Here you will find more stories centered around social events, day trips, travels, randomness, run ins with music icons, concerts I attend and various other happenstances. Some entries are from the archives and "Best Of." Sorry to those who previously commented as those comments could not be merged. 

Thank you for reading. Enjoy the adventures!

Perfect Circle of Acquantances and Friends 

PERFECT CIRCLE OF AQUAINTANCES AND FRIENDS

This is an excerpt from a blog originally written maybe two years or so ago now needing an interesting update.

I was living in Portland at the time and was down in LA.  I have removed the preamble. That night came to mind as, fast forward, I find myself unexpectedly  back in Detroit , building a new life in my hometown, feeling a bit unsorted over the change but, oddly, my "current" life has found itself in familiar territory with a different location. I could not have done a better job if I were a magician. 

You'll see. Read on. ...

The Past. 

One night I was in my hotel in Hollywood and decided to take a walk before bed. I knew my way around as the hotel was in an old Hollywood neighborhood of mine. So, off in wrinkled clothes I went, very tired with messed up hair and super hungry for dinner. I figured I'd only be gone for a few minutes and could eat later then pass out to sleep. Thing about this nite is that it was on a day I felt defeated. Things felt dark. I felt lost. You know? I am sure you have felt that way from time to time too right? I wanted to go on a walk to shake it off. Just a regular walk. 

I walked down to a familiar hub of bars, restaurants and coffee shops. The first restaurant I ever went to when I moved to LA was La Poubelle. I was the guest of one of the Evil Dead clan (also from Detroit, hence the connection)  who had brought me to a Hollywood movie premiere where we walked the red carpet and the stars were out in droves. I thought that was pretty cool for having only been in LA a month. The time between then and now quickly flashed through my mind. A lot to chew on. 

Long ago and far away now it seems. 

Le Poubelle's patio tho had a tarp hanging over it and was clearly blocked off for a reason.  There was a big doormen and a red velvet rope probably to keep the likes of me out. But I glanced up and saw this taped to the side of the tarp: 

 

 

I recognized it right away and walked up the doorman "Is Joe McGinty playing here tonite by chance?" It was a long shot. Joe lives in NY where he hosts  star studded piano karaoke nights at Sid Gold's Request Room at Loser's Lounge . Yet it was LA and I was tired and confused but couldn't let it go. 

"Can you please find out? Its important" I said as endeared the doorman to me who kindly went inside to verify. 

I looked over at the very pretty girl holding a clipboard with the guest list. This was an invite only R.S.V.P. party. I had not been invited. She and I chatted while I waited. An actress. She looked great. I looked like I was in my pajamas. 

The doorman came out and confirmed that, yes, Joe was inside playing piano. 

What were the odds? Probably zero. 

Now how do you look cool while looking like a truck ran over you and explain to a doorman in LA that you kind of sort of know Joe tho you've never actually met him? 

You just do and not bother with how ridiculous you might sound trying to explain the tie to Joe and why it was so important I got let in. And you try not to look like an asshole while doing it. 

And so the rope got lifted and I waltzed inside a Hollywood party I had no business being at. (I might have felt differently had I at least had some make up on and a shower.) My friend the doorman said "I am letting you in because you are nice and polite. " Works every time even if it ruins my rock and roll street cred. 

So who is Joe to me and why was a downtrodden girl so taken with all of this? Answering the second part first: Because I needed a reminder. I needed to know any and all bs I might be encountering is 100 percent worth it. I don't believe in "signs." Nonetheless, this was a pretty glaring neon light. 

You see, Joe is the person I found John Ashton through via Facebook. Joe, among other bona fides, was a part of The Psychedelic Furs for some time playing keys.  I've never even spoken to Joe but he is a VIP to me for having lead the way to John. I knew from his posts about Sid Gold's and that is how I recognized the sign. 

John has suggested Joe to play keys on the record and there was no way, despite how I looked and felt, that I could shy away so I waited for the rope to lift and in I went. All I wanted to do was run in, introduce myself, say "thanks!" and get home. Once inside, I quickly met Joe (he was mid performing,) thanked him for everything and planned my escape. Brief but cool! 

 

Perhaps not my best look but vanity takes a vacation when serendipity strikes. 

I stuck around long enough to strike up a chat with what were probably two of the nicest people, friends of Joe's who asked me to sing. 

"Ugh. Really? I am about to fall over dead" I thought to myself. I can barely speak let alone sing! 

I always want to sing. I did not want to sing that nite but I knew that moment was not going to happen again and even if I sang badly and I wanted to hide in a paper bag, getting up there was the right thing to do as I would have surely forever regretted my tiredness and vanity getting the best of me. 

So I waited  for a lot of sharply dressed (and surprisingly bra-less) LA ladies to sing, tried not to pass out on a cocktail table (and I was only drinking water)  and got up there myself. I sang Blondie's Dreaming which I used to cover back in the day when I was prepared. The friends I met thought I sounded great tho I did not. So great they kissed while I sang (Maybe they needed a pleasant distraction?) I am positive I sounded like someone who waited in a long line for an American Idol audition, Round One, who never stood a chance.  Don't know who else was there but Joe posted that Mickey Dolenz had been there too. I am hoping he was gone by the time I got up there. 

Anyway, finally had a moment to catch my breath and share this LA story with you. There it was. My "sign" to go forward no matter how I get to feeling on the dark days, no matter the barriers. I felt renewed and somehow acknowledged I was and am on the right. Track.  Just keep going and doing what I'm doing. 

John and I chatted briefly the other nite. We agreed that the roadblocks that have popped up are any indication this will be "one hell of a record." 

 

Fast Forward. 

Between that night and today, Joe has indeed become a vital part of the new songs playing keys! As time went on John and I added all of the players you can see here. And, yes, when you hear the parts where PFurs musicians appear together it is unmistakable and very, very cool. 

 

Today. 

Shortly after my mom passed away last November, Joe told me he was opening a Sid Gold's right here in Detroit! To be honest, I had forgotten about it until last night when he mentioned it on a FB post of mine. I had only forgotten because when someone you love dies you forget a lot of things. Sometimes even your own name. But, right along Woodward Avenue, within blocks from clubs I'd haunt back in the day, figuring I'd never see those kinds of days again, will be his new Detroit location which opens mid May. I've been invited to play there when the time comes.

I am going to go out and meet strangers just so I can walk by and say "That guy? Yeah, oh , he's plays on my new songs. And, if not for him, I may never have met John and gone on to work with all of the great musicians. In fact, the songs may never have gotten made. So, he's kind of an important guy in my life." Then, of course, I will ask if they'd like to grab a coffee and hear a story.

What a thrill that would be! Dear to my heart is how much it means to me to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that no matter where you are in the world, you have friends and even when you lose out and get lost , you can always find yourself again. I am excited for Joe and excited for me. Whoda thunk it? Really warms my heart that when I left here ages ago I actually got done what I set out to do. With more to come...Clearly, it isn't over. They say no matter where you go there you are. So true.

Life is beginning to look bright again. A few more things to go and I will release the first single. 

 

PUNK ROCK, PATHETIC OR PANACHE? MY DAMNED LIFE. 

PUNK ROCK, PATHETIC OR PANACHE? MY DAMNED LIFE.

Originally posted: April 16th, 2017


Taken from my ultimate destination. Read on to see how I got there.
 


A day before The Damned concert here in Portland I reached out to three viable leads for a VIP pass. I love this band with all my heart. Of the big three punk bands, Sex Pistols and The Clash, I am a Damned Girl as you can see here.

When The Damned documentary, Don't You Wish That We Were Dead? came to Portland last yearI rounded up lots of people and made a night of it.
Dedicated and no I do not wish you were dead.

You won't believe this story unless you have heard my other unbelievable stories.

The only purpose of the pass was so that I could actually see the band. I had a ticket. I just couldn't get to The Crystal Ballroom 5 hours early to stand up front which is the only place a five foot three girl can see the stage. Otherwise you stand on your toes in the back by the water cooler and simply be happy you are there at all. One of my connections was through the venue and the other two were through the band itself. I rarely call in a favor and as gorgeous as a venue as Crystal is, as amazing as the sound quality is, as friendly as the staff are, as reasonable as ticket prices are to see incredible bands and all things otherwise fantastic,  the floor is flat and the tallest guy at a show will inevitable stand in front of me and I will be miserable. Few things get me stressed out and keep me up at night. They are vital things and then there is "How will I see the band at Crystal?" when I am going to a show there. Also vital.

One of my friends that I reached out to lives in England. We have  known each other for ages via the internet. I messaged him to see if he could help with a pass figuring a decent person to ask was an early member of The Damned. . i felt anyone local who could get one would be inundated as every rock musician in town was going. I was stretching for sure.  He wrote back that I have "panache" and was confident I would find a way to get a pass and lay my eyes on the band. The other one, who also lives in England didn't get the message until after the show.  As connected as he is to the band as well that one was a long shot for reasons that are in the history books. And the other? I dunno. It just couldn't be done unless she went to the show with me and I don't think The Damned are her cup of tea. Too bad. A better band than most and certainly more influential than, say, Coldplay whom they mocked onstage. It was quite funny because they knew they were talking to people who have entirely different tastes.

I got there. Stood in line which I've not done in forever. But, I rose to the occasion, went in and found a pretty decent spot as far as proximity to the stage. If I stood on my toes and craned my neck I could see Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible's microphone. "This will do" I told myself even tho I began to question my panache.  They are the only two original members of the band so OK. I filled in the rest with the likes of Rat Scabies on Drums and Roman Jugg on keys or guitar, depending on the song. I grimaced at the girl's knit hat in front of me. It was unnecessarily poofed out taking up a good four inches of valuable space. I considered asking her to squish it down. I realized that was totally inappropriate.


I will use any manner of excuse to show this one off. Great story behind it and, no, it isn't true but it is awfully sweet.
Meet the author of that book
here.


My spot was  just on the outside of the VIP area, a mere waist high curtain stood between me and greater happiness.   Outside of being able to see from inside there there were no other perks. I didn't need perks. I NEEDED to see The Damned.  I mean what if they lit something on fire and all I could see was the smoke??

I could see a couple of my friends in the VIP area. They weren't attending to my "SOS! Get me in there" Facebook messages. Why would they? They were busy having fun knowing they can see and have nothing to worry about. They had everything in life they needed. I was yet suffering.

Just as the band was about to go on stage I felt the dreaded push of breasts up against my back. I turned around and had one of "those" concert goers, the kind who show up last minute and shove their way to the front. I wasn't having it. "Don't do that" I said to a girl who looked like a Coldplay fan and probably worked at Nike and had a house in the burbs. She didn't belong. She wasn't our people. "All those people in front of you got here early so they cold have a good spot, don't push your way in and if you don't stop touching me I am calling Security.' She wasn't having it. Instead of chilling out and removing her breasts from my back she persisted with her pushing and was basically being a total bitch. I was not being a bitch tho I was being firm and holding my ground. I didn't want to be Siamese Twins with this girl. If it were just crowded I'd be OK. One should expect they might be skin on skin with strangers at a sold out punk show. I dig. But she was mean-spirited and that is not cool.

About twenty minutes into the show  I feel the shock of an entire draft beer running down my hair, my face and my clothes. I turned around just as Miss Breasts was scowling at me as she tossed her now empty cup at me. And then she hit me! In all my years going to hundreds of venues, most much more seedy than Crystal (which isn't seedy at all) and the thousands of shows I've been to I have never once gotten into anything physical with anyone. I have had Security throw out guys who were behaving badly but this was different. And no one has ever hit me. It didn't hurt. Even her repeatedly swatting at me didn't hurt. I don't know what she was doing. I paused to figure out what I was going to do as she ran away. I realized I was shaking. Someone handed me a napkin to wipe up. Nobody else did anything but that is the human condition, kinda stand around gawking I guess. I started to tweet to the venue to send security because I didn't know how else to quickly reach them. In an age where clubs have seen the horrors of terrorism  you definitely don't act like a dick. I don't take her for a terrorist and I find the Crystal to be totally safe but you just don't mess around because you don't know who will flip out and do something worse than get you soaked in hops and barley. I realize it was a punk show but it was supposed to be a room full of adults. I heard there were other fights up front. If we were 16 OK. But this wasn't the case. Dance, sweat, sing at the top of your lungs like a fool. I do that. Totally OK.

I left where I was standing to find Security. The closest person was manning the VIP area. He wanted to go with me to find her but there were thousands of people there and I looked at him and said "I've waited a long time for this. I don't think I can spend the show looking for this girl" at which point he said "Come on over to the VIP area" and handed me a wrist band. He was a big guy but I threw my arms all the way around him and thanked him. It was no diabolical plan on my part I assure you to get a wristband but, one way or another, I got what I wanted which was to SEE The Damned. Once inside I found more of my friends and spent the bulk of the show celebrating 40 years of one of my most favorite bands, with friends, soaking wet and smelling like a brewery.


In the safety zone with my good friend Matthew Mendez..The for the use of the top photo Matt Bastard!
Want to contribute to the record with John Ashton just like he did?
GO HERE.



I often don't know how exactly I am going to arrive at my destinations. I just always know that I will whatever that road may be, no matter how crazy or what I might have to endure to get there.

There is an added happy ending to this weird story. For now I want to be vague until there is plan  and I have permission to speak on this person's behalf. I had gotten back to one my Brit friends who was confident I'd find a way to see the band  to give a review of the show (I had not mentioned my adventure only that I did indeed make it to the VIP area.)  At the end of our chat he said he was ready to write songs with me, something we had talked about years ago. I nearly cried. The combination of me, John Ashton and this person would be the absolute tying together of everything in music that I feel is its fabric (minus Bryan Ferry but if I work fast enough...)

We got on a video chat. We have only messaged for more than a decade and once in a blue moon. I told him about the incident and asked "Was that panache?"
which got a big smile and a nod of punk rock approval.

We talked about how the record is going. We talked a bit about finance as that is the ONLY thing that adds time (GO HERE) and how you can be flush then scrambling for food money and back again.   He said "Michele, that is music. You just keep making songs you love and you keep going." I felt much better as when I bought the ticket I was on the former and by the time the show came the latter (hanging in until the former again.) I felt a renewed sense of purpose. I might go hungry sometimes but the people in my life? The best at filling me up.

At the end of the concert I did indeed stand in back  half hoping to find this awful girl.  Wasn't sure what I would do if I did but thought I should try. But these were my final moments with The Damned so I stood and  listened to New Rose and Neat, Neat, Neat. And when it was over Captain Sensible stood on stage alone waving goodbye. I fixed my eyes upon him and understood that this could be the last time  I ever see him. I hope not but just in case I wanted one last look, even if by the water cooler on my toes.

This song came on just as I entered the VIP area. I changed the lyrics to "Just for you bitch, here's a love song" and laughed  to myself about my very strange but ultimately pretty damned cool life.

Rise  

RISE

 

This is why music matters. This is its magic.

 

Martin Atkins: "So how did you get your start?"

Me: "I arrived  in a city and went around town introducing myself as a musician so people started asking me to play gigs. I said  "yes" and then went and wrote some songs,  formed a band and showed up to the venue. " (Come back when you're done here and read more. )

Martin: "That is very punk rock."

Level Achieved: Seal of Approval, Junior Punk Rock Member badge earned.

He bought me a drink. But he already had my seal of approval. Up until last night I only knew him thru some interactions on Twitter and a bit through stories from John Ashton that he told to me when I was in the studio with him about his days touring with The Psychedelic Furs in the 80s. Whether in a story, in person or though stories of his own, at every turn he has just been, well, very cool. And nice. Genuinely nice. He offered to have me come early so I could pick his brain about the music biz. Ask one who knows right?. Of course I did this.  Guy really cares about music and musicians. Giving. I like him. Good people. Crazy talented. Seeing him play the drums was everything. 

Do yourselves a favor and please show up to one of his talks. Any of his talks. Let him read the alphabet to you if that is all he doing. Last night I went on a wild, funny, profanity-laced, self-deprecating British wit-filled ride with him as he took myself and his audience  from the north of England to global fame with Public Image Limited and through the depths of hell and back. It was so unbelievably good. It was so good that at least for the night I forgot my troubles. I forgot the sadness of losing my mom on the 1st of this month. I forgot for a moment that while I was literally holding my mom's hand at her death bed, I got the call that my house in California was being sold in two weeks- you know, the one with all of my belongings in it and my home for a year and that on what would have been her birthday on December 11th I have to turn in her car. 

Winter. Detroit. No permanent home. No things. No car. 

This is a challenge.

I have faced plenty of other challenges in life and bested them all. The difference with this one is that it contains so much sadness that I have to rise above. A boyfriend or pet can be replaced but not your mom. When it is done it is done and you can only go live a good life because that is what she would want. Otherwise she is gone and you can't get her back. Another is there is no mother to call to say she loves me, to remind me how "If anyone can get through this Michele its you. I don't know where you get it from but you astonish me at every turn. I have faith in you that you will pull through this. You always do.  " Word for word this is what she would say to me. 

Fuck. She's right. I do. And I will. 

After Martin's incredible talk he and others played DJ. I thought to head out and then I thought otherwise. Did I have somewhere to be? Do I need to be up early? Do I have a curfew because I am "back home?" 

It was "no" to all of these things (tho what I wouldn't give to have my mom here worrying about me going off into the night as she would do despite the fact I've always made it home and always will) so I stayed and danced,  chatted with people and gave myself the gift of a good time.  I lit up like an Xmas tree when the girl who put the event together Kat Paled (or as I like to call her "The Girl with THE Most Amazing Hair Ever!!!") mentioned that the sound man was in Electric Six. I walked over to him and said "You were at a gig of mine in Portland!" Indeed he was. He and his band were playing Dante's that night, my home away from home and gig spot while I lived in Portland. I was playing down the way at Valentine's and they had stopped by before their set. 

This was the night at Valentine's. I call that my Bryan Ferry Jacket.

As you might imagine I feel a bit disconnected right now. I am unexpectedly stranded in my hometown after being gone for half of my life. Half!!  So even though I barely knew that musician I was grateful for something familiar that patched up one piece of what at present feels like a sinking ship despite the fact that I am still afloat. He encouraged me to move here because the music scene is hot. It is certainly a possibility. I have a record to get out. I planned to dovetail the release by putting a brand new line-up band together. I have to live somewhere in order to do this (also "cardboard" is not my color) and Detroit is booming right now! I would like my belongings of course tho. I'd like to see my things sooner than later. I have worn the same leggings since Oct. 12th (other than last night when I decided to be a person and switch it up. Thx for the cool pants mom!) because they are the only warm-ish pair that I have as I was in Florida before rushing up here. Yes, I wash them a lot. 

Martin's talk and his kindness and understanding towards me that was rather magical.  I had looked forward to him coming here because I needed something to look forward to. My songs are about to be mastered. They are coming along beautifully despite the blazing inferno around me. Martin coming to town was the only thing  that has gotten me out at night since I got here in mid October. Though our lives could never be compared I related so much to some of his stories. While much of it was just interesting and jovial there were a few moments he shared from his life where he felt sad, let down or degraded. Times he felt he lost. He is coming out with a book. He can tell you much better than I can but when it is someone else's experience you look and think "But you are great!" just as others have said to me when I have hit a low point. Yet, I totally got it. I knew what that knife in the back felt like. I am an artist after all. 

One story stuck out more than the others. I don't know anything historically about a woman named Maggie he spoke of. I first heard of her last night. In one tale Martin, Maggie and Lydon were in a car when Lydon began to lay into Maggie quite harshly just tearing her to pieces and no one stood up for her. At present from what I gather Maggie and Martin have made amends but he had asked her what she was thinking in the car that day. She said " I was thinking, Martin. Help. Please help me." but instead he sat silent, not helping her. When he told this story towards the end of his talk tears came down my face. I have been Maggie. I have been there getting laid into with not a soul in sight standing up for me. Its a horrifying feeling especially when you are on the road, there is no escaping and you are convinced you've not got a friend left on the planet (You do. You always do.)  More than just the connection was his  humility about his own lack of response to her silent cry for help-the one you shouldn't need to ask for out loud. I wondered if anyone who was the "Martin" in my story has ever felt remorse. Who knows? I do know that being able to feel it is a luxury and a trait only the best people have. I am certain of this. 

After an hour or so of dancing  my troubles had melted even more. I felt revitalized. I had new ideas come to me that I could do with my music and old ones that were submerged came back to life. It was almost a miracle that I felt ready to meet this current challenge no matter how hard it might be just through music and just through knowing you are not alone- another way music connects and lifts us with its inherent ability to say "I understand you

Appropriately I ended the evening dancing to the Furs' Love My Way. I noted more people were on the dance floor for that song than any other. Do I know how to pick a producer and guitarist or what? I am glad he picked me too. I also noted my mood and outlook were significantly improved. I felt alive again and it felt really, really good. This is why music matters. This is its magic. 

 

A theme of Martin's is "You're fucked. " If you are in the music business just face the fact that you are fucked.

Before I left I took whatever little cash I had on me and put it in his tip jar.  Hardly matched the value of what I got in return but gas money is gas money no matter who you are. 

I went up to him on my way out to thank him and say "so long."

Me: "Martin. I've thought it over.  I'm not fucked. I have a lot going for me. Its going to be OK. "

Martin: "Good. Stay in touch."

Oh, I will. One thing I know for certain is to go where the people are who cheer you on especially when they know exactly what you are up against and, like you, wouldn't trade it for the world.

 

One of the more humorous and interesting bits of the night was about this legendary performance.  

So incredible to hear it from those who were there making it happen. Another gift. 

The man has his own coffee. How punk is that? Coffee IS punk. 

Books, Record and T-Shirts, Also punk. You can get them all here.