Up North for a Bit

I keep running into rock ‘n’ rollers…

I was up in Novato (just north of San Francisco) for my uncle’s 80th birthday. The B-52s were playing a local benefit concert in Novato and were staying at my hotel. I ran into their fearless leader, Fred Schneider (a very nice fellow), in the elevator.

While up north, I toured Google, where my youngest son James works. Amazing work environment! It’s good to see a large corporation doing right by their employees in so many ways.

My wife Kent and I took a break up there and caught “Nine” and “District Nine.” I loved the look (sort of steam punk) of “Nine”; the script was less imaginative (but not offensive). “District Nine”, however, was bristling with ideas and energy. I knew the budget for the film and believe I saw every penny up on the screen. Bravo! to this little gem of a sci-fi film.

The birthday weekend was great. I got to see my cousins from Alaska, San Diego and Washington state. I brought my mom up with me, so between the lively conversations between the three of us (my mom, my wife & me) the six hour drive just flew. My wife made goopy but delicious sandwiches for the trip up so we wouldn’t have to stop. My mom and I both got liquidy (juice from the fresh farmer’s market tomato slices) parts of our sandwiches down the front of our shirts, of course. My heavily patterned shirt hid the stains.

There’s only about two weeks left at the Fullerton Museum Center (see Appearances) to view my original art for the notorious “BeatleSongs” cover. Come see why I got death threats from Beatles fans and made the front page of the Los Angeles Times as well as the pages of “People” magazine!!

I’ve got two appearances this weekend: Saturday is the opening of “October Shadows”, Taylor White’s annual exhibition of Halloween-inspired artwork. I submitted eight pieces (two were created just for this year’s show). On Sunday I’m signing the second book collection of material from “BOMP!” magazine at FreakBeat Records, one of the best (if not the best) music shops in Los Angeles. Ironically, it’s one of the last great indy CD shops (they’re all disappearing rapidly) in the town that hosts most of the music industry. I think the music industry is mostly to blame for the fact that it’s so difficult for a guy like me, who is dying to spend loads of dough on CDs, to locate enough shops with enough variety to find and purchase the CDs I’m looking for. The great shops are almost all gone! The great indy shops like Aron’s and Rhino have disappeared along with the deep catalogue stores like Tower Records and the Virgin Megastores. Gone! I HATE having to go to Best Buy or Target, whose staff knows nothing about the music they sell, to pick up my CDs. On my last trip to Best Buy I noticed that the CD section has been reduced to almost half of what it was. I am forced now to do most of my CD purchasing on the internet. No more browsing through bins, no more unexpected discoveries. And, from what I hear from my friends in The Biz, pretty soon, no more CDs.

OK; this is bumming me out. I don’t try to write these Journal entries as downers.

Here’s something positive (and really, really IMPORTANT): From October 2, 2009 through February 7, 2010, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is hosting the largest exhibition ever assembled of the works of John William Waterhouse (“John William Waterhouse – Garden of Enchantment”). Waterhouse is perhaps my favorite painter of all time, a perfect blend of tight and loose brushmanship combined with the juiciest, most exquisite color sense. His men and women have an eternal, sensual beauty that I don’t visually tie to any one time period. Go to Google Images to feast upon a bounty of his latter day Pre-Raphaelite paintings. It’s worth a trip to Montreal to see these amazing works (my wife and I are going in a couple of weeks just to see them).

Great catalogue, too.

Happy to end on a high note.

4 Responses to “Up North for a Bit”

  1. Norm says:

    How about Amoeba Records? I thought they were just up here in SF and Berkeley, but I see there’s one down in Hollywood too.

  2. Bill says:

    Yes, you’re right; since the demise of Aron’s, Rhino, Tower Records and the Virgin MegaStores, Amoeba Records is the last “deep catalogue” record store standing in the Los Angeles area. Unlike when Tower had a presence in Pasadena, I have to make a real effort to get over there (Hollywood) from where I live (Pasadena) and choose my time carefully to avoid Rush Hour. In addition to great selection (it’s the size of a two story supermarket, the upper floor being reserved for DVDs; I believe the Hollywood store is even bigger than the SF & Berkeley originals), Amoeba has a terrific, helpful, knowledgeable staff.

    If you’re an Austin fan, treasure the presence of Waterloo Records and patronize them frequently to keep them in business. It’s a great shop!

  3. Bill says:

    I should add that FreakBeat Records (in Sherman Oaks, where I’ll be signing tomorrow; see “Appearances.” Speaking of which, see you all tonight at the opening of the “October Shadows” show of Halloween-inspired art at the Nucleus Gallery?) has a tremendous selection (they’re extremely diligent when it comes to stocking imports). It may well be the best indy record store in the L. A. area.

    For me, though, that’s a pretty big schlepp from Pasadena down the Ventura freeway way out to Sherman Oaks. If they were closer, though, I’d probably be there every day, greatly reducing my work output.

  4. ed schatz says:

    Bill;
    Great to hear someone speaking out about the demise of music stores. Long gone are the days of the aforementioned stores, and the conucopia of mom and pos shops that we all enjoyed rummaging through, the names too vast to list. The demise of cds, when it happens will be a tragic loss to cover art by so many incredible artists; you, roger dean, pat woodroffe, hypgnosis, etc. Everything streamlined and reduced to pure profit, ugh, a bummer it certainly is. Received an email notice from JF about the upcoming new books, cannot wait to obtain signed HC editions, certain step. You are the finest pencileer about, rivalling J. Giraud. Take care and please consider an interview for the series, likely coming this year alicia austin and dean yeagle. My best, Bill, edward in lakewood.

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