Sunday, March 03, 2013
Saturday, February 02, 2013
After the LA premiere of his documentary Sound City Players, Dave Grohl ventured a few blocks to the Hollywood Palladium to jam with his all-star band. We were about 20 feet from the stage and our brains almost exploded from all the entertainment.
First up was Alain Johannes from Queens of the Stone Age who did a few songs including "Hanging Tree". Then came Chris Goss from Masters of Reality and Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine. Then Black Rebel Motorcycle Club played a couple of tunes including "Whatever Happened to My Rock N' Roll". Dave drummed during their set. Throughout the night, Dave appeared on guitar, drums and even bass. These sets were heavy and solid, but I was looking forward to some of the more melodic music to come.
Next up was Lee Ving of Fear, who got everyone hopping with punk rock classics like "I Love Living in the City" and "Beef Bologna."
Dave brought out old bandmate Krist Novaselic, Corey Taylor from Slipknot, and Rick Neilsen from Cheap Trick. Dave's fellow Foos Pat Smear and Taylor Hawkins rounded out this supergroup lineup. Previously, I only associated Slipknot with a migraine they induced in me at Ozzfest 2001, but Corey can actually sing. I liked their original tune from the Sound City soundtrack: "From Can to Can't." Other highlights of the set were "Ain't That a Shame" and one of my all time favorite songs: Cheap Trick's "Surrender." Rick Nielsen threw an old record into the crowd during this set and played his famous Hamer checkerboard guitar.
Rick Springfield is still pretty hot, and he blazed through a set of his hits including "Love Somebody" and "I've Done Everything For You". Dave Grohl seemed to have the best rapport of the night with Rick, and marveled at the amazing opening 3 notes of "Jessie's Girl" that spurred instant recognition in the audience. "That's songwriting!" Dave's enthusiasm is infectious, and I love how he admires so many different genres and eras of music.
Now I have never been a fan of John Fogerty or Creedence Clearwater Revival because I find his voice too shrill, but he won me over with his energy and by playing the one song of his that I, as a baseball fan, really enjoy: "Centerfield." He also played all the CCR classics: "Born on the Bayou," "Proud Mary," a blistering duet with Dave on "Fortunate Son" and "Bad Moon Rising."
After being on my feet for almost 5 hours, I really wanted a break but I refused to leave my post without getting an up close glimpse of Stevie Nicks. She was the grand finale, and it didn't disappoint. Stevie and Dave began with a duet: "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." She then played "You Can't Fix This," a new contemplative song she had written for the Sound City soundtrack about her 18-year-old godson who died recently of an overdose at a fraternity party. She did "Dreams," "Landslide," and an incredible nearly 10-minute-long version of "Gold Dust Woman." "Gold Dust Woman" is the song that made me listen to Fleetwood Mac - only after I heard Hole's version of it. Since then, "Rumours" is a CD that never leaves my car.
I go to a lot of concerts, but this was one of the best shows of my life - a night that celebrated so many different styles of awesome music and amazing performers. Once again, I felt truly happy to be living in LA and having an opportunity to see this. I hope Dave makes good on his plans to tour a bit with this all star band so others can experience it. As we left and navigated our way through the street meat vendors, someone in a car yelled out their window, "Who played tonight?" A few of us responded in unison: "Everyone!"
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Growing up in the early 80s, I devoured her books. Going to Catholic school and being in a very religious household, I can say these books opened my eyes to the larger world and also made me feel normal because it seemed like any anxiety I might have such as worrying about my freckles (cf, Freckle Juice) or being overweight (cf, Blubber) was addressed in her books.
While many of my peers were reading the Nancy Drew books and the Little House on the Prairie books, I really only cared about Judy's books because she was keeping it real. After getting through her books for pre-teens, I moved on to the teen books while still a pre-teen myself. This was how we did things. We read 16 magazine when we were 12. We read Seventeen magazine when we were 14. We read VC Andrews WAY before we should have.
The teen books - Deenie, Tiger Eyes, and of course, Forever - were often banned from school libraries due to their frank sexuality. Many girls recall the dog-eared copy of Forever that got passed around on the bus with all the good parts highlighted.
Sometime in my 20s, I read Wifey and was totally blown away by it. It's both a trashy beach read and also a true feminist text. I imagine Judy based that character on herself to some degree, as she has said she was trapped in a "suffocating" marriage when she began to escape through her writing. And then she got divorced. And she wrote about kids in divorced families - stuff we just didn't talk about back then.
In conversation today with Mary McNamara, 74-year-old Judy Blume went through her career with us, and she was extremely down to earth and humble.
Judy said the character Fudge was based on her son Larry, who was a rather challenging toddler. Larry is a director now, and he directed a film version of Tiger Eyes that just won best film at the Palm Beach film festival. Judy and Larry co-wrote the screenplay. When talking about how proud of Larry and the film she was, Judy teared up a bit. It's hard to believe no films have been made from her books before this one!
She said she couldn't find books that mirrored her life as a kid, so perhaps she was unconsciously trying to write the kind of book she wanted back then. She said she felt that parents and teachers shouldn't be judgmental about what kids want to read, and she spoke out against the Accelerated Reader program.
She spoke about hating to write first drafts, but enjoying the subsequent drafts. She said it took her 3 months to find Sandy's voice for Wifey, and she wrote 23 drafts of Summer Sisters!
As for Forever, she said she wrote it for her teen daughter who had noticed that when teens had sex in books, it always ended badly with a pregnancy or a botched abortion or a breakup. So she wanted to show that sex could be non-fatal and maybe even pleasurable. She said her publisher didn't know how to cope with the book and released it with "her first novel for adults" on the cover, which really pissed her off.
An audience member tried to bait her into saying negative things about The Hunger Games and other YA gothic series', but Judy wouldn't go for it. Again, she was just happy that kids were reading. She did point out some authors who were writing about real life for the YA audience such as John Green and Carolyn Mackler. Some very young kids asked questions, and Judy was patient in answering them. She had to disappoint one boy who asked if there would be any more Fudge books. She said she didn't think so, but never say never. She's currently working on a book set in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, based on real events.
Another audience member asked her if she'd heard Amanda Palmer's song "Judy Blume" and what she thought about it. Judy said she had watched the video on YouTube and tweeted with Amanda about how much she liked it. Thoroughly modern Judy! It's a powerful song and one I can relate to.
Judy got a standing ovation at the end - something I've never seen at the Festival of Books - usually people just grab their book satchels and leave the panels early to scurry off to their next panel, but I didn't see much of that happening with Judy. After the talk, I waited in line almost 2 hours to get a copy of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing signed. Judy was tireless in signing for the huge crowd. I was bummed I wasn't able to locate my vintage copy of Wifey and get it signed, but glad nonetheless to have her autograph and to have a moment to thank her for getting me through puberty, junior high, and so many tribulations in my young life. Thanks, Judy!
Sunday, March 04, 2012
We had some friends meet us at the hotel and checked out the free happy hour on the concierge level of the hotel. Around 6:30pm, my friend Heather and I went over to DCA to ride Tower of Terror. At this point, we could tell the crowds were swelling. Even though we had a fast pass for Tower of Terror, they said the wait time would be almost an hour. It was 2 hours for people without a fast pass. And DCA was closing at 8pm. After Tower of Terror, we exited DCA into a huge crowd. Lines to get into Disneyland were snaking back and forth across the entire plaza between Disneyland and DCA. Everyone how had been in DCA was now trying to get into Disneyland, plus the after-work crowd had arrived. Dave and our other friends were already in Disneyland, and we were about to give up and go have dinner in Downtown Disney when we noticed they were getting ready to open the exit gates to let more people in. We quickly got to the exit gate before folks in the giant line noticed and got in. There was definitely some Disney magic at work for us!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
The Clinton Foundation celebrated "A Decade of Difference" with a huge fundraising concert at the Hollywood Bowl (Oct 15, 2011). Celebrities still love Bill Clinton, and they were abundant on the stage to pay tribute to him on his 65th Birthday. Hilary and Chelsea were seated with him.