Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


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Whoooo boy!

Monday, October 14th, 2019

 

Three big shocks from one evening last weekend:

1.

A friend and I went to see The Who on Friday night on what I’d been calling their “Who’s Left?” tour. I wasn’t especially interested in going — I’d bought the tickets as a present for my wife, who loves “Tommy,” but she was ill — but I came away impressed with the show, and impressed as hell with Roger Daltrey. Daltrey is now 75, and not only does he look fantastic, but he can still really sing, and really belt out those screams. This is a man who has taken care of himself and continues to do so! The set is cleverly constructed to allow him strategic use of those screams — before each song requiring a huge vocal blast, there is a long orchestral interlude, or a song sung by Pete Townshend, or a more low-key song, or all three  — and that’s only one sign of the incredible professionalism The Who brings to their show. At this point in their careers, and their lives, Townshend and Daltrey could be coasting; each could have all sorts of backup people supplying actual vocals and actual guitar work while these two breeze through the show. Far younger acts than these guys rely on just those tricks. The surviving members of The Who, though, seem committed throughout to delivering a high-caliber evening and doing it honestly.

Moreover, they’ve got a new album coming out. Not because they have to, but because they want to. Specifically, in interviews, Townshend has said he wants to prove that he can still write good songs for Daltrey to sing. Their occasional recent (past 20 years) forays into new material have shown he can. “Real Good Looking Boy,” from 2004, matches up well with most of their catalog, has a real depth of feeling, evoking as it does childhood hurts, and Daltrey sings the hell out of it.

The shock of this was just how freaking good this band is — still! — live in concert.

2.

The opening act, by contrast, was Liam Gallagher, formerly of Oasis. Let me just say, whoever booked Liam Gallagher to open is a genius, because he and his band are so terrible that they make The Who look all the more brilliant! Large barnyard animals sing better than Gallagher and bring more to a stage presence as well, and his band did nothing to hide this fact. He seemed to have two drummers on stage — one of them also named Gallagher, so I’m assuming that particular drummer isn’t on the tour purely on talent — and I’m reasonably certain I can play drummers better than they… and I don’t play the drums.

I’m shocked that, ten years after the final death knell of Oasis, Liam still has a career. Of sorts.

3.

At some point, one can’t help but tally what an evening costs. Most of these charges come as no surprise.

The tickets were $80 each — plus that lovely “convenience” charge — so they were about one hundred bucks each. Okay. A Broadway show costs more, and so does a massage you’ll forget about in a week.

My friend and I met beforehand for dinner (sushi and drinks), and that was $80 in toto with tip — not a bad deal for a Friday night dinner at a nicer restaurant.

Parking was $30 each — ouch! — but another friend of mine runs this particular church and if some entity is going to get $60 in parking money, I’m glad it’s this one. They do good work in the community and help a lot of homeless and bereft people, and the parking is a short, invigorating walk from the Hollywood Bowl, with easy get-in, get-out for your car.

But here’s where I draw the line:

The tickets (purchased, again, as a date night for my wife and me) were on me. Because my friend bought dinner, I offered to buy snacks at the Bowl. Here’s what two pretzels and two beers cost at the Hollywood Bowl:  FORTY-EIGHT DOLLARS.

Let me repeat:  Two Pretzels and Two Beers cost FORTY-EIGHT DOLLARS at the Hollywood Bowl.

That was by far the biggest shock of the night.

Today’s music

Saturday, September 21st, 2019

My 17-year-old son had plans today to spend the day with some friends. Getting ready to take a shower, he asked, “Do you mind if I play some music?”

I was lying down in the adjoining bedroom, hanging out with the dogs and reading.

“No,” I said, bracing myself for some harsh rap.

But instead I heard some sort of modern rock come on. It sounded pretty good! In fact, song after song sounded pretty good. I recognized the Killers, a band I like, and some others; one song summoned a sense of familiarity, but I couldn’t place it, so I got closer and hit the Shazam app on my phone and found it was by Foster the People. Of course! It sounded just like Foster the People, and I like Foster the People. I went back to my reading.

When he came out of the shower, I called for him. He came into the room. I was thrilled to hear all this new music and wanted to share my excitement. I’ve been concerned that I was finally falling behind in what’s current in music, or what I could relate to — but this was good stuff! Maybe I’d find out what it was and load it onto my phone.

“Hey!” I said. “I liked what you were playing. In fact, I liked all of what you were playing! That was really good.”

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s the music of my childhood.”

“Huh?”

“The music of my childhood. That music is from the 2000’s. My childhood.” Then he left.

Well, it’s still new music to me.

The Main Thing

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

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On Thursday night, my wife and I went to see Bryan Ferry at the Greek Theatre here in Los Angeles. This was the eleventy billionth time we’ve seen Mr. Ferry in concert, so I think we qualify as committed fans. We’re not alone in that; the venue was sold out, and we fell into a nice exchange with other committed fans all around us. The singer, who doesn’t have a new album out, billed this world tour as doing songs from Avalon, by his old band Roxy Music, as well as solo hits, and at the end the guy behind me, of similar age as me, pointed out to me that Ferry hadn’t performed “To Turn You On” from Avalon. Which was true. So it was that sort of crowd.

The first time I saw Bryan Ferry was with Roxy Music, in 1983 in Philadelphia, on what was also the last time anyone saw Roxy Music for a very long time. (They did a reunion tour in 2001, and a few since then.) When you’ve seen the same performer many, many (many) times, and you’ve also seen many, many other concerts (I’m seeing three within the course of eight days — Ferry, King Crimson, and Karen O & Danger Mouse) you can tell the people who are really committed to their act and to their performance. I have a close friend who adores Sting and who has complained about the times when Sting has phoned it in. Mike Love’s version of the Beach Boys, which sounds great in the way a well-trained Beach Boys cover band that happens to have Mike Love and Bruce Johnston in it would sound great, plays for 90 minutes on the dot, and then they are out of there; Brian Wilson, meanwhile, will give it his all, but his all is vastly diminished from what it once was, and the last time I saw the legendary and extremely important-to-me Brian Wilson, well, he sang off-key, and it broke my heart. I’ve seen Elton John all of once (not a fan of his music), but after seeing him early this year at the Staples Center, I came away understanding people’s fanatic devotion to him. I still don’t like his records  — much of it sounds like rollerskating-rink music to me — but in concert, it turns out that he lives up to his reputation as an incredible showman, but that he delivers like a blues singer. I don’t know if that’s because his register has dropped, but whatever the cause, the vocals were administered in an almost thunderous gospel sense, and the tinny sound of the records was gone, his aged three drummers can really hit it, and his show was 100% incredibly enjoyable, especially to a non-fan who quickly found himself converted.

What I would say about Bryan Ferry — in every concert I’ve seen him play and, seriously, that’s at least 10 times  — is that he loves performing and that he brings everything he’s got every time. He also seems to love Los Angeles. In 2014, we saw him in Santa Barbara; he put on a fine show, but it wasn’t the love fest we’ve seen in L.A.  At the Greek the other night, he was positively beaming, because we were beaming at him. He sounds great, and he’s got a great band who’ve been with him a while and who seem to know the entire catalog. On any given tour, Ferry will play the Roxy songs you want, many of his own songs that you want, and then do unexpected deeper cuts you didn’t expect. This time, he played “The 39 Steps” from his 1994 solo album Mamouna, which I think I last heard him play… never.

Top to bottom, we had a glorious evening. The tickets weren’t inexpensive — let’s just note here that the parking was $45 — but our seats were 13th row, which afforded enough proximity to get the full physical effect of a band right in front of you, without getting your ears sheared off. The Greek has excellent acoustics, and its open-air quality assists the atmosphere immeasurably. When you’ve got seats like that, you’re less likely to be obstructed by a human wind sock dancing for two hours directly in front of you, as happened once to a friend next to me in a cheap seat near the back of the venue. You’re also less likely to encounter a middle-aged boozer couple tormenting their young children by 1) bringing them to a Monkees concert they’re not interested in, and 2) getting thoroughly smashed in front of them. No, down in the 13th row, it’s the responsible people, who have made an investment in the evening and are now seeking their return on investment.

Back in the car, and on the way home, and in our house, neither of us had one negative thing to say about the show or any aspect of the experience. We are smart, educated people, surrounded by offbeat highly educated intellects who come to our house and promptly debate things, which means that at heart we are critical people. Even when we’ve said nothing, usually, we’ve made critical notes.

This time? Nothing. It was all splendid. We felt fortunate.

Then, just before bed, the dogs having been patted and the house secured, my wife said, “You know… I hate to say anything… but I hated that jacket he was wearing. It was like… an old man jacket.”

I looked her in the eye and said, “I know! Did you see the cuffs on his shirt? The cuffs of his shirt were huckered! And what about that cheap-ass tie? I used to have a tie like that — when I was 18!”

Bryan Ferry, who from Day One has been an immaculate fashion plate, a rock star noted for performing in tuxedos and for starring in glamour layouts, in our eyes showed up looking like a geezer waiting at a bus stop. We couldn’t believe it.

Otherwise, though, great show!

Special appearances

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

Last August, I was unexpectedly invited to a private friends-and-family music festival Robert Wheeler and his wife Linda decided to throw on their farm by the river back in the outskirts of Milan, Ohio. I had met Robert, the synthesizer and theremin player for the world’s greatest band (that would be Pere Ubu) online a year or two earlier, and he knew I’d gone to their shows here in LA for decades, and then down to San Diego to see them on their most recent tour, and then went last spring to London expressly to see the only play date on their tour to feature all nine members who appeared on the most recent album. So for the third time in a year, I got on a plane to see the band — because who wouldn’t want to go see the world’s best band in a private concert on a farm long held by the family of Thomas Edison’s sister? I wouldn’t have missed that for anything.  I wrote about that trip, and that incredible homespun music festival here.

Last Saturday, a smaller, and very LA version of something similar played out here and I got to go again. And again, it was thanks to the internet.

Just before Christmas last year, I was reading the reviews of holiday albums posted by Rolling Stone online. Every year, I like to buy a new holiday album just to bring some new spark to the Christmas festivities. I had already bought The Monkees’ Christmas album, hoping for a repeat of their true final album, the sensational Good Times!, but was disappointed to learn that essentially it was two solo albums (Micky and Mike) sutured together with one abominable performance by the ailing and soon to be deceased Peter Tork. While it had its bright spots, it so hit-and-miss that I couldn’t imagine playing it when friends came over. So I was looking for another.

KringleTingleThe artwork for this one stood out, as did its title:  “The Kringle Tingle.”  Here’s the review, courtesy of Rolling Stone:

I look them up and see the words “country soul” and “swamp funk.”  A strong start with covers of “Linus & Lucy” and “Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag” and I love the sound of the horns.  It really kicks in with the original “Christmas Time In Bossier City” which feels like a song every radio DJ should be adding to their holiday broadcasts, it’s like the ghosts of vintage Springsteen and Van Morrison conspired to create a melancholy new holiday classic with some meat on the bone.  “Don’t Go Chasing Santa Claus” is a straight-up TLC spoof, believe it or not, and is the more festive option for that holiday party playlist.  “Santa Comes To Atlanta” is another original that is goddamn lovely.  Fuck it, I start skipping ahead a little, not because I am bored but because I am confident this is a solid record.  Good covers throughout, nothing too obvious, and even better originals.

So I sample it online, can’t believe how great this sounds — how incredibly fun and energetic and soulful and just filled with the joy of being alive, so I buy it. And then, from Christmas straight into January, I listen to it over and over and over and over and over again, knowing nothing about “Shinyribs” (is that a person? and band?) but loving every instant of it and wondering how the hell it wound up at NUMBER 50 on the list of 50 new Christmas Albums in a review that damned it with faint praise. If it shouldn’t have been number one, it still merited a ranking higher than FIFTY.

Come March, I’m on my way to another godforsaken dental appointment, wondering how terrible this one will be, and I’m listening to music on shuffle in my car, and damn if a track from this album did come up. Magically, I suddenly felt better. Sure, at some point I might have whole suspension bridges erected inside my mouth, but there will always be Shinyribs music, and it will always perk me up. Feeling extremely moved by music — as it is the job of music to do — I look up the Shinyribs website to see where and when they or he is going to play and see that it’s usually Texas (that’s where Shinyribs is from), and consider a trip to Texas, and wonder how I can wrap it up in some business work to write off the trip, but then I realize this is unrealistic for now given my schedule, but I do see evidence of a West Coast tour! I look at the dates… but somehow, inconceivably, there are no Los Angeles dates. Not a one. A little chastened, I find Shinyribs on Twitter, post a heartfelt tweet about how great the music is and how sad I am to see no play date in LA, but optimistically offer that at some point I look forward to coming down to Texas to see the show. Shortly thereafter, I get this unexpected private message:

Screen Shot 2019-06-29 at 10.45.36 PM

 

I couldn’t believe my good fortune! The kindness and generosity of these musicians and, in 2019, their lack of paranoia about my possibly being a nut job, still floors me. My business partner says that when you put something out into the universe, it comes back to you — so, yes, they are responding to my love for their music. But still:  They’re taking a risk on me.

As the date drew closer, and I exchanged a few more messages with Kevin Russell, the lead singer and guitarist of Shinyribs (yes, it’s a band), and after I’d watched all of their videos online and bought more of their music, this was sent to me:

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And that’s how my wife and I happened to be at a private backyard concert last Saturday, hoo-dooing with Shinyribs and about 50 strangers. Everyone we met was nice, the food and drink and hospitality of the host were incomparable, as promised we brought a nice gift for said host, and we had an absolutely awesome time. My wife said of the band, “They’re in the business of joy.”

My wife Valorie, Kevin Russell of Shinyribs, and me

My wife Valorie, Kevin Russell of Shinyribs, and me

The video snippet above unfortunately doesn’t include Kevin’s soulful, energetic, singing. But it does give you a taste of the band, which is in my mind somehow related to the band Little Feat, with similar energy but more heat. If this is how good they sound at a backyard function, imagine how great they were on Austin City Limits. (Or:  go watch to it.)

Two nights ago, my wife and I went to see Eddie Izzard at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Throughout the show, Izzard says you’d better make your life an adventure. I do my best to enjoy every day, and to help other people enjoy theirs if I can. But I will always remain dumbstruck by the sheer luck I’ve had throughout my life in meeting tremendously talented people who are also generous enough to invite me to things like this.

Old music

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Elton John at Staples Center

Last night, I saw Elton John on his stop here in Los Angeles in his multi-date sold-our performances at the Staples Center as part of his “Farewell, Yellow Brick Road” tour, billed as Elton’s final tour. He wants to spend more time with his children, he told us from the stage, adding that this would be his last time playing the Staples Center.

True.

Of course, he’s playing the also-in-Los-Angeles Forum tomorrow night. And the night after. And again. And then, yes, he’ll be touring the world for another two years, including a couple more stops back here in LA with multiple play dates each time. By the time he’s done with this tour, those kids won’t want to spend any time with him anyway. (I speak from experience.) But, no, he won’t be returning to the Staples Center. I came away from the concert liking Elton, but also thinking that he’s so good at splitting hairs that maybe he should be an economist.

I’m not really an Elton John fan. My wife’s a fan and so we went, and we had a fantastic time at the show, but I’ve never much cared for his music. I don’t like the songs that are too saccharine, and I actively hate the ones that to me sound like they’re perfect for playing at roller rinks. (“Crocodile Rock” typifies that sort.) In concert, he largely avoided the type I hate, and the saccharine ones were fortified with strong musicianship from his band. When the band took the stage, I wondered why Elton John needed three drummers. I found out. To my immense surprise, Elton in concert proved to be a rock and roll show, and a highly enjoyable one at that. He’s singing in a lower key these days, which in addition to keeping the songs singable by him, produces the further benefit of making the vocals sound bluesier. Attaching a powerful band to that — and Elton has a very powerful band — adds punch.

I looked it up, and Elton will be 72 in March. He looks good, although overstuffed, and is a generous performer. He played for three hours, apologized for not being able to play every hit (he’s had 50 songs in the U.S. top 40), and not only routinely left his piano to make bows and gestures from each and every corner of the stage in appreciation to all members of the audience in those far-flung corners, but also rode the piano around to various locations of the stage as one would a hovercraft. He’s a true showman.

By the time this tour wraps up, Elton John will be just shy of 74. My wife and I have concert tickets for two other shows this year:  Bryan Ferry in the late summer, and the Who in October. Just after we see him, Ferry will hit 74, Pete Townshend will also be 74, and Roger Daltrey will be 75. In this crowd, Elton John is a whippersnapper.

Valorie says we’d better find some younger bands to like, because these guys are going to be dead soon. I do have younger bands I like — hello, Broken Bells, where’s your new album and tour? Gnarls Barkley, are you still out there? TV on the Radio, what’s up? — but now seems a good time to express immense gratitude that the members of Pere Ubu are only in their 50s and 60s.

Just how important music is

Monday, November 26th, 2018

I’ve been reading an interview with founding Pere Ubu synthesizer player Allen Ravenstine and just came across this. It’s an exciting — and sobering — reminder of just how important the arts are, and music in particular. When people are deprived of it, they’re willing to risk everything for it.

I’ll tell you one of my favorite stories. We used to play a club in Berlin called the SO36. It was a very small place and it had almost no ventilation in it. It would fill up and it was so steamy in there that condensation would form on the walls. And I remember one night getting up on the stage and the opening moment of the performance was a woman throwing a shoe at us. And it was just un-bear-ably loud! It was so loud in there, it was painful. And at the end, I went up to the soundman and I said ‘why does this have to be so loud? What is that about?’ He said ‘well, it’s because the club is right up against the Wall. The kids in East Berlin sneak in to the buildings on their side of the Wall to listen to the music.’

And Cutler was the one who had me read a book called The Bass Saxophone Player. It’s a fascinating story about how in the Second World War, the folks that lived in the occupied territories would sneak off into the hills on the weekend and they would get into these little clubs, hotels and they would put on zoot suits and stuff and they would spin the stuff that was going on over here, like Benny Goodman. And they would dance to it and they would have a lookout watching the road and when the Gestapo would come, they would jump out of their zoot suits and put on their folk costumes. And the band would play folk music and they would dance to that to hide what they were up to. And the idea that… you would risk your life to hear some kind of music… just unbelievable. And so that story was always fascinating to me- those kids were risking their necks, sneaking into these abandoned buildings to hear this. And this club (Ubu was at) was cranking the music as loud as it was so that there was some chance that they could hear it on the other side.

I consider myself lucky that I’ve never had to risk getting shot in order to listen to music I prefer.

The whole interview, which references the birth of post-punk, a clash with Devo in the early 70s,  and Ravenstine’s unexpectedly huge influence that he still doesn’t fully comprehend, can be found here. If you want to get a sense of what it might be like to be in a band for years, and touring the U.S. and Europe, with a boatload of differing personalities, you’ll find this interesting.

Assorted good news

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

We’ve all heard the bad news. Occasionally, I like to share some good news here in a vain attempt to balance it out. Here goes.

  • Last month, the California Department of Motor Vehicles fined almost 500 not-disabled people for using parking placards reserved for disabled people. Those who were caught had their disabled parking placards taken away and now face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000. This makes me absolutely delighted. My late brother-in-law was in a wheelchair his entire life, my mother now occasionally uses one, my brother is fighting Parkinson’s and has difficulty walking, and I have several friends in wheelchairs.  That’s who those placards — and parking spaces! — are reserved for. They’re not meant for people who just want to park a little closer while they run in to buy coffee — they’re meant for people who face real challenges getting into and out of vehicles and need to park closer and in wider spaces. I wish the DMV great success in finding and fining even more of these thieves.
  • On a personal note, my new play is moving along nicely. I knew you were wondering. Plus, my back is, well, back to fully functioning.
  • Earlier this week, the great band Devo was nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While this is not as momentous as if the even more revolutionary and distinctive band Pere Ubu had been nominated, this is still well-deserved, and I rejoice in their nomination. Their rendition of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” remains the superior version, far outclassing the first version, by those Rolling fellows. I hope they get inducted and only wish that Bob 2 had lived to see it, but I’m glad I got to see him and the rest of the band while he was still around.
  • Incredibly, another band high on my list was nominated at the same time. I have every Roxy Music album and listen to them endlessly. Ditto for Bryan Ferry’s solo disks — every one of them, except that one where he covered his own songs in a precious 1920’s style (no thanks); I’ve also got five or eight of Brian Eno’s albums and one of Phil Manzanera’s. The later Roxy Music albums are filled with beautiful yearning; the early Roxy Music albums are raucous and twisted, stuffed with songs that started fake dance crazes,  proselytized the delights of anonymous post-midnight pickups, and pledged love to a blow-up doll. When you can deliver an anthem built around lyrics like “Plain wrapper baby, your skin is like vinyl … deluxe and delightful, inflatable doll,” you deserve to be in a hall of fame.

So: There. It’s not all bad in the world.

Down by the River

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

It’s been 12 years since I’ve been in the friendly state (that would be Ohio, because it says “hi” in the middle), but I’ll be there tomorrow through Sunday. The reason I’m going makes the place seem even friendlier.

About a month ago, I got a strange invitation on Facebook. It was to some event called “Down by the River… We Had a Party!” and it seemed to be… I wasn’t sure what… some sort of outdoor event in a rural area about an hour west of Cleveland… but what it was was uncertain.

And then I got a direct message from the man who had invited me to this event, a gentleman named Robert Wheeler whom I’ve gotten to know better in recent years.  His message read: “I don’t expect you to make it, but I didn’t expect you to fly to london either….”

That’s when I realized that Robert, who plays synthesizer and theremin for the band Pere Ubu, was inviting me to a private concert with the band at his farm.

Jeez!

Yes, I did fly to London a few months ago to see this band. And, yes, I flew to Chicago about six months before that to, again, see this band (and my son, sure — but also to take that son to the concert!).

And, yes, I saw the band in LA less than a year before that, and in San Diego the night after the LA concert, and I’ve seen them… I don’t know… a dozen times before that, stretching back to 1989 I believe. I’ve seen them at the Roxy on the Sunset strip, and at a bit of a low point for them at a little guitar shop in West LA, and anchoring an entire weekend at UCLA. I’ve seen them many times, and I sure hope to see them many times more, because they are the best and smartest band anywhere around. (I could go on about why that’s true — trust me, I could go on about why that’s true — but not right now. But believe me, their music is open-minded, wide-ranging, heartfelt, noisy and consistently astonishing. And in 40 years of it, there is not one bit of treacle in it anywhere.)

So I have seen the band in all these locales over all these years… but I’ve never seen them at an invitation-only event at the farm of one of the band members.

But I will on Saturday!

This is a lucky time to be alive.

 

The price of admission

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

Yes, I want to see Public Image, Ltd. in November at the Fonda Theater with a friend of mine. Johnny Rotten is probably the last “get” for me — a music hero I haven’t seen who I’d like to see. The tickets are $50.

But NO, I don’t want to pay $16 for a “convenience fee.” That’s thirty-two percent of the ticket fee!

A few years ago, I read four extremely dull books on pricing, because I was curious about the subject and wanted to see what I could learn. I learned a lot. One of the things I learned about, for example, was anchor pricing. Once you know how to recognize it, you’ll see it frequently on menus and in other places. Here’s how it works:  In a clearly visible area of the menu, you place something outlandishly priced, like the frutti di mare at $200 a plate. You’ll think, “That’s crazy!” and not order that — but now that your eye has been drawn to the crazy price, the nearby lobster, at $69, looks like a deal. You’ve been anchored at $200, so now $69 is reasonable. Watch for that dynamic and you’ll start to see it everywhere.

These dull books were chock full of useful and enlightening information, but the major thing I learned is something that, in retrospect, looks obvious. All good pricing relies on fairness. If you believe you’re getting taken, you won’t buy. If you are spending a lot, you expect a lot:  either higher quality, or faster delivery, or better service, or scarcity of availability. I remember a story many years ago about the producer Joe Papp, and why in his Broadway production of “Angels in America” actors had to ride in already seated, and why in a previous production of something of his people had to have little working cars on the set, and so forth. (In LA, the actors simply carried in their chairs and sat.) Papp said the production always had to look like the high price was justified. Of course. Or people would resent it otherwise. You have to believe  you’re getting something in fair return for what you’re paying, or you feel ripped off.

Adding 32% (!!!) as a “convenience fee” when I know damned well that there is nowhere near a $16 cost in providing that ticket, there being no physical artifact and the electronic system to deliver that electronic artifact — the e-ticket — having been perfected and paid for years and years ago now, is unfair. I’m not paying it.

So, instead, I’ve asked my friend to drive into Hollywood and buy the tickets at the box office for us.

Seems fair, right?

The strange dream of Yoko Ono

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Last night, I dreamt that a small group of us, really just a handful, were in our theatre, Moving Arts, where Yoko Ono started performing a song. It was just Yoko and an abbreviated electronic getup, something computerized.

When she had finished, I turned to the colleague next to me and asked, “Did you record that?” and when I found out that she hadn’t, I was pretty annoyed, even though no one had known that Yoko was going to burst into song.

Then I realized that I was being unreasonable, and that the person I was actually mad at was myself. (Not an unusual occurrence.)

So then I decided I’d be happy with a photo. Yoko agreed to pose in a photo with me. She stood to my right, and I was ready to do a classic arm-around-your-shoulder pose when I decided that that was too passe, and that instead, we should stand very stiffly next to each other, almost like mannequins shoved up against each other, and wearing blank expressions. Yoko played along, but said to me, “You’re strange, Lee.” Which, coming from Yoko Ono, is remarkable and possibly a compliment.

Then someone I used to know well, a wealthy patron of the arts I knew 15 years ago and had a falling out with, showed up and it turned out that Yoko was staying with her, and then I was really annoyed.

And then I woke up.

I should add that I’ve always been a fan of Yoko’s work, that for 40 years I have been the proud owner of her double album “Fly” on vinyl (which has more ideas on any given side than most artists will have in their lifetime), as well as other recordings of hers on various formats, and that I don’t care if you think she broke up the Beatles. (And I like them, too.) Why she would stay with that disreputable person from my past when I would gladly put her up I don’t know.