Don't make a f&*$in' maniac out of me

While looking for other things, I came across this video of Paul Anka signing autographs after the recent Songwriters Hall of Fame dinner. And, lo and behold, I'm in it (long-sleeve green shirt...mine is the last autograph he signs in the clip, and my voice wraps things up, too). Please enjoy the sight of another collector repeatedly shoving his multiple albums on top of my CD booklet (you almost catch me staring at him because he's being a douche...he bragged to me afterwards that he got all his stuff signed, like I should be happy). My only regret is that the camera doesn't catch the wink I got from Mr. Anka after he signed for me (I'm guessing--nay, hoping--because I was the only person with new product).

And, lest we forget the genius of Paul Anka, there is this.


The Tinsel and Rot Sirius Stiletto Top 20: July 2008

20. (--) Carry Me Carrie--Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show#
19. (--) Life in a Northern Town--Dream Academy*
18. (18) Papa Was A Rolling Stone--Was (Not Was)#
17. (--) When You're Hot, You're Hot--Jerry Reed*
16. (5) Deep Blue Sea--Otis Taylor (w/ Alvin Youngblood Hart)#
15. (1) October--Jon Dee Graham#
14. (--) Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)--Joe Tex#
13. (7) Swept Away--Jon Dee Graham#
12. (--) El Si? O No?--Polka Freak Out#
11. (--) Someday Never Comes--Creedence Clearwater Revival#
10. (13) Holes--Jon Dee Graham#
9. (9) Is She Really Going Out With Him?--Joe Jackson*
8. (--) Nature's Gonna Pay You Back--Terry Adams#
7. (--) Real as an Animal--Alejandro Escovedo#
6. (3) Peanut Vendor--Terry Adams and Steve Ferguson#
5. (4) The Little Lady Preacher--Tom T. Hall#
4. (--) Dulce et Decorum Est--Matthew Ryan vs. the Silver State#
3. (--) We Can't Make It Here Anymore--James McMurtry#
2. (--) Get Something Done--Hudson Falcons#
1. (--) Freeway View--James McMurtry#

#-Imported onto Stiletto
*-Recorded off Sirius (NOTE: This Top 20 is lacking many Sirius songs because my satellite headphones are busted.)


Cindy Walker: Tinsel and Rot Hall of Famer

There has been much internal discussion among the Tinsel and Rot Board of Directors regarding the strictly white male make-up of the Hall of Fame to date. Then, while cataloging some old posts, we came across the inspiration for the founding of the Hall of Fame and discovered an egregious oversight whose correcting would break up the stranglehold white guys have had so far on the Hall of Fame. And so, we first apologize for not inducting legendary songwriter Cindy Walker sooner and then welcome her into the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame.

In a just world, Ms. Walker would still be alive to receive this honor (and, in fact, would actually care about it) so she could deliver another knockout induction speech like she did upon her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Alas, she is no longer with us, though it is doubtful that if she were still alive she could top that CMHOF poem/speech. I am still stunned and disappointed that someone hasn't thrown this up on YouTube, so you will have to make do with the transcript:

"In the 1980s my mother bought me a dress for a BMI affair
And she said, 'When they put you in the Hall Of Fame, that's the dress I want you to wear'
And, I said, 'Oh, mama, the Hall Of Fame...Why, that will never be'
And the years went by, but my mother's words remained in my memory
And I know tonight she'd be happy, tho she's gone now to her rest
But I think of all that she did for me and, tonight, I'm wearing that dress!"

If you can watch the video of that and feel nothing, I officially don't like you. Here's the dress, by the way:

Of course, it would be weird to induct a person solely on the basis of an induction speech for another hall of fame. So, it seems wise to point out that Ms. Walker was a prolific and amazing songwriter. "You Don't Know Me," "Bubbles in My Beer." "Cherokee Maiden," "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream," "Distant Drums," "Not That I Care," "Triflin' Gal," "Miss Molly," and my personal favorite, "Going Away Party" were all either written or cowritten by Ms. Walker, who had songs recorded by Bing Crosby, Bob Wills, Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce, and Willie Nelson, just to name a few (Willie's "You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker" is a fine place to start a discovery of Walker's talents, as is Leon Rausch's "Close to You: A 20 Song Salute to the Music of Cindy Walker").

Walker died in March 2006 (nine days after the Willie Nelson tribute CD was released) and though she has earned a good measure of acclaim in country music circles, it still isn't quite enough for our tastes. Too freqeuntly, she is described as "one of the greatest female country music songwriters," but that's a couple of adjectives too many. She is simply one of the best songwriters of all time, and we are proud to have Cindy Walker in the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame.

Here are some of her songs done by the greats:

Roy Orbison (and other people not quite as cool as Roy Orbison) doing "Dream Baby":

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys doing "Bubbles in My Beer" (while you watch an annoying "psychedelic" slideshow):

And a partial version of Richard Manuel doing "You Don't Know Me" that'll break your heart (if you prefer to hear Willie's full version, go here or check out a nice Emmylou Harris take here):

And, as it turns out, Cindy Walker has a pretty rad tombstone, too (AP photo by Tony Gutierrez):


The gift that keeps on giving

I am woefully behind on my "Two Coreys" viewing (and, to be honest, the episodes I have seen were a bit much), but luckily Bayonne Mike—currently the only blogger to mention Camus and the Coreys in a ten-day span—has fully descended into the Corey maelstrom and alerted me to this week's Feldman ode to love, a gift to his wife:

There is no singer who consistently brings the goods like Felddog. And to prove he doesn't stop, there's the new jam "Green Is the Colour" (Corey digs the Brit spellings!) on his site. Not as good as the antiwar song (now seemingly unavailable on the site), but still amazing.

New Truth Movement CD (the brilliantly named "Technology Analogy") due out soon! Can't wait!


Weakened Warrior (Addendum)

I withheld a tiny (pun not intended...you'll get that in a minute) portion of my Super Mega Show experience because I was getting an autograph as an add-on to a wedding gift (my usual $10,000 gift that I give at weddings). That wedding has now passed, and while I can't be sure that the happy couple has opened the gift, I at least feel confident that I won't spoil the surprise by recounting the tale here. The only way that could happen now is if they check the blog during their Italian honeymoon, which surely would be a sign that the marriage might be in trouble. So, here goes.

Howard Stern listeners are doubtless aware of Lester "Beetlejuice" Green (those unaware can go here, the delightful dwarf whose shining moment was perhaps his inability to spell "red" three times in a row, even after hearing it spelled correctly after each miss. Look, I'm not proud that that's what makes me laugh, but it does.

Anyway, when I saw that Beetlejuice (born in Jersey City and frequently spotted at the bar at Rita and Joe's in my fair city) was at the Super Mega Show, I figured it would make a nice, unique add-on to a wedding gift for my friends, who are also Stern fans. I would like to say that this is the first time a Z-list autograph has figured into friends' weddings, but it can't possibly top going to a wrestling convention to meet Captain Lou Albano the morning of another wedding (in that case, the couple had to wait a long time to get a signed memento of that occasion).

Coincidentally, Captain Lou was across the room from Beet in Fairfield, which probably meant he wasn't as bothered by Beet as the rest of the celebs (particularly the women) who were closer to him. Virgil (as in the Million Dollar Man's valet in the WWF) was directly next to Beet and at least seemed slightly amused (at least at the beginning of the day...I imagine it wore on him by the end of the day). Both Virgil and Beet were doing a similarly slow business, so Beet's handlers seemed extra excited that I was willing to shell out cash for his autograph. Particularly considering the following exchange at the beginning of the transaction:

Me: Hey, can he write "To [Names redacted to protect the innocent]..."

Guy: (in a low voice) No, man, he can't read or write.

Now, a lot of people would look at a moment when they hand over money to a dwarf who can't read or write as the moment when it was time to reassess the path being traveled. I, however, looked at it as Saturday. And then, to add to the experience, his handlers told Beet to "show him how you eat ass." Proud moment.

So, yes, I paid money (again, the actual sum is not important...and by "not important" I mean "not something I would ever share in a public medium") for an autograph to a guy who can't write his own name. Now, a lot of people hate Howard Stern because of his perceived mockery of mentally disabled people such as Beet, making them the butt of endless jokes that they don't fully comprehend. And you're certainly welcome to that opinion; it's an entirely valid point. But consider this: I gave Beet money to scribble a bunch of lines on a photo. And then more money to take a picture with him. So, who's the joke on now?

If you're hesitant to answer questions you think might be rhetorical, let me tell you that the answer is "me."



According to Friday's Daily News, the "plucky" winner of the Air Guitar Championship Regionals in Brooklyn had to have her toe amputated because of an in-song accident.

Now, if I can be assured that every Air Guitar Championship contest will involve at least one amputation, I may soften my stance.


My new favorite website is...

The Wasmopolitan Cavalcade of Recorded Music. A ton of cool new music videos (Cowboy Jack Clement and the Old Crow Medicine Show, Jill Sobule, Stephen Bruton, Sweet Pea Atkinson, Guy Clark, Buddy Miller, and more) produced by Don Was. Pretty damn great.

I was alerted to this site because of this week's featured performance: Todd Snider singing the heretofore unreleased "America's Favorite Pastime," backed by some studio heavyweights. Check it out.


Weakened Warrior (The End)

If the point of the Major League Baseball All-Star Fan Fest was to create an event that captured the tedium of your average baseball game, then the event was an unqualified success. Assuming that wasn't the intention, it was only fun if you were really into waiting on long lines. After two days of running around, I wasn't feelin' it, dawg.

I went hoping to score a couple of free autographs from the baseball legends (and Steve Sax) that were scheduled to sign as part of the event. I figured there'd be a long line when I got there, but I didn't figure that it would, according to the Fan Fest worker, be about a four-hour wait. And since the players were on two-hour shifts and there was no schedule posted, you never really knew whose autographs you'd be getting when you got on line. There was a time in my life when I would've gladly abided by those rules. That time is long gone. But here are Luis Aparicio (obscured) and Dick Williams signing.

With that part of the day opened up, I had plenty of time to get a head start on completing the other task of the day: getting an autograph from Nicole Eggert's costar on "Who's the Boss," Alyssa Milano, who was promoting her line of baseball fashions and jewelry. I was ahead of the game this time, lining up about an hour before she was due to start signing, which turned out to be a very wise idea considering how long the line ended up being. Unfortunately, the line was far too long to accommodate photos with Ms. Milano, so that dream is not yet fulfilled. In fact, after the first few people in line snapped photos, security decided to enforce a "no photos past this spot right here" policy, which resulted in some unintentionally comical confrontations between undersexed men and security. This was the best I could do before I crossed the no-photo line.

Ms. Milano also signed her autograph to me with a heart, so I suspect there will be a pretty intense catfight for my affections between her and Ms. Eggert. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, let it sink in that I met Nicole Eggert and Alyssa Milano in a slightly-more-than-24-hour span. C'mon, if it were it 1989, you'd think I was the coolest guy in the world. Man, how I wish it was 1989.

Ms. Milano asked me if I was enjoying Fan Fest and, because it seemed like a question she didn't really want an answer to, I took the easy route, lying that I was enjoying myself before briefly mentioning the lines. A lot of the attractions were cool (get your picture on a Topps baseball card/on a New York Post cover/on a USA Today Sports Weekly cover/making a catch over a replica of the Yankee Stadium fence, do play-by-play, take a few swings against a video simulation of a major league pitcher), but the lines ranged from an hour to two hours, and I didn't have that kind of time. So I just wandered around and took in a few of the exhibits and snapped some uneventful photos not worth posting. I should've taken a picture of the umpire posing behind home plate in front of the giant baseball shown above. He was all bronzed up so he looked like a statue, and he would occasionally scare the crap out of people by moving or yelling. By the end of the day, most people had caught on, but it was fun to watch the ones who were clueless.

There were two other highlights that, combined with meeting Alyssa Milano, prevented the day from being a total bust. First I bought an adjustable hat of my new favorite minor-league team, the Montgomery Biscuits. I doubt I could put into words how great it is to own a baseball cap (to go with the hoodie recently purchased in Cooperstown) with a white-gloved biscuit on it is. So I won't try. I will just say, Go Biscuits!

The other thrill was seeing Jack McDowell--maybe my all-time favorite player but at least my all-time favorite non-Met--as he got ready to do a show for MLB.com. I didn't get his autograph or anything (already have it...from the time I saw his band, Stick Figure, at Manitoba's), but it's always cool just to see Jack McDowell. And, yes, he was a Yankee, but I forgive him. Especially since he gave Yankee fans the finger after they booed him. I think that makes him my all-time favorite Yankee too.

After Fan Fest came the annual Jimmy Sturr show in Jersey City. It was an awfully nice day to be in Liberty State Park, made even better by watching a man in creased jeans lead his polka band to the delight of the seniors in attendance. Sadly, this will likely be the only time I see Mr. Sturr this summer, but I was glad to at least get one in. Summer's not summer without Jimmy Sturr.

So, 'twas a full weekend, no? Oh look...here comes another one.

I need some rest.


Weakened Warrior (Part II)

The main reason (not that I really need a reason) for attending my very first Super Mega Show was to get a Julie Newmar autograph for my sister. A few weeks ago, my sister wrote a blog entry about Ms. Newmar's garden and quickly received a comment from someone claiming to be Julie Newmar. So I was to (a) ask Ms. Newmar if she did indeed leave the comment and (b) obtain an autograph that somehow referenced my sister's blog in some way. And while I was there I could see how Erik Estrada and a bunch of old wrestlers were looking. Sweet.

Then, upon double-checking that Julie Newmar hadn't cancelled, I noticed a truly exciting celebrity addition to the lineup. Making her "first East Coast convention appearance" was all-time Top 10er (nope...Top 5er) and star of "Charles in Charge" and the largely creepy but occasionally, ahem, titillating "Blown Away", Ms. Nicole Eggert. Now we were truly heading into exciting territory, thus marking the first time that "exciting territory" and "a hotel on Route 46 in Fairfield, New Jersey" ever came together in my or possibly any head.

After a largely uneventful bus ride with one of the autograph collectors I like, it was time to walk past the Batmobile and the Green Hornet car into the Crowne Plaza. (A quick aside: the autograph collector was part of what might be my favorite autograph moment, outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater. Hunter S. Thompson was on Letterman, and when he came out, the collector asked for a photo with him. Dr. Thompson agreed to pose for one, provided he could sign the guy's face. The collector wasn't thrilled with that idea, so he asked him why he would want to do that. Hunter mumbled, "Well, I gotta have my fun too," and then wrote an "X" on the guy's cheek prior to the photo being taken. Good times.) The Super Mega Show is sort of a double-A version of Chiller, which means not as many guests and maybe a slightly lower caliber of guests, too. But it also meant hardly any lines, so after doing a few laps to check out everybody (and checking in again with Haywood Nelson, because he looked bored), I headed over to Julie Newmar's table to get the autograph. I asked her about the blog comment and she initially seemed confused but then seemed to remember and confirmed that it was indeed she who left the comment. Then she asked me about my sister's blog and what she wrote about, so I explained and she signed the autograph "For your beautiful house, Julie Newmar." And then we posed.

It was only in the lobby, after I went to put the 8X10 in the protective sleeve, that I realized I'd never actually paid her for the autograph. The money was still in my hand. Lesser people would have just let it go (and, in fact, two collectors called me crazy for not doing so), but I headed back to Ms. Newmar's table to settle up. Like the song goes, you don't pull the mask off of the old Lone Ranger and you don't forget to give Catwoman her $30 for her autograph. At least I think that's how the song goes. Been a while since I played any Croce.

Ms. Newmar was also handing out a postcard urging people to e-mail her with tales of their "first turn-on." At first, I thought that was odd, but I quickly became enamored with the idea of reading about the first turn-ons of people attending an autograph show in Fairfield, New Jersey. Sign me up for a copy of that.

And speaking of childhood turn-ons, next up was sweet, sweet Nicole Eggert, who was, I soon discovered, charging way too much money (let's just say it was more than Julie Newmar was asking). And so I faced a dilemma: take a moral stand and refuse to give Nicole Eggert any of my business or put myself in a situation where Nicole Eggert might touch me.

I'm weak. And, really, with the things I have thought about involving Nicole Eggert, the least I can do is overpay her for an autograph and photo. As usual, I went with the "if you touch me first, then I'm touching you" rule of autograph show photos, which is why my right hand is creepily acting as a barrier preventing her from running away in horror. I should, however, point out that she signed my autograph with a heart, which clearly means she loves me. I'll be following up on that with a letter I'm planning to write either in crayon or by pasting letters cut out from newspapers and magazines. Please let me know in the comments which method you think is best.

I spent the rest of the show just wandering, debating buying a DVD of "The War To Settle the Score" (the MTV-aired match between Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper and the lead-up to it...I passed), avoiding eye contact with celebrities, trying to figure out how some people were actually celebrities (does being the model for "Sassy Assy Jeans" really make you famous?), and trying to sneak in photos where I could. I was busted by Ralph Carter (Michael from "Good Times") but avoided getting roped into buying an autograph.

I had better success sneaking a photo of Larry Storch, whose decision to wear the "F Troop" hat was oddly both highly commendable and unbearably depressing.

And then I got a shot of former wrestling manager/wife/wrestler Terri Runnels cozying up to Erik Estrada.

I tried sneaking a photo of Tommy "Wildfire" Rich, who I thought was one of the coolest-looking wrestlers when I was a kid and only knew Southern wrestlers from pictures in magazines. Suffice it to say, I don't think he looks as cool anymore. Trust me.

It's dangerous to walk around these shows for too long, because you start to weaken. You see someone whose movies you liked or whose TV shows you watched every day and that person is all alone, getting no business. I almost bought another Haywood Nelson autograph (and probably would've if he had better photos) because he was consistently alone (and next to the similarly unbusy Mason Reese). Helen Slater was doing an OK business, but it was starting to tail off. So since she seemed nice, was in "Ruthless People," and was selling a CD, I gave in. I'm a sucker.

I probably ended up staying a bit too long (and definitely overspent), but I was still able to get back to NYC in time to catch a train back to Asbury Park to see the mighty Hudson Falcons on the outdoor stage at the Stone Pony. And then I lounged/helped out at the merch table (sold a CD...success!) and recovered from the day...so I could do it all again on Sunday.


Weakened Warrior

I know, I know. I've been slacking on the blog entries. But that's because I haven't been slacking on doing things I can write blog entries about. Weird how that works, huh?

Anyway, this past weekend went like this: on Friday, take the train after work to Asbury Park to see Maybe Pete and Jason (as in "and the Scorchers") Ringenberg at the Saint. On Saturday morning, get a ride back home and then immediately head out to the Super Mega Show (one of my favorite-named autograph shows) in Fairfield, NJ, to give people who were once celebrities money that I probably need more than they do (well, some of them). After that, it was back on the train to Asbury Park to see the mighty Hudson Falcons at the Stone Pony. And after a ride home from that, it was a few hours of sleep before heading out to the All-Star Fan Fest at the Javits Center. Finally, there was America's Polka King Jimmy Sturr at Liberty State Park.

And now I'm in Staten Island, waking up at 5:30 in the morning to get to work on time.

All that is to say I'm still a little winded. But the stories and photos will trickle in over the next few days, OK?

First, I will say that it was the height of kickassery to see Jason Ringenberg sing "Absolutely Sweet Marie," "White Lies," and "Take Me Home Country Roads" with the New Jersey Scorchers, a/k/a Maybe Pete. Maybe Pete's set was fun enough, and Jason's set was pretty damn cool (but could've been cooler...see below), but the three-song set at the end was so awesome that a word doesn't exist to describe it. And that, of course, is a writer's way of being lazy when he's still recovering from a long weekend. But, really, you should've been there.

In fact, it would've been awesome if you were there because it (a) would've meant that there were more than 20 people seeing a legendary musician (his jacket's in the Country Music Hall of Fame, people) on a Friday night and (b) you would've been more fun than the deadasses and cheapskates that made up a bit of the crowd. Before the show started, I saw one guy stop a couple from paying because they were "on the list" (new concert rule: if there are less than 50 people in the room and you are living above the poverty line, you're not on the list. There is no list; you're paying, dipshit. It's called supporting live music. Suck it up and pay for your tickets.). And then during Jason's set, when he asked for requests, it turned out that I was the only person in a room with at least a few Scorchers fans who remembered the names of any songs they did other than "Absolutely Sweet Marie." Well, that's not fair; one guy yelled out "Help! There's a Fire" after Jason said he was going to play something slow and spooky. Good timing, chief.

Nevertheless, I had a good time (and, though tempted to just keep yelling out my requests all night and thus make it my own personal show, I kept it to one request, the stone-cold classic and anthem during the college years, "Self-Sabotage"). And, by all accounts, the folks on stage and the sundry freeloaders and silent types had a fine time themselves. I wish the video I took came out better (too close to the speakers), but here it is if you like to listen to lots of distortion. Or, if not, there are always still photos.



Ten Movie Character Names I Would Use If I Ever Had to Check Into a Hotel Under an Assumed Name

1. Emil Muzz
2. Todd Wilkinson
3. Vincent Antonelli
4. Pep Streebeck
5. Buck Russell
6. Del Griffith
7. Moses Hightower
8. Jack Hartounian
9. Barney Coopersmith
10. Henry Rowengartner

Congratulations if you know what movies those characters were in without checking IMDB (hint: the ten characters are from seven movies...and two names are the same character).


Staying home will not be tolerated

There are two shows on Wednesday that Tinsel and Rot strongly suggests you attend. Maybe you don't have the admirable ambition we have and won't try to hit both shows, but attendance at at least one would be mandatory if we could think of some way to enforce that.

WEDNESDAY, 7/9: The Avett Brothers, 7 p.m., Stuyvesant High School, NYC, FREE
Alejandro Escovedo, 9 p.m., Highline Ballroom, NYC, $28

Two great bands, one great night. First up is Columbia/American recording artists the Avett Brothers, who revealed the other night that they have inked their first major-label deal and are working with the equally bearded Rick Rubin on their next CD. Badass. I have mentioned the Brothers many times here, so you likely already know that I think highly of them, more highly than any other band currently touring the country. So why not enjoy a nice evening by the water (UPDATE: show's been moved to the Stuyvesant High School auditorium, so why not enjoy a nice evening in a school assembly-type setting?) and see the Avetts before their current fanbase starts to hate you for jumping on the bandwagon late.

And then join me in a mad dash to get to the Highline Ballroom in time to see what I hope is at least the majority of Alejandro Escovedo's set. His new album, Real Animal, might be my favorite of the year so far, and his 40-minute set at the Electric Factory back in May was definitely my favorite live show I've seen this year (you can hear it here. Hear hear!). So I'm glad to have the chance to see him after the Avetts (and I apologize to AA Bondy, whom I would normally like to see but am now just glad will be doing an opening set so I can have more time to get to the Highline).

Seriously, if you stay home on Wednesday, I will be sad. If you go to the "Brooklyn regionals" of the Air Guitar Championships instead, well, I think you know how I'll feel.

No more burning bush

God is now communicating via t-shirt. And He's a touch snotty now.



Other Music has put up some songs from the Dirtbombs' kickass in-store performance earlier this year. Try to ignore the occasional shots of me and focus on the Dirtbombs. (If the player doesn't load on your browser, go here.)


What I Liked About June

*Seeing Oliver Perez pitch well in the first trip to Shea this year
*Bottle Rockets/Eric Ambel and the Roscoe Trio/Apple Brothers, Mercury Lounge, NYC
*Meeting the original Mr. Met
*Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy vs. A Park Full of Rowdy Kids, Hoboken, NJ

*Tony the Dancing Machine on the Atlantic City boardwalk
*Carolina Chocolate Drops/Dixie Hummingbirds, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY
*Seeing ambidextrous Andy Venditte pitch, Staten Island, NY
*The long-awaited opening of Cafe La Rustique, Jersey City, NJ

*Waco Brothers/Chris Mills, Highline Ballroom, NYC
*Emmylou Harris, Union Square Barnes & Noble, NYC
*The Sadies, Madison Square Park, NYC
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places