On the 9th anniversary of 9/11, I was reminded of sitting in shell-shock all day, and then going to see Belle and Sebastian with in the evening. Only ten percent of the ticketholders showed up, so it was like seeing them at a really strange warehouse party. They were so kind to us, like a healing Scottish balm on our wounds. They’ve got a new record coming out in October. Everyone will say they hate it at first, but it’ll be great. That’s what always happens.
As previously discussed, over Labor Day Weekend I was afforded the awesome opportunity to perform as part of the Famous Mysterious Actor show at Bumbershoot.
I held My Pet Monster and told jokes to people who were really not extremely sure what was going on. I don’t know what my facial expression is about, but I’m sure I thought I was doing something different.
I took a very rare green-room photograph of Richard Bain eating an apple. This has never happened before.
I really enjoyed doing the show, and hanging out having “quality time” with some of my comedy pals from Portland, Salem, and Seattle, and I liked having an Artist’s badge, which meant that I didn’t wait in fekkin’ lines with the nobody “rubes”, and that people in general looked at me, curious to know if I was famous at all, which I am not. After the show, I leapt out onto the gangway, eager to suck all the life and vim and vigor out of the Bumbershoot music and arts festival for FREE. Within five minutes, I was shocked and appalled to realize: I HATE MUSIC FESTIVALS! I was surrounded by over-privileged young people who were, in general, over-bandanna’d and facial-haired, and very excited about seeing bands called things like Leather Wolf Eyes and The Bambi Sluts. I escaped the grounds and headed out to eat delicious Seattle vegan foods at Pizza Pi.
It was all worth it to see the most adorable Dad in the world, Billy Bragg, play a show in the warm twilight. He had a wee sore throat, but soldiered through to play a great solo set, and made fun of my laugh, which he has not done since I saw him at Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in 1992 when he played for an environmental activist’s rally. MEMMOORIIIES! Oh, and I found all the old people. We were all at Billy Bragg. Hilariously, not one but two concert-goers yelled at him that he should play music and not talk politics. GO TO A DIFFERENT SHOW. YOU ARE CONFUUUUSED!
Thanks, PROK! Thanks, FMA! Thanks, Bumbershoot!
Bumber-bums, Seattlites, I stand before you proclaiming that this year’s Bumbershoot comedy line-up will be not only good but great, and I have been afforded the opportunity to join my favoritest talk show ever, the Famous Mysterious Actor show, alongside the hilarious Billy Wayne Davis! I will be there at the Comedy Theatre West, The Vera Project Stage, for a wonderful show that starts at 1:15 with candy and screaming. Please join me!
Famous Mysterious Actor Show
The Famous Mysterious Actor, host of the hilariously surreal late night talk show parody known as The Famous Mysterious Actor Show, performs in what appears to be a Mexican wrestling mask, soiled army parka, and black fright wig. He was not born to fame, but is more than willing to thrust it down your throat.
Imagined preproduction interview with Jay-Z-
Director: What would you like in your video?
Jay-Z: Milk, flaming basketballs, corpsepaint, a dancer with diamonds on her face, paint being poured over Damien Hirst skulls, and teeth. Why, what were you thinking? Like, what if Matthew Barney made a music video? I’d love to have a Nike Dunk with the swoosh removed, filled with milk.
Director: Can we have birds, ink, and a vampire boxer?
Jay-Z: Sure, knock yourself out.
A skull-faced guy in a tuxedo has an emotional breakdown in the video, portrayed by a musician called Drums of Death who tours with Peaches. He’s Scottish. Of course. Scotland, of course, has had a rich and varied rap connection.
Director: Maybe we can shoehorn a yacht and a horse in there with the animal skulls and hand signals?
Jay-Z: Ok, but I’m not backing down on the hammer dipped in housepaint.
Director: DONE and DONE.
I read a wikipedia entry that recommended going to karaoke bars and massage establishments in Hong Kong to find legal prostitutes. I think you could probably find one here.
And so it came that I was in Hong Kong for the last night, and had not yet sung any karaoke. Since I was alone, and singing karaoke alone in a foreign land does not make you sad and pathetic, it means you are strong and brave, and it was a beautiful night, and because I was worried about oversleeping for my flight, I made the only logical decision available to me: I would close the karaoke bars on a Wednesday night, pack whilst drunk, and stay up until it was time to fly home.
Now, packing to leave home is a complicated affair. One has to start with all one’s earthly possessions and, via a process of elimination, narrow it down to what you will need on your trip, factoring in what you can reasonably carry, and what is legal to take overseas.
When it’s time to come home, you just have to eliminate what belongs to you and what belongs to the hotel, and put those things in a bag. No problem.
I started out at My Favor Bar in Nathan Street, a bar whose high and low end vodkas were both WHITE WOLF VODKA, the cheapest vodka available on the free market. It is so full of impurities, it has a thickness.
This is my friend Jacky, who taught me how to operate the DIY karaoke system at My Favour Bar in Nathan Street. We sang I Love Rock and Roll, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and Don’t You Want Me, Baby. The barstaff was thrilled that someone who spoke English was singing.
On the one side, you have to enter your own songs, but on the other hand, there’s very little wait, and there did not appear to be any real stigma to singing again and again. Also, every song has a video. If it doesn’t have a video, it’s not karaoke in HK.
Karaoke is so prevalent in HK that it’s hard to find a bar where it’s NOT offered, but also hard to find one where it’s the focus. Out of the three bars I hit, the gain on the mike is usually so high that it’s best held at waist-level. The reverb is also turned way up, so that voice quality, sustain, and attack are less important than sounding like you’re singing in an echoey bathroom. Also, there’s no stage or light, you just sing anonymously from your barstool.
On my way to my third karaoke bar, I cut myself on a glass elevator. This is considered an occupational hazard is not a cause for concern.
Selection: The English selection holds all your standard favorites, Centerfold by J.Geils, Spinning Wheel by Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and WHAM’S Careless Whispers. After that, there is an obscene amount of ABBA, Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Richard Marx (!). I was asked repeatedly to sing various Richard Marx songs that I had never heard before. No wonder they think we’re mentally challenged. They think we LOVE Richard Marx.
Facilities: This is a really nice way to say- UNISEX TOILETS.
My last bar was named after my vocal range, which is good because I can’t remember anything about it.
Style: The preferred microphone is wireless and not very dependable, and the preferred delivery is sitting, staring at the screen, and the preferred song is Cantonese ballads, sung by superstars in outfits that make Bjork look like Kathie Lee Gifford. The Chinese find my style, which involves dancing, various attempts to “work the room”, and make eye contact, somewhere between embarrassing and entertaining. It’s sometimes hard to tell. However, they LOVE it when you pretend to know one of the overdramatic ballads where a boy remembers a girl who is either dead or has left him, and who is sometimes symbolized by a bleeding rose in one of the videos.
By the way, staying up all night before a twenty-hour flight is a GREAT idea until you actually turn up at the airport at 6AM, feeling strung out and surrounded by Australians.
I leave you with a brief movie of Chung King Mansions, which is like living in Blade Runner. 179 nationalities live there. They’ve built a mall in it.
Any comics looking for HEADSHOTS: A very talented local photographer is doing a charity shoot on May 16. Her name is Pasha, and she shoots bands, strippers, and roller derby gals in town, and is in general a little fun and has a little edge to her. I just did my shoot yesterday and had a lot of fun, and feel confident that I’ll get a great picture out of it.
For a hundred bucks that goes to a worthy cause (a little girl named Stella who is fighting leukemia), you get an hour in studio, you pick your favorite shot, and she’ll perfect it for print and promotions use.
Here is her website to check out her existing work: www.pashaproductions.com, you can make an appointment through that site, or you can call her at 503-236-5585.
More about Stella and her mom:
Brian Perez Jr. Jr. Jr. and John “Baby Ketten Daddy” Brophy, at the Dunes, when I first met ’em
OK, to whet your whistle, here are just a HANDFUL of the items available for singin’:
*Siouxsie and the Banshees*Metal Postcard*Echo and the Bunnymen**Killing Moon*Senses Working Overtime*XTC*Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves* Gavin Friday*Quiet Life*Japan*This Charming Man*The Smiffs*Replacements*Alex Chilton*Nick Cave*Red Right Hand*Proclaimers*Sunshine on Leith*Beats International*Dub Be Good To Me*Belle and Sebastian*Funny Little Frog*Joy Division*Atmosphere*Nine Inch Nails*Something I Can Never Have*Pixies* No. 13 Baby*Beautiful South*Rotterdam*Pulp* This is Hardcore*Psychic TV* Godhead
You like singin’? THIS is hardcore! They’re also the only karaoke establishment that I know of with its own app, called the Baby Ketten app, which offers the full songlist in your phone, and also will give you a kamikaze list to sing on demand!
The first night at the Woods was a jam-packed, scintillating media event- the venue used to be a funeral home, and it feels a little like singing in a friend’s living room. Full of GHOSTS!
A Baby Ketten favorite, Ryan Sablan, brought the crowd to its feet by singing a Turandot aria in an AC/DC shirt. That is the magic of Baby Ketten.
edit: The Woods is now just a memory, as is Beauty Bar and Dunes, but wow, there were some great shows and some great BKK events there, including evenings where we sang all of Abbey Road and Doolittle by them Pixies, and BKK now has all of Radiohead’s OK Computer, which will execute sometime this Spring. For a karaoke addict, there is nowhere else. Nowhere in the WHOOOLLLEE WOORRRLD!
BKK’s regular roster is currently:
Tuesdays at Mississippi Pizza, which has a wonderful full bar and vegan pizza (and regular pizza too, calm down)
Second Thursdays at the Alibi, Portland’s most tiki-riffic karaoke establishment, where the regulars are slightly flummoxed by the Karaoke selection, but is getting into the groove
Occasional nights at Curious Comedy Theatre and other wonderful venues in the area, check in on their website for details!