Dill lemon rice

A small get-together for a friend prompted this — I planned on either bringing bread or rice, and decided I would go for the latter, aiming for a dish with flavor but not necessarily spice-heavy. This excellent recipe, a Middle Eastern one by background (you can find variants of it everywhere), allowed me not only to use some dill (dried rather than fresh, alas, but one can’t have everything) but some fresh lemon from the last basket. Cooks up quickly and tastes excellent.

Thai rice noodles with tatsoi

Another dish suggested by the latest basket, thanks to a provided recipe from the newsletter reproduced below. Said recipe called for chicken but I substituted sliced baked tofu without a worry — that said, this is not a vegetarian dish due to the use of oyster and fish sauce. Variants can be suggested I’m sure!

1 pound noodles rice noodles
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon arrowroot
1 cup stock
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic finely minced
1 block baked tofu, thinly sliced
1 small bunch of tatsoi, chopped
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

Soak the rice noodles, or prepare according to package directions.

In a small bowl, mix together the oyster sauce, fish sauce, arrowroot
& chicken stock.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. When the oil
begins to smoke, add the garlic & tofu. Stir-fry until the tofu
is just cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the noodles & the tamari. Toss to mix. The noodles should become a little golden & crisp on the edges.

Add the tatsoi. Stir fry rapidly for a few minutes, then add the sauce; cover & cook for a few minutes to allow the greens to cook down.

Toss to mix. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens or another 1-2 minutes.

Not Just the Ticket — #15, Kitchens of Distinction, May 22, 1991

KoD, Whiskey

Then-current album: Strange Free World

Opening act: Hypnolovewheel

Back of ticket ad: Oh boy, Pirate Radio once more. The likelihood of the Kitchens ever being played on that station was less than nil, and yet.

And back to the browning etc. style of these tickets. The blue color scheme is all starting to blur out in my head but there’s yet more to go.

Meantime, while it’s not funny ha-ha or anything, it’s still a touch amusing in retrospect to realize that this show soundtracked a date between a straight couple, if only because of the identity of the band. But just a touch.

I could — but won’t — go into everything regarding questions of sexual identity as I grew up and socialization for gender norms and much more besides. I won’t go into it because some of it’s totally private and some of it is just kinda boring, but by the time this show came around I was still working out shyness on some fronts but pretty clear on others, one of which was clear since puberty hit, namely that I was straight. Oddly enough — to me at least, but maybe not to others — I kept running into random situations where it was assumed I wasn’t. Sometimes it was just somebody being randomly insulting at a San Diego mall (really happened! I just smiled and thought “Uh, okay.”), sometimes it was the fact that one of the last purchases I made before going to college for the first time was Richard Ellman’s biography of Oscar Wilde, sometimes it took stranger forms.

During the academic quarter this show took place at, one of the key classes was an excellent one on post WWII American gay lit, where I encountered the work of Gore Vidal, John Rechy, James Baldwin, Michael Nava, Edmund White and numerous others for the first time. (Christopher Isherwood too now that I think of it — A Single Man was the book read, recently adapted for a movie.) This class is actually a pretty crucial one in terms of the course of my future life, as it was a revised version of the paper I wrote for it, comparing Baldwin’s Another Country with Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren, which resulted in my being accepted for grad school at UC Irvine. I enjoyed the whole experience but there was one bizarre, jarring note — one night at the apartment I answered the phone and it proved to be some guy making what I seem to remember were these weird slurs about how I was gay for taking the class. I don’t remember the details but I remember crossly telling him “I’m not gay!” — obviously in a bit of unneeded defensiveness, and yet I remember that I wasn’t insulted by the claim but simply irritated that this guy had made an incorrect assumption — and his response being a confused “Oh…you’re not?” I have no idea who it was or who did the calling but it was just one of those very strange moments.

Talking about music and sexual identity and identification and packaging, well, you don’t need a blog entry for that, you need several conferences, a lot of books and constant study and engagement to the present day. So the simple and stripped down version in my case is to say that by 1991 I knew that a lot of favorites of mine were either openly gay or hiding in plain sight (sometimes to the point that I needed someone else to point it out to me — I think that was the year that I first encountered the idea that the Pet Shop Boys were gay courtesy of my roommate Steve’s boyfriend, having written about it in a paper for a class). And by the time I heard about the Kitchens of Distinction and got interested in their music, I knew that Patrick Fitzgerald was both open about his own sexuality and weaving it into the themes of many of his songs, and that had to have been at least part of the reason the band caught my attention somewhere along the way.

Why does a band capture the interest, in the end, and what sustains it? I’ve been fairly open over the years about the fact that for me it’s always been primarily about the music and much less so with the lyrics, but I always hold to the idea that a really good lyricist and/or singer will make the lyrics stick, make them truly stand out as opposed to making them simply be useful timekillers or signifiers of feelings or situations. So the Kitchens arguably had that going for them, in that Fitzgerald’s big-themed yet conversational, moments-in-time portraits — about how, to use the cliche, the personal really can be political — were near unique in the context in which they appeared, UK indie rock of the time and place and following on years of alternative/indie culture in general. I say near unique because who knows the reality, but from my terribly distanced perspective they seemed unique, but also clearly were talented, that Fitzgerald’s voice, a little dry but with its own gentle power, was as strong as his words.

And then of course the rest of the band, drummer Dan Goodwin and especially Julian Swales. That huge, huge guitar sound he came up with, its richness! The cover of Strange Free World, the band’s second album and the one they were touring behind here, was a deep blue depiction of the classic Hokusai wave with Mt. Fuji in the background, and by god if that wasn’t what the band’s music, especially Swales’s guitar, sounded like, a series of awe-inspiring waves endlessly cresting and crashing. Even if they weren’t shoegazers-as-such — they were well under way by the time MBV ended up on Creation and went nuts — they had that same feeling of overwhelming you, but if bands like Ride aimed to obliterate and zone, the Kitchens brought in space and arcs. This in turn informed Fitzgerald’s singing and words, creating something that was definitely unique rather than seemingly so. No other band had such a spot to themselves in both American and UK terms quite like them, certainly not on a major label at the time. (Morrissey, Bob Mould, REM? All candidates but all addressing those issues in their own ways as they chose.)

So as I said, this soundtracked a date — Angela and I’d met in an English class and kept talking after that, and ended out going to several shows over this year. She was more of a metal person, I remember, but was open to hearing anything, and I think I just must have talked about these guys really sounding good. Would I have brought up the focus of Fitzgerald’s work? Did I think it was important? I honestly don’t know. It’s interesting how these issues feed into the things we are supposed to like and enjoy, how we conduct ourselves socially — some are more comfortable with just being themselves than others, and I make no great claims at being so comfortable then, but I like to think I was better than some. It’s another dim part of the puzzle to me that is the past now.

I mentioned the Ride/Lush show being the first time I went to the Roxy; this was the first time at the Whiskey a-Go-Go and all the history there, but like the Roxy I was less impressed with that than the fact it was a small club to see a show at. We ended up going upstairs and getting a table overlooking the stage, chatting and chilling and watching both bands as they appeared. Hypnolovewheel were good fun — they were on their third album, looked like a bunch of music/comic nerds because they were a bunch of music/comic nerds (at least one of them was part of the overall Marvel team), had an easygoing time on stage and played some sharp songs. A classic opening band, you could say, but I think they would have been cool to see on their own.

The Kitchens appeared and nothing was volcanic about how they got into it, they just were, and I remember that Fitzgerald was smiling, confident and at the same time not trying to be anything more than, well, a regular guy who happened to be on stage, wearing unremarkable clothes and sporting his glasses and just being him. It’s not a new move but he wore it more readily than many others, he might well have been dressed in a plain buttoned shirt, and it suited him, even as Swales led the band with his sweeping, swooping guitar. I don’t watch musicians for their own sake, I suspect, at least not consciously, but from the angle we were sitting at we could see him concentrating on his playing, hitting his pedals as needed, coming up with those rich parts on songs like “Railwayed” and “Drive That Fast” with a seeming effortlessness, as Fitzgerald sang about love and life, sometimes between a man and a woman but more often than not between men, their joys and their own losses, photographs as lingering memories, raging against injustices yet never with a scream.

I remember Angela and I leaning in close together, across the table, as we watched and enjoyed, exchanging the occasional comment. Was it so strange to have that show soundtrack a date? I don’t think so, others might think differently, I would hope most wouldn’t. I certainly didn’t think I was doing anything remarkable and I don’t think it is remarkable, but then again, my viewpoint isn’t the world’s.

Otherwise, I would have missed this show and missed a good date, after all.

As a quick bonus, something a friend found just the other day — a slightly blurry but complete videotape of a Toilets of Destruction show from later that year in London. The Toilets were the Kitchens’ slightly goofy alter-ego for performing cover songs and the like, and this one’s a treat.

Not Just the Ticket — and now, a question for the audience

Due to some writing work I’d like to concentrate on today at home, no post today but hopefully one tomorrow. But I’ve been pleased by the reaction to the series so far and would like to thank everyone for the comments and feedback I’ve received, it’s been a treat!

My question — perhaps the first of several over the course of the series — is for everyone that’s been reading along. So we all like to talk about the first show we attended — but what was the second show? Was it better or worse than the first? Did it directly grow out of attending the first show? Do you have anything saved from that show? Was there any one thing particularly memorable about it? (As talked about here, mine was Hall and Oates in 1984.)

Looking forward to your responses!

Fried cabbage on brown rice

Another recipe that came with the latest basket — enjoyable, might have needed more curry powder or seasoning to give it some extra punch but plenty filling!

1 sm Onion, finely chopped
6 tb Oil
1 lg Tomato, sliced
1/2 ts Salt
1/2 ts Curry powder
1 md Cabbage, shredded
2 ea Carrots, sliced into rounds
1 ea Green bell pepper, chopped

Over moderate heat, fry the onion in oil until lightly browned, stirring to prevent scorching. Add tomatoes, salt & curry powder & continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes.
Add cabbage, carrots & pepper & mix well. Pour in about 1/2 c water. Cover the pot, reduce heat & simmer until the liquid is abosrbed & the cabbage is still slightly crunchy.

Not Just the Ticket — #14, Butthole Surfers, May 17, 1991

Butthole Surfers

Then-current album: Piouhgd

Opening acts: Redd Kross and L7

Back of ticket ad: Pirate Radio. I’m almost happy to see this one again after all the endless National ads. Almost.

Must have bought this at UCLA’s box office (even though it’s not for a UCLA show) given the switch back to typeset, the coated paper and the like. A little bit of a slight return.

So, two days after a show that, as part of Jesus Jones’ larger breakthrough, signaled a shift in the future for a wholly separate band, another such show, only even more directly and even more about the band in question, who once again weren’t performing on the bill. It all came down to something that happened over on the other balcony.

Not that I knew. How could I? I was off to this show for three wholly separate reasons that happened to be one reason, namely this amazingly killer lineup — Butthole Surfers headlining, Redd Kross middle of the bill, L7 kicking it all off at the start. I’m still a little in awe, and I was definitely incredibly thrilled then. I don’t think I felt anything about this show other than ‘oh hell yeah, this’ll be great.’

At this point in time as well I was starting to get into much more of a regular show groove. From months-at-a-time separation it was starting to come down to not merely every other month but almost every other week or, in this case, every other day. So there’s less of a sense of overwhelming anticipation each time, everything all jumbles up together — one show, another to come, time and again. I definitely remember that my friend Jason B. was part of the crowd that went because he headed out to the main floor of the Hollywood Palladium as soon as he got through the doors, either made a flying leap onto the floor or misjudged a step, and ended up spraining his ankle slightly for his pains.

The big attraction for him, and probably for a lot of us, was actually the opening act, who were sound-checking on stage as we all came in and were milling around with everyone else. L7 had become a firm favorite of mine ever since I’d reviewed the Smell the Glove EP on Sub Pop for KLA the year before — “Dude, wow, they rock!” or whatever the hell I thought to myself at the time. But they did, they sure as hell did — didn’t know anything about their first release on Epitaph but this EP looked stellar, sounded great, still does. So many great pissed-off and hilarious and pointed one liners, great gang shout choruses, pretty damn fun all around. And yeah, they happened to be a quartet of women musicians as well. Jason had seen them open for GWAR earlier and knew they were great, I was looking for my own confirmation of same.

Later shows would provide clearer memories but I can’t but imagine that they kicked down the damn door. All the more impressive given that the Palladium’s acoustics were and almost certainly still are a notorious, crazy mess. Slightly dim visions in my brain of a lot of hair being tossed around all over the place, throat-shredding screams and god knows what else — it wasn’t sprawling chaos except unintentionally, L7 were never about a mess for its own sake, they wanted to focus and destroy. No Bricks Are Heavy songs yet in the setlist I think but they would have slotted right on in.

L7 were also definitely the first all female band I’d seen on stage as well. I don’t know whether that was a dramatic moment in my head or not — in fact I only recognize it being the case in retrospect. I’d already seen bands where female musicians were the key driving forces of the group, Lush in particular, but this was a step beyond that still. Call it an unconscious education rather than a definite pledging of allegiance on my part, but even so it was a necessary step for me as a listener, as an audience member, something that had to happen so I could get certain stereotypes out of my head, or at least recognize them for what they were. You didn’t have to have a Y chromosome to crank up the amps and get really loud and mad, with a wicked but still sharp smile on one’s face. I probably just headbanged a bit, really.

Redd Kross, meanwhile, I had seen before without quite understanding who they were. I don’t ever really remember learning about them at all, it was more something I gathered by osmosis. But back in 1989, I was walking near the UCLA Student Center in Bruin Plaza, where bands often did noontime shows. I remember two long-haired guys — REALLY long-haired — kicking up a racket with their band, and while I was sorta appreciative I didn’t hang around. Not sure why, must have had to run to a class, but I did some asking around and my future apartment-mate Rick was I think who clued me in to who they were, at least by name. Not actually having grown up with KROQ, much less Rodney on the Roq, exactly why they were important escaped me a bit then. Two years on I was vaguely more aware and after having had a good time on the floor I retreated to the open audience balcony to watch the racket and see what was up.

Third Eye had either come out or was about to come out by then — amusingly, the inside art featured a photo from that very same UCLA noontime show — and while I couldn’t really get every last level of seventies jokes and references and so forth (they may have been pretty young then and all but I was barely conscious of anything beyond Star Wars by the end of that decade), I still enjoyed it as it stood. The hair was still long as hell but I do remember them doing “Linda Blair” and “Peach Kelli Pop” and otherwise thinking “Hey, pretty good.” Sometimes you learn by inches with a band.

And then the Buttholes. I have Musician magazine to thank for cluing me in to these guys’ existence — the same 1988 issue I picked up with what in retrospect was a crucial New Order interview also featured Hairway to Steven as its lead album review, which was something I doubt Rolling Stone would have even tried to think about doing at the time. My just out of high school self read about them liking strange noises and bodily functions and obscene drawings for song titles and penile replacement film projections and thought “What…I don’t…uh.” Probably. Three years on and college radio and knowing a lot of friends who liked them and actually listening to a lot of their albums and so forth, well, it does things to a person, so I thought I was prepared for whatever kinds of vile nonsense might be served up.

Turns out there wasn’t much vile nonsense at all, at least not on the level of genital slicing or whatever when it came to the backing films — I do vaguely remember a chopped-up overlay of what might have been a Chinese baseball team and a woman either screaming in pain or ecstasy or both, but the films themselves were inaudible because the band was ridiculously loud. The album they were touring behind, Piouhgd, isn’t one of their best — it’s them knowing they have a sound and essentially continuing with it, so Gibby Haynes mumbles and screams and otherwise does things through his vocal treatments, the rest of the band plods and roars along, it’s entertaining but not deathless, and I remember that about the show as well. Haynes stood to the side and seemed to mostly sing to the wings, but Paul Geary did a great high-speed lead vocal on “The Shah Sleeps on Lee Harvey’s Grave” for the encore, and the whole thing was an entertaining enough bout of confusion and hullabaloo. No idea if they did their Jesus and Mary Chain parody “Something” but if they did that would mean they did it on the same stage where I’d seen said band the year before, which would seem right.

Meanwhile, the other balcony. In a previous entry set at the Palladium (probably that JAMC show), I mentioned how one balcony was always kept open for the general public but the other was essentially the VIP lounge for guest list folks, band friends, industry types, whatever — mix and mingle and rock out. What I didn’t know at the time of the show was that over there — as came to light in a variety of stories in the next few years, and can also be read about here, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love met each other for the second and what turned out to be the crucial time for their relationship and everything that followed. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was still months away from release, nobody could guess the rollercoaster of the next three years.

But again, I can’t look back on that show and think “Wow, the unique atmosphere, rock history being made, I was there!” It’s nonsense to think that. It’s an interesting bit of trivia to be sure but I didn’t see it, none of my group would have seen it, none of us would have known what was going on. More than anything it’s a little weird, strange, but no more than that. It’s an accident of history that at a pretty okay overall show something else was going down.

Looking across the hall at the other balcony, I would have maybe just envied them the free drinks.

Stir-fried pea pods and tofu

The recipe as provided (from ‘Syd’s Cookbook,’ so thanks Syd!) was actually based around celery but the batch I had looked a touch sickly, while I had some broiled tofu around. So a little less crunchy but no less delicious! The recipe as provided below:

2 tb Oil
Diced firm tofu
8 oz Sliced Fresh Mushrooms
8 oz Fresh Pea pods
3 Sliced Green Onions
1 tb Cornstarch
1/4 ts Ginger
1/4 c Corn Syrup
2 tb Soy Sauce
2 tb Orange Juice
1/4 c Slivered Almonds
1 ts Grated Orange Peel

In a wok or large skillet, heat oil; saute tofu in oil 3 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, pea pods and onions; saute‚ for 3 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, ginger, corn syrup, soy sauce and orange juice; pour over vegetables. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with almonds and orange peel.

Not Just the Ticket — #13, Jesus Jones, May 15, 1991

Jesus Jones, UCLA

Then-current album: Doubt

Opening act: Soho

Back of ticket ad: did The National spend all their money on these Ticketmaster ads? Does that explain why they’re not around anymore? (At least, I assume they’re not around anymore…)

Another browning ticket, another hole punched through it, it’s almost like a pattern. It also reminds me of the fate of the Martians in Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, though perhaps more appropriately it should be Shelley’s “Ozymandias” I’m thinking of.

Meantime, a show by the group that had the song that invented the nineties and created alternative as we know it today. Bear with me.

I love contrasting then and now sometimes. Jesus Jones seem so utterly of their time that it’s almost befuddling now, and yet there they were, there I was, once again at a show at UCLA’s Ackerman Grand Ballroom but this time right near the front with a crowd going crazy, once again at a show riding a massive feeling of success, and if it wasn’t anything like Depeche Mode’s firmament-destroying impact it was still a hell of a feeling, with a song whose sentiments seemed to be keyed in to just that kind of feeling, however much of a statement about the state of the world it professed to be. (And give Mike Edwards this much, in writing a song about sitting around and watching things unfold on TV he pretty much described how ‘events’ happen for a lot of us, endlessly mediated.) They wore (and in Edwards’ case endlessly talked about) a rhetoric and style of how rock and roll had to be updated and electronic and of the now in order to survive, which was true enough on the one hand but which was about to be undercut on the other, so as with all other futurists they ended up becoming pretty dated pretty quickly.

There are two arguments that I’ll forever make, though. The first is the one that I need to do a little more research on, but it was advanced by a few people in the industry in contemporary articles over the following year — as well as Mudhoney, in at least one interview — and it runs something like this: “Right Here Right Now” was a crossover hit from the ‘Modern Rock’ charts, and such a big hit that it couldn’t be ignored. Almost immediately on its heels and following a similar path was EMF’s “Unbelievable,” even more of a confection and an earworm, sold as if a version of Jesus Jones’ aesthetics had been welded to the Beverly Hills 90210 version of rave and the last hangover of New Kids on the Block’s popularity. The end result was that a lot of radio programmers around the country thought to themselves “Hey there’s something going on here in this ‘modern rock’ thing and we shouldn’t miss out” and thus were a little more open to the idea of at least test listening to things that they wouldn’t have touched otherwise.

Which proved to be extremely convenient for DGC a couple of months later when they sent around a slew of copies of a song called “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Talking about all that some more would require another essay and a lot more research. Suffice to say the other thing that I’ll always tell people was that this show was really, really good. In fact it remains one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, a slam-bang, busy from the get-go, entertaining as all hell concert from a bunch out to entertain without apology. Perhaps perversely, there’s almost nothing I remember about it in terms of the specific details. Though I’d argue that kinda helps in the mind’s eye, it all becomes this big huge thing in my head that I had a great time at. Plus, being another UCLA show, I could just walk to the show and back as I did with the Charlatans. Can’t go wrong.

I had missed their show the previous September — I was out of town and felt annoyed I couldn’t make it, and apparently they’d previewed “Right Here Right Now” there as a new single, though still months away from any American release. Would have been fun to hear and judge that at the time, but I was at least already a fan of the band, having played Liquidizer to death in the months beforehand. So the fact that they were playing UCLA was something I took as a very good omen, and like the Charlatans while I could have snuck in to hide at KLA I ended up going the regular ticket route as before. And as before I remember a bunch of people crammed into the station waiting for enough people to be milling around outside so they wouldn’t be noticed in the crowd.

It helped too that there was a small screen of plants (artificial? maybe) in a planter that blocked the door into the station from general view, a kind of lobby of sorts with a bench. Being able to just sit there while everyone else was crammed at the other end of the ballroom proved pretty handy — nobody thought to wander over there much and we could all chat a bit and kill time.

I went up close for Soho, who were a real one-hit wonder thanks to their song “Hippychick,” which notably (and for a lot of people at the time, notoriously) sampled the opening guitar from “How Soon is Now” by the Smiths. Arguably even more than Jesus Jones, that song — thanks to it getting a fair amount of KROQ and otherwise related airplay — helped get people just that more used to the idea of sampling, remixes and more besides, only this time in an explicitly ‘modern rock’ context, the equivalent to the previous year’s omnipresence of “U Can’t Touch This” and “Ice Ice Baby” in terms of the (over)familiarity of the main riff. Keep in mind that Morrissey was at one of his own high points in LA around this time too — he either had just played or was about to play the Forum — and the clash of his rock purism with Johnny Marr’s dance experiments in Electronic as well as the use of That Riff in “Hippychick” was emblematic of a larger split that would intensify with the debut of MARS-FM in coming months, and even that was just a hint of how rave had fully started to lock down into LA in general…but again, another essay, perhaps.

The Soho set was fun, two singers and the one dude doing their thing, while two of the Jesus Jones folks ended up onstage for “Hippychick” itself, dancing and playing along, it was all good fun. Again, it’s all a feeling of a moment in history looking back at this whole show, something that was so itself. Similarly when Jesus Jones took the stage and, as mentioned, everything went nuts.

Mike Edwards was, of course, up front and center, and it seems now that I think he was almost stolidly planted there, guitar in hand and singing — well, rasping — away. Meantime, his bandmates were living up to an image that was running rampant in UK band circles around then — it was the antithesis of shoegazing, instead being a lot of leaping about and jumping in place and otherwise being as active on stage as the audience was (or hopefully was) in turn. In retrospect one almost wonders how much all the instruments were plugged in but it all seemed to work, and after all, why not? A couple of specific songs stick in the memory — “Welcome Back Victoria,” “Stripped” (not the Depeche Mode one, but imagine if…) — but otherwise I just remember being massively entertained, not caring about the eternal memories or anything. I am pretty positive that they kept being called back for multiple encores as well, not something I’ve seen with most bands — there might have been at least three?

I mentioned in the Charlatans entry about ‘that’ KROQ haircut that I seemed to see everywhere, long/bushy on the top, shaved at the back and sides, and it was definitely everywhere here. There was definitely a LOT of day-glo color in the audience as well. Add it up and the show is all the more emblematic of this time that is the nineties that is conveniently forgotten, the nineties that isn’t ‘the nineties,’ in the same way that the earliest part of the eighties isn’t ‘the eighties,’ and so forth, a time when there’s no codification yet of what’s going on, at least consciously. The stereotypes of easy cultural memory are handy precisely because they are so convenient and lazy, they allow for a summing up that is widely understood. Almost everything about this show — the bands involved, the looks of the people in attendance, the presumptions about where things would go from there — is far more lost to time than any overall decade’s portrait, real or imagined.

But a great time was had in the moment and at the moment. Who needs a greater justification?

Stuffed Swiss chard

A lot of good recipes came with the most recent basket and I wanted to knock off both the potatoes and chard pretty quickly, so I went for this. The recipe includes a carrot sauce that I made but the blender went funny (to put it mildly), so I went for a little sriracha and soy instead. Give it a whirl!

1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
7 md potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
1 bunch broccoli, chopped and steamed
1 green pepper, roasted or sauteed and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
6 large Swiss chard leaves, or 12 small leaves, minus stems
1/2 cup water

Carrot sauce:
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt

1. Prepare potatoes, broccoli and green pepper, set aside.
2. Cook onion, garlic and mushrooms in 1 1/4 cup water until onions are translucent. Drain.
3. Mix mashed potatoes with onion mixture, steamed broccoli and sauteed peppers. Add salt, pepper and basil to taste.
4. Preheat oven to 350F. If using large chard leaves, cut in half crosswise. Leave small leaves whole. Stuff with potato mixture and roll up like a crepe.
5. Place stuffed chard in baking dish and add 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake 40 to 50 minutes, until heated throughout and chard is tender. Serve with carrot sauce.

~ – – – – – – – – – – Carrot Sauce – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
1. Cook all ingredients together 10 to 12 minutes, until carrots are tender.
2. Puree mixture in a blender until smooth. Add more water for desired consistency.

Not Just the Ticket — #12, Celebrity Skin, Apr. 13, 1991

Celebrity Skin, Hollywood High

Then-current album: Good Clean Fun

Opening acts: the Dickies, Green Jello (before they became Green Jelly), Tiny Tim and…No Doubt?! Wait, I saw No Doubt? What the hell?

Back of ticket ad: The National…again! (And I bought this ticket on March 11, so a Super Bowl tie-in seemed slightly out of date.)

Definitely starting to settle into a pattern for how these tickets look. Variations will be few and far between for a while.

And this show, this very strange show.

I had a vague memory that there were five bands on this bill, I know that much. This show was the first fully ‘LA’ show I’d attended, in that pretty much the entire lineup was locally based and there wasn’t (or I think there wasn’t) any tour going on by the headliners. So, an actual local show, in a random but not completely out of the blue venue (local historians doubtless know more but I gather Hollywood High’s heyday as a place for shows was the late seventies/early eighties for various punk and new-wave related events).

I’d heard Celebrity Skin the previous year thanks to an initial EP that had a version of Abba’s “S.O.S.” which most of my friends who knew of it hated. I didn’t mind it, so maybe that says more about me. The rest of the EP was fairly anonymous and I never got the follow-up album but I’d heard that they were ‘a great live band’ or something, or maybe the ticket price was just right, though honestly the bigger draw for me probably was the Dickies, the original SoCal punk parody band that ended up being the real thing almost by accident thanks to the UK. Whatever one can say about their highly wayward career those original few albums and singles are pretty hilarious still, and I’d gotten into them over the previous couple of years so why not.

The only other band I remembered being on the bill was Green Jello, so when I decided to google around a bit on a whim right before typing this I found this flyer, with the news that Tiny Tim and No Doubt were the other bands. Honestly, I am completely baffled by this news, and I almost wonder is it my memory that’s wrong or is it the flyer that’s wrong.

See, I find it terribly hard to believe I would forget a Tiny Tim performance. I mean, my god, it’s Tiny Tim, what more could one say? The man took the chance that random novelty fame gave him and ran with it for years, in process proving himself to be somebody with an equal amount of crazily deep knowledge of American popular songs, all the way back to the nineteenth century, and a sense of humor that defies easy description. Plus, that voice, which might as well have inspired Antony and the Johnsons as anything else. How in the world could I forget an appearance by him?

No Doubt, well, that would have been more striking in retrospect, in fact it IS more striking in retrospect. Eric Stefani would have been in the band still, their debut for Interscope was a year off, etc. etc. Yet again, though, no memory. Part of me is wondering whether or not I simply missed both bands entirely, but the way the lineup on the flyer reads, Green Jello was at the bottom of the bill and I definitely remember them. Perhaps there was a juggling in the lineup, perhaps something else, but I’m still a bit baffled here.

Which is good, I think — I don’t think you should have to or be expected to remember everything about a show unless you’re an autodidact or something similar. So far I’ve been pretty clear in my head about opening bands but I’m about to start shifting into a period where it’s going to get a lot fuzzier, where the openers were local no-names for the most part who never went anywhere. No Doubt were one of them at the time in my head, with only vague memories of a few ads in the LA Weekly and a random mention from a friend or two over the next year to follow up with that, but until this very post I could have sworn I’d never actually seen them. Very, very strange. I don’t think I could have consciously repress the memory or anything, I’m not that vindictive (god help me, I still remember seeing Rage Against the Machine all too well…).

So what DO I remember of this show (and now I ask myself this with more of a cutting ‘hey, wake up your brain’ sense that before). The gym itself was just that, with the stage setup at one end like we were at a prom dance, not too surprising an effect. I’m pretty sure I was with my friend Steve M. from KLA among others, and at one point he noticed a stylized design on the wall — not the school logo or mascot or anything, more of a seventies/eighties line/circle combination that was rather vaguely designed for vague reasons, I’m guessing — and made a deadpan ZZ Top comment that had me laughing. You had to be there.

It was my first but not last encounter with Green Jello, and in retrospect I’m a little surprised I ended up seeing them more than I saw GWAR, though again it’s the local effect at work — they were around so I saw them a couple of times. Their own demi-fame with a sludgy version of “Three Little Pigs” was about a year and a half off but they had most of their set already worked out down to the various costumes and antics, so we got said song, with the destruction of ‘houses’ by the wolf and all, plus at least two other standards (as such): “Obey the Cowgod,” with a red-eyed bovine puppet/costume the size of Big Bird looming around onstage, and “Anarchy in Bedrock,” taking a certain Sex Pistols song of note and altering some lyrics (thus “I/wanna be/FRED FLINTSTONE”). Huge costumes of characters from the show proceeded to chase each other around the fringes of the crowd on the gym floor, and god knows what else happened. Well there was the drummer (I think?) who had a bikini top that appeared to be made from huge coconut shells or something similar. Anyway, Green Jello! I think I laughed a bit.

The Dickies, meanwhile, had no new studio album — their last had come out a couple of years beforehand — but apparently had their “Just Say Yes” single surface at some point before the show (at the very least, the T-shirts had that image on the front), and I kinda remember them playing it. Beyond that it was a show drawing on various things throughout their off-on existence, and I’d played their live disc We Aren’t the World enough times to guess what it might be like, and so it proved — merrily ridiculous. Stan Lee and Leonard played off each other just so, the rest of the guys did their part, and I definitely recall the unveiling of the arm-long penis puppet for “If Stewart Could Talk” — I can’t easily describe it beyond the obvious, but let’s just say it would have made the most bizarre Muppet ever, as well as the least family-friendly. (It was the eyes, especially.) They were going to close on “Gigantor” but the lights came up right after Stan was starting on the opening riff, Leonard made a half-plea/half-demand that at the show continue and there was a vague sense of confusion both in the audience and on the stage. Then they left, oh well.

And then Celebrity Skin. (And yes, I know their name came from the magazine, but when the Hole album came out some years later I couldn’t help but wonder if Courtney was referring to that more or to the band.) Their whole image was clearly meant to be a distressed, thrift-store take on glam metal that’s hard to describe without the word ‘wacky,’ sadly. (Then again, they might have liked it.) Given their general seventies-friendly sound, call ’em a proto-Jellyfish, perhaps, or a less successful equivalent to same, though Jellyfish were more about groovy good times and studio perfectionism while Celebrity Skin seemed to be about costume parties and not quite making visual sense. If nothing else it was the first time I ever saw Don Bolles, who had ended up as their drummer — he looked rather natty in a grey greatcoat, a Kaiser-style spiked helmet and a huge and obviously false white mustache, so I guess I learned what it was like when Ludendorff founded rock and roll during World War I. (Somebody had to.) Everyone else I’m not too clear on but I’m pretty sure the lead guy had something sparkly on — that or silk scarves or something.

“S.O.S.” took a bow and was well-received but I couldn’t tell you anything else about what they played, I hadn’t heard the full album (I don’t think I have to this day), though there was an introduction song that had the idea of introducing themselves as part of the lyric, of course. Mostly there was giddiness and that seems appropriate as part of a hometown headlining show. The band didn’t last much longer so at least I saw them on a relative high.

Meanwhile, in that flyer link above, one of the commenters says “Do you remember the chili peppers running across in their socks?!” I don’t remember THAT either.