Wednesday, October 31, 2018

today is halloween!

finally the high holiday is here.  i look forward to Halloween, and autumn, all year long & then it suddenly arrives.  this time tomorrow we'll be full in to the holiday season.  & i'll be looking forward to Halloween, again.  i have an app on my phone, the first app i downloaded, a Halloween counter.  today it says, Happy Halloween!  tomorrow it will say, 365 days till Halloween.

not that the passage of time and the fragility of our place in it bums me out.  i'm one of those dudes who lives with Halloween in his heart (& on his shoulder, i have a jack o'lantern tattoo) every minute of every day.  sounds excessive?  not really.  i love the horror genre, & Halloween/horror decor, imagery, & iconography makes me happy.  i watch/read/listen to Halloween things all year long.

but then so, i took the day off to enjoy the holiday.  i did little but watch the Halloween movie franchise, including the oddest flick of the lot, halloween iii: season of the witch, the one movie of the long running series that does not have the great villain, michael myers, in it, & read a little, & texted with a couple of brothers in life & the art.

it's been a warm & sunny fall.  i had the front door open, the screen door was closed, & the windows propped open to let in the warm autumn air.  a delightful day.  however, i got reversed tric 'r treated.  say what?  around 4:00 pm i was sitting on my couch, going thru a couple of twitter feeds on my phone, & watching the 4th movie in the michael myers series, when a young woman pops up on the porch.  she knocks on the screen door & says, trick 'r treat.  it's a bit early don't you think, i said.  no, she said.  i'm giving you candy.  her tattooed hand reached into her plastic bag with the Rite Aid logo [there is a Rite Aid down the street on the corner of L st &  Alhambra blvd], pulled out a few pieces of candy, handed them to me, & said, you've got a gorgeous house.  she jumped off the porch, gave the house an admiring look, & disappeared down the street.  i think she said something about liking the pictures of the house.  i don't know what she means, what pics?, or where she came from.  i think the tattoos on her hand & wrist were of bats!  a cool, spooky, Halloween kinda gal.

okay so, after dinner we were prepared to greet the trick 'r treaters.  it gets dark early.  we figured they should be out in force.  they were, in the swankier fab 40s.  there, you'll get stuck in traffic jams while the kids & their parents/guardians number in the 100s.  our street is a bit more quiet.  but by 7:30 pm the trick 'r treaters were here.  i was in heaven.  i love the kids, their costumes [the family from the animated film, the incredibles, was a popular choice.  & one kid dressed in a spooky garb that i thought was a version of the invisible man.  anna told me the costume was slender man], & the atmosphere of celebration.  there were more kids than we thought would knock on our door.  we were in danger of that great heresy, running out of candy.  i wondered if there were more kids than usual this year.  anna pointed out that until recently we would be out with nick as he trick 'r treated.  slap my face!  the passage of time strikes again.

tomorrow the calendar ticks over another year.  the Halloween counter app will register another year until the high holiday.  christmas commercials will coagulate the airwaves.  so be it.  i like christmas.  i really like thanksgiving, which is a mere 3 week away.  hopefully, the weather turns colder.  not freezing.  california cold, which translates to sweaters & a light jacket.  in the meantime, tonight it is Halloween.  the great 1978 film Halloween is on TV.  & in case you were wondering, yes, that pic above is a self-portrait of me as a Halloween pumpkin dude. 

until next year, keep Halloween in your heart, & stay spooky brothers & sisters.  keep your senses of humor, humility & awe.  we are going to need them in our near to mid futures.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

poet's no-zen zen

just be ordinary
do yr work
make a living however
it is required of you
read what you need & desire
write when you need & desire
otherwise eat drink & move yr bowels
sleep when yr tired
publish when you can
even if publishing is not the cause of writing
sometimes being lazy is the greater work
watch movies & tv
make love & be loved
be kind & a friend in the art
just be ordinary

everyday is halloween

happy all hallow's eve eve!


Monday, October 29, 2018

everyday is halloween

on more day till the high holiday & i like to sample some of my favorite things.  one of those things is watching old-tymey trailers for a 20th C phenomenon, spook shows.  spook shows were live stage acts hosted by a ghoulish host who claimed he/she had access to the occult. there would be a little magic show, some hypnotism, a little bloody horror by the faking of some kind of body mayhem, &, this is the most important thing, a big scare caused by the cutting the house lights for a couple of minutes while screams played over the PA & a few ghosts & goblins hanging from chicken wire would fly above the heads of the audience.  also, usually these performances were done at a movie house so naturally the spook show included the screening of some cheesy horror flick.  often the spook show would be light on real scares but i would guess those in the audience were pretty amped up in preparation of a night of fright so anything that bumped in the night would suffice to scare them silly.  maybe not.  i wished i had attended a spook show.  they were around when i was a wee lad in the 1970s.  but like state fair, & circus, sideshows, which i do remember attending, where you could see the world's strongest man, bearded ladies, & freaks of all sorts, spook shows belong to another age.  i wouldn't see these spook show trailers until my mid 30s when were were already locked in to what change the 21st C would come.  at any rate, these are wonderfully cheap, & cool, things.  these trailers make me happy, especially the third one on this reel.  watching these spook show trailers during the halloween season makes me think that had i been in attendance of one of these fabled spook shows i'd have been the kid who faked his courage all the while watching the show between the fingers covering my face. 


Sunday, October 28, 2018

everyday is halloween

i have a soft spot for rob zombie's inaugural feature, house of a 1000 corpses [2003], a baroque grab bag of horror movie cliches married to the day-glo, but gritty, imagination of the musician cum first time filmmaker.  zombie is a horror genre fan boy par excellence.  he populates his first movie with everything horror & halloween, including the bloody kitchen sink.  the film is a mess.  what plot?!  acting, forget about it.  however, zombie is in the possession of a great eye and ear.  he can film a damn pretty horror scene, & cut it for maximum boos.  indeed, back in the mid-'90s, rob zombie guest hosted a week-long horror movie marathon on, if i remember right, the cable channel TNT.  that movie marathon was my introduction to rob zombie, his band at the time, white zombie, his sound, & his eye for the creepy details of the horror genre, & of the great high holiday of halloween.

so when house of a 1000 corpses hit the DVD market i was first in line for my copy.  i watched & rewatched this flick during those late night feedings when nick was brand new.  we had a surround sound DVD entertainment system at the time, & i loved the audio of this pic as it enveloped the whole room.  it was marvelous.

i still have my copy of the DVD.  but like most of us i have moved on to watching movies via streaming platforms.  just like life when you gain something new, albeit a new technology, or personal knowledge, you lose something too.  digital streaming platforms are wonderful things for all movie lovers, but there was a magic in those old DVD.  production companies would hide easter eggs in the menu, add extras, like a documentary on the making of the feature film, audio tracks & so on.

rob zombie upped the ante with the DVD release of this movie.  not only do we get the extras & easter eggs but the great actor of veteran exploitation flicks, sid haig, reprises his role as capt. spaulding to get the viewer to choose an option on the DVD menu.  it is a tour de force.  scary & hilarious.  & please look at the background of the set, there are tons of little toys & articles that empowers the lovers of the great high holiday of halloween.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

waiting for rollins

my 2nd punk gig, when i was a screaming 15 year old punk rocker [now i'm a middle age & more subdued punk rocker], was seeing Black Flag at the soon to be defunct disco club Galacta 2000.  it was 1982 & Black Flag just released upon the unsuspecting rock&roll loving public a great & ferocious album, Damaged.  it would take years for the rock&roll cognescenti to understand & appreciate the greatness of that album & of the importance of Black Flag.

henry rollins was the screamer for Black Flag & man was he intense as he barrelled thru the set.  shaved head, bare-chested, tattooed, the mic wrapped in his left hand rollins was something to witness.  that was the gig when a punk's boot knocked me sideways as landed upon my skull from a stage dive.  as you can see i've not been the same ever since.

there has been more punk adventures since then but that show was a foundation upon which i built my punk rockedness.  not yet an ethos but punk rock, & its question authority, fuck the man, attitude split my mind.  things, circumstances & attitudes adjust & change over the years but the presence of henry rollins has been a constant.

so it was again tonight my good friend b. & i availed ourselves to the henry rollins spoken word gig tonight at the Crest Theater.  rollins is on tour showing slides of pictures of his world travels.  this must be the 3rd or 4th time b. & i went to a rollins spoken word tour.  i know we've seen him twice in san francisco.  but rollins, & black flag, have made the journey to my beloved berg many, many times.  indeed, even during rollins' set he made mention about the 1000s of times he's visited our fair city.

henry rollins has become an excellent storyteller.  his pics & his oral essays & poems about his travels are marvels of connection.  we all live on one planet.  we share this one planet.  we are not so different than we think we are.  but, according to rollins, how we know that we are not so different from each other, whatever your sex, skin color, language, religion, culture &/or ethnicity, is to get out of our shells & travel.

at the least we can open our minds.  for our lives our so very short.  the distance between 30 to 50 might seem like a million miles but according to rollins [& me] that space is shorter than the steps it takes from getting from your driveway to your front door.  better make our limited days count.  of course what makes it count is different for me as it is to you..  but to live your life as a kind, sentient being with the full knowledge that our time is so very finite might make you more amenable to other people.

but what surprised me about tonight's show was rollins' optimism.  climate change is a serious threat to us & many species of animals, insects & plants.  still, perhaps the generation that is growing up in the 21st C make the decisions & make the changes that will create a better world for humans & for the earth's ecosystems.

i admire rollins hope.  for a middle age punk it is an admirable stance on humanity.  he spoke for over 2 hours.  i lost track of time.  i didn't realize how much time has passed.  yes, rollins is that good a storyteller.

i don't take very many selfies.  what the fuck.  i have a camera on my phone & we were waiting for rollins to take the stage.  i snapped the picture above because i am also a middle age punk poet who practices, as best he can, gratitude for my life, loves & the privileges of living in early 21st C America.  i don't take any of that for granted.  do i share rollins' belief that the world will get better?  in the words of the great polish poet wislawa szymborska, i don't know.  all i can tell you is this very simple thing, i am grateful for this life. 

afterward, b. & walked up & down & to & fro downtown.  the city looks prettier at night.  k st., where the Crest Theater is located, was filled with 1000s of revelers, many in halloween costumes.  the night was perfect.  clear & warm.  & on such a night i could not find a reason to not be hopeful.  for as rollins demonstrated in his performance tonight, parts of the world may seem alien to us but they are mere extensions of the space we all share.  the world is stranger, & more common, than we realize.  the world, all of it, is all of us.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

everyday is halloween

would it were so.  less than a week to go to the high holiday & there are already christmas commercials on TV & decor in the stores.  oh man!  i've been watching oodles of horror flicks after work often late into the night.  it's been a warm autumn too.  very dry weather, but with cool mornings & nights as the leaves turn to gold & rust.  the leaves haven't fallen yet.  i think they are waiting for a good storm to knock them off the trees.

but then anyway, even so we are moving at warp drive to the christmas holiday season i hold halloween dear to my blackened heart.  in celebration of the high holiday i bring to you a curious little ditty by either a french or a german studio band, hot blood, who released an album of horror novelty songs in the mid-to-late 1970s.  below is a performance from, i think, french TV of hot blood's single 'soul dracula'. 

but i gotta warn ya.  once seen & heard it can't be unseen & unheard. 

fair warning!


Thursday, October 18, 2018

everyday is halloween

nearly every perceived thing is beholden to subjectivity.  what one finds beautiful an other might find unattractive whether it be in art, music, food, persons etc etc.  we were talking about movies that scare us.  we went down the list of the classics of the 20th C.  oh, yeah!  that was motherfucking scary! said one.  while another said, that is the stupidest thing i have ever seen.  i laughed too hard to find that flick scary.  all things are subject to taste.  but on december 26, 1973 nearly all the movie-going public agreed on one movie that not only scared its audience but that the flick might be cursed by the devil.  that film is the exorcist.  i remember the adults talking about this pic in such awed tones that set my flesh to goosebumps.  some came back from their watching the flick with that 1000 yard stare as if they just came home from the war after seeing this movie.  and still, 1000s flocked to see it.  such is the power of art that people fainted out of fright when confronted with this movie of demonic possession.  so below you will find a wonderful video of audience reactions during the watching of this movie, and after, and the long, long lines of movie-goers waiting their turn to get ptsd.  it's an astonishing record of a moment in pop history when a movie had the power to curl you into the fetal position as you begged someone, anyone, to make it go away.


Friday, October 12, 2018

everyday is halloween

terrifier [2017] 

i don't know what the fuck is wrong with me but i had one of those days when everything seemed just a little off.  it wasn't bad but every time i tried to speak it felt as if language took a holiday leaving my brain and my mouth to work out their own confusion.  it wasn't a bad day.  but again, it felt as if my shoes were on too tight, my ability to speak was slightly muzzled, and my energy level sagged, just a bit.

things perked up when i walked home.  the weather was fucking gorgeous.  my city looks better when it gets darker early.  houses are decorated for halloween.  i stopped to get dinner out our favorite taqueria.  we had the doors and windows open to the clement evening.  there is a german hall at the end of our street, the turn verein, doing its annual oktoberfest so my neighborhood is chock full of people to-ing and fro-ing to the turn verein.  yes, there was lederhosen.

and my pal in the art, tim kahl, and his wife, stopped by for a lovely unannounced visit as they were on their way to oktobefest.  so what was a fairly awkward day transformed into a beautiful evening.

except for this movie in consideration.  i watched it last night.  perhaps it was this flick that set my blahs into motion.  terrifier is about a serial killer clown [of course! is there any other kind of clown?], art the clown, on a killing spree one halloween night.  already, seen it!  art the clown is one nasty motherfucker.  he laser focuses on two young women who have car trouble after a long night of partying.  guess what happens!

still, the principals were game and the dude who played art the clown was pretty good.  he does not utter a sound.  he works by his actions, and his tools consisting of rusting axes, hammers and saws [again, is there any other kind of tool that psychos don't use?], and his body and facial expressions are pretty effective.  but there was one twist.  the girl i thought would be the final girl, tara, played by jenna kanell, was not the final girl.  in fact, there were no final girls.  silly me!  obviously the filmmaker/writer, damien leone, knows his horror.  he wisely penned a flick to fuck with the viewer's knowledge of the horror genre.

but that is about as good as it gets.  the movie is your standard grue fest.  people get chopped up.  the fx were not bad.  the kills were creative, too.  but the character of art the clown lacked the serious repose of more infamous celluloid killers like michael myers and jason vorhees, and lacked the charisma and sense of humor of freddy krueger.  oh well.  sometimes a bad movie is just a flick.

i haven't given it up and i seek for more so good they are bad horror and exploitation movies.  i love that thousands of titles are available at the touch of my thumb via streaming services.  but man! i do miss the days of video stores, particularly at this most wonderful time of the year, halloween.  because the store would be decorated with ghouls and goblins, it would smell of popcorn, and most likely a cool horror flick would be playing on a monitor in order to whet your whistle for the scary season.


Monday, October 08, 2018

everyday is halloween

i had today off work.  i had the house to myself.  it was a lovely day, sunny, warm.  the doors & windows were open.  leo the cat was in & out & out & in all day.  i even had two cups of joe.  usually i limit my caffeine intake to one cup of rocket fuel in the morning.  but today?  what the fuck.  i had some chores to do.  i finished them.  i read a short story, 'sonny liston is a friend of mine', by the wonderful writer, thom jones.  i read poems online & a few twitter feeds.  then i turned the TV on & watched the news.  holy shit.  all bad.  politics suck.  & a new study released today is the most stark, most dire, warning from the UN that states we only have a few years to decarbonize our economy, & change our lifestyles, if we are to limit global warming to mere hellish conditions.  fuck me.  that is scary.  i think we have missed our window.  if we get 'mere hellish' global conditions from a disrupted climate we will be lucky.

so then i was watching the TV news & texted the climate change story to a couple of friends.  both were just as horrified as me.  but one texted me, 'lopez, turn off the news & watch a stupid movie!'  good idea.

i flipped on netflix to watch one of the scarier films i've seen in a long while, under the shadow [2016].  this iranian-made movie is about a young mother & daughter who live under enormous stress of 1980s post-revolution, war torn, tehran.  the father is a doctor & conscripted by the military to the front lines.  tehran is under constant bombardment.  the child says that a neighbor boy told her that a djinn arrives on the wind as it sports along the fears of both mother & child.  should the djinn take a beloved possession of yours you will be haunted by that demon.

the girl's doll goes missing.  the mother's husband calls from the front to urge her to get the hell out of the city & to his parents' house in the country where it is safer.  she resists.  she is an independent woman who has a VCR & exorcises to contraband VHS jane fonda exercise tapes.  she is also frustrated because her earlier radical political activities prevented the young mother from resuming her medical studies.  the mother changes her mind when the rest of the building's occupants flee one by one to safer ground.

there is a hitch.  the child will not leave without her beloved doll.  the mother appears to be fighting madness caused by stress but she agrees they won't leave the city until they find the doll.  the filmmaker does an excellent job of ramping up the tension so that when there is a jump scare it makes for a large jolt, at least in this viewer.  of course, i couldn't tell if the demon is real, or a psychological manifestation of the enormous fear & stress both the mother & daughter suffer from.

that is what makes this a brilliant movie.  it is not just a horror film, but a war movie, a study of the intense pressures of living in wartime.  & too that post-revolution iran was transitioning from a fairly open, liberal, western style, society to a conservative theocracy where a woman can be punished by the lash if she dared to appear in public in western clothes & head uncovered amps up the making strange hyper-reality of a world going crazy by war & fundamentalist religion.  would it be so weird for a djinn to terrorize someone under such conditions?

at any rate, i admire this film for its artistry of stark terror caused by the war & a burgeoning theocracy.  i watched this flick in broad daylight with the doors & windows open to a beautiful early fall day.  didn't help.  the movie still scared the shit out of me.  & as i measured the nuanced terror that the filmmaker created by inserting demons into a war film i thought maybe a filmmaker can insert something from my beloved horror genre into the utter massive scale & terror that is climate change.  at any rate, this movie needs repeated viewings like any good story or poem needs rereading.  i know of no higher praise.


Sunday, October 07, 2018

everyday is halloween

the following short film was shown to school children in the 1970s, perhaps even in the '80s [tho i suspect kids in the '80s were more sophisticated moviegoers since the introduction of the VCR & mom&pop video shops where all manner of contemporary cinema were available to anyone who had access to a mom&pop video shop membership card].  i don't remember this movie, 'winter of the witch', being shown to me when i was a lad.  anna remembered it & it became something like a holy grail to find it.  found it she did some years ago.  the internet never forgets & here it is on youtube.  the plot?  you had to ask.  a young boy & his mother moves into a new house.  the boy is a bit lonely.  the old house already has an occupant, a witch whose specialty is the making of blueberry pancakes.  yes, you read that right, the witch is a short order cook who makes these magical, almost hallucinogenic, blueberry pancakes that causes happiness in anyone who eats them.  lo!  the boy is no longer lonely, the house becomes a restaurant, & the witch is given a mission to make everyone freaking happy.  what can i say, this childrens' flick was made during the height of hippiedom, 1969.  here is a 2011 new york times article about the internet as a repository of nostalgia & history of the film.  below is the movie in all its wholesome innocence.  but i gotta warn ya, once you watch this flick you cannot unsee it.

fair warning


Saturday, October 06, 2018

absolute music

my secret sharer


Monday, October 01, 2018

everyday is halloween

halloween kitsch

i do love me some halloween decor & accoutrements.  the sights of such things make me happy.  black & orange are, natch, my favorite colors.  i grant these things of halloween are kitschy as hell.  but, as the saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants.

& but so last saturday we headed up to apple hill, a collective of apple orchards that have become an annual autumn tradition of hereabouts where the intrepid traveler can find hand-made crafts, baked goods, a zillion variety of apples, of course, restaurants, wineries, breweries & all sorts of activities for the kids.  we've been going to apple hill for years.  we go early in the morning before the crowds make the drive to & in the hills pretty damn unbearable.  yep, apple hill is that popular.  we even go later in the season to cut down a fresh christmas tree at one of the many christmas tree farms.

back to halloween.  one shop had a wall laden with all things halloween.  i was, for a little while, in all kinds of geek heaven,  or would that be hell.  at any rate, below are a few pics i snapped of these lovely decorations.

feast your eyes.