Emptying Out the Mailbag
Everybody began their music collection with an album or tape that is forever etched in memory. I vividly recall the day my squat, racist grandmother brought home a record for me. The store was sold out of Beatles records, so I had to settle for More of the Monkees, which wasn't too bad because not only did it have "Steppin' Stone," there was also a song called "Auntie Grizelda," wherein Peter Tork sang off-key and did some really stupid noises with his mouth, making a huge impression on this second-grader.
A new Peter Tork CD called Stranger Things Have Happened now slithers into my mailbox. After two used-record stores refused to buy this little devil from me, I decided it was worth a listen. Despite appearances by fellow Monkees Mickey Dolenz and Michael Nesmith, and the stylings of Mackenzie Phillips, Tork's voice is still as off-key as ever, and the lyrics are in no danger of becoming anthems for a generation. From the prophetic ("Children, please don't forget, you get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get") to retro-psychedelia ("Take a giant step outside your mind") to the touching saga of a rock star meeting a waitress on the road ("I feel like a milk shake, I never ordered a slice of life à la mode"), Tork proves he's got the chops for something. It's just probably not writing songs.
Speaking of off-key, a tape arrives from a friend in New York that actually out-Torks Tork. Apparently someone found a drunk homeless guy in Portland named Les Wilson, threw him in a recording studio and immortalized his brutally off-key voice on 12 songs of collective butchery, ranging from tunes by Hank Williams, Gene Autry and Elvis, to a handful of Christmas standards. His opening assault on "South of the Border" will spook any household pet within earshot. During "Love Me Tender," Wilson even confesses to harboring thoughts of starting his own "Church of Ecstatic Love." Ladies, Les is in the house.
The reverse side is a half-hour audio letter received at MCA Records from Marilyn, a Dallas woman who wishes to alert the music industry to her talents. Marilyn says she includes a check for $198 "because when we record, I want to have a six-piece band, full Nashville sound in full regalia." She assures in a thick Texas drawl, "I'm a lot like Barbra Streisand, I'm just a very naturally talented person," and suggests a recording studio in a Dallas suburb. She then sings a song she wrote, a terrifying a cappella version of "Rubber Ducky." She lets us know she helped write Look Who's Talking II. Her baby son, Bubba Jr., "is a teacher in spirit at SMU." Then there's Bubba Sr.; in fact, Marilyn's nickname is "Bubbette." And the dog's name? Bubba Dog.
If MCA would just send her a ticket, she'd love to play at the Grand Ole Opry. She "runs around with a lot of major recording stars, like Cher." She suggests a tour set up for herself and Madonna. Since she's five feet, five inches tall, 100 pounds, with "great big violet eyes, inch-long eyelashes and white curvy teeth," Marilyn explains, "I think we could do real well on the tour." Marilyn's generosity knows no limits. She helped the Beatles write some of their music. She helped Neil Simon write the play Lost in Yonkers. She admits it was she who wrote the song "April in Paris." She wrote material for SNL, and is friends with Robin Williams, Jay Leno, Johnny Carson and Steve Martin: "We all send you our love." Helpful Marilyn even plans out the sequence of songs on the album. Her fee? A half-million dollars.
Poor Bubba Dog. He didn't ask to be in this family.
Elsewhere in the mailbox, professional spoon-bender Uri Geller has been ordered by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to pay a $120,000 settlement to skeptics, as part of an agreement to a court-described "frivolous complaint" made by Geller. The self-proclaimed psychic initially filed a $15 million suit against a group of skeptics and The Amazing Randi, a magician who has enjoyed debunking the claims of Geller throughout the years. The court ruled against Geller, however, and the defeated psychic has already coughed up a $40,000 payment, with more on the way.
The premiere issue of a local gay men's magazine called Wilde is worth checking out, if nothing else for the photo spread of a chubby naked guy with a beard cavorting in the surf with a nude male mannequin. And the zine Zapruder Headsnap by Sean Beaudoin features a terrific Kenny G "urine overlay," a piece of yellow film taped over a picture of the snoozefest saxophonist, with the instructions: "Crank up any 'G' disk. Adjust volume. While downing several quarts of Zima, hold display up to face. Swivel overlay according to mood using patented electrician tape hinge. Repeat." This is positively the best Kenny G/urine juxtaposition of the year thus far.
Believe it or not, many folks who favor cremation of their remains don't opt for scattering their ashes over the ocean, but prefer having their pile of dust chunks and melted teeth stuffed into a decorative, personalized niche inside a beautiful architectural building. Those people are now in luck. For the first time since 1896, the San Francisco Columbarium is offering a new room of such nooks, many constructed of crafted brass and fronted by beveled glass. This unique opportunity can be yours by politely calling 752-7891.