Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Passing Fancy

If Times Square were still sleazy, I'd have flashed THIS ONE

Grant Tinker, Sitcom Legend and Former NBC Chairman, Is Dead at 90

Sad to read about the passing of Grant Tinker, who along with then-wife Mary Tyler Moore created one of the most successful television production companies in history. MTM Enterprises was responsible for Moore's namesake show, as well as spinoffs "Rhoda," "Phyllis" and "The Lou Grant Show," as well as '70s classics "The Bob Newhart Show," "WKRP in Cincinnati" and "Hill Street Blues" He later was tapped to run last-place NBC, stunning everyone by turning it into the No. 1 network with "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," "Cheers," "The Golden Girls" and "Miami Vice." Although he and Moore divorced in 1981, they remained close friends. Every night before I go to bed I watch a little Mary and Bob, which I still believe are the two best sitcoms of all time. RIP.

Wrestle Wednesday

It's like these coaches just can't keep THEIR GRUBBY HANDS out of the COOKIE JAR.

Last Dance for Chelsea's Cafe Bamba

Another carcass spotted along Chelsea's 8th Avenue. Cafe Bamba, just off 8th on West 20th where Trois Canards was most recently, has abruptly closed up shop. Sometimes my neighborhood -- in the middle of the most crowded island in the world -- looks like the landscape of a town that was left behind when its industry dried up. Businesses have always come and gone -- only about 50 percent survive four to five years. But the rate of failure on this once-bustling avenue -- where even chain stores cannot afford the rent -- has me perplexed as to why the mayor cannot force building owners to charge reasonable rents instead of letting them sit empty for literally years before finding a sucker who finally falls for it only to have their dream go belly up in record time. 

On the brighter side, the Square Deli just opened (on 8th between 18th and 19th) in what was most recently the gay clothing store Efor (and before that Lightforms). The deli has a full grill and decent selection of groceries. Having lost the Pine Tree (which became Brooklyn Industries but is now vacant) and the deli by the old 18th & 8th, this is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The Bangles Return to the Sunset Strip

Order "Ladies and Gentlemen ... the Bangles!" HERE.

Great interview with the Bangles -- Susanna Hoffs, Vicki Peterson and Debbi Peterson -- about their upcoming three-night stand at the Whisky A Go Go HERE.

But will founding bassist Annette Zilinskas be there?

Debbie Harry's New England Retreat

Call me a bad superfan, but the last I cared heard Debbie Harry had her place in Chelsea's London Terrace and a home in Red Bank, N.J., close to Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Turns out she just bought a second property in Roxbury, Conn., onetime home of Marilyn Monroe,and Arthur Miller, plus current residents Dustin Hoffman, Graydon Carter, Denis Leary and   Stephen Sondheim.

Now 71, the talented blonde has expanded to Connecticut, where she bought a Roxbury retreat for $785,000 — a property that was built in 1795. The listing broker was also the seller, Halstead’s Jill Sloane — who had also sold Harry a neighboring property for $185,000 last year.

The four-bedroom, three-bathroom home is 2,685 square feet and sits on 3.47 acres.

It boasts a charming kitchen with a farm sink, a grand entertaining room with a fireplace, ceiling beams and French doors opening to a front patio.

The corner master bedroom also features a sitting room with a fireplace and windowed master bath. The home comes with original details, like its wide-plank flooring.
So Lucy Ricardo of her!

The US Festival Revisited

I remember wanting the US Festival(s) to be my generation's version of Woodstock, yet feeling kinda underwhelmed by it all. despite many of my favorite groups being involved. Although I only saw it on television, something about the hot Inland Empire setting with all of that dust blowing around seemed like the antithesis of a good time, confirming my suspicions that concert festivals, like cruises, just weren't for me. (A live version of "Money" by the Pretenders was the best thing I got out of it.) Still, I wasn't actually there, so I'm open to learning more. But if a documentary is to be made to set the record straight, can't multibillionaire festival founder Steve Wozniak pick up the tab instead of begging "us" for cash?

From the Kickstarter pitch:

Remember the US FESTIVAL!

When Music, Technology, People Were UNITED... IN SONG

New documentary film on the innovative and influential 1982 US FESTIVAL - remastered music; never-before-told stories; never-before-seen footage; featured interviews from then and now; campaign now live on Kickstarter!


This campaign is to complete a feature-length documentary on the 1982 US Festival ("US" as in "you and me"), a magnificent, innovative, influential, and sometimes forgotten West Coast mega-concert. The film is mostly done, some of the music is licensed and cleared, this campaign allows us to license additional music and finish post production. If you've not heard about The US Festival, that's either a function of your age, or probably because the story has never been told. It's a really good story though - and we're very proud to tell it.

1982 lineup. It was 110 degrees that weekend and 100 arrests, plus 35 drug overdoses. The festival lost a reported $12 million.

1983 lineup. The reprise festival lost another $12 million and two people reportedly lost their lives.

Wednesday Ad Watch

I have?

Alt Universe

Good entry. But the problem isn't that people don't really understand what it means. The problem is people are flocking to the movement because they DO KNOW what it's really about.

Song of the Day: 'Biggest Part of Me' by Ambrosia

At dark times like this, sometimes the only thing to do is stay in bed and listen to Ambrosia. 

Morning Wood

Page 1 Roundup (11/30)

It's funny how socialism -- i.e., the state paying businesses to keep jobs in Indiana with taxpayer money-- is a-OK when Republicans do it. Read HERE

Mom’s boyfriend charged after 3-year-old boy is found with skull fracture, covered in feces in Brooklyn home / Read HERE.

Trump taps Hollywood's Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary / Read HERE.

Get Thee to a Brokerage! Low Rates Turn Nuns Into Traders / Read HERE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Developing Madonna Story

More details on Richard Corman's 66 unearthed Madonna Polaroids HERE!

Cornell Vet School Delivers 12 Months of Animal Magnetism

This might be the first known case of a horse in favor of bestiality. 

Order HERE.

Urgent Call

Get a pair HERE.

WATCH: Plenty of bulge action between 2:45 and 3:02.

Big Ben Slims Down for Beefcake Spread

The 2017 Ben Cohen calendar has arrived -- although oddly it doesn't seem to feature the BIGGER VERSION of the LGBT ally. 

'Reality' Check

I remember not liking "Reality Bites" as much as I thought I would. But I do very much like seeing Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke all grown up together at the premiere of "Born to Be Blue," in which the latter plays jazz great Chet Baker. Read HERE.

Nico's Rico Speedo

If "Younger" star Nico Tortorella is "sexually fluid" then I guess you have to be Rip Taylor to be gay.

UPDATE: He had some competition from Colin in a red Speedo!

Major Daddy

Simon says I should have been paying attention to Gerald McRaney when I was a kid!

Moore Is Less

I see the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Read HERE.

Song of the Day: 'Breathe In' by Frou Frou

Just discovered this little gem from 2002, which is about the most "recent" song I've caught onto in years!

Morning Wood

Page 1 Roundup (11/29)

I've never understood this logic: You're a minority who is upset because people are painting your group with a wide brush of negativity -- so your response is to DO EXACTLY WHAT STUPID PEOPLE THINK all of you do? (Maybe in the ACT Up days when everyone was saying all gays have AIDS, I should have gone out and contracted the disease ... you know. to "show" them.)

Sigh. Read HERE.

Waterboarding 2.0 / Read HERE.

Estonian Troops Have Never Fought a Cold War—Thanks to Pop-Up Saunas / Read HERE.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Feeling 'Insecure'

Damn. I see I'm not the only one completely blown away by Issa Rae's "Insecure." Here's hoping it gets picked up for another season. 

Grey's Anatomy

Anyone know what these sexy med students are doing HERE?

Circular Jeopardy

From HERE.

Sigh. Can't these past couple weeks count as time served?

Fit Lad Alert

See what Prince Harry looked like playing cricket in St. Lucia on his 15-day tour of the Caribbean HERE.

Ron Glass, Who Played a Dashing Detective on ‘Barney Miller,’ Dies at 71

Sad news from the 12th Precinct, as my favorite detective, Ron Harris, has left the building. Read his New York Times obituary HERE

My brother Terence and I loved the episode where Harris was desperately looking for a new apartment, then is heard whispering on the phone "in Yonkers" because he was so embarrassed that his beer budget couldn't fund his Champagne tastes!

The Heyday of Old Town Tempe's Mill Avenue

Although my parents now live halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, I did manage to spend a little time around my former college campus while attending the Festival of Lights parade, which featured my adorable niece, Ally, as a fairy princess. Tempe's Mill Avenue is kind of my Arizona equivalent of Chelsea's 8th Avenue, as both were once the major drag of a fun part of town before rising rents and gentrification chipped away at their identities.  

Mill Avenue is where my friends Greg, Yuki, Tina, Deanna and I would ditch high school to visit, spending the day in thrift stores and record shops. (Although our lives were anything but a John Hughes film, I do recall that we may have spontaneously started to walk like Madness down the avenue once!) I've written about the demise of the boulevard of many new wave dreams before, but this time I managed to retrace my youthful steps to locate some of the former stores that once housed the Valley's coolest spots.

414 S. Mill Ave.

The Mill Avenue Shops was once the home of Roads to Moscow, the punk/new wave record store where my mom haggled with a mohawked clerk to procure a promotional light box for Debbie Harry's "Koo Koo" LP for a Christmas present for me in 1983 

 (It was my favorite gift ever!)

and I snagged my Killer Pussy "Teenage Enema Nurses In Bondage" EP.

Back in the day


I still have my extensive collection of pins and badges!

It was also the home to the travel agency where I bought my first tickets abroad -- a trip to London with my friend Kristen followed by attending the 1987 French Open in Paris.

420 S. Mill Ave.

I'm pretty sure this Starbucks is where the original Zia Record Exchange was. (Clearly the building was demolished and rebuilt from the ground up.) My friend Greg and I would enter the store then divide and conquer -- trying to snatch up the latest import 12-inch singles from Bananarama, Mari Wilson, Kim Wilde, New Order, Depeche Mode, Marilyn and the like. 

 (There used to be a Lotions and Potions next door and, believe it or not, it seems to still be in the building, albeit slightly north! I'm told the store has bounced around over the years, but is proudly the oldest on Mill Avenue having opened in 1969!)

The original Zia location at 420 S. Mill Ave.

The store later moved south to 105 W. University Drive during the CD heyday, and has apparently since moved again to Mill and Broadway, which I've yet to visit. (Founder Brad Singer died in 1998. Later owner Brian Faber died in September.)

414 S. Mill Ave.

My sister and my nephew (AJ) entered a candy store on Mill that I immediately recognized as the Changing Hands Bookstore -- only it seemed smaller. Sure enough, a Google search revealed that the space along with 4 One 4 pizza next door made up the superb bookstore -- it was the staircase inside Candy Addict that gave it away! -- where I landed a used copy of "The Joy of Gay Sex" back in 1988 with my friend Greg plus Mark, Brad and JR who were in town to surprise me for my 21st birthday. (I remember being ashamed that I was getting turned on my drawings in the manual!) 

Just north of the Changing Hands was the home of the Spaghetti Factory, where my family would frequently go for empty carbs and free spumoni on special occasions.

414 S. Mill Ave.

The Spaghetti Company back in the day. When I got older I discovered there was a music venue upstairs called Edcels Attic.

411 S. Mill Ave., Suite 201

What now is School of Rock was next door to where Graffiti's nightclub was, which I've noted is where I was (with my friend Chantal) the night we found out Andy Warhol had died

Me outside Graffiti's in mid-1980s

411 S. Mill Ave., Suite 102

(It was later called Club Bongo and my sister says she thinks it -- or the space next door -- was known as 411 Club long after I'd left town.)

My friends and I went to Graffiti's because we were new wave, NOT gay!

John McCain's congressional office is seen in the building on the left of Graffiti's, circa 1985. To the right was Van D√∂ekker's restaurant, which later became the fire-prone Stan's Metro Deli.

680 S. Mill Ave.

The famed Coffee Plantation, which was truly ahead of its time, is now a Five Guys (sigh). I used to spend hours in there studying and checking out all the hot Arizona State guys. 

My friend Debra held poetry readings there, which was the artsiest thing I'd ever seen up until that point!

The Mill Avenue location was the first.

It opened when I was in college in 1989 and closed on May 30, 2009. 

509 S. Mill Ave.

About the only thing left from my heyday -- save for a Native American bookstore that I rarely set foot in -- is the Valley Art cinema, where I saw "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" with my brother Bill and my best-friend-turned-tormenter Jim back in ninth grade, and where I fell in love with indie films. 

The Valley Art in 1983

701 S. Mill Ave.

And sadly, even Long Wong's is long gone. In 2015, New Times remembered the venue as the former epicenter of the Tempe scene during its glory years and the nucleus of an interconnected network of musicians, clubs, and fans. An esteemed institution that hummed with live music nightly for 16 years straight, it’s where bands wanted to be seen and heard. Although the Gin Blossoms will forever be linked to the place, they weren’t the only ones that made its tiny stage their home. The list of those who were featured at Wong’s is nearly endless: The Beat Angels. Zen Lunatics. The Pistoleros. The Refreshments. Busted Hearts. Gloritone. Revenants. Trophy Husbands. Flathead. Even the late Elvis “The Cat” Delmonte, an entertainingly eccentric artist, even got stage time. Long Wong’s ultimately was a barometer of Tempe’s music scene, rising in prominence and importance as interest in its brand of rock and pop did the same. Its closure in 2004 came as a blow and surprise to many, even after the spotlight on Mill had long since faded. And though Long Wong’s was demolished to reportedly make way for future development along Mill, its plot has remained vacant ever since, serving as an occasional parking lot and a gaping reminder of what was.

Fun fact: Before it was Long Wong's, 701 S. Mill Ave. was home to the Salad Bar, an earthy chain of "health" restaurants. (It seemed to be riding the wave of Annie Hall's move to Los Angeles!) 

Of course there was also a roller skate shop in the building! 

Although I count my employment at the AMC Fiesta Village as my first job, technically I washed dishes for a few weeks at the Salad Bar location in Mesa, where much to my sheltered surprise the staff all did drugs and invited me to go dancing at Hotbods Desert Dance Palace (aka Hotbods), which I later learned was the Valley's answer to Studio 54! (I stupidly declined, in horror, but in my defense I was 16 or 17.) 

721 S. Mill Ave.

On the upside: The Jack-in-the-Box where my friend Mary and I were known in the 1980s to seek 99-cent tacos at all hours of the night is still alive and well! 

9 E. 5th St.

Forgot to photograph the former homes of Panic City!, Q & Brew, Stan's Metro Deli and Tower Records.

While it's true that people tend to view the past through rose-colored glasses, there's no denying that Mill Avenue isn't quite what it used to be -- which for me was like a real-life version of the Fisher-Price Village I got for Christmas in 1973. 

RIP: Panic City founder Tom Frank died in 2021. Read his obituary HERE.

UPDATE in 2023:

Here are some photos of a few more Tempe favorites from the past: 

310 S. Mill Ave.

I can't remember her name, but I owe my life to the woman at Rumors Hair Salon who finally rid me of my "new wave" hair at the end of 1987! She worked primarily in the salon's North Scottsdale studio, so I would drive up there if I needed a cut and her Tempe appointments were already booked for the one day a week she was by ASU. (I got my first hot boyfriend shortly thereafter LOL!)

618 S. Mill Ave.

This is the Q & Brew I knew and loved. Although this location is ancient history, apparently there's a new one at  3400 S. Mill Ave. #348

607 S. Mill Ave.

Here are the Tempe Daily News (1887-2009) and Pennysaver in better days(!) 

821 S. Mill Ave.

The original Tower Records (and later Video) on the southeast corner of Mill and University where my brother Terence bought Blondie's "Dreaming" single back in 1979! (The store later moved across the parking lot, but it was the first one where I spent hours upon hours of my youth sorting through the stacks and studying the Top 40 singles, which they stocked and arranged each week.) 

411 S. Mill Ave., Suite 103

Stan's Metro Deli in the pre-fire Petersen Building 

414 S. Mill Ave.

My beloved Changing Hands Bookstore. Apparently before my time it had been located at 9 E. 5th St. -- which I knew as Panic City -- and these days can be found at 6428 S McClintock Drive.

Roads to Moscow fliers. The store was in the Mill Avenue Shops from Sept. 1, 1978 until April 30, 1984

Owner Steve McColgan behind the counter at Roads to Moscow

Marlene Healey at Chaos, which was inside the store

608 S. Mill Ave.

And then Roads to Moscow relocated to a bigger space on Mill south of 6th Street, from May 1, 1984 until Sept. 1, 1987. At its peak, Roads also had stores in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson.

404 S. Mill Ave.

We would go to Balboa Cafe when we were feeling fancy

This is also where the Hayden Square Amphitheater was, which hosted live shows. I'm told that the likes of They Might Be Giants, Pixies, Soul Asylum, Pretenders and Garbage appeared there after I moved to Los Angeles! 

401 S. Mill Ave.

... or the Paradise Bar & Grill 

640 S. Mill Ave.

One of the first attempts at "going corporate" came around 1987-89, with Z Gallerie moving in. Although it was a chain, my friends and I loved the place, dreaming of furnishing our apartments with the store's over-the-top chaise lounges and framed artwork! 

I believe they moved into a bigger showroom (740 S. Mill Ave.) after I moved to Los Angeles, and stayed in business for a number of years. (As for 2023 it's a Mellow Mushroom pizzeria.) 

22 W. University Drive


1250 E. Apache Blvd.

Stinkweeds Records, which opened in 1987 

430 N. Scottsdale Road

The Devil House, where I saw X in 1983

1037 S. Rural Rd.

Before there was EeGee's, there was Snow!

227 W. University Drive

Buffalo Exchange, where I got some of my best mod "looks"(!) 

514 S. Mill Ave.

And no visit to Downtown Tempe would be complete without a visit to its most famous headshop, Happy Trails (for You) -- later shortened to Trails -- which always had the best rock posters and T-shirts! 

(Photos that aren't taken by me are courtesy of the Tempe History Museum.)

More info HERE.

Turns out Nicholas Holthaus and Chris Valentine released a documentary about this very subject in 2008, "Mill Avenue Inc.," which already seems kind of quaint now that even a misguided attempt at corporatization has largely gone bust (The Gap, Ruby Tuesday, Barnes & Noble, Hooters, Pizzeria Uno, Bath & Body Works and Chili's have all come and gone.). Still worth a watch, though, for its great footage and interviews, including Gayle Shanks (owner of Changing Hands Bookstore), Kimber Lanning (owner of Stinkweeds Records) and Megan Irwin (reporter for the Phoenix New Times).