watt’s picture of the week – monday, february 6, 2023

does so cal know it ain’t spring yet? yesterday in my pedro town, this great blue heron seems it couldn’t give a shit cuz for them it fuckin nest-building time!

the real trip though is that this sagi is kyping a twig from a formerly-built nest for one its building in palm tree right next door!

photo by mike watt

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The Empire Strips Back – Adventures in Hollywood Continue

Buckle in kids, because the road to “The Empire Strips Back” started a long time ago. 1977 to be exact when my family packed up the Oldsmobile and headed west on I-10 for a vacation in California. This was a super big treat because pretty much every other family vacation was driving up to Wyoming to see family. My Mom really wanted to see Hollywood Boulevard so that’s where we headed but things quickly took a turn. Within seconds of getting out of the car my brother, the future astrophysicist, somehow just sensed that “Star Wars” was playing at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Kinda freakish how his nerd-radar was activated. Needless to say we found ourselves getting tickets. I still remember that feeling of sitting there as a little kid and when the music and the opening crawl started. Of course, my mind was BLOWN!!!! I was pretty young and it was INTENSE! But not so intense that I didn’t notice that my Dad was fidgeting and grumbling to himself about whether or not he put enough money in the meter. To this DAY I can feel him doing that.

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Movies Till Dawn: Cinematic Journeys

5-25-77” (2022, MVD Visual) Bittersweet, if overly long tribute to the pros and cons of the creative in the form of a nostalgic valentine to backyard moviemaking and teenage nerd-dom. Writer/director Patrick Read Johnson – a former special effects creator who directed another likable underdog pic, “Angus” – revisits his own childhood in the mid-70s Midwest, where he directs backyard sci-fi epics and dreams of Hollywood. A chance opportunity to visit Los Angeles introduces him to the reality of achieving those dreams via visits to the sets of “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters,” but there is also real life, including a shot at romance, to contend with. Produced over a period of nearly two decades, “5-25-77” (which was the release date for “Star Wars”) emerges with many rough edges intact (including a slow fizzling conclusion), but its core story – the need for Pat (John Francis Daley) to make movies – is depicted with charm and humor, both of which are buoyed considerably by Austin Pendleton’s turn as real-life cinematographer Herb Lightman and Emmi Chan as the girl who gives pause to Pat’s movie dreams. MVD’s Blu-ray includes commentary by Johnson, a Q&A from 2013, and promotional material.

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Cardiologist/Actor Rico Simonini: An Interview Pulsating with Twists, Turns, Legendary Lore, and Doggedly Dramatic Beats

Photo Courtesy of Courtney Michael Oblowitz

It has been said, health and creativity go hand in hand — in this case, by way of drama and doctoring! Throw in a Triple Threat, and you’ve got a career — nay set of careers and stories to accompany your life’s work — to beat all professions and parlance. In this case, said series of threats encompass: Acting, writing, and … cardiology…?

Sure, a lot of people THINK it’s tap dancing; but like the down beat of a most luscious soul/R & B song, when push comes to shuffle, either literally or metaphorically, the threat aspect in entertainment chiefly revolves around the central part of the chest that bestows one with not only the drive, but the  desire to do the tap dancing, acting and writing in the first place!

As quoted by actor/doctor Rico Simonini at the July 2017 intro to the unveiling of his primarily penned screenplay adaptation of Frank and Ava (turned celluloid sensation), “Did you know that your odds of becoming a working actor are .01%?  Moreover, your chances of attaining and retaining a practice as a working cardiologist are roughly .007%! How ‘bout them prospects?!?” (And God knows what the probability is of retaining a position at Cedars Sinai—Prestigious a place as it is.)

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watt’s picture of the week – monday, january 30, 2023

yesterday here in my pedro town I discovered a SIGN of things to come: seems the old immigration building is soon to be home to a new chow pad! canetti’s used to be in this building… I had MANY great fish and eggs breakfasts chows at that pad… miss it much… let me tell you that joe canetti was VERY COOL people!

photo by mike watt

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watt’s picture of the week – tuesday, january 24, 2023

finally learning some on this baritone horn I got on tour in the late 80s via neil cloaca‘s very own “tooty pacifico” doin’ it sessions on tuesdays.

photo by mike watt

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Jared James Nichols at The Peppermint – Live Review

I first saw Jared James Nichols at the Down and Out in 2012. He played a show with Prima Donna and The Hangmen. Talk about a killer show! Prima Donna and The Hangmen are a couple of my all-time favorite bands to see live. Hell, throw in Cheap Trick and call it a festival and I’ll be in heaven tonight. A decade ago I posted a picture of what I declared to be my new favorite band and that I thought Jared James sounded like Robin Trower meets Mountain. I’ve never saw Mountain live, but I have seen Robin Trower and he’s super dreamy and drooly, but that’s okay. So is Jimmy Page.

I was always hearing that Jared was doing well and he’s been busy playing with some big talent and has even opened for the great ZZ Top. Turned out he was playing at The Peppermint Club near Cedars and next to what used to be Jerry’s Deli and rumor had it that George Thorogood was going to sit in for a song. I’ll tell ya now, George couldn’t make it. Rather disappointed he was a no show because as soon as I heard he might be playing, I immediately had to listen to some John Lee Hooker records while I lamented over the time I missed seeing George Thorogood open for Ted Nugent. That ship has long sailed since I ain’t paying to go to that Ted talk and Mr. Thorogood is in his mid-70s and doesn’t seem to be playing live anymore.

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Movies Till Dawn: New and Vintage Action from Asia

Millionaire’s Express” (1986, Arrow Video) Sammo Hung, a small-time criminal with oversized ambitions, hatches a scheme to revive his small town by derailing the titular train and forcing its wealthy passengers to spend money at his new hotel/brothel. This admittedly ridiculous plan is further complicated by do-gooder fireman turned police chief Yuen Biao and rogue cop Eric Tsang, who plans to rob the train, as does a multinational gang of bandits with designs on a map carried by three samurai (including legendary kicker Hwang Jang-lee and the impressive Yukari Oshima). Based on that plot breakdown, writer/director Hung’s epic-scaled Western tribute/comedy might seem overstuffed with side plots, but Hung keeps all the threads no only coherent but also entertaining; it helps that the fight choreography is absolutely stunning (with Biao landing on his feet after a two-story leap among the highlights) and the comedy bits very funny, as does his massive cast of Hong Kong superstars, including pop singer Kenny Bee, Australian Richard Norton and American Cynthia Rothrock, veteran bad guy Dick Wei, and even the venerable Jimmy Wang Yu. A prime example of Hong Kong martial arts cinema at its most vibrant period in the 1980s; Arrow’s two-disc Blu-ray bundles four different versions of the film, including the Hong Kong theatrical versions, two different international edits, and a “hybrid” cut which integrates footage from the three other versions (and yes, all four are different and worth watching). Multiple commentaries by, among others, Rothrock and various experts, are also included, as are interviews with Hung, Biao, and Oshina, and alternate English credits.

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Where to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in LA 2023

Photo by NoHo Damon via Flickr

After a two-year hiatus on in-person events, the parades and celebrations are back! Even the rain is going to stop just in time for outdoor events. There are a variety of ways to observe the Civil Rights Leader’s birthday, from the educational to the festive. Here are a few:

The 35th Annual Kingdom Day Parade

The Kingdom Day Parade in South LA features floats, celebrities, beauty queens, bands, equestrian teams, drum lines, drill teams, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, Representative Maxine Waters and Tommy the Clown, originator of “krumping,” For the first time ever, The USC Trojan Marching Band will participate in the parade. I hope they play “Tusk!” Starting at 11:00 a.m. PST at Western and MLK Blvd., the three-mile parade route runs down MLK Blvd. to Crenshaw Blvd., where it turns left and then ends at Vernon Avenue.

This year’s theme is “America, the Best Hope of the World.” The grand marshal will be George C. Fatheree III, the lead attorney of the team that won the case to return Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach to the descendants of the original owners.The parade will begin at 11 a.m. and streamed on the parade’s website,

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watt’s picture of the week – sunday, january 15, 2023

part of a new tour vehicle?

photo by mike watt

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