People always ask me what my favorite song I’ve written is. I hate to favor any of the babies but pound for pound I’d have to shout “September”!  I think it’s an eternally uplifting song. It makes people HAPPY, not just with a capital H but ALL CAPS!! I write a lot of happy songs but even perennial foot tappers like “Neutron Dance” and “Boogie Wonderland” don’t inspire the immediate mood shift that “September” does. I’ve never been in a room where people’s toes didn’t start tapping or heads start bobbing as soon as it comes on. I’ve never been to a Bar Mitzvah or wedding where it wasn’t played, including Beyonce and Jay-Z’s, where I wasn’t but learned from US Weekly that that’s what they danced their first dance to. And they didn’t even get married in September.


Without question, the original Earth Wind & Fire version is and will always be my favorite.


With EWF founder and lead singer, Maurice White, and EWF guitarist, Al McKay, I started writing “September” the first day we met, in the summer of 1978. It was actually written as the third song in a trilogy that  Maurice and Al had already created, EWF’s “Sing a Song” and The Emotions’ “Best of My Love”,  two of my favorite Pop Soul records of all time.

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Although most of the music to “September” was completed that first day, it actually took a couple months to finalize the lyric, during which time I was also working with Maurice on all but two songs that became their (thankfully) legendary crossover album, I Am.


I used to be hung up that the “September” lyric was a little sing-songy, not the most intelligent I’d written. But seeing the effect it has on people I’m happy I took Maurice’s advice:  Never let a lyric get in the way of the groove. If a lyric isn’t grammatically correct or even if it’s nonsensical –  like the key words in the “September” chorus, “Ba-de-ya” –  don’t replace it with something that is.  If you marry the lyric to the music just right, the meaning will come across in the feel.  I have no doubt that the love expressed in the chorus of “September” comes across even better with this nonsensical phrase than it would have had we merely filled those syllables with “I love you”.


The first time I ever went on YouTube just months after it launched in 2005, there were already tons of versions of the song there. Over the years I’ve watched “September” videos multiple like rabbits, some good but mostly a little on the lame side – Bad bar bands, jazz bands, marching bands, people in their living rooms, bathrooms, underwear, at auditions, dance classes, birthday parties, on lawns, mountaintops, in line dances, in lines at stores, playing solo bass, drum, keyboard and guitar parts, making animations and short films with it, in all varieties of languages, styles and quality.

Most songwriters are tortured when they hear cheesy versions of their work. As the Grand Master of Kitsch however, I LOVE it. I love that something I’ve created inspires someone to perform it despite an apparent lack of talent or rhythm. If it makes them happy it makes me happy.


And, trust me, this is a song that’s still making me happy. In one of my YouTube searches I stumbled onto Pomplamoose, a band that completely deconstructed the song and did it so distinctively I suggested we work together. The resulting “Jungle Animal” song, video and game went live TODAY.


But back to “September”… 1978 wasn’t the first time I placed my bet on a song that glorified September. Four years earlier, my first and only album, Childstar, came out on Epic Records. It contained the first 10 songs I ever wrote. The tune the label thought had the most single potential was called “What Kind of Shoes Does September Wear?”.


Although my career didn’t get off to the running start I had hoped it would then, I’d have to say that, in retrospect, September did, indeed, have some very nice shoes!

A few nights ago I went back on YouTube to see if any new versions of “September” had been done. To my astonishment, it was like the song had In vitro and gave birth to enough versions that if I played one a day for a year I would never run out. So I made it a goal to chronicle the madness. From this day forth, the 21st of September, the date in the opening line of the song, until the 21st of September, 2011, I shall feature one (brilliant, alarming, innovative, ridiculous) version of the song a day.

So here now, I offer you the most definitive version of all, the Godhead, “SEPTEMBER” by EARTH, WIND & FIRE on this, the 21st day of September, 2010, the first of 365 days of September. It pretty much goes downhill from here…




Bowling is easily the sport that has rained down hardest on Pop Culture in terms of artifacts emulating its shape, spirit and efforts to capitalize on the good clean brand of social interaction the sport promotes. Though I go a little farther than the normal person in terms of their love of the sport. I should clarify that it’s not actually the sport itself I love so much as the accouterments associated with it. You name it and there’s some bowling derived interpretation of it. I have bowling can openers, decanters, tables, lamps, brushes, floors, shirts, shoes, dishes, cups, glasses, trophies and then some.  Sometimes I even turn the trophies into door handles.


I’m sipping decaf from a bowling ball cup right now.


I clean my clothes with a bowling pin brush.


I work by the light of this bowling pin lamp.


Sometimes the lamp sits on one of four bowling tables I got from the famous Hollywood Star Lanes when they closed their doors in Hollywood in the late 90s. I use them as desks.


I have bowling balls planted in my garden.


I even have a bowling ball carved into my kitchen floor.


Yesterday I extracted coins from my bowling ball coin purse and bought these bowling shoes.


When I got home I popped open a bottle of Bubble Up.  I had a choice of two bowling pin bottle openers.


Alas, my bowling bag coin purse is not going to be opened for any more bowling memorabilia for a while.  As I’m a totally self-financed artist, my pennies need to be pinched for all the projects I’m working on. That would be depressing but when it all comes down to it my favorite place to be anyway is home. If I’m bored I can always go bowling in the sand.



I love lighted signs. Most of the ones I collect are African-American from the 1950’s and 60’s but I also fall for big fat trouts popping out of picnic baskets, gushing motorized waterfalls and the blinking lights of a big metropolis. But my absolute favorite genre which I constantly stop myself from buying because I have no room to keep any more are lighted food signs, not the least of which is this one commemorating one of my all-time favorite snack foods, the chili dog.

I love Chili dogs.


This  was consumed two months ago at Cupids Hot Dogs in Tarzana, CA, where the decor is just as good as the hot dogs.


There are also two outstanding specials offered at Cupid’s that I haven’t seen offered at very many other hot dog stands:


I don’t think Cupid’s uses Castleberry chili though, which is good as in 2007 many cans of Castleberry were recalled for possibly containing Botulism.


As I’m too lazy to cook my own anything this has not deterred me from enjoying a good hot dog stand-bought chili dog every now and then…


… especially if it comes in the form of a vintage lighted sign.



No one loves socks, the most over looked fashion item in the clothing arsenal, more than me. I have hundreds of pairs and they change with every outfit. Easily the cheapest but what should be the best smelling socks in the drawer are these two pairs that are supposed to wreak of Sugar Daddies. But short of stuffing these socks up my nostrils I haven’t detected any such smell or I’d be running out to buy matching pairs of Tootsie Rolls, Blow Pops, Junior Mints, Charms and Dots foot coverings.

I can’t imagine that it would take foot sweat to activate the olfactory function so I’m going to have to assume that these were ill-conceived from the jump as I plucked them straight outta the unopened packages where not a scintilla lot of candy smell remained either.


Made in 2004 for Designs by Skaffles, Inc. of New York, these 65% Acrylic, 30% Polyester, 4% Spandex, 1% rubber and 0% smelling socks are supposed to retain their scent for 4-5 washings.


I swear I would love to walk around smelling like a Sugar Daddy but unless these were pre-washed 4-5 times before they were packaged in China the only hint of candy is on the way-too-light-to-read-without-squinting pink label.


So the socks don’t smell and the label is hard to read.  All of which makes for excellence in Kitsch but, unfortunately, not in socks.



One sure shot sign of Kitsch is when someone’s idea stops at the first thought and doesn’t spin off into a more creative zone that produces deeper, more interesting and creative spinoff ideas. This holds true with any creative vision, from telling a story to writing a song to thinking of a name for your business.

I’ve long been enamored with the mind that’s capable of stopping at the simple, most obvious thought. Like when looking for a name that implies your hair skills are performed with artistry you settle upon Artistry With Hair and a simple clip art logo of an 80’s couple that must have graced signs, business cards and matchbooks in thousands of salons, many of which were probably also named Artistry With Hair or something perilously close, during that decade when this sign was undoubtedly made. And if it was made later than the 80s, double kitsch points for sticking with so dated a look.

What is just as simple and at the same time not anywhere near as simple – the kind of organic incongruity that’s become a comfortable pattern in my life – is the matter of my own hair which is having its roots touched up as I write this.


Maintaining my hair style is the simple part. I’ve been cutting it myself every morning for 27 years – long on one side, short on the other, shaved part way up the back or not depending on my mood.

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Acquiring the hairdo was the not-so-simple part. After having long, curly even locks for 10+ years, a disastrous trip to the hairdressers in 1984 resulted in a wispy Farrah-Fawcett-flippy-bangs-and-whispy-strands-of-hair-around-the-face cut.  This was 7 years after The Farrah hit which caused me, always style conscious and never wanting to embrace a trend unless I was one of the first ones there, to go into a 31 day lockdown cutting more and a little bit more off one side every day in attempts to find an ideal length.  Finally, I was forced to go out lopsided as months before I had invited a bunch of frends to see the opening screening of Rhinestone, a really bad, kitsch filled film starring Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone. When no one even reacted that something very wrong was going on on one side of my head I figured it just looked natural and stayed with it, uncommitted to a perfect length to this day. It led to a fantastic conversation with Farrah about my hair. And here we are 27 years later with me still lopsided. Such is the nature of “Artistry With Hair”.



Salt and pepper shakers have always provided an excellent opportunity to spice up any meal. As a firm believer in making meals as entertaining as possible, cat chefs Salty & Peppy, typical of the genre since the 1950s, can always be counted on to achieve that goal. Six inches high with screw-on chef caps they’ve seasoned everything around here including the fried egg I just burnt myself for breakfast.

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This is one of the most popular things in my house. It sits on a bar as you walk from my dining room into the kitchen and has been pumped full of M&Ms since the day I bought it at the Rose Bowl swap meet for 35 cents. My house is pretty much a health food lover’s nightmare anyway but even the strictest vegetarian can’t resist scooping out a handful as they pass by.


This almost foot long honey weighs a ton, almost like it’s made out of cement. Loaded with M&M’s – I top it off every morning so it rises out of the glaze like The Big Rock Candy Mountain – it’s weathered every earthquake since I’ve had it. Everything else around it crashes to the floor yet the faithful candy dish doesn’t shift an inch. So even during the scariest moments there’s always something happy to eat.

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Anyone who knows me knows that getting me to eat celery or anything else green is no small feat. I’ve always thought that I’m prone to Kitsch because my brain has been tweaked by decades of glorious junk food ingestion. But I’ve been trying to make an effort to at least dunk my toes into the waters on the other side and pulling the stringy-green-stuff-that’s-much-better-for-me-than-a-Twinkie out of something that looks like this is the first step toward reformation.


This anthropomorphic celery is 7″ high and only holds about four healthy stalks.  Which is about as much as I can take. I fill it up every morning in hopes of it stopping me from scooping up a handful of M&Ms like everyone else who walks through my dining room does and so far it’s working.  I always respond better to things when they are aesthetically pleasing.

I found this guy on eBay. At that time he had an asparagus brother. I was outbid at the last second on that one. I HATE when vintage sets are broken up so wasn’t happy with the seller or the stealth bomber who didn’t have enough sense to go for both of them. But Mr. Celery is very happy here with all his other ceramic friends and I thank him for keeping me very healthy (and mature).

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Margaret Keane is the High Priestess of Pop Art, painting those huge waif eyed paintings that stared out at everyone throughout the 60’s and 70’s and are still copied and emulated to this day.


Last Thursday night I got to see not only so many of the original historic paintings but new works by Keane as well who hasn’t lost a gnat’s hair of technique.


This happened inside one of the greatest places in LA, the Phyllis Morris Showroom. Although Phyllis herself, creator of the original poodle lamp and unquestionably one of the greatest designers who ever lived at the high and artful end of Kitsch, isn’t still with us her creations very much are. Being in the actual presence of Keane and surrounded by both women’s work which not only dominated the eras they came from but still impact Pop Culture today was about as uplifting and exciting an art moment as this Pop artist could have. (I guess I’d have to throw in the time I walked past LA Eyeworks and through the window saw Andy Warhol staring at a motorized piece of art of mine for over five minutes. Him calling me a genius when I walked in was a watershed moment.)

There’s a movie in the works about Margaret Keane with Kate Hudson signed on to play Margaret. Her story is fantastic. Her husband, Walter, was a crafty businessmen and convinced his wife to basically paint and shut up. It was his name that was on all of her paintings and it was he who made multiple appearances on Johnny Carson, did all the interviews and got all the glory. Margaret is still very soft-spoken but came to her senses in an infamous 1965 court case during their divorce when she rightfully and finally claimed that the paintings that made Keane a household word were actually hers. When her husband called her a liar the judge set two easels up and asked them both to paint. Margaret got up and knocked out one of her famous big sad eyed paintings while Walter complained of a sore shoulder and sat there like a lump. Feminism was at its height and Margaret instantly became an Olympian sized champ.

I only own some Keane prints from back in the day. I would have loved to have bought one of her paintings last Thursday but as opposed to the few dollars they cost in the 60’s they now average between $75,000 and $225,000.

As far as Phyllis goes, I hope to go back to the showroom to shoot a video with Jamie Adler, Phyllis’ daughter who runs it now and is a fantastic designer in her own right.  Her mom set the bar for merging Art and Kitsch, magnificently over-the-top Baroque creations that remained totally tasteful and full of importance and humor.  Throughout the four decades she was designing, Phyllis’ oversized beds, chairs, wall units and accessories filled the homes of folks unafraid to embrace their own uniqueness and style like Liberace and Elvis Presley. Here’s Phyllis and her dyed pink poodles in 1953 with some of the first poodle lamps that rolled off the assembly line:

Now back to the showroom Thursday night:

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Thank you, Margaret and Phyllis, for the never-ending inspiration, talent and fun!

Main Photo: Katy Winn


Passover means Seder, Seder means matzoh and matzoh means crumbs. But fear not, the Matzah Sweeper is here, a convenient crumb caddy made from plastic that could not have cost the manufacturer much gelt because it’s so clunky to use.  After having decimated at least half a box of matzoh trying to get my favorite unleavened bread topping, peanut butter and jelly, spread evenly across it there were enough crumbs to make it look like my kitchen table was covered with snow.  But despite the fact that it says “press here”…


after five minutes of trying to pry it open pressing everywhere imaginable I gave up trying to crack the Matzah Sweeper open to dump the crumbs. I finally used it, full of crumbs,  as a  percussion shaker on a song I was working on yesterday. The trade-off worked out nicely.


One of my favorite things from a Kitsch perspective about matzoh is that there’s no clear correct spelling of the name. Sometimes it’s matzo, sometimes it’s matzoh and for the Rite Lite company of Brooklyn, New York it’s apparently ‘matzah’.


And now, an extra Passover bonus! Please enjoy The Temptations circa 1968 singing a Fiddler on the Roof medley. The visual quality of this clip is beyond chaluscious (sp? Yiddish for ‘atrocious’) but to hear this score sung this way will add a little pinch o’ soul to the matzo brei and gefilte fish and ensure you stay in the groove this Passover season.