1800 X 3
by Rick Brown
For some reason Dan and I couldn’t wait until Kentucky Derby
weekend for our annual pilgrimage to the Florida Keys this year.
Actually I could probably bore you with a list of say…100
reasons to go earlier. Expense is not one of them Going to Florida
in March is a much more pricey endeavor. And we opted for ocean
view rooms in Key Largo, which added some expense. But since most
nights we end up on our balcony by 10 pm drinking margaritas and
staring into space anyway we took the plunge. Since we’ve
been friends for almost 30 years we figured we were worth it.
The drive down was a little adventurous. Unusually high winds
blew rain in, every hour or so. Consequently there was much wailing
and gnashing of teeth …. Old Testament jargon for “stopping
the car”. Putting down the convertible top. Stopping the
car…putting UP the convertible top. This may have added
up to another hour to the drive to Key West but hey … we
didn’t fly all the way to Florida to sit in an enclosed
vehicle. And of course we stopped at Lorelei’s
on Islamorada for our first sampling of conch fritters, fish dip
and cold beer.
Initially I had planned a vacation long survey of which eating
establishments had the best conch fritters. I abandoned this idea
quickly as you’ll read later on. Lorelei’s would have
won easily anyway. But only 5 hours into the trip it was impossible
We arrived in Key West late in the afternoon…shortly after
another brief pit stop at Pappa
John’s on the opposite end of Islamorada Key…a
second story Tiki Bar where the wind blew so vehemently that it
toppled my full bottle of Red Stripe. Adding insult to injury,
the place was out of conch fritters! (Life can be difficult indeed.)
But we were soon cruising the streets of Key West and made our
way to Captain Tony’s…the original Ernest Hemmingway
hang out once known as Sloppy Joe’s (There is a Sloppy Joe’s
today but Hemmingway never set foot in it.).
Veni, Vidi, Vici
Prince and the New Power
Value City Arena - Columbus, Ohio
April 16, 2004
by Rick Brown
Prince always gets
five stars out of five. That doesn’t mean one show may be
a little better than another. It’s just that this guy is
such the consummate entertainer that his concerts are always great
for different reasons. Having seen Prince, the Artist Formerly
Known as Prince, and the Symbol command different stages I’d
say his mood may be what determines the tone. I’ve witnessed
Prince brooding, reflective, intense … even seemingly bored
… and never been disappointed. Yet this show was something
special. Maybe he was still exhilarated from his induction into
the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. For this show
the guy was downright devilishly playful.
Fronting the New Power Generation…a band that could rival
Funkadelic any night … Prince hosted the party for some
2 1/2 hours in what seemed to be one extended medley. Of course
it was not…it just felt that way…and that was a very
good thing. Beginning with “Musicology” … the
title track of his brand new release (every concertgoer was give
a free copy upon entering the arena) … NPG sounded much
like a 70’s James Brown jam … complete with horn section.
Segueing into “Let’s Go Crazy” the evening became
a blur of funk fantasia. Prince didn’t even sing the line
“When Doves Cry” from the tune of the same name. And
it mattered not to one soul in attendance. We were all having
way too much fun to concern ourselves with such detail.
A retooled “Controversy” from early in Prince’s
career (when he was named Prince the first time around) was the
definitive highlight of the first segment of the show. It was
longer and edgier than the original and by the end everyone was
up shakin’ his or her respective “thangs”. And
the audience was predominantly middle aged … and get thi
s… white! At the midway point Prince skillfully
toyed with the crowd. Alone at center stage (the concert was in
the round) and playing an acoustic guitar he led a delightfully
engaging sing along of such hits as “Little Red Corvette”,
the popish “Raspberry Beret” and the deliciously smarmy
The second half was nothing short of a guitar infused dance party
blow out. During the course of an entire Prince concert the listener
is treated to the soul music of a James Brown … the funk
of George Clinton … the pop genius of a Sly Stone…the
gospel influence of a Reverend Al Green…and the guitar virtuosity
of a Jimi Hendrix. And that’s probably an understatement.
In all honesty … this guy is one of the finest guitar players
I have ever witnessed … and I’ve seen more than my
The only small fly in the ointment came when several “ladies”
were escorted onstage to dance. I’ve seen this done before
by many performers … and a couple times with Prince as well.
I assume it’s to give the stage more of a party atmosphere.
The woman on saxophone for the New Power Generation was not only
gorgeous but played like Maceo Parker (who sometimes sits in with
the band) so all this was totally unnecessary. And … unfortunately
… this evening the “ladies” were not particularly
good “dancers”. In fact there was one “lady”
who I firmly believe had just had her “features” “enhanced”.
She strolled around the stage…arms uplifted in the air like
an evangelist calling out to the Almighty exclaiming for all to
hear “Look at THESE!! Look at these glorious sacks of silicon
that have been surgically implanted on my chest!! LOOK at THESE!!!
LOOK! LOOK!” (What a sad excuse for empowerment…she
was single handedly diminishing the sexually charged atmosphere…oh
the irony!) Even Prince himself sashayed up to her side …
whispered in her ear something that may very well have been, “Hey
chick. That ain’t dancing!” Yet she continued
strutting with her arms outstretched high over her head. “Look
at THESE!! Look at THESE!!” Then Prince laughed at her (no
shit)…rolled his eyes demonstratively for the crowd (she
was too busy to notice)…and brought the house down with
yet another smoking guitar solo. All of this nonsense melted into
oblivion once the opening strains of “Purple Rain”
filled the rafters. Almost a religious anthem at this point in
time the song was neither slow nor dated…just awesome…in
the godly sense of course. And Prince gave a little sermon in
the midst of all this wonderful funk fallout. He reminded everyone
that a singer’s microphone has to be on for a singer to
perform music. Otherwise it ain’t music at all…let
alone funk music. Are you listening Brittney?
We all stood mesmerized…arms waving in the air…singing
“Purple Rain”…listening to brilliant soaring
guitar riffs until the stage was empty…and we were exhausted.
This was the kind of experience where…walking to your car…or
wherever…the sights and sounds are still lingering vividly
in your dizzy head…until it hits the pillow for nighty-night.
Prince had just held court. Veni, Vidi, Vici. And that’s
something you won’t forget for a while.
the Time to Answer Come At Last?”
Television is to Intelligence
as Cancer is to Life
by Patrick O'Malley
seen the photos of tortured Iraqis; and the evident lack of
remorse on the face of the entire line of command, from the
bottom ranks to Rumsfeld to the President.
There are many facets to this; one is fairly obvious. Half of
the world hates us. A quarter was ambivalent. No more. I think
that Bush has accomplished in nearly four years what it took
decades, if not a century or so, for other presidents: turn
the ambivalence into hate. Importantly, a large part of this
formerly ambivalent section was Muslim.
What Iraq has accomplished is this: we have created hatred that
will last a thousand years. It will manifest itself in many
ways, not least through terror.
With very little trouble,
and in all likelihood a great deal of pleasure, I’m sure
I could fill this space every month with rants and diatribes on
the medium of television; its content and its influence. I suppose
I don’t because it’s too sad to think how many people
watch, how much they watch, and just how heavily influenced by
it they are. Not to mention what people watch. The total shit
that literally millions and millions of people take in boggles
my mind. To each his own? I guess, but not if you watch ‘Extreme
Makeover’, that’s just fucking stupid. Where do I
draw the line? I don’t know but it’s way, way above
that and legions of other shows just like it, and not just “reality”
shit. Those are some of the justifications I use to keep myself
from watching too much, that and the fact that television sucks
of the Fold (if not more)
by Ted Kane
As a music fan, Los
Angeles can be a very satisfying place in which to live. While
the would be movie star moving to Hollywood to be discovered
is a cliche, the city also attracts a plethora of aspiring musicians
and so can boast several thriving local music scenes. Even for
those artists who don't want to move here, perhaps preferring
the rain and snow of Chicago or New York or perhaps the overpriced
damp of the Bay area, those people still have to come down here
and make a name for themselves in L.A. On any given night in
southern California you can expect to have around five compelling
shows to chose from if you want to go out. One or two of those
shows are likely presented under the banner of promoter Scott
Sterling's the Fold. The Fold Compilation is a 2-CD set that
offers a good cross-section of the national and local bands
that Sterling has booked over the last seven years, mostly represented
by otherwise unreleased or hard to find recordings.
Sound Tribe Sector 9
Newport Music Hall,
by Cory Tressler
A cold wet rain fell
upon the city outside of the historic Newport Music Hall as
the five members of Sound Tribe Sector 9 meandered onstage and
began performing their atmospheric instrumental compositions.
The band consisted of a happy drummer who smiled and bounced
along to the up tempo beats he was creating with his massive
drum kit, a percussionist whose bongos were barely audible,
a head bobbing bassist who stuck to his 3 – 5 note bass
riffs as if he were cemented to them, a guitarist who, like
the percussionist, was turned way down in the mix, and a keyboardist
that jumped between playing classic piano lines and wild synthesized
noises in a matter of seconds. Collectively these players creat!
ed moody music that was full of climactic build-ups and spacey
cool downs that fell somewhere between the works of techno gods
Lords of Acid and indie vibe creators Air.
Dirty Little Secrets 2K4
by Rick Brown
I could easily say
the current show at Shadowbox Cabaret is typical. And by that
I mean it’s entertaining, witty, and sometimes subversive.
(Hey guys…beware of the FCC. Colin Powell’s son
is trying to make a name for himself…like shall we say…
“puritanical tyrant”?) Beginning with a Dave Barry
piece titled Valuable Scam Offer actor Julie Klein performs
a charmingly naïve interpretation of a monologue about
those offers sounding too good to be true. Klein smoothly explains
the experience she and her husband endure while trying to be
pressured into a vacation scam. And despite the fact hubbie
gets angry her character takes it all in stride.
Collateral Damage by Grant Gottschall follows with a clever
reading of a lunch between a military man and one of his supply
representatives. David Whitehouse and Jimmy Mak set a conversation
about who will pay the check into a paradoxical whirlwind that
leads to subtle yet surprising intrigue. The only minor distraction
being if one notices, the waitress (played by Christina Connor)
is trying to conceal…and walk convincingly…in her
“Kiss Boots” (Christina’s label)…left
on from her opening song number…hidden under her slacks.
Joseph J. Lorenzo
always seems to make a monologue riveting and his take on Michael
J. Nelson’s Do As I Say… is no exception. Lorenzo
plays a father still enamored with his own boyhood shenanigans
yet determined to prevent his own kids from getting in harm’s
way. His mythological rendering of a time when he and his buddies
inserted a smaller boy into the center of a wire wheel (those
big wooden spools most of us have used as a table at some point
in our younger days) reminds many of us that we all have to
survive out childhoods…except for his kids of course.
The second half of
the show features the audience favorite “Jason’s
Scary Stories” this time including three separate flashlight
illuminated tales read by Jimmy Mak and pantomimed by David
Whitehouse. “The Nightmare” includes a description
of being lifted high in the air by a Giant Eagle. In one massive
claw is Jason. In the other is a Big Bear. (Local grocery store
Big Bear was recently bought out by Giant Eagle) It took the
crowd a few moments to visualize the joke. Dumb…clever…and
funny. But it was the parable titled “The Precious”
where Jason’s story truly shines. Jimmy Mak’s Lord
of the Rings parody is nothing short of brilliant.
by Rick Brown
I want to tell you something Mr. Bush. You know that dirty little
war of yours you call a moral crusade … the one the Almighty
told you to wage? It’s over … finished. I’d tell
you to stick a fork in it but you’re too prone to holding
up plastic turkeys rather than the real deal. And you know what
George? You lost … we lost. In fact I could probably say you’ve
lost two wars but nobody is paying much attention to Afghanistan
Oh sure the fighting will continue. The dying will continue. You’ll
use the words “evil” and “terrorists” 3
or 4 times in every sound bite you spit out of your mouth. And I’m
sure you will swagger around blathering about those who aren’t
with you are against you because only you and your cronies know
what real patriotism is. But you’re the captain of a sinking
ship George. And the thing you seem to be best at is pointing to
the tip of the iceberg our ship has just slammed into and saying
with a smirk, “See! It’s not so big a problem! There
are so many good things going down. The liberal media only points
out the bad stuff. Stay the course. We’re all safer now.”
You know George…you’re not much older than me. We both
had to make our decisions concerning the Vietnam War. And we both
successfully avoided it. I went to college and sweated through 2
draft lotteries. Your daddy got you into the Reserves by pulling
strings. And he got you out early by pulling strings. Your
father was a wealthy influential businessman turned politician …
like you are now yourself. My daddy was a janitor. He didn’t
have any strings to pull. And I like to think I’m honest about
avoiding Vietnam. I thought it was wrong. And I think you did also.
Or you were just scared. Or perhaps couldn’t be bothered.
Yet you insist you served. I ain’t buyin’ it George.
So now some thirty-five years later you’ve had your fun playing
Commando in Chief … Macho in Chief …
whatever name you want to dress it up with. You flew your jet airplane
onto the aircraft carrier…the Lincoln no less…waved
to the troops who had been delayed going home just so you could
get the right photo op. You looked so excited walking up to that
podium … helmet tucked under one arm … ”Mission
Accomplished” banner displayed proudly behind you. That was
over a year ago George. Now it’s just … over. There
never was any real mission to accomplish. And there isn’t
now. It’s all over but the shout … er I mean …
It’s what secretly we might call “saving face time”.
I know you know what that means George. Damage control. Positive
spin. Call it what you like. What it means is this. We lost …
another one. And we’ve lost our allies. We’ve lost what
respect we used to have in the Arab World. The Great Uniter …
that’s what you called yourself in 2000. The Compassionate
Conservative. You called yourself that too. But all you’ve
really done Mr. Commander in Chief is try to take our attention
away from the iceberg. “Look! Look how small it is”
you say as you point to the very tip. “It’s a small
insurgency and the closer we get to democracy in Iraq the more you
will see them.” “The looting isn’t widespread.”
Ah yes … the tip of the iceberg. I see it.
I don’t believe you George. You lost your dirty little war.
It’s over bub. Okay … you want us to think it’s
a small number of guards who went all “bondage and discipline”
and “sadism and masochism” on Iraqi prisoners. Just
a few you say … while once again pointing out the iceberg’s
pinnacle. And after John Kerry got lambasted for stating he witnessed
American atrocities in Vietnam can anyone even imply he didn’t?
I mean George … unlike you or I he was there in the flesh.
And what about all those “privatized” security folks
whose orders those very few were following? Can’t do anything
about them can you? They’re hired guns … mercenaries
… like the bounty hunters in the Old West. So you and Rummie
will make examples out of the enlisted fools who followed their
command. And how about those hapless guys who were burnt and strung
up on the bridge? Terrible. Horrible. Certainly it was. But no one
is calling them “heroes” now are they? Why not? Because
they too were hired guns…mercenaries too. Paid soldiers from
the private sector. Can’t give them a Purple Heart now can
we? Their families will receive no folded American flag. As your
daddy would say, “Wouldn’t be prudent.”
I don’t expect you … Cheney … Rummie … or
Condie to come right out and say we lost another war … maybe
two. It’s election time. I’m not sure any of you have
the guts to admit it to each other…even in an undisclosed
location far away from the rest of us. You know … I used to
think perhaps Colin Powell had that kind of integrity … but
I was wrong. He doesn’t. And just like how I can admit I did
what I could to avoid fighting in Vietnam I can also admit I was
wrong about the Secretary of State. I was wrong. Those are three
little words you have never … ever uttered huh Mr. Bush? I
guess when you’re on a mission from God it’s impossible
to say you were wrong. But I’ll say it. I was wrong about
Colin Powell. He has no integrity. I thought he might. He does not.
That’s how he fits in with the rest of you so called “leaders”.
So there will be the “pretend sovereignty” of July 1,
2004, “Pretend democracy”. The propaganda machine will
grind out reports of how much safer we all are. Maybe we’ll
open an embassy … but it won’t be the biggest in the
world like you wanted. (And there will be no military bases in Iraq
when the dust settles.) And I’m sure you will brag that the
Iraqi people are much better off than they were before we invaded.
But we’ve both seen this before George. “Peace with
Honor”. Remember that? Nixon and Ford had to say that didn’t
they. Because deep down inside they both knew we had lost. And we
have lost again because you picked an unnecessary fight that didn’t
need to be fought. You and your cronies called the U.N irrelevant…disregarded
our European allies … feigned sensitivity toward Islamic culture
… and had a lousy … if any … war plan for the
war you were just dying to fight. Sorry about the bad metaphor George.
No way in hell are you going to die in a fight.
Yeah the mighty, mighty United States of America has lost another
war. “Shock and Awe” my ass. More like “Awe Shucks!”
Maybe now you realize war isn’t a giant video game being played
out from the White House. I feel bad for the troops who are going
to pay the ultimate price so we can … once again … try
to save face. And of course that can’t be done either. Mothers
will cry. Children will ask about what mommy or daddy were like
… then ache the rest of their lives because of the hole this
war left in their very souls. This dirty little war we have lost.
I’d like to think George that deep down inside you think about
such things. But unlike some of us … I’m not convinced
you possess a “deep down inside”. You’re too busy
standing on your tippy toes … pointing at the tip of the iceberg
… smirking … and exclaiming, “Trust me! See! It’s
not a big problem. We got Saddam. We’re fighting the Evildoers!
War on terrorism! God bless America”.
Pass me a life preserver.
by Rick Brown
Leave it to 2Co’s Cabaret to
rename their annual Kentucky Fried 2Co’s after the
late, great Janis Joplin’s drink of choice…Southern
Comfort. It’s easy to overlook Janis’ Texas roots
but this cabaret’s superb music ensemble…Downtown DFN…draws
upon at least two Texas greats, namely Lyle Lovett and ZZ Top. Alternating
skits and monologues with tasty cover tunes deftly presented by
the house band is the usual modus operandi. And personally I think
it’s the band’s musicality that cements an entire evening
together. Great music can compensate for a less than dynamic monologue.
I’m not sure vice versa is as forgiving. There is no need
for any philosophical discourse with Southern Comfort however.
This show definitely fires on all cylinders.
Downtown DFN begins with a retooled version of Lyle Lovett’s
“My Baby Don’t Tolerate”. Sung in a more bluesy
fashion than Lovett with gritty vocals by Michael Duggan followed
closely by Garth Brooks “Thunder Rolls”…rocked
up a might by Mr. Tom Cardinal (thankfully), the music sets the
stage for some salt of the earth poignancy. First up is the infectious
recanting of Charles Bukowski”s “One of Those Crazy
Nights” by the indomitable Joseph J. Lorenzo. The tall tale
of two drinking buddies out for a night of “mutual interests”
is brought to life by Mr. Lorenzo’s ornery impishness. His
talent lies in his ability to make the audience feel as if the character
being played is a lifelong friend. Not one you particularly want
hanging around all the time…but a trusted partner in crime
nonetheless. When Lorenzo tells a story it seems all too familiar…even
the first time witnessed. Unlike some 2Co’s performances that
take time to get moving…snowball if you will…Joe Lorenzo
gets Southern Comfort through the gears quickly.
Lydia Tew performs a monologue from Jane Martin’s Talking
With…concerning a homeless woman who finds sanctuary
at the local McDonalds. She finds solace in plastic…comfort
in fast food. Tew skillfully leads the audience through a surreal
story of perceived tragedy…redemption…and resurrection
through a Big Mac. The charm and sincerity portrayed by Tew convinced
even me…a man who hasn’t eaten a hamburger since 1982.
An excerpt from Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class,
relating the experience of a man castrating sheep while watching
an eagle swoop down to retrieve the severed testes (as Dave Berry
would say “I’m NOT making this up!”) is made believable
by the graceful drawling of Chris Lynch. And a guest performance
(for the run of the show) by 2Co’s veteran Pam Callahan of
James McLure’s Bourbon and Laundry made me glow inside
like a sip of Wild Turkey. (A little aside…I have myself…on
occasion…imbibed some of the “crazy bird” while
doing laundry in my basement. Upstairs were guests I needed a little
inspiration for. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.)
The centerpiece perhaps is James Makofsky’s Waiting Room.
Carrie Lynn McDonald returns specifically for Southern Comfort
also, and her interaction with Joseph Lorenzo as strangers in a
hospital waiting room is nothing short of brilliant. Makofsky’s
play-let is full of genuine emotion…hope…loneliness…frustration…all
convincingly presented by these two fine actors.
The closing monologue… “This Real Man Can Drive Any
Truck Named Tonka” (Dave Berry) is excitedly…and more
than aptly portrayed…by an exuberant Tom Cardinal. Cardinal
dances that fine line between a manly man and a boy getting his
first two-wheeler bike. I’m sure you’ve seen this guy
at one of those huge appliance stores. He’s the one picking
out the huge flat screen TV while his wife shakes her head in bemusement
(disgust?). And despite the fact that Mr. Cardinal seemed to have
trouble with an overused voice he soldiered on with dynamic effectiveness.
Musically Southern Comfort is a delight. Filling in on
guitar for Matt Hahn…who is at Shadowbox Cabaret for the summer…is
John Kengla. Hahn’s shoes are big ones to fill…and at
first Mr. Kengla’s playing seemed a tad calculated. But by
a third of the way through the show he had his guitar solos articulating
with a passion not of this world. Carrie Lynn McDonald tore lustily
through ZZ Top’s “My Head’s in Mississippi”
followed by a soaring rendition of the Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’
Man” seamlessly fronted by Tom Cardinal. And Michael Duggan
giddily mugged his way through Molly Hatchet’s “Gator
Country”. Pam Callahan’s sly…wink..wink…take
on Michelle Shock’s “If Love was a Train” was
a sensual double entendre of R-rated joy.
But the piece des resistance musically was newcomer Sheanneen Shelby’s
soulful rendition of the Gladys Knight and the Pips classic “Midnight
Train to Georgia”. It was extraordinary…to say the least.
Backed vocally by Pam Callahan, Carrie Lynn McDonald and Tom Cardinal,
Ms. Shelby’s immediate shyness soon gave way to self-assured
interpretation thanks to the combined efforts of the incredibly
talented Downtown DFN and smooth, angelic harmonies. The song came
together…stayed together…and took us all to another
realm. Ms. Shelby’s voice singing “I’d rather
live in his world…than without him…in mine” echoed
wonderfully in my brain the rest of the evening.
Slamming up into overdrive for one last tune, Downtown DFN with
front man John Croke belted out a rollicking rock-a-billying version
of Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen’s “Hot
Rod Lincoln”. The house band is Ernie Cordy on drums and percussion,
bandleader Chris Champa on keyboards, Carrie Lynn McDonald’s
“Main Squeeze” A. Brant Cook sitting in on bass, John
Kengla on guitar, Mike Murray on guitar, and Joseph J. Lorenzo on
percussion. The song… which in lesser talented hands could
have easily diminished into a novelty tune, was a perfect finish
to an extremely entertaining evening of nothing short than…Southern
Southern Comfort will be presented at 2Co’s Cabaret
in the Short North section of downtown Columbus until July 17th.
For more information go to their website at http://shadowboxcabaret.com