What Are You Fighting For..Really

What do you want?

To wake up?

yeah that’s cool

Open your crusted lids?

yeah that’s cool

Is it blurry?

most-times,

sometimes-less

Food?

yeah, that’s cool

A place to Piss?

yeah that’s cool

Rinse your scummy dermatology?

yeah that’s cool

Coffee or Tea?

okay

You care whether the people you love live or die?

Yeah.

Would you protect them?

Yes.

Has anyone ever helped you?

yeah.

Have you ever helped anyone?

I think.

Do you give a shit?

about what?

Anything.

maybe.

Nickel Beer Night

Inebriation Isn’t Just an Adventure, Its a Career

Some of them do it once in a blue moon, some every now and then.  Some of them do it regularly, and some do it all the time.

Wednesday’s at Close Encounters. Yes he did, the Persian owner, Ezra, named it after a popular Spielberg flick.  I say owner, but in truth, his mom owned it.  He runs it so he can meet chicks.  Problem is, it’s in the middle of suburbia.  If you’re a stag female, sucking down brews in a mid-suburbia dive on Nickel Beer Night it means you’re married, overweight and angry.

Tina, the singer, designed and sewed costumes for everyone in the band.  Nobody asked her to do it, nobody ever hinted at it, but they arrived on Nickel Beer Night with high expectation.

The costumes consisted of long-sleeve beige turtleneck shirts and beige pants.  Each horrible shirt was hideously amplified by “artsy” themed-designs made of misshapen, sloppily sheared rayon sewed in random patches. A unique fluorescent color scheme for each band member.  The seams were bulging and some of the thread matched.

We started the set as usual, with a medium energy pointless pop number but there was magic in the air.  Although that might have been someone smoking pot.  It was the 80’s in California.  You could still smoke indoors in those days and the foul stench of sour smoke encrypted on your clothes when you went home at night was an added bonus.  Sticky floors, stained chairs and someone always passed out on the bar.  Ahhh, just like home.

There was a lovely “one big happy” family sitting in front of the stage, just off the dance floor. Frequent toasts and gulps, joyous laughter, crackling guffaws.

Beer is 5¢ a glass, and a dollar a pitcher from 8PM – 915PM.  If you’re a bartender, you know what this means.  People with only a dollar to their name come in and drink 20 beers in an hour and fifteen minutes.  Probably the worst drink promotion ever conceived.

By 10PM the initial friendly buzz of carbonated domestic swill has worn off and the violent uglies begin to emerge.  At the friendly, loud, squinting smile “one big happy” family table in front, all of a sudden the mom, late 50’s, and daughter-in-law, early 40’s, furiously jump to their feet.

Fire bellowing from all four eyes, in a blink clenched fists pummel wrinkled skin cheeks, smearing foundation and blush.  Arms swinging and flailing, profane screams of fierce acrimony released.  Strikingly more terrifying and vicious than ultimate cage fighting.  A couple of the men at the table get up seconds too late to pull them apart, but manage to rush them outside.

The band plays on, doesn’t stop, doesn’t miss a beat.

Mock Manager Mark is the self proclaimed manager of the band. A friend of Mark, the drummer, Mock Manager Mark professes to be the bands manager in an attempt to get free drinks whenever he attends one of our gigs. Never one to miss an opportunity, Mock Manager Mark goes outside to inspect and possibly wager.

Seconds later Mock Manager Mark and one of the female pugilists’ escorts fly through the door, tumbling across the dance floor.  Toppling tables over, flinging half empty glasses through the air, flipping the torn vinyl chairs upside down and more fists recklessly swing with abandon or poor drunken aim, you pick.

The band plays on, doesn’t stop, doesn’t miss a beat.

The two bleeding drunk strangers are pried apart, but two more fights break out across the room, people fighting about the fighting.  Enraged suds soaked patrons turn on each other in riotous dysfunctional union. Enraged fractious anarchy right here, in the middle of a bedroom community in sleepy South Orange County.

By the time police arrived, shattered glass was swept up, stained bent chairs and wobbling tables were put back in place and all members of the “one big happy” family had escaped.

Tina was pissed and a little hurt. Not one word about the new threads.

Another freaky night in the life of the working musician.

You Wake Up Suddenly, You’re a Glove

Part 2

When we left off, Tina was coughing, I was drinking and the unknown drummer was doing alright.

The odd assemblage of players in the band was a tribute to tolerance.  Tina was a washed-up waitress from Buena Park with a kid.  Lots of gumption, but no goods.  Paul was the keyboard player who gigged with us when he wasn’t touring fairs with 70’s bands.  Henry the sax player, was big, black and really black.  An okay player, but great charisma, we always put him center-stage.  Mike, my guitar playing brother and myself, well let’s just keep us out of it for now.

The fill-in drummer was a Basque.  If you’ve never met a Basque then I apologize.  There isn’t enough space in this story to adequatly describe the psychological complexities of the Basque heritage.  Suffice to say that the tension was high and the behavior erratic.  This does accurately describe every drummer I’ve ever worked with, but being Basque adds an entirely new dimension to the equation.

The night wears on, the drunks get braver and the room stinks.

The dust and scum filled corners of the 34 year-old building hasn’t seen a sober broom since 2 months after inception.  The gum stopped urinals are stained and just plain nasty.

The frequenters of this establishment are locals.  There is nobody at home they want to hang out with, so they come here.  The bartenders and waitresses are their family.  The clientele choose to soak their heads in alcoholic splendor rather than have an actual life.

That’s where we come in.  It’s our job to encourage and incite the rabble and boost sales.

We think we have it.  The people are dancing and smiling and getting it on.  The staff are bobbing their heads and nudging their neighbors in excited, useless conversation.

People are buying rounds, the manager is smiling and nobody has been arrested or died.  It’s been a good night.

The last song is played and I expel a sigh of ouzo drenched relief as the evening seems to come to a close without incident. But of course, it’s never over until it’s over.

We’re packing up, carelessly swinging the heavy equipment through the thin doorways and tossing it into our cars.  The Basque wants a beer, but the place is closing and the bartender and the manager are anxious to leave.  The answer is no.

The Basque does not accept this answer and waits until no one is looking and while the competent staff are busy restocking for the following day, the Basque steals a 6-pack off the top of the bar and runs out the back door.

None of the band members are new, but we are a new band trying to break in to the club scene.  We start getting regular work and BAM, it’s gone.

Welcome to Rock-n-Roll

Everytime You Go Away, You Take a Piece of Meat With You

PART I

The Rendevouz Room, 1988

A young but frivolous group of slightly stupid musicians mount a stage covered in rotting orange plush carpet and old duct tape.

Their mission:

Entertainment.

It’s the first time the group has attempted to crack this smelly crowd of regular suds swaggers and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be pretty.

A cloud of stale cigarette smoke hangs face level and Tina, our singer, releases a dry, lung-damaged cough, buy it’s okay.  She’s a smoker.  She can’t sing that great anyway.

There’s a twist in my pre-gig martini and in the night.  Our regular drummer is double booked.  He took the higher paying gig, just like the rest of us would have.  The keyboard player, Paul, asked one of his friends to sit in.

He assured us the guy was good and we all believed him because, well… we didn’t have anybody else.

The guy, we’ll call him the drummer, was alright.  That was, until the end of the night when things started getting freaky.

We’d been on freaky gigs before, like when Andy, the 60+ year-old owner of the Bunkhouse would do a complete striptease in the middle of the dance floor.  A gay, 60-something, overweight man suggestively removing all of his clothing in middle of biker bar in Garden Grove.  Freaky.

I could tell this was going to be exactly the same, but different.

Stay Tuned.

buckle up it’s going to be a bumpy night

1 in 10 homeowners behind on mortgage or in foreclosure. 533,000 jobs lost in November. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. US Big 3 automakers asking for $34 billion bailout. 30 daily newspapers up for sale from New York to Los Angeles. Temp worker crushed to death in black friday free-for-all. Pirates make a comeback in Somalia.

Welcome to earth, 2008

Do you clean your own toilet? My definition of prosperous depends solely on whether or not you have a toilet to clean. If you have your own toilet, you’re not doing too bad. What about this other stuff? Not really important.

Fat and happy

Ignore practicality and common sense and go with what feels good. Believer of belief, believe and all that you wish will dematerialize. Stay within predefined, controllable boundaries of observation and comprehension, disavow ideas that don’t suit you. Blindfolded travel.

Don’t look back

Forward thinking.  Irrelevant past.

Next.

Same as it ever was.

Dedicated to Neil Aspinall 10/13/1941 – 03/23/2008

McCarthyism in San Clemente?

San Clemente still embroiled – You’re a Jerk, and I’m not

In response to Jim Cogan’s letter, (San Clemente Times, Vol.3, Issue 45, Nov. 6-12, 2008)
Mr. Cogan is a wonderful writer. His eloquent, articulate and image-evoking pen is no doubt the reason he is so revered. Writing style aside, his robust command in communicating a message is equaled by few, particularly in the hack-ridden “letter to the editor” arena. I may not always agree with his position, but I delight in his wit and rhetoric.

Comparing Rick Collins effort to enlighten San Clemente to McCarthyism however, is farfetched. The tactics may bear similarity, but certainly not the motivation. A recent newspaper article publishing an email thread proving councilman Wayne Eggleston was less interested in due process than a business owner’s rights was reason enough to question his integrity.

Planning commissioner Brenda Miller, a fervent Charles Mann supporter and intimately involved in the anti-measure C effort and Mann campaign, exercising illegal behavior could be seen as an example of corruption and cronyism. The Mann campaign website proudly displays an image of Mann and Eggleston smiling near the Marine monument in the pier bowl. Mr. Mann’s attempts to mislead the residents of San Clemente on the measure C ballot arguments were well documented.

The problem was that the Pacific Golf rezoning issue made Charles Mann a rockstar. Save San Clemente Open Space, (Mann, Jim Smith and Gary Hopp) set up a perfect Davy and Goliath scenario and Pacific fell full-force into the trap. I mean how hard is it to vilify a “Los Angeles” developer. That said, it was important to loosen the foundation of what could be perceived as a collusive power grab in city hall. The only way to broadcast that message effectively was with a broad stroke in a grand gesture. That’s precisely what Mr. Collins did. You may not agree with Mr. Collin’s but there is truth in what he says, and if at the very least it leads you to pay closer attention to what takes place at 100 Avenida Presidio, it was worth it. Sorry Mr. Cogan for the poor grammar.

San Clemente: Congratulations Bob, Jim and North Beach

The highly emotional, and sometimes controversial November 2008 elections in our Spanish Village by the Sea are behind us, FINALLY!

City council incumbent Jim Dahl and newcomer Bob Baker narrowly beat Steve Knoblock to nab two city council seats.  Measure W (North Beach Project) was approved by 53.4% of the vote.  Measure V (open space initiative) was a clear winner.

This political season was once again rife with vehement disagreement and biting criticism.  Opposing sides accusing each other of deception and fact distortion.  Apparently it’s not enough to simply disagree on an issue in today’s political climate and sort things out with intelligent thoughtful debate.  One group here in San Clemente finds it necessary to exaggerate certain aspects of an issue, and when that doesn’t work, they simply use their own math and spend tens of thousands of dollars to saturate the landscape with their skewed message of divisiveness.  Self-proclaimed defenders of posterity, employing questionable tactics in an exercise of ruthlessness.

One Notable event this cycle includes Save San Clemente Open Space stalwart and planning commissioner Brenda Miller being popped for illegally removing anti-Mann/Baker signs.  Ms. Miller was a fervent opponent to Measure C and intrinsically involved the Save San Clemente Open Space activities with Charles Mann.  Obviously, Ms. Miller was also involved with Charles Mann’s bid for a seat on the city council.  I remember Ms. Miller from the referendum petition drive in the summer of 2007 and a wave of suspicion washed over me upon learning that she had been chosen to be a planning commissioner for the city. Her recent actions in the removal of legally placed campaign signs is unacceptable and her next official move should be resignation of her position.  It would be the honorable thing to do, however honor is an unpracticed trait in the crowd she runs with.

Poor grammar aside, my heartfelt congratulations to Barack Obama, and the democrats, Jim Dahl, Bob Baker and the supporters of Measure W.  My intentional omission of Measure V is predicated on the opinion that the spirit behind it was purely for campaign purposes.  This assertion is supported by the actual text of the measure itself.  Upon close inspection of the document there is overwhelming evidence that it simply has no teeth, no current application and most likely will be shelved and forgotten.

JFK: Nobody Comes Close

Courage

Conviction

Confidence

Composure

Conscience

Command

Character

Class

In 1960 presidential candidate John F. Kennedy addressed the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. His message was simple, but his delivery was phenomenal. It’s astounding how relevant this speech is today, the mark of a truly extraordinary individual. How often these days we absorb the hyperbolic praise applied to those who scarcely deserve it.

Watch how JFK handles a room full of Protestant ministers in Texas.

I’ve split the video into 4 sections, the entire series is 46 min. long.

THE INTRO – Welcome, prayer, introduction of JFK

[flashvideo filename=vids/JFK_Ministers_Intro.flv /]

THE SPEECH – JFK’s moving and amazingly pertinent speech.

[flashvideo filename=vids/JFK_Ministers_Speech.flv /]

Q & A PART 1 – JFK takes questions from the audience, this is where it gets interesting.

[flashvideo filename=vids/JFK_Ministers_QA_01.flv /]

Q & A PART 2 – JFK shows what made him truly great.

[flashvideo filename=vids/JFK_Ministers_QA_02.flv /]

It’s important to note that this event took place while JFK was in the midst of his presidential campaign against heavily favored Richard Nixon, who had just spent 8 years as vice president in the white house with a very popular Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The room was filled with suspicious and in some cases slightly hostile protestant ministers.  To call the command he exhibited in this gathering impressive is a gross understatement.  He set the tone for a generation and inspired the world.

Residents First?

Are the residents really first? or is it just another political slogan?

Can Mann be trusted?
Can Mann be trusted?

City council candidates Charles Mann and Bob Baker regularly reference their participation in Save San Clemente Open Space (SSCOS), a group formed to stop the rezoning of 50.5 acres at Pacific Golf and Country Club. Candidate Mann is a founder of SSCOS, however Mr. Baker originally was a supporter of Pacific’s plan to convert 9-holes of private recreational open space into 224 single family homes and Golf Villas.   Actually each of the founding members of SSCOS signed petitions in support of the project initially.  One of the SSCOS founders (a real estate developer) even demanded right of refusal on two lots or houses.  When contemplating casting a vote for someone to represent my best interests as a resident of San Clemente, I’ll consider those who come closest to my views on civic issues.  But first I need as best as possible to develop a level of trust for that individual, which includes gaining a sense about one’s ethics, honesty and overall character.  On the national level we have a plethora of media reports as well as sites like factcheck.org and snopes.com to monitor the veracity of statements made by the candidates, and stories or accusations related to them. On the local level it’s more difficult to determine who to trust.

The deception employed by SSCOS was addressed when Judge Warren Siegel ordered Mr. Mann to modify the language in 12 of 13 points in the arguments against Measure C he submitted to be included on the Feb. 5th ballot.  Judge Siegel ruled that the text was “false and misleading”.  However Mr. Mann, in Orwellian political doublespeak, claimed a victory.  Two examples of unethical behavior from SSCOS include:

A founder of SSCOS attended and spoke at the emotionally charged Talega parents meeting regarding the Capistrano Unified School District boundary changes in Dec. 2007.  He told the parents that if Measure C passed, their children would have less chance of attending their neighborhood school, Vista Del Mar, because the proposed development fell within Vista Del Mar’s boundaries.  The allegation was false, children from the proposed development would’ve been slated to attend Clarence Lobo, and the man speaking was not a parent of school age children, nor a resident of Talega. An obvious use of deceptive tactics to take advantage of San Clemente resident’s emotions.

The superintendent at Pacific and his wife were enthusiastically involved in the attempt to educate residents during the referendum petition drive in the summer of 2007.  A neighbor and close friend was approached by an SSCOS founder as she left Wal-Mart and aggressively encouraged to sign the petition.  When the neighbor refused, citing her friendship with the couple, the man lied saying that the wife had already signed and the superintendent wanted to, but would be fired if he did. The neighbor knew better and left.

Switched positions mid-game
Switched positions mid-game

These two examples of questionable ethics were not isolated events, in fact they illustrate the standard operating procedure of the organization that candidate Mann lead.  Mr. Mann continues to mislead residents in his statements regarding Measure W.  Is this the behavior of a candidate you can trust?

Lastly, I am saddened when viewing the images of our wounded brave men and women of military who are risking their lives to give you the opportunity to choose this November.  But I am enraged at the dishonor shown these protectors of our quality of life by those who disregard integrity and choose to manipulate the masses for their own self-serving agendas. Please choose wisely in November.

David Kelsen,

Former Director of Food & Beverage

Pacific Golf and Country Club

San Clemente: Yes on Measure W

The Miramar theater
The Miramar theater

I’ve been staring at the embarrassing, dilapidated, health hazard we call the Miramar theater for several years now in the hopes that someone would either burn it down or blow it up. But then along comes The Lab. My first experience with the Lab was the Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa. The architectural design is artistic and smart, but besides that, there weren’t any mega-monopolistic corporate chains within smelling distance and the atmosphere was cool and relaxed. Upon initial earfull that the Lab was doing North Beach I immediately gained a historical perspective. Well that’s not true, but it did suddenly justify not decimating the Miramar. Why? Parking. You can wax nostalgic all day long, but if there’s no place to park, nobody’s coming. The passing of measure W validates the idea of a Miramar renovation. If you are a Miramar supporter, but against Measure W, then you are contradictory and therefore irrelevant.

Dave Kelsen
San Clemente Resident