Feeling Horny? Westboro Baptist Church Protest Dio Memorial

Sunday thousands of music fans descended on Forest Lawn Sunday to pay tribute to legendary popular musician Ronnie James Dio in a tasteful memorial service which featured the singer/songwriter’s opuses set to guitar and flute and broadcast in wide screen to the overflow crowds seated peacefully on the lawn outside the appropriately named Liberty Hall.

Dio, a major cultural innovator, also popularized the the use of a specific hand gesture and brought it to signify a vast array of meanings.

Along with the thousands of fans, who cut a wide swath through Southern California’s many cultures, three members of the Westboro Baptist Church came–not to praise Dio, but to mock him. They were met by 30 counter protesters carrying signs parodying the notoriously fame-hungry Phelps. Not to mention the metal horde.

Society milliner Satanica Batcakes attended with celebrity corseteer Sue Nice and director Julien Nitzberg. Says Mme Batcakes:

It was heavy metal parking lot. The overflow were seated on the lawn watching the screens. Dio’s son, his best friend from high school, and his long time crew members spoke of his love animals and of metal especially modern pop metal.  His best friend threw a great devil’s horn and there were all the little kids in the crowd who threw great horns too.

She referred to the Phelps as

zombies not worth arguing with

while Julien had a different take:

They were really nice and gladly posed for pictures. The are genius, the best performance artists. This is a major piece, the finale of which may not be revealed for maybe ten years. The Phelps hold  a mirror up Pat Robertson and other right wing conservatives, saying what those people can’t, but are really thinking.

However, aside a paucity of merchandising–the Jews Killed Jesus tee-shirts were not for sale–the noted creator of stage and screen felt the Phelps had long term potential. Perhaps they will become the aristocrats of religious street theater.

In addition to the musical arrangements

As a Dio fan, I don’t think acoustic guitar and flute are a good idea

Nitzberg was saddened by one crucial omission form the afternoon’s program.

Sadly the Reverend Al Sharpton was not there to preach.

But the LAPD was.

(photos Satanica Batcakes and Sue Nice)

Arizona Lilith Fair Cancelled. Go-Go’s Said “Don’t Go!”

Lilith Fair, the grrl-powered music festival founded by Sarah McLachlan, suffering lackluster ticket sales canceled their Arizona date. The GoGos were scheduled to headline.

The day after tickets went on sale  GoGos’ lead singer Belinda Carlisle posted this on her Facebook page:

AZ Central and Phoenix New Times both reported that Carlisle had posted on her Facebook page–an update since removed–that she wanted Lilith Fair organizers

to move the phoenix date in protest of the new immigration law in ARIZONA. the gogo’s [sic] condemn the law and want the date moved.

Then last week the Go-Go’s issued  this press release:

The Lilith Fair date scheduled for July 8 in Phoenix has been canceled and refunds can be made at point of purchase. At this time, The Go-Go’s have not been informed as to why the show was canceled. We regret the loss of the date on our farewell tour as we know we have many devoted fans in Arizona.

Well, yeah, I guess lips are sealed on the matter, but it’s  perfect storm of politics, economics and a bill that might not be that exciting.

Ticket ranged in price from $25 to $250 for the fest which featured Loretta Lynn, Heart, Norah Jones, Cat Power, La Roux, Sheryl Crow, Tegan and Sara, Erykah Badu, Brandi Carlile, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Meaghan Smith, Metric, and of course founder Sarah McLachlan.

I have mixed emotions about bands boycotting AZ. 1987, then-Governor Meacham issued a rescission of Martin Luther King Day and U2 was scheduled to kick off their Joshua Tree tour in Tempe. Rather than canceling the shows, the band made a contribution to the campaign to recall Meacham and had petitions and information booths on site.

Caught on Tape: Hollywood LAPD Bash Bicyclists During BP Protest Ride

Okay, I admit that  I did laugh during that scene in Golden Eye when James Bond whizzes by a peloton and they all fall over. But I really admire the guts it take to ride a bike in Los Angeles. Especially after what happened this weekend.

On Friday night Critical Mass–a loosely organized, nationwide group of bicyclists which advocates for pedalers’ rights–staged a large group bike ride in protest of British Petroleum and the Gulf oil spill, and to celebrate the end of Bike Month in Los Angeles, with a larger than normal turnout for their regular last-Friday-of-month ride.

The peloton fluctuated in size, with 200 to 1,000 riders, moved northeast through Los Angeles after converging at the architecturally-acclaimed, futuristic ARCO/BP gas station near the border of the cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

The WeHo Daily reports:

Many calls came in to the LAPD about the group, with one frustrated driver complaining that some riders around Olympic and Fairfax were hitting their vehicle as they passed, perhaps with their hands as the driver attempted to pull into their path.

Several hundred riders, escorted by patrol cars arrived at Pan Pacific Park, and from there a splinter group of approximately 200 headed into Hollywood where things got ugly.

In an email a rider told LAist:

The *vast majority* of the police along the way were helpful and accommodating. Even firefighters were out on the sidewalks outside of their stations giving high fives and waving hello. But for whatever reason the police in Hollywood were extremely aggressive and were harassing riders for no reason other than to get their kicks (I presume).

BikesideLA reports that riders:

were met with a contingent of LAPD Officers armed with batons kicking and tackling cyclists off their bikes. Officers drove squad cars into the crowd of riders. Some cyclists were even stopped in their tracks and flung from their bike with a baton stuck in the spokes (a la Breaking Away). These cyclists were then brutalized, handcuffed and then cited for small infractions such as no lights or not obeying traffic laws…

At no point was the mass of riders identified as an illegal assembly or addressed with a formal dispersal order. In fact: officers employed the use of force to effect dispersal (which is against LAPD policy and illegal).

Well, yeah, but riding without lights is against the law, same as not driving with headlights. And bicyclists should obey the traffic laws, especially since Critical Mass is trying to show the benefits of bike riding and make bicycling a more accepted thing in Los Angeles. But knocking over bicyclists then shouting conflicting commands

“Get up!”

“Stay down!”

is a pretty assholic way enforce traffic laws.

Especially when LAPD Chief Beck made special public service announcement about bike riders.

RIP: Dennis Hopper

Actor, director, artist and American icon Dennis Hopper died at 8:15 this morning at his home in Venice, CA surrounded by friends.  He succumbed to complications of prostate cancer. Much has been very well written about Hopper the actor, the crazy man, the resurrection tale–oh how we love a redemption and resurrection!

A classically trained actor who appeared in films ranging from Rebel Without a Cause, Giant, and Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, and True Romance to Super Mario Brothers and Speed, Hopper received two Oscar nominations — for writing Easy Rider (with co-star Peter Fonda and Terry Southern), and for an uncharacteristically heartwarming turn as an alcoholic high-school basketball coach in Hoosiers. Hopper overcame massive cocaine and alcohol addiction in the late 1970s and early 80s and rose again to stardom. He also appeared in commercials, including one for a retirement fund which played on his status as an elder statesman of hip.

Hopper received a star on Hollywood Boulevard earlier this year. And the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is planning a retrospective of Hopper’s photographs later this year.

The fate of Hopper’s multi-million dollar modern art collection now hangs in limbo. Hopper has four children and was in a bitter divorce battle when he died. In January this year, he filed for divorce from his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy, who continued to live in his Venice compound, though he stated in court documents that Duffy –his wife of 14 years with whom he had a six-year old daughter–

surreptitiously removed from my home very valuable personal property while I was extremely ill, refused to tell me where the property was when I asked her, and then left town.

The missing art, including a portrait of Hopper by Andy Warhol and sculptures by Robert Graham and Bansky, are worth more than $1.5 million. Hopper said in documents relating to his divorce that in nine years he sold $1.9 million worth of art–but spent $1.85 million on his collection.

Hopper’s democratic non-elitist view of art, collecting what he loved, carried over into his interactions with others involved in art at all levels, embracing gallery rats and young artists. Pop Surrealist Anthony Ausgang, who before his career ascended, made ends meet moving and installing art for wealthy collectors, recalled for us Hopper from the mid-80s.

When I worked as an art installer/delivery boy I went to Dennis Hopper’s place a few times. A week or two after “Blue Velvet” opened I saw him at an art opening and he was very loquacious and interested to hear about the other collections that we had attended to. He wasn’t jealous, just really into art collecting. When I told him that we had been moving the Vincent Price collection, he was completely stoked. He was a good guy and didn’t treat us art movers like shit, unlike some other collectors.

Sarah Palin: Zany Neighbor SitCom

Here’s a situation made for comedy: Former governor of a rural state must cope with her new neighbor–an investigative reporter who is out to get the goods on her and her family. Hilarity ensues as the governor–now a celebrity–builds a fence while implying that the journalist is a peeping tom! Here’s what Sarah Palin has to say about her new neighbor, best selling author Joe McGinnis moving in next door:

Yes, that Joe McGinniss. Here he is – about 15 feet away on the neighbor’s rented deck overlooking my children’s play area and my kitchen window. Maybe we’ll welcome him with a homemade blueberry pie tomorrow so he’ll know how friendly Alaskans are…Wonder what kind of material he’ll gather while overlooking Piper’s bedroom, my little garden, and the family’s swimming hole?

Welcome, Joe! It’ll be a great summer – come borrow a cup of sugar if ever you need some sweetener. And you know what they say about “fences make for good neighbors”? Well, we’ll get started on that tall fence tomorrow, and I’ll try to keep Trig’s squeals down to a quiet giggle so we don’t disturb your peaceful summer. Enjoy!

According to email from McGinnis’ son on Politico, McGinnis scored the rental when the Palins didn’t pay their next door neighbors for renovations she did at their request. The neighbor who seems sort of fed up with Sister Sarah, tracked down McGinnis and leased him the place. The neighbor declined to rent to the Palins–and considering they owed her money, why would she–but also turned down the National Enquirer, so it’s not like she’s totally evil and amoral.

Actually, this could also be Wifecrime (Lifetime) Network thriller…either way, it makes for high camp in the wilderness.  Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck is already casting it McGinnis as a stalker and refusing to mention books from the publisher Random House.

Meanwhile, I wonder if Palin got a permit for that 14 foot high fence...

Diff’rent Strokes Gary Coleman: DEAD

Actor Gary Coleman, whose life after his hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes was a series of tabloid episodes, has died after falling a short distance from a ladder in his Utah home. The diminutive actor–one of the most famous child stars of the late 1970s through the mid 1980s–was 42.

Coleman rose to stardom in Diff’rent Strokes–a sitcom where he and his brother Willis were adopted by wealthy widower Conrad Drummond, played by Conrad Bain, after the death of their single mom, the Drummonds’ housekeeper. Mr. Drummond’s daughter Kimberley was played by Dana Plato who died from drug overdose/apparent suicide in May 1999. Co-star Todd Bridges also struggled with drug addiction and arrests for violent behavior including a shooting and a stabbing.

While promoting her anti-drug message “Just Say No, ” then-First Lady Nancy Reagan was a guest on Diff’rent Strokes. When the series ended in 1986, Coleman– whose growth had been stunted by congenital kidney disease and was on dialysis while shooting Diff’rent Strokes–sued his parents alledging they had pilfered his earnings which he estimated to be $18 million. A series of lawsuits followed, and the actor who at one point was earning $70,000 and episode, received a settlement of $1.28 million dollars. His relationship with his parents was destroyed.

Like his fellow teen co-stars, things didn’t get better for Coleman when the series ended. He couldn’t get work as an actor, both his kidneys had failed and he ended up as a mall security guard. In 1999, when asked by a woman for his autograph, Coleman assaulted her.

For a brief period Coleman’s career resurrected with goofy run for governor of California in 2003, an appearance on a dating show and on The Surreal Life in 2004. He also worked as a corporate speaker and a pitchman for CashCall, a payday loan company. Coleman moved to Utah and married 22-year old Shannon Price in 2007 and the couple appeared on Divorce Court nine months later–I can hear his agent saying “We need footage!”

They reconciled, but allegations of domestic abuse followed, coupled with visits by the police and Coleman’s arrest for domestic abuse earlier this year. He also suffered a series of hospitalizations in 2009 for seizures and heart surgery.

Really tragic life.

AZ: Rage Against the Machine Leads Musician Boycott

Rage Against the Machine is spearheading an boycott against Arizona’s new (anti) immigration bill. The band’s lead singer, Zach de la Rocha is the spokesperson for Sound Strike, which is targeting the legislation and calling for artists to stay out the state until the measure is repealed.

Other artists on board with the boycott include Cypress Hill,Kanye West, Joe Satriani, Michael Moore, Serj Tankian, Shakira, Sonic Youth, Spank Rock, and Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte.

In an open letter de la Rocha wrote:

Fans of our music, our stories, our films and our words can be pulled over and harassed every day because they are brown or black, or for the way they speak, or for the music they listen to. This law opens the door for them to be shaked down [sic], or even worse, detained and deported while just trying to travel home from school, from home to work, or when they just roll out with their friends.

Public Policy Forum Gets “Glee”-ful

Santa Monica College’s new Public Policy Institute is introducing topics  to stimulate Socratic dialogues with the audience using Broadway showtunes. On June 16 the Institute will hold a community forum, “Public Policy on Broadway,” in which  the school’s musical theater workshop will perform numbers from Oklahoma!, South Pacific and The Pajama Game.

The concept is the brain child of the Institute’s director, former State Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl who was was on the stars of the groundbreaking TV series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis in which cast members would break the fourth wall by addressing audience. So it makes sense that Kuehl would stage such a unique way to engage the public.

As she points out:

I think it’s a very attractive hook, but it’s not a gimmick. Yes, it will be fun, but I chose each number because it’s got deeper issues embedded in it. People like Rodgers and Hammerstein all the way to ‘Rent’ or ‘In the Heights’ are writing musicals about important ideas that really are public policy.

Glee certainly uses music to make social commentary, as have operas and operettas, so if it gets people to talking, then it’s gonna be a great day.

Late Night: If a Beaver Falls in Los Angeles, Does She Make a Wall of Sound?

Here’s the sweet story: Once upon a time there was a little blond girl named Rachelle growing up in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Her daddy left when Rachelle was two and she had no real relationship and little contact with him; he died when she was 12 (or 15 depending on the story).

So naturally when she moved to Los Angeles with stars in her eyes to become a singing success, it made total sense for her pose for Playboy and then hook up with legendary record producer Phil Spector, 40 years her senior, at Dan Tana’s restaurant. According to Rachelle’s bio:

Introduced by a mutual friend, the 23-year-old small town girl and hopeful singer spent the next several hours in deep conversation with one of music’s most renowned producers. She had no idea who he was or that he would soon be indicted for a murder that dominated the headlines for the next few years.

Wow. Um, really? Kinda hard to be interested in show business in Los Angeles circa 2003 and not know that on February 3, 2003 actress Lana Clarkson died from a gun shot wound at Spector’s mansion; those news reports also contained lots of details about the Wall of Sound originator’s life, including his penchant for guns. Add to this from her bio:

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I remember my mom playing her music on my dad’s juke box and I would sing along to Tina Turner, Chubby Checker, Madonna, Billy Joel, and others. I knew from early on that I wanted to be a singer

and this small town girl seems really ignorant. Or really cagey.

Though they sat up talking all night and Phil said he was in love with her, Rachelle wouldn’t kiss him (smart move on so many levels), and well, they started dating.  Rachelle’s love for the eccentric indicted murderer grew…

We talked about religion, politics, he told jokes, stories about his past, growing up, normal getting-to-know-you questions. But the most important thing was a comment he made: ‘Timing is everything.’ That has stuck with me till this day…I like the way he looks. He’s boyish and cute, witty, smart and we are so much alike even though we are generations apart. We share common interests, a love of music, people, life, old films, a strong work ethic, even certain mannerisms.

Phil gave Rachelle a 9-carat diamond engagement ring. The couple were married in September 2006, and immediately began working on Rachelle’s CD as Spector geared up for his defense. His first trial for Clarkson’s murder ended in a hung jury in April 2007. The second trial for murder in the second degree began in October 2008 and six months later ended with a guilty verdict. During that time:

Rachelle stood determinedly by her husband’s side. The recording clearly served as an emotional outlet for the producer and a special time for the couple to enjoy the creative process together.

And guess what! In June, Rachelle Spector’s debut CD will be released (don’t gag on the title Out of My Chelle). The single “Here In My Heart” about which she says

It has special meaning for me. Like the lyric says, ‘No matter where you are, you’re here in my heart.’ For the time being, of course, Philip is actually far away. But he’s still the shining light in my life, and I can always feel him here with me.

Though she’s also said

I’m not even 30. I am young. This is a stage in my life but that’s not to say I don’t love Phillip. I do. But I know I could start all over again. At the moment, I want to get my own music career off the ground.

But just so you don’t think she’s gold-digging Madonna-be, Rachelle points out that she

stays focused on the other key missions in her life: working on the continued legal proceedings on behalf of her husband including the filing of an appeal (she obtained an investigator’s license to aid in those efforts) [and] she serves as VP and CFO of all of Phil’s music companies and manages his estate.

Part of managing his estate includes selling off the antiques she doesn’t like and throwing out the blood stained carpet where Clarkson died. How is she doing? According to the  Daily Mail UK

She claims the mansion is mortgaged to the hilt. Certainly, the driveway is covered in weeds and the creaking metal gate swings from only one hinge as it opens. She estimates Spector spent at least £2million on his legal costs and says she now survives on fast food while she tries to sort out his estate.

And she drives a Smart Car

Freeway Sign in Florida Hacked: No Latinos, No Tacos

There’s a neato way to hack light up road signs, and of course no one should ever, ever do that! Usually the merry pranksters will type in a helpful warning about zombies, but the most recent roadside hack in Florida has a more menacing message. Though maybe some of the commenters on Jalopnik are right and the sign:

is supporting immigration by saying “without Latinos there will be no more tacos.”

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