Monday, November 8, 2010

Our D-Day Has Arrived!!!!

Hi all,

We have sold our house and have been given a date of December 8th as the day we need to be moved out. I'm a bit pissed off about this because we were promised 45 days and we only got 30, but we'll have to make due with what we have. The house sold as a short sale, so we have no money from that. The person buying the house is a very nice woman, and we believe she'll treat the house right and be happy in it, something that was very important to us.

We can no longer afford to live in Los Angeles and have no desire to live anywhere else in California, so we have decided to move to the Pacific Northwest. We hope to move to Olympia in Washington. It will be ideal for us as the cost of living there is only about a third of what it is here. It's only an hour from Seattle and two hours from Portland in Oregon, two of our favorite cities.

The big problem is finding a place to live. We can't afford to travel up there to find an apartment and even if we could, we really don't have the time. We have a couple of friends who live in Olympia who have offered us help and it remains seen as to what type of help that will be, but one way of the other, I'm going to make it work for us. If we can't find a place in Olympia in the next couple of weeks, we'll start looking elsewhere. A friend mentioned Astoria, Oregon as a great place, so we'll see. I'll be checking Craigslist and any other rental help place I can find. Once we find that place to live, everything else will fall into place easily.

We will be renting a truck and moving ourselves. We'll be having a yard sale about a week before the move to try to cut back on the stuff we have to take with us. I know we'll be selling our washer and dryer, which is in great condition, and some furniture, such as a standard couch and our couch bed. Hopefully we'll get some good money, because we're doing this on the seat of our pants monetarily wise.

As soon as everything settles, I'll let you all know. I hope that I can get back to doing this blog again on a regular basis, but that will still have to wait a while, as we're going to be scrambling to keep from finding ourselves homeless, but you'll hear from me soon enough.

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and hopefully you'll be hearing from us before Christmas with some good, settling news.

Love you all,


Sunday, March 14, 2010

2009 Music, Movies and an Update

Well, due to my lateness once again, you’ve probably realized that getting this blog back on track is not going the way I imagined it would. But there is hope for the future as things have been looking up for us over the last month and a half. It’s been surprising as literally three weeks ago, I was on the edge of panic since we were out of cash and it looked like there was no hope for us to be anything but homeless. Then, suddenly, my online sales started skyrocketing. Shortly after that, Skip was accepted into Government Disability and now gets a good-sized check from them every month. Skip is also in the process of declaring bankruptcy, which is going to be a pain in the ass, but it’s better than trying to deal with bills we can’t pay. He is dealing with a gay bankruptcy lawyer who understands our situation completely. He also understands the laws we can take advantage of since this society will not allow us to get married, and I’m all for taking advantage of the bigotry of the US Government. (Ah Hell, I’m all for taking advantage of the US Government in any way.) Now that we’re not saddled with mortgage payments or paying off exaggerated interest rates on our credit card bills, we suddenly find ourselves with money saved in the bank and a hope for the future. And, as you can probably tell, I have no feelings of guilt about any of it.

As for the future, we’re still on track to moving out of California for good. We have dropped looking into anything on the East Coast, so New Hampshire and North Carolina are no longer possibilities. We just decided that we wanted to stay close to the West Coast. If I’m close enough to LA, I can keep my clients that I sell for. I can make a trip every two months or so to pick up new sale items and visit Disneyland and friends while we’re at it. Plus, I really don’t think I can live somewhere where I can’t find great Mexican food. So, right now we’re looking into Tucson, Arizona or Olympia, Washington (despite the lack of good Mexican food, they still have amazing seafood in the Pacific Northwest, which is almost as important to us). And New Mexico is still in the running as well. We will be in our house until at least July and I’m hoping we can stretch that into September. But one way or another, we have to make up our minds and get prepared to move this summer.

I’ll keep you posted as more develops. And I’m still going to try to get this blog up to a bi-weekly basis again, although that may not happen until we settled into our new digs later this year. So all I’ll promise is that I will get posts up on this blog as I have time to write them. I’ve come to realize that I really don’t have that many tour reports left to do. I’m sure there are plenty of stories I could tell if I could just remember them, but for now, there’s maybe two or three more blogs I can get out of my decade or so touring with bands. I’ll try to get one of those up next, probably my quick European tour with the Young Fresh Fellows and the Dharma Bums.

As for the rest of my New Year’s Resolutions, I’m not having much luck with those either. I haven’t gained any weight, but I haven’t lost any either. And my attempt to read at least one book a month has been futile as well. I have been buying books though, so I have a stack to read when I find the time. “A Single Man” by Christopher Isherwood, “The Gospel of Food” by Barry Glassner, “Footnotes in Gaza” by Joe Sacco, “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, “I Slept With Joey Ramone” by Mickey Leigh, “Kick It Till It Breaks” by Ira Robbins, “Heat” by Bill Buford, and “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” by Michael Chabon are all in that stack.

Now, I usually open the year with a column about music and then I do one about movies around Oscar time. Both of those have fallen victim to my predicament. But I’d still like to talk a bit about both, so what follows are short, cliff-note versions of what I would normally write. I’ll have to rely on you to look up things if you think they might be interesting. ( for music and for movies)


I no longer buy CDs much. In fact, I’ve been downloading all my own CDs and records and selling them on the internet. I used to obsess about owning and holding the covers, but no longer. I’m happy with just the music now. And with the money I’ve been making off these old CDs, I’m even happier. So I can no longer do a top ten albums of the year. But I still go see bands live a lot, or watch them on the late night TV shows and then check them out more online if I like them.

So, let me just point out a few musicians and bands that I heard this year that I think are worth your while to check out as well.

I really enjoyed seeing some younger bands for the first or second time. Amongst these were the Von Bondies, the Black Lips, the White Rabbits, Matt & Kim, Dengue Fever, No Age, Health, Melt Banana, the Doves, Travis, Adele, Xu Xu Fang, Lemon Sun, and Thom Yorke of Radiohead, for his first solo show.

A few “old timers” that I’ve seen before also toured this year. I was pleased and entertained by Leonard Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Pet Shop Boys, Chick Corea, Moby, Tricky, Grace Jones, Fischerspooner, John Fogerty, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, and Kiss!

Then there were the old punk bands (and a couple of disco bands) that got back together and were still just as great as they used to be. Those included the Vaselines, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Dinosaur Jr, the Slits, Throbbing Gristle, Yummy Fur, KC & the Sunshine Band, the Village People, Kool & the Gang, and the absolutely wonderful Chic.

I was also ecstatic to see my old pals, the Zeros (, get back together and stun the audience with their greatness several times. And to top it off, even more old pals, the Last (, reformed in their original line-up and stunned as well with their one-and-only reunion gig. Oh, and speaking of friends, I finally got to see Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds ( and found them to be close to fantastic. I’m really glad to see Kid doing so well.

I should also mention that the return engagement of Los Angeles’ own Silversun Pickups was stunning as well and showed that they are only getting stronger as they tour the world to much acclaim. They are truly one of the best that L.A. has to offer these days.

I also want to point out a few artists for special attention. While I worked with Thin White Rope, I used to get kids sending me the tapes and recordings of their own bands. This usually was accompanied by a spiel or note explaining how much they loved TWR and how much they were influenced by them. More often than not, the music they gave me sucked and I couldn’t figure out where any TWR influence was at all. Most of those bands and performers have fallen to the wayside. I still get an occasional tape or CD though. The difference is that these days, the music is usually damned good. For those of you TWR fans out there, and I know a number of you read this blog, please check out:

Trent Miller & the Skeleton Jive – ( An Italian folksinger now living in the UK, Trent channels Guy Kyser’s voice without sounding like a copy of TWR. His songwriting is wonderful and well worth the effort to hunt down. And you can do that at his Myspace page, or by finding his CD, “Cerberus”, which is available in this country on

The Desperate Ones – ( Paul Simmons is a long time fan of TWR and has been sending me his psychedelic recordings for years now. I’ve always liked them and now, with this new batch of songs, which will hopefully be an album sometime soon, I love them. Check out the band’s Myspace page for more recordings.

Chris C & Swingin’ Danglers – ( Taking their name from TWR’s fan club, this band just plain rock in a very wonderful way. You need to check them out on Myspace as well.

Doc Holler – ( This is Guy Kyser and Roger Kunkle’s bluegrass band, so you know you’re going to want to check them out.

And one big, last shout-out to my pal Doug Gillard (, from Death of Samantha, Cobra Verde and Guided by Voices, whose new album, “Call From Restricted” is a wonderful pop-rock collection that reminds me a lot of early Wire in that his catchy pop songs are not afraid to stretch out and try something new. It’s a very exciting album and you all need to check it out.

By the way, I’ve already heard some great music this year, including Yeasayer, Broken Bells, Hot Rats, Massive Attack, and an amazing new album by the Liars.


On the movie front, I managed to see 77 new movies (and that doesn’t take into account all the movies I saw from past years either again or for the first time).

Here are my top ten movies in order:

Hurt Locker
A Single Man
Up In The Air
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Shapphire
A Serious Man
Sin Nombre
(500) Days of Summer
An Education
Inglorious Basterds

These are the other movies I thought we excellent:

Adventureland, Avatar, Big Fan, Broken Embraces, Coco Before Chanel, Coraline, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, I Love You Man, In The Loop, Invictus, Julie & Julia, The Messenger, Ponyo, A Town Called Panic

These movies were very good and well worth seeing:

Bright Star, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Crazy Heart, Disney's A Christmas Carol, District 9, Drag Me To Hell, The Girlfriend Experience, Goliath, Goodbye Solo, The Hangover, Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince, The Hole, Humpday, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, The Informant, The Last Station, Monsters Vs. Aliens, Moon, My One and Only, Nine, 9, Paranormal Activity, Paris 36, The Princess & the Frog, Star Trek, Sunshine Cleaning, Taking Woodstock, Zombieland

These movies were a let down for various reasons. But I still found them interesting enough that I don’t regret seeing them:

The Blind Side, Il Divo, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Loss of a Teardrop Earring, The Lovely Bones, Paper Heart, Public Enemies, Terminator Salvation, Watchmen, Where the Wild Things Are, The White Ribbon, X-Men Origins: Wolverine

And these two movies are the only two I saw this year that out-and-out sucked. Interestingly enough, they were both seen at film festivals and as far as I know, they haven’t been able to pick up distribution. So hopefully no one will have to sit through them again:

After.Life, Surveillance

These are the excellent documentaries I saw:

Capitalism: A Love Story, The Cove, Food Inc., It Might Get Loud

And these documentaries were very good and well worth the effort to try to see them:

An Englishman in New York, On/Off: Mark Stewart from The Pop Group to The Maffia, Of Time and the City, Outrage, Shouting Fire: Stories From the Edge of Free Speech, Something's Gonna Live, Who's Afraid of Kathy Acker

I also have DVD’s of “Anvil: The Story of Anvil”, “The Damned United”, and “Hunger” sitting near my TV set and I hear they’re all great. But I haven’t had time to watch them yet, so they’ll have to go unrated in this article.

A few comments about the Oscar’s. I was pretty happy with everything that won. There were some changes I would have made with who got nominated though. For Animated Feature, I didn’t see “The Secret of Kellis”, and I don’t think many people did since it never really opened. And as much as I liked “The Princess and the Frog”, it had its problems. I would have much rather seen the absolutely wonderful “A Town Called Panic” get nominated in place of either of those two.

I liked all the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees, and I was happy with who won in both categories, but secretly I was hoping that Colin Firth would have won for Actor and either Carey Mulligan or Gabourey Sidibe would have won for Actress.

I didn’t see any of the Foreign Language Films except for “The White Ribbon”, which I didn’t much like. But, as you can see, I have “Sin Nombe” as one of my top ten movies of the year and I was very disappointed that it didn’t get a nomination.

And I thought “A Single Man” really got shorted. It should have also been nominated for Best Picture and Director. I don’t think that “Avatar”, “District 9”, or “The Blind Side” deserved Best Picture nominations. The first two were very entertaining and I liked them a lot, but there were many better pictures. “The Blind Side” just wasn’t very good, despite Sandra Bullock’s wonderful job of acting. And I’m sorry, but James Cameron just didn’t deserve a Director nomination, no matter how much his entertaining, but over-rated movie made at the box office. (And don’t even get me started about Avatar’s win for best Cinematography, in a movie that was mostly animated.)

And that’s about all I have to say about the movies of 2009. I can start concentrating on those of 2010. I’m going to be seeing “The Runaways” and “Green Zone” this week, and I’ve already seen “Alice in Wonderland”. It’s a good, entertaining movie, but it should have been a great movie. I liked all the acting and most of the dialog, but the story itself is trite and overdone. I would think that Tim Burton could have come up with something a bit more original than the “young Real Earth child saving the Magic Kingdom from Evil” story that seems to be in every fantasy movie made in the last couple of decades. And the 3D was unneeded.


And on that note, I’ll sign off once again. I’ll be back as soon as I can, hopefully with a new tour stories entry. Take care of yourselves and thanks for reading. -MLC

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Where I've Been and Why I've Been There

Before I get started with this, I should tell you that I have updated my last Redd Kross tour blog with a new paragraph. I remembered a few shadowy things about couple of shows I had forgotten. So if you care, go back, find that paragraph and read it for little more insight into that tour.


I know it’s been quite awhile since I lasted posted a blog entry. I’ve tried, but something more important always came along to foil my plans. But here I am now, hopefully back to a more regular schedule. So I’ll start by explaining exactly what’s been going on around here. Keep in mind that this is just the cliff notes version. What’s been going on is a lot more complicated than what I write below. I’ve also tried to keep it free of politics and personal comment, although I know I slip a few times in there. I’ll eventually return to this subject in a few months and you can bet you’ll hear an uncensored version of what I think about this whole thing and the path this country has taken over the last decade.

At the beginning of the year 2001, Skip and I decided that we were sick of paying so much money into the rent of an apartment. Whenever something would go wrong at the apartment, it always seemed to be like pulling teeth to get the landlord to do anything about it and there always seemed to be a neighbor right next door who was always mad at us about music or TV played too loud, or vice-versa, always seemed to be having a party that went on loudly to all hours of the morning, pissing us off. We both had good jobs and after some discussion, we decided that the time was right to buy a house we could call our own.

After searching for a few months, we finally found the house we decided we wanted to call our own. It was in a nice area of Sherman Oaks, in the San Fernando Valley, that was home to many third-tier actors. The house itself rested on land that was once owned by Mae West. The house was built by Buddy Pepper, who wrote the song “Pillow Talk” for the Rock Hudson/Doris Day film of the same name, and was in the Disney film “The Reluctant Dragon”. (Look him up on Neighbors later told us that until the current owner, a Jewish cowboy who absolutely hated the house and the area, that the house had always been owned by a gay male couple. Buddy and his partner lived there for years until they died, and then it was bought by another couple who lived there until one died of AIDS and the other moved away. It was at that time that the Jewish Cowboy and his family moved in.

We loved the place. It was unlike any house I had ever seen, and was certainly different from any of the other houses in the neighborhood, including Mae West’s old house, which was directly behind us. We had these high cathedral wood ceilings and an almost all glass room in the back that looked out over the backyard. It all looked somewhat like a small Swiss ski lodge. There were two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a large, two-car garage. We immediately started making plans for the house. We wanted to open up the back room and seal all the glass windows to the weather. We wanted to either expand the back bedroom or put a small swimming pool into the backyard. We even thought about making the garage into another room to make the living spaces of the house even that much bigger.

So, despite the fact that the Jewish Cowboy had left the house in a bit of a mess, we resolved ourselves to fixing the place up and we were happy to buy it from him and considered ourselves lucky to get it at just under $300, 000.

Unfortunately, it was almost immediately after escrow closed that the troubles began. First, Skip lost his job. He had a great job as a computer programmer for a major insurance company. They had just given him a great performance review and a large raise. He went to them before buying the house and they assured him there was nothing to worry about. Then, a week after escrow closed, they laid him off. As is the case with many large companies in the USA, they were lying sacks of shit who demanded loyalty from their employees, while actively working to screw over those same employees when it benefited the company.

Then, I lost my job. I was working as the head buyer at the Rhino Records Store in Westwood. There were some policies in the way the store did business that I just couldn’t deal with any more and told my boss that, thinking that maybe he would think about these things and maybe make some adjustments. Instead, the one adjustment he made was to hire a new head buyer the next day and wish me well. On one hand, I was relieved. While I loved what I did, I really wasn’t happy doing it at that store any more. I loved working at the store when I was just an assistant manager working on the floor. But I quickly learned that despite some perks, the head buyer’s job was a no-win situation where stress was leading me into health problems. So, in a way I was actually happy to get out of that poisonous situation. But having both Skip and I unemployed was a major problem, especially after just buying a house.

We both spent some time looking for new jobs. I applied at Amoeba Records, but didn’t get along real well with one of the owners during my initial interview. To this day, I’m glad I didn’t get that job despite my need. The last thing I needed was more ego-driven bullshit. I then cast around to record labels and other music businesses, but with no luck. The music business was changing and everyone was cutting back. Most of the people I knew were losing their jobs, so the chance of being hired was really a pipe dream. Skip was having the same trouble, and despite interviewing at a number of places, was never able to find any regular work, just finding temporary work here and there that didn’t pay very much.

After a few years of this, we both just kind of gave up and joined a huge number of people who were unemployed, but not officially according to the government’s statistics. I settled into selling mostly used CDs on the internet and was able to get a few music business people to agree to let me sell their promos and used CDs, LPs and whatever on Amazon, Gemm and EBay. (And I’m always looking for more, so if any of you want someone to sell for you and make you more money than you’ll get taking them to a used record store, let me know.) Along with selling off thousands of my own items, this has generated enough income to barely pay the bills. For awhile, Skip was able to find some work as a consultant and by fixing people’s computers, but most of that has dried up and he barely has anything to do these days.

What was able to keep us going over the last decade was the housing market. As you all know, it just went crazy and within a few years, the worth of our house skyrocketed to almost $800,000 at one point. So, while we knew it would eventually come back to haunt us, we started living off the equity of our house. And we lived very well for almost ten years. I was actually thankful that we had the house, because if both of us would have lost our jobs while living in an apartment, we would have been homeless as we wouldn’t have been able to afford the rent. The house and its equity actually kept us warm and comfy.

But as I said above, we knew this time would eventually come, especially when the economy started tanking badly and the housing market collapsed. We actually thought we had hit the end of the road a couple of times during the last several years ago, but just as we thought there was no way out, something would come along, like the settlement of a lawsuit or the death of a relative, and dump some money into our laps that would allow us to keep on keeping on.

But now it has definitely caught up with us and it remains to be seen just how much time we have left. We are out of money with all our credit cards booked to the max. I am still bringing in enough money to pay bills and our minimums, but not enough to pay the mortgage. We have been informed by our primary mortgage (IndyMac) that they have started foreclosure as of January 5th. Our second mortgage is with Bank of America and they are threatening us, but we’re just ignoring them. They stand to lose everything if we can’t work out something with the prime mortgage holder, so right now, their bark is worse than their bite. We’ve talked to some realtors and bankers and have opened up a dialog with IndyMac. They know they can’t sell this house right now and they don’t want it to sit empty, so we’ll see what we can work out. This dialog has just started, so it remains to be seen where it will go and how much time we will have before they try to kick us out, if they try to kick us out.

In the meantime, we are looking into cheaper places to live and have already made up our minds that we are going to need to move out of Los Angeles and California as a whole because it’s just too damned expensive. We’re hoping that we have until late Spring/early Summer to get it all together, but we’ll see. Right now, we’re looking at New Mexico or North Carolina as possibilities. There are a few others as well. I would love to move to New Hampshire or Vermont, but the winters are probably too much for Skip to deal with. We will have to go back to renting, but if I can find a good place at a good price, we can make that work. Besides, we never really owned this house anyways. We were just renting it from the bank.

And this is why there hasn’t been much action on my blog. I need to raise not just the money to pay the bills, but I also need to raise enough to stash some away so where ever we end up, I have at least a few thousand dollars saved up for first and last and whatever else we need it for. For the last three months, I’ve been sitting at this computer, entering CDs into for-sale data bases and selling Disney memorabilia on EBay. Any time I had open from doing that, we were at the movies catching up on this year’s selection (there will be the usual blog about that in late February), or just trying to get some much need rest and sleep. Even now I still have a couple thousand CDs sitting here; as well a few thousand LPs and a whole lot of Disney pins, all that need to be indentified, sorted and listed on whatever site they will sell the best. It kind of pisses me off that I have to sell some of this stuff now, especially the Disney stuff, as the crappy economy is keeping me from getting the prices I think I should be getting. But I’m still doing well with it and not losing money from my initial investment, so I guess its all okay. We need the money now anyway, so I have little choice in the matter.

I thought last year was going to be the big year of change for us, but it turned out to be a year of thinking about change instead. This year will be the year of acting on change. So, at the beginning of this year, I made a small series of New Year’s resolutions to myself.

The first was to lose the weight I’ve gained over the last 5 years. Back at the beginning of 2000, while I was still at the Rhino store, I had some problems with hernias and high blood pressure. So I lost about 140 pounds over the next year. Most people thought I was too skinny and I have to admit it didn’t feel comfortable. So I gained about 30 pounds back and felt very comfortable at that weight. But since we started traveling a few years ago, going to South Africa, Argentina, Italy and a number of American cities, I’ve slowly gained about half the weight back and its time to put an end to that and get rid of those extra pounds before I start having medical problems again. I don’t need that expense on top of everything else. Losing weight shouldn’t be too much of a problem since we can’t afford to eat any more like we’ve been eating the last several years. But I don’t really want to diet. I just want to eat healthier. I’m pretty confident that most of that extra weight will be gone by summer.

The second was to get back to reading more. I love reading and consider it one of the most important things a person can do. Reading enables me to understand more about the world and the people who live in this world. But it’s gotten to the point now where I just don’t have time to read any more. I now read maybe one or two books a year. I used to read two or three books a month. So I’ve resolved to read at least one book a month and make the time to do so. It will be hard to work into my schedule, but this will be done!

The third resolution is to get the hell out of Dodge (Los Angeles). And as I’ve explained above, that will likely happen more sooner than later. It was so easy to just pick up and move when I was younger. Now it’s a pain in the ass and quite a scary prospect. But I’ve been unhappy with Los Angeles for a very long time now, only living here because it suited my music business aspirations to be here. But now I want nothing to do with the music business and I have no reason to be here any more. So while it may be scary and it may be a pain in the ass, I’m really very excited about the prospect of a change of scenery. And living somewhere cheaper, that isn’t as overgrown and frantic with humanity as this place is, will be a definite plus.

And finally, to bring this full circle, I resolved to get this blog back on track. So, I promise you all I will post more regularly. I’m going to try to get at least two blogs up a month. I would love to get back to a weekly schedule, but I have to be realistic here. I should be able to handle every other week. As for my other blog, “The Order of the Omnivores” food blog, I haven’t really been happy with that since I started it. There are so many food blogs out there and I just don’t feel like another is needed unless it can express a viewpoint that hasn’t been expressed yet. So until I find that viewpoint, I’m just going to leave it alone. Once I can figure that out, I will let you all know. But until then, “The Top of My Head” will be the only blog I will be worrying about.

And on that note, I hope to see you back here towards the end of the month. I’m hoping to have another tour story, perhaps my short European jaunt with the Young Fresh Fellows and the Dharma Bums, but I will make no promises on that front. Until then, take care of yourselves and, above all, have fun. Enjoy it now, because you might not be able to enjoy it later.