A few weeks ago, on the dawn of Hanukah, me, Snappy P a.k.a. Prudence Fenton, and Wendy Goldman-Rohm hopped into the mustache van and headed north to Snappy’s family pad in Monterey. We stopped at my favorite place on earth, The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, for a little Christmas shopping on the way.

We also bumped into a friend, Isabell Freed, who stopped at the inn for some french fries and pie on her way back down to LA:

Once we got to Monterey we stopped at Whole Foods for supplies, including these lemons. Yes, I said lemons.

All being writers, we treated our stay as a 5-day writing retreat.

Monterey is very quiet, condusive to this type of activity. Though the view out of the window next to us was very inviting I stayed glued to my computer.

A lot of friends stopped by to say hello:

Although beautiful, it was really cold.

Lots of great food was cooked.

It was, after all, Hanukah:

Wendy and Prudence attended to all the culinary duties:

I oggled..:

…and ate:

Wendy’s apple pancakes were KILLER:

Our friend, Sally Rosenthal, drove down to meet us from Palo Alto just in time to sample them:

Sometimes we ate out. The soup at Cassanova was especially good:

Every day started out with a walk:

Notice that I’m not in any of those photos. I prefer my exercise to take place in a nice easy chair in front of a TV.  Though I did manage to venture out once:

I only had to walk about 100 feet from the house to get a great shot of the golf course it sits on:

Every day included a lot of writing.  I had to finish my Wienermobile post as well as two songs and a new outline for my live show slated for May 8 and 9:

On the last night we hit Carmel Beach as the sun was setting.

Snappy, Wendy and Sally, of course, went for another walk.

I stayed in the car and photographed the sunset…

…and worked.

All in all, Monterey yielded a most restful and productive few days. But alas, it was time to wrap up the latkes, jump into the mustache van and head back to LA for the holidays.


Last Saturday night my friend, Chris Nichols, threw a party at The Wigwam on Route 66 in San Bernadino, CA.

With no traffic it’s still a good hour and 15 min. from Los Angeles and I would never make the trek there for anyone other than someone with a great reputation for throwing parties. Besides, Chris had just written a great piece about me in his Los Angeles Magazine blog, so Mark Blackwell and I hopped into the mustache van and headed to the tepees.

Here’s a daytime shot of the wigwams:

By the time we got there the sun was dropping fast.

But it was still light enough to see they did an adequate job of restoring the 1949 original, the seventh and last of the Wigwam motels across the United States, when it was restored a few years back. Though I wish the sign didn’t look so cheesy new.

There’s an appropriately kidney-shaped pool,…

…a totem pole pointing the way in…,

….several Hawaiian themed fire extinguishers, though not sure what that has to do with Indians and teepees,…

…and an excellent snack bar.

Fortunately we also had excellent barbecue prepared by Chef Christopher Martin.

I love the entrance of the Wigwam rooms, plaster mounded to look like pulled-back teepee flaps.

I poked my head into someone’s teepee. I apologize in advance as none of the stuff strewn around is mine. The rooms are small and compact, just this…

…and this, plus a little bathroom.

As far as rooms go, if I were going to stay in a teepee I would want to lie in bed and feel like I’m in one. Instead, the ceiling is so low I imagine it feels more like you’re sleeping in an attic.

But the grounds around the teepees are perfect for a party.

Most people dressed appropriately:

Notice this guy’s vintage Sahara Hotel tie:

Here’s Charles Phoenix and I before he changed into his head-to-toe authetic Indian headress:

Many guests drove appropriate vehicles to the party too.

Check out the Chrysler’s backend:

I definitely wouldn’t mind this parked next to my teepee as an added rec room:

A peek inside:

Complete with excellent curtains:

This was there too:

I would have driven my Studebaker were it not up on blocks and acting like a planter.

There was an entire evening’s worth of entertainment but that’s where I had to draw the line.

I know it’s antisocial but I listen to music all week.

So as soon as the organ, accordians, harmonicas and kazoos began Mark and I jumped into the mustache van and headed back to LA. But not before a fantastic night was had by all at the Wigwam!

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The Bakersfield High School Chorale is much more in tune and way more in the swing than most high school groups I’ve seen who attempt “September”.  Whoever wrote the school chorale arrangement they all seem to sing felt the urge to throw in an abnormal amount of distinctively Caucasian “hey, hey, hey’s” as well as some very-suburban-no-soul-within-ear-range harmonies. Thankfully, the Bakersfield High School Chorale limit the “heys” to the intro and actually sound good despite the liberties taken with the harmonies and chords. I also love how excited the audience gets over the “ba doo doo’s” at the end of each chorus. I do have one question about the lyric though. Having written it, I know that the third verse begins “Now December brought the love that we shared in September/ ONLY BLUE TALK AND LOVE,  remember…”  yet these kids sing ” was it Jew taught me love, remember” or maybe they’re saying ” was it you taught me love, remember”? Either way it’s wrong. So I wish that the person who was hired to write the arrangement all these high schools sing would think of themselves more as a transcriber than a co-author, especially if they get the gig on another one of my songs. In the meantime, enjoy the best version of the corrupted arrangement I’ve seen so far – The Bakersfield High School Chorale.

For a more through exploration of my “365 Days Of September” mission as well as details of how the song was written, go here. Until tomorrow, ba-de-ya!



Yesterday, all 31 palm trees that surround my house were trimmed. I’m used to this being a total nightmare. As much as I love my Palm trees, 29 of which are the babies of the original two planted when my house was built in 1937, trimming all of them at the same time has traditionally been hell – expensive, messy and dealing with a bunch of tree trimming shysters.  All of which makes me long for a simpler approach to fauna, perhaps this little miracle tree growing out of a seemingly dead tree trunk and the traffic cone set on top to protect it.  And trust me, it’s really growing. Right on Tujunga Ave. in Studio City. I even got out of my car and tried to pull it out. It’s real.

The fact that freaks of nature like this exist, the little twig that could, busting through a stump and reaching for the sun as if it were God, which I guess it is if you were a tree, makes me wonder if the trauma of maintaining 31 palms is worth it.


Palms are my favorite kind of tree in the world and my grove is, after all, family. The two original trees are close to 80 feet tall. They spit out enough seeds when it’s windy to populate all of Los Angeles with its kids.  My entire front lawn is shaved palms that long ago took over where grass used to grow. They look exactly like grass blades except that when you get down to their level you see the blades are oblong and not straight.


The babies even grow through rocks:


Let me tell you, for what it costs taking care of this massive palm family as it grows these trees may as well be going to college. But thank God I finally found an honest, neat and reasonably priced tree trimmer. I’m used to being held hostage for days by companies who promise me they’ll take care not to poke thousands of holes in the trunks as they shimmy up them with metal spiked heels, not to crush all the plants and flowers below and not to leave my house looking like this overnight:


I know it doesn’t look that bad in the dark but there are palm fronds, seeds and ripped plastic covering everything, not to mention a massive shovel and ladder left out to make it convenient for anyone who wants to to break in.   I usually have the happiest house on the block but when the A&M tree company took over it looked like the most haunted house on the block not to mention the dirtiest. Here’s what it looked like during the day despite the fact that the  clean-up was “almost done”.


A&M even wanted to leave it like this over the weekend. I insisted on next day cleanup but that didn’t stop them from leaving a 25 foot truck parked out in front of my neighbor’s house for four days before they got it together to pick it up.

Once you have this many palm trees you really have to keep the trimming up because they start growing things that look like shafts of wheat (if I really knew what wheat looked like).


And those growths start throwing up all over everything below them so that a once pristine table and chairs now looks like this all the time:


It doesn’t look so bad in the photos but some of this stuff gets really sticky and also if you sit down on a bunch of it it pokes you in the ass.

I’m happy to report that I found a fantastic tree trimming company this time, Manuel’s Tree Service. They don’t mess up your trees with those hideous cleats. They don’t bitch about not leaving jagged frond ends hanging 60 feet up in the air. They’re not too lazy to put the equipment away at night if they don’t finish in the eight hours they swore they would be finished in.  They don’t whine about covering everything below in plastic and even brought a roll of their own, something that no other tree company ever did unless you call two little tattered 10 foot tarps enough to cover a nice big lawn and three cars enough. And they don’t burn out entire sections of your plants like the Thrifty Tree Service did when they parked their Chipper only inches away from my 12 foot high wall of horsegrass and burned a 5 foot hole in the wall.


At Manuel’s they finesse those trees with skill.   This guy swung from tree to tree, and I’m talking about 80 feet high in the air, never leaving a mark and clipping the tops just so.


In the end,  all my trees have nice new haircuts and the lady of the house spent a nice, trauma free day out in the sunshine watching an artist do his work.


Now I have a nice trauma-free six months before the whole thing starts up again.  But at least I no longer am at the mercy of  companies like A&M and Thrifty, both of whom also repeatedly showed up on the wrong day because they were trimming other trees in the neighborhood and thought they could save on truck rentals. Thank you, Manuel, for turning what was once a nightmare into a pleasure. I no longer have to consider a little tree growing out of a tree trunk and traffic cone as a plausible alternative to maintaining my grove.



In the 1960’s and 70’s when string paintings were at the peak of their popularity more string owls lived on wallpapered and wood paneled walls inside houses than real ones lived outside. I never took the craft up. The strings  in the crowded areas reminded me of tiny spider legs. The nails were tiny and unless you hit them dead on the black velvet would twist around the shaft and pucker everywhere. Then the string, or in this case yarn, had to be pulled completely taunt or you’d have a sagging bird. All those crisscrossing strings gave me Vertigo, especially when it got to places like around the eyes where there were so many of them it was like a spider convention at The Sheraton. This was way too precise of a task for a free-form, spontaneous artist such as myself. I felt the same way about Spirographs.

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As ubiquitous as they were there were way too many little spider leg lines for me and you had to adhere too strictly to the rules.

Whether fashioned out of string, metal or ceramic the owl is one of the most iconic birds in art.  Although I collect string owl paintings I prefer my owls in more solid form. I have owl cups, …

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… an owl radio,…

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… an outdoor metal owl…


… and a zillion other forms of owls. I even have more owl string art.


I think my black velvet owl string painting is one of the best looking around, bare bones and to the point.


The disadvantage of owning a string art owl is that keeping him clean is nasty business. Black velvet  is hard enough to keep clean without 12,000 little worms stretched across it. The next time you see string art at someone’s house take a good look. The little nails are like barbecue pits around which families of dust balls gather. So, no barbecues at my place, no owls on the wall, just a nice string painting, wrapped back in plastic, going back to nest in a rack in my garage until the next time I need a good look at the First National Bird Of Kitsch.


tree bushes-on-building145

If ever there were a garden for 2010 with no water required, no gardening bills to pay and always picture perfect plumage on well-sculpted almost-topiary-but-without-the-cute-animals tree/bushes this would be it.

I love interspersing the rectangle tree with the ball trees. Thought was definitely put into the planning of this garden.

I also love tree arrangements when actual nature is involved. Here are a few from around LA that would go well with the excellent brick landscaping above.

tree_3612 A tree_3648 trees_8734 tree_4317 tree

All trees are beautiful. Bushes sculpted to look like trees are even more beautiful. Murals painted to look like sculpted trees and bushes are more beautiful still.



As Kitschmeister General I love, love, love the San Fernando Valley, just inches from the center of Hollywood and pumped full of Kitsch like a buffet line at Trader Vics. This is the first in a series of short films I’m making glorifying the Kitsch monuments that abound around me for bigisgood.tv. Part 1 features everything from Roman architecture and giant submarine sandwiches to clowns, frog families, volcanoes, giant fish, horses, shoe cars and very happy houses.

AWWoK-volcano AWWoK-star-gardens AWWoK-twin-houses AWWoK-circus-liq-sign AWWoK-silver-saddle AWWoK-frog-house AWWoK-hair-to-please

For the full glorious and kitschyfied tour:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRxzFdByMQs

And check out bigisgood.tv.


Cheap jewelry is always a popular breeding ground for Kitsch. Kitsch glitz  shines especially bright when designs are made to capitalize on popular trends such as the streaking craze that began in the 1960’s and attained astronomical heights when a peace signing streaker crashed the 1974 Academy Awards blazing behind actor David Niven. From that point on, streaking was  as glorified in all forms of design, from T-shirts to decals to plaster figurines to the kind of tacky finery you see here.

If the people who practiced the sport had incredible bodies it would make for fine spectator fare but usually it’s just some attention starved paunchy dude with a severe “shortcoming”.

Also, most streakers were/are male so curious they chose a female to be immortalized here. So very 1970’s Woman’s Lib.



I may have sore thumbs but not green ones.  Not an area I have especially great skills in  other than I seem to have a talent for nursing baby Palm trees. Nothing that would fit in this 5″ ceramic planter with the perfect green thumb though.  Instead, seeds drop from two 80-year-old massively high Palm trees at my house and thousands of little baby Palms sprout all over my yard.  They’re faithfully mowed twice a week so they look like the perfect sheared bright green astroturf lawn.

I’ve never heard of a Palm tree lawn before. I’ve seen a lot of green thumb vases too but this one feels as special as my lawn.

green-thumb-planter_6053 green-thumb-planter_6052


Fantasia as Celie. Fantastic cast, many from the original Broadway production. Five years of my life into the making of this baby. I’m very proud of it. If you’re in LA come to the Pantages.