I got this email from one of my fans, that said, "Really wanna kill you!"
Just imagine if you had someone after you, for real ...
Had the opportunity to meet the esteemed writer, Salman Rushdie last night. As most people on this planet know, the Ayatollah Kohmeini of Iran issued a death warrant for Mr. Rushdie in 1989, on Valentine's Day (!). This was due to his book, "The Satanic Verses," a serious parody of militant Islam, and the subsequent "Fatwa," or death warrant, stirred up a huge international controversy. As a result, Mr. Rushdie had to go underground. As I understand, many other people surrounding the publication were killed, including a translator of the book, who was stabbed to death in Japan. But he survived ...
His kick these days is, appropriately, "Freedom Of Speech." He maintains that any open society does not burn books, censor books, or ban books. In his speech, he cautioned us all to look out for things like the Patriot Act, and the curtailing of our sacred (?) liberties, that We The People not fall prey to the fate of other (burp) totalitarian societies that went the way of the Buzzard. (No names, enter favourite boob dictator here ...) Are we ever vigilant?? Do we care about the rights of others?? I had the pleasure of speaking to him briefly about free speech, Eminem, and even Justin and Dave from the band New Model Army, whose names came up when he mentioned the town of Bradford, where NMA originated. Mr. Rushdie said that there was a personal connection for him to the town of Bradford.
It seems that when he was underground (including a stint of hiding in Bono's basement!) a film was produced in Pakistan about him. It did not shed a good light upon him, and was made, in some manner or form, by would-be hard core muslims. In the film, Salman was depicted as a crazed poet, with a flask of whiskey in one hand, and a whip in the other. He tortured a right-wing (?) dissident counter-spy, somewhere in his palacial mansion in the Phillipines.
"And you know," he said, "Every writer has one of THOSE ..."
Absurd. Then to REALLY torture this guy, they brought out "The Satanic Verses," and made him read. He cracked. I cracked UP, when I heard this ... In the film, Special Forces from the Israeli Army (?!!?) took the poor loser away and beat him some more. Mr. Rushdie could be heard cackling maniacally in the background. Then, in real life, the powerful English Film Commission, or some such body that issues permission to put films in theatres in the UK, was considering whether or not the film should be shown. They said no, partially out of the concern, he said, that Mr. Rushdie himself would be upset and sue the production. Instead, he wrote a letter (while still in hiding!) to say that the film should get granted the right to be shown, and that he would PROMISE not to sue anyone. Imagine that level of dedication. As a result, the film got shown, and had it's premiere in Bradford, West Yorkshire, a town with a considerable muslim population. It bombed. No one came. The film was weak. Mr. Rushdie let it be, and was a bigger man for it. Letting the people decide was the best way to sort out the good from the dogpoopie. If you REALLY believe in freedom, and want your Happymeal, you must accept the occasional stinker. On the power of it sucking alone, and with no lawyers or big tussle in the press, the film slinked away to an early grave. Mr Rushdie and freedom of speech are alive.
Let's keep it that way.
(PS - John Ashcroft, will you marry me??)
Greetings from the Windy City ...
She looks like she's an Ethiopian Princess, but I know she's just a white girl from the suburbs. Heh. Doesn't matter, she's beautiful ... A writer's mind is Truth.
Yeah, she said that, "You landed butter-side up in Chicago!" as we were riding the subway. Guess I DID! Cool bagel reference, you see. But this weekend was truly one of the best o' my life, and I've had a few!!!!!! So good. Visiting a beauty, a girlfriend of mine, a tasty one! Chicago: Wine, deep dish pizza, Coffee and Democrats! Got the coolest black "Traveller's Cafe" t-shirt. Hit the International Writer's Forum, but more on that later. First some dirty stuff.
We walk through Chicago, hand in hand. Very innocent! Later we have wine and she says that I'm like Henry Miller. Yep. We go naked. Innocence ends. She says that I'm tasty, that I am sex. My gawd, I'm in Heaven! I've left despair (Santa Barbara) behind, and I get dirty with one of the Chicago's hottest babes. And she's a poet! I lick her delicious beaver until she screams. (Sorry, mom!)
We go to the Writer's Forum at the Hilton. A guy says (to us all) that, "You should be careful, if you're writing erotic stuff, that you don't get labeled a smut poet." Noted. Smut Poet. I like that. Sounds like a cool band name. We wander from room to room in this huge, lavish hotel, listening to writers from around the globe get poetic. It's absolutely great. One line that sticks with me, is some guy who told the capacity crowd to use their, "Twin Powers." Great stuff. So many electric minds in one place. Yeah! Pushing the spoken word forward. We get lost on the fifth floor, that somehow has no elevator button. I'm wearing my "Lost In Translation" t-shirt, and they love it, tell me so, and it sparks many juicy conversations. We eat snacks provided and get inspired ... Thousands of great thinkers roam the hallways. Bliss.
Later, we take a cab to this poetry jam, an experimental one, in a church! And there are five outrageous poets taking the stage, in different stances and times and demeanors, mean they all, though, be ... I watch and sip water and take notes and tell jokes. One is the esteemed writer Cole Swensen, on the permanent faculty of the Iowa Writer's Workshop (the 2nd coolest thing ever, from Iowa!) and she gives me her new book. What a mind! These five poets rip the english language to shreds, re-gurgitate it out again into the world, and come up with a fresh expulsion of aroma, new words, if you will, that set the pace for hungry minds to come. Lyrics! Poetry! Music! Dance! Sex! Politics! (Burp ...)
We get invited to a party, and next thing ya know, we're in some swanky penthouse overlooking the Chicago River. Holy shit, how did that happen?! And the room is filled with amazing writers from the forum, from the poetry jam, from Mars or Jupiter it seems like, but just another amazing night! Wow, wow, wow! The drinks are a-flowin', and we all do wine, tasty Mexican tequila (see related stories), eat collared greens, and we chat about everything under the sun, and then some. These are the minds of the future! Some are famous, some are up-and-coming, some are just mad ... but all have one thing in common:
Love of Language!
Count me in, dear sirs and madames. Whoever you all were, (every couple of minutes someone would whisper in my ear, "HE'S such a good poet. SHE'S a great poet," while I was talking to them) I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to you, and listen and learn and contribute. You guys were amazing, unnerving! That party was incredible! At the end, I was hanging out with this gorgeous girl from (former) Yugoslavia and her husband, who, incidentally, love New Model Army and HIM and lotsa other cool euro-metal bands, we connected, and I invented the idea of taking this organic pear from the catering table, put it under my shirt and turned it into a boob, call it an homage to Janet's boob, perhaps, and he got the mad-cap idea to bite it through my "Lost In Translation" shirt, leaving teeth marks and juice on my stained shirt, it was very hot, and I said, "What will your WIFE think??" and we look over and she just grinned a vampire's smile behind black eyeliner which meant that she was turned on, she approved. Said I was a dirty boy. "But so smooth!" she said. "That's good ..."
Kids reading this, take heed: Poetry is sexy!
And at some point they motioned that some student guy was behind me on the couch, inching towards my girl, and I just laughed and said, "No chance. She's going home with me!" I felt kingly and guess what, I was right, and it all began again. All those lithe minds competing for the perfect rhyme. Sexy! Raw! It was such an amazing two nights, I just gotta go back soon. Thanks, Chicago!
And someone stole a wallet from those rich minds at the party. Wish it was me. I would comission myself to re-invent myself, and use the money to build a time machine, in which I would go back to the party and actually give that person MORE money than they ever had when it was stolen ...
Next thing ya know, it's the next day, and I'm back in the impervious, burly lobby of the Hilton, meeting Cole (having skimmed through her book) and we decide to drive together to Iowa City, talking four hours straight about Paris and Berlin and Anarchy and Love and Demons and Armies and Families and Schools and the elusive Genius Grant. But mostly about Anarchy. And we weather a storm that came outta nowhere (like they're known to do in the Midwest) and we come out the other side, unscaythed. We talk about how to get to "Pure Poetry" and "Pure Music." At some point I call my sister on Cole's cell phone and say,
"I'm in a car, somewhere between Chicago and Iowa City, Iowa."
Truth, exposed. Timeless. Effortless. Hear this! The Wind of the City has passed through my heart, and remains ...
Wow. LA to Chicago, the long way around. 2 days straight. Time to think. Met so many interesting people! Arizona, Albuquerque, Colorado, Kansas, Oh, my!!! Here's a thanks and hello to my whacky new companions on the train:
For the lady who recognized me: Thanks! Belgians and their chocolates rule.
For Anthony: Thanks for the drinks, dude! Hope we didn't annoy your girl too
much when we called her cell at midnight, tipsygood. Vodka!
For Marisa: Those eyes, mmm ... So the singer of the Dandy Warhols french
kissed you to say thanks, did he? Bet he did! But I love your
mind. Heh. Sorry I missed the party in Evanston. Was it ILL?
For Sarah: How does a nice gal from the Bay get on the "wrong" train with
the likes of us? Nice job! Great din-din. ("This is NOT a soup
kitchen!") No shit. But Hunger hath no prejudice. Enjoy the
music, and see you in this life, after the funeral. We're ALIVE!
For Coffeeman: We appreciated the neverending re-fills!
And now a very special thank you to the amazing Native American indian flute player, who played that instrument so well, and even mailed my letter to Fishbone from Albuquerque. What a spiritual day! The stories, the (true) lore,the magic. Thank you for showing us, once again, that there are many facets from the American story that defy words, catagories. There are people out there, hidden amongst us, who are the real soul of this land, surviving resilient and wise and true. May your spirit shine (wish I could remember the ancient words you spoke to me, as I went) and may Music and the Great Spirit somehow reach us all, through this traffic jam called the United States. Peace.
Excerpts from an email I just got ...
She's in Seattle. She walks around, last night, sipping what they call "grape juice" (yeah, right) and they are tanked, near the Space Needle. Of course, now, to those in the Calico circle, it's called the Space Noodle. And she's going, "Space Noodle! Space Noodle!" and laughing hysterically, and her friends are like, "It's Space NEEDLE, not Noodle." And she answers, "I am the Space Noodle, I AM Space Noodle, ha, ha!" Her friends chide her, and she continues to claim that she is the real deal, the real Space Noodle. She's so convinced, I almost agree, which is crazy. Noodle-me-this:
Is she the Space Noodle? She sure thinks she is ...
(See previous story for murky explanation.)
What could make a beautiful girl go so mad? To actually think that she is the Space Noodle? Maybe there is more than one Space Noodle. Maybe there are many. Maybe the world needs more Space Noodle(s), but maybe she's just a drunk girl in Seattle who wants to see my pecker. Wazoo!
And I see tomorrow's headlines,
"Grape Juice All Over The Space Noodle."
Flower Pecker Power! -Todd
Greetings from the Space Noodle! (Seattle) Or ... "How I met Jack Keruoac."
Any of you who receved annoying phone messages at 4:30 am: I can explain!
(But I'm NOT SORRY! Ha,ha,ha!)
Yes, indeed, it was one o' them wild nights. If your answering machine has a guy on it saying, "Greetings from the Space Noodle" from a Seattle cell phone number, or even better, "I AM THE SPACE NOODLE!" then consider yourselves priviledged, and by the way yes, he IS the Space Noodle, and furthermore, consider yourselves lucky 'cuz some people don't even HAVE friends who will take the time to CALL THEM in the middle of the night, and I'm almost sorry too (for you!) but not really, and I'll do it again and now I'll tell you how this awesome phone masterbationexploitation came to pass. Here goes:
WHO IS the Space Noodle??
Met him in a coffee shop at midnight, we both had a cute girl with us, but we wanted to switch (Ha!) and not only that, we wanted them both, no ... wait! We wanted them together (and by the end of the night they were) and he was wearing sunglasses at midnight, which was so cool that I had to don my own, and said they were prescription (coolest fib EVER!) and then it even turned out to be TRUE and that was even cooler, and furthermore, we brought them over to our table (I think I kissed 2 outta three, more on this later ...) and it was, well, basically one of those poetry-jam nights where everything gets a little outta control (that's a good thing!) and we talked about Keruoac and then actually became Keruoac for a brief moment between sips on shitty american beer, and yes I kissed my girl thinking of another, but it was cool, 'cuz she wanted to kiss HER (and then DID!) while Space Noodle was chatting up cute girls on State Street going, "Hey, you wanna make out?" like the awesome hipster that he is, and the one in the courderoy hat (And how DO you spell "courderoy" anyway, Roy?") almost went for it, but then we kept on movin', and at some point had to go out for mo beer, and some random guy gave me 5 bucks to pay for the extra booze at the store, saying something about, "Good Karma comes around and goes around, Dawg," and then he burped and moved on, and I say thank you angel, for showing me that it's not ALL bad out there, and yes we were out there, and then we're back out on the street and walking and we were suddenly in "West Side Story" snapping our fingers in unison and being Jets (yes, we WERE Jets for a few minutes) and walking and humming the West Side tunes to passersby, who occasionally played along and whistled/hummed back, and our man was now shirtless, even he himself saying, "How'd that happen?" and we were skipping along, enjoying life and avoiding the fuzz and yes, we were in our own musical, and he kept quoting neat-o quotes from 50's books like the "Hipster handbook" and other frivolous/beautiful legendary notebooks and stuff, and we were briefly in Paris (where my smoochgal on this evening was BORN!) and then we were suddenly in Seattle in out minds' eye, going, "Isn't the Space Needle wonderful this time of year, my dear?!" and "Oh, yes, it is lovely and dreary here up on top of the Space Needle!" and then someone (mightta been me) said, "Oh yes, the Space Noodle is wonderful!" which turned into, "We're on top of the Space Noodle!" which turned into, "I AM the Space Noodle!" which, of course, makes perfectly good sense when you're strutting down the boulevard shirtless singing Broadway tunes at 2 in tha morn with two babes on your arms, which are bare to the world and hairy, and snapping and singing, and so you see, the phone calls were COMPLETELY in order, in fact I should've got my shit together and called MORE of you (from the Space Noodle). He IS the Space Noodle.
And we went to every place, covered every subject under the sun and then some, son ... we solved every world crisis and suburban nightmare, discussed every relevant book and irrelevant band and irreverent reverand, and came close to the ultimate jam, but we gotta keep searchin' for it! And this was ALL IN ONE NIGHT! And my man was outrageous and cool and oh-sooo good with his mind. Not "so-so", yo-yo!
He did the coolest hip-flip jumping off-tha-wall dance moves, and said, "Wanna make out?" to the coolest beautiful people who had no time, but took the time, and yes, he is the Space Noodle, and he may have even said to me at some point, "Hey - wanna make out?" and so what, but I didn't and was completely focused on the other things like Dan from Seattle watchin' the rest of us make out and dancin' in the streets and didn't Bill and Ted have an excellent adventure, yes it really was, and who says punk is dead and who says peace don't have no chance and who says underage people can't buy absynthe in america and who says that poetry liveth no more and who says we can't make a difference and who says he ISN'T the Space Noodle? for we all know he is, and who says the founding father didn't have slaves and who says Keruoac's dead and who says there is no right time and place and by the way ...
WHO HAS MY SUNGLASSES??
Must of left them in the pub or the coffee shop or the Gas 'n' Sip or the 2 am long-walk to nowhere gas station, or maybe the transvestite hookers (Yes, the TRANSVESTITE HOOKERS!) took 'em, (they said, "Mmmm ... college boys!) but whoever has 'em, give 'em back, or I may just have to instigate another one of these nights and call ALL OF YOU!!!!!
Thank you friends, for a beautiful night!!!!!!!
Los Angeles, 2 a.m.
Tha jam was hot, so I decided to stick around. Get outta the club (Fishbone/Trulio Disgracias) around 2, decide to go on one of my patented long walks. It's late - I need to wind down, think, take my body and soul for a spin, and furthermore, I don't ride the bus, Just don't.
I walked from the Good Hurt (club) at Venice Blvd. and the 405, all the way up Sepulveda to Westwood Village. (A long-ass way.) All of you's who aren't L.A. people, look on a map - it's pretty far. Stopped along the way somewhere at an all-night donut shop. Two chocolate donuts and a coffee to go, and I was re-vitalized. Kept going. Destination Canter's, on the other side of town. Then maybe catch the train at 6:30 am. Exactly how it happened.
Keep thinking, "Debbie (my friend) just ran the L.A. Marathon, twenty-six miles. So I can do 5 or 6 tonight, no problem." Kept me going ...
Somewhere around 3:30 am, I'm in Westwood, standing at the foot of the Federal Building. Eeek. Ominous. Dark. Taxi rolls up. I go:
"Hey - give ya five bucks to take me to Canter's!"
"Where the fuck is that?" (Thick russian accent ...)
"Fairfax." (A long-ass way.)
He starts laughing ...
"My friend, that is a thirty dollar ride!"
Me: "No it's not."
Him: "Ok, twenty."
Me: "Naw, thanks." (I start to walk away.)
"Ok,ok ... whadaya wanna pay, boddy?"
Me: "How about seven bucks."
Him. "Mmmm. I'll take you for ten."
Me: "Mmmm. Ok, deal."
Hop in the cab. We drive a long-ass way. Eventually we hit Fairfax. He lets me out on the corner at Sunset. I turn towards Canter's, and decide to keep walking instead. Now I've walked about 3 miles. My mind is spinning, "Preston's dead, Joe Strummer's dead, Kurt's dead, Johnny Cash is dead, FUCK!"
What would Preston do? I wonder. He'd say, "Go to a jam session, and then take a long walk." So I did exactly that. Now it's like 4-something in the morning. I stumble into the IHOP on Sunset (near LaBrea). Scuzzy, rock 'n' roll junkies, hookers, undercover cops - these are MY PEOPLE! Heh. Everyone's in a band, and everyone sucks, and they can suck my fucking cock 'cuz I'm exhausted (after walking 5-plus miles) and don't wanna hear their stories and all I want are some of those Belgian Waffles like in the picture! Ha! And I get 'em ... (the waffles.)
I write a letter to my friend Steve in the Bay Area. He's pissed 'cuz he came home from a film shoot and his wife was gone and left him a "Dear John" note. I write a postcard to my (sorta) girl in Santa Barbara ... Or soon-to-be, I should say. Now it's 5 o'clock in the morning. I've come a long way ...
Hit the train back to Santa Barbara at 6:30 sharp, as planned. People in suits look like wannabe-tv-clowns to me. They haven't survived Sunset at 4 and tha rock 'n' roll IHOP experience like I have tonight. Poseurs. Gawd bless 'em, they suck, too. The guy in the IHOP caught me shaving in the men's room, I just turned my head to him with a razor in my hand and said, "Rock and roll!" Yeah. Adventure. A tune in my head. Life. Music. Waffles. Keep Walking ...
Al Sharpton for President! -Todd
Yes, this is the 100th Blog. And Joe Strummer's still dead. And there I was, crying, in her arms, feeling weak and powerful at the same time. At first, it was just a hug, then it was some kind of dance, and then ... just for a minute, it was something primal, something deeply sexual. Gawdammit, that was beautiful. Why I cried:
- I cried in the name of Peace in the middle east.
- I cried because she was there for me.
- I cried because Daniel was so good in the studio.
- I cried because of the knowing that Flea will play on my CD, too.
- I cried because there are demons that haunt people.
- I cried because she's with the wrong guy.
- I cried because Music is so beautiful.
- I cried because Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Happiness is/are beautiful.
- I cried because I'm grateful.
- I cried because no one reads the Constitution anymore.
- I cried because John Wayne cried.
- I cried because of the death of the american Dream.
- And it's re-birth.
- I cried for Joe at Haley.
- I cried for Joe's brother.
- I cried because I know she loves me.
- I cry because the tears are a measure of my depth.
- I cry because she will soon break his heart.
- I cry, for this is the 100th Blog.
- I cry, therefore I am.
- I cry for those who can't cry.
- I cried for John Ashcroft.
- Love your enemy, too.
- I cried because I can.
- I cried for the people around the world who know me, and don't know me.
- I cried because I'm so fucking happy sometimes.
- I cried for Johnny Cash.
- I cried for Michael Kamen.
- I cried because I see the exotic beauty in her soul.
- I cried because Norwood sees the real me.
- I cried because I see the Picasso, the Johnny Depp in myself.
- I cried because Bernard is a good guitar player.
- I cried for the lunacy and foolish pride of nations.
- I cried for the guy who got clocked on his bike by the car.
- I cried to get the crying outta my system, and move into joy.
- I cried because Bad Religion is/are so beautiful.
- Conversely, I cried for Mel Gibson, and his dream to move people.
- I cried for my ex who just had a baby with a coke fiend.
- I cried for Justin.
- Most of all ... I cried for Preston. Why did he have to die??
Yes, this last one is huge. I cried, and I cried ...