Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rainy, Blurry LA Weekend

The past two days have been a little like looking at the landscape through the window of a speeding car. I woke up at 5 am last Friday (that's 4 am California time), got my family out the door, walked the dog and drove across the desert through a glum, gray drizzle. I showed up early at The Echo, excited to try on my new role as MC. When the doors opened, people poured in: fashion-forward music fans, lumberjacks and hard-looking punks with sweet, generous dispositions. The 'Help Mike Atta' show was on its way to becoming a big success!

The gray-haired punk brigade was there, many of them turned out to be the parents, relatives or friends of the younger punk bands. It reminded me that the most valuable things we leave behind are the little seeds of inspiration we manage to plant in the young.

I was not feeling particularly inspired that night, running up and down the stairs between the two stages, announcing bands, forgetting names and generally being my most un-charming. I had watched a Kathy Griffin show a few days prior and I thought to myself, "I'm funny - I can do that!" Wrong. I'm funny in a family setting. I've decided to leave the MC profession to other, more charming and witty hosts. I mean, I actually got the first band's name wrong and called them White Light, White Stripes and finally their correct name: White Night. Que verguenza!

A big, huge thank you to all the bands who participated in the Help Mike Atta concert. The amount of respect and cooperation between musicians was lovely to behold, everyone worked as a team and at one point the stage manager smiled at me and said "I can't believe it - we're a little ahead of schedule!" The Echo/Echoplex team was flawless and professional. Special thanks to Lisa Fancher, Liz Garo and Mike Patton who spearheaded the organization of this benefit.

I got home at 2 am, chatted with an old friend until three, woke up and went into the recording studio to work on a project I'm doing with Robert Lopez. Later, I stopped for dinner with my pals, Tracy and Angie Skull and started the gradual shift back down to Arizona speed.

Heading back across the desert, I had several hours to contemplate the beauty of friendship: musicians and artists who come running from all directions to help a friend in need without thinking twice, old friends who open their homes to host me whenever I come to town, friends who come up with spur of the moment creative projects that somehow become reality.

My friends, my hometown, my community. I love you, L.A.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mike Atta

If you've ever seen Middle Class play, you know that Mike Atta's guitar playing drives every song and if you've ever met him, you know that you are in the presence of a real charmer. Mike and his Newman-Blue eyes are lady killers and when he smiles, he smiles with his soul.

Mike and I played together in Cambridge Apostles for many years and we became very good friends. I went to many of the Atta family dinners, picnics and poker nights. Although we were very close during the eighties, our paths drifted in different directions and we eventually we lost touch with each other but I've never stopped thinking of Mike as a close friend.

It came as a shock to me when a mutual friend told me that Mike was diagnosed with cancer. The friend told me they were putting together a benefit to help Mike pay for very expensive treatments and I immediately jumped aboard. I hope you will join me and many of Mike's other friends who just happen to be in great bands as we do our best to support Mike and his family in their time of need.

I will be emceeing the benefit concert taking place on Friday, January 25th at the Echoplex. Come pogo and stomp the shit out of cancer!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

La Isla de las Muñecas

The legend goes that the man who created the island of the dolls (La Isla de las Muñecas) was a loner named Don Julian Santana. He was haunted by the ghost of a teenage girl who drowned near his property. The teenager and two other young girls fell out of a boat in Lake Xochimilco. Two of the girls swam to safety, but the third one couldn't swim. No sooner had the two friends made shore than they noticed the third girl was missing. They bravely went back into the murky water to try to save their friend, but they couldn't find her. Frightened, the girls went back for help. That night, Don Julian believed he heard the voice of a girl calling out to him and in the morning he found her lifeless body. After that night, Don Julian was terrified of the ghost of the girl. He began collecting dolls to appease the restless spirit. Every time he went out, he collected more dolls from wherever he could find them; broken and discarded dolls served as well as new ones. The dolls made him feel safer, but only momentarily, as he was required to bring a new doll each time he passed the area where the girl had drowned. He was never completely free of her angry spirit. Don Julian continued to be plagued by her presence for the next fifty years and the dolls satisfied the ghost enough to let him live. Until 2001. That year, he had a heart attack and fell dead into the water at the exact spot where the girl had drowned. And he did NOT live happily ever after. — at Xochimilco.