concept. Since then I knew that a documentary was in the works and it so happened I saw a post about a LACMA screening and I knew I had to join in. Here’s my take on it.

Meow Wolf: Origin Story is the back story to the creation of Meow Wolf. Less succinctly it’s a documentary on a group of a young energetic creatively driven artists, who grouped together to create an art collective in Santa Fe New Mexico, resisting social norms and conventions, while originating their own ethos by rejecting corporatist hierarchy and embracing radical enclusion. The ideas and ethos that established and fuel Meow Wolf are the things that have sustained the collective from the beginning and are fleshed out in Meow Wolf: Origin Story. The doc chronicles Meow Wolf’s inception and growth with a bunch of brave young souls rejecting the commercial art world, pooling their money and embarking on an unspecified intrepid artistic dream to create. They practiced radical democracy in their decision-making and DIY collaborative artwork that generated an immersive storytelling experience meant to challenge and engage with radical ideas. The word psychedelic was freely used in the narrative of Meow Wolf’s clever and inventive mind-expanding movie offering new possibilities of thinking using alternative concepts of juxtaposed realities or multiverse continuums to bend the mind. Meow Wolf’s approach is like a whimsical child tying it all together with a thread of quantum theory bursts of consciousness and the spectacle of the Vedas generating their Surrealist and Maximalist vision for all to see.

Meow Wolf fosters a lot of heady ideas, but as much as it is an artistic statement about creativity, it also portrays the story of human the experience with experimentation in acceptance, community, and relationships. The documentary shares real-time captures the dynamics of creativity, in interpersonal relationships and their struggles as the collective grew and morphed socially and creatively.  One of the most compelling stories within the doc revolves around David Loughridge friendship with Vince Kadlubeck and his contribution to the group. David Loughridge was key to the group’s dynamics. He helped put together one of Meow Wolf’s ambitious installations, The Due Return (Interdimensional Ship). The Due Return was the most significant project for the group at the time. The installation was a 70-foot long two-story ship filled with rooms, dressed with objects and memorabilia, that created a sense of nostalgic occupancy and futuristic travel. It was a great success and David was instrumental to that success. After The Due Return exhibition closed David was diagnosed as a manic-depressive. David eventually sought electroshock therapy to help with his mental disability. Many in the group, including both Sean Di Ianni and Vince Kadlubeck felt it was doing him some good, and then it wasn’t. It is a heart-wrenching moment in the film when for those closest to David, and also for those in collective, were confronted by the harshness of mortality with the loss of one of their own.

After this tragedy, the doc moves on to its last heroic theme. It embodies Meow Wolf’s greatest struggle and accomplishment by mobilizing the collective most ambitious project that changed everything the now legendary installation House of Eternal Return. House of Eternal Return was funded in large part by George R. R. Martin, who believed in their vision, among other investors. George was moved by their SIFI Fantasy laced pitch and he bought them a bowling alley they needed to embark on their epic journey began. House of Eternal Return was constructed by over 140 artists at a record pace. The construction of the installation was a race in financial brinksmanship. It’s a story of staggering and achievement under the meanest of circumstances but they pulled it off! The doc is an amazing achievement in its own right! The majority of the film is composed of old random video clips from a host of donors. These clips were assembled from dozens of sources after a decade of an art collective randomness that could lay waste to the best intentions to any archived footage. The video footage is in excellent condition and makes the movie very easy to watch. There’s a lot of depth and heart to Meow Wolf: Origin Story, with some eye-opening cultural moments that portends to a dramatic shift in culture and a different approach to society in general. As the”Meow Wolf About Page” puts it and says very succinctly “Meow Wolf comes out of a dumpster-diving, DIY past, and we want to help emerging artists and art communities around the world.” Meow Wolf has an eye on art and a vision for a new social order we all should consider.

Meow Wolf: Origin Story is available on VOD here.

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09
Jul
12

Miles Davis: Magic Celebration At The Hollywood Bowl

For some time I’ve been aware that the US Postal service was breaking new ground by issuing a new generation of Forever Stamps which would feature Superstar Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and French Pop singer Edith Piaf. Karen has been keeping me abreast of the ramping up of this historic event from early on. It’s historic as well because this is one of only a few times France has simultaneously released similar stamps through La Poste. Both artists visages have been immortalized in this co-release. I received my invite to the event at the Hollywood Bowl Museum dedication with a little more than a weeks notice. I had seen the press on the New Your dedication and I was impressed!

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The day arrived and I made a trek I often avoid because of traffic and crowds. Not that I don’t like the Hollywood Bowl, because I do. It’s simply the mechanics of getting there that brings on immense misery. But the pleasure I was to experience overrode my overall consternation. Parking was a bear but I made it and I totally scored! I thought I was there for the dedication only, but there was to be more to this night than I would’ve anticipated. I was able to arrange a parking space where I could leave at anytime. I found the Hollywood Bowl Museum where I successfully discovered the terrace of the museum via the elevator. Upon arriving Joshua Ledet was laying out a soulful version of the National Anthem. While I was up front photographing Ledet, then followed by Bubba Jackson, Erin Davis, was nice enough to call to me quietly to say hi. It was good seeing him. I was excited for Erin, Vince and Cheryl. This is a tremendous honor and such a wonderful situation to celebrate Miles’ artistry amongst celebrities, friends and family. New York’s dedication had such notables as Cicely Tyson and Don Was (Was Not Was and President of Blue Note Records), while the group gathered for this event included Henry Rollins, Robert Trujillo, Herbie Hancock and Marcus Miller. Bubba laid out a nice tribute, Henry drove it home with his personal anecdotal story of his Mother’s love of Miles’ Kind Of Blue, although Miles’ left Henry’s Mother behind or so she felt. Henry joyfully picked Miles right back up. Henry’s introduction to Miles’ art for us this night was filled jabs of passion, insight and praise for Miles’ performances and commitment to the music. This was followed by Marcus Miller’s account of being in Miles’ band. Marcus shared his admiration and influence from his mentor, who both, challenged him and inspired him. In all their accounts you could sence and feel Miles presence: his effect on them, it is a living thing, that was moving and palpable. I could feel the man Miles must have been while hearing these stories and much deserved accolades. I’ve always felt Miles Davis was the real deal, not one to put up with fakes and frauds. Who’s ultimate and singular goal and passion was for the music. So for me to be here and to have it fleshed out right before my own eyes was truly remarkable. I count myself among the very fortunate!

After the proceeding finished I was steadily moving towards the rescue of my car when I ran into Bob Lee of The Los Angeles Beat. Bob was looking for a photographer for the Miles Davis Hollywood Bowl tribute to 3 stellar albums; Kind Of Blue, Bitches Brew and Tutu. I immediately said yes! As the sun was fading I was guided through the VIP area and amongst the other photographers. As I was ushered into the Bowl proper Jimmy Cobb, the last remaining member from Kind Of Blue, was in full tilt and deep into So What. I started snapping away trying to capture the spirit of the event in my photos. I had 15 minutes to shoot from the aisle right behind the last row of boxes. This was a harder shoot than The Wiltern. Yet I manage to get some sparkling moments of the band playing. Waiting for the next performance with Vince Wilburn Jr.’s band playing Bitches Brew I ran into Earl Gibson Jr. He was shooting for Miles Davis’ Estate, grabbing the best moments of the night’s proceedings. We shared a few laughs and it was back to work. Cobb’s band put on an amazing performance of Kind Of Blue when the stage began to move in a circular fashion to my left exposing Vince’s band who lit right into Bitches Brew. From then on till the end of the set I had free reign shooting the band. Vince was brutalizing the skins as this improvisational maelstrom of collaborators who preformed and included: Mino Cinelu, Jackson Blackbyrd McKnight (whom I rode up in the elevator earlier at the museum), Nicholas Payton, Robert Irving III, Badal Royand and DJ Logic. After shooting, shooting and more shooting I took a moment to really take it in. Vince’s band, The Electric Band, brought about a moment of awe in me as each artist soloed. The density of the music and yet the space you could simultaneously hear from the performance was breathtaking. In many ways the band left me with the impression or the sensorial presents you get with a well executed classical performance. The idea I got from my discussions with my friend Kenny Dennis, a consummate Jazz drummer, was that the mid-century goal of Jazz musicians and Jazz music were to go toe to toe with the classical expression. Listening to Bitches Brew I felt that bar had been met in musicality and structure. It was marvelously 3 dimensional as the different instruments pulled you in different directions. I felt as if Miles was still at the helm. Still guiding everyone in that Ne plus ultra of musical experiences. Simply impressive! During all of this I had run into Karen, who was radiant that night, after pulling off a world-class event. I was happy for her and very impressed. She had an extra ticket. Henry’s ticket, I’d find out later. I stood for most of the performance shooting but I really wanted to be immersed in this phenomenal experience. I sot out the box for some rare access. I found myself setting behind Greg Burk, LA Times’s Culture Monster, reviewing the show. We have a mutual friend, Casey Dolan, who wrote for the LA Times and was Entertainment Editor. We chatted about Casey leaving the Times and our mutual interest of writing and music. Karen joined us as Marcus Miller took command of the stage to bring the recording and collaboration with Miles for Tutu to life again.

Once Marcus had finished with the set of Tutu he took a moment to shared his own story with us of his and Miles’ collaboration. How he had left the band to study composing with Miles’ blessing and of his return to create with Miles again on Tutu. It was rather inspirational moment and showed another side of Miles. A look at him we don’t usually get as a mentor and a collaborator that so importantly demonstrated Miles focus on the music honing in on Miles’ desire to remain relevent and involved. Marcus felt it was fitting and in the spirit of Miles’ own sense of creativity to continue that legacy of reinvention and creativity by introducing one of his own compositions, Jekyll And Hyde. Jekyl and Hyde was to carry the nightto it’s finally. It matched the cadence and tone of Tutu and proved to be appropriate closer for such a remarkable night. We were all moved and impressed by the superb musicianship and the remarkable remake of not one but three ground breaking and watershed Jazz albums. May the house of Miles live on forever!


24
Jun
12

Rhett Miller: It Started With A Cup Of Coffee

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It all started out simply and without any expectations. I had been living in Dallas Texas for a few months. I didn’t have any friends and I had recently started work for Macy’s at the Galleria. The surge in people’s interest in  and wanting quality coffee had brought about a boutique coffee shop I found right outside of Macy’s door in the mall. I’m speculating on the resurgence of coffee as a hip cultural thing to do, but I know here in LA, it had started with the Onyx and then expanded with The Pik Me Up.  The fever for a cool place to sip coffee spread across the nation and Dallas was no exception. This was some seven years from that inception in Los Angeles and Dallas was picking up on what had been thrown down. Deep Ellum had exploded with counter-culture fervor providing a crazy scene to support the lifestyle. It was easy for me to blend in because I knew the dialog and the style. I, being an original instigator and provocateur in the movement saw nothing but opportunity on that street. I simply waited for the right moment to leak into that world. Jaime, the girl who served me my morning brew was a very good-looking woman. In the morning we’d have brief exchanges. This habit had continued for a month or two before a defining moment happened. One morning I was complaining about one thing or another when you might say she said the secret password that would set her apart from the run of the mill or the blind and obedient. A word emitted from her mouth that would forever change both directions of out lives. Her response was nothing of particular import till she said the “cathartic” word. Everything stopped right there in a strange suspension, as my mind raced, as if a vast Nietzsche-ist void had appeared for a moment to be deciphered. I said, “Excuse me, what did you just say?” She repeated the statement with the “Cathartic” word in it. From that moment on there was no more polite and light conversation to bide the time to scamper away with my morning coffee. I ask her for her phone number and she wasn’t shy about sharing it. I left that morning filled with hope for a better fortune for my life in Dallas. It wasn’t long that we were out at Trees, Orbit Room (an unofficial Emo’s) or Deep Ellum Bar, maximizing the local energy, while running commentary on that scene. I offered my perspective on what was more or less a rehash of what I’d already done in San Diego and Los Angeles. Revisiting my old ideas for a new group has never stopped me from fulling exploiting an opportunity when it was presented me. So I did it with fervor! She was pretty much my guide to the cool stuff that was going off locally. We became drinking buddies. She introduced me to lots of cool and happening folks that made my life fuller, fun and engaging. Along the way she brought me to a local Pub I can’t remember now on lower Greenville where a national phenomenon was emerging. I would later find out that both of her parents belonged to Mensa. She was a smart lassie! She loved my take on things so much she’d deciphered my expressions for my non-verbal conversation. She pointed out to me one time that she knew when it was going weird by the way I raised my eye right brow. Jaime was an amazing drinking buddy and friend. On one of our forays, I think it was on a Tuesday night, with many Tuesdays to follow, there was cheap beer and cider at this lower Greenville Pub where the Rancero Brothers were the entertainment; two-thirds of the Old 97’s. Of course, the Dallas scene had the built-in infamous The Rev. Horton Heat, The Toadies, REO Speadealer or  Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. To answer all of your questions: yes, I’ve partied with Jim. Share a beverage or two with Mike and Dave of the Speedealer (REO Speedealer). Yes, I’ve flirted with Ursula, Jimbo’s ex-wife, but I tried not too, sort of…   It was hard not to flirt with Ursula with that hair and those amazing eyes and all those bad-ass tattoos. Never met the Toadies, but I did hang with Big Sandy at a festival and for me the crown of the Dallas experience was getting to see The Old 97’s and Rachero Brothers perform on a regular basis and getting to know Rhett and Murry.

The Old 97’s Dallas popularity was startlingly evident one night when we were at a new brew pub in town. Jaime, Phil and myself were there to celebrate the Wreck Your Life release. I’ve seen a few nutty things in my life, but nothing rivals this unique sighting. We were all standing there in the parking lots after the Old 97’s played to a crowd of hundreds. The biggest showing with the largest crowd I’d ever seen them play at the time. Rhett and crew went out for a meet and greet. Soon each member was sectioned off to chatting camp of their own. Rhett was taking to one or two young ladies when the phenomenon erupted. It was a massive female vortex surrounding him. At the core were was Rhett and girls, surrounded by more women who moved in closer to be further encircled by a churning body of women who were moving in a counter-clockwise manner around them like a hurricane or a whirlpool. It was in awesome and madness of that moment was jaw dropping. We all commented on it. Nothing sense or before has matched that moment in my musical experience when it comes to personality cult of sorts. Rhett was completely obvious to the raging pheromone storm twisting about him. His inert and oblivious lack of interest while focusing on those 2 girls didn’t quell the other women’s fervor, but rather antagonized it intensifying their desires to move in. It was insane with women looking for opportunity to squeeze in, perhaps, maybe for only a brief moment to be bathed in Rhett’s gaze and to be acknowledged. We were flummoxed. It was completely stunning!

From what I remember of the time Exene was a major supporter of the Old 97’s. I couldn’t tell you how she was involved but her name came up a number of times. As time passed, the Old 97’s were on the edge of being signed to a major. They faced a choice between either Mercury or Elektra. We, Rhett, Murry and I, were on the patio of this bar when the topic turned to their signing. I was a big fan of WEA. Steve Tip was reping first IRS records. He then moved to Warner Bros. where he had become a VP of Alternative music. Steve had worked at KCR an edgy college station at SDSU I had connections to. So I had my loyalties. I believed at the time WEA had better distribution. I was pretty lit by the time this conversation opened and maybe the boys were too. I couldn’t tell because I had my beer goggles on. I was a fan and I felt it was my duty to offer them the best advice I knew of based on my experience. I have no idea how persuasive I was but The Old 97’s eventually signed with Elektra.

Time passed and I left Dallas for greener pastors, or so I hoped, back in Los Angeles. Jaime had acquired a boyfriend that wasn’t fond of me. We still communicated for a year or so after I left. My relationship with Julie soured and she disappear into Mexico, while my interest in Monique brought me back to La La Land. The 2 years I spent in Dallas were defining and life changing. I had a marvelous circle of friends and a store of fantastic stories to tell. Somewhere in 99 a brand new and shiny Old 97’s would debuted their new Elektra album Fight Songs at the Troubadour. There was no chance of me missing it! To rekindle an old relationship and see a band that had made Dallas a more exciting place to live in. The terms that were bandied about at the time to describe the Old 97’s, were Country Punk and Alternative Country. The kind of music the Old 97’s played sprung from the well-spring of song writing of old Country hero’s like Jimmie Rogers or Hank Williams Sr. Tuneful crafted songs, brilliant harmonies, story telling, brandished with compelling intimate confessionals and the immediacy of Punk Rock. The night of the Old 97’s performance at the Troubadour was loaded with anticipation for everyone involved. The crowd was dense and on tippy toes, in other words, sold out and riveted!  The Old 97’s played the standards like Doreen, Victoria and Ray Charles.  We all sang along. Every song was greeted with massive applause and cheers. It was like a Texas home-coming in Los Angeles. I was already familiar with Lonely Holiday because it had been played back in the Dallas bar days. It was quite a celebration. After the closing of the set myself and a host of others, including some new acquaintances I had met during the show. That’s how tight the sense of community was with Old 97’s fans were with one another and the band.

We headed up to the upper level over the bar at the Troubadour where everybody in the band eventually joined in. There was general merriment and gabbing. I said hi to Murry and found time to set down and chat with Rhett. Besides his talent, I found another attribute of his I loved. The guy has a great sense of humor. We were talking and he stopped in mid sentence and ask me to look over to my left side. Of course I did! Upon gazing, i saw man who was seriously drunk. There was a couple in the sofa below him watching as the man dipped towards the girl. The man was passing out standing up above the couple. His head bobbing rhymicly, going lower and lower with every dip, into the lady’s scoop neck blouse. This went on for a minute or so when I turned back to Rhett. Rhett looked right at me with a half-smile and said one of the memorable statements of my life, “That’s my boss”. We would peer back to see what was to come of this. Eventually, he passed out on the woman, boyfriend watching, in slow motion debauchery. The man ending up, head first, slumped into her breast for a moment, while finally settling into her crouch. We both laughed. As with all good thing the party ended with great hopes and the anticipation of a band poised on the stardom or so we thought.

I would run into Miriam in 1999 at the 3 of Clubs, while I was having drinks with my friends Greg and Chris near midnight on a Sunday. She had just left her job at MTV 2 and was returning to Dallas. She had told me The Deep Ellum scene had died and was merely a shadow of its former glory. I credited its end to Texas copulating, coupling and child rearing combined with the emergence of Boy Bands and the rise Hip Hop. Miriam was part of a gaggle of gals I was occasionally associated with in Dallas. She was within the circle of the Old 97’s. I guess Miriam had more brains and drive than the others. I believe that she returned to Dallas because things were changing to a point that there was a disconnect at MTV 2 and her own personal sensibilities. Seeing her that night, for the most part, ended any communication with anyone I knew in Texas, as they all disappeared. All going their separate ways. My life became more anchored with my older Los Angeles friendships and blossoming new relationships. Occasionally, I’d see an ad for the Old 97’s and would want to go. But my social life was extremely busy and my attention was nearly always diverted to other activities. I still missed the old 97’s. I missed my Dallas hangs and pals too.

My social/business calendar started including SXSW. That infusion of new social currency from Austin’s SXSW social/musical powerhouse opened the doors to reconnect to my Texas past. As I recounted a number of times in my coverage of 2012’s SXSW, I shared my love and interest in Rhett Miller and the Old 97’s on every occasion I messed one of Rhett’s performances during the festival. With that being said, I emotionally and financially obligated myself to his June show at the Troubadour. While exhaustion always accommodates my wardrobe jobs and I’m busy working now. That exhaustion tried to rally against the greater goal of seeing Rhett. I was able to make it to his Monday night performance at the Troubadour. On Monday I parked my car across the street from the Troubadour. Then after securing my photo pass at the Troubadour I parked myself at Dan Tana’s for a couple prep beers. That tied up an hour. I then headed over tot the Troubadour for the opening act Spring Standards. The band was fronted by a lovely red-headed girl named Heather Robb. Spring Standards sound was a mix of Pop and Country with a lot of focus on harmonies. They presented a compelling set where members of the band would switch out instruments. Heather was spritely in nature with voluminous hair shaking and energetic jumping around. They were a good warm up band for Rhett. I took the lazy man’s way out and settled behind the bar facing the stage to made quick friends of the bar tender who was pleasant and attentive. Rhett and crew entered the stage from my left and with a big joyful introduction slammed into the set. He and the band lit into it up with Lost Without You off his 5th solo and new CD, The Dreamer . Rhett must have gone to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Shake it all over” school. I remember he moved around on stage but this was different. He was like Elvis on steroids as his energized fans were with him all the way. Soon he was intruding the song Murder (or a Heart Attack) that effortlessly flowed into another of his new songs, Long Long Long, that stumbled into Firefly, then to fall into Lonely Holiday. Heather Robb came in for three of the songs with supporting harmonies and equal energy. For the most part I was up and down throughout most of the set. By the time Lonely Holiday came about I was setting there soaking up the songs. It’s been some 13 years or so from the last live performance I had seen. I was totally engaged with every move and every note. I had no idea that this was coming, while listening to Lonely Holiday, I started getting misty eyed and sentimental. I’m generally not easily moved. But I guess all my sence memories came flooding back of the women in my life coupled with the years of Texas frolicking. This all mixed with the power of the lyrics ringing so true about the overly mellow dramatic elements and the dynamics of intimate relationships. Rhett had so smartly penned the song that it gotten under my skin with overwhelming and marvelous effect. The guy has amazing talent and his songs ring so true with immediate impact. I was slain right there at the bar with puffy watery eyes trying to put on a brave face. From there he played the more uplifting and naive 19. He closed the set with Four Leaf Clover. Of course, the crowd was howling for more and everyone held their place waiting for the encore. Not a single soul was disappointed when Rhett and the Serial Lady Killers positioned themselves on the stage once more. I was glad to get one last dose of fine songwriting form exemplary tune smithing. For me, the surprise of the encore was a Country/Electric Folk reinterpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression kept all eyes and ears focused on the stage. The generous encore was finished with Our Love. That properly finishing the night off with great music and entertainment. There wasn’t a moment that Rhett wasn’t totally on his game and equally drenched perspiration soaking through his cloths. James Brown has some competition! It proves to me after all these years Rhett hasn’t relented in the quality of his shows. The standard remains high and powered by a maturity and focus in his performance unmatched by his early days. Here’s an artist that grown to fill some big musical shoes and we’ve all benefited by that intensity and devotion. Here’s to many more years of amazing performances!

For those who missed Rhett Miller’s performance it appears that the Old 97’s just announced that they’re going to do two shows in L.A. in honor of the 15th anniversary of Too Far to Care. Aug 31st and Sept. 1st at the El Rey. The Darlins will be opening for them. I have to thank Kim for the tidy tidbit of news to kick off the fall season.




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