Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday Night At Niles: The Pre-Code Follies


Continuing a breathless first few weeks of 2010 which featured the San Francisco Sketchfest comedy extravaganzas and the Noir City Film Festival, yours truly (yes, the actual author of this blog) will keep the good times going and kick off February with a night of music, comedy and movie fun hosted by celebrated San Francisco-based entertainer Kitten On The Keys at Niles' Edison Theatre.

SInce last year's Pre-Code Follies at Niles was way too much fun - and our hostess with the absolute mostess exemplified her Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence sobriquet, St. Tickle-The-Ivories - we HAD to do it again in 2010. Kitten's inspired performances of genuine "naughty flapper" songs and racy ditties from the movies of Marlene Dietrich and Mae West will share the bill with our customary cinematic pop culture slice n’ dice, early 1930s style: A.K.A. one delirious selection of cartoons, musical clips, trailers and indescribably bizarre comedy shorts from the Pre-Code era.

CLICK HERE FOR ADVANCE TICKETS.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Psychotronic Paul Gets Serious

My last post was an attempt at satire, which, outside of being a tad too nice, expressed both my sense of humor and outrage. It was a joke, but what happened in the U.S. Supreme Courts' Citizens United decision, which ruled that a corporation has the same rights as an individual (or, more specifically, Money = Personhood) is no laughing matter.

Mulling over the current events - and an awful lot of pissy, irritating whining from the pundits and the loudest voices on both the right and the left - over the past two weeks, all I can think of is a trenchant remark Dr. Howard "Dean The Scream" said that truly hit the nail on the head about just what has gone terribly wrong in Washington, and perhaps in the country as a whole: "When I was growing up in this country, Republicans and Democrats could actually sit down and have a sane conversation. You might not agree but you could get stuff done." (August 25, 2009)

And, to quote a lyric used as a mantra in a song I liked from Jeff Beck's excellent 1989 album Guitar Shop, "nothing is being done."

The time has come for citizens representing a broad range of the political spectrum to join forces in activism to counter - and overturn - brazen attempts to sell out democracy to the highest bidder. A movement (involving Independents, Greens, disappointed Democrats, old-school libertarian and pre-talk radio Republicans) demanding substantive campaign financing, lobbying and earmark reform, is desperately needed. It will take numbers to counter the bottomless pockets of corporate interests and their lobbiest minions who are attempting to masquerade as "populists" and convince a gullible public that they are the good guys.


Time for us to get off the bench and get into the game.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Psychotronic Paul's Joke Of The Day

The Vice Squad caught Supreme Court Justices Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Roberts and Alito in a group of luxury hotel suites (customarily used by the RNC leadership), along with eight prominent and hard partyin' Washington lobbyists, various Senators and Representatives of both political parties, two dozen high-priced call girls and call boys, plus unidentified charter members of Skull And Bones, The Bohemian Club, The Bilderbergers, Mark Sanford, John Edwards and a bearded, unrecognizable Tiger Woods. The arresting officer's first question: which of you are the prostitutes?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Burt Bacharach Day

Been a tough year so far, need a bit of cheer, so, by all means, Burt and Dionne, do your stuff - as always, we can all use a little music.



And then, when finished listening and in the mood for something a bit darker, your correspondent will be off to the Noir City festival yet again. . .



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Relief Efforts

The city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti has suffered devastating damage from yesterday's earthquake. Here are the websites of charitable organizations taking donations to relief efforts:
Have a roof over your head, food on the table and enough money left over to not worry where the next meal is coming from? Then give whatever you can.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2010's First Philosopher, Guru And Mystic Du Jour by Paul F. Etcheverry

Rescued from moldy, disgusting scrolls, the following recently discovered quotations from painfully and justifiably obscure poet (and goat parking attendant to 13th century Sufis) Joey Al-Donnie Roomie:

“The lion is most handsome when looking for food, as long as dinner doesn't resemble me."

"Burdens are the foundations of excruciating lower back disease and bitter chocolates the forerunners of pleasure."

"And when I die again, I will soar past the angels to places that accept coupons."

"Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other at Jalil al-Ascuaga's Desert Inn later that night."

"Everyone is so afraid of death, but the real sufis just laugh, mostly at all the stupid shits around them."

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a parking lot. I will meet you there - if it's still open and I can find where the fuck it is.”

"You already have the precious mixture that will make you well. Now give it to me."

"Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round and then irritates the shit out of you in another form."

“Now I am sober and there's only the hangover and the memory of Jalil al-Ascuaga's Desert Inn .”

"In silence there is eloquence. So shut the fuck up."

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Worthy New Year's Resolution

Every now and then I stop producing classic movie events, listening to jazz music, watching vaudeville clips, ancient short comedies and Scopitones long enough to ponder just what we, as citizens, given the massive corruption in our political system, can do to make a difference - and invariably end up wandering circuitously through the dark woods of further questions.

Among said questions:
"is there any way I can have checking and savings accounts that do not support sleazy business practices, sleazier lobbiests and the even (shudder) sleazier politicos they bribe (a.k.a. buy off with their generous contributions)?" I stumbled upon a
potentially satisfactory response in the following article, Move Your Money: A New Year's Resolution.

This posting describes the Move Your Money website, where consumers can easily identify the most sound community banks and smaller financial institutions in their neighborhoods. Credit Unions are not yet included in this assessment, but the website mentions that ratings for these institutions will be forthcoming. One can do further research via the Institutional Risk Analytics website and check out consumer feedback regarding banks and credit unions on Yelp and other portals.

If enough squeezed middle-class consumers migrate a substantial chunk of their business from irresponsible "too big to fail"
behemoths to community banks and credit unions, the message - which has yet to reach our elected representatives (and possibly never will) - will be loud and clear. And the small business loans which will lead to a meaningful rebound in the economy won't be coming from the big boys.

After all, the very institutions who begged the most for taxpayer money, without a doubt, lobbied the hardest for ill-advised and ultimately disastrous deregulation and will fight tooth and nail to kill any needed systemic reforms.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year With The Levants And Fred Astaire



Three years ago, I rang in the new year with an excerpt (and, if I'm not mistaken, just about the only extant footage) from The Oscar Levant Show, a wonderfully informal and frequently hilarious talk show hosted by the author, wit, raconteur, composer, virtuoso pianist, Algonquin Round Table regular and occasional movie actor. Along for the fun as co-host: Oscar's unbelievably charming and likeable wife, June.

Since 2007, two more excerpts from this 1958 episode featuring special guest Fred Astaire have been unearthed and posted to YouTube. The show's looseness and extemporaneous spontaneity harkens back to the bygone days of local programming; fitting the freewheeling format, Oscar invents one-liners on the spot with the best of them.

While the picture and sound quality leave a lot to be desired, it's all we have of Oscar's deliciously off-the-cuff show. Enjoy!




I've always liked Fred Astaire's singing. Whatever he lacks in voice quality, he more than compensates for with his understanding of a song's essential meaning. After all, he had to deliver these standards for Broadway audiences night after night.



Oscar's three memoirs, A Smattering Of Ignorance, Memoirs of an Amnesiac and The Unimportance Of Being Oscar, are must-reads, especially for students or enthusiasts of 20th century culture - and jam-packed with outrageous bon mots; if you can't find copies or order them online, consult your friendly and invaluable public library. For more essential Oscar Levant lore, peruse this recent tribute by historian Confetta Ras, author of the extraordinary and informative On This Day In Jazz Age Music blog.