Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Do not disrespect the Bassman. I mean it.

So La Fab has indicated to me on the phone that she thinks that Mr. Lee Rocker, who is my current weird obsession, might not be as pleasing to the olfactory senses as he is to the auditory ones. She points out his predilection for vintage clothing (which always smells like Grampa's closet) and his liberal application of hair product, which she contends is pomade. She even made a reference to his being a "Dapper Dan Man." I say, he is NOT Clark Gable. That is clearly not pomade, but instead hair GREASE of some kind, like Brylcreem. A little dab'll do ya, if you know what I'm sayin', and I'm sure you do. And besides, can any of you play double-time slap bass whilst standing on the side of said instrument, as has already been proven of my friend Mr. Rocker? I thought not. I rest my case.

It's sort of funny, tho, because Ms. L. and I were also talking about how various rock-type boys might smell, and she advised me that the rockabilly boys I currently swoon over were probably the best of the bunch. They might have the lingering scent of engine grease about them, or even Brylcreem, but at least it was honest working sweat you were likely to smell, unlike the sickly sweet heroin drench that probably poured off my other heroes, the Clash. Watching Rude Boy the other day, I was struck by how obviously drug-addled Joe Strummer was. I'm vaguely surprised he could stand up, let alone make fine political protest music. Just goes to show... And while we are on the subject, let's discuss the Ramones for a minute. Anyone ever notice that, unlike the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, there are never ANY ladies standing close to them in the pics? That's because they smell like they haven't showered since they boarded the bus in Peoria three days ago and they have been having Jim Beam and m.j. brownies for breakfast every morning for a week.

None of this stops me from desperately wanting a motorcycle jacket. It is maybe the one item of clothing that I could not make for myself that I really desire. I would probably not write CLASH CITY ROCKERS in white paint across the back, but I can't say that I wouldn't put a tasteful portrait of Joey Ramone up there. Or at least an extra button with his face on it or something.

Lastly I want you to go here and look at the boy haircuts on these Teddy Girls. I am especially taken with the DA on the blond girl in the 2nd and 3rd photos. I think that this is a bit of what I was envisioning when I said I wanted all my hair cut off. Now I think I have to wait a while until the razored bits grow back, and then I can have the whole thing reshaped to look more like this. I realized that I have Vietnam-era Jane Fonda hair right now. Not exactly as rock-n-roll as Karen O or Joan Jett, which I got compared to.

And a final thought: in Britain, the front part of a pompadour is known as a quiff, which sounds kind of dirty in a good way to me. Say it out loud. Quifffff. Yeah.

Friday, November 24, 2006

They bill themselves as the Greatest Living Rockabilly Band in the World.

It's the Stray Cats.

I can feel your eyes rolling back in your head as I write this, because undoubtedly you are anti-Brian Setzer, or anti-80's, or even, heaven forefend, anti-rockabilly (although you have certainly stumbled into the wrong blog if that is your stance.) All I know is that I have only wanted to watch rockumentaries and biopics about country stars lately, and my two favorite things are, "Sing to the babies, Loretta" and the Stray Cats' Rumble in Brixton, which celebrates their 25th reunion with London. I say with, and not in, because they were a bunch of high school dropouts who found themselves panhandling together on the streets of London before walking into some small recording studio and laying down "Runaway Boys." It would shoot to number one on the British pop charts in the summer of 1980, and the boys would become the darlings of the British airwaves while making themselves somewhat known as a novelty act here in the good ole U.S.A. The rest of this chapter is basically a review of this DVD, so if you've got something better to do, or if you think I have finally gotten around to ordering aubergine colored wool flannel for my fabulous repro 40's dress, go get yourself some chips or something.

These cats were made to be seen in concert. This was only a movie, and I was snugged up cozy-like in my bed, but I got all caught up in the excitement. They play like they really, really like what they do, like twenty five or six years hasn't blunted the awe they feel at actually getting paid to play their instruments. They jump and scream and stand on their monitors and on their drums and, in the case of Lee Rocker, on the SIDE of his silver glitter double bass (can you feel the waves of jealousy from me right now?) Once you step away from Brian Setzer's incessant show-boating and the weird faces he keeps making (Look at me! I'm a Rock Star!), you can see Slim Jim Phantom pounding the drums like he's beating them into submission, and Lee Rocker doing a great Sid Vicious snarl while screaming his lungs out. Plus, as much as my tastes lean towards blond pompadours, Lee Rocker in his vintage leopard trim leisure coat and his Roy Orbison glasses and his skintight black jeans kinda made my heart do a weird little thing. Then he started standing on the side of his bass and carrying it around like it was a little gi-tar and stopping while Brian Setzer was talking to comb back his 'do, and my heart kinda did a little double-time thing. And finally, in the special features, they had a bit of backstage stuff, and he did a 15 second slap bass demo thing that I think actually made my heart stop beating in my chest. There was hero worship and attraction and I don't know what all all mixed up in one. That does bring me to my one issue with the DVD. While the sound is remarkable for concert footage, it is weighted so heavily towards Setzer's lead guitar and vocals that you can barely hear the bass, and sometimes even the drums. This leaves it sounding a little flat, especially when there is obviously harmony that is damped down. Once or twice there is some solo stuff that they don't bother to highlight, and the really huge bass solo in Stray Cat Strut is under-emphasized, with an unnecessarily loud back-up guitar. Also, you can see bits of Slim Jim doing crazy-ass gymnastics while standing up to drum, but they never really focus on it until the second encore, when he takes the whole stage to get up to an impressive run.

Long story short? Get yourself a six-pack of longnecks and settle in for the weekend, because seriously, it's amazing how long fifteen seconds can stretch into when you view it a couple thousand times.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

So I was trying for rock star chic...

But I don't photograph well, so in all of these shots I look like I ate something weird.

Also, I should probably put some lipstick on before I try to take my own picture again. And my eyebrows need some work. I never look as fierce as I feel.

The one thing about having such a modern haircut is that I feel like it doesn't quite jibe with the retro-romantic feel I have been wanting to achieve. I guess I just have to love the punk rock, right? And besides, that's what scarves are for.

I don't really have much to add, except that I am excited about bass guitar. I just wish that my skill level matched my enthusiasm. At least I have the proper equipment to play REAL LOUD. Hmmph.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I just wish I actually knew how to play the bass

Cuz there is a really pretty one on eBay right now. And I could probably justify buying it if I thought that I would get use out of it, like if I thought that this group would get off the ground and have a performance of some sort. But I am leery. There doesn't seem to be much direction - and I am practically a virtuoso on the bass compared to the other - and I am not sure anyone else wants it as much as I do. I mean, they want to play music, and I think they see themselves onstage, but with the exception of H, who is nearly as theatrical as I, I don't see the hunger for applause that drives me toward making a go of this. So no lovely purple acoustic bass for the time being.

I got the 40's patterns in the mail and realized that even with wartime corner-cutting, I don't have a single length of material in the house long enough to make any of them. Okay, except for the citron linen that I mistakenly thought would make a good dress for S.'s wedding. I thought it was apple. It was Kool-Aid lime instead. Not only is the color difficult (read:appalling), but it is most certainly a summer fabric, and I want something wearable now. I am holding out for a rose-red lightweight wool flannel, but this may exist only in my dreams. It would be for the dress with the skirt with overlapping tiers like petals of a rose. The dress features parachute sleeves, too, which are making a comeback this season in exaggerated silhouettes. You know the ones, where they are fullish at the top but gradually add volume, and then gather in at the wrist or slightly above it. (Now is the part where I kick myself for being so technically incompetent that I can't show you pictures of these patterns. I don't have a scanner, and I can't find the pics on eBay. Trust me, they are lovely.) The one beef I have is that as much as I adore the structured, pre-New Look lines, the skirts are all relatively slim. I really go for the full circle skirts of the late 40's and early 50's. They are a little more forgiving of curvy girls.

So these dresses might be my next sewing project, if I rustle up some suitable material. Also, S. and I are contemplating making corsets - pinup style ones, to be exact. And of course I have the mountain of slippers to complete before Christmas. I should get moving on that.

This was supposed to be a pictured of a dress from the 40's with fabulous balloon sleeves and a full skirt. It's not here, obviously. I went to find the damn thing on eBay, and it's not there anymore, either. It might have been a complete figment of my sleep-deprived imagination.

And one more thing, because I am charmed beyond reason by it - over at Paris Breakfasts, there is a little piece today on dresses made of chocolate. I adore the ballgown with the pale gold tulle and gold leaves. I am a sucker for fairy princess gowns.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fast forward 175 years...

La Fab has suggested that I not abandon this blog. She seems to think it is the thing that keeps me from going more than slightly crazy. Perhaps she is right. I have been in the worst kind of doldrums since MA was finished; I don't know if it's the ashes of the creative fire or if it's simple exasperation that I went to all that trouble for four hours of dancing, most of which I did in the bits I thought no one was gonna see. But now I have not been eating or sleeping well, and I keep daydreaming about stupid shit that has no business anywhere except inside my head. I have even faced some uncomfortable truths about how my goals have changed in the last few years and what the hell I'm going to do about that. But I haven't planned another project.

The good news is that I finally bought some vintage patterns in sizes that won't need any grading ( I am a lazy bitch, and so never bother to fix things that aren't quite right), and that are maybe appropriate for winter weight fabric. All the patterns I'm drawn to, it seems, are short or no sleeved and floaty skirted and tiny bits of things that will indeed be perfect for our mythical sojourn to France, but are impractical or impossible for the realities of ANOTHER FUCKING ALASKA WINTER. So maybe these mid-forties Rosalind Russell type suits in a nice lightweight wool are just the ticket. They are not here yet, though.

So instead, I'm starting a band. Let me just say that I can do three things - sing passably well, shake the shit out of a tambourine, and work a crowd. Great, but I think I really ought to brush up on the playing of some sort of instrument, like say the guitar or keyboards. Otherwise the crowd is going to get mighty tired of listening to me whale out Blitzkrieg Bop for the three thousandth time. On the bass, no less. Electric bass, even, not even upright. I have this vision of belting out slightly hard-core renditions of Patsy Cline tunes, but this is a technical improbability without some kind of backup.

So if you have come for the sewing, which maybe you have, I apologize. There is going to be a lot of chatter in the next few weeks, but little of it is going to have to do with the trials and tribulations of dressmaking. If you really can't go without, hit A Dress A Day because erin over there is better at talking that stuff up than me. If, however, you are a friend of mine, are just along for the ride, or have nothing better to do, stick around. I'll be fuming about my musical untalent and raging about my bandmates in no time. In the meantime, here's some stuff to look at to get you in the mood: The Pinup Files. This is sort of the aesthetic I'm reaching for. Without, you know, the lingerie and stuff. Or rather, with it not showing so much.