Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't worry 'bout tomorrow come what may

While I was in college getting my Master’s, I worked for Magic Mountain in their name talent theatre. It was excellent for getting gigs locally, piggy backed off the dates at the park. Many a relationship was cemented in the upstairs dressing room (not that kind, pervs!!).

**Useless factoid #2 all the concert footage for Spinal Tap was shot in that theatre...So win/win!

Any road, I digress.
One such cemented realtionship was with the Lords of the New Church. Stiv Bators (original member of punk band the Dead Boys) was their lead singer. The band scored 2 semi new wave dancy goth hits with Live for Today and Dance with Me. Most of the band hated Stiv, admittedly not without reason. He was extremely needy and very, very mopey. On this day, he looked extra emo as he approached me..

Now, Stiv had this leather jacket, it had bones sewed on the back to spell out LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH. It was kind of cool in a gross way. When I asked Stiv what was wrong he showed me his jacket. Several of the bones had come loose.

"They won't stay," he said forlornly. "I heard you make jewelry, so maybe you can do something?"

It took a minute for me to see his reasoning. Then I had an idea. I told him that if he was ok with me poking tiny holes in the jacket I could wire them on. Even make it look a bit cooler.

He was excited, a foreign emotion for Stiv and a bit uncomfortable to watch. I ran home (l lived only about ten minutes away). I grabbed some sterling wire, a leather mallet and an awl and returned to get to work. Stiv handed me his jacket and the yuck factor went from zero to 100 in sixty seconds. Not only did the jacket stink, but those bones were CHICKEN BONES--not bleached bones either! Look out, KFC!

I proceeded to wire said bones onto the jacket adding spirals and wraps to hold those gross bones in. It looked pretty amazing when it was finished. That night during the concert I watched him repeatedly hit the stage with the jacket. Well, yeah, if you beat the jacket against the stage, those bones aren’t going to hold forever, dumbass. But it did hold that night and for subsequent other nights. I never really got paid or even thanked for fixing that jacket. All in a day's work, I suppose.

I was saddened years later to hear about Stiv's death. It didn't surprise me, though. He wasn't very good at paying attention to his surroundings, think gross nasty KFC chicken bones!! ( He was hit by a bus in San Francisco= correction I found out recently it was in Paris France..Thx Aleck)

Still he always did "live for today."

** if you scroll back up to the picture you will see the boney jacket on one of the other band members...then you will understand!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Getting to Know you....

Hey all so let me introduce my partner in blog crime..well not crime exactly..More like bookseller blog crime.
John (aka johnnie_cakes on twitter) has been a long time bookseller in both chain and indie stores. John and I will be discussing in future blogs some of the issues booksellers face on a daily basis such e books, author signing etiquette and fan bookstore etiquette..(aka don't face that book!!)
In the meantime I thought I would ask John a few questions so that you all could get to know him, and love him like I do..

Tell us a little about yourself

When I was in high school, I started taking honors English classes
because I wanted to be around other kids that loved to read. It
didn't work. I was still the kid who always had his nose in a book. I
read too much for even the "smart" kids. I've spent the last 7 years
of my life working with books, so I finally got to find the other kids
that loved to read. I was born in Delaware, but Houston is home now.
I spent a couple of years selling model trains, did some time in a
fast food restaurant, and worked in several cafes as well.

How did you get into working in bookstores?

I've always wanted to work in a bookstore. For a couple of years I
ran a cafe in an independent bookstore, and after it closed I applied
to work at Borders. I loved the old cafe, but had initially applied
hoping to get to work on the book side of the store. So when I applied
at Borders I was very adamant about being a bookseller. At Borders I
did everything from merchandising, to new hire training, and
eventually was running my own store. Earlier this year I was offered
the amazing chance to work at Murder by the Book. I loved the seven
years I spent at Borders, but working at Murder by the Book has been
like coming home. I feel like I've found bookstore heaven.

Do you have a favorite genre?

It turns out that I do. I've gone through phases where I read nothing
but African-American fiction like Alice Walker and Zora Neale Hurston,
read nothing but books like Valley of the Dolls and Peyton Place, and
I had a Victorian Sensation fiction phase too. But, the one genre I
keep going back to over and over again is urban fantasy. Over the
last few years, urban fantasy has started to really take over my
library at home.

What are you reading right now? What did you just finish?

I just finished Patti LuPone's new memoir last night, and today I
started Double Cross by Carolyn Crane. I thought Mind Games, the
first book in her series, was fantastic and I'm really excited to see
what she does with the new book.

Listening to?

Lately I've had Florence + The Machine's album on repeat. Their
performance was the only part of the VMAs I could stand watching, and
loved it. I've also been listening to When Everything Breaks Open by
Matt Morris. Matt's album came out in January, and it's been an album
that I keep going back to over and over again.

If you could have a dinner party and invite 5 people living or dead who would they be?

Louise Penny
Daphne Du Maurier
Matt Morris
Tori Amos
Laura Linney

Do you write? do you have a WIP sitting on your desk?

I used to. The last time I really wrote with any kind of consistency
was when I moved to Houston and was trying to find my footing in a new
city. I've kept everything, and always say I'm going to try to write
again. We'll see if that actually happens.

Next week we talk ebooks and the different effect they have on the major chains vs indie stores.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Who is Synde

In between music posts I am going to do a series of interview discussions with my friend and fellow bookseller John.(Johnnie_cakes on twitter) We will talk about what we are reading, fan bookstore etiquette and also author signing etiquette. Fear not we will also talk about bookseller etiquette, as I am often made aware that not all booksellers care or are kind to authors. To start with I thought I would give you a little background on myself.

I was born in Los Angeles California.

I have had many many jobs, I have been a newsstand lead, lighting designer, roadie, production manager, stage manager, tarot card reader, astrologer, esoteric bookstore owner, vet tech, cat sitter,author wrangler, personal assistant, journalist, and most currently jeweler and bookseller. Whew!

I have been working in a brick and mortar store for the last 9 years as first the music department manager (8 of those years) and more recently retired and took a book job in same store. I love handing people books I'm passionate about, it's so rewarding.

I feel similarly about my jewelry designs. It is so very rewarding to create a piece that touches another person and helps their inner spirit shine a little bit brighter.

I have two cats and live in the Pacific Northwest, I read, write, create jewelry and search for the perfect cupcake.

Exciting isn't it?? Ha ha

Next up getting to know John.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dancing with Mr. D

Throughout my music career, I worked between tours at either my friend’s bead store or a Native American Gallery in Old Town San Diego. Both were locally owned by people who understood my career choices and gave me hours when they could.

One of my co-workers at the Gallery (Kathy) had recently moved from New Jersey. As we got to know each other, Kathy talked about her sister Susie and her sister’s boyfriend, who was apparently in a notorious punk band. His name was Glen and he was the lead singer of the Misfits. Yep, I had heard of him all right.

The first time I met Susie she was convalescing from a breast augmentation, a birthday gift from said boyfriend. I was aghast, yet I could see the irony. A gift for her...riiiight. She mentioned that Glen was coming in a week to look for a place to live in Los Angeles and to visit; she thought we should all have dinner together. I thought, “Sure. What have I got to lose?” I also thought this could go so very wrong.

The day of our meeting Kathy tried in vain to prepare me, "Glen has a temper, Synde. Oh and he's kind of um…short. Please don't make jokes." Honestly the more she warned me the more I looked forward to the EVENT.

We met up at my favorite vegetarian restaurant, a serene little place in North Park. When I arrived, Kathy and company were waiting for me. Now, I am NEVER LATE…EVER! I am compulsively early!! ALWAYS!!!

Before I could even sit down or greet the party, the mutton-chopped dude looked through his bangs covering one eye and announced, "You're late." His disapproval hung in the air.
I smiled my best "fuck you" smile and noted that I was actually 10 minutes early. Susie cringed and apologized and said that she might have "forgotten that the Misfits were playing the Spirit that night and we had to rush a bit."

Being the polite person that I am, I asked Glen about the Misfits, moving from New Jersey and his high-heeled boots. The Misfits are known for their blend of serial killer/horror themed music, and Mr. Danzig was doing his best to make me quiver with fear over his "intense evilness and knowledge of serial murderers"

Each time he gestured, moving the air with his meaty hands, his ginormous...(wait for it...) belt buckle would get caught on the table, starting a cataclysmic shockwave of tumbling glasses and sliding plates. It was awesome. It happened 3 or 4 times until he finally got frustrated and gave up. Slowly, his bad humor grew until he was absolutely furious with my ambivalence. He became completely quiet, glowering in silence like a sullen child. (To this day whenever I see Danzig's video Mother, I still fall into hysterical fits of laughter).

We finished our in meal in tension-filled silence and Glen paid. He shook my hand and said he would see me at the show...but what it sounded like was, "I will slit your throat in your sleep."

Kathy was not phased by the whole discourse, as if this was a common occurrence.
We went to the Spirit, drank a bit, (read-- A LOT) and waited for the show.

To be completely fair, they were awesome. All that sullen glowering had turned into complete rage and intensity on stage. I was pretty shocked. My favorite song is and will always be AngelFuck. I know it's silly and immature; perhaps that is why I love it so. That night a fallen angel sang it.

After the show, I let him know that the band was great; he accepted the compliment well. I left thinking that I had been unfair.

Two weeks later, he broke it off with Susie in favor of some Los Angeles Stripper. Apparently stripper poles are the new Boob Jobs.

So much for feeling like I was unfair.

In my time in and out of the music biz, I’ve run into Glen quite a few times. He has always been kind. He even lets me tease him about his age, height, and addiction to working out. I say it's because he has muttonchops, and as we all know... everything is cooler with muttonchops.

I have to say that maybe some guys get cooler with age. I think he has. Still...I leave you with this link...

It will ease the pain.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Diver Down

I realized that I was blogging uplifting stories where a person helped me make a hard life decision. I know that's kind of boring, so this one will be Synde fail--one where my big mouth got me in trouble. Shock, right?
My relationship with Van Halen is a love/hate kind of thing. I love to hate them. OK. That's not really fair. I do like "Jump." But only if David Lee Roth does it!
They came from the same area of California I did and my brother knew them well. I didn't know them at all. I was busy listening to the Ramones, Iggy Pop and Richard Hell and the Void Oids when they were breaking.

One of my more steady gigs was with Magic Mountain during their concert series as either a lighting technician or assistant stage manager. I piggybacked a ton of gigs from the shows that went through there.
So, one night they were having this "rock" band called Autograph play..Yep the ol' tragic hump was getting desperate. They had begun to book talentless “hair” bands. They had a hit at the time but it was so godawful I refuse to even Google it to give you the name.(OK. OK. It was called “Turn up the Radio”). Anyway my boss, one hell of a guy by the name of Don Burgess, told me that David Lee Roth was coming to hang with the band and he needed an escort. Guess who??? Yep. Me.

When I was informed that "Mr. Roth" was waiting for me at the gate, I took my time getting there, a million thoughts racing through my mind.Wonder if he'll be as difficult as I’ve heard? Wonder if he'll be wearing spandex?

When I arrived he didn't ask my name or anything friendly like, but announced he wanted to "ride rollercoasters, eat food, and then see the band." We did exactly that. He didn't really speak to me, unless it was to inform me of his next desire. During my time with him in the park, he wore a chance at getting a gander at that infamous mane he had? Or did he really have one? Maybe he was bald on top? Maybe he wore a hair piece?...maybe?

When we arrived back at the theatre I thought I was finally free of David Lee Douchebag.But, no...he needed me to kneel right next to him the entire concert so no one would approach him. (Like anyone would?) Just to make sure, he kept his foot on my hand and applied pressure any time I tried to pull it away. Neat! Just what I wanted to do be crotch level with DLR and a bunch of sweaty metal guys. Not even cute ones...or well endowed..It stank of sweat and colonge and fun folks. BTW he wasn't wearing a hat in the evening, but his hair looked um.. too full if you will. I know you get what I am saying here.. heh heh

Finally, I asked him through gritted teeth to remove his foot before I removed it for him. Oddly he did without even a protest. I believe he was testing me. Once foot left hand, Synde left David. He was on his own the rest of the night. I don't do abuse, especially when paired with the worst kind of metal band. I gave the "delightful" job to one of the Magic Mountain technicians who was ecstatic to be near DLR, and went into the office to complete the evening's paper work.

The next day my boss called and said DLR's manager had called and asked for my phone number. He told Don that they needed some help on a video shoot. I was ambivalent, but when they called I took the job.

Cut to the next week. I was in a big warehouse setting up the "Just A Gigolo" lights with 3 other dudes. DLR pranced and primped around, giving orders like Mussolini.Twice he "accidentally" bumped into the 8-foot ladder I was balancing on. Clearly, the D stood for douchebag.

I had had enough. I had almost lost my footing on the last bump aaaaannnd I swear I heard him giggle..Nice masculine gesture Dave, just like a little girl.
When the lights were hung, I went to the sound board to help check the levels.While most often in videos, the musicians aren’t singing at full voice, they usually aren’t lip-syncing. They sing with themselves, so we had to blare the recorded track over and over. So, this is what I used to check levels--and I preface it by saying..MY BAD...LOL--"D-A-V-I-D WEARS A HAIRPIECE" (Heavy pronunciation on the D). It took about 3 times before everyone heard it. David was yelling; the dudes were laughing. It was awesome.

One of the video producers came over, smiled, and said, "I have to fire you now, you know, but that was pretty funny. Still, you’re fired. Oh, but here is your $200 for the day."
I left quite happily.

So the moral of the story...Synde keep your damn mouth shut! My editor however thinks it's sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do, so you decide..

Oh yes, one more thing. I can't say if he really wears a hairpiece, but you know what??

I NEVER LIE!!!! Mwahahaha...

When the end comes I know that I’m just a gigolo
Life goes on without me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hello there

This is the space where I will blog new stuff..just a test now..but expect exciting stories from the music and arts world here..for now it's just a cat..