Ricky Watters: “BBQ Potato Chips Are the Ultimate”
When we were wee bitty Dunces growing up in the Bay Area, we idolized our 49ers. This was before we knew (or cared to know) about collective bargaining, steroids, domestic violence and salary caps (or even ‘salaries,’ for that matter). They were Niners, and they kicked most everyone all over the field, and they were awesome.
We knew them all — even the offensive lineman. We had Joe and Jerry and Roger and John and Harris and Guy and Jesse and Steve (Wallace) and Steve (Young) and Charles and Eric and Ronnie and Keena and Brent and Tom and even Mike Fucking Cofer. The only question was whether we’d beat the Vikings, then the Giants, then later the Cowboys, and finally the Packers, in the NFC Championship Game. Sometimes we would and sometimes we wouldn’t, but we’d almost always get close (I vividly remember winning ‘only’ 10 games and missing the playoffs in 1991). Either way they’d riot in the Mission, which, though only a mile and a half from where I grew up (which wasn’t a perfect place, either), might as well have been present-day Juarez for all I knew (though it looked OK from the Laidlaw bus on the way school every morning).
The Niners, good guys that they were, played a charity basketball game in Kezar Pavilion every offseason. This was your chance to see these heroes in the flesh, up close and without all their armor. We were there. With much trepidation I approached John Taylor and asked for an autograph. He asked, “You got 10 bucks?” I said “N-noo” and started retreating to the bleachers. He hollered out something and I turned around and he signed my ticket stub. I still don’t know if he was messing with me or actually trying to extort 10 bucks out of an unemployed, half-grown person, but I’ve since concluded that this was the moment when I realized not all athletes were as great as I’d previously assumed they were.
Years passed and we grew somewhat and saw the Niners in a different light: They were still very good — not dominant, but very good — every year. But the cast had changed: Where there had been Joe, there was now Steve. We were OK with that because he, like Joe, tore up defenses without fail, which was nice. We also had Charles and Deion and Richard and Rickey and Ricky and William as new complements to Steve. It was this year — 1995 — when I became aware of the concept of ‘buying championships.’ But we were still the Niners, and kicked everyone’s asses, and it was awesome. A precocious tween with no bills, job, nagging wife or serious work ethic, I had all kinds of time to absorb every number in the Chronicle’s sports section. And soon it was decided: Ricky Watters was the new BEST PLAYER EVER. He scored five — FIVE! — touchdowns in one playoff game. He could run, catch, spin, high-step…the Man. Like Taylor, he came to the local basketball gym to play a charity game with other Niners, and we all got him to sign stuff and he was the coolest. I think he even threw down a dunk, though maybe not.
But Ricky, like the Niners of the mid-to-late 90s, never achieved greatness, though he was consistently very good, and occasionally spectacular. Then he bolted for Philly and had a couple decent seasons there and places beyond before retiring after, according to the omniscient and infallible Wikipedia, reportedly turning down Cleveland’s contract offer out of fear that terrorists would blow up the next plane he boarded (this being the age of 9/11 hysteria, and he being a man not paid for his intellect).
Recently, our thoughts returned to the guy. An extensive Google search followed. His modest personal website indicates he does promotional speaking, helps run football camps, and bankrolls a positive-vibe rap label.
But he also proffers up a glimpse into his personal life:
- Writing and Producing Music
- Martial Arts
- Reading Poetry and Self-Help Books
- Playing Chess
- Watching SyFy, Chiller and Kung Fu Movies
- Riding his Segway
- Eating BBQ Middleswarth Chips
Mister Heavenly: Nick Diamonds Tells All…most nothing
Nick “Diamonds” Thorburn and Honus Honus share vocal duties for nascent indie super-conglom Mister Heavenly when they’re not fronting Islands and Man Man, respectively. (Yes, the same band that features Modest Mouse’s Joe Plummer and (for now) Michael Cera.) We caught up with them after their show last week at San Francisco’s Cafe du Nord. Among much malarkey and nonsense emerged these nuggets: Mister Heavenly’s as-yet-untitled debut album should come out around the end of next year (a new Islands album is also slated for release around the same time). Their current sound is “doom wop”; the ultimate goal is “reed-based jazz” (this means NO flügelhorn), and everybody respects everybody. Just watch the damn video already. Full transcription below.
Dunce Cap Quarterly: So tell us how this came to be — how you guys got together. Tell us the genesis.
Nick Diamonds: Mutual friendship. Just mutual friendship.
DCQ: And it’s been a few months in the works, right?
ND: Yeah, it’s been about a year. We came up a year ago, and we said we wanted to make a song or two together, and we ended up making a whole album, and we just mutually respect each others’ work.
DCQ: And you’re still doing the Islands thing, right?
ND: Still doing the Islands thing. Gonna make an Islands album in January. I think it’ll come out at the end of the year. The Mister Heavenly album will probably come out at the end of the year, too — the end of next year.
DCQ (referencing Cera): How does that Hollywood guy, the actor guy? I forget his name. He did he get involved?
ND: Oh, Keanu Reeves.
DCQ: Yeah. How’d you get him in the band? How does that work?
ND: We were just big friends of Bill & Ted’s, and The Matrix, and we just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if Bill — or Ted — played bass for us?’ It was bogus, but…Bill was our first choice, but we got Ted, and…
DCQ: And the rest is history.
ND: …take what you can get, you know?
DCQ: This is a typical musical pseudo-journalism question, but what sound are you going for?
ND: Jazz. We’re trying to make a really authentic jazz record.
DCQ: Jazz? You seem like you might be a little bit…off.
ND: We’re working on it. I think it might take a couple records to get it to completely jazz. Right now what we’ve settled on is doom-wop, and that’s our genre. Doom-wop.
ND: Doom. Wop.
DCQ: Describe that.
ND: Well, it’s doo-wop with doom-like subcultures. Sub…subcultures? Subtexts.
ND: Lyrically it’s doomy, but with a doo-wop aftertaste.
ND: But what we really are all into is clarinet-based jazz. Reed-based. Anything with a reed in it. So bass clarinet, clarinet, saxophone…
DCQ: What about flügelhorn? Flügelhorn?
ND: Nope, it’s gotta be reed-based…
DCQ: No flügelhorn.
ND: …but we’re getting there. We’re getting there.
DCQ: Well, we’re looking forward to it…And what’ll this album be called?
ND: I don’t wanna scoop too much, but…we haven’t settled on a title yet. But Mister Heavenly is the band — that we know. Sub Pop is the label — we’re contractually obligated to put (that) out. And (the rest)…we’ll figure it out.
(irrelevant non-sequiturious banter, cut to credits)
We also got ahold of the set list from one of Mister Heavenly’s earlier shows (not sure if this is from Portland or Seattle). Some guy told us that the track “Charlyne” was an ode to Michael Cera’s ex-girlfriend, but we have no way of verifying this, and, what’s more, nobody really cares. Song names, courtesy of Honus Honus:
California Love Redux
Something led us to that old Dr. Dre/Tupac “California Love” video the other day — you know, the apocalyptic one where they’re running around in rags and ramshackle Hummers, all early Gibson-like? We couldn’t help but admire the stylistic shout-outs (ha! get it? hip-hop reference) they squeeze in there: Aside from the obvious overriding Mad Max trilogy theme, the video opens with vintage Chris Tucker doing his 5th Element thing (you know, the outerspace-crackhead schtick he used to land more lucrative gigs playing comic relief to Jackie Chan’s unintentional straight man) and is followed with a scene lifted from The Warriors before descending into full Road Warrior mode; this later tiptoes quietly into Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome territory when they move to sweeping aerial shots of the stars rapping inside a, yes, Thunderdome. The whole video’s simply fantastic, but why waste it on “California Love?” I know Australian apocalypse-themed jams don’t usually chart, but still: “California Love” is one of the few songs that actually warrants your classic mid-90s rap video — you know, 64s, Cristal, ladies in thongs, egregious materialism, guest spots by other definitively regional rappers.
What’s that you say? Oh.
The Moss Impact on Culver City
Culver City is experiencing a major re-development at present, spearheaded and contributed to by architect and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss. Mr. Moss and his team of 25 at Eric Owen Moss Architects have dubbed the revitalization Conjunctive Points, and have and continue to work on more than 20 projects in Culver City, many of which are located on Hayden Street alone. Known for unique interpretations and a diversity of form, Moss’ varied projects fortify Culver City’s hefty reputation as a community teeming with arts. Pictured above are 8511 Warner Drive, a parking structure and retail project and a city-sponsored Architecture as Art public artwork entitled What Wall.
Pictured here is a rendering of the Gateway Art Tower, an “information tower” and office building, constructed at the corner of Hayden and National, marking the primary entry point into the revitalized zone of the city. The building includes 5 screens that advertise messages to passersby pertaining to local tenants’ events and news.
Another of the Architecture as Art public art works, the Beehive, occupies the front section of a two story office building housing medschool.com.
Finally, this image depicts the interior of 3555 Hayden Ave, an office building and television production facility.
The man-boy who bragged last fall (while chewing on a gob of Twizzlers for dramatic effect, mind you) that one of the myriad entities suing him had “folded like Mitch Williams in the ninth” in settlement negotiations has pulled the ultimate fiscal implosion: Lenny Dykstra is bankrupt.
Dykstra’s well-documented rise from scumbag athlete to Wall Street darling for bored bankers in desperate need of cocktail party fodder begs a number of questions:
a.) Why does anyone listen to Jim Cramer anymore? Or, more accurately, why did anyone listen to Jim Cramer up until Jon Stewart reduced him to a blubbering, goateed effigy for financial media’s rather long shortcomings during the subprime buildup and collapse?
b.) Who brings Twizzlers to a closed-door meeting in a federal courthouse? During which hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake? “Ashtray money” aside, Lenny either planned out his Twizzler feast hours in advance and stashed the goods in his briefcase, pockets, underwear and/or socks, or employs an assistant whose sole duty as such is to keep Mr. Dykstra with Twizzler-in-hand at all times. “Where’s my fucking Twizzler brick, dude? I didn’t hire you and buy probably one of the top-five most badass Twizzler briefcases around for you to carry everywhere I go and not open and give me Twizzlers LIKE NOW!!!!”
More to come, without a doubt, sooner or later, but hopefully frequently for the rest of our natural lives.
The Old Girdle Factory
A full half of DCQ’s editorial team was walking south from the L train on Bedford Ave. this past weekend when it stumbled through a gauntlet of collapsible store signs that virtually funneled passersby through the glass doors lining the sidewalk and into a grungy corridor.
Inside, we found a mix of viable businesses (coffee shop, hairdresser, snobby craft beer outlet) amid empty display windows. We got the scoop from George, the manager of said beer purveyor — a place called the Spuyten Devil Grocery that has an accompanying bar with myriad unpronounceable brews a few blocks away. George informed us that the compound was originally a girdle factory, and when people stopped wearing those things it turned into a Goodwill of sorts before its owner subdivided it into its current composition.
This latest transformation, Spuyten George continued, happened about a decade ago. The place now carries the familiar North Williamsburg air of hipster funk, but with a bit of a heroin chic nose — if we were in a depressed I-5 corridor town that lacked a Greyhound station, this would serve as the local shoot-up spot. There was no identifiable urine scent, but twenty bucks says people pee here with some regularity.
The timing of the building’s renovation again became relevant a few moments later, when we noticed this sketch, covered with scuffs and adorned here and there with old gum wads, in the corner. Early, overlooked Sam Flores? We need Art Direction here.
In any case, tenants like the place because rent is significantly cheaper for everyone except the coffee shop, which fronts the street. Additionally, more petty operations can take out smaller lots than one would find in street-fronting retail in the neighborhood, creating a few select opportunities for small businesses to establish a physical presence in a neighborhood that’s only a couple of credits short of max gentrification (though Hipster Heaven becomes Trinitarios Slashing Your FaceVille real fast a couple blocks south of the Factory).
Respectable Men Do Not Wear Mustache Tattoos
We’re a day late on this, but the LA Times piece on Norteño-turned-faux accountant Richard Rodriguez has us mulling and pondering: a.) How long till the cop gets sent up the river? And, more importantly; b.) Is an upper lip tat necessarily detrimental to the credibility of a court testimony? Mightn’t it bring in sympathy points in some cases? An example: Say you’re on trial for a petty crime in Australian ranch country — shearing sheep out of season or disparaging Chopper Read, I dunno. The jury is composed entirely of poor ranching folk whose cattle compete with kangaroos for a shrinking stock of grassland. Your upper lip reads “kangaroos are great…for dinner” in Olde English. Helpful or harmful? I say helpful. Chopper would probably agree.
The moral of the story is that sometimes growing a moustache to cover up a tattoo is not always a smart legal maneuver, though in the case of Rodriguez it would seem to be a good move because without it he basically looks like your standard-issue Dodgers bleacher fan slash Latino gangbanger. And no jury in the world likes both of those things.
For our sadistic brethren, graphic video of some fat (and hopefully soon-to-be-indicted) policeman steel-booting Rodriguez here.
Death of Newspaper Re-re-confirmed
Say what you will about his politics or his dubious interpretation of ‘objectivity’ — Rupert Murdoch got it right this time around. Back in the spring, when a very few brave souls produced a muffled murmur that resembled “Newspaper Bailout,” pundits praised Ol’ Rupe for charging readers to browse his Wall Street Journal online — a tactic eschewed by nearly every other daily in the nation.
Among the papers fearful of instigating a reader revolt, of course, was New York’s Paper of Record. The other day, we came upon this sordid scene at a craft fair in McCarren Park:
Our photo work could stand to improve — standing there, shooting away, we felt like the proverbial foot thwacking the proverbial dead horse — but the sign reads “50% Off!” The Times didn’t even bother to send out a proper sales rep — the poor sap here appears to be the laid-off mother of one of their delivery boys (they can still afford those, right?). Sad, sad days for the dead tree industry…
Ernest and Ironhead Go to Heaven
In keeping with the childhood reminiscence tip we’ve been on recently, today we reflect on two men who provided us with some of the weirder sub-pop culture moments of our youth before dying too young. Jim Varney, known for his franchise-friendly “Ernest P. Worrell” redneck character, succumbed to pack-a-day-spawned lung cancer in 2000, further proof that the bulk of those who provide America with good, wholesome family fun are not themselves living that same charmed portrayal of “life” (see: Ray Kroc, anyone from Disney).
Varney’s influence on much of DCQ cannot be overstated. But we’ll try. Another day. For now, let’s just say we miss the guy. And that wherever he is, we know a turtle’s biting his nuts, or he just tripped over a tree trunk, or the chef just made him eat something green and gloppy.
Then there’s Craig “Ironhead” Heyward. He was Zestfully Clean for a good chunk of the 1990s. He was also 300-plus pounds! And a competent running back! !Ke increible! For the fashionistas out there, the always-reliable Wikipedia credits Heyward, via commercials aforementioned and embedded below, with “introducing a generation of American men to the modern version of the Luffa that is now a fixture in many showers and bathtubs.”
Ironhead died of brain cancer in May 2006. We’ll tip one tonight to the last of the fat backs.
No Links for You! Jimmy Kimmel Sleeps with Jones Day
A few months ago, somewhere along the daily descent from online work research to tangentially work-related online reading to Youtube animal porn, Emily Gould became a known name to us me (disclaimer: much of DCQ experienced a near-total internet blackout from 2002-2005, which partially overlaps with the time period in which subject Gould rose to infamy). She’s a competent and compelling enough writer, but Jimmy Kimmel got drunk and punched his grandma and then disappeared Larry King before verbally eviscerating Gould on national TV over the dire threat her employer’s Gawker Stalker app poses to
celebrities like him free societies everywhere. Other bloggers ragged on Gould’s performance, she meekly defended herself, others came to her aid, still others doubled up on the attack, and the celebrities themselves were able to leave their Cloaks of Invisibility at home that week when they picked up their frappuccinos.
Then, in February, a Cleveland startup that tracks high-end real estate deals and IDs the players involved found itself the target of some strikingly Kimmelesque criticism: Farcically malevolent legal giant Jones Day sued Blockshopper for daring to evoke the firm’s name and link to its website in articles describing condo purchases by two Jones Day attorneys. The site’s founders chose to settle with Jones Day rather than blow their wad on legal fees fighting an army of 2,000-plus smarmy Ivy League grads.
For the curious, the firm claimed the site’s usage of links constituted copyright violation. If that’s the case, Jones Day, you’ve got your work cut out for you. The real motivation for the suit was most assuredly the fact that Chesters One and Two didn’t appreciate their addresses being sprayed all over the virtual world of realty. (If you’re still struggling with good guy/bad guy, let this guide you: Jones Day is the firm that helped Chevron first defeat a lawsuit by relatives of dirt-poor Nigerians killed while protesting the company’s environmental and human rights violations, then turn around and countersue the villagers for $500K in an attempt to discourage other third-world exploitees who might sue in the future—just as the Blockshopper suit was used as a suppression tactic aimed at other would-be
freeloading hippies channelers of free traffic to the firm’s site.
Skip Work for The Wild Things Day
by Benjamin Fuchs
That’s what we’re doing — if we can navigate the hordes of pasties jostling for seats, that is. If not, we’ll just call up Darryl Strawberry and rail crushed Pop Rocks in Washington Square Park. He’s cousins with Doc Gooden, who’s cousins with Gary Sheffield, who played left field like Kevin Mitchell, who held his girlfriend hostage and then cut off her cat’s head. Only one of the preceding assertions is false, and it’s not the one you’d hope.
Ignoring the fact that this fragile world is just rife — rife, I say! — with such saccharine abuse and feline homicide, some parents are reportedly shitting their Flyover State dungarees over the specter of Maurice Sendak’s grinning monsters giving little Tanner nightmares. Prompted by a Newsweek reporter to address the issue for the umpteenth time since test screenings launched last summer, Sendak said he’d assuage the concerns of Mom n’ Pop by telling them “to go to hell…if (the kids) can’t handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it’s not a question that can be answered.”
Sendak went on to elaborate that he couldn’t accept the “concentration on kids being scared, as though we, as adults, can’t be scared. Of course we’re scared. I’m scared of watching a TV show about vampires. I can’t fall asleep. It never stops. We’re grown-ups; we know better, but we’re afraid.”
It’s no stretch, then, to conclude that Sendak sees fear as an essential part of growing up — something he says American parents are remarkably reluctant to accept, and something he made a point to highlight in Where the Wild Things Are:
“We are squeamish. We are Disneyfied. We don’t want children to suffer. But what do we do about the fact that they do? The trick is to turn that into art. Not scare children, that’s never our intention.”
On a side note, the breezy, captivating Newsweek Q&A — which brought together Sendak, adaptation director/Labcabincalifornian Spike Jonze, and screenwriter/philanthropist Dave Eggers — revealed Sendak’s inspiration for his celebrated beasts:
“The monsters were based on relatives. They came from Europe, and they came on weekends to eat, and my mom had to cook. Three aunts and three uncles who spoke no English, practically. They grabbed you and twisted your face, and they thought that was an affectionate thing to do. And I knew that my mother’s cooking was pretty terrible, and it also took forever, and there was every possibility that they would eat me, or my sister or my brother. We really had a wicked fantasy that they were capable of that. We couldn’t taste any worse than what she was preparing. So that’s who the Wild Things are. They’re foreigners, lost in America, without a language. And children who are petrified of them, and don’t understand that these gestures, these twistings of flesh, are meant to be affectionate. So there you go.”
If you’re still at your desk reading this, really, shame on you. SHAME. Take a look around. It’s Friday. It’s probably raining. The free bagels are gone. Everybody with a spare excuse or sick day is at home sleeping off last night. And nobody in the office is actuallyworking except for The Bobs, who are cashing in your 2010 raise for telling the bossman how expendable you are.
So grow some balls, fake some swine flu, smoke some dope, and drop twelve hard-earned duckets to spend the afternoon being a kid again.
Mayer Hawthorne: “I’m Not a Throwback Artist”
by Ben Fuchs
Dunce Cap Quarterly caught up with emerging soul artist Mayer Hawthorne backstage after his raucous set at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl last month. Two days prior, he and backing band The County had crashed the same venue to help The Roots close out their show immediately after playing to a full house at the new NYC Knitting Factory.
Lacking any sort of identifying credentials at the time, DCQ didn’t exactly get the Rolling Stone treatment: Hawthorne’s manager, the appropriately-monikered Big Worm, ushered us into some sort of murky boiler room, where he informed us that we had “two minutes” with the man (and he did, in fact, mean “two minutes,” looming over us, finger on watch). The resulting interview was not Bangs-worthy.
Hawthorne himself was gracious enough, a thoughtful crate-digger who had clearly been run through the media ringer during his first national tour with the project (he started out as hip-hop DJ Haircut). He took exception, however, at the suggestion that he was a retro artist — a legitimate gripe, though a tad ironic considering his Brooklyn Bowl set was a throwback, almost to the word, of the set he performed at the Knitting Factory 48 hours earlier.
Without further ado, then, our talk with Mayer Hawthorne:
DCQ: We’ve been following Stones Throw (Hawthorne’s record label) for a while. How did this happen? Give us the back story.
MH: I grew up in Ann Arbor, just outside of Detroit, and moved to Los Angeles about three years ago to pursue a career in hip-hop…and ended up becoming a doo-wop singer.
DCQ: How did growing up in the Detroit area influence you in terms of your music?
MH: Man, it had a huge impact on my musical tastes, you know, and just who I became as a person. It’s a hard-working, blue-collar community out there, and it instills a great work ethic and, you know, obviously there’s an enormous musical history out there that we take a great deal of pride in — from Motown to electronic music to Iggy Pop.
DCQ: Right. So you met Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf out in LA at a party or something, right? How did this all go down?
MH: I got introduced to him at a party by a mutual friend and I sent him some tracks, and he wrote me back like a month later and said, “Hey, these tracks are dope, but what the hell is this shit?!” And I said, “Well, (they’re) my tracks! And he said “Whaddya means (they’re) your tracks? It’s like an old record that you found?” And I said “No, these are my tracks — like I wrote them and played them and recorded them and played ‘em and sang ‘em…”
DCQ: He just couldn’t believe a white guy from Detroit came up with it, huh?
MH: He just couldn’t believe it, but as soon as he believed it, it was on and crackin’.
DCQ: Any collaborations with Stones Throw artists coming up?
MH: Yeah, I just did a cover of a James Pants song, and he covered one of my songs, and I’m getting ready to do a song with Dãm-Funk, and I think I’m gonna get a remix from Dãm.
DCQ: Who do you see as your contemporaries in the genre? I mean, obviously you’re a throwback…but who would you like to be compared with right now?
MH: First of all…I’m not a throwback artist. I’m a new artist (who) is living in 2010 and making new music for a new generation. It’s heavily inspired by classic soul and Motown, but it’s new music, and it’s also very hip-hop influenced (in that), you know, there’s just as much J Dilla in there as is Holland-Dozier-Holland. And, you know, as far as artists that I’m feeling right now, it’s mostly non-soul artists — like there’s a Norwegian singer-songwriter named Hanne Hukkelberg that I love right now. I really liked the Santogold album. Lykke Li. Uh, what else…and I listen to a lot of stuff like The Smashing Pumpkins and The Police and Steel Pulse.
DCQ: Gotcha. Well hey, thanks for your time, and best of luck in the future.
MH: Cool. Take care.