Tuesday, April 26, 2016


USA Today has called Paul Iorio a pop music "expert"....Novelist Harry Crews called him a "damn good writer"...Spy magazine described him as a "trend-spotter"...The San Francisco Chronicle said he "has an original way of approaching a story"...And Barry Manilow once called him "a wonderful interviewer -- he's good!" (But don't let that turn you off!)  Here's Paul Iorio's official blog:

Paul Iorio's blog, The Daily Digression, covers pop culture and beyond...

- Homepage: paulliorio.blogspot.com 
- Paul's original photography:  paul's photos
- Paul's main music site (w/lyrics) pauliorio.blogspot.com
- MP3s of Paul's songs: soundclick.com/pauliorio
- Audio excerpts of Paul's interviews with pop culture icons
Paul interviews Anastasio first (Jan. 1989) & Paul interviews Pulitzer photographer

All posted text on this website was written solely by Paul Iorio.


Also check out my Facebook wall at Facebook.com/pauliorio for
the very latest postings by me!

(By the way, I'm just beginning to post the original paper editions of
my work over the decades. Here's the website:
paper editions of Paul's work!

(click this link!)



for April 26, 2016

JUST IN: The Huffington Post has just published my photos and review of last weekend's concerts by The 1975, Chris Stapleton, Wolf Alice, Anderson East and the Japanese House. Click here to check it out:




for April 24, 2016

Once Again, Coachella Comes to Berkeley!
The 1975, performing in Berkeley on April 22nd. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

As it did last year, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival came to Berkeley, California, over its final weekend.

Top acts performing on the festival's closing day also played in Berkeley for the opening nights of the 2016 Greek Theater season.

Chris Stapleton, The 1975 and Wolf Alice, appearing at the Greek on April 22 and 23 (and at Coachello on the 24th), dazzled the fanatical crowds, but many probably came away thinking about...Wolf Alice.

Wolf Alice, a London group fronted by 24-year old Ellie Rowsell, rocked like a band on its way to becoming as big as Florence and the Machine, judging from the wild response to their opening set for The 1975.

Rowsell has an enormously attractive vocal style and the greatest shriek this side of Florence Welch. Melodic and rocking, with a sound redolent of folk-grunge, The Decemberists, Death Cab, even the Sex Pistols, Black Sabbath and CCR. (And they seem to know full well what makes Sab swing; just check out "Moaning Lisa Smile.") The best set I've heard by an opening act since Lucius's show last year.

But the crowd that night was, of course, there for The 1975 -- and were they ever! High decibel screaming for the band soon turned into a crowd control problem in the front rows.

After the fourth song, an oldie called "So Far (It's Alright)," vocalist Matthew Healy spoke to the mob.

"Everybody takes three steps back right now," Healy told his fans. "Can you breathe? Don't kill yourselves."

Then he launched into "Change of Heart" from the band's latest album, the number one (on both sides of the pond) "I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It."

By mid-set, it was clear they probably should've called themselves The 1985, because their sound is sometimes somewhere between INXS and late Talking Heads, with echoes of the Average White Band and smooth jazz. (There was even an extended mellow sax interlude on "Me.")

Funkier live than on recordings, the band had lots of people dancing (even in the hills above the theater, where I heard most of the show and Stapleton's set).

Highlights included "Menswear," from their first album, and "Somebody Else," from the new one.

Opening the triple bill, during a light spring rain that brought out loudly chirping birds, was a promising British band called The Japanese House, fronted by Amber Bain, who is apparently still a teenager and has been collaborating with The 1975. Her aesthetic starting point seems to be Lorde, though she also appears to have been influenced by Tears for Fears. Worth checking out.

The next night, country superstar Stapleton headlined, drawing an overflow crowd that lined up for around a quarter mile, north and south of the venue, hours before he took the stage.

Playing a set that was mostly covers -- unusual for a performer known as a hit songwriter -- Stapleton closed with a soulful and poignant version of Prince's "Nothing Compares With You."

Unfortunately, some of the crowd had already exited the Greek early and missed it.

The probable reason for the exodus -- the biggest early exit of fans I've seen at the theater since The Lumineers' disappointing show in 2013 -- was that parts were downright tedious (e.g., for what was something like fifteen minutes, he introduced the names of bandmates in the form of a sketchy song). (This was the opposite of, say, Hozier's 2015 concert at which the crowd actually expanded as his show progressed.)

Don't get me wrong: the best of Stapleton's show -- his rendition of Waylon Jennings' "Ain't Living Long Like This," for example) -- was as masterful as anything in country music today.

And I enjoyed the unpredictability of his set, which included songs that he performed for the first time or rarely ("Hard Living," Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings") and lots of quirkiness.

But there were too many dead patches for a set that strained to reach the ninety minute mark.

Opening was country singer Anderson East, whose biggest hit, "Satisfy Me," bears a strong resemblance to Smokey Robinson's "My Girl" -- a point implicitly driven home when East joined Stapleton for a cover of that soul classic later in the night. Elsewhere, he sounded like the Richard Manuel part of The Band (minus the falsetto) -- and the crowd seemed to enjoy it.

Chris Stapleton t-shirts being sold at the Greek on April 23rd. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

The 1975, encoring in Berkeley last Friday night. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for April 17, 2016


I want to thank all the editors who considered and had nice words about my unpublished interview with Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

The thing is, I'm really intent on having it published in its complete long-form -- because it's that good, a meaty twenty-page Q&A transcribed almost verbatim from my audiotape. The interview reads like two tennis pros hitting balls to each other. (Obviously, I do NOT put myself at Ferlinghetti's level, but, by the time of this interview, I had developed a high level of expertise on "Howl," the main subject of my interview, and it reads like it.)

So, considering I want it published in its entirety, I'm self-publishing it now. Here it is, for the first time, my fully transcribed one-on-one Q&A with Ferlinghetti.

Paul Iorio's Exclusive Interview with Ferlinghetti -- Finally Published.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights bookstore, earlier this year. [photo credit by Paul Iorio]

Sixty years ago next month, Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" was first published.

It initially appeared in a mimeographed edition on May 16, 1956, and had a print run of a few dozen copies.

The subsequent edition, published months later by City Lights Books -- titled "Howl and Other Poems" -- would go on to sell around a million copies, but only after it had become the subject of a landmark obscenity trial the following year.

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founder of City Lights, published "Howl" in November 1956 and was soon arrested by the local police department for selling it, charged (along with bookstore clerk Shig Murao) with selling obscene material. (He was later acquitted of all charges. Today, of course, the poem is considered a landmark of twentieth century literature.)

On August 29, 2000, Ferlinghetti and I talked, in an exclusive one-on-one interview, about many aspects of "Howl."

At the time of the interview, I had just finished a year of immersion in the subject, beginning in late 1999 when I did a massive amount of research on Ginsberg for a story that ran in The Washington Post on May 7, 2000. I then did further copious research for a piece I was writing on the first public reading (at San Francisco's Six Gallery) of the poem; that story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 28, 2000.

So, by the time I got around to interviewing Ferlinghetti, I had become something of an expert on the poem and had come up with around two hundred questions I wanted to ask him!

My Q&A with Ferlinghetti began at around 5:30 p.m. on the 29th at his office at City Lights. We then continued talking as we walked around North Beach together to a restaurant called Tosca. There, a little after 6 p.m., the two of us took a back table and talked for an hour.

I recorded the entire conversation on an audiotape that I still have.

The whole interview had never been fully transcribed until March 2016 and has never been posted or published anywhere until now.

Only 225 words of the nearly 5,000-word conversation have ever been published anywhere. (I used those 225 words in that Chronicle story, which has since become required reading at ivy league and other universities worldwide. Years later, my story was quoted and cited in Jonah Raskin's book "American Scream.")

This transcript here has been only lightly edited and runs for nearly 4,000 words, drilling deeper into aspects of "Howl" than most journalists and scholars have gone before.

Nobody else was present at the 90-minute interview (though Ferlinghetti's City Lights associate Nancy Peters came in to get him in the final fifteen minutes). (In those last minutes, she sat with us and briefly spoke with Ferlinghetti a couple times.)

Here's the transcript. To paraphrase William Carlos Williams: Hold on to your hats and gowns, we're going deep into Ginsberg's hell.

Paul Iorio: I'd like to start at the beginning with when you met Allen Ginsberg. I heard that he strolled into City Lights and...

Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Someone's imagination added the stroll! [laughs]

Iorio: He lived in the neighborhood, didn't he? He lived at 1010 Montgomery.

Ferlinghetti: That was later. Let me begin at the beginning. I was in France on the G.I. Bill getting a doctorate at the Sorbonne and I didn't know any American poets. I was living with a French family ...and while the Beats were at Columbia University and in Times Square and hitchhiking around the country, I was doing that in France. I wasn't a member of the original Beat group...

Iorio: You were slightly older than them.

Ferlinghetti: Yeah, except [William] Burroughs was much older. Yeah, I was seven years older than [Allen] Ginsberg, five or six years older than [Jack] Kerouac. So, I came to San Francisco and started City Lights with Peter D. Martin in June 1953 and naturally I started meeting poets because poets naturally congregate at bookstores. And it was just a couple years after we got started that Ginsberg came through, I think he'd been in Mexico, came up from Mexico and hadn't met Peter Orlovsky by then, who became his steady boyfriend. He'd been in San Francisco a few weeks or months before he came around to City Lights. Must have been in '55.

Iorio: Right, some would say August 1955. I went through [Ginsberg's] journals and he stayed with the Cassadys in San Jose in June ’54 and then Carolyn Cassady kicked him out in August '54, at which point he moved across from City Lights. Did you see him in the neighborhood at any point --

Ferlinghetti: No, I never saw him till he came into the bookstore. At that point, I was living on Potrero Hill, I was married and leading a bourgeois life and didn't stay down in North Beach at night much. So I didn't meet him until he came in the store with his manuscript.

Iorio:...Ginsberg showed you poems early on at that first meeting. Do you remember what poems he showed you?

Ferlinghetti: He showed me "Howl" -- that was the first thing I saw. Where did you get the information that he showed me earlier poems?

Iorio: The Michael Schumacher book “Dharma Lion.”

Ferlinghetti: Schumacher never interviewed me. There is so much erroneous information in the biographies. Ann Charters was the first Kerouac biographer. She knew him personally and it was much more direct and first generation, whereas the later biographers were a generation or two removed.

Iorio:....A couple books say that you turned down early poems by Ginsberg.

Ferlinghetti: Much later, he showed me earlier poems that were published after that under the title “Green Automobile.”

Iorio: The fourth part of “Howl,” am I right? "Green Automobile" was originally the fourth part of “Howl”?

Ferlinghetti: No. Where did you get that?

Iorio: That’s in a book by --

Ferlinghetti: Totally wrong!...It’s not at all in the same style. I don’t see how it could possibly be seen as the fourth part.

Iorio: When he showed you that first draft of "Howl," what did you think?

Ferlinghetti: It wasn't a first draft. He considered it ready to publish. It was a final draft. And he had already produced a mimeographed edition typed by Kenneth Rexroth's wife, Marthe Rexworth, who was working at San Francisco State at the time, and she typed this mimeographed version. Which is very rare. Rare bookdealers get more for it than they do for our first editions of "Howl" in the City Lights series. Twenty copies or something like that [Note: Ferlinghetti appears to be factually wrong here about the date of the mimeographed edition; that first "Howl," according to multiple sources, is dated May 16, 1956.] By the time he came to City Lights and gave me the manuscript to publish, it was what he considered final form.

Iorio: Schumacher says that you rejected that version.

Ferlinghetti: No.

Iorio: What he wrote in "Dharma Lion" is that City Lights didn't have the money to do it. But I guess not.

Ferlinghetti: [nods no] When I read it, I immediately saw that it was totally new, there was nothing like that up to that point. At that time, poetry was very academic and the king of the poetry mountain was Karl Shapiro, who was editor of Poetry, Chicago. He turned into an academic with many years at U.C. Davis after that. So, it was a real academic poetry scene before "Howl" [which] sort of kicked the sides out of everything, the way when the rock 'n' roll revolution started in the Sixties, cool jazz just disappeared. So when he gave me the manuscript, I first said, "We don't have any money right now, but soon." Then the "Howl" reading at Six Gallery was like two nights later.

Iorio: So, that would place it in October....Now, the Six Gallery thing, Ginsberg was organizing it. Did he approach you? He probably wanted you to read, didn't he? "Pictures of the Gone World" had already come out --

Ferlinghetti: Yeah, but I wasn't one of his gang. I wasn't one of his group at all. He sort of considered me like a square bookshop owner. In Kerouac's book "Big Sur," which he wrote in my cabin at Big Sur much later when he old and alcoholic, he has a character in there that's supposed to be me. I think the character is called Mendez Monsanto [note: it's actually Lawrence Monsanto], which is my maternal grandfather's [last] name. But in that book, Kerouac's picture of me is as a genial businessman. I wasn't in the inner circle at all. I wasn't invited to read at the "Howl" reading because I wasn't really known as a poet. I think "Pictures of the Gone World" might not even have been published. [Note: "Pictures of the Gone World" had been released a couple months earlier.]

Iorio: Of course, you went on to outsell --

Ferlinghetti: I mean, I was totally straight, I was married living this bourgeois life and I wasn't one of them. They were this wild gang of dope-smoking, etcetera.

Iorio: The story has it that [on] October 13, the reading at 6 Gallery, you invited everyone to get in the car, everyone was going over to this Friday night reading, you and your wife invited Kerouac and Ginsberg to drive over in your car.

Ferlinghetti: Yeah, we had an old Aston Martin, my first car I ever owned, I bought second-hand. Little tiny car and there were three or four in the back. Maybe there were three: Kerouac, Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky.

Iorio: I'm trying to picture it. So, they came in from Berkeley.

Ferlinghetti: Yeah.

Iorio: They must've taken the BART [train] --

Ferlinghetti: There was no BART then.

Iorio: But they were living on Milvia [Street in Berkeley] --

Ferlinghetti: There was only one level on the Bay Bridge. There were trains on the other level on the Bay Bridge. They probably came over on the train.

Iorio: And then they met you at City Lights.

Ferlinghetti: Yes. I think so. I was living in Potrero Hill. Maybe I picked them up somewhere...

Iorio: According to Ginsberg's journals, he was living on Milvia Street at this point.

Ferlinghetti: Oh, that was in Berkeley, in the cottage.

Iorio: Yeah, cottage. He wrote that poem, you know, in "Reality Sandwiches." Kerouac was staying with him just for the weekend.

Ferlinghetti: Kerouac never really lived here except for short periods when he worked on the Southern Pacific as a brakeman. And he lived in a hotel down by the old Southern Pacific railroad station, which is near the ballpark [AT&T Park]. Near Third and Townsend.

Iorio: So, you're driving, you're in the Aston -- and what's it like driving over there? Was Ginsberg drunk already? Or Kerouac? Was there joking?

Ferlinghetti: Allen was never drunk. He was too intent on his career to be drunk that night. He was such a master publicist, besides being a genius poet and a genius performer. Really a master of performance. You ever hear his records?

Iorio: Yeah, I've heard him perform a few times.

Ferlinghetti: He could really turn the audience on. But anyway, did you read in one of the biographies, did they reproduce the postcard announcement for the Six Gallery reading?

Iorio: Yeah. "Six poets at Six Gallery, angels coming to --"

Ferlinghetti: Yeah. The last two words were so perfectly Ginsberg: "charming event." [laughs]

Iorio: [laughs] That's him!

Ferlinghetti: I don't know how many postcards he sent out, probably not more than ten or twenty. Who knows how many. Wish I had one.

Iorio: That would be great for the art [for my story]....I want to focus. So, you're driving and you arrive at Six Gallery. It's Cow Hollow, it's a forty minute walk [from City Lights], it's a ways away. When you get there, what's it like? Are there people outside?

Ferlinghetti: No, it wasn't that big a crowd.

Iorio: Seventy-five people or so?

Ferlinghetti: Oh, there weren't that many. I would say, forty at the most. Thirty five.

Iorio: Really?

Ferlinghetti: Oh, yeah. It was a small garage.

Iorio: In a space like what?

Ferlinghetti: There was a small storefront and a garage, really, and it had a cement floor. I think the building's pretty modern now. Have you ever been around there?

Iorio: Oh, yeah. I've been there, but I've not been in.

Ferlinghetti: It's a low ceiling. And it's no bigger than the back part here [points to a small area at Tosca].

Iorio: Was there a stage?

Ferlinghetti: A little tiny stage. Could've been an improvised stage. Must have been raised up somewhat.

Iorio: So, it wasn't just a podium there.

Ferlinghetti: It was supposed to have been an art gallery...but a totally alternative art gallery....

Iorio: So, where did you sit at the reading?

Ferlinghetti: My wife and I sat somewhere in the audience. I wasn't involved in it, so I was a specatator. They didn't consider me one of them.

Iorio:...Now, Kerouac's role at the Gallery has been written about...Everyone says he was sitting on the platform, or sitting near the platform.

Ferlinghetti: Yeah, probably near the platform. The platform wasn't so high that he couldn't sit on the edge of it. He was sitting on the edge of it. He had a jug of red wine, I remember that.

Iorio: Was he taking collection for...

Ferlinghetti: He was passing the jug of red wine around. And I didn't smell any dope there, I don't think anyone was smoking dope....It was the end of the bohemian period, nobody used the word Beat then. When I arrived in San Francisco, I was the last of the bohemian generation. When I came from Paris, I was still wearing my beret. That's what bohemians wore. And when the word "Beat" started being used -- Herb Caen coined it, "Beatnik," as a real square way to put down poets, that's the way I looked at it. And that's the way the other poets looked at it. It was like a put-down. It was at the time of Sputnik, so it was slightly derogatory, you see. I didn't know a single Beat poet that didn't hate the term and didn't hate being called a Beat. Allen sort of developed it, being the master showman and publicist that he was. There wouldn't have been any Beat generation recognized as such if it hadn't been for Allen. He created it out of whole cloth, really. Without Allen, it would've been just separate great writers in the landscape. It wouldn't have been known as the Beat generation. He was the one who put it all together.

Iorio: Something like an agent, almost.

Ferlinghetti: He was fantastic. He never missed an opportunity. When he got famous and started crawling around the world, every city he went to, he had this enormous address book, he had the phone numbers and names of every important press person in that city. And he called them all up.

Iorio: He had a list he sold "Howl" to, eventually, that included Charlie Chaplin and Marlon Brando.

Ferlinghetti: Oh, sure.

Iorio: So, did you ever hear back from those guys?

Ferlinghetti: I didn't, but I'm sure he did. He heard from a lot of them.

[A City Lights associate shows up and he tells her the interview will continue for another fifteen minutes. Ferlinghetti orders a Bass Ale beer.]

Iorio: Wondering about Jack Kerouac sitting on that platform and shouting encouragement. What kinds of things was he doing?

Ferlinghetti: All I remember him shouting was "Go!"

[A waiter brings him a beer.]

Iorio: And the audience joined in with Kerouac?

Ferlinghetti: Yeah. Like I said, it wasn't 75 people, it was more like 30, 35. Kenneth Rexroth introduced it. Rexroth was really the pater familias for the poets, the elder statesman.

Iorio: [Rexroth] was wearing a bow-tie that night?

Ferlinghetti: Not a bow-tie. He was wearing a string tie. In fact, I have it. I don't know how I inherited it, but I have this tie that he wore. It's about three quarters of an inch wide.

Iorio: And was Ginsberg nervous when he got up there, was he playful --

Ferlinghetti: He wasn't nervous. But his voice was much higher than it became later. With Buddhist breathing exercises, he developed a much deeper voice. He was very serious, but he wasn't nervous.

Iorio: Was there one point during "Howl" when the audience really caught on. Was there one line or one passage --

Ferlinghetti: I don't remember there being a passage. I mean, nobody had ever heard anything like that before! That's the thing about a great poem: when you hear it for the first time, you say, I never saw the world like that before.

Iorio: Was that what you felt [when you read "Howl"]?

Ferlinghetti: Yeah, yeah. I never saw reality like this before. That's what you say when you pick up Whitman for the first time, for instance. I didn't know him well enough to go out with him afterwards, so my wife and I drove him to Potrero Hill. In those days there was no fax, no computers, of course. There were telegrams. So, I sent Allen a Western Union telegram that night saying, "I greet you at the beginning of a great career. When do we get the manuscript?" Do you know where the first sentence came from?

Iorio: Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ferlinghetti: You're right. When he first read "Leaves of Grass," he sent a note to Whitman. And Allen never mentioned that. The only way that got known was I started telling reporters about it years later. Another thing Allen never told anybody -- and I never really studied the annotated "Howl" -- Allen says he has no memory of it, but I distinctly remember there was a fifth part of "Howl" that I persuaded him to leave out. A whole page, single spaced typewritten page. And it didn't go with the rest of the poem. And I convinced him to leave it out. It just disappeared. I don't think it's in the annotated version or anywhere.

Iorio: I've never seen it. There were parts of "Howl" that were left out -- you know that -- then there were poems that were added to the mix [in the book "Howl and Other Poems"] --

Ferlinghetti: Not poems that were added to "Howl" itself. To the volume.

Iorio: To the volume, exactly. He didn't like "Greyhound Station" ["In the Baggage Room At Greyhound"]. He told you --

Ferlinghetti: I persuaded him to leave it in....He was going to leave it out....Another thing: I persuaded him to change the title. The whole title was "Howl for Carl Solomon" in the same-size letters. And I persuaded him to put "for Carl Solomon" on another page as a dedication. It made a big difference. It immediately made it universal instead of just addressed to one person.

[Ferlinghetti's associate at City Lights returns to the table and listens to our conversation.]

Iorio: You also showed it to the ACLU beforehand[before any legal troubles] --

Ferlinghtti: Beforehand.

Iorio: How did you know to do that? You had a lot of prescience there.

Ferlinghtti: My father was an auctioneer, he was a small time mafioso. He knew what he was doing. I must have inherited some of his genes.

Iorio: Do you think the trial would have gone differently had Ginsberg been in town?

Ferlinghtti: He wasn't arrested, he wasn't indicted.

Iorio: Certainly not. It was only you and Shig Murao for while. But if Ginsberg had been around, he might've been called as a witness and there might have been a lot more media hoopla.

Ferlinghetti: No, there wouldn't. Because he wasn't known. He was totally unknown -- until the book was busted. I don't know where he was. He was either on a freighter in Alaska or in Tangier.

Iorio: Morocco. He wrote to you from Morocco saying, "This looks like trouble. This is worse than the Customs action," and he was really alarmed. Do you remember any --

Ferlinghetti: Yeah, I remember that letter. I think it's in Ann Charters' "Selected Letters."

Iorio: It is, yes! Did you think [the legal action] was a boon, a help? Because you were getting publicity. Or were you alarmed?

Ferlinghetti: Oh, no, I was very happy with the whole thing. Shig was, too....

[Ferlinghetti has a brief interchange with his associate, deleted here.]

Iorio: The asterisks [redacting obscenities in "Howl"] were provisional, weren't they?

Ferlinghetti: [Ginsberg] put those asterisks in himself.

Iorio: Have you ever thought of restoring it?

Ferlinghetti: No, [Ginsberg] wanted it that way.

Iorio: How come?

Ferlinghetti: Out of respect for his mother, I guess. You read "Cottage" ["A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley"]and you realize how attached he was to his mother.

Iorio: He was. [Ginsberg's mother] Naomi was lobotomized about a month or two before "Howl" was written. Do you think that was one of the causes [of the writing of the poem]? "Howl" was such an eruption --

[A waiter appears and offers more beer.]

Ferlinghetti: [Looking at his beer, which is almost gone] There's a hole in this glass. I swallowed that in a hurry![To the waiter] Just a drop. That's enough, thanks.

Iorio:....How do you think Ginsberg actually got into the mental state to be able to do that. Do you think that it was may his mom's [lobotomy] and the friction that that caused? Or being in San Francisco among a lot of people who --

Ferlinghetti: It's more New York. I mean, it's a New York poem, really, [though] he wrote it out here....Yeah, I think his mother had a lot to do with it, because they lobotomized her....

[Ferlinghetti and his associate exchange a few words, deleted here.]

Iorio: Ginsberg was such a practical man, too. He was an agent, almost, for the Beat --

Ferlinghetti: He was very practical.

Iorio: How do you reconcile those two halves of Ginsberg? On the one hand, he was institutionalized. On the other hand, he was almost a businessman. He had an advertising job when he was in town.

Ferlinghetti: No, market research. Quote market research. It amounted to going around ringing doorbells....

Iorio: Ultimately, are you surprised by the respectability of "Howl" today? I mean, it's taught in all the universities that rejected Ginsberg [initially].

Ferlinghetti: No, I think it happened because the Beat message became the only rebellion around. It's still the same today. In fact, during the "Howl" trial, when Life magazine published a big story on the trial, the headline was, "The only rebellion around...," which is still the case. And with the dot commies and the computer consciousness...that has taken over the whole country and the world, the Beat message is needed more than ever. So [the Beats have] become this group that was saying all these things fifty, forty years ago. So, academics recognize this is an important work...

Iorio: Wasn't the [Richard] Eberhart piece in The New York Times -- remember that? "West Coast Rhythms" -- wasn't that the breakthrough thing for all these poets, wasn't that the demarcation line?

Ferlinghetti: You're reading the biographies, which are all written by east coast biographers. It was a big breakthrough in New York to get this in the Times. But on the west coast, no. The Times wasn't that much read out here! They didn't have a west coast edition of the Times at the time. That was an east coast phenomenon. Out here, the poetry scene was wild anyway, it was an anarchist scene. Kenneth Rexroth was the leading anarchist/philosopher and he had a program on KPFA radio....He didn't review just poetry; he reviewed every field: geology, astronomy, philosophy, foreign translations, you name it. I got a complete political education listening to Rexroth....KPFA was a huge intellectual influence at that time in the Bay Area....This was all separate from the New York scene and the New York carpetbaggers. Ginsberg, Kerouac, Corso: they were all New York carpetbaggers -- like myself.

Iorio: And Peter Martin, too, was a New Yorker.

Ferlinghetti: He was the son of Carlo Tresca, the famous Italian anarchist, who was murdered on the streets of New York, probably by the mafia. So we had this anarchist bias at the bookstore right from the beginning.

Iorio: What do you think of the theory that the San Francisco poetry renaissance was a New York poetry renaissance that happened to happen in San Francisco?

Ferlinghetti: You know, there wasn't the San Francisco renaissance here; it started in Berkeley in the late Forties. Poets like William Hewison and Robert Duncan and Thomas Parkinson, who became a professor at Berkeley....So, this was going full blast before the New York carpetbaggers arrive.
[Ferlinghetti's associate says something to him, brings up poet Gary Snyder.]

Iorio: Gary Snyder...had the bad luck of having to read after "Howl" [at Six Gallery]. Do you recall --

Ferlinghetti: I don't even remember he was there!

Iorio: OK, because it's one of those little known things.

Ferlinghetti: I guess Phillip Whelan read also?

Iorio: Whelan, Lamantia --

Ferlinghetti's associate: McClure.

Iorio: McClure was second, Ginsberg was after an intermission. Do you remember an intermission during that Six Gallery thing?

Ferlinghetti: [Nods his head no, sips his beer. His associate says a few words to him.]

Iorio:....Which ones did you get along with? I guess Rexroth. Did you ever go over to Ginsberg's place on Milvia Street?

Ferlinghetti: No, I didn't know him that well.

Iorio: And Kerouac: what kind of guy was he?

Ferlinghetti: Allen was always trying to say he was gay, but I thought that was really absurd. He was one of the biggest women-chasers I ever met. He was built like a French Canuck lumberjack.

Iorio: He played football in Lowell.

Ferlinghetti: Yeah. I didn't get to know him very well. I ended up knowing Allen much better.



for March 23, 2016

I have boundless respect for Marty Baron and the investigative team that broke the Church sex abuse scandal, but "Spotlight," for all its merits, was not the best picture of last year. (I just now finally saw it.) In fact, it's hard to see why this story had to be told in a visual medium to begin with; much of the movie involves people taking notes on a notepad.

"All the President's Men" it ain't. (And, by the way, my own feature film screenplay "The Buzz," which involved murderous corruption in the music business, seems to have been the model for two specific scenes. But who's counting?)

A few loose notes. Nobody recorded interviews at the Globe? In decades of journalism, I have never quoted a source who didn't talk to me on tape. That way, you get the quote right, with all nuance intact, and there are no disputes about who said what.

Why wouldn't you record an interview? If the conversation is on the record, then the source agrees that what he or she says can be published. So, why would you use pen and paper to get a LESS accurate version of what the source said? Handwritten notes, even by someone who knows speed stenography, are always less accurate than a recording. Why would a source say, "yes, you can quote what I say, but via a less accurate method"?

Furthermore, regarding the copying of the unsealed documents snafu: I was surprised the reporter didn't have a camera on him to snap pictures of the documents. An easy way around an inaccessible xerox machine.

Anyway, those are points of newsroom craft.

The bigger issue is...it's amazing how the subject matter here dramatically shrinks in scale when 9/11 happens in the middle of the movie. (Now THAT -- the fight against jihad -- is a life and death story!)

Also, moving priests from parish to parish would not necessarily signal to me that they committed a crime. In fact, it may mean, in some cases, that the priest was too honest and was about to blow the whistle and so was shifted to another place. (I know that, in other jobs, journalism included, people shift from job to job because they don't have a lot of money and can't sustain themselves in one location. (This may be news to some with independent wealth!) That said, it turned out the circumstantial suspicions panned out in many such cases.)

What else do I have to say about "Spotlight"? There are a lot of great stories that get swept under the rug because someone is a national hero whose glory days are still in progress. Look at the Bill Cosby story. While Cosby was a huge cash cow for NBC, nobody would listen to the accusers. When his commercial worth diminished with age, they finally paid attention.

I wrote a story on Richard Pryor in which his biological son told me on tape that his father molested him as a kid. Circumstantial evidence backed it up, too. I presented my proof and some prissy editor at HarperCollins threw a hissy fit about such offensive material. (Uh, it was Pryor's behavior that was offensive -- I was just documenting it.)

What about the media downplaying of wildly rampant Muslim pedophilia? In many parts of Islam, the marrying of girls as young as eight or nine -- as nauseating as that sounds -- is common practice. And do you think some immigrants from Muslim-majority countries leave behind those deeply ingrained attitudes when they come to America?

Oops, I'm sorry. You can't investigate offenders who are part of a protected or p.c. demographic.

Like transexuals. Bruce Jenner kills someone on the highway, but he's a tranny -- actually, merely a transvestite -- so...no mention made of his crime.

So, there are a lot of people who shouldn't act so pure, because they're covering stuff up even as I write this!

All told...the best movie of last year was "The Big Short."

P.S. -- Further, the part of the journalism profession that employs an unethical fraud like David Wiegand at the AME level at the San Francisco Chronicle has no high hand about anything. Talk about circling the wagons for a bad actor. Anyone who wants solid proof of that can contact me at pliorio@aol.com. (But, of course, they won't. They don't want to see the proof. They're the Church.)



for March 22, 2016

photo by Paul Iorio

My deepest condolences to the people of Belgium.

As we all know, there is a disease called jihadism, more deadly than Ebola, that is an epidemic in European neighborhoods like Mollenbeek and Finsbury Park. And we need to treat it like an epidemic/pandemic and aggressively eradicate it. (When Ebola ravaged places like Liberia, we screened people coming in from Liberia, didn't we?)

As I've said before, let a thousand flowers bloom -- but don't let the weeds that strangle the flowers grow in the garden. And right now, the magnificent gardens of Europe are choked with weeds that need to be pulled and tossed.

And Hillary Clinton, leader of the surgical team that put a bullet in the forehead of Osama bin Laden, must make anti-jihadism HER issue. Don't cede that ground to Donald Trump or he will surely become president if there is a terror attack before the November election.

The fight against the religious right has always been a cornerstone of progressivism. The Ku Klux Klan and ISIS are one and the same. Different burqa this time.



for March 17, 2016

Finally saw Todd Haynes' "Carol" last night. Loved it, for the most part. Superb first act. Sensitively crafted, poignant, touching, running out of adjectives. At times, it feels like you're a guest at someone's house and overhearing their way-too-candid personal arguments. And Rooney Mara recalls a young Audrey Hepburn. Cate Blanchett, as always, is masterful.

It does lose sharp focus after an hour, though, becoming a sort of "Thelma and Louise," then a sort of "Kramer vs. Kramer," then a sort of "Sunset Blvd.," while still being original and extremely watchable. I'm not the first to say that Haynes should've been nominated for an Oscar for his direction.

Beautiful final shot. But the realistic side of me says, how is Therese going to mesh with Carol's rarefied milieu? Then again, Mara's character is in the process of blossoming as a photographer, so that does make it believable.


I just saw "Montage of Heck" (finally!). An excellent, not perfect, docu that puts a fresh light on seemingly familiar turf.

Sources are limited to those who, as Brett Morgen puts it, would've have attended Kurt Cobain's funeral if he had been only a janitor. (Refreshingly, this is not a talking head style docu in which, say, the drummer of the Melvins and the bassist of Mudhoney talk about their tenuous links to Cobain.)

The footage of Cobain as a kid is priceless and telling. It doesn't take 30 seconds of watching to see he was a manic-depressive from his first days on Earth. His lows were too low, his highs were too high (though we all sure enjoyed the fruits of the latter).  

As completist as it seems, the doc is surprisingly incomplete on a couple key counts.

It doesn't capture the thrilling upset victory of "Nevermind," which industry pros expected would sell around 30,000 copies at best, until it didn't -- until, to everyone's astonishment, record warehouses were unable to meet the demand of fans trying to buy a copy.

Pre-"Nevermind," the band's juice and industry standing were so low that they were actually ejected (for food fighting) from the record release party for "Nevermind" at Rebar in Seattle. None of that is covered here.

Family footage is at the core of "Montage." Cobain clearly inherited the genes of his mother -- he should've been Kurt O'Connor -- who looks a lot like an older Courtney Love. Love herself is shown in all her youthful glory and it's clear, seeing them together, that they were truly in love. It left me wondering why they didn't collaborate together musically.

All told, wish it had gone on for another hour.



for February 25, 2016

Campaign 2016: The View from Berkeley, the Epicenter of Progressivism
A life-size cut-out of Bernie Sanders on the campus of the University of California at Bernie (I mean, Berkeley!), February 23, 2016. [photo by Paul Iorio]

In Berkeley, California, ground zero for liberalism in America, it's raining Bernie.

Bernie t-shirts, Bernie bumper stickers, Bernie buttons, a life-size cut-out of Bernie on the campus of the University of California, Bernie placards in windows and signs on strollers.

Based on the visible evidence, if the California primary were being held today, Bernie Sanders would win by a landslide in this area.

Conversely, one would need a microscope to find evidence of support for Hillary Clinton in the Bay Area. Based on what I've seen -- and I've been walking the streets of Berkeley looking for political signs for months (and in every election cycle since '02) -- there are actually more leftover Clinton/Gore bumper stickers (one) than Hillary ones (zero).

It wasn't always this way. Back in July, at the dawn of Clinton's campaign, there were plenty of "I'm Ready for Hillary" stickers, mostly in the more affluent neighborhoods. But those have completely disappeared. (One Hillary sticker was even covered over with another one reading "Don't Believe Everything You Think.")

And Bernie campaign workers are relatively ubiquitous, too.

At Sproul Plaza on the Cal campus on February 23rd, a steady stream of students signed up to support Sanders and take some campaign swag. And when a breeze blew down that cardboard replica of Sanders, students rushed in to rescue him and set him back on his feet!

In front of a Berkeley grocery store on February 17th, a Sanders supporter was handing out flyers in advance of the Nevada caucus.

"We're driving to Reno on Friday for Bernie," he says. "Wanna join us?"

I say thanks but I have other plans. When I offer to buy a bumper sticker and button, the guy says, "I accept no money" and hands me free ones. "Make a contribution to Bernie online instead," he says. [For the record, I am not a contributor to or a public supporter of any presidential candidate.]

To be sure, in the past, there was an equal or greater level of enthusiasm in town for previous liberal presidential candidates like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and Barack Obama.

But Dean stickers in 2004 were on mostly high-end cars, while Kucinich's over-the-top support that same year was seen mostly on signs displayed in homes. (One west Berkeley house had every window covered with Kucinich signs.)

Sanders' support in this college town, by contrast, is amongst both townies and gownies. (Obama's support here in '08 was in a category all its own in terms of unanimity and extravagance.)

Here's a gallery of photographs I shot over the past several months of the campaign landscape in Berkeley (and in the Bay Area), along with a few pics of the town during previous presidential election years.

University of California students gather on Sproul Plaza for Sanders on Feb. 23rd. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Right around the corner from the house where Allen Ginsberg wrote part of "Howl," a woman pushes a Bernie stroller. [photo by Paul Iorio]

The support shown for Clinton at her appearance at Book Passage in San Francisco last June 26th seems to have completely disappeared in the Bay Area. [photo by Paul Iorio]

The Hillary bumper stickers that cropped up in Berkeley last summer have vanished, replaced in some cases this way. [photo by Paul Iorio]

The only Clinton bumper sticker I saw on my January and February walks through Berkeley was this leftover Clinton/Gore sticker from '92. [photo by Paul Iorio]

As might be expected, there's more enthusiasm here for non-candidate Elizabeth Warren than for Hillary. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Three consecutive campaigns on one car! [photo by Paul Iorio]

Support for Obama in the '08 cycle was wildly over-the-top. Here's an "Obama Store" set up outside his appearance in Oakland on February 17, 2007. [photo by Paul Iorio]

This west Berkeley resident went all-out for Dennis Kucinich in '04! [photo by Paul Iorio]

The ghosts of Democrats past still haunt around town. [photo by Paul Iorio]

A Ralph Nader '00 sticker covered by a Howard Dean '04 one. [photo by Paul Iorio]

A photograph I took of various pictures that I shot of campaign signs over the years. [photo by Paul Iorio]

In Berkeley -- The City of Bumper Stickers -- some are show-stoppers! [photo by Paul Iorio]

For the most part, Berkeley is a pasture of plenty for Bernie. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for February 24, 2016

I missed the email notification last week that The Huffington Post had published my story about an apparent threat made by president Nixon to a Supreme Court Justice in 1971.

I'm quite happy that The Post has published it! Here's my story, which breaks new ground about a Nixon tape that had previously escaped almost everyone's attention:

 Iorio in The Huffington Post on a Previously Unreported Nixon Threat. 

Also, here's another story of mine that The Huffington Post recently published -- about the day I confronted O.J. Simpson about his wife's murder.
 Iorio in The Huffington Post: The Day I Confronted O.J. Simpson.



for February 16, 2016


Did Nixon Threaten a Supreme Court Justice?
Nixon called the head of the F.B.I. in '71 to say he wanted to literally outlive Justice Byron White. (Nixon apparently did not say, :"Could you make that happen?") [unknown photographer]

The White House tapes show it vividly. President Nixon was hopping mad about a Supreme Court decision that said the government had no authority to stop The New York Times and other newspapers from publishing the so-called Pentagon papers.

The 6-to-3 decision came down on June 30, 1971. Within hours, on July 1st, Nixon was venting on the phone to the head of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover.

"I wanted to tell you that I was so damned mad when that Supreme Court had to come down -- I didn't like that decision. That was unbelievable, wasn't it?"

Hoover, acting like a yes-man and sounding like an echo chamber, agreed.

"Unbelievable," said Hoover.

"Those clowns we've got on there, I tell ya, I hope I outlive the bastards," said Nixon.

"I hope you do, too," said Hoover.

"I mean, politically, too," Nixon said, underlining the fact that he meant "outlive the bastards" quite literally. "Because we've got to change our Court."

"There's no question about that whatsoever," said Hoover. "If I had thought there was a possibility of a five to four..."

Hoover doesn't finish his sentence, though Nixon gives him the space to do so and doesn't interrupt him. The sense of what Hoover is saying is, "If I had thought there was a possibility of a five to four, I would have done something about it."

"I thought we ought to get [Justice Byron] White," says Nixon. The President's meaning is apparently, "We should have won White's vote on this case," but the ambiguity of "get White" is attention-getting in this context.

And Hoover agrees, saying White is "in with the whole Kennedy crowd." White, of course, was the only Justice on the Burger Court appointed by Nixon's one-time arch-nemesis, President John F. Kennedy.

Hearing the tape today, it's hard to deny that Nixon's remarks to Hoover sound a bit like a threat of extra-legal action against Byron White.

After all, the president is speaking to the head of the F.B.I., choosing his words carefully, one assumes, so as to not send the wrong signal. Nixon could have expressed his anger with many different phrases: "I've had it up to here," "I'm sick of those guys," "The Court is killing me," etc.

But instead he chose to say and repeat the unusual phrase, "I hope I outlive the bastards." Then he underlines his meaning by saying that he's not stating that merely figuratively. And singles out White. (And one also has to wonder why Nixon was even talking to Hoover about this particular subject. Was the head of the Bureau the appropriate person for Nixon to have talked to about this?)

And Hoover, ever the lacky, agrees with Nixon and even leaves a phrase dangling unsettlingly.

Was Nixon subtly signaling to Hoover he should "get White," perhaps by, say, using the apparatus of the FBI to arrange some sort of dirty trick or even something darker? (Nixon, of course, was known to have used both dirty tricks and government agencies against people he perceived to be his enemies.)

The July 1, 1971, Nixon-Hoover tape is included with other raw audio footage in the "extras" section of the documentary "The Most Dangerous Man in America," though the film makers do not raise any of the questions that I'm raising in this piece. The audio is also included on this website: http://nixontapes.org/jeh.html

For the record, Justice White ended up dying in 2002, outliving Nixon by eight years. He was replaced by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who still serves on the Court.



for February 13, 2016

I just saw "The Revenant," "The Martian" and "The Hateful Eight" -- and here's what I think about each.

"The Revenant" has a killer first half-hour that's full of suspense and tension, but the rest is not nearly as great.

It resembles "Dances with Wolves" and then becomes a sort of "Castaway," a Leonardo DiCaprio solo vehicle for a time, with echoes of "Deliverance" and "Platoon." But it ends up being only slightly better than "Dances with Wolves."

And I'm not sure whether they should give the Oscar to DiCaprio or to the make-up artist. The acting (consisting mostly of "yowww" and "oucchh" and crawling through the snow) is eclipsed by very imaginative make-up.

It's also predictable. With 90-minutes of the movie still to come, one already knows that it will climax with a shoot-out between Leo's character and Fitzgerald (with the winner being -- you guessed it!).

And in the final chase sequence, the indestructible Leo runs through snowy mountains with nary a limp after having been twice mauled by a bear, dropped from a mountain top, frozen and assaulted by some very, very bad folks.

And the philosophizing here is vapid, pretentious and trite. There are repeated Chauncey Gardiner-esque allusions to the heft of trees in a storm -- as if that's a metaphor for something profound. And then there's vague references to easternish mumbo jumbo about the river of life flowing ever on and on and on....


I'm a Matt Damon and Ridley Scott fan, but "The Martian" is a surprisingly awful film. I mean, what was all the hype and hoopla about last fall when it was released?

It's sort of an attempted "Apollo 13," but with none of that film's greatness.

Unlike "Apollo 13," the characters here have none of the authority or gravity of seasoned NASA pros; they're more like kids in a dorm or spunky interns at a tech firm. The characters are almost slugs for a plot. And the tone is fatally inconsistent.

This is, by the way, the second major film of 2015 in which the protagonist is left for dead but ultimately triumphs (the other one being "The Revenant").

To be fair, the sequence featuring David Bowie's "Starman" is quite magical. But that's pretty much it.


Quentin Tarantino may be the best American film director to have emerged in the last quarter century, but his latest, "The Hateful Eight," is not very satisfying at all.

It's almost like leftover "Django Unchained," with the same cinematography, some of the same actors and the familiar jokes. The fresh progressive use of the n-word in "Django," for example, is merely tedious here. And it's tiresome to see some whitey mouth racist insults and then, in the end, get his or her bloody comeuppance. We heard that joke in "Django."

Also, way too talky. And this could've been shot in 35 mm or Digital 4K and the outcome would've been the same (because the content is not there).

It would've been better if the movie had started at the two-hour mark, when the bloodbath begins.



for February 3, 2016

Machine Guns and Hoopla at Super Bowl City in San Francisco
A police officer with a sub-machine gun at Super Bowl City in San Francisco, February, 2, 2016. [photo by Paul Iorio[

I have never seen so many sub-machine guns and assault rifles as I saw yesterday at Super Bowl City in San Francisco.

I like the fact that the San Francisco Police Department, the best in the nation, is responding pre-emptively to a possible terrorist attack.

But aren't such attacks usually carried out by lone wolves, or militants in groups of two or three?

It seems to me that the logic of law enforcement-use of sub-machine guns would be to use them to take out a large number of assailants. As in a military action.

Cops wouldn't need an assault rifle to handle a lone-wolf shooter even if that shooter had a machine gun himself.

Like at the Bataclan. If French cops had been stationed inside the club with assault rifles, what would've been their strategy? To machine gun the assailants (thereby hitting scores of innocent bystanders)? Wouldn't the wiser option be to just use a sharpshooter to take out the individual terrorists without also hitting civilians?

Perhaps the strategy is more like...if there is going to be some sort of shoot-out with terrorists, the cops don't want to be outgunned.

Whatever the case, Super Bowl City in San Francisco is quite a sight to behold. The whole city is decked out in Super Bowl garb and I've never seen anything like it in the fifteen years I've lived in the Bay Area.

A cop guarding the perimeter of Super Bowl City. [photo by Paul Iorio]

San Francisco is all decked out for the Bowl. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for January 18, 2016

Iorio on "Irrational Man"
[photo of Joaquin Phoenix in "Irrational Man" by Paul Iorio.]

One thing I learned when I talked with Woody Allen is that he has an enormous appetite for clever plot construction. In conversation, I could see his mind working through various alternate story ideas and narrative dead-ends that ultimately led to the resolution he chose. Surprising for a director of character-driven movies, though in his later years he's become more Hitchcock than Bergman.  

In his latest film, "Irrational Man," which I just saw, Allen has devised a plot twist at the end that's likely catching everyone by surprise. It's one of the best things about this otherwise quite imperfect picture.  

Don't get me wrong: if "Irrational Man: were the work of a first-time director, it would likely have been nominated for a best picture Oscar this year.

But it's a Woody Allen picture and he's directed so many great features that this one is only his 31st best film, ranking somewhere in the vicinity of "Celebrity" and "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion," which is to say, better than around a dozen of 'em. He really does compete against his own high standard each time out.

The flick starts off as "Crime and Punishment," turns into "Strangers on a Train" (albeit with unilateral, not mutual, action) and then takes on a light tone reminiscent of "Manhattan Murder Mystery."

The problem with turning this into a remake of the Dostoyevsky novel is that Raskolnikov had a direct personal motivation (which he dressed up in philosophical clothes) to commit his crime. Joaquin Phoenix's character, a philosophy prof, has no link to the grudge to which he's inserting himself.

A more clever plot twist would've been to have had Phoenix's character eavesdrop inaccurately and kill the wrong judge. (Allen, in his comedic mode, might've had fun with such a premise.)

(And even if the plot was practical from the Phoenix character's POV, wouldn't the woman's husband, not the judge, be the proper target?)

Further, Phoenix's character more closely resembles a creative writing or modern lit prof, a two-fisted drinker-brawler type common to such faculty departments, as opposed to a philosophy prof. (They tend to be loftier, more cerebral.) Actually, he's even more like a philosophy student returning to finish undergrad work after 20 wayward years.

(By the way, there are great philosophical bits that are identical to the stuff (Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, etc.) that I studied as a phil major back in the day.)

One of the film's glaring flaws is its incessant use of the track "In Crowd" throughout the pic. The Ramsey Lewis Trio version of the song is used five times in the film and is heard for a full sixteen minutes throughout. (I timed it with my stopwatch!)

At times, the song's upbeat sound creates a jarringly inappropriate tone (as when Phoenix diabolically mixes poison to the tune of "In Crowd"). And the track has audience applause at the beginning, so we hear that each time, too. (It's as if someone didn't listen very carefully to the movie's sound.)

All told, B-level Allen, which this is, is still better than most major movies released in any given year.

I loved this marvelous sequence in which Emma Stone and Phoenix appear visually distorted in a funhouse mirror. Very resourceful special-effect! [photo by Paul Iorio]


for January 7, 2016

UPDATE: January 8, 2016: The Huffington Post has just published my piece on "Donald Trumps' Greatest Hits." Click here to read it!

NOW IN THE HUFFINGTON POST: Iorio's "Trump's Greatest Hits"!

The Donald Trump Hit Parade!
Trump's biggest hits of the '16 campaign, now on one disc!
[Photo and concept by Paul Iorio. (Image of trumpet-playing Trump by unknown photographer.)]

Not since the Beatles had multiple songs simultaneously in the top five singles' charts have we seen what we're seeing now with the hot hand of hit-maker Donald Trump.

With one shock-jock single after another, Trump has dominated the top forty since his debut in July with "Build a Wall" (b/w the openly racist "Mexican Rapist").

Since then the Trump releases have been relentless, eclipsing all other recordings by the rest of the Republican field.

To counter the Trumpernaut, a desperate Jeb Bush even tried an unconvincing punk foray of his own with "I'd Kill (Baby Hitler)" -- to no avail.

And then there was mild competition from Ben Carson's easy-listening ballad, "I Left my Sponge in a San Francisco Patient," which didn't go over so well.

Ditto with Carly Fiorina's "You're So to Blame (you probably think this song is about you)" and Chris Christie's Springsteenesque "We Shall Overeat."

Only Barack Obama's late-breaking hit, "It's my Party (and I'll cry if I want to)," competed, briefly, with Trump's outrageous hit parade.

And the Trump songbook is packed with recent tracks everyone now knows by heart, including: "Carly's Face," "Thousands Cheered," "Blood from Her Wherever" and the much-censored "Schlonged!"

And his club mix of "Low NRG" even provoked a feckless answer-record from Bush, "You Jerk," which of course went nowhere.

What's next from everyone's favorite "short-fingered vulgarian," the man who gave us "John McCain (No War Hero)" and "Ban All Muslims"?

There are rumors of even riskier new bigotry like the double-sided single "Muslims are Mexicans (Without the Humidity)" and "Ted Cruz (Canadian Muslim).

Stay tuned!



for December 27, 2015

"Chi-raq" is being hailed as a return to form by Spike Lee, and it is the best of his late-period work, though his recent "Red Hook Summer" and "Oldboy" are, in many ways, as good as this one, which does, to its credit, have an irresistible high-concept, borrowed from Aristophanes's "Lysistrata," about women going on a sex strike until men put down their guns.

"No peace, no pussy," the women chant. An extreme measure for an extreme problem! As this movie shows, some nabes in Chicago are more violent than parts of Baghdad.

And Lee doesn't prettify it. In one scene, we see someone on her hands and knees scrubbing the blood from a street. In another, a parent freaks out when she discovers her kid was hit by a stray bullet.

And Lee puts the emphasis exactly where it should be: on violence committed by street criminals. (After all, the real-life high-profile instances of police overreaction in recent years are a side-effect of the massive crime probelm out there.)

To be sure, there's an uneasy mix of tones now and then, but then again that was also true with Aristophanes' play.

And the actors make it work. Nick Cannon turns in an impressively understated performance; Samuel L. Jackson is dapper and amusing as a sort of recurrent one-man Greek chorus; and John Cusack shows a soulful side to his acting we've never seen before.

Unlike Steve McQueen and Ava DuVernay, Lee has always drawn white characters who are full bodied, multi-dimensional and worthy of split sympathy from the audience. (Audiences both cheer and jeer, say, Danny Aiello's character in "Do the Right Thing" -- and that's the mark of first class art. As opposed to DuVernay's depiction of any white in "Selma," which is propaganda.)

What should Oscar do with this film? Nominate it for best picture and best director. (Isn't it way past time for Lee to win the best director prize -- even if this isn't his best?)

(Btw, the clueless Wikipedia description of it as a "musical" mis-labels it. It's not a musical. It has music in it, but "Red Hook Summer" and "Do the Right Thing" contain a lot more music than this one.)



for December 24, 2015

Hollywood's first movie star, Lillian Gish (as Elsie Stoneman), breaking hearts as she shoots an air-gun with her fingers in order to say goodbye to her brothers, departing for war. [photo by Paul Iorio]

D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation" turned 100 years old earlier this year, which means it dramatized President Lincoln's assassination from the same distance that we now see J.F.K.'s murder. Pretty recent event.

Also, pretty biased filmmaking, as Griffith's dad was a big wig in the Confederate army (and the apple didn't fall far from the hangin' tree).

Griffith was simultaneously a century ahead of his time and a century behind it, a reactionary racist and an artistic innovator. Genius-level craftsman in the service of propaganda

He invented the action movie, the war movie, the western, the epic film, the Kubrickian soundtrack. In short, he invented modern cinema -- but with the most backward content imaginable.

Like Ava DuVernay's "Selma" and Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will," it's propaganda, more worthy of a Clio than an Oscar.

Truth be told, I don't know anybody who takes "Birth of a Nation" off the shelf for pleasure nowadays. Today, it's watched mainly for academic reasons by film obsessives like me. (And that, of course, is not true of all silents. "Modern Times," for example, has me roaring every time I watch it, as if it were a new Woody Allen flick.)

The most touching parts of the film are actually generated by Lillian Gish (when she makes that air-gun gesture with her finger to wish her brothers off to war, for instance, and then breaks down crying).

And actress Miriam Cooper scans so modern. What a babe (in a 21st century way!). Too bad she didn't make more flicks. (She evidently backed into Hollywood acting after art school in Greenwich Village.)

Of course, she and everyone else in the movie are now dead. In fact, any newborn baby that might have appeared in the film is now either 101-years-old or dead. Gish outlived almost everyone, dying mere months before her 100th birthday and living until the dawn of the Internet age. Griffith himself died in the months before Thomas Dewey "defeated" President Truman! (At least that's how things looked in early '48.)

It's important to note that Griffith's film didn't emerge in isolation; he was backed by a wealthy Hollywood machine that okayed the script (a re-write of an even more racist work, a novel called "The Clansman," by Thomas Dixon, Jr.) and was given that rarest Hollywood plum -- a green light, which could've been given to any number of other talents, progressive talents, who might've also blossomed into geniuses. (The truth is that Griffith's brilliance wasn't fully evident until after he finished making "The Birth of a Nation.") And its L.A. premiere in '15 was a spectacle that included a parade by faux Ku Klux Klansmen. So...it took a village -- a backward, progressive village -- to create the picture.

However evil its content, however inventive its art, it still stands as the likely highest-grossing film of all-time, adjusting for inflation (though box office records from that period are unreliable).

All told, I hate to like this film, but I do.

Even in 1915, actress Miriam Cooper (playing Margaret Cameron) scanned modern. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for December 11, 2015

I just saw “Black Mass,” "Spectre," "Straight Outta Compton" and the first season of "Better Call Saul." Here's what I think:


Johnny Depp is just fantastic in it. He’s, by far, the best thing about it, turning in a performance very likely to earn him a best actor Oscar nomination. The critical clichés about him disappearing into the role are spot on; he does. He seems genuinely lethal even when sipping a glass of water.

But the rest of the film is fatally flawed and surprisingly unsuspenseful, a notch below “The Departed” and “Donnie Brasco,” a slight cut above “The Grifters” and “The Krays.”

It’s as if the director started with the idea of doing a “Goodfellas” but then decided to turn it into an “American Hustle” (before tacking on a bit of “Spotlight”).

The movie has an uncertain focus, intercutting between Whitey Bulger’s POV and the perspective of federal investigators – all of it centered myopically on Whitey’s mob-informant period. It feels almost like an unfinished picture in many ways, when one thinks of the wealth of great material about Bulger's case that could've been dramatized.

An ideal telling of the Whitey Bulger story, and this is not even close to an ideal telling, would have started with his childhood, showing how and why he and his politician brother grew to become so radically dissimilar to one another, with all the divided loyalties such a relationship would suggest. It would have then dramatized his mafia heyday and his subsequent period hiding in Santa Monica.

That would’ve been an epic, multi-generational tale worthy of a best picture Oscar. But this is not that film.

Worth seeing, but wait for the DVD release.



The new Sam Mendes, "Spectre," which is also the new James Bond, aims to please with sleek, taut, suspenseful action. Daniel Craig looks so much like Steve McQueen at times, Christoph Waltz is one of the most freshly diabolical Bond villains in decades.

And the locations, always co-stars in this series, are killer. Roma hasn't looked this spectacular since Fellini; and parts were actually shot in -- get this -- Syria.

And the supercars, as might be expected, are super, going from zero to sixty in three seconds and shooting ammo from the tailpipe.

Craig's Bond, true to form, emerges from collapsing buildings and brawls with his suit crisply pressed and spotless. (Don't know how he does that.) I expect no less.

And what an opening sequence. A fight in a helicopter causes the copter to careen wildly out of control over a huge crowd of partiers in Mexico.

Fun stuff. Here's hoping they return to Syria for the next movie so Bond can take on ISIS.



I finally saw "Straight Outta Compton" last night and liked a lot of it. The story of N.W.A.'s ascent is exciting, but the real star of this thing is its depiction of Suge Knight and his conflicts with Dre and Eazy. A more chillingly realistic depiction of Knight, the music industry's latter-day Morris Levy, would be hard to imagine. Frankly, that should've been the story.

Not a perfect film -- a half hour could've been edited out eazily, the white characters are all one-dimensional, the narrative gets sidetracked too often. But well worth seeing.



As I work my way through the year's best films, I'm thinking that the best "movie" I've seen so far in 2015 is the "Five-O" episode of "Better Call Saul."

What an inspiring, innovative piece of film making. Completely original, though it does remind me of my own script "Hard Noon," which also deliberately presents unexplained action that is confusing (by design) until subsequent facts make it all too clear.

In 2015, television still leads the way.



for December 5, 2015

As someone who has visited Muslim-majority countries -- have you? -- my advice to those who live there: keep hydrated!! Dehydration in hot countries can lead to all sorts of delusional thoughts. The probable source of most religion.

(Btw, notice that some of the most p.c. people on Islam are those who have never ever traveled there. I have

Charlotte was a churchplace shooting by a disgruntled worshipper. (At least partly.)

That's how some Democrats are sounding to my ear.

And how come Obama sang "Amazing Grace" in Charlotte but not after the far worse hate crime in San Bernardino? Instead it was all hedging and hawing and maybe it was a workplace blah blah blah.

What the hell is wrong with the Dems that they can't champion the issue of eliminating the KKK (of Islam)? I thought you guys were AGAINST the KKK (of Islam)?

And ISIS is more evil and right-wing than the KKK was on its worst day!

I thought the Democratic party was opposed to the religious right. It's YOUR issue, not the Republicans'. Show some goddamn passion when you take on the KKK (of Islam).



for November 30, 2015

An Awful Night on the Upper West Side, Thirty-five Years Ago
Detail of Robert Freeman's 1963 photo of John Lennon for the cover of "With the Beatles."

I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for years in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, but one night was more memorably traumatic than all the others.

It was a Monday and I stepped out of my apartment near West 74th Street at around 10:40 p.m. for a late-night cup of coffee, which I always had on weeknights before coming home for the Johnny Carson monologue and sleep.

When I arrived at the coffee shop on Broadway, the young women behind the counter were talking frantically -- and one of them blurted out, "Someone just shot John Lennon." And I said something like, "Aw, c'mon," thinking she was joking. And then another woman said, "John Lennon just died at the Dakota." I said something like "Forget the coffee" and started running down Broadway toward West 72nd Street and then east toward Central Park West and the Dakota apartments, where Lennon lived and was, at that moment, dying.

It was around 11 p.m. on December 8, 1980, 35 years ago. John Lennon, age 40, had indeed just been shot to death outside his west side home, blocks from where I lived.

As I ran closer and closer to the Dakota, I could see the crowd at the end of 72nd Street growing larger and larger, expanding dramatically by the minute like a spillage or a flood.

When I got there -- it was around 11:10 -- someone in the crowd said Yoko Ono had just gone to nearby Roosevelt Hospital. Meanwhile, the police were blocking the south entrance to the Dakota, the scene of the crime. And people in tears and with boom boxes started playing and singing Beatles and Lennon songs in the street, now blocked to traffic (as I recall).

I stayed out in front of the Dakota for more than an hour. After a while, it felt like I was part of a crowd that was waiting to catch a glimpse of a celebrity who was about to emerge from an apartment house, but we were all really waiting for no one, as the person we'd come to honor was already gone forever.

I had to be at work at Delacorte Press at nine the next morning, so I walked home just before 1 a.m., turned on WNEW-FM, where disc jockey Vin Scelsa was helping everyone through the night with Lennon music and talk, went to bed and cried as if a beloved relative had been killed.

I was late to work the next morning.

The Upper West Side of Manhattan, as seen from my apartment window in 1980. [photo credit: unknown]


Obama in his first six years in the Oval Office: the best president since FDR.

Obama in these final months in office: not so much.

Cat got his tongue about Paris? Couldn't fit the Charlie Hebdo solidarity march into his schedule -- but he was able to make time for Ahmed-the-clock-hoaxster? This is clearly not the same president that killed bin Laden and gave us health care.

Since at least 2006, Obama has not given a single public speech in Berkeley, which is packed with the old-time progressives who had been working for his agenda for decades.

(When I was 16, when I could've been partying with pals, I was writing for Cesar Chavez's activists and demonstrating for other causes in the 1970s. Progressives of my generation laid the foundation for the policies Obama has championed. Yet the clock-hoaxer gets the WH nod (even as his speech-writers crib stuff from my blog and my published writings!) I think his relationship with the free speech wing of the progressive movement is tenuous at best. He seems to be more comfortable with the "tolerance for the intolerant" wing.



for November 16, 2015

I’ve finished around half of Elvis Costello’s memoir, “Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink,” and am already ready to declare it the best memoir by anyone since Keith Richards’ “Life” -- high praise. Everyone already knew Costello was the best songwriter to have emerged in the post-Beatles era, but who knew he was also a superb prose writer?

The vivid way he sums up characters in a line or two is sometimes breathtaking. For example:

“Willy DeVille’s girlfriend, Toots, looked like a bag of old clothes that had been abandoned when the Shangri-Las left town…There was always the threat that a knife was not very far out of sight.”

Of Eddie Money, with whom Columbia execs paired him for one of the most mis-matched mini-tours in history: “A grumpy ex-cop.”

Elsewhere, Springsteen looked like he had arrived ”directly from fixing his motorcycle.”

On Jake Riviera: “A small pompadour…chest pushed out on tiny pointed feet”

Or this, about being with Billy Idol: “The four of us gathered around a crate of warm brown beer. I thought we’d better drink these down, right quick; we might be needing the empties.”

On Stiff’s Dave Robinson: he “once roadied for Jimi Hendrix and has the photos to prove it.”

On Alice Cooper: “A very likable fellow – and completely free of snakes.”

And then there’s this snapshot of his musical brother Nick Lowe: “Nick Lowe chain-smoked untipped Senior Service in the studio.”

So fascinating that Costello’s first encounter with Beatles music came when he heard it coming from the den of his dad, who was playing a new song called “Please Please Me” repeatedly in order to learn it. (Almost every American of his generation, by contrast, first heard the Beatles on – you guess it – Uncle Ed’s show.) His recollections about Paul McCartney confirm everything I know from first-hand experience and from all other sources: he is, truly, the world’s greatest living composer – and a terrific person, too.

And then Costello takes us through his oeuvre, song by glorious song, solving the mysteries of how they came to be.

On “Oliver’s Army”: Costello wanted to scrap it, but Lowe insisted they record it. And then Steve Nieve came up with one of the most brilliant piano bits of the era.

By the way, Steve Nieve emerges as sort of the George Martin of the Attractions and the de facto co-composer of many of Costello’s songs. And Elvis credits him fully and generously here. (By the way, I recently saw Nieve perform solo in Golden Gate Park and can only say…what a first-class talent and person. I must confess that one of the reasons I return to Costello albums is for Nieve’s piano figures and breaks.)

“Mystery Dance” was initially earmarked for Dave Edmunds, who, when you think about it, could’ve knocked it out of the park.

John McFee came up with the intros to “Alison” and “Red Shoes.” (I wonder whether Roger McGuinn ever covered “Red Shoes.”)

He writes about the “No Dancing” bridge, which is like a freestanding Merseybeat song. (Now that he mentions it, the bridge doesn’t really fully relate to the rest of it, but it does work.)

Who knew Mick Jones played guitar on “Big Tears”?

Interesting that Costello was thinking about Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” when he was coming up with “Radio Sweetheart.”

Amazing that “Tough Mama” was the first song that came to mind for Costello when he was with Dylan and trying to find a Dylan song to cover. (One of my all-time favorites.)

Yes, “Pump It Up” shares a lineage with “Too Much Monkey Business” -- and the family tree goes on from “Monkey Business” to “Subterranean Homesick Blues” to “Pump It Up” to “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” to “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

Turns out the “vanity factory” was Elizabeth Arden, where he worked before becoming a pro musician. (Also, he did not wear horn-rimmed glasses at his day job; they were added to him by the Stiff people; he says, they turned him into “Superman in reverse.”)

And, yeah, you can see how “American Girl” does lead to “Lipstick Vogue,” if you hum it the right way.

And then there’s this great insight:

“A lot of much of pop music has come out of people failing to copy their model and accidentally creating something new. The closer you get to your ideal the less original you sound.”

And I might add: those capable of faithful imitation (like Billy Joel and Hall and Oates, whose music I enjoy) might have been real innovators, and not just genius hitmakers, if they had been less adept at re-creating a sound.

Regarding his raucous first performance on “Saturday Night Live”: I can now see how it happened. Costello wanted to do a song that was more rousing than “Less Than Zero,” the choice of Columbia execs, and “Radio Radio” was certainly that. He was also thinking of the famous tv appearance by Jimi Hendrix in which he started playing “Hey Joe” to a crowd that was very unimpressed with the song and so he broke off and did a Cream hit instead.

When Costello switched course onscreen, he didn’t see anybody on the set objecting or hostile. But afterwards, Bill Murray told Costello that Lorne Michaels had given Elvis the finger during the song.

What also appears to have happened is that Columbia Records retaliated against Costello for the SNL stunt by unilaterally replacing “Night Rally” with “Radio Radio” on the American “This Year’s Model.” That said, “Radio Radio” is the better of the two songs, even if “Night Rally” has one of the most inspired bridges ever written.

More later. Don't start me talking...



NEW! November 7, 2015

Wow! My new song "SEX PARTY" just now went to #1 on the alternative chart at soundclick.com! Amazing.

Clearly, it's time for me to try to take this track to the next level by actively promoting it. I've evidently written something that's connecting with people and I'm very glad that it is!




for November 3, 2015

Good news, my friends! My parody of the CNBC presidential debate has just been published by The Huffington Post. (Posted ten minutes ago or so and already tweeted a dozen times.) Read it here and have yourself a chuckle!




for November 1, 2015


For those who missed the recent G.O.P. debate on CNBC, here is a highly-condensed version presented in the language of Martin Scorsese’s film “Goodfellas,” which -- 25 long years ago -- dramatized the sorts of psychological dynamics that were on display at the forum.

Whatever the case, this abridged version is, mercifully, much shorter and, one hopes, a lot more fun.

Here it is. I'll call it..."GOPfellas."

All ten Republican candidates for president are on stage. Three CNBC journalists are in the front row.


Good evening, everyone, to CNBC's "Your Money, Your Vote: The Republican Presidential Debate" -- live from the University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder, Colorado. I'm Becky Quick. Along with my CNBC colleagues, Carl Quintanilla and John Harwood.

My colleague Carl Quintanilla has the first question.


A lot to get to tonight, so let's get started. Senator Rubio, the Sun-Sentinel newspaper says you act like you hate your job. Do you hate your job?


Well, I read that editorial with great amusement.


Carl, can I say something up here? [turns to Rubio] Peppino, you’ve been getting to work late to shine my shoes lately. And you need to either get here on time or go find another job. You’re getting too uppity.


No more shoe shines, Jeb.




I said, no more shines. Maybe you didn’t hear about it, you’ve been away from elected office a long time. They didn’t tell you. I don’t shine shoes anymore.


Relax, for cryin’ ‘loud. What’s getting to you? I’m just breaking your shoes a little bit.


Sometimes you don’t sound like you’re kidding. There’s a lot of people around.


I’m only kiddin’ with you. I haven’t seen you for a long time and I’m just breakin’ your shoes. Sorry, didn’t want to offend you.


I’m sorry, too.


Now, go home and get your shinebox.

RUBIO (livid)

Damn you! You piece of crap! You never talked about John McCain missing votes in the Senate when he was running. You bought your friggin’ button!


Yeah, c’mon. You feel strong?! [goading him to fight]

RUBIO (furious, escorted off the stage)


Next question from John Harwood.


Mr. Trump, you've done very well in this campaign so far. But let's be honest: Is this a comic-book version of a presidential campaign?


I’m a comic book character to you? You mean, the way I talk? I’m funny to you?


Mr. Trump, you’ve got it all wrong –


No, wait. Harwood’s a big boy. He knows what he said. What did you say? Funny how?


Like a comic book version –


Let me understand you. I’m funny how? I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh.


Just…how you tell a story. You know…


No, no, I don’t know. YOU said, I’m a comic book character. How am I funny? What the hell is so funny about me? Tell me? Tell me what’s funny?


[long pause, holds up hand in exasperation] Get the hell out of here!


I almost had him! I almost had him!

Everyone on stage laughs roughly.

End of debate.


[Credit for modified "Goodfellas" logo: Paul Iorio. All dialogue taken directly from the film "Goodfellas" and from the transcript of the CNBC debate, all of it re-fashioned as parody by Paul Iorio.]



for October 25, 2015

Twenty-one years ago, I wrote, reported and originated an article for The Washington Post that just about every publication wanted to publish. I mulled the offers and sold it to the Washington Post's Style section. Here it is:




for October 24, 2015

I heard Hozier level the place last night with "Take Me to Church" in Berkeley. Almost took my breath away. Everyone should hear the song live. It sounds as if vocalist Andrew Hozier-Byrne was working through something painful, building tension on tension -- and the lyrics are quite clever, too. My guess is he'll be singing that one till at least 2055. But he said from the Greek Theater stage that this will be the band’s last U.S. gig for a while.

Have never seen a crowd as big in the hills above the Greek in Berkeley (where I heard the show) -- and I've seen almost all of 'em all over the past decade. Even bigger than the crowd for Ed Sheeran some months ago.

And Hozier-Byrne and his band have a personal link to Berkeley; last June, he sang at the funeral service for one of the Irish students killed in the balcony collapse several blocks from the Greek. Here, he dedicated one of his songs to the victims of that tragedy.

“If I could, I’d just like to dedicate this next tune to…those who died in the tragic balcony collapse,” he said, before kicking into “Angel of Death and the Codeine Scene,” one of the stronger songs of the night.

Other highlights were “Work Song,” “From Eden” and an interesting re-arrangement of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird.”

But, frankly, everything else paled in contrast to stunner “Take Me to Church.”

Opening was a terrific new band from Dublin, Ireland, called Little Green Cars. They played a nine-song set with hints of early Sixties group-folk, 1980s R.E.M. and the intersection of Irish folk and Americana, all mixed together in an original way.

The best was the sixth song, whose title I don’t know (but it has a line that goes, “I’ve felt this way a long time”). “Harper Lee” was really engaging, almost sui generis, structurally. I predict this band will be headlining at the Greek within a few years.



for October 22, 2015

Lots of fun hearing Florence + the Machine perform last night in Berkeley on a tour that is going to only a half dozen (or so) U.S. cities. Two nights here at the Greek, in fact.

The band has doubled its audience since I last heard it (in June 2011) and seems to have expanded the role of Isabella Summers, the group’s amazing keyboardist, who played magically and hynotically at the end of “Cosmic Love.” Summers' role in the group should be further expanded.

Meanwhile, Florence Welch was in fine voice (or fine shriek!). (She is truly the master of the amelodic shriek, which somehow hits the ear just right. A real innovator when it comes to vocals.)

Other highlights included “Ship to Wreck,” “Mother” and, of course, “Dog Days Are Over,” which really got people going in the hills above the theater, where I heard the show.

Just finished dinner and might stroll up the hill again for a second helping – if only to hear opening act Sean Lennon, whose music I, frankly, have a very low opinion of. Let’s see if he can convince me otherwise in the next hour or so!

UPFATE: October 23, 2015: Just got back from hearing Sean Lennon perform with his band. Just awful. He doesn't have a good musical imagination at all He should take tips from his step-brother Julian, who has a far better sense of rhythm and knows how to allow his melodies to flow naturally.



for October 18, 2015

Last Night's Neil Young Concert.

The atmosphere was as electric as a lightning storm last night on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley as Neil Young and his band thundered for over three hours from the Greek Theater stage.

On this final night of his ’15 tour, Young performed half of his “Harvest” album, along with numerous other classics and some new tunes, all played wildly, perfectly, his voice and energy (and radicalism) undiminished by the decades.

And the fans and UC students who gathered in the hills above the theater (where I heard the show) were dancing and loving his music as much as I did in the 1970s, when I was their age.

I was lucky enough to have seen Young perform when he was 28 years old and I was 16, a mere two years after the release of “Harvest.”

And I can say, without hesitation, that this gig occasionally reached peaks as high as the ones at that 1974 show.

Last night, “Out on the Weekend,” “Mr. Soul” and “Alabama” were particularly strong, as was his unplugged solo opening salvo (“After the Gold Rush”/”My My Hey Hey”/”Helpless”/”Old Man”), though the latter two could’ve flown much higher with full band backing.

They sure flew high when I saw Young perform them back in ‘74 with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida, at a notably exceptional show on their “reunion” tour).

To digress a bit about that ’74 show: I remember the band kicked things off with three or four CSN songs before introducing Young. When he took the stage, the mood in the crowd changed dramatically -- as if twister clouds had just appeared on the horizon. The adrenaline level spiked. All eyes were on Young.

And then came that thunderous thumping bass/drum sound bouncing off the stadium walls. It was the most gigantic thing I'd ever heard (except for Led Zeppelin, who I'd seen the year before).

Young went to the mike: "There is a town in north Ontario...."

Wow. To this day, one of the most astonishing moments I’ve heard at any concert.

Which is why I sort of wish he’d brought out his ace band – Promise of the Real, featuring two of Willie Nelson’s sons – before the fifth song.

But that’s a small point, because the group rocked the daylights out of the rest of the material (including a nearly half-hour version of “Down by the River” and an inspired “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere”).

Promise of the Real may not have the untamed quality of Crazy Horse – who I last saw in 1986 in New Jersey, where they and Young were joined by David Crosby and Graham Nash for a blistering “Ohio” – but they have intensity and nuance. (And Lukas Nelson, who sang “September Song” here, sounds a lot like his dad.)

The effect that Young’s classic songs and riffs of the early seventies have on fans, young and old, cannot be overestimated. You could no more erase his work from the American landscape than you could erase the Grand Canyon or Half Dome. When one hears the opening notes of “Down by the River” or “Alabama,” it feels sort of like an element on the periodic table has come to life.

Unfortunately, one can’t say the same about the songs on his new album, “The Monsanto Years,” which is well-crafted but too preachy. (Frankly, if he were crusading against Smith & Wesson and the NRA, far greater devils than Monsanto, I might be singing along.)

But I can overlook that, given the vast, generous Americana mural that Young displayed last night in what amounted to a hometown show. (Young lives in nearby San Mateo county.) Like the fault by his ranch, he rocked the place like a magnitude 8. Long may he run.



for October 13, 2015

Many thanks to KALX and great DJs Marshall Stax and Amazing Grace for airing my brand new song "Don't Pray for Me" last night!

The song is so new that I haven't yet posted an MP3, so (for now) here're the lyrics. Audio and video coming online soon!

UPDATE: Here's a free stream/download of the MP3 edition of "Don't Pray For Me":

free stream/download of "DON'T PRAY FOR ME"

I'd always wanted someone to write a song just like this -- so I did.

UPDATE: 2015-10-16-1445004374-4727583-aaaaaapray2.jpg

My new album, "As It Were" -- which features nine new Paul Iorio songs -- was released mere days ago. (And the number of CDs out there right now can be counted on one hand!) I'm working hard to send it out to everyone, but demand is higher for this one than for my other ones.




for October 12, 2015

I wish someone would post a setlist for Julia Holter's gig last Saturday night, opening for Beirut. Because I'm sort of going mad trying to identify a song with a wonderful melody that she sang (two or three tunes before her finale). Holter’s quite impressive, recalling Joni Mitchell and Laurie Anderson at times.

Lots of magic in Beirut's show. Such a cinematic sound. Inspires people to act out the music (like I’ve seen fans sometimes do at shows by The Decemberists and She & Him).

Zach Condon sings like a cross between Bryan Ferry and Jay Black and also like Rocky Roberts, the singer of “Django,” which Condon and Beirut should consider covering. (They might also want to try Van Morrison’s “The Way Young Lovers Do” and Marty Robbins’ “El Paso.”)

Highlights of the night were originals “Santa Fe” and “East Harlem,” both from their 2011 album “Rip Tide.”

On the downside, they do overuse the matador style horn a bit; I almost expected a bullfight to break out a couple times.

But all told, well worth checking out. Ninety minutes flies by in a flash listening to them.



for October 10, 2015

I heard Ben Howard and the band Daughter last night at the Greek in Berkeley. There's real magic, unprepossessing at first, in much of what Howard does. And "Rivers in Your Mouth" is a real force of nature live. Remarkable performance of that one.

Opening act Daughter is an interesting U.K. band, part of a new generation that is actually more influenced by "Grace" -- the Jeff Buckley collaboration with my friend Gary Lucas (one of the most imaginative guitarists on the planet, btw) -- than by the great Captain Beefheart himself! (Who knew that would ever happen?)

Daughter seems influenced by both Lucas/Buckley and by Kristen Hersh and the band Belly, but their sound is quite original. And, live, they crescendo more intensely (and with greater nuance) than almost any new indie band I've heard.



for October 5, 2015

Nick Lowe's Concert at Hardly Strictly Yesterday Afternoon.
Lowe closing his set with "What's So Funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding" yesterday. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

Very enjoyable 45-minute early afternoon set in the park. Just Lowe and his acoustic. A chance to re-discover some of his more obscure tracks. “I Live on a Battlefield” and “What’s Shaking on the Hill” were particularly strong. “Cruel to Be Kind” and “Peace, Love and Understanding” were great in new arrangements. (Two questions: did he write “Peace, Love and Understanding” this way originally, and why didn’t he record it for one of his own albums?) I love his style of underplaying -- though, vocally, he does risk becoming the Perry Como of the post-New Wave if he keeps up this laid back style!



for October 3, 2015

Had a ball hearing Nile Rodgers and Chic perform at the Greek in Berkeley last night.

One of the highlights was the mini-set of hits Rodgers wrote (or co-wrote) for others. (Much as Willie Nelson and Smokey Robinson also do live medleys of iconic songs they wrote but are popularly associated with others, the former playing "Crazy" and the latter doing the songs he wrote for The Temptations. But I digress.)

Anyway, Rodgers's version of "Upside Down" has to be heard to be believed; "We Are Family" was like a danceable anthem; Chic put real swing and soul into Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and made "Let's Dance" seem so heartfelt.

But the best of the night was "Freak Out," which came alive like a playful wild animal in the woods. People in the hills above the theater (where I heard the show) danced as if the place was 54.

In addition to being a blast, Rodger's show also makes a fantastic case for his induction into the RnRHOF.

Rodgers/Chic were opening for Duran Duran, whose fans seem more enthusiastic about them than they ever were. Astonishing level of adulation for them.

And when they performed the undeniably catchy "The Reflex," people were singing "Whyyyy don't you use it" at full volume. Couldn't stay for the whole Duran set, but was surprised at how strong they sounded.

Opening was Clean Bandit, a fast-rising U.K. dance music group -- sort of like disco revivalists in a very 21st century way -- who seemed poised to break much bigger than they already have.

Such an abundance of musical riches last night in the Bay Area. Across the Bay, a group of amazing musicians were bringing their Big Star Third tour to the Hardly Strictly festival. I was torn between that and Chic -- but in the end I just couldn't pass up the chance to hear Nile Rodgers.

Will make it to Hardly Strictly either tomorrow or later today.



for September 26, 2015

Last Night's AC/DC Concert.
Angus Young, last night in San Francisco. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

With half its set from the Bon Scott-era, and another quarter from "Back in Black," its "Led Zeppelin 4," a genuine hard rock totem, AC/DC performed last night in San Francisco -- one of only seven U.S. cities the band scheduled on this limited-edition American tour, which ends Monday in Los Angeles.

As someone who saw the band up close during its 1985 tour, I can attest that Angus Young's guitar playing has never been better -- though Brian Johnson, charismatic as ever, doesn't always hit the vocal mark anymore (though, at his best, he makes you forget Scott ever existed).

This is still one supremely crankin' band and the multi-generational crowd gathered in McCovey Cove -- where you could hear the show full blast and see it on a video screen for free (that’s where I heard the concert) -- were dancing, rockin', singing along, wildly exuberant at times. Across from the Cove, in AT&T Park, where the show was actually taking place, so many fans were wearing illuminated devil's horns that the crowd looked peppered with red from a distance.

The height of the night -- and of their career so far -- was "You Shook Me All Night Long," one of the best hard rock songs ever, performed here to perfection and inciting joyous partying.

Other highlights included a surprisingly strong "Back in Black," crowd-pleaser "Highway to Hell" and "TNT."

As with The Who and Led Zeppelin, the magic of AC/DC lies partly in their virtuosic ability to play a musical instrument called amplification. They can shape a massive sound cloud like few others.

(Also, loved the silent 40-second pauses before each song, which felt sort of like the pent-up moment before a tantrum.)

The band is both successor to Zeppelin and forerunner to GNR (the latter being an aesthetic trail that went dry pretty quickly).

True, after "Back in Black," Spinal Tap took a lot of piss out of the band with a satire that seemed aimed directly at them at times. (Which inspired me to come up with some future titles for the band: “I Pledge Allegiance to the Rock,” “In Rock We Trust,” “E Pluribus Rock." Though I think “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight” is already taken.)

But it's also true that song-centric indie rockers have sort of championed the band over the years (e.g., The True Believers did a great cover of "Highway to Hell" as far back as the late eighties; in recent years, Lucinda Williams has covered "It's a Long Way to the Top").

It’s real rock populism, too. The crowd, before the show, was so excited; one guy ran by me singing “for those about to rock, we salute you” as he ran; a group of guys in a boat in the cove were group-chanting the “hey hey!” part of “TNT.” It seemed like everybody had a favorite song they were looking forward to – and the band played almost all the classics.

Opening was Vintage Trouble, a reminder to those about to rock that it's a long way to the top if you want to rock 'n' roll!

Angus Young, showing his devil horns to the crowd last night. [photo by Paul Iorio]


So many fans wore illuminated devil's horns that the crowd in the arena looked peppered in red from a distance. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]



for September 21, 2015

New Evidence That al-Awlaki Had Foreknowledge of 9/11 Attacks.

Al-Awlaki's Possibly Tell-Tale Copyright Dates

Awlaki's copyright for much of his life's work. Was
he summing up and getting his affairs together a few
weeks before 9/11, in anticipation of some sort of upheaval?

Anwar al-Awlaki, the late Islamic militant known to have met with two of the September 11th hijackers, spent the weeks prior to 9/11 collecting much of his life's work for publication and copyright.

The proximity of his work's copyright dates to the 9/11 attacks arguably gives the appearance of someone summing up or getting one's work and affairs in order before an anticipated interruption of some sort.

At the very least, the timing is suspicious (much as, analogously, increased business activity preceding a company downturn or upturn would trigger an insider trading investigation by the SEC).

According to my own original research of online records at the U.S. Copyright Office, Awlaki had filed for a copyright only twice in his career: for a 22-CD audio compilation of his lectures that was published on August 15, 2001, and for a cassette tape version published months earlier. (The formal copyright for both works was registered in subsequent months.)

Awlaki's copyrighted oeuvre -- "The Life of the Prophets," an audio anthology of his speeches spanning some two dozen discs and 18 cassette tapes -- was published by the Denver, Colorado-based Al Basheer Company For Publications & Translations, which shares the copyright with him. (The company has not responded to a question about whether it paid royalties to Awlaki.)

The Al-Basheer Company initially promoted the CD-set prominently on its website's front page but has since removed it from its online catalogue altogether. However, the publisher continued to publish and promote works by another jihadi, Bilal Philips, who the U.S government has called an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the World Trade Center attack of 1993.

According to my research, in the period before the 9/11 attacks -- from August 24 to August 27, 2001 -- Awlaki and Bilal Philips both appeared at a Da'wah Conference at the University of Leicester in the U.K. with other Muslim activist speakers, including Rafil Dhafir, now in prison in the U.S. on terrorism charges.

When the circumstantial evidence about Awlaki's activities in the weeks before 9/11 is put together, one has to wonder and ask about the possibility that Awlaki had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

First, as has been widely reported, Awlaki knew two of the hijackers -- Hawaf al-Hizmi and Hazmi's roommate Khalid al-Mihdar -- in the months prior to the hijackings. (A third, Hani Hanjour, attended the mosque where Awlaki was the imam).

Second, as I've just reported, Awlaki spent the months and weeks before the attacks getting his life's work together, assembling a sort of 'collected works' retrospective of his lectures (though he had never before and hasn't since copyrighted his material).

Third, in the week before the hijackings, he was participating in a seminar with a militant involved in the World Trade Center bombing of '93 (as I've reported here).

It should be noted that a cassette tape edition of Awlaki's work had been published in January 2001, and even this date supports my theory that he was tying up loose ends. After all, the hijackings were originally scheduled for early 2001 and then for July 2001, with the final date of 9/11 decided only at the last minute. So if hijacker al-Hizmi had confided in Awlaki in 2000 about the upcoming attacks, Awlaki would have come into 2001 knowing only that the hijackings would take place some time that year.

For the record, the conventional wisdom has it that Awlaki publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks at the time. But close scrutiny of his statements reveals that he almost always talked about 9/11 in highly ambiguous and almost sneaky terms that could easily be read as an endorsement of either side.

For example, Awlaki was quoted by The New York Times in '01 as saying the following about incendiary jihadi talk that leads to violence:

''There were some statements that were inflammatory," Awlaki told The Times -- while not specifying whether he was referring to statements by Muslim radicals or by the so-called infidel -- "and were considered just talk, but now we realize that talk can be taken seriously and acted upon in a violent radical way." (Again, his meaning was slippery and could have easily been along the lines of: 'now we realize that blasphemy and anti-Islamic talk must be taken seriously and should be combated with violence.')

By the time of the 9/11 attacks, al-Awlaki had already been under investigation for a couple years by the F.B.I. for suspected al Qaeda ties. The myth that he was a moderate then and became an extremist is evidently just that: a myth.

Al-Awlaki was killed four years ago this month by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

Awlaki's collected lectures, prominently promoted
by its publisher, Al-Basheer, in '01.

* * *

Awlaki's publisher went on to publish
books by other jihadists like Bilal Philips,
who helped plan the bombing of the twin towers in '93.

* * * *

Awlaki and Bilal Philips both shared the bill at a conference
at the University of Leicester just prior to 9/11.



for September 13, 2015

Let a million refugees in. And then draft every able-bodied man and woman from that refugee group into the military to fight the ISIS militants that they fled.

They will be the force on the ground in Syria and in Iraq to kill off Daesh. Those who survive are welcome in the U.S. as permanent residents (G.I. Bill included).

By the way, I just posted this idea (which I came up with an hour or so ago) on the London Express site and people love it! I'm pleasantly surprised and taken aback by the positive reaction of Londoners to my idea! "Brilliant," said one woman. "Very clever lad you," said some man. Wow! And it really is a workable idea when you think about it.


Trump is a Teflon Nixon. He’d commit Watergate-ish offenses as president and say, “Yeah, I ordered the break-in, so what? I’ll bug anyone I think is a danger to this country. Next question.”

He'd commit impeachable offenses and then suspend congressional impeachment proceedings – by executive emergency decree.

You can’t defeat him with a Muskie (Hillary) or a McGovern (Bernie). But Biden -- a sort of Humphrey circa his highly-regarded pre-veep days – might be able to take him down, if only he could get the Democratic nomination.

I’m sure Biden is crunching the numbers in terms of super-delegates, pledged delegates, unpledged delegates and winner-take-all contests. And he’s shaking his head. No clear path to the nomination for him – or for Hillary, if he’s in the race.

I know everybody’s high on Bernie right now, but the national math is against him. Yeah, he’s on track to win Iowa and New Hampshire, but afterwards he’ll be buried by Hillary in red states. (There’s no way he’s going to win big-ticket contests in Texas, Georgia, Florida, etc.)

By my own ultra-conservative count, Hillary easily has 1,750 delegates coming to her and only needs around 2,200. And that’s assuming (improbable) losses by her in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, even California.

Biden would cut into Hillary’s margins in the red states, causing a brokered convention that party bosses would have to decide in Hillary’s favor.

If the Democrats really – really – want to save America from Trump, there is a far-fetched solution that nobody has voiced yet. Hear me out.

Obama could resign so Biden could become the president standing for re-election – with all the power of the incumbency that would give him.

And then – here’s the beauty part – Biden would appoint Elizabeth Warren as his vice president.

So, it would become a Biden-Warren ticket from the git, as Biden works his magic in the Oval Office and on the campaign trail throughout 2016.

Obama could simply say, “After seven years of being president, I want to turn it over to someone who has been twice elected vice-president by the American people, someone who should be given a shot to complete the Obama-Biden agenda his way, if only for a year. I leave on a high note and trust that Joe will only take it higher.”

A highly unlikely strategy, to be sure, but the Dems are going to have to think way outside the box to stop this Trump juggernaut.


I took my after-dinner hike in the hills tonight to coincide with the final half-hour of Lenny Kravitz's concert in that part of the UC Berkeley campus. So, I caught his final five songs. And, whatever you might think of him, there is no denying the power of his encore, "Are You Gonna Go My Way," which really crunches live, the best Hendrix song Hendrix never wrote.

As for the others...I think he ought to pare some of 'em down. I mean, the endings of his endings have endings.

Some of it reminded me of Vernon Reid's Living Colour, though Reid knew the value of brevity.

All told, the crowd enjoyed it a lot. And his finale was undeniable, even to non-fans.


CL, a hip hop star in Seoul, really wowed the crowd Friday night in Berkeley at the annual music fest put on by the Mad Decent record label. She only played for around twenty minutes, mixing her solo stuff with hits from her days with girl group 2NE1, but clearly she’s poised for some sort of U.S. stardom soon.

She preceded headliner Major Lazer, the side project of Mad Decent’s founder, Wesley Pentz (aka, Diplo), who got people dancing wildly. They mix the most extreme bass sound this side of the Glitch Mob with great beats and plenty of Jamaican hot sauce.

A decade ago, Mad Decent was throwing these “block parties,” as they’re called, for free on a street in Philadelphia. Now they’re sold-out fests that tour a couple dozen cities with a rotating set of over sixty acts.

This time around, CL is the one to watch.



for September 10, 2015

About Last Weekend's Billy Joel Concert in San Francisco...
Billy Joe, crooning last Saturday night at AT&T Park. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

As Billy Joel noted from the stage last Saturday night at AT&T Park, this was his very first show in San Francisco in 40 years, his previous gig here having been at a 500-seater in '75.

Forty years? Why the estrangement? You could say Joel is not exactly San Francisco writ large. In many ways, he's sort of the opposite of the city by the bay.

And when he sang about "the Pennsylvania we never found," I looked around at the very California crowd, which seemed sort of puzzled by this obscure geographical reference.

His paeans to the middle-Atlantic states may hit home for someone like me, who lived in that region for many years, but for dudes from the Mission and Carmel who've never even visited back east, not as much.

Still, everyone across from AT&T Park in McCovey Cove, where I heard (and partly saw) the show, had a ball, dancing to his great cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "Dance to the Music," swaying to "She's Always a Woman to Me," drinking up the hits.

My favorites of the evening were "Say Goodbye to Hollywood," "Sometimes a Fantasy" and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," which had amphetamine momentum and sounded like cold spring rapids at times.

He also did a sort of Replacements-style schtick in which he performed lots of covers, most of them only incompletely, some of them ironically, all of them linked in a sort of running tribute to classic Bay Area bands. Some worked better than others (he did a funny imitation of Janis Joplin), though I wish he had played a half dozen more of his own songs instead.

Still, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The crowd outside the Billy Joel concert. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]



for August 24, 2015

Well, all right! The Huffington Post has just published my story about meeting Jimmy Carter in June 1975. Click the link to read it.

NEW IN HUFFINGTON POST: Paul Iorio's "The Day I Met Jimmy Carter."

The Day I Met Jimmy Carter, Dark Horse
When I met him, Carter was polling around one percent in major presidential preference surveys.

I was 17 and standing with two friends at the end of a long, deserted pier on Tampa Bay in June 1975.

In the distance, a smiling middle-age man started walking the long, hot distance toward the three of us and, as he came closer, it became obvious he was hiking that span just to see me and my pals.

When he finally came to the far end of the pier, he reached out his hand to me and said, "Hi, my name is Jimmy Carter and I'm running for president of the United States."

I recognized him immediately because I knew a lot about politics, so I and my pals were a bit uptight and daunted by this famous guy. But he put us at ease and lowered the temperature quickly.

I remember Carter pointed to the boats in the bay -- singling out a "cigarette boat" -- and said, "I once had a boat like that" or some such. And he went on in a really engaging small-talk style about boats. Very low-key. He smiled as he left and we were all smiling ourselves by then. He had such positive energy and a wonderful impact on people.

I can’t help but think that that long walk to the end of that nearly empty pier revealed the exact reason why he was elected president the following year. To him, everybody mattered, even a teenager like me who wasn’t of voting age.

For the record, this was not a Carter-for-president rally. At this point in the game, he wasn’t yet able to muster enough supporters to have a significant rally in Florida. In mid-‘75, he was polling around one-percent (if that!) in most major surveys and would poll under five-percent throughout the rest of ‘75 and into early ’76. So he was as much of a long-shot as Rick Perry is right now.

Carter had announced his candidacy for president months earlier, in January of ’75, having finished his term as governor of Georgia, where he was celebrated as the progressive successor to right-winger Lester Maddox.

And he knew the pivotal political significance of Florida. He saw that fellow southeasterner George C. Wallace had gained enormous momentum by winning the state’s primary in ’72, before Wallace’s campaign was cut short by an assassination attempt. Could a southeastern progressive do the same?

With the now-crippled Wallace a lesser force than he had been -- and with Florida governor Rubin Askew declining to run -- Carter was spending a huge amount of time in the Sunshine State. "During 1975 and 1976, my wife, Rosalynn, spent 75 days in Florida; and I spent almost as many," wrote Carter on a University of California at Santa Barbara academic website.

So, when I met him, Carter was in town for no special reason that I knew of, but rather for some local Democratic party meeting that was happening in the building near that pier on which he wandered to meet me and my friends.

And the three teenagers he went out of his way to meet were nothing special. I had no relatives involved in politics at that time, though I was a community activist (who had been covered in the local newspaper (The Tampa Tribune) a year earlier for co-organizing an impeach Nixon rally) and had been the elected president of my high school student council. My friend David was a college student (and is now an attorney); and I think the other pal of mine was Todd, also a student.

The likely date was Saturday, June 7, 1975, just before sunset. (I worked on Saturdays in those days, so it had to be after I got off my afternoon shift at the movie theater at 6 p.m.). It was the day after I’d graduated from high school.

To this day, Carter is the only the president I've ever met. Truly, he was the people's president -- and, coming after the imperial regimes of Nixon and Ford, he was the American spring, the healing force.

Which explains why we’re now seeing such an outpouring of affection and adulation for Carter as he battles health problems. I join millions in hoping he recovers as much as he possibly can.

Even nine months after I met him, this Time magazine cover (of March 8, 1976) was still asking, “Who is Jimmy Carter?”

The author of this piece, in the mid1970s. [photo credit: the King High School (of Tampa, FL) yearbook, 1975.]



for August 10, 2015

Elton John Closes Outside Lands with His Best Songs
Fan wears Outside Lands wristband. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Elton John’s very last extensive tour came to Golden Gate Park last night and he had everybody crocodile rockin’ – even outside the Outside Lands festival, where I heard (but couldn’t see) the show.

With the core band members (Davey Johnstone, Nigel Olsson) who helped to create the sound of his prime, John performed his biggest hits for a couple hours to close out the three-day fest.

He ended his set with the climax of the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album – a full-velocity “Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll)” and a version of “Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting)” that sounded like Jerry Lee Lewis had hijacked the piano and flown it to Sun Studio.

And then he encored with “Crocodile Rock,” which had some dancing wildly in the streets, the park and the parking lots. (See photo, below)

Earlier, he played an exceptionally brilliant “Rocket Man”; the band extended its groove for a few minutes as John riffed virtuosically.

All told, he played 21 tunes – all of ‘em written by John with Bernie Taupin (with Johnstone sharing the credit on some tracks). (Interesting that he has never been able to summon his genius when he writes with other lyricists -- the sole exception being "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," which he co-wrote with Tim Rice.)

And there wasn’t a clunker in the setlist (except perhaps "Hey Ahab," from his ill-advised collaboration with Leon Russell in 2010).

This show – which I heard from a distance near Spreckels Lake, where it was loud enough to record it – compared favorably to other Elton shows I’ve seen up close. Of course, nothing beats the Central Park extravaganza that I saw in 1980 (a mere seven years after the release of ”Yellow Brick Road”); I’ll never forget fans dancing almost involuntarily to "Philadelphia Freedom" and other tunes.

And I had great seats in 1986 when he played Madison Square Garden, where people openly wept when he performed "Your Song."

Me, I wish he'd play more deep tracks, particularly songs that were dominant before "Yellow Brick Road" eclipsed all else. Stuff like "Friends," a wonderful ballad that used to be ubiquitous and has now been almost erased from airwaves and concert setlists; and fun stuff like "I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself" and "Texas Love Song."

But it’d be impossible for him to include all the gems unless he did a six-hour concert. (Now there’s a concept!)

I arrived at the park just as Sam Smith was finishing his own set with “Stay With Me,” which the audience sang as if it were an ancient hymn. He has an almost supernatural falsetto live.



for August 9, 2015

Megyn Kelly IS a bimbo -- but not for the reasons Trump cites.

Exhibit A: in a little-noted moment at the end of the broadcast, she asked Rubio what he thought about "veterans and god," which must qualify as the most -- not just one of the most -- amateurish questions ever posed at a major presidential debate.

And one can sense what Kelly likely intended with the question: a rousing, cornball finale about "god and country" by the son of immigrants. It scans as a promotion of Rubio's candidacy. And it's a throwback to the broadcasters of the Eisenhower-era who asked questions along the lines of "What is your opinion on communism and satan"?

I guess everyone's already forgotten Kelly's "Santa Claus is white" howler of a few years ago!

No, Kelly's a laughingstock and moron for reasons that have nothing to do with the Trump controversy. (And her so-called "feminism", by the way, is nothing of the sort. Rather, her occasional championing of women's issues is mere self-interested identity politics that is right-wing on every issue except the one that affects her own demographic.)

Also, get off the Carly kick, folks. Out here in California, we know Fiorina. We saw her run against Boxer and get trounced in the debates and at the polls by a full 10%. We saw how ineffective she was in answering charges that she had almost never voted and that she accepted financial contributions from jihadists. Having failed at her Senate run -- funded to the hilt, btw -- , she now wants a promotion to president. She's a female Giuliani. And she wrongly thinks losing her temper and leadership are the same things.



for August 6, 2015

After reading the transcript of the GOP debate, here are my notes:

The word "stupid" was uttered by various candidates a remarkable nine times during the debate.

The most risible gaffes of the night came from Huckabee ("the purpose of the military is to kill people and break things") and Trump ("We don't have time for tone").

Megyn Kelly posed one of the worst debate questions ever, asking Rubio about his views on "god and the veterans." (Of course, Rubio, being an astute politician, answered that he hated both god and veterans.)

Trump did not always sound fully coherent. In moments of clarity, he actually came off like Bernie Sanders (in his defense of single-payer). .

Hillary attended Trump's wedding?!

Huckabee was as theocratic as a mullah. ("The Supreme Court is not the supreme being"? The Ayatollahs say the same thing all the time.)

Re Mexico: Trump wants a wall, Rubio says he wants a "fence." No candidate has yet endorsed a moat.

OK, Kasich, we got it the first time. Your dad was a mailman.

Rubio seems to be under the misimpression that El Chapo is the president of Mexico.

Trump characterized NYC as exclusively Democratic. Which is not really true. It's the city that elected Giuliani, after all. And Staten Island and parts of Queens are ultra-red.

Jeb apparently thinks that happy talk will get us to 4% economic growth.

Bush seemed misinformed: at one point he said that we can honor the soldiers who died in the Iraq war by stopping the Iran agreement. (Is he unaware that Iran is currently our biggest ally in the war against ISIS?)



for July 28, 2015

KKK members wear their burqas and Islamic jiihaidsts wear their own burqas -- and they look (and act) surprisingly alike. Never say anything about the KKK that you wouldn't say about ISIS.

If I ran a business and my receptionist came to work wearing a KKK sheet/burqa, I'd tell him/her to change for work or find another job. Period.

I would also say the same about a worker who showed up wearing a yarmulke or a prominent Christian cross. Because those symbols scan as endorsements of a particular religion.

A receptionist at the front desk wearing a burqa sends the message that "this business endorses or is associated with Islam." And I (as the hypothetical business owner) shouldn't be forced to endorse a religion (or appear to endorse one).

Wouldn't one say the same about a receptionist who wears a huge "Donald Trump for president" campaign button? It gives the appearance that I, the owner, is endorsing Trump. The secular workplace should be religion-neutral. And as for the poor woman or man who comes to work in a burqa or yarmulke (and is fired) -- my advice is: take a job at your place of worship until you assimilate into secular culture.

Every person reading this would be in favor of firing someone who came to work wearing a KKK sheet. But very few would fire someone who wore a burqa to work (and refused to change to appropriate attire).

But there is no difference.

Oh, I can hear it now. False equivalency, some will say. Not the same thing, some will say.

But they are the same things. The KKK isn't a religion, but it does represent a set of deeply held beliefs. And what else is religion but a set of deeply held beliefs?

Is Scientology a religion? They claim they are and, because they claim they are, they are officially considered a religion. Suppose the KKK claimed to be a religion and were granted official status as such. Then the KKK sheet would have the same legal protections in the workplace that the burqa has.

Yeah, but the KKK sheet is offensive, you say. But the burqa is offensive to many, too.

Even if the KKK were not re-classed as a religion, so what? Should labor law discriminate against one set of deeply held beliefs but not another set of deeply held beliefs? Why should a philosophy have fewer legal protections than a religion? Why should a philosophy be considered less worthy of rights protections than religion? Why should there be a greater legal protection for scientologists than for existentialists? Where's the logic? The better solution would be to keep the workplace religion/philosophy-neutral when it comes to wearing garments that constitute implicit endorsement of that set of beliefs.



for July 26, 2015

I heard Culture Club perform at the Greek in Berkeley last night. Most of it was lots of fun.

Anyone planning to see the band at the Beacon tomorrow should make sure to stay for the last six songs, the gold of the set, particularly (and surprisingly) their cover of David Bowie's "Starman," the most uplifting cover I've heard in concert since Donald Fagen did "Something in the Air" in Golden Gate Park in 2010. You've got to hear it.

The concert was part preview of their new album ("Tribes"), part greatest-hits package and part an-evening-with-Boy-George, who was witty ("I'm not the woman I was"), charming and extremely loquacious (he must've spoken three thousand words from the stage last night!).

Boy George's voice is huskier and emotionally deeper than it was in the 1980s. "Karma Chameleon" was played with real swing, "The Crying Game" was poignant and "Move Away" was an unexpected highlight.

Judging from this concert, the new album, slated for release next year, includes an eclectic mix of reggae, soul, country and new-wave-ish rock. Of the new tracks, the strongest was "More Than Silence," a U2-ish song that hooks you if you listen to it a few times. "Human Zoo" and "Like I Used To" were also engaging.

Wish they would cover more Bowie (maybe do the entire "Ziggy Stardust" album live); they really have a feel for his material,


I also heard Willie Nelson at the Greek in Berkeley last Thursday. Very enjoyable. Pretty much the same set I heard him perform last year at the same venue. A no-fat, briskly-paced 70-minutes with plenty of classics ("Crazy," "On the Road Again," you name it).

Opening was Alison Krauss and Union Station, which did a terrific set, as usual. (I particularly liked "Baby, Now That I've Found You.") Turns out today is Krauss' birthday, so the crowd serenaded her with "Happy Birthday"!


The Huffington Post has published my piece on Steve Nieve's concert in GG Park. Read it here.



for July 13, 2015

Steve Nieve, One of Rock’s Great Pianists, Plays for a Few Dozen Fans in a Garden

Steve Nieve, performing on a pond in Golden Gate Park. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

“It’s like a dream,” said the woman next to me.

And it was, except it was quite real.

Steve Nieve, one of rock’s greatest pianists, the musical right-hand of Elvis Costello, playing an unamplified piano in the middle of a pastoral paradise, performed works by Costello, Bacharach and others for nearly ninety minutes for a few dozen thrilled fans last Saturday morning.

Nieve’s appearance happened at San Francisco’s Botanical Garden, in Golden Gate Park, as part of its ongoing concert series.

It was an unpublicized event, not even listed in the Garden’s brochure about the series. Nobody at the admissions gate knew where he was playing, or even that he was playing. In fact, staffers didn’t even recognize his name.

There were no signs and no online announcement of his appearance. And it was anyone’s guess as to which of the twelve pianos in twelve separate, far-flung locations in the park he would appear at. Plus, he was playing a full hour before all other scheduled performances.

If the Botanical Garden had wanted to hide his gig from the public, they could not have done a better job. (I found out about it only because Nieve himself mentioned it on his personal Facebook page.)

Hence, the extremely low turn-out. I mean, he played Costello’s “Shipbuilding,” his second song (shortly after eleven in the morning), to a grand total of two people, including me and the guy from the Garden who had driven Nieve to the site on a sort of golf cart. So, I was allowed to stroll right up to the piano and shoot pictures as he played. (As the crowd gradually grew to around thirty-five, I was asked by a staffer to watch from a slightly farther distance!)

But those who made it to the Moon Viewing Garden – whose centerpiece is a small pond partly-covered by a wooden deck on which Nieve played – were in for a treat.

And he didn’t just tickle the ebonies and ivories for a few minutes and leave. This was a meaty set of two dozen pop and classical pieces.

This was a chance to see a modern-day Nicky Hopkins at work and close up.

Nieve commanded the park like a thunderbolt when he lit into a Beethoven-esque version of Costello’s “Shot With His Own Gun,” the showstopper of the set.

His re-imagining of “Oliver’s Army” sounded like a fresh early spring day in the woods.

“Alison” and “Accidents Will Happen” were reshaped as near-minuets. He brought out marvelous dissonance in “Sulky Girl” -- and “Town Cryer” sometimes felt like cascading water in a mountain stream.

His performance was almost a description of the bucolic setting itself.

His piano-playing was, by turns, stately, elegant, regal, aggressively innovative and sometimes just beautiful. At times, he recalled Hopkins, Marvin Hamlisch, Dave Brubeck and Randy Newman, with echoes of Bach and George Gershwin.

At show’s end, he turned to my side of the audience for requests and I blurted out, “Watch Your Step,” which features one of the most inspired piano breaks in the Costello oeuvre. (Frankly, I wish I had been able to request two more: “Clubland” and the Rolling Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow.”)

And sure enough, Nieve was kind enough to end with that track, playing it to perfection and doing a marvelous variation on the break.

Like a dream, as the woman said.

[The Sunset Piano concert series, a celebration of the San Francisco Botanical Garden’s 75th anniversary, continues through July 20th at the Garden. Details at www.sfbotanicalgarden.org.]

Nieve, usually somber, smiling. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

A pastoral, unamplified Saturday morning in San Francisco. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]



for July 7, 2015

No reasonable person on Earth defends what Bill Cosby did to women. Wayy over the top. Pure rape.

That said, there was a lot of gray-area sexual behavior that was winked at and even encouraged in the 1960s that today is treated almost like a capital crime.

It’s almost become a cliché: standards were different in the 1960s (though Cosby violated even those looser standards).

In the Sixties, stuff that was considered minor (like drunk driving) is now taken uber-seriously by the courts. And things that were taken seriously (like marijuana possession in the age of Rockefeller) are now virtually legal.

So, I came up with this article for my blog comparing the 1960s with the 21st centiury. Here are the differences:

The Difference Between the 1960s and the 21st Century

By Paul Iorio

IN THE 1960s:
We shall overcome.

We shall over-eat.


IN THE 1960s:
Don’t trust anyone over 30.

Don’t trust anyone.


IN THE 1960s:
If it feels good, do it.

If it feels good, request explicit permission before doing it.


IN THE 1960s:
Taking a walk in the neighborhood is healthy.

Taking a walk in the neighborhood is stalking.


IN THE 1960s:
Kissing, fondling -- a.k.a. trying to seduce a woman

Kissing, fondling – a.k.a. sexual assault.


IN THE 1960s:
The law proscribes marijuana.

My physician prescribes marijuana.


IN THE 1960s:
Drinking and driving is a way of enjoying life.

Drinking and driving is a way of destroying lives.


IN THE 1960s:
O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby: role models.

O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby: not role models.


IN THE 1960s:
Always hung-over? Sleep it off.

Always hung-over? Go to rehab.


IN THE 1960s:
Steve McQueen, actor.

Steve McQueen, director.


IN THE 1960s:
The Middle East crisis: unsolvable.

The Middle East crisis: unsolvable.


IN THE 1960S:
Student-teacher sex: mentoring.

Student-teacher sex: felony.


IN THE 1960s:
Barry Goldwater: ultra-conservative.

Barry Goldwater: ultra-moderate.


IN THE 1960s:
Lyndon Johnson: civil rights advocate.

Lyndon Johnson: civil rights obstructionist.


IN THE 1960s:
Hitchhiking: a great way to get around.

Hitchhiking: a great way to get killed.


IN THE 1960s:
The twin towers of the World Trade Center, not yet up.

The twin towers of the World Trade Center, already down.


IN THE 1960s:
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

What happens in Vegas can be viewed by everyone on YouTube.


IN THE 1960s:
Feed your head.

Feed your face.


IN THE 1960s:
What a long strange trip it’s been.

What a short trip it is when you use MapQuest.


IN THE 1960s:
Make love, not war.

Make love, pay child support.


IN THE 1960s:
We are all water.

We are all facing a water shortage.


IN THE 1960s:
The Beatles: the greatest band ever.

The Beatles: the greatest band ever.


for July 1, 2015

NEW! The Huffington Post just published my story about Ed Sheeran's show in Berkeley last Friday. Click here to read it and to see my photos!




for June 28, 2015

A Peek Inside the Sheeran Juggernaut

Vendors raised the Sheeran flag (aka, t-shirts) outside the Greek. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Sheer Sheeran-mania came to Berkeley, California, last Friday night.

As around 8,500 fans packed into Ed Sheeran’s sold-out show at the Greek Theater, thousands more gathered outside, climbing tall trees and steep hills to get a glimpse and to hear the sound spilling from the open-air arena.

Hardly a bald head in sight. Almost everyone was under 25, it seemed. And some were tweens who looked juiced up on Kool-Aid and Skittles. (“Don’t get her too excited,” one mother said to an older sibling of a youngster who was clearly over the moon for Sheeran.)

A guy with a mere acoustic guitar created all this excitement?! Who would’ve thought a new generation would settle on such an austere aesthetic?

After the countless musical inventions of the past fifty years -- hip hop, electronic dance music, grunge, reggae, jam, etc. – and all the inventions of the digital era – home recording technology, Auto-tune, etc. -- the latest generation still gathers around music created by one songwriter singing his songs with a guitar. The fundamental things apply/as time goes by, as the song says.

Of course, there is one element that does mark Sheeran’s music as an unmistakably 21st century phenomenon: his fusion of rap and folk (and, yes, he is a thoroughly convincing rapper, as he amply demonstrated during the medley that began with “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”).

After a terrific opening set by British synth-popsters Rixton, Sheeran took the stage and was loquacious, assured, stoking the fans, answering his critics.

“We got our first-ever complaint the other day,” Sheeran said after the second song. “...They got in touch and said they felt they had been short-changed because I was playing to a backing track….Well, everything you hear tonight is live. Everything.”

Huge cheer from the crowd.

Then he started into “Don’t,” the Rick Rubin-produced track from last year, one of the night’s best, with a hypnotic riff snaking through his rapping.

And he did a surprisingly strong “I See Fire,” from the 2013 movie “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and it had everyone singing the chorus as if it were a vintage anthem. (Even in the hills above the theater, where sightlines were limited (and where, for the record, I heard the concert), people were singing every word of it.)

Elsewhere, “Thinking Out Loud” was like primo Tracy Chapman with a dash of Shawn Mullins; “Tenerife Sea” was almost Paul Simon-esque; and “Drunk” and “Photograph” sounded like a more interesting Dave Matthews.

But Sheeran saved the best for last.

He played a magical, minimal re-imagining of Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her” – it somehow almost seemed like a child’s music-box version of it -- that, in its way, was nearly as great as the original.

“I can tell by the sound of your voices that you have not lost your voices yet,” he said before the final encore. “And that’s not acceptable!”

The fans, already loud, got louder.

For his finale, he performed – what else? – his biggest hit to date, his “Happy,” “Sing,” which he wrote with Pharrell Williams. The audience was so caught up in singing along to this insanely catchy tune that, in the end, they were the only voices heard.

And then it was lights out, and on to some of the world’s largest stadiums.

After this gig, he went on to play Arrowhead Stadium in Missouri, opening for the Rolling Stones (or, as millennials would put it, headlining). It’s an 80,000-ish-capacity venue that should get him in shape for his three sold-out shows coming up in a few weeks at London’s Wembley Stadium, a 90-thousand seater, where he tops the bill.

Sheeran, last Friday night, projected on a video screen on the Greek stage. .(By the way, this was the sightline from the hills above the theater, where I heard the show.) [photo by Paul Iorio]

The hills were alive with the sound of music-lovers! Here was the scene outside the venue on Friday. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for June 21, 2015

Friday's Civic Center Concert in San Francisco.

Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon prowled the stage like a latter-day Jim Morrison last Friday. [photo credit: Paul Iorio)

Still buzzing from last Friday night’s outdoor concert in San Francisco. It was equivalent to a bill featuring Sun Kil Moon, The Dead Kennedys, the Beau Brummels, Commander Cody, Romeo Void, the Flamin’ Groovies, the Mother Hips and others – all doing their best-known songs. For around three hours, the main people behind all those groups performed with a terrific house band, the Mission Express, led by Chuck Prophet.

It was a celebration of several generations of Bay Area music, from the Kingston Trio (who appeared, though I’m not certain whether the trio featured any founding member) through the punk/disco-era to the present day. And the occasion was the 100th anniversary of the city hall building.

The Kingstons kicked things off with “Tom Dooley.” Next, Sal Valentino, the singer for the Beau Brummels, performed “Laugh Laugh” in a way that showed the Frankie Valli-ness of his sound. Bill Kirchen played an incendiary version of Commander Cody’s “Hot Rod Lincoln.” And a singer identified as (I’m (mis)spelling this phonetically) Una Thorthwaite knocked it out of the park with Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.”

After an intermission, acts from S.F.’s punk/disco heyday took the stage, with an emphasis on artists who recorded for homegrown labels 415 Records and Alternative Tentacles.

Jello Biafra was full of charisma and wild energy as he revved up the crowd with the marvelously outrageous “Let’s Lynch the Landlord.” Debora Iyall resurrected Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never.” And Sly Stone’s daughter, Novena Carmel, looked like a future star as she led dozens of players in a finale of “Everyday People.”

But it was Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon who just about stole the show as he prowled the stage and sang inspired rants like a latter-day Jim Morrison. Riveting. Clicked from the git.

The fest was sort like Hardly Strictly circa ’06, when it was a sparsely-attended inside secret and, on a Friday afternoon, you could just stroll down to the front of the stage and see (and photograph) major artists from a distance of a few feet.

All told, wonderfully conceived and performed concert. Very enjoyable.

Jello Biafra, full of charisma and energy, galvanized the crowd on Friday night. [photo by Paul Iorio]


Sal Valentino, the voice of the Beau Brummels, sang "Laugh Laugh." [photo credit: Paul Iorio]


Before the concert, kids played amongst the bubbles in Civic Center Park. [photo credit: Paul Iorio.]



for June 16, 2015

Well, all right! The Huffington Post just published my latest story, a humorous pictorial called "A Brief (and Highly Suspect) History of the ISIS Flag." I'm proud of this one! Here's a link.



Twenty-five years ago, Martin Scorsese unleashed one of his greatest films (and one of the best pictures of the pat half-century), "Goodfellas." Here's an unpublished one-on-one interview I conducted with Paul Sorvino about the movie. We talked at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena in July 2000.

Paul Iorio: “Goodfellas” is one of the best films of the past 40 years, but at the same time, I’m a bit troubled by a romanticizing of the mafia element.

Paul Sorvino: I don’t think “Goodfellas” did that. I think “The Godfather” did that. I think “Goodfellas: said, “Wait a minute, let’s show you what this is, people being killed and then [being] chopped up. You know, saw them up, bleed their bodies and then bury them in golf courses.” No, I don’t think “Goodfellas” romanticized gangsterism at all.

The very opposite, that was one of the great things about it. But how do you [best] “Godfather,” how do you go the next step? Because “Godfather, Part 2,” is an extraordinary movie. How do you go beyond that? Well, you pull the cloak off and show the real truth about what gangster life is. It’s a horrific existence. And I think “Godfellas” showed that. And I think “Sopranos” shows that. People in the audience will always jump to their own unconscious agendas. Most people don’t get enough justice in life. And it seems Mafiosi get all the justice they want. That also is a myth, but it looks that way.

Iorio: It seems there’s never been a [movie] that humanizes the victims of the mafia.

Sorvino: In a big movie?

Iorio: Yeah. There’s [the character] Spider in “Goodfellas.” But can you think of one in which the mafia victims are portrayed in the same warm glow of family –

Sorvino: There certainly are stories in literature and film about people who have suffered under calamitous circumstances from bad guys. Very often, families are beset by bad guys. “Little House on the Prairie” is an example of that. Anytime you have a family under siege, it’s generally from some malefactor outside their sphere, or within their sphere, and that’s what causes their distress. In a dramatic presentation, you have to put someone up a tree and then get him out of it. The person who puts them up a tree is generally some sort of gangster, or some sort of crook.

Iorio: …Have people mentioned to you how refreshing it is that [Sorvino’s TV series “That’s Life”] is one of the first Italian-American series that doesn’t emphasize [the mafia]?

Sorvino: It’s one of the great reasons why I’m doing it. Because it’s about an Italian-American family that isn’t involved in a scintilla of any of that.



for June 12, 2015

A Brief (and Highly Suspect) History of the ISIS Flag

The ISIS flag has fast become one of the world's most ubiquitous and recognizable images, but few know about its true origins and history. Here's a pictorial look at the central symbol of the Islamic State movement.

The ISIS flag was first found by archaeologists at a Cretaceous-era dig, where it was, to the astonishment of scholars, perfectly preserved and still in the claws of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the earliest known militant. [photo by Paul Iorio]

In the modern era, the flag is thought to have first emerged decades ago in a John Wayne movie, "True Grit." Here we see Wayne interrogating a couple Islamic State suspects. [photo by Paul Iorio]

In an ill-conceived product roll-out, the ISIS marketing department designed a line of ISIS-flag toilet paper, discontinued after the Caliphate deemed it "haram." [photo by Paul Iorio]

Highly flammable and handy, the flag has been used for kindling in campfires, bonfires and public burnings of infidels. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Those who think militants use knives only for executions have obviously not tried ISIS' line of precision cutlery (which comes with a cutting board and sharpening steel). [photo by Paul Iorio]

Out of coffee filters? A paper ISIS flag will do. (And make sure you ask for decaf, not decap!) [photo by Paul Iorio]

Briefly pandering to Western recruits, the ISIS flag once incorporated an irreverent image from TV's "South Park." [concept, montage by Paul Iorio, using the "bear" character from "South Park"]

Was the ISIS flag on Calvary during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Impossible to verify, but this speculative rendering -- based on an image from the recent movie "Son of God" -- seems to support the claim. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Taking a page from the National Lampoon of the 1970s, militants once tried this recruitment gambit. [concept, montage by Paul Iorio; based on the famous National Lampoon magazine cover of January 1973.]

"The Three Stooges Versus the Caliphate" is a long-lost comedy in which the Stooges use slapstick antics to battle militants. No known print exists. [photo by Paul Iorio; concept and montage by Paul Iorio, based on a frame of the Farrelly brothers' film "The Three Stooges."]



for June 7, 2015

Chromeo and The Glitch Mob, Live at the Greek

Last week, I heard a fun concert by a duo from Montreal who are sort of the Hall & Oates of EDM, Chromeo. And they might evolve into the next H&O if they keep creating stuff like "Mama's Boy," the stand-out in the hour-plus long set, a track that recalls both "Private Eyes" and the Beach Boys' "Darlin'."

Elsewhere, they sounded like Prince (circa "1999") by way of Daft Punk, their most immediate influence, though songs like "Sexy Socialite" are more "Lady Cab Driver" than "Lucky."

And "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" turned the parking lot in the hills above the theater into a wild dance floor (see my photo). The most enthusiasm I've seen for an EDM group since Disclosure's show a couple year's ago. (Trip-hoppers Portishead and Massive Attack are starting to look like founding pioneers of this sort of thing, though Chromeo is more danceable and less experimental/atmospheric.)

Opening was a very impressive Los Angeles trio, The Glitch Mob, which uses the bass more radically than any band since -- I don't know, Rapture? Their sound is based on a bass assault that seems like it could cause structural damage to a building. Even in the hills above the theater, where I heard the show, it was wildly loud. Which created excitement. (They oughta send the Glitch Mob to Ramadi -- they'd level the place!)

The highlight was a re-imagining of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" that took the verse bass-line and multiplied it by a hundred. One of the most inventive live covers I've heard since the Dresden Dolls did Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" in '07 (that one, my friends, is a wonder to behold).

Kicking off the whole concert was the intermittently entertaining Com Truise (a play on the name Tom Cruise, btw).


Last Night's Tedeschi Trucks Show in Berkeley.

I heard the Tedeschi Trucks Band perform last night in Berkeley. By the third song, "Do I Look Worried," I was thinking...Derek Trucks is an astonishing guitarist, perhaps the best rock axeman under 50, in many ways the equal of Duane Allman (who used to play in Derek's uncle's group, The Allman Brothers Band, btw).

His outro riffing on "Do I Look Worried" was almost out of control, yet fully in control, veering into a wild orbit.

The band went on this way for around 95 minutes, with lots of exquisitely crafted and sometimes inspired stuff. Clearly, the "Layla (and Other Love Songs)"/"Eat a Peach" aesthetic is so deeply embedded in Trucks that he can knock out such leads with off-hand ease.

After a nice "Angel From Montgomery"/"Sugaree," the band briefly went into the riff at the end of Zep's "What Is and What Should Never Be" (or was it the opening bit of Derek and the Dominoes "Keep on Growing"?), which should have gone long but didn't.

This band's sound doesn't seem to be transferring to new generations. There were no student-age fans watching from the hills (where I heard the show) on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. The last time no student-age people listened outside this open-air theater was when Bonnie Raitt performed here a few years ago.

And you cannot say the same thing about recent shows by Grateful Dead spin-off bands Furthur and Phil Lesh & Friends; fans under-21 swarmed the hills above the theater for both of those gigs.

I guess baby-boomer-era white blues along the lines of Bonnie Raitt seems old-fashioned to young people today; the blues, a formal idiom, has always been notable for its passion, not for its innovation, and when it's removed from its cultural/temporal context, it scans as a bit dim and repetitive to the new generation.

As opposed to the Grateful Dead's material, which (like the Beatles oeuvre) has always been full of fresh and new ideas. (But I digress.)

Opening the show was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, who pleased much of the crowd, though I thought their set was an unimaginative collection of soul clichés. She and her band have that retro sound down, no doubt, but they need original ideas to make it work.


My Unpublished Interview with Wire, Now On Tour (Again)

I interviewed all the founding members of Wire in March 1987 in New York and just recently re-listened to the tape of that conversation. Present were me, my tape recorder, Colin Newman, Bruce Gilbert, Graham Lewis, Robert Gotobed and no one else. Unpublished (except for a few lines that I used for an article on the band in '87). Here's part of that Q&A:

Paul Iorio: Wire was really one of the seminal punk-era bands and influenced the punk movement –

Colin Newman: No, we didn’t.

Iorio: You did not, really? Everyone is telling me you were extremely influential –

Newman: This is something to do with American perceptions, not British perceptions. Had you been in London in 1976, you would have witnessed the emergence of the Sex Pistols, the Clash –

[Graham Lewis walks into the room.]

Iorio: Hi, Graham. I’m Paul. [Graham nods.]

Newman: -- and Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Damned. They all existed prior to us. And they took their influences from American music of that time, the Ramones and Patti Smith, who were very influential. And we came along after that. There was some sort of idea that was starting to sink into the general populace that what the world needed was another ten Sex Pistols and another hundred Clashes. As far as we were concerned, the world certainly didn’t need that, whatever the relative merits of those groups…

The people we immediately influenced were the northern synthesizer groups. Which is funny because we weren’t using synthesizers at that time. But they felt common cause with us. I suppose you could say, Cabaret Voltaire, early Human League: those kinds of people found common cause with us. We didn’t necessarily see that, but they found us to be kindred spirits. We were in the south and they were in the north.

The main punkers were London groups. Even if they didn’t actually come from London as individuals, they were very much London groups. Although we lived in London, we weren’t really a London group.

Graham Lewis: We played in the same places [as the punks].

Robert Gotobed: And you’ve got to say the Buzzcocks, as well, from Manchester –

Newman: Yeah, the Buzzcocks were an interesting case because they had a different viewpoint: they were a northern group and they were earlier than the Clash, certainly not earlier than the Sex Pistols. And they had their own kind of lyricism…

Lewis: We all played in the same places; there were so few places that you could actually get to play. Really limited. You could get to play – what? – once every six weeks, if you’re lucky. That was when it was going well.

Newman: When the punk thing did become somewhat more popular, it gave the opportunity to play in places [who hired musicians] who weren’t necessarily going to play “Johnny B. Goode” in front of people. [New] ideas rather than hackneyed entertainment.

Lewis: ‘Cause it was all pub rock. Sort of like second-rate r&b.

Iorio: Why in America are you [wrongly] considered one of the influential groups of punk?

Lewis: ….The common attitude among [the punks and us] was that we wanted to do original material of your own. When we started, we were similar to the Buzzcocks and other people in that we had very limited skills, or no skills at all, apart from a desire to make something of your own. So we started off by making a noise for quite a long time. And then you get bored with that. Then you start structuring that noise around. I suppose the way we have that association is, say, the “Live at the Roxy” album. We were around the same time, we played that club….So we were around. But we weren’t part of that punk scene, ‘cause it was a very short-lived thing. As far as we were concerned, it was a few weeks in 1976…There are other people: I suppose The Jam are considered to be punk –

Newman: Yeah, they came a bit later, too.

Lewis: They came a bit later. We all played at the same time.

Gotobed: No, they were contemporaries. They started at the same time as The Clash and the Damned.

Lewis: I think in fact that is not true. Because they’d been playing social clubs and things, playing r&b music for a while before that time.

Bruce Gilbert: Very stripped down….

Newman: …..Historically, you see, what actually happened was that Patti Smith came to London in ’76. I suspect that a large number of people who turned up in London punk groups were at that concert. And there was also the release of the first Ramones album and also you had Jonathan Richman, who was kind of 1975.

Lewis: And The New York Dolls.

Newman: And the Dolls had a resurgence. What happened was The Ramones and the Talking Heads and Patti Smith, they were finding an audience in London, not in America. First of all. I remember when The Talking Heads first came, in 1977, they were supporting The Ramones. Everyone came to see the Talking Heads, they had heard about this group. Had Television come at that point, there would have been the same interest. They were playing very small clubs in New York, but in London, there were a lot of people interested in what they were doing.

I think what’s happening now, in 1987, in the early to mid-eighties there was the hardcore revival on the west coast of America. The hardcore groups looked more toward the English punk groups than they did the Americans. Because the Ramones have still never really made it big here.

…Basically, what the Ramones were doing is they took all the melodic structure out of the three chord bash and just reduced it to the three chord bash, with the words as simple as possible, with no long flowery phrases. That iea of stripping down to the absolute bare. In hindsight, what we did, was take it one stage further and just rubbish that whole history. It is not in awe of what went on in the past

Gotobed:…To take that history one stage further, then what happened was the biggest step taken by anyone was in America, taken by The Residents, which just said total fuck to [current] music. I remember playing to all the people in the group their version of “Satisfaction” in 1978 and they went, “Wahhhhh!” They finished off rock music. Rock music is not relevant since The Residents.

Newman: I was thinking, also, in ’78, we were hearing things like Devo and Pere Ubu and I thought we have more in common in that way.

Iorio: …How do you actually come up with your songs? Is it, you write the lyrics, you write the music?

Lewis: It’s not that way, really. At times it’s been that way. At other times, I’ve written complete things, Colin’s written complete things, Bruce has written complete things. I’ve written things in collaboration with Bruce, Colin’s written things in collaboration with Bruce. And maybe mixtures of things, as well. It’s not necessarily a traditional partnership. And I also think it’s in the way the group arranged the material.


Reflections on Marilyn Monroe, On her 89th Birthday.

Marilyn Monroe would have turned 89 last week, meaning, had she lived, she’d now be seven years younger than Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who is still alive and active. She didn’t even live long enough to see the Beatles, much less the Internet, for crissakes.

What can I say about her that hasn’t been said before? That the pickings are slim after “Some Like It Hot” and Bus Stop.” That her acting had a very limited range, her dancing was undisciplined and her breathy seductive voice was so unvaried that you sometimes wish she’d knock it off and talk natural. (To the modern ear, she now sounds a bit like Sue Ann Nivens, the blonde bimba on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”)

That said…she looked as magnificent as any woman ever has, particularly after 1960, when she wore her hair in a more natural style.

Even so, there are lots of stinkers in her oeuvre. “Don’t Bother to Knock”? Don’t bother. (Though Hitchcock did bother to nick a substantial bit of it for “Rear Window.”) “There’s No Business Like Show Business”? That one had no business being made. “The Seven Year Itch”? So boring, it seems like it lasts seven years.

The only truly underrated Monroe film is “Niagra,” an edge-of-the-seat thriller in the last half, though, frankly, it’s best after Monroe’s character is murdered.

Monroe herself was damaged goods from the git. Anyone perceptive about human beings can see she had all the classic behavioral characteristics of someone who was sexually abused in childhood (and, coming from foster homes, she likely was). Watch her closely and you’ll see she gets notably tense when she’s touched and she has the kind of personality that resolves every issue with seduction.

And, even in her twenties, she had that not-present quality of someone trying to shake off last night’s sleeping pills.

All told, a sad tale. At 36, with her husband gone, she got fired from the film she was working on and decided to take an extra-long sleep this time. Wish she could’ve been saved, but it’s hard to save someone whose damage is so deep-seated.



for May 22, 2015

The Huffington Post has just published my previously-unpublished exclusive interview with the late Roy Scheider on "Jaws," which turns 40 next month. Read it here:



"Jaws" at Forty...

An Unpublished Interview with Roy Scheider on "Jaws."

Roy Scheider, visited by a Great White on the Orca in "Jaws." [photo by Paul Iorio]

Forty years ago next month, the summer movie blockbuster was born.

And its name, at birth, was “Jaws,” released June 20, 1975, in an at-the-time jaw-dropping number of theaters, expanding from 409 to 675 screens for a mega-premiere made possible by the proliferation of malls and multiplexes.

I was 17 years old and an usher at one of those multiplexes – the University Square Mall theaters in the suburbs of Tampa, Florida – on the opening day of “Jaws.”

Huge event. Had to get to work early to deal with the crowds. Had to get a fellow usher to clean the vomit off some front row seats after an audience member threw up when Robert Shaw’s character spit blood near the end.

The theater was packed and there was shrieking and general terror that day. Truly, the successor to “The Birds” and “Psycho” had arrived.

Many years later, as a journalist, I interviewed some of the stars of the film, among them the late Roy Scheider, who so memorably played the role of police chief Martin Brody and uttered one of the most memorable lines in the film: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

I telephoned Scheider – who died in 2008 at age 75 -- on May 15, 2000, for a 25th anniversary piece on the film (though no publication had yet formally assigned me to do such an article). I eventually sold it to The San Francisco Chronicle, which published it on May 28, 2000. Here’s a link to that story: http://jawsbyiorio.blogspot.com

But I used only 150 words of my audiotaped conversation with Scheider, fresh off a career uptick that included roles in “The Rainmaker,” “The Myth of Fingerprints” and “RKO 281.” The rest of the Q&A has never been published or posted anywhere.

So, here, for the first time, is a transcript of my exclusive Q&A with Scheider on “Jaws,” director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley, co-scripted by Carl Gottlieb (and Benchley) and starring Scheider, Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss.

Paul Iorio: I heard that [other actors] were vying for the part of Chief Brody in “Jaws”?

Roy Scheider: Well, if that was so, I didn’t know anything about it. I got a call from Steven Spielberg and he thought it was a good idea to have a city type of guy put into that ocean community. And he had seen “The French Connection” and remembered my performance and thought that would be the kind of guy he wanted to put into Amity.

Iorio: Right, kind of displaced –

Scheider: A fish out of water, if you’ll excuse the expression! [laughs]

Iorio: An apt way of putting it! So, you’re trying to assimilate in this seaside community.

Scheider: He’s a guy who doesn’t understand the community, is afraid of water, the least likely hero, and that makes him the everyman…

Iorio: How was it that you and Steven Spielberg were able to create this character?

Scheider: Well, a very fortuitous thing happened on that film: the shark didn’t work! And that left us with weeks and weeks and weeks to shoot, polish, to improvise, to discuss, to enrich, to develop, to experiment with all the other [non-shark] scenes that, in a movie like that, would usually get a cursory treatment.

What happened was, [Robert] Shaw, [Richard] Dreyfuss and Scheider turned into a little rep company. And all those scenes, instead of just pushing the plot along, became golden in developing the characters. So when the crisis came, you really cared about those three guys. And as wonderful as [Peter] Benchley’s book was, those characters were not that likeable in the novel.

Iorio: They were very different in the book.

Scheider: Yes, yes. With all my problems, my character was a cuckold as well!

Iorio: Because Hooper had an affair –

Scheider: Yes, yes!

Iorio: [The adultery sub-plot] was jettisoned after a time. And then you did the legendary 159 day shoot --

Scheider: You had a very talented, imaginative, young director and three very fine actors who were quite suited for what they were playing.

Iorio: What about the classic sequence that begins with the scar comparing –

Scheider: In the script, that was just Shaw showing his scars from the U.S.S. –

Iorio: Indianapolis.

Scheider: That sank. And that he was the victim of a shark. But I and Dreyfuss couldn’t take anything too seriously, so we had our way with that! [laughs] We don’t want this to get too heavy, now, do we? [laughs heartily] Like everything starts off as a joke. And then the director says, “Wait a minute, we can do that, we’ll use that!”

I remember one night we were having dinner up at Steven [Spielberg]’s cabin and we’d all have dinner up there and sit around the table and bullshit. And then we talked about the scene when we first fight the shark. We’re running around the boat and the Dreyfuss character is trying to get a picture of it.

Someone said [at the dinner table], you tell me to go out there to end of the boat. And I’ll say, “What for?” And he’ll say, “Just go out there, just go out there…so I can get a picture so I can see how small you are and what size the shark is.”

Iorio: [quoting from the movie] “Foreground my ass!”

Scheider: [roaring with laughter] And I go, “Fuck you, I’m not doing that.” That’s the playful nonsense that went on.

"Foreground my ass!" shouts Brody to Hooper, who wants him to pose with the shark. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Iorio: What about the Indianapolis scene? I hear that [Robert] Shaw was drunk –

Scheider: There was no reference to [the Indianapolis] in the original script. But Spielberg’s friend, director John Milius, was shocked to find out that Steven didn’t know about the boat that delivered the bomb. And the story of the 300 some odd guys who stayed in the water [and were eaten by sharks]. So he had Milius write up something, then Carl [Gottlieb] wrote up something and then Shaw contributed something. And then everyone else contributed a few lines. My line was that sharks had “the doll-like eyes.”

Iorio: That was yours?

Scheider: Yes, that was my contribution. And Robert [Shaw] was an alcoholic and he had to be watched on certain days. And that’s a very difficult [monologue] that Shaw gives. And there are sections of that speech where he’s absolutely ripped. Shot over a period of two or three days.

Iorio: You have one of the most memorable lines that absolutely brings down the house: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Scheider: That was in the script. The first time he sees the shark…But I liked the line so much, it amused me so much, that I said, “I bet I could work this in in a few other places.” So I worked it in two more times.

Iorio: [Carl] Gottlieb told me that you improvised that line.

Scheider: I don’t know if I did or not. I might have. I’d have to check the original script. It seems so long ago now.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat," Brody says after glimpsing the mega-shark. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Iorio: Yeah, it was 25 years ago. What kinds of things did Steven Spielberg tell you to direct you –

Scheider: For instance, he had a plan of how he wanted these characters to develop. And every aggressive and macho impulse I had for my character, he would grab me and pull me back and say, “No, no, don’t talk that way, don’t step forward like that, you are always afraid. Just Mr. Humble, all the time.”

[Spielberg] would say, “Because here’s what we want to do, which is gradually, slowly, carefully, humorously build this guy into being the hero of the movie.” And I’m sure he spoke the same way to Dreyfuss and Shaw. For instance, we would build Shaw from this crazy lunatic to a guy with a real reason to hate sharks. And, of course, he would wind up in the mouth of one. So that all the ironies would work.

Iorio: What about the one point during the scar-comparing when you lift up your shirt –

Scheider: That was my improv. I said, here are these two guys showing huge scars and what’ve I got? There’s a little tiny appendix scar.

Iorio: During the shoot, there was a lot of talk that this movie was going to tank.

Scheider: It’s not that it was going to tank, but that it was going to get pulled because it was costing too much money. Back in those days, if you went over $10 million dollars – wow! It was a big deal. That was ’74.

Iorio: And this was like $12 mil –

Scheider: And after months of preparation and the shark not working, we got to that figure pretty quickly. Even so, I don’t think the picture went over $12 [million]….The threat that was hanging over Steven’s head all the time was that he was going to have his picture taken away from him.

Iorio: Was there one point where you felt, this is really taking off…this is really something special?

Scheider: …I remember one day, they pulled the damn thing [shark] out and put it on the cables and ran it past the boat and it was as long as the boat and I said, “Oh, my god, that looks great.” I remember that day. We all probably lit cigars!

Scheider (l) and Carl Gottlieb (far right), who co-wrote the "Jaws" screenplay and also appeared as an aide to the mayor (center, played by Murray Hamilton). [photo by Paul Iorio] .



for May 12, 2015

Finally got around to seeing “Fast and Furious 7” last night. A first-class action flick. A gourmet popcorn movie. Sort of like Grindhouse meets Don Siegel meets “Foxy Brown”-style blaxploitation meets the movies John Woo made in Hong Kong.

And Vin Diesel has evolved into the new Burt Reynolds here. Kurt Russell, aging extremely well, is terrific in his star turn.

The action imagery is fresh at every turn: a car chase through a cemetery; a car speeding from a skyscraper’s upper floor window into a nearby skyscraper; vehicles being driven off of an airplane at 15,000 feet or so; etc.

And the finale, a touching goodbye to Paul Walker, hit all the right notes, got me a bit choked up, frankly. Well done.



Paul on "Wild"

I confess I've never had a desire to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Seems to me to be an invitation to the emergency room at a hospital. The romantic myth of living in a natural state the way our pre-historic ancestors did has always ignored the fact that our ancient ancestors also had a life expectancy of around 20 years or so. Which is the life expectancy you return to if you throw yourself open to the elements.

The elements are not healthy or safe. Natural water can dehydrate you, fatally. The deer have ticks that will give you Lyme. The wild animals will treat you like lunch, if they are hungry. And one night in a tent will leave you scratching and properly appreciating the invention of the toilet.

And that's why I did not identify with the main character in the movie "Wild," which I finally saw a couple days ago.

Don't get me wrong. I love the work of Reese Witherspoon. Recently re-watched "Election" and just marveled at how she could so convincingly play a high school student. And whenever I think of June Carter Cash these days, I think of her definitive portrayal in "Walk the Line."

But sympathy for and empathy with her character in "Wild" is diminished by the fact that there was no good reason for her to put herself in harm's way. Her trust in predatory animals and strangers was naïve, misplaced.

I kept thinking back to my teen years, when I back-packed it through the Iron Curtain and into Istanbul, traveling all alone by local train. Sure, I put myself at risk doing that on an American passport. But the gain was worth it; I got to glimpse life behind the Iron Curtain, which few Americans ever got to see and which nobody can experience now. It's worth the risk if the experience is rare or super-pleasurable.

But what do you see if you hike the Pacific Crest Trail? Scrub land that is not far from a highway? Mountains that are less breathtaking than Shasta, which can be experienced without risking quadriplegia?

The movie itself is sort of like Witherspoon's "Castaway" and would have been as good if her character had been forced (by, say, an airplane crash) into the wild, giving her a compelling reason to be there in treacherous territory. But when a character in a movie is needlessly and willingly putting herself in peril -- in a plot that meanders as aimlessly as she does, by the way -- one can only think, she's asking for whatever snake she meets up with.



for May 2, 2015

Last night at the Greek in Berkeley, the Decemberists played one of the best shows I've seen in recent years. Wildly enjoyable stuff.

The stunner was a generous helping of "Hazards of Love," featuring the consecutive “The Hazards of Love 1”/”A Bower Scene”/”Won’t Want for Love” (contrasted dramatically with “The Rake’s Song”) in an extended sequence that was almost like Traffic meets Jethro Tull meets Black Sabbath, recalling the sorts of lengthy tracks that boomers like me used to listen to endlessly in the leisure of youth.

But the songs from the latest album – “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World” – were among the best, particularly “The Wrong Year,” which magnificently conjured the heyday of prog-folk. On this one, the band sounded proudly influenced by "Thick as a Brick" and fully able to replicate the elements that made that album great.

New tracks also started the set, though the group wasted no time in getting to a couple gems from "The King is Dead," arguably their most popular album. First came “Down by the Water,” which had the force of a classic.

Then Colin Meloy intro’d the next song by explaining its origins.

"It started out as a very practical song, which songs very rarely are,” he said drolly. “...But this one actually served a purpose, it was a song in desperation trying to get my kid to eat his breakfast...This is how it started out."

"Hank, eat your oatmeal,” he sang. Oh, Hank, eat your oatmeal." There is a very familiar melodic "ah ooooo!,” which the crowd immediately recognized and cheered as the band morphed it into the band's best track, "Calamity Song," its R.E.M.-ish riff ringing out crisply into the hills above the theater (where I heard the show),

"I believe, California succumbed to to the faultline," he sang to the golden State crowd – adding a"sorry" just for them – which the crowd loved, of course! Then on to that second verse, which took off like a sports car on a straightaway.

Meloy -- sounding alternately like Jeff Tweedy, Ben Gibbard, Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Stipe -- also has a wonderful sense of humor.

That was very apparent in the band's finale, the funny "The Mariner's Revenge,” which had everyone in the audience (that I saw) swaying back and forth like they were sailors singing a sea shanty. Even in the hills above the theater (where I heard it), people were singing along and having loads of fun with this tale about being swallowed by a whale.

Everyone left the theater smiling, having had a blast.

Opening was Lucius, who left me thinking: I have heard the future of pop and it is Lucius!

They were that great! Have you heard them yet? Do so. It's a siren sound you will not be able to resist. This band has the potential to become as huge as Fleetwood Mac or Abba, both of whom they resemble, in the next decade. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laesig have a unison vocal style that sounds full like a natural overdub and its effect is magical, almost erotic.

Taking the stage prior to the announced start time, Jess Wolfe was clearly jazzed by the crowd response to "Go Home."

"Berkeley!," said Wolfe exuberantly. "A total dream to be here right now. I'm a California girl."

And then she and the band proceeded to knock everyone out with "Don't Just Sit There," the high point of the set, an astonishing track that felt like Christine McVie had taken the stage and was singing with Christine McVie. Unbelievable.

Unfortunately, anyone who arrived on time missed it. But there was more to come.

Great stuff like "How Loud Your Heart Gets" and a new track, reminiscent of the Indigo Girls, with the lyric "Everyone's around right now and I'm still alone."

Then a cover of We Five's "You Were on My Mind" and the set closer "Genevieve," sort of like Linda McCartney with a punkish streak.

All told, magnificent. They're gonna hit like a tsunami and soon.



for May 1, 2015

The Huffington Post just published my story on "The Purge," the movie of the moment in the wake of the Baltimore riots. Read it here:
 Paul on "The Purge" -- in The Huffington Post.



for April 28, 2015

Scene from "The Purge." [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

James DeMonaco’s “The Purge” has become something like the movie of the moment, after having been championed by some of the rioters in Baltimore as their inspiration and quasi-blueprint.

The premise sort of resembles the real-life riots that have been occurring in the U.S. after almost every grievance when it seems there’s a freebie night where people are allowed to loot and pillage – and are given “room to destroy” -- with virtual impunity.

In the film, released in 2013, almost all crimes are legalized for one half-day every year. The theory is that this gets the criminal impulses out of their system so that everyone is full of positive energy for the rest of the year. So it’s both a dystopian AND utopian vision of the 2020s.

But they didn’t really mine the gold of the premise and could have easily added another 20 minutes to the film, showing a wider angle of how Purge night plays out throughout America. They could have had real fun with the concept.

Instead it focuses narrowly on one household and comes off more like “The Panic Room” than “A Clockwork Orange,” to which it clearly aspires. Much of it resembles a Liam Neeson movie in the “Taken” mold, with Ethan Hawke playing the lead.

Still, suspenseful and worth seeing – and more timely than ever.

There is also a sequel, "The Purge: Anarchy," released last year and featuring an almost completely different cast. And there's reportedly a feature film prequel in the works.

"The Purge" is widely available for streaming across multiple online platforms.

"The Purge" makes novel use of security camera-style footage and creepy-looking masks. [photo credit: Paul Iorio]

The movie of the moment!



for April 21, 2015

The Huffington Post has just published my latest photography and blog, "Coachella Comes to Berkeley," in which I review three bands that played Berkeley hours and days after appearing at Coachella last week. (In the piece, I write about alt-J, the Alabama Shakes and Belle & Sebastian, as well as four opening acts.)
Paul's latest blog for The Huffington Post.


The greatest college radio station on the planet -- KALX -- aired my new song "Hey, Absolutamente!" last night. Thanks to DJ Marshall Stax and KALX for airing it on the Next Big Thing!

For those who missed it, here's the video for "Hey, Absolutamente" (dedicated to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre).




for April 20, 2015

When a video goes from eight views to over 400 views overnight, it sort of gets your attention. That's what just happened to my recent song "Planet Full of Women' -- with zero promotion, too!

It's based on the cheesy sci-fi premise that only one man is left on Earth on a planet full of women after all the other men are wiped out by a virus. (Oh, the dating possibilities!) Hear it here:

AMENDMENT: No wonder it spiked in views! I just now found out that my pitch to Amy Pascal last fall -- to do a feature film based on "Planet Full of Woemn" -- was part of the Sony Pictures email trove that just got leaked by WikiLeaks! No joke. That's why I'm getting comments on YouTube from people saying, Hope it becomes a film! (Kim Jong un is the best publicist ever!!)



for April 19, 2015

Coachella Comes to Berkeley!
Fans dancing to Belle and Sebastian's “La Pastie de la Bourgeoisie" in Berkeley. [Photo credit: Paul Iorio.]

Hours and days after appearing at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, three major bands, in separate concerts, came to Berkeley to kick off the Greek Theater’s 2015 concert season.

With the dust of Indio still on their shoes, alt-J, Alabama Shakes and Belle and Sebastian brought their Coachella sets (and then some) to the Bay Area for the venue’s dazzling opening week.

Of the three, British group alt-J (performing on April 16 and 17) generated the most buzz. Redolent of Radiohead and Portishead, but sometimes playing material that seemed without precedent, alt-J has taken the sound that began with “OK Computer” to a whole new level.

And the fans, comprised mostly of a generation that has never known a world without Radiohead, sang along to every word of “Matilda” as if it were an anthem. And then they turned the hills above the theater (where I heard the show) and the parking lot below into dance floors as soon as they heard “Breezeblocks.”

There was such demand for tickets, by the way, that an extra show was added – and they probably could’ve added a third, judging by the mob outside the venue (where you could hear everything perfectly). But a third night would have conflicted with their second appearance at Coachella.

Alt-J started with a track from its latest album (“This is All Yours”) that kicked up a “Kid A” sort of ambience. Then a couple tracks from the first album, “An Awesome Wave.”

“This is a song called ‘Something Good,’” said lead vocalist Joe Newman, provoking the first of many loud cheers from the crowd.

That track was one of the highlights (and featured one of the most magical piano figures created in the Tens that I’ve heard).

Other high points were the eccentric a cappella number “Ripe and Ruin” and “Taro,” which almost had “Baba O’Riley” intensity.

But the band saved the best for last with “The Gospel of John Hurt,” a hypnotic stand-out from the new album; and “Breezeblocks,” embraced by the crowd as if it were a classic.

Five nights earlier, on April 11, the Alabama Shakes, in the Greek season kick-off, performed the best modern soul I've heard in concert since Mayer Hawthorne opened for Foster the People at the same venue a few years ago.

When Brittany Howard belts it, you can almost believe Otis Redding or Janis Joplin, informed by the innovations that followed, has come to life in 2015. It's almost as if she's constantly on the verge of breaking into "Try a Littler Tenderness," or "Cry Baby," or a Rascals classic. .

And the new stuff, previewed here and set for release this month, is some of the strongest. Encore "Don't Wanna Fight," released in February, was particularly impressive, instantly seductive.

But, for me, the highlight was the rarely played (on this tour) "Hang Loose," which hit a fresh CCR-ish groove that got everybody going (even in the hills above the theater where I heard the show).

All told, they started strong, finished hot, but sagged a bit in the middle.

The next night, Belle and Sebastian, fresh from Indio, played a fabulous set (4/12). Frontman Stuart Murdoch was jazzed, charged, chatty, in rare form -- and in a decidedly Bay Area mood.

“We wanted to play the national anthem at the opening game,” Murdoch said playfully, referring to the San Francisco Giants’ home opener the next night in S.F. The crowd cheered. “…We were ready to sing the 'Banner.'”

Then, barely audibly, a cappella, Stuart took the mike and sang the lyrics that launched an indie juggernaut: “Make a new cult every day to suit your affairs....”

That led into the greatest “Stars of Track and Field” I’ve ever heard, complete with a brilliant horn solo that resounded way into the hills above the theater.

To think: that breakthrough track -- rarely played in concert, so it was a real treat -- is now almost 20 years old. I remember hearing it for the very first time on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” show around Thanksgiving 1996. I immediately walked down Sunset Blvd. to the nearest record store, where I plunked down the better part of twenty for “If You’re Feeling Sinister,” a CD I still own and listen to. At the time, it felt like a new Ray Davies had arrived.

And it sort of still feels that way. The set here was packed with wonderful melodic gems. Highlights included the new single “Party Line,” which got everyone going, “Dirty Dream Number Two,” “The Power of Three,” “Sukie in the Graveyard,” and encore “La Pastie de la Bourgeoisie.” Frankly, there wasn’t a slack spot.

At set’s end, Murdoch seemed taken aback a bit by the enthusiasm of the crowd. “It’s so funny, we [scheduled] this around Coachella, but this is the one, isn’t it?” Huge applause.

There were finds among the five opening acts at the three shows, too. The best of the bunch was New Jersey band Real Estate, who, at their best, hit a sweet spot where the Feelies, Death Cab for Cutie and the Grateful Dead intersect.

The other openings acts were Neko Case (whose band is sounding more like Blondie these days); an enjoyable London funk/soul group called Jungle; the interesting Perfume Genius (a.k.a. Mike Hadreas); and San Francisco’s Tycho (who I missed).

(I should reiterate that I heard the concerts from the hills above the theater, where sightlines are limited, but the audio is loud and clear!)



for April 17, 2015

[this is my original report, reiterated above, about the alt-J show.]

Between Coachella weekends, and its appearances there, Atl-J played Berkeley last night (and will again tonight) in a dazzler that came close to the live peaks of Radiohead.

Redolent of R-head and Portishead, but sometimes playing material that seemed without precedent, Alt-J has taken the sound that began with “OK Computer” to a whole new level.

And the fans, a generation that has never known a world without Radiohead, sang along to every word of “Matilda” as if it were an anthem. And then they turned the hills above the theater (where I heard the show) and the parking lot below into dance floors as soon as they heard “Breezeblocks.”

There was such demand for tickets, by the way, that an extra show was added – and they probably could’ve added a third, judging by the mob outside the venue (where you could hear everything perfectly). But a third night would have conflicted with their second weekend appearance at Coachella.

Gig started with a track from the new album that kicked up a “Kid A” sort of ambience. Then a couple tracks from the first album.

“This is a song called ‘Something Good,’” said lead vocalist Joe Newman, provoking the first of many loud cheers from the crowd.

That track was one of the highlights (and featured one of the most magical piano figures created in the Tens that I’ve heard).

Other high points were the eccentric a cappella number “Ripe and Ruin” and “Taro,” which almost had “Baba O’Riley” intensity.

But the band saved the best for last with “The Gospel of John Hurt,” a hypnotic stand-out from the new album; and “Breezeblocks,” embraced by the crowd as if it were a classic.

Opening was London soul/funk group Jungle, who played an enjoyable set.


Overheard on the way back from last night's Alt-J show at the Greek:

“Remember that episode of ‘South Park’ where Cartman gets to have his own theme park?”

(Gotta love Berkeley!)



for April 13, 2015

[this is my original report, reiterated above, about the Belle and Sebastian show.]

Having wowed Coachella the previous day, Belle and Sebastian played a fabulous show at the Greek in Berkeley last night.

Frontman Stuart Murdoch was jazzed, charged, chatty, in rare form -- and in a decidedly Bay Area mood.

“We wanted to play the national anthem at the opening game,” Murdoch said playfully, referring to the Giants home opener tonight in San Francisco. The crowd cheered. “…We were ready to sing the 'Banner.'”

Then, barely audibly, a cappella, Stuart took the mike and sang the lyrics that launched an indie juggernaut: “Make a new cult every day to suit your affairs....”

That led into the greatest “Stars of Track and Field” I’ve ever heard, complete with a brilliant horn solo that resounded way into the hills above the theater (where I heard the show).

To think: that breakthrough track -- rarely played in concert, so it was a real treat -- is now almost 20 years old. I remember hearing it for the very first time on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” show around Thanksgiving 1996. I immediately walked down Sunset to the nearest record store, where I plunked down the better part of twenty for “If You’re Feeling Sinister,” a CD I still own and listen to. At the time, it felt like a new Ray Davies had arrived.

And it sort of still feels that way. The set here was packed with wonderful melodic gems. Highlights included the new single “Party Line,” which got everyone going, “Dirty Dream Number Two,” “The Power of Three,” “Sukie in the Graveyard,” and encore “La Pastie de la Bourgeoisie.” Frankly, there wasn’t a slack spot.

At set’s end, Murdoch seemed taken aback a bit by the enthusiasm of the crowd. “It’s so funny, we [scheduled] this around Coachella, but this is the one, isn’t it?” Huge applause.

Opening acts were good, too. Jersey band Real Estate, at their best, hit a sweet spot where the Feelies, Death Cab for Cutie and the Grateful Dead intersect. They opened with an unidentified song that was a real winner.

And kicking off the whole thing was Perfume Genius, aka Mike Hadreas, who’ll likely develop into something special in the future.

Here's a photo I shot of fans dancing to Belle and Sebastian's “La Pastie de la Bourgeoisie."

photo credit: Paul Iorio.



for April 12, 2015

[this is my original report, reiterated above, about the Alabama Shakes show.]

I heard the Alabama Shakes, fresh from Coachella, perform last night at the Greek in Berkeley. The best modern soul band I've heard in concert since Mayer Hawthorne opened for Foster the People at the same venue a few years ago.

When Brittany Howard belts it, you can almost believe Otis Redding or Janis Joplin, informed by the innovations that followed, has come to life in 2015. It's almost as if she's constantly on the verge of breaking into "Try a Littler Tenderness," or "Cry Baby," or a Rascals classic. .

And the new stuff, previewed here and set for release in a couple weeks, is some of the strongest. Encore "Don't Wanna Fight," released in February, was particularly impressive, instantly seductive.

But, for me, the highlight was the rarely played (on this tour) "Hang Loose," which hit a fresh CCR groove that got everybody going (even in the hills above the theater where I heard the show).

All told, they started strong, finished hot, but sagged a bit in the middle.

Opening the show was Neko Case, whose band sounds a lot more like Blondie than it did when I saw her last in 2007.

It was great, by the way, to get up in those hills in the brisk breeze and hear some primo music in the open air. As you can see from this photo I shot, even the deer, ubiquitous in populated areas in this drought, seemed to be in the spirit!

photo credit: Paul Iorio.



for April 3, 2015

Heath Ledger, as He REALLY Was.

Here is an unpublished interview I conducted with Ledger in 2000.

By Paul Iorio

2015-03-20-1426820650-759448-heath.jpgLedger in "The Dark Knight" [photo by Paul Iorio]

Had he survived, Heath Ledger would have turned 36 on April 4th - a milestone that, by many measures, marks the start of middle age (just Google "middle age 36"). It's hard to see Ledger that way, of course, because he died, in 2008, at age 28, so he remains forever young in the public mind.

I met Ledger and interviewed him in 2000 when he was all of 21, and it was clear even then that, for all his talents as an actor, he was troubled and somewhat unstable, influenced a bit too much, for better and for worse, by his volatile mentor (and fellow Aussie) Mel Gibson.

I've conducted countless interviews over the decades, but came away from only two thinking, This person is doomed. The first was Abbie Hoffman, a year and a half before his suicide; the second was Ledger, seven-and-a-half years before his death.

At times, Ledger talked in a speedy way and was tense and defensive in the manner of someone doing amphetamines. (Or perhaps he was just jacked up on too much caffeine.) He was apparently being overworked, shooting two movies at once while flying back from the Czech Republic to do this (and other) interviews for "The Patriot," which was about to be released in U.S. theaters.

I conducted this one-on-one Q&A on June 3, 2000, at a Beverly Hills hotel, years before he made such landmark films as "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Dark Knight." (At the time I was a freelance writer/reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle, which published only a fraction of the Q&A in '00; the rest has never been published or posted anywhere.)

Ledger was sometimes depressed-sounding, not always likable, not always making sense and prone to anger as I kept my tape recorder running. (And he managed to use the word "fuck" sixteen times, a record for anyone I've interviewed!) Here is a transcript.

Paul Iorio: ....In terms of some of the moral issues in ["The Patriot"]...some people will say, this is teaching kids to kill --

Heath Ledger: Well, they're all fuckin' idiots, because they let their kids watch fuckin' TV, they let their kids play computer games and rip heads off people. They're hypocrites. They're living amongst that. It's ridiculous.

If they're going to complain about that, let them, fuck 'em. Because, really, the world's so fuckin' full of shit and chaos right now it's not funny. I haven't watched TV in fuckin' years I don't have one, I have one only for movies, I have a DVD and video player. I don't hook it up to fuckin' cable, nothing. It's trash.

And if they think [my movie]'s trash, well, fuck, there's something wrong. The computer games and all that shit? That's ridiculous. They don't have to worry about this; they have to worry about their shit, that electronic nanny that they sit their kids down in front of so they don't have to worry about their kids. They don't have creative [things] for them to do and let them use their imagination and say, hey go outside and run around in the garden. No, stick 'em in front of here and you don't have to worry about them.

They can go fuck off. Fuck 'em. We're not teaching kids to do that, we're telling a story, that's all.

Iorio: I'm just anticipating what some people will say.

Ledger: Oh, they will. Oh, yeah, they will.

Iorio: It's pretty extreme, but it works in the context.

Ledger: It also shows the result of [the violence]. After the ambush thing, when they're in the bed, and [the Mel Gibson character] is putting his kids to sleep, they show the result of that, when Trevor Morgan's character said, "I killed him." And you see it in Mel's face, he knows that he created [murder] in [his son], he knows he sparked that off in [his son]....And when he goes to his other son, his other son can't look at [his father] because all of a sudden he sees his dad chopping and hacking this guy to pieces and he's been shooting people.

Iorio: He says, "I'm glad I killed him," one of the sons says.

Ledger: But he gave the yin and yang of the situation.

Iorio: Do you still live in Australia?

Ledger: No.

Iorio: Where do you live now?

Ledger: I was in the States for around two and a half years. I was in L.A. and then I packed up my stuff in L.A., closed down my home and went down to South Carolina to shoot "The Patriot."

After that, I had two months off, so I went and fucked off to New York, hung out there for a bit. And then I went straight from New York to Prague, went there for two months - that's where I'm shooting "A Knight's Tale." Then I've got eight days off to do all this [press] shit and then I go back [to Prague] and I've got another two months there. And then I get two weeks off and I go to Morocco for four months to do "Four Feathers."

[His starts sounding depressed.] That's why I really don't have a home right now. I'm living in bags. Which is kind of the way I've been for the past five years, kind of been on the road, living out of bags, which is good. I kind of prefer that right now.

Iorio: Where do you intend to live once the dust settles?

Ledger: I don't know. I don't look that far ahead in the future. I choose not to. If you live in the future or the past, you lose touch with the now, the present. I generally live every minute of every day in the present. I don't have a diary, I don't have a journal, I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow, I don't know what I'm doing after this. That's good. It keeps my life fresh and exciting.


Iorio: ....You seem to have a...great chemistry with Mel Gibson. Was that natural? Was that off the set, too?

Ledger: Yeah, yeah, yeah, he's such a gentleman, he's really easy to get along with, a really nice guy, straight down the line. Yeah, we were like buddies off set.

Iorio: Did you hang out with him, go out with him -

Ledger: Yeah, we went out.

Iorio: Where did you go?

Ledger: In Charleston, he'd come out with us and the crew and we'd have a few drinks...

Iorio: Now, you're from Perth, so [Gibson] is probably bigger in Australia than he is here.

Ledger: Yeah, [unintelligible].

Iorio: Had you met him before doing this movie?

Ledger: No.

Iorio: Were you like a huge fan of his before -

Ledger: Yeah.

Iorio: What were the movies that really impressed you growing up, of Mel Gibson's?

Ledger: Uh, "Living Dangerously," "Mad Max," "Braveheart" really struck something in me, "Hamlet," a really good "Hamlet"...Anything he touches, he brings something to it. Even like "Lethal Weapon," big action flicks....I just think him in general is such a role model to any Australian because he was the kind of the guy who bridged the gap between the two industries.

Iorio: With "Gallipoli," his first crossover.

Ledger: Yeah, I loved "Gallipoli." [He makes warlike sounds.]

Iorio: So, you're 21 now, right?

Ledger: Yeah.

Iorio: So with these kinds of influences you went to make this movie. What was it like on the set, in terms of Roland Emmerich and how he got the performance from you.

Ledger: General direction, basically. A lot of it was left up to instincts. Between the two - Roland and Dean [Devlin], they're a good pair, they work together - I guess his biggest direction to me was to relax, because when I turned up on the set I was nervous. It was the first time I'd worked for a while and I was with Mel Gibson on this big movie and all these added pressures and tis huge budget, so I was tense, I was nervous.

Iorio: But it doesn't show.

Ledger: [The nervousness] only lasted a week. I was put at ease straight away, especially with Mel, he [snaps his fingers] cut that right in half. Roland and Dean, very relaxed, it's a very relaxing set. For an epic drama of that scale, they kept it so chilled out. It was a breeze, really....

Iorio: How did you get the part?...

Ledger: My agent called me up and said, "You got the part."

Iorio: How did you get the audition?

Ledger: They were auditioning a bunch of kids and I just went in and read. Actually, the first reading I did was fucked. I went in there, I had two scenes prepared, I was halfway through the second scene and I dropped my head and said, "Sorry, I'm just wasting your time. I'm really embarrassed, god, I'm so sorry, I'm wasting your time."

Iorio: Really?!

Ledger: [I said] "Sorry, if you want me to come back, I'll come back and do it..." I put my head down and my tail between my legs.

Iorio: Well, that's no way to get the part! They must have said, "Forget him!" And then you came back?

Ledger: Then they called me back.

Iorio: They called you back even though you told - who?

Ledger: Roland and Dean --

Iorio: -- that "I can't handle this right now!"

Ledger: Yeah, it was just a lousy reading. I was just not there. And my morale was down.

Iorio: That should've ruled you out. I mean, there's so much competition that that seems it would've ruled you out.

Ledger: No, I got the part.

Iorio: You got the part, anyway. That's outrageous. Were you surprised?

Ledger: I was relieved.

Iorio: When did the gears started turning with the movie itself?...Because you die --

Ledger: It was shot sequentially.

Iorio: Really? In continuity?

Ledger: Yeah.

Iorio: That's not usually the way it's done.

Ledger: These days they're doing that quite often. They're doing that on the movie I'm doing now, actually.

Iorio: The movie "Four Feathers"?

Ledger: "A Knight's Tale."

Iorio: What about "Four Feathers"?

Ledger: I'm doing that after.

Iorio: Were you at the screening of "The Patriot" last night?

Ledger: Yeah, I snuck in.

Iorio: So you got to hear audience reaction and everything.

Ledger: I'm not too consumed with it.

Iorio: What was your opinion of it? What did you think?

Ledger: Oh, I loved it. Epic.

Iorio: It looks like it's going to be kind of a "Braveheart" type success story, about as big as that.

Ledger: I have no expectations for what the movie is going [to do].

[Ledger tries to light his Marlboro cigarette with a match, but the flame goes out. He strikes another match and lights it.]

Iorio: Second match, noted for the record. And smoking a Marlboro, he is. What is that movie in which you're not supposed to smoke? That's "Ten Things -"

Ledger: "...I Hate About You."

Iorio: Yeah. "Ten Things I Hate About You." That's right. There's a scene in there where she'll go out with you if you agree to quit smoking.

Ledger: Quit smoking....


Iorio: ...Which scenes [in "The Patriot"] did you actually like [most]?

Ledger: In terms of when I was performing?

Iorio: No, when you saw the film last night.

Ledger: Oh, OK. I loved the moment between he [sic] and the little girl. That was heartwarming. I really liked sitting around the fireplace with him when I asked him about Ft. Wilderness.

Iorio: Yeah, yeah!

Ledger: That was very nice. Because there was something about it where - it was kind of like at that point the son was teaching the father. And not by teaching him, but by pulling it out of him. And that's something that I think every child does to their parents. If they don't, then they haven't been brought up right.

Iorio: Is that the scene where you say to [Mel Gibson's character], "What made you change your mind?"

Ledger: No, but I really like that, also.

Iorio: This is the scene where [the dialogue] is "Stay the course."

Ledger: Yeah. This happened at Ft. Wilderness.


Iorio: ...Did the script that you agreed to do, did it change by the end of it?

Ledger: No...We were handed a pretty great script from the go. If you're handed a script that's like a B, you can shoot it to a B+, and then you can edit it to an A. If you're handed a script that's a C, it's a little harder to get it up to an A. We were very lucky; we got a very good script. So it's a lot easier to take it up there.

Iorio: In the battle scenes, what was it like [to shoot them]? Like the one where you were rescued. What kind of stuff went on there?

Ledger: ....Yeah, you feel like you're in a battle. That particular scene, I was tied up to the back of the car, so I didn't have a lot to do.

Iorio: Later in the movie, when you were about the stab the British officer. What was the atmosphere like?

Ledger: Just very professional. I'm there to do my job...

Iorio: But it's so vivid. Is it vivid for the actor, too, to be there?

Ledger: Yeah, it is, but it's funny: when you're in the middle of an action sequence, especially one like that, you've choreographed all these moves. And, so, as much as you're like there, you're still acting technically, 'cause you have to know when to block this off, otherwise you're going to get hit. And when to hit him, so you can block it.

You're lost amongst the fight, but you're also aware of what you're doing 100% because you have to be. You can't just lose it and hit the guy. Because you've got to have it the same every time they set up the shot, you've got to match it, so it's completely choreographed. And so you're completely aware of what you're doing, but at the same time you've got to act to make it look like you're not aware of what you're doing and you're not aware that a hit is going to come this way.

Iorio: Are there some moments when it goes awry and you do get hit by a sword or -

Ledger: Yeah, yeah.

Iorio: What do they use anyway?...Are they real swords?

Ledger: Yeah, they have plastic ones made up, in case there's a wider shot, just in case people get hit. But then they have metal ones when people get closer. But generally we used real guns to fight with; it's a lot easier. Because with the phony ones, it hits and the handle goes [he makes a boinggg sound].

Iorio: ...To be in [the scene in]...real time...

Ledger: Then you've got to remember that we're in it but we also shot that scene over three days.

[He talks in an unusually speedy way.] It's like all day, every day, so you're sitting around, waiting for the shot to get set up. then you're set up, you get ready and "OK, action!" and rrrrrrr!! Then they go, "Cut!" And you sit down and light up a cigarette. Blah blah. It's not like you're sitting around going, "I'm fuckin macho, I'm a brute and I'm gonna kill this fucker." If you did that all day, your head would be fuckin' fried. So you just fuckin' relax and when they call you up there, you go up there and do your job.

Iorio: So it's like half-hour spurts of activity?

Ledger: It's really, no, not even that. If the spurt is like five minutes at the most. And then they cut and might want to go straight to another one, or might want to change things or set up another shot. Roland was usually like rolling with six cameras. Set up six cameras for six different shots and run it through once. And then it was easier to cut it together so it all matched. Instead of setting it all up once for one camera for a wide shot an then doing it again - it might not match.

Iorio: Interesting. There're some people who work that way.

Ledger: I guess most people would work that way I they had the money. It's just too fucking expensive to have six cameras rolling. That's what it comes down to.


Iorio: What about "Four Feathers"? You are a military officer and you quit before a battle -

Ledger: Yeah, I hand in my resignation the night before we are sent off to fight in the Sudan. And I don't tell my friends. I've got my four best friends in the army with me, we're all from a long line of military families. And I go back to my fiancé and when I'm staying with her I receive three feathers from my best friends in the war. Except one friend doesn't send one to me.

And she asks what the feathers are for, and he explains that he quit the army and he says it's because I love you. And she says, Don't use me as an excuse and takes the ring off...My parents disown me, don't want to know me, I'm a coward la da da.

It all gets to me, I get very depressed and I want to kill myself. I end up deciding I'm going to take off on my own will to the Sudan and individually hand back the three
feathers to my friends and get them out of the war. And so I do and dress up as an Arab. It's an amazing script.

Iorio: It also must be about getting your name back, in a sense.

Ledger: No, that's on the surface. You can read that on the page. But it's deeper than that, it's beyond that. The director I'm working with is Shekhar Kapur who did "Elizabeth." He's very much an actor's director. And that's what we're delving into, we're going right underneath, sub-textually, right below the skin.


for March 22, 2015

I finally saw “The Theory of Everything” last night. Reminded me of 2013’s “The Sessions,” which shares some basic elements with “Theory,” namely: a profoundly disabled protagonist with a healthy unaffected brain and a somewhat enhanced ability to attract women.

But in the mawkish “Sessions,” the main character had no brilliance; “Theory” is about the great Stephen Hawking, a bona fide genius.

Hence, this film also aspires to the heights of “A Beautiful Mind” and “Shine,” which taught Hollywood that if you put an eccentric character in horn-rimmed glasses – voila! – he becomes Buddy Holly. And that gets you a wider audience than would normally be attracted to a film about a scientist.

Never mind that Hawking, being the genuine article, needs no such Holly-ization. Still, it helped the flick ride the brief romance in pop culture last year with “nerds,” before people remembered that they were the slide rule classmates in high school who went on to become tech support guys at corporations (and, for the record, did not become major rock stars, Holly and Elvis Costello nothwithstanding).

And they didn’t become Albert Einstein, who flunked tests the Mensa nerds passed. (Standardized tests tend to measure conventional intelligence, not the ability to think different.)

Anyway, the film is well worth seeing. Its ideas, at the intersection of physics and philosophy, are full of light.

Hawking’s theory of singularity is sort of a mathematical restatement of Sartrean nothingness. My own view is that the Big Bang may be proof that Darwin hit on a core truth: even nothingness evolves over time. And time, of course, is a metric invented by humans, who perceive the parts of existence rather than its unity; we experience a dynamite explosion as an 90-year event called a lifespan, rather than seeing it as the momentary unified blast that it actually is. The universe is one event. (Admittedly, I come at this from the angle of philosophy rather than from physics, though both seem to be expressing some of the same things.)

Anyway, see this film with closed captioning, because the dialogue becomes increasingly difficult to decipher as Hawking starts to lose his ability to speak, underlining how much Eddie Redmayne deserved to win his Oscar.


And here's my capsule review of "The Sessions," which I posted on Facebook on February 2, 2013:

Just saw "The Sessions." Way too mawkish. Some of it could almost pass for satire. (Though Helen Hunt does indeed resemble the dream of almost every man inside (and outside) an iron lung!) Maybe Fox can spin this off into a TV sit-com about an adorable guy in an iron lung and his romantic travails!



for March 11 - 16, 2015

Dick Gregory Defends the Word "Nigger"

The ugly racist chants by Oklahoma fraternity members have both rekindled revulsion to racial slurs and sparked a re-examination of when, if ever, it is appropriate to use the word “nigger.”

Obviously, context is everything. Some of the most progressive songs, movies and television shows of all time have featured the word (e.g., Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane,” the TV series “All in the Family,” Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” Richard Pryor’s comedy albums, Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," etc.).

It should be noted that not everybody in the progressive African-American community is against the use of the word nigger. In fact, one of the most prominent icons of black pop culture and activism, Dick Gregory, has vigorously defended "nigger," uses it liberally and has even put it in the title of at least two of his books.

In my exclusive (and completely unpublished) one-on-one interview with him, conducted on September 8, 2005, Gregory used the word 13 times.

And his defense of the word is novel and persuasive. First, he notes that the "n-word" and "nigger" are two separate words with completely different etymologies and origins. The "n-word," he claims, was born in the mid-1990s, during the first O.J. Simpson trial. "Nigger," of course, has been around for centuries.

"The word is nigger, nigger, nigger," said Gregory in the interview. "And if that bothers any of you black folks, then you need to go pray, cause there's some nigger down inside of you. Because if I say, 'All you ho's in this room, stand up.' Anybody [who] gets upset is a ho, 'cause I didn't call your name."

Gregory then took pains to distinguish the "n-word" from "nigger." "The 'n-word' is an insult," said Gregory. "...When white America invented the 'n-word,' it was during the O.J. Simpson trial. And they changed [nigger] to the n-word. Can you imagine the Germans, when they got so upset with Hitler and what the Nazis did to the Jews, they changed the word swastika to the s-word and concentration camp to the c-word?"

Gregory warns about the dangers of erasing elements of the historical record of seminal events. For instance, Gregory was with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on June 11, 1963, at the moment when President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard. And he wants the factual truth about that event preserved, with all its ugliness intact.

"I was standing with Dr. King one day," said Gregory. "We're all in line waiting for President Kennedy to sign an executive order at twelve noon. When that order was signed, he will federalize the National Guard. And we will go across. The head of the Alabama State Troopers, Al Lingo, looked at Dr. King, right in his face and said: 'Nigger, when that nigger-lovin' president signs this executive order and you walk across this line, I'll blow your nigger brain's out.'"

"Now let me put it the way y'all want it today," continued Gregory. "[Lingo] looked at Dr. King and said, 'N-word, when that n-word-lovin' president signs this executive order and you walk across this line, I'll blow your n-word brains out.' See, y'all just destroyed history!"

As serious and thoughtful as Gregory was in this interview, he also showed his characteristic trenchant wit and humor. And like the stand-up comedian he has been for decades, he was downright funny ("Professor Irwin Corey is so old.......that he needed a blood transfusion but they said they don't carry that type no more") and aphoristic ("My second language is profanity!").

And his insights were fresh and irreverent, as when he talked about gays in the church. "When I came up, the two strongest forces in the black church were women and the gays. And now the black church wants to make like: [aghast] 'The gays! Ohmygod! That's a violation of God!' [laughs] But they were the choir director. They were the music director. They was the organ player. [laughs heartily]."

And like the long-time feminist he has been for decades, Gregory said: "Keep using the word nigger, but stop calling my sister a bitch."


I just saw "Whiplash." I must admit it really had me going at times. The plot twisted as unpredictably as some of the jazz scores played in the flick.

Still, I kept thinking: all that agony and sacrifice just to sound sort of like Blood, Sweat and Tears? Not quite worth the candle.

It's worth noting that the greatest music of the past 75 years has been created and performed mostly by composers who didn't know how to read music (e.g., McCartney, Lennon, Dylan, Berry, Jagger, Richards, etc.). And my idea of the world's greatest drummer is Charlie Watts, who's more resourceful with a spare beat than most jazz players are with an avalanche of 'em.

I come from a different aesthetic, but the movie's still rousing and exciting, by and large.



for March 5, 2015

ULTRA-NEW! March 5, 2015: Here's a link to the first single, "LITTLE WHITE LIGHT," from Paul Iorio's new album, "Hey, Absolutamente!"! Streaming free here: "LITTLE WHITE LIGHT," by Paul Iorio.

NEW! March 2, 2015: Here comes the new album by Paul Iorio, "Hey, Absolutamente!," dedicated to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and its first single, "Little White Light." Coming online (and offline) soon!



I just saw "A Most Violent Year." Here's what I think.

The problem with gritty crime movies like this is they used to be in competition with feature films like "The Long Good Friday," "The Krays," "The Grifters" and the like. Now, in the 21st century, they're measured against TV series like "Breaking Bad" and "The Sopranos."

And you can tell it's a lousy movie when it's not nearly as good as a single episode of "Breaking Bad" or "The Sopranos."

In the first five minutes, the flick nicks predictable bits from "The Godfather" and "Reservoir Dogs." Oscar Isaac spends two hours trying to imitate Michael Corleone, but ends up somewhere between Chazz Palmenteri and Treat Williams instead, which is no place special.

I used to give the awful "Inside Llewyn Davis" extra points because I thought that Isaac was deliberately playing Davis as dim. But now I can see that Isaac himself is naturally dim, so he was only being himself.

The whole film seems to suffer from low wattage and starts to feel sort of ridiculous ("he gave his life so that we may have heating oil"). Much of this looks like rehearsals -- and not in a good way. And it's derivative; it doesn't need subtitles; it needs footnotes.

All told, this flick does not get your heart pumpin' or fill you with any sense of suspense the way a good crimer should. It's frankly a bit of a bore. The dimmest acclaimed movie since "Mud."



for February 27, 2015

Even Hitler didn't bomb the Ponte Vecchio during World War 2. Assyrian scholars must be despondent this morning after seeing the destruction by ISIS of art and artifacts dating back to the literal start of recorded history.

Do you doubt for an instant ISIS would do the same to the Uffizi and the Louvre if they had half a chance? After all, western art promotes idolatry, by their lights. (I've been warning about this slippery slope for years. Their prohibition against drawing the so-called prophet Muhammad is rooted in a Koranic prohibition against portraying ALL deities.)

As it stands, parts of Europe now do not resemble the Europe of my youth. Oh, I know: change is fine -- but cancerous change is not fine. And this is cancerous change.

Civilization began at the juncture of the Tigris and Euphrates. It seems to be ending there now.
ISIS militants should be treated like Nazis and tumors, which are killed even at the expense of healthy adjacent tissue.


But I digress. Paul



for February 22, 2015

Thinking about "The Homesman" this morning. Saw it last night. Sort of Tommy Lee Jones' "Dances with Wolves," but far far less conventional,

It should have been nominated for best something by the Academy, but it doesn't really fit in any category.

If this movie had been made by some hot-shot first-time director out of NYU, it would've been on Oscar's best picture list and on most critics'.

Still, Jones makes the basic mistakes of a first-time director -- he doesn't always shoot a successful two-shot or navigate overlapping dialogue or parse all plot points or weed out repetitive bits -- though he also creates scenes of sui generis beauty.

Hilary Swank comes off a bit like Ali MacGraw here (though she's inexplicably called "plain" throughout the film and even more inexplicably can't find a boyfriend -- not quite believable given her attractiveness).

And all three crazy women are mute?! How convenient; you don't have to go through the work of writing dialogue for them that way.

Overall, it's a bit subdued, lacking in electricity, though it does have a marvelous lunatic quality at times.

Also, if Jones is trying to make some ham-handed misguided point about 9/11 -- in the scene in which he burns down a hotel -- he's way off. Lee and the female loonies more closely resemble the Manson family in appearance and actions by that part of the movie.



for February 20, 2015

Last night, I saw Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken." A non-stop highlight reel of persecution, abuse and hardship. Hard not to watch, hard to watch.

If you're the sort of person who thinks that being shot at by planes while you're in an inflatable boat surrounded by hungry sharks is the worst life can dish out, just stay tuned, because the worst is always yet to come in this picture. There's also a 1940s Japanese prison camp whose guards make the sharks seem like Bob Newhart.

To be sure, nobody is crucified, burned in a cage or fed to dogs, but everything short of that is portrayed here in high def detail, so that you the viewer, with your popcorn and beer, can feel the schadenfreude and come out of the theater thinking that the problems of my own life pale in comparison to what this guy had to go through, and how dare I complain even a little, because the main character here was beaten up a record 100 times -- at least. (It must be some sort of cinematic record, by the way). And that was the least of his problems!

Also, the movie wants to be too many things. It starts off vaguely like "Saving Private Ryan," turns vaguely into "Seabiscuit," then becomes "Kon-Tiki," before morphing into "Castaway" and "Jaws" -- veering clear of "Alive," thankfully! -- and finally settling on "Letters from Iwo Jima."

Even so, it's still...not a bad movie. It does keep you watching.


I also saw "Fury" and liked much of it. Well-made, riveting at times, and I love the way the character Norman evolves from green to jaded.

But the combat scenes -- particularly the taking of people's houses and going door-to-door in Germany in the U.S. march to Berlin -- did not ring true for me because, frankly, my late dad did exactly that in real-life and I interviewed him in detail about exactly what happened as he and his comrades took people's apartments in cities like Munster and Wessel. As brutal as much of this movie tries to be, it really is the Hallmark version. The piano scene, for example, would have worked brilliantly if it had been an insane beautiful hallucination experienced by Emma as she was being assaulted and terrorized by marauding soldiers. The scene in her apartment feels more like a one-act play that someone composed in a cozy room in Malibu, as opposed to an event that actually happened. Also, these don't feel like 1940s people and the setting doesn't always seem like Germany. So subtract points for verisimilitude.

And I think its attempt at "Platoon"-ishness is contrived. Oliver Stone's tale feels so absolutely real to anyone who has experienced the viciousness of internecine struggle of any kind. "Fury," for all its merits, shows how rare a bird "Platoon" is.



for February 14, 2015

Here's a story I wrote and reported about "Saturday Night Live" based on my interviews with Richard Pryor and Henry Jaglom. Unpublished until now!


The Inside Story Behind One of SNL’s Funniest Bits:
The Night Richard Pryor Freaked-Out on Acid

In Saturday Night Live’s four decades on the air, few moments have been as hilarious as the one in which Richard Pryor dramatized an acid trip.

Every baby boomer remembers it. Pryor, making his first – and last – appearance on SNL, imitated a freak-out. December 13, 1975. Season one, episode seven.

So realistic that it had to be based on a real-life experience, right?

And it was.

In real life, in 1965, Pryor did in fact go absolutely crazy while doing L.S.D., according to film director Henry Jaglom, who told me about it in an exclusive interview I conducted with him in 2005.

More about that later. First, the comedy bit itself.

Pryor's LSD sketch was a hilarious impersonation of a bad trip that pushed -- shoved, actually -- at the boundaries of American television, a two-and-a-half minute journey into the heart of psychedelic madness.

Pryor began by imitating a guy being turned on to LSD at a party.

"White dude gave me some acid once at a party, Jack, and I thought I was crazy before I took it," he started. "It saned me right up."

"Take this -- this is far out!," his friend tells him, in Pryor's impersonation.

Pryor acts unaffected by the drug at first, saying to a partygoer: "White dude gave me some stuff, told me I'm gonna be trippin'. You know, I ain't goin' no place without my luggage."

Then the drug kicks in. Pryor starts seeing trails. "Look at this, man: I can catch my hand!," he says.

He panics.

"I don't remember how to breathe!," he shouts. "I can't breathe!"

"I told you it was far out!," his friend says, in Pryor's imitation.

"I'm-gonna-die, I'm-gonna-die," Pryor says frantically, morphing the phrase into a sort of tribal chant that's so funny the audience's laughter almost drowns out the audio at one point.

Pryor waves his arms as if he's flying and cries out: "What in the world is happening to me?!" The monologue ends and Pryor basks in the extended applause.

In an exclusive interview with Pryor, I asked the comedian whether the acid sketch came from a real life experience. "Yes," he said a conversation I had with him on July 31, 1996.

And indeed it did come from a very real bad trip he took in ‘65 with his friend Henry Jaglom, who went on to become an acclaimed director ("Eating," "Going Shopping") and who spoke about it with me on September 21, 2005.

His acid trip with Pryor happened when Jaglom was staying at actress Tuesday Weld's apartment on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills, and he was enjoying his own first experience with the drug, says Jaglom. (Jaglom also says there’s an off-chance the trip actually took place in the Montecito Hotel Apartments in Hollywood in 1966. )

Jaglom saw flowers coming out of the walls and hallucinated Bach-like music; he knew he just had to turn on his friend Richard Pryor to the stuff.

After all, Pryor had recently confided about being depressed, and Jaglom thought LSD might cheer him up.

When Jaglom phoned him, Pryor was initially wary.

"No, don't wanna mess with it," Pryor said to him, according to Jaglom.

"It's just a happy thing, you'll feel great," Jaglom assured him. "You'll get a little fucked up and you'll feel great."

"Okay," Pryor finally said. So he went over to the apartment and took a tab.

For the first 45 minutes or so, things went ok with Pryor. Then Jaglom heard the comedian shouting and screaming and, most alarmingly, saw Pryor trying to squeeze out a narrow window to jump to the sidewalk seven stories below. He was going to kill himself, Jaglom thought.

He ran over to Pryor and grabbed his ankles and the bottoms of his legs, refusing to let him jump. At one point, he had him by only one ankle.

"Things were crawling on him," says Jaglom. "He [saw]...a devil in the mirror."

After around an hour of trying to jump, he persuaded Pryor to go to another room, away from the windows.

Jaglom himself, loaded and unsure about what to do, considered bringing Pryor to a hospital emergency room. "My mind tried to go to the rational: what do I do? I'll wait till sunrise. Even though I was high, I was functioning ok. I was just waiting till the sunlight to see if it would wear off," Jaglom says (while taking pains to point out he was recalling an incident in which he, too, was hallucinating).

The dawn came, the crisis waned. They crossed the room together, and Pryor said, "Do you realize it's taken a half hour to cross this room?"

They ended up on the floor laughing wildly.

Ten years later, the nightmare was transformed into television comedy. But as Jaglom notes: "The original [event] was anything but funny; it was very scary."


Deep Memories of SNL

My main girlfriend during my senior year at King High School in Tampa, Florida, was a girl named Judy Miller.

I was at her place -- forty years ago, in the spring of 1975 -- when she said, "You wanna talk to my sister? She lives in New York City and writes for 'Rhoda' and she may be getting a job writing for a new live show from New York." I said, "wow, yeah, sure."

Judy got her sister on the phone and said, "Hi, Marilyn, you've gotta meet my new boyfriend Paul." Then she handed me the phone and I briefly, awkwardly, spoke with her sister, Marilyn Suzanne Miller. THE Marilyn Suzanne Miller.

Several months later, when I was at my dorm in college, I caught the first episodes of this new late night series on NBC: "Saturday Night," later "Saturday Night Live." On the second or third episode, I saw the writer credits roll and there was her name: Marilyn Suzanne Miller (I don't think she was on board from the very first episode, but she was, of course, essential to that golden first season).

She wasn't kidding, I thought, she wasn't kidding at all.


I finally saw "Birdman." This thing soars! There are sequences of, to use the Disney phrase, "pure movie magic."

And it is exactly the sort of film -- a movie about movies or about the theater -- the Academy loves to honor as best picture, an award it will almost surely win next month at the Dolby (though my vote still goes to "Boyhood").

Everyone is rightly hailing Michael Keaton's performance, but Edward Norton is the real wonder here; his character and the way he makes it come alive are just amazing.

And the scene of Birdman running through Times Square in his underwear is a hoot, redolent of a similar sequence in "Bullets Over Broadway."

Wayyy better than the overrated "Biutiful." (Btw, there's always someone picking his nose in an Iñárritu flick (see "Biutiful," or better yet, don't). He should be told that 's not a visual that works.



for January 18, 2015

I just saw "The Grand Budapest Hotel." So tiresome and tedious that it took me four tries to get all the way through it.

It has an over-composed visual style that distracts from the fact that it doesn't have much of a story to tell (unlike, say, "A Clockwork Orange," which it tries (and fails) to resemble).

The most predictable movie of the year, too; one always knows what the next scene is going to be: too clever by half, and never in a good way

As a chef in the movie says, "Too much salt."


I also recently saw Roman Polanski's "Venus In Fur," a resourceful work that lands somewhere between "Bitter Moon" and "Death and the Maiden" in the Polanski canon. (At one point it almost becomes "My Dinner IS Andre"!) There's a lot of edgy emotional truth here ("The more he submits, the more he controls") as well as hints that the director has somehow managed to eroticize the personal persecution he's faced in recent decades. And I love the way the Emmanuelle Seigner character begins as a sort of French Cockney and ends up 180 degrees in the other direction. And a fine performance by Mathieu Amalric, who looks and acts strikingly like Polanski circa 1980.



for January 12, 2015

"Selma," which I saw yesterday, is, without a doubt, the most powerful piece of propaganda released this year. Ava DuVernay shows all the signs of becoming a modern Leni Riefenstahl, a highly talented (but fatally flawed) maker of quality propaganda films.

Her portrayal of Lyndon Johnson is as phony and false as anything I've seen in a feature film based on non-fiction events, a grotesque distortion of his progressivism. And it's a big part of the flick, not just a side plot.

It's also a dishonest work. Though the director keeps saying this is not a documentary, she repeatedly uses documentary-style title cards and captions (e.g., "9:15 p.m. on January 1st, audio recording"), making this a sort of faux documentary that uses actual taped transcripts when it's convenient but inexplicably ignores the many audiotapes of LBJ and King talking on the phone, quite amicably, in that era. Why she felt the need to fabricate an adversarial relationship between the two is a mystery.

And to add a reference to Ferguson at the end is a grand insult to true civil rights victims and heroes of the 1950s and 1960s like Emmett Till and Rosa Parks, innocents who were victimized in ways that were not justifiable by anyone reasonable. To put them on par with a thug like Michael Brown -- who tried to kill a cop by grabbing his gun after having committed a strong-arm robbery in the minutes before he was blown away -- is an opportunistic lie.

She didn't need to lie to tell a great story of liberation. The truth would've worked better.



for January 10, 2015

New citizenship test for France and the U.S. and other liberal western nations. (I'm quite serious.)

1. Do the laws of your religion supersede secular laws? Or do secular laws supersede religious laws?
Anyone of any faith who answers yes to the former will be denied entry to the country as an immigrant.

The beauty of this idea is:

It would force fundamentalists to say something in writing (and for future reference) that they would consider blasphemous. So, if a new arrival lies and says "I put secular law over god," they have committed blasphemy in writing. (If you're willing to commit blasphemy, welcome!)



for January 9, 2015

This is what I wrote for The East Coast Rocker newspaper in March 1989 after I attended a PEN rally for Salman Rushdie that was briefly evacuated by bomb threats made my Islamic fundamentalists. But Norman Mailer, bravely, kept on speaking. I was there. Here's part of what I wrote over a quarter century ago. And it rings just as true today, if I should say so myself.


And here's how I started that '89 article:



Twenty years ago last October, Details magazine published a satirical piece that I wrote and reported in which I converted to all the world's major religions. I talked to hundreds of holy people from every faith and pretended to want to convert to theirs. I audiotaped the conversations, which are quoted in the story.

The result was a funny article called "Choosing My Religion," which was published by Details in '94 and skewered ALL religions equally.

Yeah, I got some flak from fundamentalists, but for the most part, people enjoyed it! Read it here. (here's part one.)


part two



for January 7, 2015

I am Charlie Hebdo.

I am truly horrified and sickened by the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, a great satirical publication in Paris to which I have submitted my work over the years.

This hate crime was apparently done by backward fundamentalists who somehow believe Paris should be like the little Islamic village from which they came. Let's hope this spurs added protections for so-called "infidels," who are bullied and murdered far more often than the devout.



for Christmas Day, 2014

Just got back from a noon screening of "The Interview." It's easily the funniest movie of 2014. What's getting lost in all the controversy is that much of it's hilarious.

Yeah, the assassination bit does get overly complicated near the end -- that part should've been presented much more cleanly and cleverly -- but the jokes (and performances) are terrific throughout,. (Example: Kim Jong un to James Franco: "This was given to my grandfather by Stalin." Franco corrects him: "In our country, we call him Stallone.") And a killer premise -- literally! Not for every sensibility, but I laughed and laughed.

The scene at the theater showing "The Interview," a few hours ago. [photo by Paul Iorio.]



for December 18, 2014

SPE has just set an abominable precedent by pulling "The Interview" from theaters. What happens when ISIS threatens carnage if an infidel film is released in theaters? Sony caved to a bluff.


Torn over whether to call Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida" or Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" the best movie of 2014. I saw "Ida" a second time today -- and here's what I think.

Pawlikowski is less an heir to the Polish New Wave than to Ingmar Bergman and Bertolucci. Visually, "Ida" is the most aesthetically beautiful film of 2014, capturing that range before sleep that goes from white to grey to black.

But the decapitated cinematography -- the showing of people from the neck up and in some case from the chin up -- reads more like a visual flaw on second viewing (and it seems even more like a flaw when one learns Pawlikowski used a novice (but talented) DP for the flick).

Still, he makes innovative use of master shots -- this is very anti-coverage cinematography -- by shooting the space above people's heads. (Great idea, just don't start the shot at the chin!) For much of the film, we get 90% landscape and 10% face (and 90% cinematography, 10% script).

Don't get me wrong, the story and characters are often excellent, just not great. This is more like a masterful short story; "Boyhood" is more like a brilliant, sprawling novel.

And the main actress -- Agata Trzebuchowska -- is a real find, with an Ingrid Bergmanesque purity of beauty and an untutored talent. (She was discovered Schwab's/Top Hat Diner style by a pal of the director's.)

And I don't think Pawlikowski knew how to end this and so concluded it unsatisfyingly. The marvelous growth of the main character near the end is inexplicably quashed at the end for an effect that doesn't better what could've been.

I'd be very interested to hear what Roman Polanski thinks of this.

And I can't wait for Pawlikowski to find a script that's as great as his visual style. That'll likely be the movie of the decade.



for November 25, 2014

Many thanks to DJ Marshall Stax and KALX radio for playing two new songs from my latest album last night. If you missed the broadcast, hear the songs here. The first track is "Ebola":

paul iorio's new song "Ebola"!

And the second song is "Surfin' Dum Dum":

paul iorio's "Surfin' Dum Dum"


Want a hard copy of my new album? Write me at pliorio@aol.com!




for November 20, 2014

I saw Tate Taylor’s “Get on Up” last night.

Despite the fact that it has a jerky structure that should’ve been chronologically straightened out, and has cartoonish depictions of gunplay created by people who’ve probably never been held at gunpoint, it’s still one of the top films of 2014, though not the best.

Chadwick Boseman is the best thing about it; at times, he’s so like Brown that it sometimes feels like documentary footage. And Dan Aykroyd is terrific as Ben Bart, Brown’s agent. Scrubbed from the biopic: Nixon, Sharpton, and what his associations with both reveal about him.


Sorry to hear about Mike Nichols' death.

I've interviewed a lot of auteurs but missed Nichols when I was covering his films "What Planet Are You From?" and "Primary Colors."

I was in some Beverly Hills hotel room with Annette Bening or someone else associated with the former flick in '00 when a phone call came in from Nichols. His voice cut right through everything, much like his directorial style; you could hear it across the room. (And he wasn't raising his voice at all.)

My favorite Nichols? "The Graduate." Definitely, "The Graduate." He created an astonishing number of landmark films of the counterculture era, pictures that were both important and enormously entertaining -- and likely to resonate for generations.



for November 18, 2014

My new album -- with seven brand new tracks -- is called "Ebola-la" and is now being released! (I'm rolling out the online edition song-by-song.)
Here is the lead track, my parody of Ray Davies' "Lola" called "Ebola."

paul iorio's new song "Ebola"!



for November 11, 2014

NEW! The Huffington Post just published my article about my trip behind the Iron Curtain in 1976. Click below to read it:



Paul Iorio on "Interstellar"


Some of "Interstellar"'s visual effects are so stunning and novel that they alone are reason enough to see this film -- and to see it on the biggest screen possible.

The great imagery includes: huge waves on a watery planet, a spaceship crashing into an ice cloud, a black hole named Gargantua that looks like nothing seen before in a sci-fi flick, time travel to a wall of books that feels like a genuine nightmare and general surrealism worthy of Lewis Carroll. Those are the pluses that make it one of 2014's best films.

On the negative side, Matthew McConaughey, who can't play smart very well, should've traded roles with Matt Damon, who can. Likewise, Jessica Chastain would've been ideal for the role played by Anne Hathaway (and vice versa). And the first forty-five minutes should've been winnowed down by half.

But this'll surely be a best picture nominee, if not winner, come Oscar time. See it before it leaves the theaters.

But I digress. Paul



for November 5, 2014

Most of my predictions (below) were right. I called ten of the 13 competitive Senate races correctly!



for November 2, 2014

Final Senate predictions. The GOP will win the Senate with a 51-seat edge. Here's how that will happen:

ALASKA: Begich wins. (Power of the incumbent, plus campaigning in remote areas, gives this to the Dems.)

ARKANSAS: No hope for Pryor. Cotton wins. A GOP flip.

COLORADO: Udall botched it. Gardner wins. A GOP gain.

GEORGIA: Perdue wins in the run-off.

IOWA: Ernst wins. And by a few points, too.

KANSAS: Orman over Roberts.

KENTUCKY: McConnell.

LOUISIANA: Cassidy over Landrieu in the run-off.

MONTANA: Daines wins. Easily.



SOUTH DAKOTA: Rounds wins.

WEST VIRGINIA: Capito, by a big margin.



for November 1, 2014

OK, I'm ready to predict Tuesday's elections. And the headline is: Iowa, It's Up to You.

If it goes for Bruce Braley, the Dems control the Senate; if it goes for Joni Ernst, the GOP does.

Because all the other contested seats are fairly easy to call. Arkansas, Louisiana (in the run-off), Colorado, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia are all flipping from blue to red. Kansas is, essentially, flipping red to blue.

So, that makes 6 GOP pick-ups, minus one Dem pick-up, giving them five of the six needed for control of the Senate.

Iowa -- Harkin's old seat -- is the coin toss. And if I had to bet, I'd say...Ernst, by a hair.

If that happens, say hello (or whatever) to the new majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

If I were the DNC right now, I'd throw money at Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Forget Colorado; sad to say, Udall is like a terminal patient whose pulse is fading; do not resuscitate.

[posted 1pm, 11/1/14]


I'll give you my specific predictions later, but I do not see the Republicans taking the Senate Tuesday. (Particularly if Orman wins and caucuses with the Democrats.) Looks like the Dems will retain a one vote majority.

Remember: the Democrats need only 50 seats to have a majority; the GOP needs 51.

[posted: 9am on 11/1/14.]



for October 29, 2014

JUST IN: The Huffington Post has published my photos and review of Jimmy Buffett's show in Berkeley last weekend. (Includes Buffett's remarks on the World Series (and a pic of him in a Giants jacket) and my own memories of his early concerts in Florida in the seventies.) Click hear to see it:

Paul Iorio on Jimmy Buffett in HuffPo!


I've finally found a practical use for the ISIS flag!

[photo by Paul Iorio.]



for October 25, 2014

Jack Bruce is dead at age 71?! Sad and too soon.

Jack Bruce meant a lot to me and was kind to me on a personal level. I reviewed his great star turn with the Golden Palominos at the Ritz in NYC in March 1986 (see the review posted below and published on March 29, 1986, in Cash Box). And Bruce liked what I wrote so much that he visited me some weeks later when I was alone in a side room at the Ritz, organizing my notes from another concert.

There I was, all alone. In walks Jack Bruce, who wanted to tell me how much he appreciated my review. To me, this was a stiff drink. (For the record, we didn't become friends or anything; we just had that one encounter -- and I'm sure within years he forgot who I was.)

Jack Bruce was a childhood hero of mine from age 12. I was a Cream fan in the late Sixties not because of Clapton's guitar wizardry (which I appreciated more as an adult) but because of Bruce's singing, which was so fresh, so unlike the lower-end hard rock voices of the day.

I and my friends just loved Cream and Bruce's voice when I was 12, 13, 14. (And beyond, of course, but on a new level in adulthood.)

When I moved to Florence, Italy, the teenagers there loved it just as much. My pal Oliver and I used to sing lyrics from "Disraeli Gears" to each other in Settignano.

And then when I came back to Tampa, my friend Richard and I used to go to Carrollwood and listen as loud as we could to the late Cream albums. (Even as an adult, I go back to the later records, after the group had grown a bit beyond its blues influences.)

So here in front of me in the Village was Jack Bruce, who loomed so large back when, coming to tell me how much he enjoyed something I wrote. I'll never forget that until I die or have a stroke.

As for the Palominos show, it was a thrill to see Bruce front Anton Fier's band for "Deserted Cities of the Heart," one of my all-time favorite Cream songs. (The best version is on the album "Live Cream: Volume 2"; I'm not sure if that record even exists any more under that title.)

For someone with my aesthetic, Jack Bruce was a titan of hard rock songwriting. The very best Cream songs were co-written by him.

"As You Said," an overlooked gem, has been rolling through my head for decades. And his work with Mountain resonates to the present-day; "Theme for an Imaginary Western," which Bruce co-wrote, is by far the band's greatest song.

Goodbye, Jack Bruce. You'll be remembered well.



Finally saw “Beware of Mr. Baker.” Amazing that the film maker was able to make Baker’s post-Blind Faith period seem as interesting as his years with Cream.

Baker’s later career was sort of like Spinal Tap Mark 2 – “We hope you like our new direction” – the jazzy edition of the band after Nigel Tufnel quit.

And it describes the formation and break-up of Cream clearly and definitively. (Astonishing that Jack Bruce would agree to work with him after that knife incident.)

Interesting that Baker sort of forced his way into Blind Faith, against Clapton’s wishes. If one didn't know that fact, one might think, wrongly, that Clapton and Baker had, de facto, fired Bruce and hired a new vocalist for Cream, now re-named Blind Faith. Not so.

When you put Steve Winwood, a major artist, in the mix, everything sounds like Traffic. (It’s like mixing blue paint with white; it becomes blue.)

Great footage of Fela, with whom Baker, initially, had great chemistry, until he started hanging out at the Lagos polo club with Fela’s enemies. Not a great idea.

From there, he formed the awful Baker Gurvitz Army, went broke and moved to South Africa, a nation as notoriously inhospitable as Baker himself.

Baker looks so unhealthy in the later footage that this feels like the sort of docu that chronicles a person’s final days. The way things look, Clapton, who has aged quite well, judging from the footage here, will soon be the sole surviving member of Cream.



for October 24, 2014

Buffett in Berkeley last night. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

I saw Jimmy Buffett last night at the Greek in Berkeley. Fun show.

And I had great seats, courtesy a total stranger who, as I was walking up the hill on Hearst, said, "Do you want a ticket?" And I said, "Sure," thinking it was probably a hoax. She handed me a piece of paper and said, "That's a ticket." I looked at it. One hundred and sixty dollars was what it was worth. The priciest in the theater. Thanks, I told her. (And to whoever that person is: that was very nice of you; thanks a lot!)

Anyway, I hadn't seen Buffett since I was a teenager in Florida, so it was amazing to see how he's developed and his vast new audience, which enjoys every note he plays and has rituals that turn the place into a big party.

And the crowd was there to have a ball, wearing fins and parrot heads and swimming like sharks.

“For those of you who have chosen not to grow up,” Buffett said from the Greek Theater stage on Thursday night (which qualifies as the weekend in his world), “Boy, did you come to the right place tonight.”

Buffett set an irreverent tone from the start. “This is as close to a religious number …as you’re gonna have this evening,” he said. “…This is a very serious religious song called ‘My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink and I Don’t Love Jesus.’”

As someone who actually saw him on his “A1A” tour of ’75, I can attest that this song, more than the others, captured the original spirit of Buffett’s early concerts, back when his catchy blasphemy made him seem a bit like Florida’s Kinky Friedman or Country Joe McDonald.

For this stop on his '14 tour, he emphasized his considerable history in the San Francisco Bay Area, displaying video footage of the Herb Caen Pier as he played “Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude,” showing footage of Travis Ishikawa’s recent walk-off homer and even donning a San Francisco Giants jacket later in the show.

“This is a song that…was actually written in a Holiday Inn on Mt. Tamalpais,” he said, introducing “Come Monday.”

And the crowd needed no prompting to sing along as he crooned, “Headin’ out to San Francisco…”

But then, in true Buffett style, he revised the next line: “For the World Series baseball show.”

The crowd ate it up.

Buffet, in bare feet and shorts, came on with a 12-piece band that played against a video screen showing a constantly-shifting series of images: cheeseburgers during “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” a tie-dyed t-shirt during “Scarlet Begonias,” etc.

Musically, one of the highlights was “One Particular Harbor,” sort of his “Graceland”-ish world music foray, but the true crowd-pleaser was saved for the encore.

“I’ll sing this love song for you,” he said, launching into “Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” revising the lyric at one point to: “If you brought your children to the show/And now you’re shocked/I’ve got a better verse for you/Why don’t we get lunch and snooze?” (Or at least it sounded like “snooze”!)

And then, as he sang the finale, “Lovely Cruise,” each band member, one by one, departed, leaving him alone on stage.

I first saw him in the fall of '75, when his latest single was the humorous "Door Number Three." I was a freshman at The University of Florida at Gainesville, sort of the Berkeley of Florida and an underrated university, too. (Harry Crews, who I studied under, was the novelist-in-residence. And, yeah, that foreign language requirement was quite a bitch! But I digress.)

Back then, joints would be passed to the stage as he’d sing “Pencil Thin Mustache” and fans would sing along to risqué lyrics like "I don't love Jesus." In the Bible belt, in '75, it all felt so forbidden!

With the release of the "Havana Daydreamin'" LP, the free gigs got shorter, the crowds started getting out of control. He was in the process of coming up with a new song and album that would make him so popular that his next show in Gainesville would be behind a paywall. At the campus gym. Sold out.

The new album, released the next year, was "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," and the first single, "Margaritaville," was a game changer for him.

I couldn't get tickets to the '77 concert, so I did what I always did back then: I went to the gym four hours before the Saturday show to work out, then I went to a bathroom stall and sat there for two hours until concertgoers were let into the hall.

Around showtime, I'd simply walk out of the bathroom and into the arena, just like any other concertgoer. (This is how I got to see primo shows by Heart, Crosby & Nash and many others in '77!)

From my bathroom stall that evening, before I walked into the arena, I could hear the sound check, which consisted of two songs: "Changes in Latitude" and "Margaritaville," in that order, which is exactly how he'd open the concert an hour or so later.

"Margaritaville" was not yet the phenomenon it would become; the title track, at the time, was more prominent. I remember he set a beautiful mood with "Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home."

But I recall it just wasn't as fun as those early outdoor gigs. The novelty numbers were missing, and so was the spontaneity -- and the pot! I'm not sure I stayed to the end.

That was the last time I'd seen him -- until last night. And I sure did stay to the end of this show!, Everybody, including me, left the theater smiling.

photo by p,i.

photo by p.i.

But I digress, Paul



for October 18, 2014

I heard Erykah Badu, Childish Gambino and Overdoz perform last night in Berkeley.

Badu, coming on at 10 p.m., the latest start time for anyone I’ve heard at the Greek in a decade, was well worth the wait. Magic, for the most part. She cast a spell, causing people to dance en masse in the hills above the theater, where I heard the show (an impact someone like Bonnie Raitt could only dream of).

She started off with a hypnotic instrumental and then started crooning, “I’m twenty feet tall,” seducing everyone within earshot.

Opening was rapper Childish Gambino, stage name for TV star Donald Glover of “Community.” Huge enthusiasm for him from the crowd.

Gambino’s high point was the infectious “L.E.S.,” with its hook “We’re kissing in the bathroom, girl,” which was even interrupted by sponataneous applause midway. Haven’t heard this much unison singing by an audience since the Beastie Boys encored with “Paul Revere” some years back.

Kicking off the whole thing was a promising Los Angeles rap group called Overdoz. They use vocal harmonies (w/just a hint of the Beach Boys) with some dissonance to create a distinctive mix. (Which got me thinking of the next step: Beach Boys-ish vocal harmonies in a rap context. Hasn’t been done yet.) Will be interesting to see how they develop.


After the (apparent) suicide of Misty Upham, I re-watched "August: Osage County."

With a movie of this sort, the obvious question is: why is it so important for a story like this to be told in a visual, filmic way, as opposed to on a stage in an off-Broadway or a Broadway theater?

And the answer is: in order to create the definitive document of the work (a la "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" or "My Dinner With Andre"), where you get top actors to knock it out of the park for all time (instead of on stage in a one-time performance that ultimately evaporates).

This, to be sure, is more "Interiors" than Albee, more Shepard than Williams. But the 20-minute dinner table conversation sequence stands as one of the most audacious and radical scenes since "The Tree of Life." And it's so convincing that you feel like joining the conversation and asking them to pass the casserole. (I'd like to write a movie called "Ninety Minutes at a Dinner Table," but then it would be a play (unless major actors were attracted to the material).)

Misty Upham was given a real plum, a visible role with speaking parts in a Weinstein movie with Oscar cachet. Following a non-speaking role in the brilliant "Django Unchained." (She's briefly visible onscreen as the tavern owner who appears behind the federal officer who says, "Someone get poor Bill out of the god-damn street.") (I've yet to see her other major film, "Frozen River.")

She clearly had great potential as an actress; you can see it in the "Osage" scene in which she reacts to the suicide of the Sam Shepard character. (Her main benefactor in life is gone now and you and see that in her face.)
Interesting that her peak as an actress was a reaction shot to a suicide.

Until this month, she had a major career ahead of her. Tragic loss.



for October 15, 2014

exclusive report

Weaponized Ebola, a Fear Since the 1970s

Allegations that Moscow experimented with weaponized Ebola appeared in this Chicago Tribune article on February 11, 1978.

In human history, Ebola came to the party late and became the psychopathic guest who would not leave.

It made its first appearance a few weeks before Jimmy Carter was elected president of the U.S. -- and, within months, some experts feared it would become weaponized.

"The Soviet germ war program includes refining and making more lethal a variety of microbes and viruses," said a 1978 wire story in The Chicago Tribune paraphrasing a British military officials' findings. "'It is believed that Soviet scientists are engaged in the development of three new agents for even more horrible diseases lassa, ebola and Marburg fever,' said the paper."

Moscow, of course, denied it had such a program in the works, but the source of the allegation -- British Air Vice Marshal Stewart Manaul, a one-time high-level military commander -- publicly stood by his report.

Many have since noted the potential for its use in bio-terrorism. The recently released WikiLeaks cables include a few that address this aspect of the Ebola issue.

A 2008 cable from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva -- labeled "sensitive" and distributed to Washington's highest echelon -- noted that Japanese officials wanted help in deciding where to store samples of a "new strain" of Ebola. (It's unclear whether the Japanese were referring to a new strain of Ebola or a strain that was new to them. In either case, the pathogen apparently was not fitting into their pre-existing storage categories.)

For the record, scholars have long noted the existence of only four strains (or species) of the Ebola virus: the Zaire, the Ivory Coast, the Reston (which doesn't affect humans) and the Sudan. A fifth species has reportedly emerged only in recent months, with the 2014 outbreak.

Hence, one wonders what "new strain" of the Ebola virus the Japanese were writing about in that cable of six years ago.

Elsewhere, a 2006 cable from the Embassy in Tokyo noted the Japanese government's passage of "the Infectious Disease Law to prohibit possession and production of 12 pathogens, including Anthrax and the Ebola Virus to help prevent bioterrorism." In another 2006 cable, from the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan, biosecurity experts noted the importance of safeguarding all stockpiles of Ebola and other viruses.

In a scholarly anthology published in Britain in 2004 -- "Ebola and Marburg Viruses: Molecular and Cellular Biology" (Horizon Bioscience, 2004, edited by Hans Dieter-Klenk and Heinz Feldmann) -- there is this statement:

"Ebola and Marburg viruses have been used in former weapon programs and are now of considerable concern as potential bioterrorism agents." The book does not elaborate on this point.

From the start, Ebola was seen as an unusually deadly virus, killing almost everyone affected by it.

The first cases emerged in the autumn of 1976 near the Ebola River in southern Sudan (now South Sudan) just across the border from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), killing around 600 people in its first season.

Around Labor Day weekend of '76, "a [Sudanese] villager...was gripped by a sudden high fever," wrote Michael T. Kaufman in The New York Times on October 10, 1976. "Taken to a 30-bed hospital, he developed a rash and died within three days. When his family came to claim the body, two brothers developed the same symptoms and died."

That's how the very first documented case of Ebola was reported by the press, though the disease wouldn't be named for several weeks.

The word Ebola was first used in The New York Times on December 1, 1976, in this article, about the naming of the virus for a river in Zaire.

This is the New York Times account of the first documented Ebola victim, published on October 10, 1976.

At the time, Ebola's only antecedent was a hemorrhagic virus that had affected Green Monkeys nine years earlier to the east in Uganda and Kenya. Lab technicians studying that virus in Germany in 1967 started getting sick and dying. At the time, it was called "Green Monkey disease"; today it's known as the Marburg virus (named after the German city where the lab was located), a variant of Ebola.

According to the Dieter-Klenk/Feldmann book, the first Ebola outbreaks in the U.S. actually took place decades ago -- in Texas and Virginia, but affecting only non-human primates in captivity.

An Ebola outbreak in the U.S. decades ago -- mentioned only in scholarly works -- wiped out some non-human primates. Here's a photo of the red rash caused by the virus on a monkey's right arm four days after being infected with Ebola. [From "Ebola and Marburg Viruses: Molecular and Cellular Biology" (Horizon Bioscience, 2004)]

After five days, the red rash from Ebola had spread to the monkey's chest area. [From "Ebola and Marburg Viruses: Molecular and Cellular Biology" (Horizon Bioscience, 2004)]



for October 12, 2014

So, what do I think of "Gone Girl"?

It's an excellent and very necessary picture exposing tabloid America and the scourge of false accusation, which, in many cases, does more harm than the alleged crime itself.

It's also crackling, rocking -- and darkly funny. David Fincher has become every bit as great as De Palma.

The least plausible parts are the beginning -- would Ben Affleck's character be anything but frantic to find his wife gone? -- and the ending (hard to believe he would remain in close proximity to her after knowing what she's done).

But make no mistake: this one's worth the eight bucks. Much of the audience applauded at the end of the screening I saw.



for October 3, 2014

I've been pleasantly surprised by the popularity of my interview with Fela Kuti! For months, tons of people have been downloading and playing the audio excerpts of me talking with Fela one-on-one. I conducted the interview in 1986 but it's only gone viral in recent months (after its publication by the Huffington Post). Hear it here:

Paul Iorio's Interview with Fela Kuti.


151Buckwheat Zydeco rockin' Golden Gate Park a few hours ago. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

Just returned from the Hardly Strictly fest. The hottest yet. Literally. 90 degrees or so. Still, I made my way through four or five acts. Started with indie duo Waxahatchee. Tuneful, minimal. Katie Crutchfield is interestingly talented. Had a front row-ish "seat" (though I think the people next to me thought they were ISIS, taking over all adjoining territory).

Then I heard the end of Bill Kirchen's set as he finished up with a wild "Hot Rod Lincoln." Wish I'd seen more of it.

By 1pm, it was clear that everybody at the fest had been issued a Pabst tall boy upon entry, because just about everyone (except me) had one. Beer in this heat?! Unbelievable. .

Within a couple hours, it also became clear the main aim for most was not getting a good view, but finding a shady spot. Me, I brought my umbrella to give me shade and was the only one with one. (Btw, thanks to the sexy woman who came up to me and, pointing to my umbrella, said, "Smart." But how come my umbrella gets all the compliments?!)

Next stop was Buckwheat Zydeco (see photo) which got everyone dancing. You cannot listen to this band without moving your body.

Then I caught the Waybacks; some nice violin/fiddle work. Sort of like a combo of the Silos and Paul Simon.

Anyway, day one of HSB is still going on as we speak, but I'm pooped!

118Katie Crutchfield crooning around noon today. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for October 2, 2014

Just got back from hearing Lorde perform at the Greek in Berkeley. Sounded a bit like The xx, though she has her own inimitable style.

I guess the headline is, she played "Yellow Flicker Beat" for the very first time live. Sounded great. She did a very assured "Royals." "Team" was a bit Arcade Fire-ish. "Biting Down" was a big surprise (in a good way). Played the whole "Pure Heroine" album, talked a lot (about the Bay Area, turning 18 next month, how her life has changed in oh so many ways, etc,).

When she talks, she sounds almost perky, upbeat, but when she sings she seems almost depressed, You get the sense this is just the start of a huge superstar career. Right now, she doesn't have quite enough material to fill out a full set (this one clocked in at 70 minutes or so), but in future years she'll probably have an over-abundance.

Opening was Majical Cloudz, a sort of electronica group from Canada that is not quite to my taste (though their "Bugs Don't Buzz" is catchy).



for October 1, 2014

I was 17 and standing with two friends at the end of a long, deserted pier on Tampa Bay in June 1975.

In the distance, a smiling middle-aged man started walking the long, hot walk toward the three of us, and, as he came closer, it became obvious he was walking the span just to see me and my pals, even though none of us knew him.

When he finally came to the far end of the pier, he reached out his hand to me and said, "Hi, my name is Jimmy Carter and I'm running for president of the United States."

And then he hung out with us and made small talk about the boats in the bay.

Jimmy Carter turns 90 today. Happy birthday!



for September 22, 2014

In “Boyhood,” Linklater Says, “Fuck Narrative Arc” – to Fine Effect.

Saw "Boyhood" a second time over the weekend. Best film of the year so far. Almost three hours long but it goes down in one gulp. I could watch a six hour version. Feels like real life. At one point, I got so caught up in it that I thought, I should get my camera and snap a pic of the graduation hoopla. Perhaps the first major film that's, partly, an Oughties period piece. Still, I don't think they knew how to end it. Or maybe Linklater has a sequel in mind ("Manhood").

And I love the way Linklater says, fuck narrative arc, which is not missed here one bit. Arc, theme: they're school teacherish conscious contrivances that get in the way of expression. "Boyhood," in its way, may be the "Tree of Life" of '14.

A few more observations on the movie:

1) “Boyhood” was a risky concept to pull off, if only because some child actors age better than others. As we’ve seen over the decades, some actors who are talented at age 8 are inept at age 18. In this film, Mason wears better than his sister does, though both are genuine throughout.

2) This is the best two-hour-and-forty-five minute American movie since “Nashville.”

3) If Linklater wasn’t already in the front ranks of directors, he sure is now.

4) Patricia Arquette’s character could’ve avoided a lot of trouble in life if she had just stuck with the Ethan Hawke character, who was as good to her as any guy could be expected to be. (Perfection in a husband doesn't exist. And she seemed to want a butler.)

5) Her boyfriend (husband?) after Hawke is an interesting type (of scum), the kind of guy who appears as an overassertive talking head on network TV shows, a la Jim Kramer, wound too tight, always on.

6) The “Black Album” idea is fascinating. But the better idea is to put out a 1971 “Beatles” album using solo album tracks released in that year (or in adjacent years). And then a ’74 “Beatles” album using solo tracks from that (and adjacent) years. They mesh together better. (Rather than juxtaposing a track from ’80 with one from ’70.) So you get “Junk,” “Imagine,” “It Don’t Come Easy” and “What is Life” leading off a first album (that would probably be better than “Let It Be”).

7) Interesting that a kid can seem so much like a budding genius in elementary school but come off like a generic teenager in high school.

8) In fights with abusive husbands, more women should learn the value of using a defensive weapon.


Until the White House has a security upgrade, Obama will be staying at a safer location – a Motel 6 near Dupont Circle.



for September 17, 2014

Who dismembered the so-called Prophet Muhammad so that parts of his body could be displayed in Istanbul (while the rest of his body is buried in Medina)? Serious question.

I traveled alone as a teenager to Istanbul and saw, first-hand, at the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, pieces of Muhammad there. (Or at least the Topkapi says they are.) In other words, once Muhammad was dead, someone had to actually physically sever one of his teeth and his wristbone and bring them to Istanbul to be shown along with pieces of his beard and other ultra-sacred artifacts.

Of course, these are questions one can't ask, even in scholarly circles, for fear of being beaten up.

These thoughts came to mind after learning that Saudi Arabia is seriously considering re-burying Muhammad in an anonymous grave in order to stop all the idolatry.

Another question you can't ask: what exactly is wrong with idolatry? (Answer: nothing.)

Here's my ticket to get into the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle:


You know me: I take notes (and/or record) almost everything. And did so, even when I was 19. Here're my contemporaneous notes, which I typed up when I got back home from Istanbul, about my visit to the Pavilion:


Even as a teenager open to lots of new ideas, I could see that much of Islam was fascistic -- and more autocratic than the Communist countries that I had to travel through by train to get to Turkey. So I have no sympathy for guys like John Walker Lindh, taken in by that KKK (of Islam) crap. If I could see through it, why couldn't he? Same age

P.S. -- By the way, when I say I traveled alone to Istanbul, I mean literally alone. The nearest family member or friend was around a thousand miles away


Now they've gone too far...




for September 14, 2014

Paul's ISIS flag of the day!



I heard the Avett Brothers and Brandi Carlile perform last night in Berkeley. The Avett Bros. is a much-improved band from the one I saw back in '12, when they seemed a bit too close to their influences (particularly the Dave Davies side of the Kinks).

This time, they sounded completely original -- and fun. The highlight was 2012's "Live and Die," which created an exuberant mood in the hills above the Greek Theater, where I heard the show. And they also did a wonderful cover of Jim Croce's "Operator," updating it a bit for the cellphone era.

All told, a combination boutique hoedown, modernized southeastern rock and sixties Brit invasion pop. Enjoyable.

Opening was Brandi Carlile, who does a mean version of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain," though her own material is sort of generic Americana, a kind of T Bone purée.


So Ray Rice makes his first appearance since the scandal. And the staged, manipulative photo op shows Rice with a kid on his shoulders. (Let's hope it's his own kid. Then again, I don't think a guy that violent should be around any kid. Call me old-fashioned.)

Anyway, the photos of Rice with a kid on his shoulders is supposed to make us see him in a new light, as a family man, just another dude like you and me who wants the $25 mil remaining on his five year contract and the right to play in the non-profit football industry!

Give the man a Nobel



for September 10, 2014

THIS JUST IN: The Huffington Post has just published my essay on
The Happy Generation! Read all about how the Tens Generation has embraced
Fun, Happy, and Drunk in Love and (and how it couldn't be more
different than the gloomy Oughties gen!)




for September 6, 2014


the happy generation!

The Tens Generation is Soo Different From the Oughties Generation!

This new decade is now half done and has an identity so separate from the Oughties. In fact, in some ways, the Oughties and the Tens generations couldn’t be more different.

The former was pre-recession, the latter post-recession. (The Tens generation will be able to boast of having grown up during something like a Great Depression.)

The music of the former, coming immediately after 9/11, was heroic (early Arcade Fire), monumental (later Radiohead) and even a bit panicky (early Vampire Weekend).

The music of the latter, coming after the recession, with 9/11 a more distant memory, is more organic, more human-sized. They are the Greeks, the previous decade was Roman.

Classic rock to the Tens generation is “Funeral” by Arcade Fire, or “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie. (“OK Computer” is sort of their Chuck Berry.)

But an interesting trend is developing with the Tens generation. Because they are living at home with mom and dad later in life and in bigger numbers than ever before, they are exposed over a greater period of time to their parents’ music that gets played around the house.

Boomer parents play the great oldies by Neil Young and the Grateful Dead and the kids are hearing that and, because that stuff is so great, the new generation is finding it irresistible, too.

And they’re doing their own versions of that sound. And they respond to bands that sound sort of like what they hear at home. Hence we hear wonderful echoes of Young in City and Colour, hints of the Crosby and Nash collaborations of the 1970s in the Head and the Heart, Byrdsish elements in My Morning Jacket.

Also, the Tens generation is more joyful and have come to appreciate whatever prosperity they have. As opposed to the more depressed Oughties generation, which got supremely bummed out by 9/11 and cried listening to “Paranoid Android” and felt emboldened hearing Arcade Fire’s “Intervention.”

The Tens generation, coming out of that nasty recession, is so grateful that things are so much better than they were when “Neon Bible” was out, so grateful that “tonight, we are young.” The band Fun sums up their mood, as does the definitive song of the Tens (so far), Pharrell’s “Happy,” as does that song in which Kanye West insists on getting his croissant at a restaurant!

It’s telling that another signature song of the Tens, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, is so upbeat, while the similarly-named “Lucky” by Radiohead, released years earlier, was so mournful. And Jay-Z and Beyoncé were "Crazy in Love" in the Oughties but are now, in the Tens, more happily, "Drunk in Love."

The Head and the Heart – a Tens band who I heard in the hills above the open-air Greek Theater the other night -- might name-check Arcade Fire from the stage, but they sound much more like early Fleet Foxes and early Silos. Of course, Fleet Foxes initially sounded much like Crosby/Nash.

City and Colour, another Tens/Oughties band performing at the same show (and, judging by the crowd response, poised for a breakthrough), is sort of a combination of Death Cab and the Lumineers and the My Morning Jacket of the “Evil Urges” tour (before they got put on that Bob Dylan bill and became known to everyone). But they also sound unmistakably like vintage Neil Young and even Pink Floyd.

In other words, the stuff the new generation hears in their parents’ living room on a regular basis. But reconfigured for the Tens in an upbeat way that makes it all their own and quite different from the music made in the previous decade.


Btw, great music at last night’s The Head and the Heart/City and Colour/James Supercave concert at the Greek in Berkeley.

The Head and the Heart had some moments of supreme acoustic beauty last night; there’s one song (that I don’t know the name of) with the lyrics “Everybody thinks they’re crazy” that is almost as gorgeous as prime Byrds. (Anyone know the name?)

And the audience reacted to “Lost in My Mind” as if it were all-time classic, singing along to every word (even in the hills above the theater, where I heard the show).

Opening act “City and Colour” is clearly poised for major stardom.

Anyway, one of the most striking parts of last night’s gig was City and Colour’s “The Girl,” which they first did in an arrangement redolent of Death Cab and then in one that resembles The Lumineers, who have (for better and for worse) come to define roots in the Tens.

Some of their stuff begins unprepossessingly but then grabs you and doesn’t let go – like MMJ of ’08 and recent concerts by the Black Crowes.

Opening the whole show was an interesting band called James Supercave that seems influenced by Talking Heads and U2’s “Under The Blood Red Sky.” Vaguely old New Wave-ish. The band has potential.



for August 30, 2014

Outdoor screening of obscure Lee Marvin flick the other night at BAM.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

I saw Lee Marvin get harpooned the other night beneath the stars outside BAM (the Berkeley Art Museum). The museum was showing its own 16mm copy of the very obscure noir "Shack Out on 101" ('55), perhaps the only picture that has ever shown a major actor being harpooned.

Inadvertently funny, directorially inept, conceptually campy.

Concept is this: a remote diner employs a short order cook who's actually a commie spy who's passing scientific secrets to the Soviets. He gets the secrets from a nearby nuke lab whose scientists sometimes stop by for a bite. The place is sort of like a cold war version of "Breaking Bad"'s Los Pollos Romanos. Without the meth. And a lot more preposterous.

Unfortunately, the premise is not in high enough relief to serve as a "Reefer Madness" of the red scare era.

And the only real pro in the bunch is Marvin. (It also stars Len Lesser, "Seinfeld"'s Uncle Leo.)

For Lee Marvin completists, paranoid-movie fans and people who enjoy interestingly bad flicks.


Berkeley was really hopping last Wednesday night. On the way to the Marvin flick, I passed by a bookstore in which author Gabrielle Selz was talking about her new book (below).



scan0493[by Paul Iorio]



for August 27, 2014

I didn't really expect to like the Jack Johnson show last night in Berkeley -- not really my sort of thing and I was at the Greek to check out a new band called Bahamas. But I enjoyed Johnson much more than I thought I would. Particularly "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" and "People Watching."

And who knew his audience was so huge and intense? Not only was it sold out, but there was a capacity crowd in the hills above the theater (where I heard it). And there were shrieks when he went into songs from his number one albums.

Opening was a promising folk group called Bahamas. Not bad. One of their songs -- don't know the name -- was catchy. But I think they were a bit daunted by playing such a big venue.



for August 24, 2014

Dave Matthews, in the middle of a three-night stand in Berkeley, experienced the Napa earthquake and talked about it a few hours ago from the stage at the Greek Theater.

As usual, I had my recorder running. His story went on at length about various family members and friends, and then he said:

“The ground starts shaking, so I got out of bed. And I ran around the room naked for a while…”

The crowd cheers wildly.

“…And then it stopped shaking. So, I survived.”

He referred to the quake at several other points in the show, too. And the crowd seemed to appreciate it after a hard day for everyone in the Bay Area.


Every time Dave Matthews plays Berkeley, there's an earthquake! The last time he performed here -- on September 6, 2008 -- there was a 4.0 quake on the Hayward fault during his show. Hours after his concert last night in Berkeley, there was a 6.0 in Napa. (I'm the only one noting this because I keep notes about everything!)

By the way, I have to admit that Matthews sort of won me over last night with his full-band acoustic set on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley (aka, the open-air Greek Theater). Much more enjoyable than his standard electric-band concert at the same venue in 2008.

And if you've never heard his "Ants Marching" live, do so, because it's quite a sound.



for August 22, 2014

Caught a bit of the John Legend show in Berkeley from my perch in the hills. He started with a pre-recorded bit from "The Message," went into a violin-based classical thing, then into quiet storm, crooning "Made to Love." The crowd ate it up.

"Berkeley, tonight I want to be the best you ever had," he said from the stage, intro'ing "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)." Huge cheers,

Couldn't stay long, but I did catch the opening act, a very good Swedish-American soul-pop singer named Mapei. The stand-out of her set was "Believe"; very catchy, poignant

legendI shot this picture of two fans outside the John Legend concert in Berkeley yesterday evening.



for August 21, 2014

OK, here's the second part of my unpublished interview with Kate Bush, as she prepares to do house concerts across Britain! (Actually, she's performing 22 sold-out shows at the Hammersmith Apollo, easily the hottest ticket across the pond right now.)

(Gee, this Paul Iorio guy can land the rare interviews other journos can't get. All taped and documented, too. Bush, Fela, Polanski, you name it.... I bet he's being paid the big bucks, right? Right? As long as it's fair.)

My Unpublished Interview with Kate Bush (Part Two): the Making of “Hounds of Love”

In this second part of my rare, unpublished interview with Kate Bush – the first part was cross-published by The Huffington Post last March -- she talked in-depth, to an unprecedented degree, about the making of her “Hounds of Love” album, which most critics consider her masterwork.

In December 1985, several months after the album’s release, I spoke one-on-one and in person with Bush in a hotel room in New York City. But only a few quotes from my audiotaped Q&A were published at the time (in the January 11, 1986, issue of Cash Box magazine, for which I wrote and reported).

The part presented here has never been published or posted anywhere.

As she prepares to perform 22 shows at the Hammersmith Apollo in coming days and weeks – her first real concerts since 1979 – here is Bush talking in detail about “Hounds of Love.”

Paul Iorio: [“Hounds of Love”] is going to be your first U.S. success, probably…

Kate Bush: Well, we’ll see. [laughs]

Iorio: How do you feel about that?

Bush: I think it’s really exciting. When your record’s going up the charts, it means that people like the music. That’s feedback…good feedback. And I think every artist really enjoys that. You’d be crazy not to...

Iorio: I just got through seeing a video of yours, the “Cloudbursting” video, with Donald Sutherland.

Bush: Yes, you’ve seen that? You like it?

Iorio: Yeah. It’s very good….Tell me about your relationship, artistic or otherwise, with Donald Sutherland and how he came about to ever be in your video.

Bush: Well, we were very lucky. I wanted a good actor to play the part of the father and we thought, okay, let’s just go for someone [who’s] the ultimate, Donald Sutherland. So we found a way of contacting him and he was interested and had the time to do the shooting days that we needed. And it was incredible...

Iorio: How about the Medici Sextet [which appears on “Cloudbursting”]?

Bush: Actually, a quartet. And they became a sextet for the day!

Iorio: Oh, I see. They were an already established quartet. Added two members, put them on “Cloudbursting.”

Bush: Yes.

Iorio: You, of course, arranged the kind of geometric feel of the strings.

Bush: Yes. I actually wrote the track on the Fairlight [synthesizer] to a string sample sound, but I just don’t think you can beat the atmosphere of real strings. Dave Lawson actually transcripted what I’d done onto paper for string players to be able to play it. It’s really good working with real musicians. Really fun. And interesting, too. Because -- particularly the Medici, as far as I know -- they purely work on classical music, I don’t think they worked on contemporary music before.

Iorio: How about the recurring themes that come through the album [“Hounds of Love”], of running, and chase, and pastoral settings, which carry through in the video and on both sides of the LP. What was the overall scheme of [“Hounds of Love”]? Or did it just come out spontaneously?

Bush: I think the overall scheme, if there was one, was to split it into two separate pieces of music, two sides that would be completely different.

The initial idea was to write a long piece of music, a concept, that would take up the side of an album. I think [it was] something I wanted to do for a long while, but I didn’t feel a whole album of a concept was a good thing to do…So I wrote three or four songs for that side and thought that I’d be brave enough to [link them].

To balance out the other side, I wanted individual songs that weren’t linked. But there would be a balance of one strong mood on one side and maybe more sort of positive individual songs on the other.

And that was the basic scheme. And then it was a matter of writing the material. Which makes it sound much easier than it was.

Iorio: Yeah, because it seems so supremely integrated, all the imagery…

Bush: Oh, good! You were saying about the pastoral settings. I think one of the major influences was moving from the city to the country, which I did between the last album and [“Hounds of Love”]. So all the songs for this album were written while I was sitting in a room, looking out the window at the trees and fields. An elemental album, in many ways.

Iorio: Where did you move? You moved from London to –

Bush: Yes, I moved from an environment that was very much city to somewhere that was very much country. And that sense of quiet and incredible sense of space, which I think was definitely a big influence.

I think all of us are intrigued by that whole thing of something really big and there’s this little human, The sense of contrast and playing with things that shouldn’t really go together but you can make them [go together].

That’s the whole thing with how surrealist artists like to play: putting things that shouldn’t go together together and creating something.



for August 16, 2014

Last Night's Mini-Riot in Berkeley.

Riot police confront protesters at Telegraph and Dana in Berkeley last night before midnight. [photo by Paul Iorio]

In the 11 o'clock hour, after leaving a Counting Crows concert, I saw dozens of police squad cars and cops in riot gear speeding down Bancroft and Telegraph and Parker, heading to various locations where some sort of rioting was occurring. Evidently, there was a spillover of an Oakland rally about the Missouri shooting that ventured into Berkeley.

At Telegraph and Dana, protesters were saying things to the cops like, "Don't shoot me," "Have they shot anybody yet?," and "Let's take the university!"

In my 12 years in Berkeley, I've seen tons of protests, but none has elicited this sort of intense police response.

Here’s a brief video I shot that gives you a sense of the mini-riot that happened last night. This is after 11pm near Sproul. So many police car lights that it looks like Christmas.

Mini-riot in Berkelet, shot by Paul Iorio, 8/15/14.


Last Night's Counting Crows Show.

I enjoyed last night’s show by Counting Crows, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Daniel & the Lion at the Greek Theater in Berkeley (which, as always with concerts at this venue, I heard from the hill above the theater).

The Crows’ best song of the night was “Hangin’ Around.” Concision suits them well, though that’s not their natural tendency. Adam Durwitz sings “I want to be Bob Dylan,” but he’s actually more like the part of Van Morrison that intersects with Springsteen.

Twenty-one years later, some of the songs from breakthrough “August and Everything After” have taken on the feel and gravity of classics. The band dispensed with some of the biggies early on (“Round Here,” “Mr. Jones”) and then gave everyone a generous preview of tracks from the new album, slated for release next month and likely to satisfy longtime fans. (“Scarecrow” fireballs nicely in concert.)

This show was much better than the band’s unfocused gig here in ‘09.

Opening act Toad the Wet Sprocket was much more fun than I thought they would be. Impressive performance. Occasionally they had the force of R.E.M. “Good Intentions” really comes alive live. “All I Want” and “Fall Down” are seductive.

From the stage, Toad’s Glen Phillips noted he was the only member of his family who didn’t attend the University of California at Berkeley. “My parents…got their Ph.Ds here in the Sixties, my brother got his degree here and I dropped out of school and formed a band.”

And Phillips, like more than a couple bands I’ve seen this week, alluded to Robin Williams. “This is dedicated to anyone who suffers from melancholy,” he said, introducing “California Wasted,” from the band’s first new album in 16 years.

Kicking off the whole concert was a very strong Daniel and the Lion. With a sound somewhere between the Grateful Dead and R.E.M., the band seems to have the potential to eventually become the next My Morning Jacket. “Leave You” and others worked exceptionally well live.

Here’s a brief video I shot of Counting Crows playing “Hangin’ Around” last night:

Counting Crows performing "Hangin' Around."



for August 11, 2014

Now everybody is pouring water on their heads!

When I posted this video of me pouring water on my head back on June 28, 2013, nobody was doing it. Here, from '13, is the video I shot for a reggae song I wrote, "I'm So Alive Today"! (The water was a stand-in for wine and beer, of course.)




for August 6, 2014

I heard the Jay-Z/Beyonce concert in San Francisco last night. What can U say? Hip hop gets no better than this; Jay is way more lithe than Kanye; and Bey, with her refreshing feminism, adds a progressive edge to a genre that often veers toward misogyny.

When you see women jump up on the benches when she sings “Run the World (Girls),” you know that, sure as shooting, Hillary or Elizabeth Warren is going to be in the Oval Office come 2017. The zeitgeist is undeniable (and was even from McCovey Cove, where I heard the concert).

Walking through the crowd at AT&T Park, I could really see the people who were there for Jay and the people there for Beyonce, a theoretically incompatible mix that, improbably, works. The Jay crowd is thirtysomething guys who have been around the block – and they’re not there with their women. The Beyonce crowd is mostly 16 to 18 year old girls, twirling their hair with candy-colore fingernails, with expressions like “totally!!!” The demographic Madonna used to have.

And the contrast between the two was never starker than when Jay sang “Niggas in Paris” and Beyonce followed, a few minutes later, with “Rule the World.” Husband and wife traded turns in the spotlight like that throughout the night.

Strongest tracks were Jay’s “Big Pimpin’,” an Egyptian music-influenced track; “Rule the World”; “Niggas in Paris”; crowd-pleaser “Drunk in Love”; and “Clique.”

Their U.S. tour ends tonight with a final concert at the same venue.

P.S. -- What many people don't know is that a concert at AT&T Park is actually a free outdoor concert in San Francisco. Because you can hear the whole thing full volume (and see some of it) from McCovey Cove. Last night's show was so loud that some could hear it in the Mission! Same thing happened during the Rolling Stones' Bigger Bang shows in '05; they were essentially free Stones gigs on the Bay. But some fussbudgets on Potrero Hill had the audacity to complain about the noise levels (instead of enjoying a primo Stones show) and the second night was quieter. Same thing now. There were so many noise complaints on Tuesday that the venue is going to turn it down tonight. I knew that would happen and am glad I went last night.


My new song "Nadsat Song" continues to get lots of plays and downloads. And were it not for the fact that it's competing with my Fela interview on the soundclick charts, it would have a high number today. No doubt, "Nadsat Song" is performing unusually well out there. Glad people are connecting with it. Go to soundclick.com/pauliorio to find out why.

Meanwhile, the audio clip of my interview with Fela Kuti continues to be hugely popular, with tons of listeners streaming and downloading it.

Today, again, it's the #1 audio posting in the alternative category at soundclick.com. Wish I could share a WAV file or the actual tape recording, which is even clearer than the MP3 (you can hear every word with complete clarity). The MP3 is also at soundclick.com/pauliorio .


Does anybody know any American, traveling on a U.S. passport, who traveled behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War (in the Sixties and Seventies)? I'm doing research for a story and having trouble finding anyone who did what I did. None of my family members, none of my professors or fellow students ever made the journey. If someone could point me to someone who did, I'd appreciate it!

Btw, Always. keep. a. journal. Settles a lot of arguments decades later. Let's see: on this day in 1976, I traveled to Rome (from my perch in Florence, where I was studying) to apply for and pick up my double transit visa, required for traveling behind the Iron Curtain, which is where I traveled on August 13th!



for August 5, 2014

There are over a quarter million audio postings in the alternative category at soundclick.com. And my interview with Fela Kuti is currently #1.

In Nigeria, from which I'm getting emails from people enjoying my interview with Fela Kuti, media sites are linking to my Q&A and audio excerpts. (I'm in Berkeley, btw, not Lagos!) The worldwide response to my Fela interview has gone way past what I thought it would be. And that's great. If you haven't heard the audio clips, listen here:




for August 2, 2014

Just published by The Huffington Post: my previously unpublished interview with Fela Kuti!

It's already being shared and tweeted by lots of people -- looks like my most popular story for HuffPo yet! Includes MP3 audio clips of me talking with Fela. Here it is:

Paul Iorio's Interview with Fela Kuti. Now in the Huffington Post!


sunsetI shot this photo of last night's sunset in the Berkeley hills. (The photo was not adjusted in any way.)


berkHere's a photo I shot of an international soccer match in Berkeley last weekend.



for August 1, 2014

Fela Kuti In an Unpublished Interview After His Release From Prison.

The release of Alex Gibney's new documentary on the late Nigerian pop star Fela Kuti spurred me to sift through my own personal journalistic archives to find an audiotaped interview I conducted with Fela in 1986.

And here it is -- a transcript (and audio clip) of my mostly unpublished interview with Fela, perhaps the first one-on-one he granted after being released from prison in '86.

On June 17, 1986, seven weeks after his release from Nigeria's toughest prison, Fela spoke exclusively with me. And, bravely, he remained defiant against the military regime in Nigeria that had imprisoned him.

As is the case with many interviews that I conducted as a writer for music trade Cash Box, the Q&A remained unpublished (except for a few lines published in the June 21, 1986, issue of that magazine).

Kuti is probably best-known today as the inventor of Afropop, a massively influential musical form that mixed jazz, rock, funk -- and revolutionary politics.

Fela was also famous for having fought against oppression in Nigeria; in the early Eighties, he was imprisoned by his country’s autocratic regime for three years for what appears to have been politically motivated charges.

After he was released from prison in April 1986, he visited New York City, appearing at a Manhattan press conference on June 13, 1986 -- my interview was NOT a part of that conference -- before performing on June 15th for Amnesty International at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

Here's an edited version of the conversation I had with Fela on June 17, 1986. (And here's a link to audio clips of my conversation with him: AUDIO CLIPS OF IORIO INTERVIEWING FELA. )

Paul Iorio: It must be a big change for you to be out of prison now.

Fela Kuti: Yeah, it's a big change for me. It's a good change.

Iorio: Did you write a lot of songs in prison?

Fela: No. I just kept my brain blank. I left my mind blank in prison.

Iorio: You were transferred to Kirikiri. Was that, as they say, Nigeria's toughest prison? And was it tough on you?

Fela: [Kirikiri] is one of the toughest prisons but it was not tough on me. I lived through it. It was tough on the body. I lived through it...

Iorio: Do you think your spirit is stronger because of this experience?

Fela: Much more stronger.

Iorio: There was a period when you were in the hospital and they transferred you over to Maiduguri prison. At that point, nobody heard anything from you for about six weeks. What happened to you?

Fela: They just took me to the prison...And it was very, very uncomfortable, very far away from everybody. And visitors weren't allowed for me for about five months.

Iorio: Were you afraid for your life?

Fela: No, no, no. I was never afraid for my life....We just try to face the government...

Iorio: Are you still going to speak out against the Nigerian government?...You're not going to back down?

Fela: No, I'm not going to back down. I still intend to [protest the government]. I'm not
backing down...

Iorio: Would you ever consider getting involved in Nigerian politics...?

Fela: Yes, definitely.

Iorio: You mentioned that some of the military people have your records and like your music.

Fela: Oh, yes. Everybody in Nigeria likes my records.

Iorio: Do you think Amnesty International had a lot to do with getting you out of prison?

Fela: Not much. They tried to make people aware of it. But there's not much they could do...

Iorio: While you were in prison, what was the worst thing that happened to you?

Fela: The worst thing that happened to me [while I was in prison] was that my record was produced by somebody else -- Bill Laswell. And that really fucked me up in prison.

Iorio: That was "Live in Amsterdam"?

Fela: No, no, "Army Arrangement"....Destroyed me completely. Fucked my mind up...When you're in prison, you can’t do anything about what’s happening outside.

Iorio: But at the same time, people were being carted out dead everyday, there were beatings.

Fela: Oh, yes.

Iorio: But it never happened to you?

Fela: No.

Iorio: Was that because everybody knew who you were?

Fela: Yes, exactly.

Iorio: You were more than disappointed with "Army Arrangement."

FELA: Yes, Bill Laswell’s production. I had a production [before I went] to prison. So they abandoned my production and put in a new one....They knew that [I’d given] instructions
that it not be produced by anyone. They knew how I felt about it. [I was unable to contact Laswell for comment on this. Laswell is, of course, welcome to give his side of the story in the comments section here.]

Iorio: How about "Live in Amsterdam"? Do you harbor any bad feeling that EMI released that instead of releasing "Perambulator"?

Fela: EMI did so many bad things. They didn’t look out for my interest at all...They just wanted to rush something out....”Live in Amsterdam” wasn’t a good recording. I only [made] it happen because the system wanted it, because the company complained...and demanded a live album.
[Any executive from that era of EMI is free to rebut Fela's statements in the comments section.]

Iorio: Is there a Fela record that you consider is your best?

Fela: No, I don’t.

Iorio: Do you think that you could live a better life as a musician if you were to leave Nigeria?

Fela: I could never leave my home....It inspires me a lot.


Almost 38 years ago, when I was barely 19 years old, I traveled solo behind the Iron Curtain to Istanbul and back via a train that made mostly local stops. August 1976.

My starting point was Florence (where I was studying for six months).
It was impossible to convince any of my friends, who were traveling in less adventurous directions, to join me.

So, when I caught the train to go east, I was alone. When I traveled 52 hours through the toughest part of the Iron Curtain, I was alone. And when I returned to Florence later that month, I was alone.

A month earlier, I was 18 years old. Here's what happened (complete with photos, passport/visa stamps, etc.).


I Traveled Alone Behind the Iron Curtain
During the Cold War.

By Paul Iorio
This is the transit visa that enabled me to get through the Iron Curtain,
August 20, 1976. The border crossing, as shown on the visa stamp, was
Edirne, which is at the intersection of Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece.
I was entering Bulgaria from Turkey.

With each passing year, there are fewer and fewer people who

have actual first-hand memories of the fabled Iron Curtain -- and

fewer still who traveled deep behind the Curtain on a U.S. passport

in that era.

I did.

As an adventurous 19-year-old American college student, I traveled

alone (via a train that made mostly local stops ) through the Iron Curtain

in 1976, journeying non-stop from Italy, to Istanbul, Turkey,

crossing the entire length of both the former Yugoslavia and Bulgaria

and venturing through Thrace and European Turkey.

And then I took the whole trip again in reverse!

My starting point was Florence (where I was studying for six months).

It was impossible to convince any of my friends, who were traveling

in less adventurous directions, to join me.

So, when I caught the train to go east, I was alone. When I

traveled 52 hours through the toughest part of the Iron Curtain,

I was alone. And when I returned to Florence later that month,

I was alone. I met no one I knew along the way. And nobody followed

my trail or came afterwards. A month earlier, I was 18 years old.

My non-stop trek spanned fifty-two hours, two time zones and over

two thousand miles in August '76, following the route of the

original Orient Express, though this was not nearly as plush.

The train was a ramshackle thing, barely better than refugee

boxcars for much of the voyage; through most of Yugoslavia, I

couldn't even find a seat and had to sleep on my suitcase in

the crowded corridor.

I also soon found that the tough reputation of the cops of

communist Eastern Europe was well-deserved -- though I was

skeptical about that fact before the trip. As I naively joked

in my journal when I passed into Slovenia: "I must be in

Yugoslavia by now. It's dark, so I can't see the oppression

and lack of liberty." (It was also, incidentally, too dark

to see that I was missing what some call the best scenery

of the region: the Julian Alps of Slovenia.)

My attitude was less jokey several hours later in Zagreb when

the Yugoslav police took me off the train for no apparent reason

(probably because I was one of only two Americans on board the

train that day), forcing me to leave my luggage onboard. Through

the language barrier, I think the cops were claiming I didn't

have a transit visa -- even after I showed them my transit visa.

As I wrote in my journal at the time: "And so off the train

I went" -- to the harsh glare of people who had stony

"Tito/Khrushchev" expressions on their faces.

The only other person booted from the train was a bearded hippie

who claimed to be a Stanford University student; he started

getting loud about what he called the fascist behavior of

the cops, and I asked him to shut up before he got us

in deeper trouble.

We were detained outside a small side building, a sort of

mini-police station, where an officer confiscated my passport. After

waiting for around ten minutes, the train made noises as if

it were about to leave Zagreb, so, impulsively, I bolted toward

the tracks, even though I didn't have my passport and hadn't been

given an ok from the police to re-board.

But no one stopped me. I wasn't hit by a hail of bullets! And

just before I reboarded, some stranger handed me my

passport. "Mysteriously received my...passport again

as...I was running back to the train and was handed

it by a man," I wrote in my journal at the time. "Mysterious

totalitarian forces at work."

I didn't see the Stanford student get back on the train and

assumed he was now in the clutches of some nasty Croatian cops.

As the train left Zagreb, I sat down and started writing about

what had just happened. But a Yugoslav police officer came into my

train car and stood a short distance from me, staring at me in a

menacing way. When I put away my pen and paper, he walked away.

Through the train window, parts of northern Croatia looked

sort of like a Communist Norman Rockwell painting, with peasants,

in classic red style, harvesting a field by hand with sickles.

As the train approached Belgrade, the landscape became increasingly

urban in a very gray way.

"The entrance [to Belgrade] is utterly filled with trash, and

as you approach it, one sees drab but...modern buildings

and a superhighway," I wrote in my diary.

I snapped this photo of Belgrade, then the capital of
Yugoslavia, from the train in '76.

After Belgrade, the scenery became unexpectedly spectacular,

thanks to the thrilling peaks of the Balkan Mountains (one of

the most underrated ranges in all of Europe). But just before

Bulgaria, the landscape became downbeat again, full of "empty

roads, solemn faces, dreary check points," as I wrote in my

journal at the time.

This part of southern Serbia, between Bulgaria and

Kosovo, remains the most desolate, lonely and abandoned

area of the world I've ever seen.

Despite the oppressive presence of police and soldiers, the

civilians on the train were lively and uninhibited throughout

the Balkans.

At one point, in southeastern Serbia, five very friendly (too friendly!)

rural Serbians (with a couple black puppies) insisted -- absolutely

insisted -- that I take a picture of them and their dogs, so I did.

In return, they gave me a couple Yugoslav cigarettes, three swigs

of vodka -- and their addresses so I could send them the pictures.

Here was the scene on the train in southern Serbia just
before the Bulgarian border when five Serbian guys insisted
I snap their pictures!

Just before the Bulgarian border, I found a seat in a

compartment that was like a mini-United Nations. I sat

across from a confident and exuberant Libyan man (with

extremely white teeth) who said he was on his way to

study electrical engineering in Bulgaria. Also

in the compartment were a soft-spoken guy from Copenhagen

and two French men. One of them looked like rocker Ron Wood,

the other said he was a Sorbonne professor of Islamic

civilization and French. They were talking to each other

in English, French and other languages.

As the train crossed into Bulgaria at Dimitrovgrad, I

experienced the toughness of the Bulgarian border soldiers,

widely regarded as the most ruthless in all of eastern Europe

at the time.

With rifles at the ready, the Bulgarian guards were

harsh and humorless. "At the Bulgarian border, the

guards had Hitler mustaches, as all traces of Western

Europe (as well as humor or smiling) disappeared

completely," I wrote in my journal after entering

the country.

Passing from Yugoslavia to Bulgaria, I could feel the

difference between a police state (the former) and a military

state (the latter). The first was harsh, the latter potentially


I soon passed through Sofia, which seemed like an extremely

insulated and subdued city; the locals at the train station,

in old-fashioned clothing and uncomfortable-looking shoes,

approached the train and gawked curiously at the train as if

they were looking at visitors from another planet.

This is the farthest behind the Iron Curtain that anyone could
get back in '76: Sofia, Bulgaria. I shot this from the train.

Several hours later, at the exit border -- the tense checkpoint

near the three-way intersection of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece --

the armed Bulgarian cops became even more unfunny than they

had been at the entry border.

"Long wait at the Bulgaria/Turkey border," I wrote in my journal

that night. "Soldiers all around checking bags, shining

lights....It is pitch black and probably midnight."

In the distance, I saw the silhouette of a tank. A rumor,

later proved false, circulated that the train was being

delayed because war had broken out between Greece and

Turkey over Cyprus.

After an anxious period, we were finally allowed to proceed

into western Turkey, back into NATO territory. "The train

starts into the Turkish black night, soldiers waving goodbye,

and I go back to my compartment and sleep," I wrote in my diary.

To my surprise, a few yards away at a train window, there was

that Stanford student who I had mistakenly thought was left

behind in Zagreb the day before; he was looking out the window

and singing the Rolling Stones's "Satisfaction."

It was a few hours before sunrise on my third day of travel, but

Istanbul was still over 12 hours away.

After Bulgaria, entering western Turkey felt like someone had

opened a window and let in light, air and birds. I was now in

westernmost Turkey, aka Thrace. After the monochromatic Balkans,

Thrace seemed to come alive in vivid Technicolor like something

out of "The Wizard of Oz." .

"At sunrise, I wake and see...Turkey," I wrote in my journal.

"The train is moving at a snail's pace, stopping every twenty yards

or so. The scenery is unlike anything I've seen before. The

mountains are sometimes rocky or green or barren like a desert...

There are great stretches of huge yellow sunflower fields stretching

for [what looks like] miles. The people all wave as the train goes

by, and the animals get more exotic and plentiful: goats,

gazelles, unnamables, roosters, huge flocks of sheep."

Western Turkey and Thrace came alive in color after traveling
through the gray Balkans. Here's a photo I shot of the area
west of Istanbul.

Fifty-two hours after boarding the train in Florence, I arrived

in Istanbul at three on a hot afternoon in August, burping

Lambrusco, profoundly tired and somewhat dehydrated. I checked into

a cheap hostel ($5 a night) in the Sultanahmet neighborhood

where American hippies -- who had almost certainly taken a

plane, not a train, to Istanbul -- were outside singing

Paul Simon's "Homeward Bound" as someone played guitar.

After five days in Istanbul, it was time to return to Florence. I

considered taking a quick flight back, but (being a broke student

back then) went to the train station and took the whole trip

behind the Iron Curtain all over again.

This time, I fell sick just before the Bulgarian border

and remained sick all the way home (and for a week after

returning to Florence), sleeping through most of the

ride back.

No food or beverages were sold onboard and Americans

weren't allowed to exit before their destination, so I

was left with nothing to eat or drink except

whatever I had with me (which was some bad carbonated

Lambrusco wine and stale cheese-bread (don't ask)).

In retrospect, I now see that the larger risks of the trip

came not behind the Iron Curtain but in running afoul

of Muslim traditions in Istanbul. (For example, some guy

chased me down the street with a stick in Istanbul for

shooting a picture of veiled women gathered in a doorway;

another man almost became violent when I didn’t show more

respect than I was already showing at Istanbul’s Pavilion of

the Holy Mantle, where the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s hair and

teeth are on display (according to the Pavilion).

All told, my advice to anyone considering a travel

adventure like this (which, by the way, couldn't be

done today because there is no Iron Curtain): take

the plane!

After a 52-hour train ride, I finally arrived
in Istanbul.


Above, a photo I shot from Istanbul's Galata Bridge, August 1976.

* * * *

After crossing through Bulgaria, I arrived at the first stop over the
border in Yugoslavia (present-day Serbia), Dimitrovgrad, via this visa
stamp (left).


I got behind the Iron Curtain using this American passport.
But I applied for my transit visas (to Bulgaria and Yugoslavia)
through a third-party country -- Italy. Otherwise the visas
wouldn't have likely been approved.


Above are various items from my trip behind the Iron Curtain; at
center is my visa for entry to Bulgaria; clockwise from the top left
are a card for the hostel I stayed at, a pack of Turkish cigarettes,
an August 1976 calendar, my own notes about entering Bulgaria, a
ticket to the Topkapi, and a couple logos for regional publications.



for July 25, 2014

I just saw Woody Allen's "Magic in the Moonlight." My thoughts? It's his ninth best film, post-"Bullets Over Broadway," generally considered the demarcation between Allen's early and later work.

That's not low praise, as there're some marvelous scenes and plot twists and funny bits and hard-earned wisdom here. Everyone (especially Colin Firth and Emma Stone) does a good job, but, conceptually, it's b Allen.

It most resembles "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and "Match Point," though it's not nearly as great as either. It's both slack AND nervous, though not nervous by design but in the manner of a picture shot in the eye of a tabloid scandal.

But even Allen's lesser efforts are better than most films released in any given year, so this one's well worth seeing. Just don't expect a knock-out like "Blue Jasmine."



for July 21, 2014

Extraordinarily fun concert at the Greek Theater last Friday night in Berkeley. After a set by Bob Marley's son Stephen Marley -- who rocked the place while praising Haile Selassie -- the refreshingly irreverent NOFX took the stage and started slaughtering sacred cows. Hilariously.

"You see the black band that played earlier?," a member of NOFX said.

"We're all about racial slurs," said one NOFXer. "We've got tons of 'em!"

"I think it's nice that Jews and blacks can share the same stage. One day Jews and Pelestinians will share the same stage!," said a NOFXer. Huge applause from the crowd.

Then the band launched into high-energy stuff, sounding like a cross between an ironic Green Day, a non-hip hop Beastie Boys and Rancid. Plus, the funniest stage patter this side of Flight of the Conchords.

Opening for them was Marley -- who did a few of his dad's songs and some of his own (and was, thankfully, almost too loud even in the hills above the theater, where I heard the concert) -- and Fishbone, who played some fantastic funk. (I missed headliners Slightly Stoopid.)



for July 17, 2014

Johnny Winter Talks Blues, Busts Myths in Unpublished Interview.

“I’d like to be the old white father of the blues when I’m 80 or so,” Johnny Winter told me in 1985.

Sadly, he didn’t make it that far, dying on July 16th in a hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, at the age of 70.

When I spoke with him, one-on-one and in person, Winter was 41 and already a legendary grandmaster of the blues. I met him far from his Texas roots -- in an apartment at 83 Riverside Drive in New York City, to be exact.

It was dinner hour – between 5 and 6 p.m. on Friday, October 4, 1985 – and Winter was in a loose, loquacious mood, showing me one of his six vintage Firebird electric guitars and chatting about his new album, “Serious Business.”

We talked about his deep love of the blues, his finger vibrato technique and how he really got signed to Columbia Records. (Contrary to popular lore, it was an article in Rolling Stone (not an A&R discovery at a concert) that landed Winter his record deal.)

The Q&A, preserved on a cassette tape I still have, went on for around 5,000 words, but, ultimately, I used only 161 words of it for a story on comeback artists in the October 19, 1985, issue of music trade magazine Cash Box, for which I was a staff writer/reporter.

Hence, very little of this interview has ever been published or posted anywhere – until now. Here is an edited transcript.

Paul Iorio: When did [your music career] really start taking off? Was there one gig where an A&R guy came around to see you and said, “This guy’s really good”?

Johnny Winter: There was the Rolling Stone article that came out in the last of ’68. It was actually an article on Texas music and people who had made it from there and were doing good. And they talked about other musicians who were still starving to death in Texas and mentioned me and there was a big picture of me. And that article really changed things for me overnight. Just overnight, people were calling up from California, New York, overseas, making me offers. People who I’d been trying to get to see for years....I took down everybody’s name and telephone number and started making the rounds, talking to everybody.

Iorio: So that led to the Columbia deal and the “Johnny Winter” album. But then you developed a sort of [harder] sound.

Winter: Yeah, when I started working with Rick Derringer and Randy Hobbs. Rick was a great guitar player. And Rick wasn’t a straight blues guitar player. He was more of a rock ‘n’ roll guitar player. And what we came up with together was definitely more a rock ‘n’ roll thing than blues. Kind of half and half. Rockin’ blues, I guess you could call it….

Iorio: Do you still collaborate with [Derringer and Edgar Winter]?

Winter: No, not really. We probably will, we’re just not doing anything right now. We just don’t like the same stuff. I love straight blues. And Edgar doesn’t really care about it that much. Edgar’s always into a more jazz/r&b thing. Edgar’s such a good musician that he can go in any direction he wants to go in. Sometimes I think it makes it kind of hard for him because he can do anything. Hard just to decide which thing to do.

Iorio: Too many possibilities.

Winter: Yeah.


Iorio: You identify more with bluesmen than rockers?

Winter: Yeah, a little bit more, I guess. It’s where the rock ‘n’ roll came from. I discovered both of them just about the same time. Guess I heard Little Richard and those [rockers] just a little bit before. And then when I heard Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, I said this is the real stuff, this is where Carl Perkins and Little Richard all got it from! To me, rock ‘n’ roll was great, the blues was even greater. It was the daddy of rock ‘n’ roll. Like Muddy’s song: “the blues had a baby and they named it rock ‘n’ roll.” That’s kind of the way I always thought about it.


Iorio: Who are your all-time favorite [artists]?

Winter: Well Muddy is always one of my all-time favorites. A lot of the guys that I grew up loving and idolizing are dead now, most of them. Too bad. In another ten years, I’m gonna be my only idol! [laughs] Kind of strange now. There’re a lot of good people. All the Alligator [Records] people are great. That’s what made me want to be with Alligator, all the people on the label like Albert Collins and Lonnie Brooks, Koko Taylor….

Iorio: How did you get hooked up with Alligator?

Winter: I’d known [Alligator Records founder] Bruce [Iglauer] for five or six years and had done some recording with him with Son Seals. And we’d been talking about doing stuff when I was still with Blue Sky [Records]/CBS. And after my [CBS] contract expired, my management didn’t really want me to go with Alligator, because [I’d been] on a major label there for eleven years and he was hoping I’d get something with a major label. Well, I would’ve loved it, too, if I could’ve done exactly what I wanted…Bruce and I worked it out to where we’ll just do it record by record as long as we were both happy. [Winter would go on to record one more album for Alligator, in 1986, before moving to major label MCA.]


Iorio: On [“Serious Business”], you’ve got something new here, that finger vibrato playing. Maybe it’s not new –

Winter: It’s not really new. Eric Clapton...started doing all that finger vibrato stuff. Before Eric, I used the vibrato a lot more. And then when Eric got into the finger vibrato, there was a period where you had to do that to be cool.

Iorio: Who would you like to collaborate with if you could collaborate with anyone?

Winter: There aren’t too many people that I wanted to work with that I haven’t gotten a chance to. It might be fun to make a record with B.B. [King]. I’ve done a lot of gigs with B.B. King, we played together a lot in the past, but we’ve never recorded together. And Eric [Clapton], I’ve never recorded with. I’d like to do something with Eric, that would be fun. [Winter’s next album, “Step Back,” to be released posthumously in September 2014, features Eric Clapton.]

Iorio: How about getting a [blues supergroup] together with Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Clapton and –

Winter: It might be fun to do for an album. I’m really happy with the players I’ve got in my band now. I don’t think I’d want a supergroup to be on the road with. In fact, I remember reading an interview with Eric [Clapton] and he said the same thing about working with Cream. He said that when he was working with Cream that he never felt he was relaxed, that everybody was trying to outplay everyone else. He never felt like it was just he could get up there and really just play your best, it was always kind of a nervous experience. And I think it probably would be, working with a group of stars all the time. It’s kind of nicer to find people that you can be comfortable playing with. It never seems to work with a whole group full of stars; everybody wants to be a leader, too. And I like being the leader. I wouldn’t want to work with a group where [they aren't] following me….I definitely like to be calling the shots.

Iorio: Has Alligator given you more artistic freedom than you’ve ever gotten before?

Winter: No, CBS gave me more. At CBS, I had total artistic freedom. At Alligator, I have total freedom, except there were three of us producing the record [“Serious Business”]. Most of the time, we pretty much agree. But there’re some little things we disagree about. And there’s three of us, so it’s not like you can’t just have a fight with one guy [with whom] you disagree. So, the answer is, no, I don’t have more freedom now. But it’s never gotten bad enough to where I wanted to walk out.


Iorio: [Your early career] must have been a whirlwind.

Winter: When I was starting out, I made my first record when I was 15, and recorded all over and played all over the south before I actually did make it when I was almost 25. That was ten years of traveling around and making records for little tiny labels and a couple major labels. It was something I’d been trying for for ten years before it finally happened. It was great. For the first couple years, it was unbelievable. It was what I’d been trying for. Everything kind of led up to it.

Iorio: How about those early years, before you ever got the Columbia contract?

Winter: We played everything. Every kind of music you get paid for playing. And some stuff that we couldn’t get paid for! [laughs] We did country music. We did a little bit of jazz. Edgar [Winter] was the jazz musician, he could handle any of that that we got called on to do. I always liked the rhythm and blues and straight blues. But usually straight blues, we’d throw that in in nightclubs, but we really couldn’t get away with doing a whole blues set. Until 1963, ’64, the blues was definitely segregated from the rest of the music. White people didn’t know what it was, didn’t care about it. We’d throw a little bit of it in there, but you couldn’t get away with doing a whole set of blues. They just didn’t really know what it was.

Iorio: You were probably listening to –

Winter: I was listening to every blues record I could find. They had a lot of it on the radio. There were real good stations all over the south, 50,000-watt stations. There were record stores that would advertise on these stations. You could buy records from the mail that you could never have found in towns in the south. And literally everything I could find – I spent my lunch money on and bought all these Chicago records, Muddy Waters, Little Walter. There was a couple [blues radio stations] in Tennessee – Nashville, There was one in Shreveport, KDKH. There was one station in Beaumont, KJET, that played nothing but blues. And Clarence Darlow, who wrote a couple of songs on [“Serious Business"], was a DJ on KJET in the afternoon and sang and played guitar at night. And he was one of the first people that I started going out to listen to when I was 15 or 16.


Iorio: Has some big label come up to you and said, “Johnny, why don’t you try a [hard rock] thing like you did before?”…How would you feel if somebody did?

Winter: I don’t have anything at all against rock ‘n’ roll. I love rock ‘n’ roll….Blues is what I love to do the most, but just ‘cause you love fried chicken, it might be your favorite food, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing you eat. I’d like to do a country album. As long as I can keep doing blues, I’d like to do everything else, too.

If I’m not doing any blues, it really does make me feel bad – like I’m not eating or something! I just have to do some to feel good!


Iorio: How do you see yourself in the music world?

Winter: I hope I’m doing the same stuff when I’m 70 or 80. I’d like to be the old white father of the blues when I’m 80 or so!



for July 10, 2014

25 Years After Abbie Hoffman's Suicide, a Revealing Unpublished Interview.

Twenty-five years ago last April, Abbie Hoffman, one of the best-known activists of the 1960s, killed himself with an overdose of pills at his home in Pennsylvania. He was 51 years old and had been suffering from mental health problems for years.

When I spoke with him, one-on-one and in person, around 18 months before his suicide, it was clear that Hoffman was unraveling to an alarming degree. Not only did he get up and leave the half-hourish Q&A abruptly, without any sort of warning and for no cause, but he started cursing angrily when he dropped debris all over place during his exit. It was clear that he no longer resembled the charismatic firebrand he had been decades earlier, when he was a founder of the Yippies and became, as one of the Chicago 7, one of the most celebrated political defendants of that era.

Minutes before he walked out of the interview, Hoffman was talking, sometimes nonsensically, about his latest obsession: the invasion of privacy posed by urine tests, the subject of his latest book, “Steal This Urine Test.”

My interview with Hoffman took place at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan in October 1987, prior to (and apart from) his appearance at the CMJ music convention. (He had been a no-show at two previously scheduled interviews with me.)

I audiotaped the entire Q&A -- and still have the tape – which formed the basis of a brief (but, alas, poorly-edited) story I wrote for the New Jersey-based East Coast Rocker newspaper that year.

However, relatively little of my interview was used in the article. Here, for the first time outside of my own blog, is a complete, albeit edited, transcript of my all-too-revealing interview with Hoffman. (The dialogue at the end, by the way, is completely unedited and verbatim.)

Paul Iorio: Well, let’s see, you --

Abbie Hoffman: I make it up as I go along. I call it verbal diarrhea...I go about 17 hours a day on five hours sleep. I can't wait to [he drifts off].

Iorio: And you get paid one dollar a year for this environmental --

Hoffman: I gave 'em back the dollar. Now it costs me $4,000. The [unintelligible] costs $7,000. I'm saving up to $30,000, so I can sue the U.S. Army for fraudulent ads on TV. I don't believe you become a super brain surgeon or an electronic engineer by joining the army. I think you learn how
to clean toilets and kill people, see....

That's where most of my money goes. I don't think I had $11,900 net last year, according to the IRS. I don't own any property. I don't even have medical insurance. I have nothing: bonds, stocks, any of that stuff. I mean, I ain’t Mother Teresa; obviously, I'm having too good of a time to be her. But then again, I don't have a big sponsor like she does.

Iorio: Why did you try this book, “Steal This Urine Test”? Why the subject of urine tests?

Hoffman: I wish it had been someone else, a conservative like William Safire. I did it because I knew about this story, I knew the tests were fraudulent for three or four years. I felt they'd be laughed out of existence, which they would be if there weren't this drug hysteria. And two years ago, I knew there was a tremendous expose in a fraudulent industry. I waited for someone else to write it....And I had seven publishers who turned me down....

It's not a pro-drug book. Only television hosts call it pro-drug, because they haven't read it. I've never met a television host in America who has read a book.

Iorio: You’re probably right but --

Hoffman: I am right. I am. You can tell. If you're a serious writer, and someone's interviewing you about the book, you can tell within three questions whether they've read it or not.

Iorio: You bring out a lot of interesting facts in the book, like –

Hoffman: You can also tell whether they have an IQ below or above 80. And how much their haircut costs. And that's about it. That's TV, the worst drug in the country.

This book tour is what's getting me really riled up about it because here's a book [that's] serious investigative journalism. And you go on [TV] following a snake charmer, and you're out to talk about one of the complex issues in the world, which is drugs. And the first question will be, "How is Amy
Carter?" Or, "Are you on drugs?" Or, "Where is Jerry Rubin these days?" Or, "How does it feel to be an ex-sixties radical?" [laughs]

Iorio: Well, let’s get down to the particulars. One of the serious charges [you make] in the book is that melanin --

Hoffman: I know what you're going to say, that melanin will cross react as marijuana resin. In the book it says that that's not true...Yes, poppy seeds will cross react as opium, but you would have to eat about three bagels....Impassive inhalation of up to two weeks: if you're at a Grateful Dead concert and you don't smoke any grass, and you take the test [he snaps his fingers] -- bing! It'll spot you just as fast! There are internal enzymes. And then there are an unknown quantity that we don't even know about...

...People can beat the test just by using some of the chemical additives that I mentioned -- that's what the book's about, how to beat the test! You've got to fight fire with fire, the ridiculous with the ridiculous. But you've got to pee in a cup to prove you're a good American!

...In 1968, the whole world was watching the United States; today, they're all laughing. I mean, every country in the world has a drug problem, but we're the only ones with a stupid urine test. Where people watch you urinate in a cup, and that's supposed to prove that you're a good productive worker. I mean, it's all a fraud! ABC, The New York Times, The L.A. Times: don't you think they'd know better?

Iorio: Didn’t it occur to you that maybe if you had written a book about your seven years underground --

Hoffman: It would have been easier. People would've got up and said, "What drug are you on now?" This book had to be written, this is my...most important serious book. [Urine testing] is an attempt to break every union in the country, to get workers fired regardless of civil rights acts or

[shouting] This is crazy! This is crazy! This is the most serious invasion of our privacy
in our lifetime....If the general public knew the width of these tests and how they were used as a mass surveillance device, I mean, they'd be up in arms.

Sometimes the people hate the government -- they're never there when you need them. You know, they're coming in their bladder!

[Hoffman stands up, picks up a box and leaves the interview without even saying goodbye.]

Iorio: Well, you’ve got to go, I guess --

[Hoffman carries the box away, and stuffing falls all over the place. "Is this any way to run a business?," he shouts angrily at no one in particular, walking away with the box. He committed suicide 18 months later.]


for July 1, 2014

Many thanks to DJ Marshall Stax and KALX radio for airing a couple of my
new songs last night, "Love Hate Speech" and "Nadsat Song."

For those who missed the show yesterday, here's "Love Hate Speech."
(I'll try to get "Nadsat Song" up online within days.

LOVE HATE SPEECH, by Paul Iorio.



for June 23, 2014

I saw Smokey Robinson perform in San Francisco yesterday afternoon. Such effortless charisma. Here's a photo I shot of him yesterday:

Smokey, June 22, 2014. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

And here's a photo I shot of Patti Austin, who opened the concert:



I also saw Clint Eastwood's "Jersey Boys" this weekend. Best movie of the year so far, owing mostly to a very strong first half (the second sort of turns into "The Godfather").

The band members come alive on screen, particularly Bob Gaudio. Beautiful evocation of the Brill building, too. And it's a crowd-pleaser; the audience in the theater where I saw it broke into spontaneous applause near the end. Those who are giving it bad reviews are probably reviewing Eastwood's politics more than film itself.

All told, it's sort of like Eastwood's idea of a Scorsese movie -- and it works surprisingly well, though it probably should've been edited down by 15 minutes or so.

One off-note. To have the extortionist character joining in the song and dance at the end is sort of like having Stan Polley dancing with Badfinger at the end of a biopic about that band. Slightly north of nauseating.


I heard Mary Lambert perform in Berkeley Friday night. Fascinating artist with a lot of potential to break big.

Sort of a cross between a downbeat Adele and a preachy Laurie Anderson, if you can picture that. At her best, she captures the sound of the heartbroken voice alone in a bedroom (a la Adele). ("I cry a lot," she said from the stage.)

Lambert's also as loquacious as Adele is in concert; she spent as much time talking to the audience as singing during her 25 minute set. At one point, her talking morphed into a spoken word piece and then into song.

When she combines all that with catchy pop -- there was a great one that went, "I don't care if the world knows what my secrets are" -- I'm a believer.

She performed as the opener for Gavin DeGraw and Matt Nathanson at the Greek Theater. (Couldn't stay for the headliner's full set.)

Here's a photo of me on the way to hear Lambert in the hills above the theater.

Yours truly, walking down a country road!

But I digress. Paul



for June 13, 2014

I posted my brand new track "Love Hate Speech" on a completely unmarked page on Soundclick.com for audio storage purposes only -- and it still landed on the alternative chart (at #149)!! Can't keep a good song down, I guess.

OK, because some seem to want to hear it, I'm streaming it on Soundclick until 11 tonight -- and then I'm taking it down until the new album is ready for release. (The song, btw, was up on YouTube for several hours, but few saw it there.)

Check it out! (Orthodox folkies may not like this one.)

LOVE HATE SPEECH, by Paul Iorio.



for June 12, 2014

"Love Hate Speech" is a song I wrote a few weeks ago and recorded a few days ago. It's got a great beat, nifty lyrics and is bound to be controversial.

For the next twelve hours, I'm posting it on YouTube. After that, it goes to a "private" setting until later this year, when I'll be releasing the new album. Enjoy!

LOVE HATE SPEECH, by Paul Iorio.


The Untold Story About Coverage of O.J. Simpson O.J. Simpson signs autographs for fans in August 1997 outside the Santa Monica Courthouse (photo by Paul Iorio).

I once confronted O.J. Simpson in a Santa Monica courthouse, went right up to him and asked, “O.J., have you had any luck finding your wife’s killer?”

Simpson didn’t like my question at all and didn’t answer it either, so I asked again. I was working as a reporter for Reuters at the time and Simpson was in court to give up his Heisman trophy, as part of the civil settlement in the double murder case.

Again, no answer. And then he became oddly hostile. “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,” he said in a mocking sing-song voice while looking right at me.

Except for two excellent reporters for Court TV, I was the only one asking Simpson tough questions that day. Some reporters even played extreme softball with him ("O.J., do you feel you're being harassed?," asked one).

Meanwhile, two cops, one black and one white, played air football with him in a corridor.

After a few minutes, a cop stopped me from asking questions -- but the judge overruled the officer around an hour later and said I could talk to Simpson. So I asked him again,

"OJ, have you had any luck finding your wife’s killer?" After all, he had famously said he was looking everywhere.

He simply walked away and talked to his pals, the two cops, who seemed to enjoy being in the glow of their sports hero.

Minutes later, out of the blue, as I sat quietly in the courtroom, one cop (who had been playing air football with Simpson) started giving me a rough time.

And then -- equally out of the blue -- a so-called reporter (she identified herself as Michelle Caruso of the New York Daily News) started to play tag team with the cop, yelling and screaming in the courtroom at me -- a pro pos of nothing. I just ignored Caruso, who was acting like someone off her meds.

Funny. This Caruso had no questions for Simpson, who she could’ve questioned right there, but she had questions for me. Hmmm.

To me, it looked this way: a cop friendly to O.J. was pissed that I was questioning OJ harshly. The reporter Caruso, who seemed to know that cop, appeared to be playing tag team to provoke a fight with me in the courtroom. Unfortunately for her, I didn't take the bait.

The court session ended and O.J. went outside to TV cameras, where – surprise! -- reporters who had been asking no questions suddenly thought up a couple.

Funny, inside the court room, where they had had one-on-one access to him, they had no questions. But with the cameras whirring, they suddenly found their tongues.

At that point, I asked O.J. about how much money he owed the I.R.S. He answered that he didn’t know.

And then Simpson left the courthouse area to sign autographs for his many fans.


Just found my handwritten notes from that day. Ohhhh, let's see. From my notes (which I might post): "Two cops, very buddy buddy with O.J." White cop named Lombardo, black cop named Moten. Moten covers the name on his badge as he passes by me but I get it anyway.

At 2PM, after lunch break, I walk back into coutroom, having asked Simpson tough questions that the cops, friendly to him, didn't dig. The harassment of me begins. Entered Department L. "We're closed," female cop behind desk says. I silently turn to walk away and a voice over the intercom booms: "Are you having any trouble?" I'm having no interaction with anyone and wondering wassup.

After 2pm. Back in courtroom. Cop Lombardo starts badgering me though I'm sitting silently. Caruso of the Daily News starts in without any provocation whatsoever: "Who's your boss? screams Caruso. "Who hired you? I know all the guys at Reuters!" Caruso shuts the fuck up as soon as I show her my tape recorder.



for May 31, 2014

Here's a preview of a track from my upcoming album, which won't be released until later this year.

For the next 12 hours, I'm posting my brand new instrumental, "SLICED BEER," which I composed last month and recorded over the past few weeks. (Yeah, that's me on piano, organ, horn, flute, drums, guitar, etc.) And then it comes down! Copyright 2014.

SLICED BEER, Paul Iorio's brand new instrumental!



for May 30, 2014

Yesterday's Show by John Doe in Berkeley.

Doe at Amoeba in Berkeley. [photo by Paul Iorio]

I saw John Doe perform at Amoeba Music in Berkeley yesterday. An enjoyable mini-set. The real stunner was one of his later songs, 2011's "Giant Step Backward."

In recent days, he's been sort of eclipsed by ex-wife Exene Cervenka's lunatic, malicious and hurtful comments about gun massacres. She called such killings "hoaxes" -- remarks one can only chalk up to the general deterioration of her health.

Doe didn't address her ravings, but did mention her by name after doing a rousing version of X's "The Have Nots."

"Speaking of my partner Exene and our songwriting together, here's a song she wrote on her last record, which is a great record," he said from the stage. "If you don't buy mine, buy hers." And then he did Exene's "Alone in Arizona," not a very good song at all.

So, clearly, he's not distancing himself from her. Quite the opposite.

I haven't interviewed Doe since I interviewed him and Exene together during the heyday of their marriage. His performance at Amoeba was not quite the place to broach the subject of Exene's apparent descent into madness, but if he (or she) would like to talk about her comments for an article, I can be reached here on Facebook or at pliorio@aol.com.

Doe performing. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for May 29, 2014

Last Night's Candlelight Vigil in Berkeley for the Isla Vista Victims.


Students gather on the Berkeley campus with candles. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Truth be told, the mood was sort of nasty at the vigil.

People were somber but somewhat hostile. Plus, almost

nobody there had a connection to the actual tragedy that

happened 500 miles away. And at one point I had to pointedly

remind one rude woman that this was a public place and I

could photograph anything I wanted to shoot, thank you very much.

At the candlelight vigil. [photo by Paul Iorio]


We go through this every time there's a bloodbath. We turn the focus, uselessly, to mental health. And each time we do, we come to the same conclusion: it's almost impossible to determine, before the fact, who's going to be the next Rodger or Lanza.

But the plutocrats (and the NRA) love turning the issue to the mentally ill. Because (as I said before) 1) it takes everyone's minds off of assault weapons, which they would like to continue to own 2) it provides a plum opportunity for the powers-that-be to pick on people with whom they have disputes. (The plutocrats drop a dime: "I'm not saying this guy's clinically ill, but let me tell you what happened when he challenged my multi-million dollar corporate development in his neighborhood. And, on a completely other topic: officer, you did get my generous contribution to the Police Benevolent Association?"

[I first wrote the above comment on Facebook, May 27, 2014, at 2:37 p.m.]


Let me be the first to mention something that I'm sure will be echoed elsewhere soon: It's astonishing how Elliot Rodger's rampage sort of resembled "The Hunger Games," the film for which his dad was a second unit director (one of several). His victims were almost "tributes," to use the film's terminology, and he hunted them much like tributes were hunted in the film, which is based on a twisted premise if you think about it. (Note that he called his bloodbath a "retribution," which sounds much like "tribute.")

Another separate point (which has been brought up by the Los Angeles Times): the Rodger massacre shares a lineage with the murders committed by David Attias, also a son of successful Hollywood bizzers, also quite insane. Which leads me to think that when a mentally ill son or daughter of Hollywood is immersed in the imagery of the big screen, the result is Attias/Rodger.

Woody Allen once told me something that has stuck with me for years. "Never confuse the character with the actor or film maker. That way lies madness." Which is something I always knew, but the way Allen told me this, one on one, really drove the point home. Young people need to be reminded that the depiction of, say, Travis Bickle or Tony Soprano is not an endorsement of such a character. Too many young people get that confused.

That said, I have to say that it's pure guesswork to try to determine who the next nut will be who'll snap and massacre people. It's not only guesswork, but it's a good opening for people to unfairly cast suspicion on completely innocent folks with whom they are having a dispute of some sort, the way Richard Jewel's disgruntled employer once maliciously pointed the finger at Jewel, who was actually a hero, it turns out).

The more practical solution is to ban automatic and assault weapons. Now.

By the way: a 22-year old driving a $40,000 BMW Coupe? When I was 22, I rode the IRT in NYC for fifty cents! (And I already had my B.A. and was working full-time!) Rodger bought three expensive automatic weapons when he should have been having trouble scraping together money for a 10-speed bike.

[I first wrote the above comment on Facebook, May 27, 2014, 8:09 a.m..]



for May 21, 2014

The narrative this morning is the Tea Party's finished.

To which I say, not so fast.

Look more closely at the Georgia tally. 70% of the GOP

vote went for Tea Partyish candidates, with 30% going

for the moderate Perdue, who led the pack.

If everyone unites against Perdue in the July run-off,

Kingston -- Sean Hannity's man -- will be the nominee

against a very vulnerable Nunn. Alas, Senator Kingston

might well happen.



for May 15, 2014

Introducing The Koran-o-Matic!

The Koran is once again making headlines. In recent weeks, we’ve seen Nigerian schoolgirls forced to recite its opening passage; British soccer fans arrested for turning the book into confetti at a game; and a fresh academic claim that the prophet Muhammad’s fourth wife actually edited The Koran.

So what a better time to unveil The Koran-o-Matic, a holy verse generator that enables you to write your own Koranic one-liners!

Go forth and sound like a genuine prophet! (From the twisted mind of Paul Iorio.)




for May 12, 2014

I saw Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche perform at

Freight & Salvage in Berkeley yesterday afternoon. Very

enjoyable concert. If they come to your town, definitely go

see them!

Near the end, they did something I've never seen a performer

do: they actually Skyped someone onstage -- in this case

Suzzy's 91-year-old mom, so she could catch part of the

show and the audience could watch her! Great moment (and

perfect for Mother's Day).

Particularly loved “G Chord Song” and the Robyn cover and

Paul Simon's “America." What a “dirge-machine” (to use their


Here're a couple photos I shot of their Skyping.





for April 27, 2014

I heard The National and Portugal, The Man perform last night

in Berkeley.

Some of the National's stuff is alarmingly great. Highlights here were

"Squalor Victoria" and "Afraid of Everyone." But some of it is

remarkably boring.

The most amazing thing about the band is they actually make their

unlikely sound work. Very difficult to pull off that cool flame

effect to create real heat.

Portugal, The Man didn't exactly steal the show, but they almost did.

Here at the Greek, their set had hints of prog and Sabbath and lots

of irresistible riffs. And they have a fantastic drummer (whose beats

resounded all the way to the hills above the theater, where I heard

the show).

When I heard their first album years ago, I was amazed at how

authentically prog they sounded on "Marching with 6" -- even more

so than Bad Religion. Live, they really come alive. PTM is

evolving well.

Here's a photo I shot of The National last night:


A few observations about the scandal over Donald Sterling's disgusting remarks:

1) The people who have shown outrage about his comments showed absolutely no outrage about the hate crimes against Steve Utash in Detroit. (What that means is, they're not against racism; they're against anything that goes against the interests of their own demographic.)

2) Sterling's comments were throwback opinions 40 years ago! In every part of the country!

3) For every Archie Bunker who spouts racism, there is a black George Jefferson who also spouts racism -- against whites!

4) Here's a photo of me and my friends from my public high school yearbook from 1974! That's 1974. It was considered mainstream at the time and generated no controversy. (As I've said before, "All in the Family," more than any other phenomenon, made racism risible in the Seventies.)


Chris Paul, 28, makes $18 million a year (give or take a half mil

or so). He shall overcome. One day. (I wonder what the paycheck

that the racist thugs stole from Steve Utash's pick-up truck

looked like. A paycheck for a week of tree-trimming. Betcha

it wasn't 18 mil.)


By the way, if Steve Utash had had a pistol and used it to defend

himself against his racist attackers in Detroit, here's how

Monica Davey would've written about it for The New York Times:



for April 25, 2014

Here I am in my home studio yesterday evening writing around

seven new songs. Coming later this year!



for April 20, 2014

On Friday night, I saw Disclosure, fresh from their triumphant

appearance at Coachella, perform in Berkeley. Sold out show.

Fans overflowing into the hills above the Greek theater, where

I heard most of it. They've attracted a massive audience in

less than a year.

On Friday they played hypnotic, unpredictable EDM, not quite

in the Portishead category, but built for actual dancing, more

like House, though with unconventional meters, jazzy

excursions and magical atmospherics. If you're into the genre,

this is as good as it gets.

Opening (with some really fine beats) was Justin Martin. Here's a photo

I shot of Disclosure:

Photo: I just saw Disclosure, fresh from their triumphant appearance at Coachella, perform in Berkeley. Sold out show.  Fans overflowing into the hills above the Greek theater, where I heard most of it.  They've attracted a massive audience in less than a year.  

Tonight they played hypnotic, unpredictable EDM, not quite in the Portishead category, but built for actual dancing, though with unconventional meters, jazzy excursions and magical atmospherics. If you're into the genre, this is a good as it gets.  

Opening (with some really fine beats) was Justin Martin.  Here's a photo

I shot of Disclosure.  
Here's a photo I shot of Disclosure.


So I woke this morning shaking my head: Sen. Edward Markey

of Massachusetts has introduced a bill that would ban the

Koran in the United States.

Hey, I disagree with the Koran and consider much of it hate

speech -- but outlaw it? No way. Can't fellow liberals rein

in Markey? Is there a voter recall statute in Massachusetts?

I couldn't be more serious.


What a genuinely stupid man Ed Markey is. I could take time

out of my schedule to show this fellow -- Senator, he is?

Is that his job? -- how and why he is wrong about his proposed

hate crime bill, but I really don't have the time to tutor him

about stuff he should've learned in college. .

If such a law is passed, please prepare my jail cell, because

I will make sure to run afoul of whatever restrictions the law

creates. I will make a point of it. (He's sponsoring the bill,

btw, with his fellow moron Hakeem Jeffries.)

Mr. Obama, please slap some sense into this Senator! He's an

embarrassment to liberal Democrats everywhere.



for April 18, 2014


North Korea’s First Reaction to Ferry Tragedy:
Enemies are “Fabricating the Second Cheonan Warship"

By Paul Iorio

In its first official response to the sinking of a South Korean ferry
boat, North Korea claims that its enemies are “fabricating the second
Cheonan warship sinking case.”

Though no government has formally accused North Korea of being involved
in the sinking of the ferry, the DPRK defensively referred to the
Cheonan – a South Korean ship torpedoed, some say by the North
Koreans, in the Yellow Sea in 2010 – in its first reference to
the ferry that sank on April 16th. (As of this writing, many are
confirmed dead and hundreds are missing in the waters near Jindo
Island. In the Cheonan sinking – for which North Korea has always
denied responsibility -- 46 died.)

And the North Koreans also made a veiled threat.

“It is quite natural for the DPRK to take measures for self-defense
under the prevailing grave situation including the measure of
bolstering the nuclear deterrent to foil the hostile forces'
military challenge to it,” said the North Korean site.

The comment was made in a news item on North Korea’s official
English-language website, Naenara, earlier on April 18th.

The item, titled “Open Threat,” starts off talking about
“provocative” military drills by South Korea and what it
calls false accusations about the use of drones by the DPRK.
Then it refers to the Cheonan and a threat of retaliation
against a “mean plot.”

“The US and puppet warmongers should behave with discretion
if they do not want to face merciless punishment by the
powerful revolutionary Paektusan army,” says the website.



for April 17, 2014

I thought Kim Jong-un was too busy sinking ships to care

about people in Britain satirizing his awful haircut.

Outrageous! (See story below.)

North Korean Embassy Complains About Barber Shop Poster in U.K.


As a journalist, I almost always do one-on-one interviews

with whoever I'm interviewing. I have rarely joined

public or roundtable discussions. I generally don't

like them.

But in the case of Ronee Blakley, a Facebook friend, I

made an exception today and saw her speak and answer

questions at San Francisco State University.

I was not doing it for a story -- but (who knows?) it might

evolve into one at some point. And though I'm an expert on

the movie "Nashville," I don't think I've ever written anything

about it for a major publication. I've interviewed Polanski

for the Los Angeles Times, Woody Allen for The San Francisco

Chronicle and numerous other auteurs and film makers for

other publications, but never anyone associated with "Nashville."

Why that is, I don't know. I virtually have the movie memorized.

(When it was a first-run picture in 1975, I was 17 and an

usher at a movie theatre and so saw it dozens of times -- and

have seen it many times since.)

So it was quite a thrill to see and briefly meet Ronee this

morning and to even ask a few questions about the flick (though

I really didn't prepare to ask questions). I shot some photos

and video of her appearance and here's one:



for April 14, 2014

Tonight, on most PBS stations, check out Bill Siegel’s

excellent documentary on Muhammad Ali, “The Trials of Muhammad

Ali,” released last August in almost no theaters and not

widely available on DVD. (I saw it several weeks ago.)

Very much worth watching. A great story told in a raw,

uncensored way. Rare footage of Ali being interviewed by

William F. Buckley and by Jerry Lewis – and even singing

in a Broadway musical.

And it’s so refreshing to see him with the Rev. Martin Luther

King, who seems all the greater in contrast to Louis Farrakhan,

who’s treated too sympathetically here. (You can hear him

crooning as Louis X, though you may not want to!) Also,

avoids all the obvious stuff you’ve seen before.


I also saw Brian Miller’s “The Outsider,” somewhat

suspenseful thriller, a bit like “Taken” without Neeson.

Interesting to see James Caan in a late role looking so

convincingly WASPy patrician (but no less vicious than he

is in most films).

And I watched an obscure creepy horror flick called “You’re

Next,” directed by Adam Wingard, who seems to know every

camera angle that foreshadows bloodshed and uses them – even

when no bloodshed is on the horizon. This technique creates

a constant sense of foreboding. (Polanski sort of invented

this kind of thing.) Not for every taste, but it does have

a bizarre sense of horror imagery. (Has Tarantino seen

this yet?)



for April 13, 2014

I heard Willie Nelson, the Drive-By Truckers and Shovels & Rope

perform last night on the UC Berkeley campus. I was surprised

by how much I enjoyed Nelson's set.

At 80, he still has a lethal swing, vocals that sound like natural

conversation but are as musical as anything in pop. Plus, indelible,

iconic tunes: "On the Road Again," "Always on My Mind," "Good Hearted

Woman," a few gospel classics and a couple Hank Williams songs.

(Wish he'd done something by Dylan, perhaps "Three Angels" (perhaps

Dylan's most formally daring composition) or "If Dogs Run Free,"

tracks that would suit Nelson's style.) A briskly-paced non-stop


Opening was The Drive-By Truckers, whose best stuff recalls

vintage Neil Young and Wilco. (A lot of enthusiasm for this band,

even in the hills above the Greek Theater, where I heard the show.)

And kicking off the whole thing was Americana duo Shovels & Rope.



for April 7, 2014

Very little coverage of the tragedy in Detroit last

week when a dozen white guys beat a black motorist until

he was nearly brain dead in an all white neighborhood.

And the black victim was just being a good Samaritan.



I'm glad they're charging these kids in Detroit (who beat

up Steve Utash) as adults. And with attempted murder. And

how about a hate crime enhancement? Throw the book at 'em

and make it hurt. (And if anyone from the Sharpton camp dares

to justify the behavior of that mob of troglodytes in Detroit,

I'm going to lose my temper.)

Obama should give a press conference, as he did after

Trayvon, stating flat out that he is ashamed of the

behavior of those folks in Detroit. And Sharpton himself

would do well to visit Utash in his hospital bed. (But

he won't; Sharpton'd have to grow a conscience first.)

Mr. Obama, you need to speak up. Steve Utash is an

infinitely more sympathetic victim than Trayvon

Martin ever was.


A belated happy birthday to Muddy Waters.

I actually saw Muddy Waters perform from around four feet

away, from a front row center seat at a gymnasium in

Tampa in '72. (It was no later than '72, but might've

been '71.) I was 14-ish and mostly interested in him

insofar as he would do songs that had been covered

by my real heroes The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and Cream.

As much as I enjoyed the concert, it didn't motivate

me to go out and buy Muddy records; it caused me to

go out and buy the Yardbirds or Jeff Beck albums that

I didn't already own.

Because, as a teenager, a lot of what I loved about

Zep and Cream was the way they manipulated amplification,

the sonic stuff.

I was always mystified in my youth when older people

said Zep was just ripping off Willie Dixon and the like.

I would then listen to the original Dixon stuff and not

like it at all. Because it lacked the sound that was

the main reason I was listening to "Whole Lotta Love" in

the first place. (And far from being the originators,

blues icons, too, got their ideas from a previous

generation of (lesser-known) artists.)

Let's be real: Zep, Cream and the Stones only got

truly great when they went beyond their blues

roots and invented something new. Give me "Swlabr"

any day to "Spoonful." Give me "Gimme Shelter" any

day to "Heart of Stone." Give me "Kashmir" any day

to "You Shook Me."

If you were 13 in 1970, amplification was a stunning

new instrument and people like Hendrix and Page were

creating new sounds that had never been heard before

by the human race. Literally. (Think of it: before

the 1930s, almost nobody had even heard an amplified




for April 5, 2014

All right! They caught the racists who (virtually) murdered

that good Samaritan in Detroit! Life imprisonment, no parole. Set an

example. Because too much of this sort of stuff is happening.

Some folks out there have been misled to believe they have a

constitutional right to beat someone up. Disabuse them of

that notion here and now.

I'm pro-gun control but can't help but wish Utash had had

a pistol on him to repel the attackers. But imagine if he

had had to shoot one of the animals attacking him. There is

no doubt that Sharpton and his supporters would be falsely

framing this as the sequel to Trayvon.

Sharpton would be bellowing, "I guess it's open season on

African Americans. A white man comes into our neighborhood,

runs down a black child and then guns down our teenagers."

Do you doubt for an instant that he and his followers would

be saying exactly that? And Sharpton would've been so

completely wrong and fucked up to say something like that.

Because Utash would've been completely justified in

blowing away his attackers. Instead he sits in an ICU tonight,

possibly brain dead.



for April 2, 2014

Now for some fun! Here are the wildest parts of my

unpublished interview with Ted Nugent, which I

conducted one-on-one and in person in 1986. None of

this has been heard by anyone before right now. (And

the off-the-record parts are even more wacko!)

Btw, I don't think he liked it when I asked him

whether he performed in a loincloth when he opened

for Tiny Tim in the 1960s! Mostly, I just let him rant.

Listen to audio excerpts here:

Paul Iorio interviews Ted Nugent, 1986.



for April 1, 2014

OK, I'm the first person anywhere to bring this up. If you

echo this, please cite me.

The only non-English phrase uttered in the transcript of the

last hour of Malaysia flight 370 is also the name of

the passenger on 370, who, because of his aviation

experience, has been named as a prime suspect in

any hijacking conspiracy theory.

Oh, I know what you're thinking: Selamat pagi is a

commonplace phrase in that region, the equivalent of

saying, good morning, in America.

But all the other words are English. If I were investigating

this case, I'd find the air traffic controller who said

"selamat" when everyone else was speaking English. Was

he being witchy (but with plausible deniability) or was he

just innocently saying, good morning? Was he hinting,

with foreknowledge, about what was about to happen?

Imagine a hijacker named "Good" on a jet. And imagine a

transcript of the final hour of the flight being completely

in Chinese -- except for the English phrase "good morning."

I'd say, find that air traffic controller and question him.



for March 24, 2014

THIS JUST IN: The Huffington Post has just published my interview

with Kate Bush; read it here:



The Great Lost Kate Bush Interview!

Interviews with singer and songwriter Kate Bush are relatively rare, almost as rare as her concerts, which have been nearly non-existent since 1979. So it's news that Bush is now preparing to give her first real live shows in 35 years -- in London, in August and September. Outside of a few odd gigs over the decades, these will be her first since the beginning of her career.

I interviewed Bush in-person and one-on-one in December 1985 in a Manhattan hotel room. At the time, I was a staff writer/reporter for the New York bureau of Cash Box magazine. Because of several breaking news stories at the time, I ended up using only a fraction of my somewhat lengthy interview with her (for a video piece I wrote for the magazine, published on January 11, 1986).

Around 95 percent of the audiotaped Q&A has never been published outside of my own blog -- until now. Here's an edited transcript of my recorded interview with Bush:

Paul Iorio: Did you grow up in an urban environment?

Kate Bush: Yes, it was essentially urban. But at the same time, at the back, there was a lot of fields -- and they kept horses there. So though it was very urban, it was, especially from a child's point-of-view, kind of lots of countryside, with the horses and going off to play in the fields. A nice environment.

Iorio: And that's carried through on the ["Cloudbusting"] video. Why the gap between the last album ["The Dreaming"] and this one ["Hounds of Love"]?

Kate Bush: I wanted to reorganize my life, and I think it's the best decision I've made. For everything, really... We bought some equipment for a recording studio, which was definitely a big move... Very much inspired by my father, who was in charge of being the architect and putting all that together. And I wanted to take some time.

It was really 1978 when everything changed. I hadn't really had a proper break. And the way I work is rather intense, going from a rather isolated situation, working on an album for a long time and then out in to the world and then back again. I wanted to take some time of my own. We had just moved [from the city to the country] so I wanted to spend some time at the house. And I found a new dance teacher and found some new stimulus generally. So I felt ready to write a new album. I think actually the last album emotionally exhausted me, very demanding to write and work. And I think I just needed a break.

Iorio: You write about that emotional exhaustion on the second side [of "Hounds..."], with waves being almost an emotional metaphor for drowning.

Bush: It's very personal -- and we're sort of getting into psychiatry here! I'm sure there are all kinds of levels here like that. Actually my attitude in writing this album is a very positive one... I wanted the music to launch us all into the next era rather than be an emotional dark thing.

I think each album does have a different energy, otherwise you'd be doing the same thing again and not experimenting anew... Albums are such autobiographical material, not in the material but as an expression of what you're like at the time. And I was feeling kind about mankind and how nice people were rather than the demon side of things...

Iorio: Now that you've come out into the world and are doing appearances and interviews, has your view changed on mankind in general?

Bush: [Laughs] No, I still feel pretty positive, actually. It's really great for me that the album is being accepted...You would like people to enjoy it, but obviously you can't force them to. I feel very happy...

Iorio: In '78, you actually got your contract because of David Gilmour --

Bush: Yes.

Iorio: And this was a period when a lot of punk bands were being signed. How did you ever get a contract?

Bush: When I was signed, that was before the punk thing even happened. Punk was happening at the time of my first single.. Yes, I agree it was completely different than what was happening with punk music but perhaps that's why it works...I think that music is something that surpasses trends, fashions; music is something much deeper...

Iorio: How about concept albums? What were some of your influences?

Bush: ....The only concept for me that I thought worked was [Pink Floyd's] "The Wall." I think the third side of that is just brilliant, the best thing Floyd has ever done. So good. I mean, "Comfortably Numb" is perhaps the classic Floyd song. And Roger Waters' production and the sense of him being in there I found really fascinating...I was surprised at how many people kept referring to [The Who's] "Tommy" and "The Wall." And, really, they are very different. And I wonder if it's because they're concepts that they get labeled together. Do you think?

Iorio: Well, let's see, I'm not as familiar with "The Wall" --

Bush: I'm not so familiar with "Tommy." [laughs]

Iorio: How about your lyrics. Have you published poetry?

Bush: No, only in our school magazine. [laughs]

Iorio: [Some of your new lyrics] sound like Elvis Costello. What do you think of him?

I wondered what had happened to him, actually. Because I think he was a very talented guy. And from what we saw in England, he was given a very hard time. I think he was very talented.

Iorio: You put that in the past tense.

Bush: Yes, I do, because I haven't heard anything he's done recently. That's why I said I wondered\ what's happened to him. I'm sure he is still very talented but I haven't heard any stuff....I think in some ways he was victim of the media truly giving him the kind of feedback that he needed but then expecting too much afterwards.

Iorio: Who do you like now? If you were home, who would you put on the turntable?

Bush: I listen to very little music, particularly contemporary. If I listen to it, it's going to be my own music, some arrangement or something. I spend so much time listening that the way I relax is by watching things, a comedy, that's my way to wind down.

Iorio: What comedy?

Bush: I don't know if you have it here [in the US]: "The Young Ones."

Iorio: No.

Bush: Really good stuff. "Fawlty Towers," you must have that don't you here?

Iorio: No, we don't.

Bush: Oh, no! You don't know what you're missing! You know John Cleese.

Iorio: Oh, yeah!

Bush: He did this whole sit-com that was about someone called Basil Fawlty, one of the funniest things. I'm so surprised you don't have that here. You don't know what you're missing, you poor people. It's brilliant stuff. [Monty] Python is great, but this has made John Cleese beyond Python. Whenever John Cleese appears, they consider him Basil Fawlty.

Iorio: What are your favorite [films]?

Bush: "Don't Look Now"...I think is one of the best films ever made...You have so many things you don't understand, but by the end of the film, one of those has been tied up neatly. I really love Hitchcock; I think he was a complete genius, to me one of the best directors. Such a sense of how to put things
together. I really like Terry Gilliam's work. Do you remember "Time Bandits"?

Iorio: That was a big one...

Bush: He's made three films, one before that, and one, actually, "Brazil," that, as far as I know, wasn't released here [in the U.S.], which is crazy, because it's such a good film and was released everywhere else. Neil Jordan. Have you heard of his stuff? [I nod.] He did a very interesting film called "Angel." He's Irish and his work has a great sense of the Irish culture, the whole rural sense of Ireland. And I love Kurosawa's films. And comedy films. "Young Frankenstein." It's funny but it's also an incredibly beautiful film, it's so well done. I think [Mel Brooks] was one of the first people, too, to play with black and white, when color was what everyone was using. Beautiful. Gene Wilder is so funny.

Iorio: How about Woody Allen?

Bush: I really like Woody Allen, but there are a lot of his films I haven't seen. My favorite one is "Play It Again, Sam." I thought that was so funny. But there's a lot I haven't seen.

Iorio: You mentioned Irish cinema. How about Irish music? You have Irish [music] on the second side of the ["Hounds of Love"] LP. How did you get into Irish folk?

Bush: I think it's probably the biggest influence musically that I've ever had. My mother's Irish. And when I was very young, both my brothers were very into traditional music, English and Irish. They were always playing music, so I was always brought up with it. And they were playing instruments. And I think when you're a kid, you're very open to all things musical...It's only in the last couple of albums that I've been able to express my influences in Irish music through my work.

It's funny when you write a song -- it's easy for me now -- but there's almost a second stage where you take control of the song. You start writing it, and if you're not careful, it just finishes itself and it might not be what you wanted. It's very strange, it takes over itself. It has its own life.

I've just never really been able to write something where I could present the Irish music in a very obvious way. And I think the second side of the album, it was a perfect vehicle to involve the Irish musicians I worked with on the last album in a more involved way, to use them to create that atmosphere...

Iorio: What songs have you written that wrote themselves?

Bush: That's a difficult question.

Iorio: Some must have taken some time. Others probably took off automatically.

Bush: Oooo. Yes, that's right. A lot of songs are like -- wolllaahhh! And that's it. And other songs -- it's like stages. It maybe takes three or four days to get the song structurally together. But then I could spend a couple weeks finishing off the lyrics. Each song is so different...It has its own personality. Some are really grumpy. Some are really quite easy. It's extraordinary. You can put some things on a track, and it will just reject them, it just won't work. And you can put them on another track, and it works really well.

[Bush offers me an Irish cigarette.] Do you want one of those?

Iorio: Oh, I was dying for you to ask! [I read from the pack:] "Cigarettes can seriously damage your health." So in Britain you have the same warnings?

Bush: You have them here, too, don't you?

Iorio: We have modified ones. There are rotating warnings. They have, like, "[Cigarettes] can cause complicated pregnancy." Another says, "Quitting now can seriously increase your chances of having a normal life." They have rotating warnings. But yours are standardized ones?

Bush: Absolutely. They're on every packet. That's an interesting idea, actually: putting different [warnings]....Maybe you'll listen to one of them! [laughs]

Iorio: The headline: Kate Bush -- Candid on Cigarettes"!

Bush: [laughs] Oh, God.

Iorio: Suppose this becomes a number one hit in America. What's the first thing you're going to do?

Bush: Buy an SSL. Get back to the studio!...An SSL is the best mixing console you can get. I'd get one of those. And change the room a but and get some more equipment in.


for March 23, 2014

Now I see what happened on Flight 370. The two Iranians onboard

("we don't defect often, but when we do, we take only an overnight

knapsack!"), taking advantage of loose security on MAS flights,

got into the cockpit and ordered the pilots to fly to a big city

where they could ram into a skyscraper.

Taking a page from the 9/11 hijackers, the two Iranians ordered

the pilots to switch off the transponder and data transmitter -- or

else they'd set off an explosive. The pilots complied -- but

then tried to overtake the hijackers. The two guys with stolen

passports (nothing suspicious here!) ignited the explosive,

depressurizing the plane.

The pilots still had a little bit more oxygen, so they

re-routed the flight to the nearest airport. But they

and everyone else onboard konked out before arrival, so

the plane continued on its trajectory toward infinity

and oblivion until fuel ran out near Antarctica, where

it crashed.



for March 19, 2014

Clues to Flight 370 Mystery in Airline Reviews?

Passengers Describe an Airline in Shambles

Dangerous, dirty and badly run: that's how passengers

have described Malaysia Airlines (MAS) in online forums.

In online discussions prior to the disappearance of Flight 370

on March 8, Malaysia Airlines passengers talked almost

unanimously about extremely inattentive crew members

and staffers that ignored safety procedures and general

upkeep of the aircraft.

Mostly the beefs were about the onboard staff, the sorts of

employees who, ideally, should be the main defense

against a hijacking or an armed passenger. Yet almost

every posting said MAS employees were anything

but alert (though, to be sure, there were several who did

praise the airline profusely).

Alarmingly, some said staffers ignored basic safety measures

and acted unprofessionally.

"The cabin crew are generally inefficient and disinterested,"

said P. Anderson, a self-described frequent flier on MAS, on

March 4 on the Airline Equality site. "No safety demonstration

given on two flights."

Wrote A. Gautam in the same forum on February 25: “The cabin

crew were not very interested in service and completely

disappeared after the meal was served. I could hear the chatter

and laughs from the galley and also saw them using tablets in

full view of the passengers. Unprofessional.”

J. Linn, writing on February 17, echoed that observation: "The

cabin crew were busy chatting away in the galley."

"The staff was so disinterested, it was almost amusing,"

wrote Amanda Fisher on January 28.

S. Rane described staffers who were both absent and prone

to overusing the address system. "The cabin crew just

couldn't be bothered serving passengers. We barely

saw them during the entire 8 hour flight,” wrote Rane on

February 27. “Also, I had never been on a flight where

announcements were made so frequently. And they

were made twice, in English and Malay."

"The [stewardesses] rarely came or came very

slowly when the light for assistance for turned on," wrote

another on the Airlines Inform site.

"Disorganized team," wrote Zulkhairul Naim on March 4

on the Airline Equality site.

"The staff were very unhelpful," said passenger David Mogford

on February 28.

"The crew surly and rushed," said Sue Newcombe on

January 23.

Hence, one can reasonably conclude that, if there had been

a threat on board flight 370, MAS staffers might not have

been up to the task of fighting it.

There were also tales of basic malfunctions: "The lights did

not work, which meant we could not read our book," wrote

Oskar Beck on October 20.

Other parts of their jets haven’t always worked either.

J. Mounir noted on February 18 that, “The seat didn't

recline and the in-flight entertainment didn't work for

most of the journey. This was the most uncomfortable

flight I have ever been on, and definitely would not

recommend Malaysia Airlines to anyone.”

There was even talk of a passenger’s possession – a Nike

water bottle – being left in an overhead compartment and

not found for (presumably) days. And this happened at a

time when all liquids brought on planes have been under


"A Nike grey water container [was] left at overhead

compartment above seat 29J/K,” wrote Ng Guat Yong in the

Inform Airlines forum last November, “It is impossible to be

noticed unless someone climb [sic] to check deep inside

overhead compartment."

Other complaints were a bit more esoteric. One Muslim passenger

urged MAS personnel to announce prayer times during the

flight (in order to rouse the devout without wrist-watches!).

Writing a week before the airline disappearance, Nursyuhaidah

Azizan said in the Airlines Inform forum: "I have a suggestion

to give to Malaysia Airlines which is announce the prayer

time for Muslim in the aeroplane, so its easier for the

Muslim passengers to perform salah (solat)..."

And a good many beefs were about the general lack of cleanliness.

"The cabin was filthy,” said K. Farrell of Australia. “…They

need to review the aircraft...This is substandard."

“Toilets were dirty,” said S. Lo on February 10.

“The toilets are atrocious. They are always wet (even at the

start of the flight) and they smell horrible,” wrote a

poster on the Inform Airlines site last December.

Wrote Adrian McKay on February 28: "The forward

toilet was dirty. I was also surprised that my cutlery

had not been properly cleaned…Most times when I

went to use the toilets at the rear of the business class

cabin they were occupied. As there were only 10

passengers in business class and they were all in

their seats it suggests that the flight attendants

allowed economy passengers to use the business

class toilets."

Clare Veronica, on February 21, wrote: "I [just flew on] 2

different airlines, of which one was Malaysia. I really have

to say that it now feels like a different airline. In short, I

feel that the cutting cost is obvious. I feel the spirit of the

crew is not there."

Said John Dardis on February 22: “[Wine] got propelled

across cabin due to turbulence. Took several attempts to

get steward to clean it up. Will be avoiding Malaysia Airlines

in future.”



for March 13, 2014

1. Boarded airplane with stolen passports.
2. Lied about their Iranian nationality.
3. Used fake names.
4. Bought one-way tickets.
5. Paid for tickets in cash.
6. Only carried a knapsack, though they claimed to be permanently relocating.
7. And then their flight mysteriously disappears in mid-air without a trace.

Nothing suspicious here.


See any red flags on this official Flight 370 passenger manifest? (I do.)



for March 12, 2014

I woke this morning thinking about how the cockpit of

flight 370 might have been breached, how that

door was opened.

Turns out the pilot was known to have partied at the controls,

so he had become very loose with cockpit security. (There are

photos of him drinking with young women on the airplane on

previous MAS flights. And the MAS website currently leads

with a formal apology about the behavior of their pilot.

Which leads me to wonder whether he's being scapegoated or

not, smeared in death when in fact he might've actually

been the hero of the tragedy, trying to fight off

the attackers.)

In any event, getting past the cockpit door could've

possibly been achieved (I'm guessing here) by 1) using

explosives 2) simply walking through a door that was

unlocked to accommodate the partygoers in the cockpit.

Which leaves us with the question: why did it veer west?

Perhaps the pilot was ordered by the hijackers to return

to KLIA airport and he faked it. Or perhaps the plane

was being hijacked to India, which was in its new flight

path (There were two Indian nationals on board.)

The two Iranians (on a plane full of mostly Chinese)

would, however, seem to be the main suspects. But why

blow up a plane with Chinese aboard? Wouldn't Islamists

be targeting Americans? Perhaps they did it in

solidarity with the Uighurs, the Chinese jihadists

currently active there.

Another point: it's true that the pilot was used to

being loose in the cockpit, but any hijacker would not

have known that fact going into the hijacking. So, if

commandeering the plane was their aim, they would've had

to come aboard with another plan to try to breach the pit.

Almost no door is impenetrable; an explosive could've

been used, but that might've caused structural damage,

though not necessarily.

Another possibility is that it was a crime of opportunity.

In other words, some passenger saw that the cockpit door

was wide open and that the pilot was distracted by partying.

Though such a passenger didn’t come aboard with the idea

of hijacking the plane, he realized that he could easily

take over the jet (for whatever motivation) at that moment.



for March 11, 2014

Let me get this straight: two Iranian pals with stolen

passports -- and almost no luggage -- pay in cash for

one-way tickets on a plane that disappears in mid-air

in perfect weather. No, nothing suspicious here!

The two passengers with stolen passports -- Mohammadi and

Reza -- traveled with almost no luggage, yet they were,

effectively, defecting to the west. Who on earth would

permanently relocate to another country with just a few

possessions in his knapsack if he had the option to bring

much more?

I think common sense is missing in this investigation. And

I think the politically correct are working overtime

to try to discount the possibility of terrorism.

Also, the fact that the younger passenger was expected

by his mother in Germany shouldn't throw you off the

scent. That could've been a cover story devised

by the two so that they wouldn't be branded as

hijackers. (The Tsarnaev brothers -- another duo with a

similar age disparity, btw -- also didn't want to take

credit for their own act of terrorism.)



for March 10, 2015

Excellent! The Huffington Post has just published my photos of

Janelle Monae that I shot last Friday in San Francisco. Click

here to see my pictures and read my story:

Click here to see Paul Iorio's latest photos in The Huffington Post!


Regarding the crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet, my own original

research suggests the following:

The two hijackers -- no airliner has TWO passengers with stolen

passports -- boarded Flight 370 on March 7 (3/7), so whoever did

it might have been playing with the numbers 37. Was it perhaps

a jihadist trying to refer to a holy number of some sort?

Koran 37 (the 37th Sura of the Koran) does send a threatening


“This is the Day of Judgment…This is the day of
decision that you used to disbelieve in…If any
of them ventures to charge the outer limits, he
gets struck with a fierce projectile…”

[Original research by Paul Iorio. These points originated
with me, so please credit me if you voice the same theory.
Otherwise I’m going to be not so nice. Thank you.]


I saw a couple new movies yesterday and here's what I think:

CHRISTOPHER SPENCER’S "SON OF GOD": I don’t quibble here

with the film making, which is better than competent

though unremarkable. But the underlying story is not

even remotely believable and should be de-mythologized

and told the way it likely happened.

The way I read the story is that some guy scammed and

fooled a lot of people with what appears to be staged

“miracles” in which he “cured” people who weren’t

afflicted to begin with – an old ruse still used today.

Hence, lots of people mistakenly regarded him as

something special.

Likewise with the Lazarus bit: Lazarus probably wasn’t actually

dead. He was likely near death and Jesus gave him a little

pumping that revived him. But people back then, unsophisticated

about health, probably thought it was magic.

And likewise, again, with the walking on water: there was

probably a reef or a sandbar that was mistaken for something


And from those grains grew a myth that got passed down and


Add to that the fact that people in Judea would drink a lot

of wine in the scorching heat – and you get plenty of

dehydrated winos with borderline hallucinations spinning

tales and embellishing events.

And when Jesus proclaims, “I am the way and the truth,” I

couldn’t help but think: Who does he think he is? Bono?!

And after Judas cuts a sweet deal with the prosecutor, and

Governor Pilate’s wife gets caught up in the Beatlemania

herself, it’s all downhill for our luckless hero.

But we never get Gov. Pilate’s side of the story, the inside

info about what Jesus REALLY was up to and what the mobs

were actually so pissed about.

Further, he didn’t die for anyone’s sins; he died because

he was given capital punishment by the state.

He wasn’t designated by Pilate or by anyone else as

the person who would die for the transgressions of e

veryone else, the guy who’d pick up the bar tab for

debtors. That wasn’t part of the judicial deal here.

The best depiction of Biblical myths on screen is still

Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ.” “Son of God”

is more like “Jesus Christ Superstar” without the music.

Me, I’d like to see a speculative feature from

the POV of Pilate!


JAUME COLLET-SERRA'S "NON-STOP": Suspenseful popcorn flick,

about as good as the “Taken” series. And great cast: Liam

Neeson, fitting nicely into roles that used to go to

Harrison Ford; Julianne Moore, always fresh; and Corey Stoll,

the actor who played Peter Russo so memorably on “House of

Cards.” (Not to mention a cameo by anchor heart throb

Annika Pergament!)

And there’s nice wit to the part in which Neeson’s character

goes through passengers’ phone messages that succinctly

draw a picture of each person.

But the thing about his daughter being onboard seems pasted

on for manipulative value. And the ending feels false

SPOILER ALERT (in that he’s pal-ing around with passengers

he was physically injuring mere minutes before).

Still, worth seeing if you’re in the mood for an actioner.



for March 8, 2014

Janelle Monáe Rocks the Embarcadero!

Monáe, belting out her opening number in downtown San Francisco. [Paul Iorio]

Workers in downtown San Francisco got a pleasant surprise during

their lunch break on Friday (March 7): Janelle Monáe, the r&b

dynamo (fresh off an appearance at the White House), performed

for free with her band in Justin Herman Plaza.

And anyone who wanted to get near the front of the stage – to

see singing and dancing that recalled Michael Jackson, Prince,

Bruno Mars and Nicki Minaj – could do so relatively easily, if

one came early.

I arrived around ten minutes before showtime and got the

equivalent of a tenth-row center view. Posted here are

some of the photos I shot.

Monae, with a background singer. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Monáe sang and danced non-stop under a brilliant blue sky

for around an hour. Taking the stage with a highly-disciplined

band that included around a dozen players, all dressed in white

or white and black, the 28-year old singer launched into “Givin’

Em What They Love” from her most recent album, “The Electric Lady,”

released last September.

Then she played her single from last summer, “Dance Apocalyptic,”

which combines Brill Building-ish girl group pop with

Prince-ish funk.

But the knock-out was her spot-on cover of The Jackson Five’s

“I Want You Back” (which segued into “ABC”), her voice a

doppelgänger for Michael Jackson’s.

And she addressed the crowd before doing 2007’s “Cold War.”

“This song is dedicated to anyone who has ever felt ostracized

because of who you love, because of the color of your skin,

because of your religion,” said Monáe.

Near the end of the show, she was carried down the center aisle

(an inch of so from me) to greet the crowd. At another point

she got everyone in the audience to sit down before commanding

them to stand again. She also did call-and-response scat

singing in the spirit of the heyday of the The Cotton Club -- and

a bit of rapping during “Electric Lady.”

The show was a gift from tech entrepreneur Mark Benioff,

celebrating the 15th anniversary of his company, SalesForce.

And the event was also part of an anti-hunger campaign.

Benioff and San Francisco mayor Ed Lee spoke briefly

before the concert.

“She’s Michael Jackson, she’s Prince, she’s Ella

Fitzgerald…all in one great incredible package,”

said Benioff from the stage.

The crowd, cheering wildly, seemed to agree.

Roarin' at mid-day. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Monae writhes on stage. [photo by Paul Iorio]

A high-energy gig. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Reaching for the mic. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Monae, flanked by background singers. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Monae is “resuscitated” by bandmates. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for March 4, 2014

NEW! March 4, 2014: Many thanks to DJ Marshall Stax for
airing two of my brand new songs on KALX Radio last night!

If you missed the KALX show, you can hear the songs -- "Temporary
Eternity" and "Fanatics" -- right here!

First, "Temporary Eternity":


And here's "Fanatics":




Last night on KALX Radio, Marshall Stax rightly noted that my latest

song "Temporary Eternity" had a different sound in contrast to

my previous work.

And he's right. That's partly because I'm playing a new Fender. And

also, I'm using a piano horn that I bought in a toy store some weeks

ago. Plus, I experiment with everyday speech in the verses.

It's my longest song ever -- and, if I should say so myself, it sounds

fuckin' great!



for March 3, 2014

My very best friends disagree with my pan of "12 Years a Slave,"

so let me explain my view more fully via this review I wrote

when the film was released:

"12 Years a Slave" is a well-crafted film about a

subject that couldn’t be worthier, but its predictable

moral landscape and relentless depiction of viciousness

puts it in league with “Precious” and the first half-hour

of “The Butler.” Which is to say that some sequences

are almost like cinematic demagoguery.

In many ways, it’s a compilation of violent racist atrocities.

In this flick, you’re only three minutes away from the next

act of unspeakable cruelty!

And, yes, it takes more than a little from the brilliant

“Django Unchained” (though they’re two very different movies,

of course).

I’m not a fan of morally simplistic movies that show an

obvious Manichean universe where everybody on one side is

true north and everyone else is pure evil. I like greater

complexity in films.

What are examples of movies that show a moral complexity,

the ambiguity of evil, even sympathy for the devil?

“Midnight Clear,” “Raging Bull,” “Platoon” (definitely

“Platoon”), “Bullets Over Broadway” (in that you start

off feeling one way about a character, but change your

mind by the end), “Rashomon,” “Letters from Iwo Jima.”

"12 Years a Slave" is more like a John Wayne war flick.

Propaganda, in a word.

I wish someone would make a film that’s sort of a

“Midnight Clear” or a “Platoon” of the slavery era

(or of the civil rights era), showing the internecine

conflicts on both sides, the good guys amongst the bad

guys, radical disagreements among whites of

those eras. Take it beyond the obvious, please.

Imagine a simpleton film maker portraying the My Lai

massacre with obvious imagery, showing U.S. bad,

Vietnamese civilians good! Of course, we all agree

that's so, but...now think of Oliver Stone’s brilliant

evocation of the massacre in “Platoon,” showing U.S.

bad, U.S. good and a lot of gray everywhere.

Now apply that same smart sensibility to a film about

plantation owners of the slavery era. Show the

progressive whites battling the reactionary whites.

And do for the worst what Dostoyevsky did in creating

Raskolnikov: humanize them.

Show the hard choices. Imagine the progressive son of a

plantation owner trying to stop his elders from using

slave labor practices. And imagine the elders explaining

that if they were to give up their slaves, they would be

driven out of business and forced to work as sharecroppers

for the white racists who they hated. (Even the bravest

and wisest white of that era, Abraham Lincoln,

discovered that he could not come out publicly (for

many years) for emancipation for fear of damaging his

own political prospects.)

But in “12 Years a Slave,” there is no such complexity.

All the whites are bad bad bad, all the blacks are good

good good. And I go yawn yawn yawn.

P.S. -- How many employers are brave enough today to give

their low level employees a living wage? Many workers in

America today toil as modified slaves. And it would

seem easy -- right? -- for a corporate mogul who makes

5 mil a year to give his clerks and cashiers a mere

50 thou a year. But even the most progressive companies

do not. Why? Because they're afraid of being put out of

business by rivals. They get caught up in the same

mentality that kept slavery in place for so long.

And Rupert Murdoch, who partly funded "12 Years a Slave,"

is probably among the worst of the major moguls with

regard to labor practices. He is almost the last person

I want to hear from on the subject of slavery.



for February 25, 2014

On the eve of Cate Blanchett’s night at the Oscars, a look at…

Jasmine’s San Francisco

Where Blanchett Gave Award-Winning Performances

By Paul Iorio

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) and Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard) shop at Shreve and Co. in San Francisco in "Blue Jasmine."

It’s no secret that Cate Blanchett is the heavy favorite to

win the best actress Oscar next month at the 86th Academy

Awards ceremony. Her performance as nouveau-poor alcoholic

Jasmine French in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” has been

universally acclaimed – even by those who don’t like the

picture itself – and has already earned her a Golden Globe.

So it’s understandable that, in the San Francisco area, there

is pride among some that Blanchett uttered her lines and shed

her tears in their shop or on their street.

After all, Allen used real locations, rather than studio

backlots, for the most part, and apparently went out of

his way to find the most obscure spots in the city for

his shoots.

For instance, the scene in which Jasmine reaches out to

her estranged son Danny (Alden Ahrenreich), now working

at a music shop in Oakland, takes place in a store on a

charming mini-street in San Francisco that nobody in

that neighborhood seems to be aware of.

The shop immortalized in the flick is called Real

Guitars – not Antonio’s, its pseudonym in the movie.

(It also houses Gary Brawer’s String Instrument Repairs.)

“They did a lot of takes,” says Gary Brawer, who owns

the instrument repair wing of the store.

“They came in around 5:30 in the morning, six in the

morning,” he says. “…They probably shot for three

or four hours.”

According to Brawer, Allen showed up, unannounced, in

a limo one Monday, walked into the store and then quickly

left the place, leaving behind his locations person to

negotiate arrangements for the shoot, which happened

around ten days later.

And Allen apparently controlled everything visually to

an unusual degree.

For example, the man who walks out of the door of the

shop at the beginning of the sequence was not just some

random customer; he was an actor flown in by the director

to appear for a few seconds in the role of someone

leaving the store, according to Brawer.

“Apparently, he
was a guy they brought in from New York

or L.A. to do that part,” he says.

An actor was flown in for a two second scene in which he walks out of this music store in "Blue Jasmine," according to an owner of the place where it was shot.

This is how that music store looks in 2014. [photo by Paul Iorio]

At another location – where Blanchett gave a performance that

caused members of the audience to weep in the theater in which

I saw the film – Allen turned a shabby park into something a

bit more leafy and suburban.

In that scene
– the final one -- Jasmine walks from her sister

Ginger’s apartment to a nearby park, sits on a bench and talks

to herself, a wet madness in her eyes.

Though he could’ve filmed it at any number of benches in, say,

the vast Golden Gate Park, Allen chose the unknown – but much-used

by the homeless and people in the ‘hood -- South Park, in the

south of Market Street area.

The backdrop there is a café – the South Park Café – that,

in Allen’s framing, makes the park look much more upscale

and European than it actually is (though, to be sure,

he also included the edge of a garbage can in the


In reality, the park is regularly crowded with a good

number of apparently homeless people.

In visits on two separate days by this reporter, the bench

Blanchett sat on was occupied by people who could fairly

be described as destitute. And they parked themselves

there, with lots of their possessions, for extended stays.

Blanchett talks to herself on a park bench in the film's final scene.

And here's how that same bench looks in real life. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Also, unlike in the film, the park is not anywhere near the

apartment house used for Ginger’s residence.

That place – where Jasmine lands in the opening scenes -- is in

the tatty north end of the Mission District, a low-rent

neighborhood of window bars and auto repair garages.

In the film, Jasmine’s sister (played by Sally Hawkins) lives

next door to the New Central Café (301 S. Van Ness Ave.), most

notable for its outdoor wall mural of a Mexican plaza,

painted in the style of Diego Rivera.

In one scene, Blanchett and her onscreen sister appear to

be walking through that painted landscape.

Jasmine and her sister walk by a mural in the movie.

The mural, on a wall in the Mission District, in 2014. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

Jasmine’s sister works around ten blocks south, at the

Casa Lucas grocery market – site of an explosive confrontation

with her boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale) -- in a charming,

colorful part of The Mission unknown to most San Franciscans.

With Spanish spoken on the streets, artful murals everywhere,

the neighborhood could pass for a city in northwestern Mexico.

The real-life grocery store in The Mission where Jasmine's sister confronts a boyfriend. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Not every location is downscale in the film. There are

also several sequences – shot in Tiburon, near the

Golden Gate bridge, and in downtown S.F. -- that show the

uber-affluent side of the Bay Area.

In the middle of the film, San Francisco’s financial district

is the setting as Jasmine and her new boyfriend Dwight,

a budding politician played by Peter Sarsgaard, shop for

a wedding ring at Shreve and Co., on the corner of

Post St. and Grant.

It’s a pivotal scene. Jasmine and her beau, showing

the glow of a couple in love, are admiring rings in the

northeast corner display-window when they are interrupted

by Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), her disgruntled former in-law,

who proceeds to vengefully spill the beans about hidden

details of her former life.

The actual Shreve and Co. [photo by Paul Iorio]

From then on, of course, the mise-en-scène is far more

downscale for Jasmine, as she weaves back to The Mission

and then to that desolate park bench, the film’s

final frame.

A woman, alone and Jasmine-esque, sits on a bench in the same park where Blanchett appeared in the final scene. January 2014. [photo by Paul Iorio]


Here are a few more shots contrasting movie settings in

"Blue Jasmine" with their appearance in real-life.

The actual San Francisco music store that appears in the film. (At the desk is Gary Brawer, who owns the instrument repair shop.) [photo by Paul Iorio]

The same music shop as it appears in the film.


The apartment of Jasmine's sister Ginger.

Ginger's apartment, in The Mission, as it appears today. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for February 24, 2014

I think it's fair to say the very early response

to my new album is quite beyond that for my previous

work....I'm grateful to those who've already connected

with it...I've just started rolling out the album and will

post the online edition soon...Here's the cover art...




for February 23, 2014

Well, the Dalai Lama was in my neighborhood in Berkeley this

morning. I was there at 8 a.m. to catch a glimpse, but, alas,

no glimpse.

I did get to see a manufactured, pre-fab demonstration

against him of the sort that has been following him around

from stop to stop. These "activists" were clearly bused in

from somewhere distant in the two King's Tour buses

parked out front.

I sniffed around the backstage area of the demonstration

and saw some interesting things. They had lots of leftover

signs -- slick expensive placards that came out of a box

that had a label on it that read: "Eduardo Printing; Thousand Oaks,

Calif." Way out of town.

And the activists were shouting "Dalai Lama, stop lying"

over and over again without pause, without variation.

Like a group that had been given strict instructions.

Frankly, it came as news to me that there was any opposition

stateside to the Dalai Lama. During his last visit to Berkeley

a few years ago, there were no protesters at all.

The group behind the protest is the obscure International

Shugden Community. But looking at the photos I just shot of

the protesters, I can see that very few of them look Asian.

By the way I shot the photos (below) by zooming into a

roped off area.

Plenty of leftover signs backstage in this roped-off area of the protest. [photo by Paul Iorio]

dalaiMy camera zoomed into this restricted area to see where those protest placards had been printed up: way off in Thousand Oaks, Calif. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for February 21, 2014

I finally saw the rest of the picture Oscar nominees

and here’s what I think:

The brilliance of the cinematography eclipses all else here.
It almost has the visual force of a Hopper painting.

But it’s great cinematography in the service of a pretty thin
story. As Harry Crews used to say to me about works like
this: there needs to be more at stake.

By contrast, let’s look at, say, “Deliverance,” which had
an equally magnificent naturalistic sense of Americana – but
it was in the service of a story that was as taut as a
mandolin string. Payne's flick is sometimes a bit slack.

“Nebraska” is sort of like a Grace Paley story set in the
rural mid-west, but – remember – Paley wrote short
stories, not novels. And “Nebraska” would’ve worked
better as a short film.

Still, one of last year’s best pictures – and very
much worth seeing.



I love the relationship between Philomena (played by
the great Judi Dench) and the journalist. And the plot
twists are fresh, unpredictable and believable at every turn.

The bit that’s causing some debate is the twist at the end
[SPOILER ALERT!]. I have to say my own reaction to Sister
Hildegard would have been closer to the reporter’s (or to
a right hook) rather than forgiveness. Why? Because she
did not admit her mistake and apologize.

All told, an important picture that actually causes people
to think about their own lives in new ways.

But I digress, Paul



for Valentine's Day 2014

"Sid Caesar was the high point of my life," Nanette Fabray

told me in an interview I conducted with her in 2000. My

recording of the interview shows she said a lot more about

him and other things -- one day I'll convert it to an MP3

and post it. For now, here's a feature I wrote on Fabray for

the San Francisco Chronicle, August 28, 2000.





for February 9, 2014

Here's a review I wrote a few years ago of the DVDs

of the Beatles' appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show."


the four episodes on which the Beatles performed live on

"The Ed Sullivan Show," complete with commercials from

the original broadcasts.

The band performed nine songs on three shows in February 1964

(playing several tunes more than once), and then returned

to the program some 19 months later, much changed and

already looking sort of "Rubber Soul"ish, to perform another

five. But that ain't all of the fun.

There are commercials that are inadvertently funny

("Aeroshave: Keeps Drenching Your Beard") and others

that will turn you into a militant feminist. And the

cultural divide -- pre-Beatles versus post -- is most

evident in the second show, from Miami, in which an

overheated Sullivan -- apparently trying to placate the

large part of his audience that was offended by the

Fab Four on the previous show -- brought on some

throwback acts and even cracked "communists!"

when there were audio problems.

What's amazing is how modern the Beatles seem, even

today, and particularly in contrast to some of the

more reactionary performers on the show. By the time

of the 1965 gig, the Beatles had already tried LSD and

were in the middle of the "Rubber Soul" sessions, so

Sullivan's "you are fine ambassadors" schtict, which

was ok in '64, already seemed quaint, ancient,




for February 6, 2014



for February 4, 2014

Should Oscar Honor Only the Nicest Auteurs?

If AMPAS voters act professionally, they will vote

to give Woody Allen the best original screenplay Oscar

for "Blue Jasmine" next month. No one else deserves

it but Allen this year.

But some are letting mere gossip influence them. Yet

those same folks don't complain about the awards given

to numerous rappers and sports stars who have been

involved in murders or gun violence. I didn't see

anyone at The New York Times raise his or her voice

to protest Ray Lewis' participation in a recent

Super Bowl.

But somehow Woody Allen, convicted of nothing, should

be denied his Oscar because his enemy has friends at

The New York Times. Which is really what this amounts to.

Using the logic of the witch hunters, maybe we should

stop honoring and teaching "Howl," because Allen Ginsberg

was accused of you know what, and let's replace him

with someone mediocre like Rod McKuen who has a clean

bill of health in his personal life.

Let's give awards only to the nicest poets from now on.

And let's give Oscars only to the likes of Donny Osmond

and Henry Winkler.

And let's take violent Vasari off the shelves, hide works

by murderer Caravaggio and put all the paintings by

Leonardo da Vinci in a garage because he was arrested

for an affair with an underage model.

It's funny, but not funny at all, that the same

people who don't accept the conviction of Amanda Knox

(and have no problem with her seven figure payday

from a book publisher for her memoir) want to deny

Allen acclaim for a great script.

And the same people who don't believe the highly

substantiated charges against jihadists at Gitmo

are eager to buy an uncorroborated one-source

accusation against Allen.

Meanwhile, Cat Stevens -- who was part of a conspiracy

to murder a novelist -- will soon be inducted into the

Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. And no one denies he was

part of that conspiracy. Yet there is little outcry

about that.

Perhaps if Stevens' crimes were uncorroborated, there'd

be more outrage.



for January 27, 2014

The International Olympic Committee may have

overlooked a surefire way to stop all the threats

from terrorists: include the militants in the

formal Olympic competitions. Make them feel

like they’re a part of the whole thing.

Here’re a few suggestions for the Winter Games in

Sochi that might match the skill sets and

interests of jihadists:

[by Paul Iorio]



for January 20, 2014

Drought in California? It's bad as it's ever been.

Yesterday I snapped this shot of the north end of

Berkeley's Strawberry Creek, whose water level is

now way below the roots of trees (and counting).



Here are contrasting shots I shot of the Strawberry Creek

waterfall on the campus of the University of

California at Berkeley -- seven years apart.

The first one is of the waterfall during the record flood

of December 2006. The second is of the same waterfall during

the record drought we're experiencing now in California. I shot

the pic yesterday.

[photo by Paul Iorio]

[photo by Paul Iorio]



for January 18, 2014

Who Covered The Beatles BEFORE “Sullivan.”

(And Who Didn't.)

By Paul Iorio

From Life magazine, January 31, 1964.

Who saw it coming?

Sure, everyone now agrees -- fifty years after the fact -- that

The Beatles’ first performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” was

a landmark event in pop culture history.

But who anticipated that reality before the night of

February 9, 1964?

Not everyone. In fact, not many U.S. publications even carried

advance word about the Sullivan appearance.

Pre-Sullivan coverage -– in American print publications -- of

the band was limited to a few major magazines, most notably

Time (which ran an article on November 15, 1963), The New Yorker

and The New York Times Magazine, which covered the Beatles

the following month. Life magazine, too, had a big feature

on them, in January ’64. (There was also coverage in trade

publications and on the evening news programs of NBC and

CBS, but this piece is about coverage in consumer


It's important to remember that, by the time of the TV

appearances, The Beatles had already made the trip

from the underground to the overground at warp speed

in the U.K. No less than the Queen of England was a fan

for whom they performed in November of ‘63.

So it wouldn't have been much of a stretch for the American

media to embrace them -- despite the flop of their first songs

in the U.S., singles that would later be hits when Capitol

Records released them months later.

But few in the States covered the band in that fall

season of '63 – even though it wasn't exactly outré

or avant garde for anyone to have taken notice of what

the British royal family had already championed.

Yet there were major hold-outs who were shocked by the

haircuts, which seemed to eclipse all else in published


“Haystack hairdos,” wrote The San Jose Mercury News.

“Dish mop haircuts,” said The New Yorker. “Mushroom

haircuts,” said Time. “Great pudding bowls of hair,”

said Newsweek.

Newsweek even ran a letter to the editor with a picture

showing the haircuts’ resemblance to comedian Ish Kabibble.

From a letter to the editor published in Newsweek,
March 9, 1964.

Life ran a photo spread of Dean Rusk, the Secretary of

State at the time, and his employees -- with Beatles

haircuts drawn on them.

From Life magazine, 1964.

Of course, just because there was early coverage

doesn’t mean it was prescient, knowing or favorable.

Many missed the point completely and trashed the music.

“Musically, they are a near-disaster, guitars and drums

slamming out a merciless beat that does away with

secondary rhythms, harmony, and melody. Their lyrics

(punctuated with nutty shouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’)

are a catastrophe,” wrote Newsweek in February 1964.

Time agreed. “Their songs consist mainly of ‘Yeh’ to

the accompaniment of three guitars and a thunderous drum.”

Then there was this cutting letter to the editor to Newsweek.

From Newsweek, March 9, 1964.

And there was a cartoon in The New York Times Magazine,

published on December 1, 1963, in which a teenager is

saying to her father: "But naturally they make you want

to scream, daddy-o; that's the whole idea of the Beatles'


Pre-Sullivan coverage in America sort of portrayed

the Beatles as a comedy act, as if they were four

guys with Three Stooges haircuts cutting up onstage.

“The audience is pretty funny, too,” said Time

in its first story on the band. “Goofy looking,” said

Life. They look “spectacularly demented,” wrote The

New York Times.

Ringo, and the other band members, posed sort of Three-Stooges-ish
for Life's January 31, 1964, issue.

And almost all publications said it was a transitory fad.

Like “gold fish gobbling,” said Life. “They are a craze,”

said The New York Times. “A craze,” said The New Yorker.

In their TV listings, many publications did not even note

the Sullivan appearance as one of the notable programs

of that particular Sunday night.

Time magazine seemed to list every program but Sullivan’s.

Time magazine omits the Sullivan show in its list of notable
programs of Feb. 9, 1964.

The Washington Post, Life magazine, The New York Times,

The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News

and others did note the Sullivan show in advance,

outside of their listings of all scheduled programs.

(The Mercury News even ran a now-iconic AP wire photo

of Sullivan rehearsing with the band.)

The St. Louis Post Dispatch didn’t note the Fab Four's upcoming
appearance, but in its listing of all programs, the paper did
rename the band “The Beatles of London.”
(From The St. Louis
Post Dispatch, Feb. 9, 1964.)

And so many seemed so sure The Beatles wouldn’t last.

“The odds are that they will fade away, as most adults

confidently predict,” said Newsweek (while allowing

that the opposite might also turn out to be true).

Fifty years later, the band’s music seems poised to last,

perhaps, for centuries.



for January 16, 2014

The Oscar Noms

They must be kidding with that best picture's list.

No "Blue Jasmine"? No "The Butler"? And they nominated

the Rupert Murdoch-funded vision of American slavery,

as seen by a plodding Brit, "12 Years a Slave." Man,

I really hope "12 Years a Slave" does not win.

And as expected, the stodgy boomer Academy voters

pretended not to notice "Spring Breakers."

I can predictions for the major categories with

fair certainty: the best picture will be (unfortunately)

"12 Years a Slave." The best actress will be Cate Blanchett.

Best actor will be Matthew McConaughey.

It is great to see Woody Allen nominated for best

original screenplay.



for January 13, 2014

I saw “Dallas Buyers Club” yesterday afternoon.

My first impression: Matthew McConaughey is going

to win the best actor Oscar come March. Playing a

scary southeastern guy who evolves, he’s natural

and real in a way that recalls performances by

Paul Newman and, to a lesser extent, Steve McQueen.

The film itself sort of – sort of -- resembles “Breaking Bad,"

with AZT substituting for meth and sold illegally

by someone with a terminal disease.

And it’s about as good as a primo episode of that series,

which means it’s well worth seeing.



for January 9, 2014

The thing about the Christie scandal -- and I know

he probably did his best Checkers speech this morning -- is

that we all know with certainty that this is the way Christie

operates all the time.

Do you doubt for an instant that's so? The Ft. Lee thing

has his DNA all over it. Senior aides only did Ft. Lee

because they do that sort of thing all the time. (Reminds

me of the photo of the cop casually smoking a cigarette

as Rodney King was being beaten. Standard procedure.)

"The Sopranos" is Christie's operating system. He will get

away with this -- he's very persuasive. But when a spiteful

blockade of San Diego happens in President Christie's

administration, everybody will be saying, remember that

incident way back in 2014 about Ft. Lee and traffic

or something?



for January 8, 2014

This just in: One of my blogs was just republished by The Huffington

Post. (All right!) It includes 15 photos I shot last Thursday of a

novel museum in the SF area, the Museum of Banned Toys. Enjoy.

New photos and story by Paul Iorio published in The Huffington Post!

These are the first photos I've shot in 2014 that have seen

publication. I snapped all 15 pics on January 2, 2014, after

a 4-mile hike from the Milbrae BART station to the museum.

(Regarding transportation, my advice is: take CalTrain instead!)


They all laughed when Biden proposed a partitioned Iraq as

a solution to war years ago. No one's laughing now.

If Anbar had been spun off into an autonomous republic, we

wouldn't have the current situation: a Sunni population

chafing under Shiite rule.

And just as we said to Germany in '45, "Elect who you

want -- as long as he or she is not a Nazi," so we

could have said to the people of Anbar, "Elect who you

want -- as long as he or she is not with al Qaeda."

The surge, in retrospect, was a failure. Biden, once

again, has been proved right by history.



for January 6, 2014

I just saw “Saving Mr. Banks” and my first reaction was:

Who knew that “Mary Poppins” had roots in such tearjerking

tragedy? Next we’ll be hearing that “Chitty Chitty Bang

Bang” can be traced back to the holocaust!

That said, this may be the dark horse in the Oscar race

for best picture, not because it is the best pic

(though it’s quite good), but because Hollywood just loves

to honor movies about movies. This one is built to Academy


And Tom Hanks is a superb and completely believable Walt Disney,

fully deserving of a nomination for best actor.

Still, it’s a bit hard to believe that Hollywood would

have put up with someone as uncompromising as Travers,

though the movie does do a good job showing how her sad

upbringing caused her to have a rod up her ass in


And the movie is very winning when she starts dancing to

“Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

Me, I remember the opening weekend of “Mary Poppins” first hand.

I was 7 and dad brought me and my brother and sister downtown

to see it. And we sang songs from the movie all the way

home in the car.



for January 5, 2014

The best picture Oscar should go to Woody Allen’s

“Blue Jasmine” in March. David O. Russell’s “American Hustle”

would also be a good choice, but “Jasmine” is the only

’13 flick that made me cry, so it’s the best.

But it won’t win. The best pic Oscar will go to

“12 Years a Slave,” a moral simpleton of a movie.

(Yeah, who doesn’t think slavery is evil? Show me

some gray areas instead, something less obvious.)

The nominees for best picture will be (give or take one or two):

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
Saving Mr. Banks
The Wolf of Wall Street

I know these will be the nominees because the PGA just weighed

in – and its list almost always matches Oscar’s.

With no other civil rights movie competing for votes,

“12 Years a Slave” should win by a big margin. Of

those civil rights films – “Fruitvale Station,”

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “42” – the latter two

are infinitely better than “12 Years a Slave.”

Inexplicable that “The Butler” wasn’t nominated.

Also missing is the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn

Davis,” a lousy movie championed by those who

value craft over art.

Harmony Korine’s brilliant “Spring Breakers” should be

on that list, but Oscar voters are too stodgy to

nominate it. As I’ve said before, in 2063 the

Academy will finally recognize Korine – with an

honorary Oscar.


I was talking with Woody Allen about his picture

"Crimes and Misdemeanors" some years ago and tried

to make a point about the Martin Landau character.

"Wouldn't it change the chemistry of a person to

murder someone?" I asked.

Allen didn't seem to think so: "He's aware of what

he's done and he's absolutely fine" with it, he said.

I wanted to continue along that line but had other

things to cover. Still, the more I think about it,

the more my question makes a lot of sense. And

it's something factored into "Breaking Bad" in a big way.

The point I was making to Allen is that the Landau character

would have to justify the murder in his mind in such a way

that he would also, going forward, be able to justify a

raft of other everyday behavior that he would have previously

labeled evil. In other words: with THIS moral exception

carved out, why not THAT exception, too?

With Walter White in "Breaking Bad," you can sense that

the murders and other illegality of his meth dealings have

fully warped his character, changed his chemistry so that

he’s now capable of acts he would’ve considered unspeakable


To be fair, "Breaking Bad" was around 60-hours long;

"Crimes and Misdemeanors" was a two hour film. So

Vince Gilligan had much more time to show his

character's consciousness being transformed by murder.

Frankly, after watching "Breaking Bad," I can’t go

back to “The Sopranos” and get the same kick anymore.

After Walter White, Tony Soprano seems way too

reasonable, not nearly as psychotic. White is truly

warped by the meth milieu. Nouveau depraved.

By the way, Gustavo’s final reflex as a human being,

even after being blown up by a bomb, is to straighten

his tie. So telling. Like a Mohamed Atta, bundled too

tightly, concerned more about appearances than reality,

disciplined in all the wrong ways.

But I digress. Paul



for January 3, 2014

The Most Fun California Museum You’ve Never Heard of!

Visiting the Museum of Banned Toys, Classic Toys and Pez in Burlingame

Scented Crayolas? No wonder kids started eating them. On display at the Banned Toy Museum. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

Scented crayons for children. Someone at Crayola had that

bright idea some decades ago – until kids started munching on

the candy-colored sticks.

And then there’s Clackers, two balls on a string that

crash together. Kids thought it was fun – until the balls

smashed like shrapnel when used as directed.

And let’s not
forget the Atomic Energy Lab for kids – with

materials that turned out to be actually radioactive.

All are banned (or recalled) toys. And all are on display

at The Banned Toys Museum in Burlingame, California (which

also includes a Classic Toys and Pez Museum). (For the record,

the formal name of the main museum is The Burlingame Museum

of Pez Memorabilia; the other two “museums” are more like

displays in the main room.)

Clackers, dangerous when used as directed! [photo by Paul Iorio]

This truly sui generis gallery is the creation of one Gary Doss,

who owns and runs the place.

“It took me 14 years to get an example of every Pez ever sold,”

Doss told me from behind the counter at the gift shop. “I’ve

been a Pez collector for about 20 years.”

Eight hundred
different types of Pez dispensers have been made

over the decades – and Doss has a sample of every single one

of them.

“You saw the
‘Seinfeld’ episode?” I asked, referring to the

famous episode about Pez.

“Of course,”
Doss said, laughing. In fact, on the wall in the next

room is a TV Guide-picture of Jerry Seinfeld with a Pez


Pez-mania on display. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Less funny
– or darkly funny – are the banned toys, a

collection that was “tougher” to acquire. “It took

about five years to assemble,” says Doss.

Some of the
banned toys recall nothing so much as

Dan Aykroyd’s hilarious bit on “Saturday Night Live”

in the Seventies, trying to justify dangerous

children’s gadgets.

But this stuff
is quite real. Sharp lawn darts that kids

started throwing at more than the lawn. Balls that

all-too-easily burst into flames.

The Atomic Energy Lab for kids. Nukes not included! [photo by Paul Iorio]

The contents of the Atomic Energy Lab -- which could cause kids to glow in the dark, sort of. [photo by Paul Iorio]


Not dangerous but recalled anyway, this cute little doll would say "Bite my butt" when its chain was pulled! [photo by Paul Iorio]

Elsewhere, in the classic toys section, each exhibit

brings back a deep-seated memory from childhood – if

you’re a baby boomer. Tinker Toys, Play-Doh, Slinky,

Nerfball, everything but Six Finger, it seems, are

all on display with the original packaging.

In the classic toys section, the beloved Slinky. [photo by Paul Iorio]

“To qualify as a classic toy in our museum, it has to be

over 50-years old and still has to be made today,”

says Doss.

Doss has enough exhibits for perhaps six rooms but

jams everything, artfully, into two (the museum and the

gift shop). It may well be the most densely-packed

gallery in California.

Also in the classic section, the Nerfball. [photo by Paul Iorio]

And who can forget Play-Doh? [photo by Paul Iorio]

The museum is a half-hour train ride from

San Francisco via CalTrain, right next door to the

Burlingame stop. (The rail ride is also an easy

way to glimpse the legendary Candlestick Park

stadium, where the Beatles gave their last concert,

before it is demolished this winter. Just look

to the east when you’re north of the airport.)

And when you get off the train in Burlingame, check

out the train station (built 110-years ago), which

now houses The Burlingame Historical Society museum,

featuring lots of local retro photos and memorabilia.

And there are restaurants and a shopping district

across the street on Burlingame Avenue.

[The Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia, 215 California
Drive, is open Tuesday through Saturday.
Web: www.burlingamepezmuseum.com]

The Pez Corral! [photo by Paul Iorio

A vintage Pez machine. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Wayy before DVDs, the View Master series. [photo by Paul Iorio[

A corner display. [photo by Paul Iorio]

This photo of Burlingame in the early 20th century hangs in the nearby Burlingame Historical Society museum. [photo by Paul Iorio]

The Pez Museum's sign on California Drive. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for December 30, 2013

Many thanks to all the great radio people who played my

songs in 2013, particularly Marshall Stax of KALX and

Eric J. Lawrence of KCRW and the DJs at KSDT in San

Diego. (And I'm sure there're others I don't

even know about.)

All told, 8 songs I wrote in 2013 had radio airplay. (For

the record, I wrote (and copyrighted) 33 songs this year.)

What a thrill! Think of it from my point of view: I had

been privately playing the guitar and writing songs in

my apartment with no one around for years that turned

into decades, thinking nobody would ever want to hear

my work.

And then I started properly releasing my stuff for

the first time (in ’06) and, to my surprise, watched

my songs get aired on great radio stations. Wow!

And now, 7 years later, nearly a hundred songs I’ve

written have been played on the radio.

What can I say besides thanks and the best is yet to

come (what with my brand new Fender in play and a lot

of new Paulsongs being readied for 2014).

Factual info about my music is at pauliorio.blogspot.com

(or copyright.gov). [Fictional information about my music

can be found through...jealous friends!! Ha!]



for December 29, 2013

I saw a bunch o’ flicks last week and here’s what I think:

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES”: Lots of laughs here,
though around 20-minutes too long. Sort of like a
Carl Reiner/Steve Martin comedy of the early 1980s.

It’s the story of the first lactose intolerant anchorman
at a tv station, a fast food restaurant that serves fried
bats (“chicken of the cave”) and a character who donates
his organs to science BEFORE he dies (to see where they go).

Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd are very funny; Steve Carell
and Kristen Wiig, not so much.


"DELIVERY MAN": Rich premise, awful execution. A short
flick that’s way too long.

The film makers don’t seem to know what to do with a wonderful
concept (e.g., a guy has fathered hundreds of children, due
to overuse of his specimen at a sperm bank).

It should be studied in film schools as an example of how NOT
to direct a movie.


DIRTY TEACHER”: This is about every h.s. guy’s cheesy
fantasy – having an affair with a hot teacher – but has
some unpredictable, even Hitchcockian elements (namely,
a murder frame-up at the end that’s quite unsettling).


FAST AND FURIOUS 6”: If you’re already into the series,
this latest one is as good as it gets. “6” marks a
return to fast cars and away from the heists of “Fast 5.”
And the low aerial shots of London are captivating.



for December 28, 2013

Martin Scorsese has made some of the greatest films of all time,

among them “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas” and “Taxi Driver.”

But “The Wolf of Wall Street” is not among them.

It’s awful.

Perhaps a brilliant editor could’ve assembled a wonderful

100-minute flick from this three-hour mess, but no one did.

By the 37th over-the-top office party/orgy, it becomes

tedious, formulaic. It starts to feel like one of the

non-alcoholic beers the characters drink at the end.

Wait for the DVD (and make sure your fast forward button

is working).



for Christmas Eve 2013

Another week, another war. Forget Syria, Iran, North Korea.

Sudan is the new front -- and the first U.S. casualties are

being reported there. (South Sudan's a splinter nation

that's splintering further, partly because of riches in

disputed parts.)



for December 21, 2013

I just saw David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” and feel

like I’ve just seen the best film of 2013.

This is crackling, electric, inspired film making.

I love the urgency of the thing, the fact that people

are sweating because everything’s at stake.

And in this year of Manichean simpletons on screen, I love

the “extremely gray” shades of morality here.

As for the acting, Oscars noms for the whole lot, particularly

Jennifer Lawrence, who deserves an award for that scene that goes,

“Sometimes in life, all you have are fucked-up poisonous choices.”

Lawrence is always a genuine, spontaneous actress who knows

how to be real in front of a camera, but this takes her talent

to the next level. (And Robert De Niro makes a brilliant,

uncredited star turn.)

Elsewhere, the movie upends clichés about employment, love,

loyalty. It blows the top off of Springsteen’s sometimes-cornball

vision of Jersey. And unlike so many flicks, from “Mud” to

“Inside Llewyn Davis,” when someone is punched, there are real

medical consequences. (Wow! A film maker who actually

knows about real life!)

This is like a primo picture by Paul Thomas Anderson, the

equal of the great “Boogie Nights.” And it makes

“Llewyn Davis” looks like it was created in a snow globe.

Bravo. Just bravo!


It's official: "Inside Llewyn Davis" is a big flop. In

its first week of wider release, its per screen average

is abysmal, equal to the current per screen for the new

Hobbit film, which is in 25 times as many theaters.

For those unfamiliar with how this works, an example: if,

say, Scorsese's new movie were playing right now in only

one theater, it would draw a full house and therefore have

a huge per screen average. However, if it were being screened

at three thousand theaters, there would be fewer full houses

and the average would be far lower.

"Llewyn" is playing in only 148 theaters, so you'd expect at

least triple its current per screen avg., which means there're

lots of empty seats.

And for good reason. As I said earlier in this NewsFeed,

it's a "beautifully-crafted crappy movie."

I can't imagine why people would want to see this thing. It's

set in the folk world of '61, but music fans are seeing it

doesn't ring true at all. The storyline is non-existent. The

main character is a fictional non-entity.

And the advertising campaign for it is getting downright desperate;

the last tv commercial I saw made it look like it was the story of

a man and his cat. (I guess the moguls are hoping that unsuspecting

moviegoers will say, "You wanna see that movie about the cat?"

over the holidays.)

All I can think is, the Coens used all that money and all that

expert film making to do a movie about a made-up nobody when

they could’ve used all those resources to tell a really

compelling story (e.g., the Phil Ochs story; the early

rise of Bob Dylan, etc.). What a colossal waste.

And the critics who raved about it in print need to

explain themselves. (Hey, I know, Carey Mulligan is a

babe, but she ain't gonna Bronstein you!)



for December 20, 2013

"Inside Llewyn Davis,” which I just saw, is a

beautifully-crafted crappy film.

It resembles nothing so much as “Silver Linings Playbook,” right

down to the central character, a fuck-up, and his sometime

sidekick, a bitch. (Funny how Jean is bitchy in the same way

that his sister Joy is bitchy in the same way that

another female character is bitchy, etc.)

It doesn’t have a story to tell, its characters don’t evolve

a bit (and not by design), most of it isn’t even about

music, there’s a long unnecessary trip to the Midwest,

Albert Grossman looks like Mitch Miller, John Goodman

looks like Dave Van Ronk, one of the scenes rips off

Robert Altman’s “Nashville” (when Llewyn thinks he’s

going to be called to the stage), and the Gaslight owner

is an embarrassing caricature that doesn't feel real at all.

Like “Heaven’s Gate,” it’s all dressed up with nowhere to go.

It’s as if the Coens wanted to make “Freewheelin’ Llewyn Davis”

(a far better title) and tell the veiled tale of Dylan’s

own early days but feared alienating too many people. So

they created an unengaging fictional nobody.

And then at the end, the punchline (that we have to wait 90 minutes

for) is that he was beaten up because he heckled someone’s wife.

Eh! So what. (By the way, he’s assaulted fairly badly but

doesn’t suffer even a bruise.)

Not recommended.



for December 18, 2013

I urge one of the inductees into this year's Rock 'n' Roll

Hall of Fame to say from the podium something like: "We

are gathered here tonight in the spirit of free speech

that has been made possible by the sacrifices of people

both in rock 'n' roll and outside it. People like Theo

van Gogh and Salman Rushdie."

And make sure Cat Stevens is there when you say it!

Those who voted to induct Stevens fall into 3 categories:

1) people who grew up provincial and are now overcorrecting

for their provincialism by siding with jihadist crackers;

2) cowards who hope his induction inoculates the Hall

against attacks by religious militants; and 3) millionaires

who only see the world from 30,000 feet up.

By the way: what Cat Stevens song made it necessary to induct

him? "Peace Train"? And that number is better than, say, Jim

Croce's "I Got a Name," or Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could

Read My Mind," or the work of numerous other seventies

singer-songwriters? I think not.

And Stevens has influenced what major artist or movement?

Name even one.

Stevens is not Elia Kazan, who was a major artist AND a pariah.

Stevens is a minor artist and a pariah. And if he is to be

inducted, let it be in a hall ringing with the names of van Gogh

and Rushdie.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Let's induct George Carlin into the RnR Hall of Fame.

Now THAT's rock 'n; roll!



for December 16, 2013

There’s a real split on perceptions of race between the baby

boomers and the hip hop generation – and it showed on the

last “Saturday Night Live.”

The hip hop generation is very accustomed to rappers stealing riffs

from white artists like Zep and Sabbath to rap over. Conversely,

aging baby boomers remember a previous era, now long gone, in

which white artists ripped off black blues and r&b predecessors.

And that’s why Kenan Thompson’s joke on SNL fell so flat and failed

to get a laugh. Smug and self-impressed, Kenan, expecting

a big laugh that was not to be, joked (paraphrasing), “When have

white people ever taken credit for what black people have done?”

And there was an almost embarrassing lack of laughter from the

audience, which was probably puzzled. Inundated daily with

examples of black artists sampling and ripping off the riffs

of white rockers, the crowd was likely wondering what the

hell he was talking about. Thompson told a joke that sounded

like it was written by someone 30 years older than him.

Some boomers just haven’t “noticed that the lights have

changed,” to quote you know who.


The best new band I heard in 2013 was The xx, which

has been releasing albums for a few years now. Better

than the Mumfords, wayyy better than the Lumineers, The

xx has a sound somewhere between Portishead and “Kid A”

and is highly addictive. Just listen to Oliver Sim and

Romy Madley Croft trade vocals on “Heart Skipped a Beat”

and see if you don’t agree.

But the CD that I listened to most this year was a holdover

from 2012: “Some Nights” by fun.. Cannot praise it enough.

If any current group has the potential to become the

defining band of this decade, it’s fun..



for December 14, 2013

I just saw “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and

enjoyed it until the last hour (this is a

two-and-a-half-hour flick).

I’m not exactly the target audience for this franchise,

but, for the first ninety minutes, I liked the artful,

sometimes magical visuals (e.g.: the blue moths (birds?) in

the red woods sequence is priceless, as is the image of

someone falling into vast giant cobwebs). The first part

aspires, visually, to “The Wizard of Oz,” but of course

nobody ever reaches those heights.

And I admire the clean narrative line, rare for a

fantasy film of this sort.

But the last hour devolves into a generic superhero flick.

And, truth be told, I start to get very sleepy when I

see a fire-breathing dragon that talks. Doesn’t do it

for me.



On the anniversary of the ultratragic Newtown massacre, let's

redouble our efforts to rid the world of the migraine headaches

that can so often lead to shootings.

That's what the NRA and its supporters sound like when they

advocate a greater emphasis on mental health treatment

to stop gun violence.

The mental health issue is a ruse by NRAers to divert people

from the real issue: gun control. Crazies are but a small

percentage of those who abuse firearms. Gun deaths are mostly

caused by drunks, druggies, terrorists, accidental shooters,

vigilantes and the disgruntled – and none of them is

mentally ill.



for December 12, 2013

The dark horse at this year’s Golden Globes is “Rush.” Suffice it

to say that Ron Howard has made some great movies, but this ain’t

one of ‘em. The most remarkable thing about it is Chris Hemsworth,

who looks and acts startlingly like Brad Pitt.

Structurally the flick has a fatal lack of focus. It starts as

James Hunt’s story, shifts to become Niki Lauda’s, and then ends

as an awkward mix of both. And the underlying rivalry is a bit


There is a great movie to be made about Formula 1 racers -- who

sometimes drive at half the speed of an airborne jet and seem

to be fueled by flirting with death -- but (as sports movies go)

this one is not quite as good as, say, “Moneyball.”



for December 8, 2013

What's the REAL inside baseball on "Inside

Llewyn Davis"?

I did copious research on Dylan's early Village years many

years ago and read every major book on him and remember

there was a big issue regarding Dylan sleeping on friends'

couches (particularly on the couches of Terri Thal and

van Ronk).

So now, in the fictional version, it's the van Ronk

character who's doin' the moochin'? Isn't that

flipping the facts?

And, as I recall, that was the reason Thal and

the others who helped him get his start felt

slighted when he wrote "Positively 4th Street."


The scene everyone thinks is so funny from

"Inside Llewyn Davis" is the "Please Mr. Kennedy"

bit. In terms of satirizing studio

sessions, I don't think it's as humorous as the

"Feel the Heat" scene in "Boogie Nights."

And I'm not sure they wanted to parody the Serendipity

Singers, but after three listens, that's what it sounds like!

As a sidenote, I can't imagine operating this way in

a recording studio. Unless it's a song I've written

being recorded my way, I'm not interested. Maybe

collaborative groups work this way, but it's

foreign to my experience.

People in my Facebook NewsFeed are citing all sorts

of antecedents to "Please Mr. Kennedy," but the one they're

missing -- complete with hammy "UH OH"s -- is the

Serendipity Singers' "Don't Let the Rain Come Down."

(Also, the concept of parodying pre-Dylan folk (albeit

from a right-wing angle) also done in "Bob Roberts."

(Jus' sayin'.)

T Bone Burnett is a master producer, but as a songwriter,

not so much. Remember a few years ago when he was doing

shows with Alison Krauss's Union Station? He was allowed

to sing two of his own songs per set -- and that is

precisely when the crowd took its bathroom break!

(Coincidence? I think not.)

While I'm on a "Llewyn" jag: There was a famous episode

of "Seinfeld" in which Kramer loses someone else's cat.

But I guess the film puts a fresh new spin on losing

somebody's cat?


I'm re-watching this magnificent copy of "Harmony Korine's

"Spring Breakers" and it's even better than I thought

the first time. Absolutely, the most aesthetically

progressive film of the year. Korine's "Clockwork Orange."

But I bet the stodgy Academy won't nominate it for a single

major Oscar. I hope they do but bet they won't. The Academy's

boomer voters are stuck on events of 50 yrs ago and

will nominate movies about events of 50 yrs ago.

50 yrs from now, they'll probably give Korine, a genuine

genius, an honorary Oscar to make up for the fact they

weren't paying attention back in '13.



for December 7, 2013

It goes without saying that Nelson Mandela was a great

leader and we can learn much from his example.

He showed us the limits of Gandhi, the occasional necessity

of benign militancy. But one of his most important lessons of

all was: the struggle for liberation should never morph into

a struggle to become the new oppressor. (And that's a lesson

still unlearned by some in the U.S.)

I regret I never got to meet or interview Mandela, but I did

get to talk one on one with Joseph Shabalala during the height

of the struggle against apartheid. And it was clear from talking

with him that it was Mandela's brave example that made him and

Ladysmith Black Mambazo brave themselves. But he also emulated

his gentleness. "Rain, rain, beautiful rain," he sang. I still

have the tape of that. Might post it. Here he was, facing possible

assassination and imprisonment and his thoughts remained beautiful.

So like Mandela.



for December 3, 2013

OK, here's my Ten Best Films of 2013 list, which

is likely to change a bit (once I see the movies

released in the next few weeks).

1. Blue Jasmine
2. Spring Breakers
3. Lee Daniels' The Butler
4. The Family
5. Gravity
6. Captain Phillips
7. 42
8. Last Vegas
9. Best Man Holiday
10. Jobs



2013: A Great Year to be Black in Movies!
Oprah-ganda and Other Trends in ‘13 Cinema

By Paul Iorio

Morgan Freeman plays the president of the United States in "Olympus Has Fallen."

Black presidents. Black generals. Black heroes. Courageous black

martyrs. Black people victimized unspeakably by white villains.

Even Perry White of The Daily Planet was black this year!

They were all on the big screen in 2013, the biggest year ever for

African-Americans in cinema.

And I’m not just talking about the civil rights movies of ‘13,

namely: “Fruitvale Station,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” "42"

and “12 Years a Slave.”

I’m talking about mainstream films by and about non-African Americans.

Dozens of ‘em!

In almost every one, the main black character is a leader, a

pioneer, the life of the party, an all-around good guy.

In fact, the only notable black bad guys in a major

mainstream flick this year were the Somali pirates in

“Captain Phillips” – though Tom Hanks’ character makes

sure even they are treated with a level of respect

one would give to diplomats.

In the pre-Obama era, the rap on Hollywood was that blacks

were relegated to playing pimps, whores and crooks. But now

that’s flipped so that it’s, frankly, hard to find an

African-American actor playing a heavy. And in some flicks,

it’s hard to find decent white folks.

All this raises questions. Has there been a conscious effort

across studios to create positive black images as a form of

social engineering?

Is this an over-correction for previous decades in which

there were too many negative black images?

Doesn’t all this cross the line from honest storytelling and art

to racial propaganda (or, to use my own coinage, Oprah-ganda)?

You decide. Here’s a look at some of the black characters in

movies released in 2013.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”: Epic and sometimes moving, but its
first half-hour doesn’t show a single white character who isn’t pure evil.

Fruitvale Station”: This feature about Oscar Grant, a
real-life victim of a police shooting, is largely hagiography,
an idealized portrait of someone notable only for having been
shot by a cop. (Also, if you’ve ever been on BART train in
the San Francisco area when there’re partying teens aboard,
you know that this is not even close to realism.)

12 Years a Slave”: Its relentless depiction of racial
viciousness puts it in league with “Precious” and the first
half-hour of “The Butler.” Which is to say, some sequences are
almost like cinematic demagoguery. It’s largely a compilation of
violent racist atrocities. (In this flick, you’re only three
minutes away from the next act of unspeakable cruelty!)

White House Down”: The president of the United States
is played by Jamie Foxx.

“Olympus Has Fallen”: The acting president of the U.S.
is played by Morgan Freeman. And the director of the Secret Service
is played by Angela Bassett.

"42": Biopic about baseball legend Jackie Robinson. And some
of the whites are actually depicted as heroic, too!

“Man Of Steel”: The top editor at The Daily Planet, Perry White,
is played by Laurence Fishburne.

Best Man Holiday”: Perhaps the best African-American movie
of the year – and it may be the one least noted by white audiences.
A charming flick that avoids the Manichean quality of other racial

“Last Vegas”: Morgan Freeman’s character is arguably the
most likeable of this pack of geezers who go to party in Las Vegas.

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”: The four-star general at the
beginning is an African-American.

“This is the End”: The main black character here is the
keyboard-playin’ life of the party!

The Bling Ring”: The first black character we see is a
police officer leading an official search and cuffing a privileged
white kid.

“The Call”: The hero is a 911 operator played by Halle Barry.

“Ender’s Game”:
Sgt. James Dap is a commander at a military school.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”: The first African-American on
screen is a dissident in need of championing by no less than
Katniss herself!

“Carrie (2013)”: The well-meaning black school administrator
tries to care for a victim of bullying.

“The Internship”: Bob Williams is an affluent colleague
of the main white charactersl he makes a point of noting that he
has more money than they do.

We’re The Millers”: Two abductors are played by black
actors – but they’re played for laughs. (A rare negative image,
but not much of one.)

“The Counselor”: At the Texas State Penitentiary, the
black character is not a prisoner, but a female corrections

And there were plenty of other positive black role models on

the silver screen this year: in “World War Z,” Brad Pitt’s

character reports to an African-American who is large and in

charge; in “Identity Theft,” the smooth-talking police

detective at the beginning is black; in “Gangster Squad,”

an African-American police officer is portrayed as being

smarter than everyone else in the room; the blacks in

“The Great Gatsby” are performers at a party thrown by

Jay Gatsby; the level-headed and sober folks at a memorial

service are black (and the screw-ups are white!) in

“Bad Grandpa.”

Hungry for more positive images? African-Americans play the

following roles in these films: a teary eyed father drops

his step-daughter off at school in the morning (“Kick Ass 2”);

a cuddly codger has old age ailments (“3 Geezers”); a good

cop lays down the law to Jeff Bridges’ character (“R.I.P.D.”);

a marriage counselor (“Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage

Counselor”); a medical investigator (“Side Effects”);

an associate of Thor in “Thor: the Dark World”: and a retired

magician (“Now You See Me”).

Laurence Fishburne is Perry White in "Man of Steel."



for December 2, 2013

That letter the DPRK cooked up for Merrill Newman to sign sure

shows a mastery of English by the North Korean dude who wrote

it and forced Newman to sign it.

Here's the third graf of the letter in its entirety (exactly

as it was released on the DPRK government's official

English language website). It's not taken out of context

or edited:

"As I gave 300 people with barbarity gone to the south
who had ill feelings toward the DPRK from Chodo military
education and guerilla training they later did attack
against the DPRK although the armistice was signed."

Sounds like a Burroughs cut-up, no? Perhaps the North Koreans

are just now discovering the Beats and this is their way

of expressing their appreciation!

Toward the end of the letter, here's another sentence that

Newman obviously did not write:

"I beg for pardon on my knees by apologizing for my offensives
sincerely toward the DPRK government and the Korean people and
I want not punish me."

Hmmm. "I want not punish me." Sure, that sounds the way an

educated guy from Palo Alto like Newman would write! (Kim's

propagandist really knows how to mimic natural American




for December 1, 2013

Shocked, saddened to hear about Paul Walker’s death. He's

gone, but that rooftop chase through the slums of Rio in

“Fast Five” will live on as an action classic.



for November 26, 2013

Obama was in town yesterday....

I shot this pic of the scene on Mason Street in San Francisco
before the presidential procession went by.



for November 23, 2013

I just saw “The Hunger Games” Catching Fire.” It’s

better than the first one and likely to surpass it at

the box office. Jennifer Lawrence, always genuine and edgy,

plays Katniss as an agitator and revolutionary this time.

And Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland turn in solid

performances. Might topple “Iron Man 3” as biggest flick

of the year.



for November 20, 2013

Here's an audio excerpt of my interview with Robert

Jackson, the photographer who shot the iconic pic of

Ruby killing Oswald, in which Jackson talks about

something he did NOT tell the Warren Commission.

Paul Iorio talks with the photographer who shot the pic of Ruby Killing Oswald.



for November 19, 2013


I talked one-on-one with the photographer who

shot the iconic photo of Jack Ruby killing Oswald

(and who won a Pulitzer for it). And he told me

things about the weekend of the assassination of

J.F.K. that he never even told the Warren Commission.

My audiotaped interview with that photographer,

Robert Jackson, has never been published -- until

right now. Here's a transcript of the Q&A, which

I conducted on July 1, 1999.


ROBERT JACKSON: It was a Nikon S-3 Rangefinder camera.


JACKSON: Yeah, about 10, 11 feet. A hair over 10 feet. That was about the distance where I was standing and where [Oswald] would step into the clearing.


JACKSON: Uh, huh.


JACKSON: Never noticed him. Never saw him. Don’t know where he came from.


JACKSON: When the gun goes off, then I realize he’s been shot and my first reaction is, I can’t believe this is happening here in front of me in the basement of the police station. I didn’t have time to think of anything else.

The next thing is mass confusion. There’re plainclothes cops everywhere there. There was not a big crowd of people down there. The next thing I was aware of is there was a cop in front of me with his hand over my camera lens and he’s shioving me back. And I’m really not going anywhere….And I’m thinking, get more pictures. But it’s just a mass of police jumping on Ruby. I shot one more frame right away, knowing my strobe wasn’t going to recycle, because it would take probably six seconds for it to recycle.


JACKSON: I never thought of that. I wasn’t thinking there was anyone shooting wildly down in the crowd. It was obvious his target was Oswald. And the next instant, I had the cops shoving me back, and I said, “Get your hand off my camera.”

By then, they’re taking both the victim and the shooter into the building. And of course we knew we couldn’t follow. And we kind of waited till they brought an ambulance in and they brought him out and I was able to get one more shot.


JACKSON: No. And this is really puzzling thing to me, because…I saw the wound. When they put him in the ambulance, his sweater was up, I could see the spot and I saw no blood around it at all.

Later, when I heard that he’d bled to death internally, I thought, that’s why I didn’t see a lot of blood. The other day, I’m looking at a magazine, Texas Monthly, from last November [1998] and there’s an almost full-page picture there of his bloody t-shirt and, I mean, it’s almost covered [with blood]. And when I saw that all these years later, I thought, he must have bled later.

* * * *


JACKSON: I didn’t see any along the route…And there were some signs in the crowd that were obviously Barry Goldwater supporters with [signs] like, “Let’s Barry King John.” That was the harshest one I saw.


JACKSON: No, I didn’t mention it to them, because the people at the airport…saw it. Of course, the Secret Service saw those signs, too.


JACKSON: …I had unloaded my camera in that last block…and I put it in an envelope and tossed it out to Jim Featherston, a reporter. And there was a gusty wind and the wind caught the envelope and he didn’t catch it and he had to chase it. And we were kind of laughing in the car -- and that’s when we heard the first shot.

At that point, we were making the turn and were straightened out and facing the book depository. Within a matter of seconds, we heard the other two shots in the space of – I think I told the Warren Commission, eight seconds. I think officially it’s a little less than that.


JACKSON: Oh, yeah. We heard the three shots and everybody in the car, we all heard three shots, there was no conflict there.


JACKSON: They were all from right in front of us. And then I just happened to look up and I looked in the direction the sound came from and obviously, instantly, we knew someone was shooting at the motorcade. And I looked up there and saw these two guys hanging out of the window and looking up above them [to the sixth floor].

And then I looked up to the next window and I saw the rifle being drawn in. I was amazed I was seeing this weapon. And I had an empty camera with a long lens and it didn’t do me any good…

In those days, that particular type of Nikon, you had to take the back off to reload. You couldn’t just pop it open. So that made it doubly hard to try to get another roll of film in the camera.

Especially when the car is moving and the driver doesn’t know whether to go or stop, kind of jerky. And then he sped up down to the corner. And that’s where I could see all of this happening, people covering up their kids, and I could see the president’s car disappear under the bridge.


JACKSON: But first I ended up going to the hospital. We hitched a ride with a lady in a car and she took us to Parkland Hospital, because I knew that’s where they’d probably take him if he was hit. That was just a guess.

So I was at Parkland Hospital in the yard until the rest of the afternoon, until the body was removed. Security kept all of us outside…

* * *


JACKSON: I never heard anything to that effect….


JACKSON: Right. There’s one thing in [“Moment of Impact”] that makes you think one thing, when it was really something else. When they filmed me walking down the ramp [to the basement where Ruby was shot] and I’m saying, “Nobody checked my press pass.”

Well, I didn’t walk in that way…Actually, I went in the regular door and got on the elevator and went up to the press room. And I was one of the early arrivals….And a public affairs person said, “We’re gonna take you down to the basement.” And that’s really how I got down to the basement.

They had a policeman guarding the ramp [to the basement]. I guess they figured that one guy could certainly not miss anyone trying to walk in there.



for November 17, 2013

Who can forget Walter Cronkite blinking away tears

and saying,

"From Dallas, Texas, the flash -- apparently
official -- President Kennedy died at 1:00 p.m.
Central standard time, 2 p.m. Eastern standard
time, 12 p.m. Mountain standard time, 11 a.m.
Pacific standard time, on most of these CBS stations."



for November 16, 2013

I just saw Malcolm D. Lee’s “The Best Man Holiday.”

The first forty minutes had me roaring. I was pleasantly

surprised by the patter and characters, who were

engaging and rang true. It starts off charming and

is way better than the similarly-themed "Think Like a Man.”

But then it becomes soap opera-ish – and the football

game near the end is sort of crappy.

Still, the book publishing stuff at the beginning

is quite excellent and hints at something that hasn’t

been done yet: a Woody Allen-ish movie with mostly

African-American characters. This ain’t that -- and it

is light -- but it’s worth seeing, despite the flaws.

The movie was released yesterday and I can't imagine it's

not going to be a big hit this weekend...



for November 15, 2013

A cartoon by Paul Iorio (datz me!).



for Veterans Day, 2013

I once asked David Rabe what he thought the best

war movie of all time was. Rabe didn’t hesitate:

“’Platoon,’” he said.

He’s right. It is. Second best is not even close.

And Rabe would know, being a playwright, a screenwriter – and

a combat veteran.

On this Veterans Day, let’s remember the lessons of

“Platoon,” among them: in almost every war, we

sometimes fight our allies as much as we fight the

so-called enemy.

Here’s a scene from “Platoon” in which Elias tries to

stop Barnes from committing mass murder. It’s one of

the greatest scenes in the history of cinema.

In the Vietnam era, America itself was divided between

Elias and Barnes. A half century later, America is

still divided between Elias and Barnes.




for November 10, 2013

Okay, I binged this afternoon and saw two new flicks:

“Last Vegas” and “Thor: The Dark World.” Here’s what

I think:

"LAST VEGAS”: A genuinely funny comedy – what a concept!
Witty script, almost like an Elaine May thing, with lots
of snap and nice energy. Conceptually, almost like
“The Hangover” for codgers! I laughed from the git and
through most of it. A surefire way to enjoy yourself
for two hours!


"THOR: THE DARK WORLD": As superhero comic book movies go,
this Thor sequel rates around a 6 on a 10 point scale of
such films, with the best being 10 (“Superman 2”/Tim
Burton’s “Batman”) and one being the worst (“Captain
America,” anyone?).

And it’s the presence of Natalie Portman that’s sending
this into the stratosphere at the box office, as she
brings in females to this very male franchise.

Audiences really respond when the superhero thing is
done with a wink, which is why “The Avengers” and
the “Iron Man” trilogy have been so massive (Robert
Downey Jr. is a master at not taking this stuff
seriously). And this has some funny bits, too
(particularly from Erik Selvig).

Still, it suffers from the sins of the genre (i.e.,
the characters’ superpowers are so arbitrary that
there can be little suspense or willing suspension
of disbelief, because some of the characters have
abilities that enable them to get out of anything).

The killer final frame, a twist you won’t anticipate,
suggests another sequel. (How about one called “Loki”?
He's easily the most compelling character of
this series.)


I saw “12 Years a Slave” last night and here’s what

I think.

It’s a well-crafted film about a subject that couldn’t be

worthier, but its predictable moral landscape and

relentless depiction of viciousness puts it in league

with “Precious” and the first half-hour of “The Butler.”

Which is to say that some sequences are almost like

cinematic demagoguery.

In many ways, it’s a compilation of violent racist atrocities.

In this flick, you’re only three minutes away from the next

act of unspeakable cruelty!

And, yes, it takes more than a little from the brilliant

“Django Unchained” (though they’re two very different movies,

of course).

I’m not a fan of morally simplistic movies that show

an obvious Manichean universe where everybody on one

side is true north and everyone else is pure evil.

I like greater complexity in films.

What are examples of movies that show a moral complexity,

the ambiguity of evil, even sympathy for the devil?

“Midnight Clear,” “Raging Bull,” “Platoon” (definitely

“Platoon”), “Bullets Over Broadway” (in that you start

off feeling one way about a character, but change your

mind by the end), “Yojimbo,” “Letters from Iwo Jima.”

I could go on and on.

I wish someone would make a film that’s sort of a

“Midnight Clear” or a “Platoon” of the slavery era

(or of the civil rights era), showing the internecine

conflicts on both sides, the good guys amongst the

bad guys, radical disagreements among whites of

those eras. Take it beyond the obvious, please.

Imagine a simpleton film maker portraying the

My Lai massacre with obvious imagery, showing U.S. bad,

Vietnamese civilians good! Now think of Oliver Stone’s

brilliant evocation of the massacre in “Platoon,” showing

U.S. bad, U.S. good and a lot of gray everywhere.

Now apply that same smart sensibility to a film about

plantation owners of the slavery era. Show the

progressive whites battling the reactionary whites.

And do for the worst what Dostoyevsky did in creating

Raskolnikov: humanize them.



for November 9, 2013

I once saw Bryan Cranston in a panel discussion on the TCA

tour in Pasadena during his “Malcolm” days and thought

he was one of the most spontaneously funny actors I’d ever seen.

But I just saw the first six episodes of “Breaking Bad” and

they were awful. The raves given to it by others are a

mystery to me.

The overcomposed dialogue sounds written not spoken, which

is not a good thing. It feels like a rehearsal, but not

in a good way. Skylar is irritating, but not by design.

The disabled son is a cliché. And it’s witless. Also,

it de-eroticizes sex, reducing it to the level of

scratching your butt.

“Breaking Bad” feels so Oughties, so unlike the Tens,

already so old-fashioned. It’s a relic of the era of

dial-up and W., when people actually believed Rummy

and Crystal Mangum, so pre-Obama, so pre-Facebook NewsFeed.

By the Twenties, it’ll likely be as forgotten as “Twin Peaks”

is today.

While watching it, my mind kept wandering to the brilliant

series “House of Cards” and how I wished I was watching

that instead of this. (Can't wait for the second season

of “House of Cards,” btw.)

But if you like seeing footage of a middle-aged Cranston

nude or nearly nude and up close, then this is your feast,

not mine. I am not proceeding to episode 7.

But I digress, Paul



for November 4, 2013

Many thanks to Marshall Stax for playing a couple of my

brand new songs on KALX Radio several minutes ago!

If you missed the KALX show, you can hear the two songs


Here's "I Know Everyone in the World," which I wrote way back
in September 2013:
"I Know Everyone in the World."
Click here to listen: I KNOW EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.

And here's "The Sun Wasn't Discovered Till It Started
Shinin' in the Morning," which also dates back to
September 2013:
"The Sun Wasn't Discovered Till It Started Shinin' in the Morning"
Listen here:




for November 3, 2013

Advance copies now being released (11/3/13)! Six brand new songs by Paul Iorio
on an album called "Flashers in Flashcoats" (and not one track composed
before April 2013!).

Request a copy at pliorio@aol.com or at facebook.com/pauliorio.

This is the official album website, including cover art,
lyrics, MP3s, info, etc. Here're the tracks: 

TRACK ONE: "I Know Everyone in the World."

Click here to listen: I KNOW EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.

TRACK TWO: "(Don't Go) Hate Crimin'"
Click here to listen: "(Don't Go) Hate Crimin'"

TRACK THREE: "I Think I Accidentally Mailed My Son in the Christmas Rush"
Click here to listen:  I Think I Accidentally Mailed My Son in the Christmas Rush.

TRACK FOUR: "Blue Light"
Click here to listen:   "BLUE LIGHT"

TRACK FIVE: "Baby, Let's Overdo It"
Click here to listen: BABY, LET'S OVERDO IT.

TRACK SIX: "The Sun Wasn't Discovered Till It Started Shinin' in the Morning"
Listen here:



Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2013

(I want to say) I know
I know everyone
I know everyone in the world

I know the maitre’d, I know the maitre don’t, I know a bugler up in Kent
I have a billion friends, and one sincere request
But, baby, I don’t know you

(I want to say) I know
I know everyone
I know everyone in the world

The munchkins, the makers of tiny little pies
Himalayan sherpas and their herds
I know veterans of Verdun, the man who invented fun
See-sawers at the Holy See

I know everyone in the world
Everyone in the world
Everyone in the world knows me

I know the bankers, the barkers, the butlers, the bards
The people of lower Lorraine
I know the dashing haberdashers, the flashers in their flashcoats
All of the rabbis in Mumbai

I know everyone
I know everyone in the world

Inspired a bit by fun. and Queen. The chorus came
to me in a dream a few months ago and I wrote it
from there. I play flute, keyboards and all other


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2013

Hate crimin’
Don’t go hate crimin’
Hate crimin’
Don’t go hate crimin’
(Don’t, don’t, don’t)

If I commit a crime,
It’s ‘cause I need a dime
Not because I’m biasin’

If I commit a crime
You know race ain’t on my mind
Green’s the only color I see

Hate crimin’
Don’t go hate crimin’
Hate crimin’
(Don’t, don’t, don’t)

If I commit a crime
You know money’s on my mind
For religion, I ain’t got time

If I commit a crime
And believe me I ain’t lyin’
Money, money, money, money (on my mind)

kind of like War meets Melle Mel and is about a guy
who says, yes, he commits crimes for money, but
never because of bias. (Not autobiographical,
of course!)


Music and lyrics by PaulIorio
Copyright 2013

Stars on trees
Trees on cars
Twinkle twinkle little son
I wonder where you are

Where is my little one
He was playing with the bubble pack
Thought he was crawlin’ there
In the Frosty wrap

Oh my god, I think I sent my son Priority First Class

I think I accidentally mailed my son in the Christmas rush
Sealed him in a Flat Rate Box
And sent him in the crush
If it fits, it ships, the p.o. likes to gush
I think I accidentally mailed my son in the Christmas rush

Called up the post office
They want a tracking slip
With no return address
It may not even ship

Second attempt at delivery
Will occur some time today
“If they’re not home, your son comes back
And you don’t have to pay”

Then they put me on that new kind of hold
Press one for classical, press two for rock

I think I accidentally mailed my son in the Christmas rush
Sealed him in a Flat Rate Box
The ride ain’t very plush

Holiday season
Gift wrap blizzard
Boxes on the TV
Where it’s “off to see the wizard”

Then I realized
Just where I’d left my boy
There he was near the backyard fence, playin’ with his toys

Big apologies to the post office
Hey, I didn’t mean “you’ll get yours” as a threat
Now let’s be reasonable here!

I thought I’d accidentally mailed my son in the Christmas rush
Sealed him in a Flat Rate Box
And sent him in the crush

Figured he’d get a ride direct to Cedar Brush
I thought I’d accidentally mailed my son in the Christmas rush

Christmas rush
Christmas rush

A campy evocation – almost a parody – of country Christmas
novelty songs (with a touch of Johnny Cash). As the title
suggests, it’s about a guy who thinks his toddler, caught
up in a blizzard of wrapping paper and boxes, might have
been accidentally sent priority first class through the
U.S. mail!

And it has an interesting history. The concept came to me
five months ago in a dream in which I dreamt I’d written
such a track (about a guy mailing his son) that had become
a surprise nationwide hit. But I felt sad because my
reputation and identity had been forever defined by this
one novelty song. I woke up, sang the chorus into my
recorder and then developed it later.


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2013

In a blue light, I’m really blue
In a green light, I’m green

With a blacklight, I’m neon bright
In the darkness, unseen

In a blue light, I’m really blue
In a green light, I’m green

Red is blue with an orange-ish tint
Yellow’s blue with some green

In color blindness, I’m black and white
With some jaundice, I scream

In a blue light, I’m really blue
In a green light, I’m green

There’d be no dreams without darkness
Darkness is the reason that we dream
Nothing gives you answers
Like light that dances
Oh my my

In the blue light, I’m really blue
In the green light, I’m green

Blue would not exist without black and white
See the colors only with light

You can see the fireflies in the park
That white dress looks much better in the dark

There’d be no dreams without darkness
There’d be no dreams without darkness

Like an acoustic Zeppelin track. It evolved from
a guitar riff that I created and started playing
compulsively one afternoon. It’s about how a
blue light makes someone blue, a green light
makes someone green, etc.


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2013

Hey, it’s all right
Babe, let’s overdo it right now
Hey, it’s all night
Babe, let’s overdo it right now

Let’s pounce, take more than an ounce
Let’s gorge, it ain’t no scourge
Let’s live great before it gets too late

Hey, it’s all right
Babe, let’s overdo it right now
Hey, it’s all night
Babe, let’s overdo it right now

Let your cup go overflow into the lowest plain
Let your ship go climb the highest wave

Hey, it’s all right
Babe, let’s overdo it right now
Hey, it’s all night
Babe, let’s overdo it right now

A power folk-pop track (very harmonica-ed!).


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2013

Alpha Centauri was discovered by a priest
Who was looking for some action, driven to distraction
The Earth was found by the brontosaurus genus
And Nothingness discovered on Daytona Beaches

The sun wasn’t discovered till it started
Shinin’ in the mornin’
Shinin’ in the mornin’
The sun wasn’t discovered till it started
Shinin’ in the mornin’
Shinin’ in the mornin’

Neptune was found in 1846
And Pluto was discovered in celestial sticks
The moon was thought to be the eye of god
Until the age of the tripod, long before the iPod

The sun wasn’t discovered till it started
Shinin’ in the mornin’
Shinin’ in the mornin’

The sun wasn’t discovered till it started
Shinin’ in the mornin’
Shinin’ in the mornin’

A gospel-style pop song that grew out of a comment
I made in the thread of a Facebook friend. My friend
quoted a Syd Barrett lyric – “Pluto was not discovered
until 1930” -- and I replied, “Yeah, but the sun wasn’t
discovered till it started shining in the morning.”

As soon as I wrote my comment, I knew it was a song.
I instantly came up with a clap-along melody to go
with the line and then sped it up into alt-pop.


So there's the album!

Critics and radio people who are just starting to get
copies of my "Flashers in Flashcoats" album: All
information about it (and my other 200 songs) can be
found here and at my music website (www.pauliorio.blogspot.com)
or at the government's official copyright site

As you can see at copyright.gov, all of my 200 songs were
written, performed, arranged and produced by Paul Iorio.
All of them. (And, unlike the work of some other recording
artists, not one of those copyrights is in dispute
officially or unofficially! Jus' sayin'.)

Btw, if you're hearing any misinformation from someone
else that varies from this factual record, could you
please -- please -- let me know at pliorio@aol.com? (You
won't have to give me his or her name; I'll know who the
person is.)

Thanks -- and enjoy!



for November 3, 2013

Hakimullah Mehsud walks into a bar.

"We don't get too many dead jihadist customers," says the bartender.

"And with the mullah you charge, you're not likely to get many more," says Mehsud.

[ba dum ba!]


SNL was so funny last night...And Cecily Strong's emerging as

the show's next big star...


Blast from the past. Here I am with Deborah Gibson in February 1987,

some months before she broke through with a number one pop hit,

at my office at Cash Box magazine in NYC! At the time, I

was a twentysomething writer/reporter and had recently scored

an interview with Ray Davies, published in the issue of the

magazine in the picture.

Just prior to the picture being shot, I'd had lunch with a genius

guitarist (who is on my FB friends list!) and I think the weather

had warmed up to 24 degrees that afternoon and I was on a

tight deadline, but I sure made time for Gibson when she

stopped by!.

By the way, the magazine had to give me the big office after

I wrote about unsigned bands (that nobody else was writing about)

who later became gold and platinum artists.


Such artists were somehow eluding the radar of industry

vets, who I was outdoing from my first month on the job.

(Let’s see, to wit: when I wrote about the Smithereens,

they were dead in the industry and playing to empty chairs

at Kenny’s Castaways. My write-ups in the magazine led

directly to their recording contract with Enigma. Also,

I was the first magazine writer to write about They Might

Be Giants and it was my story that brought them to

the attention of the label prez who signed them. I

could go on. (And these were self-assigned scoops; no

editor led me to them; I led myself to them.) (After

'87, it got even better!) (Hate to brag, but when there

are industry bigs who are trying to erase your legacy,

you sorta gotta.)



for November 1, 2013

Here's how Halloween looked in my neck o' the woods,

the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley. There was a

block party and the house decorations were out of this


[photo by Paul Iorio]

[photo by Paul Iorio]

[photo by Paul Iorio]

[photo by Paul Iorio]



for October 28, 2013

Just listened to the Next Big Thing on KALX and was knocked

out by the singer in the band that closed the show: Venom Ocean

is the name of the group. Great vocalist (whoever she is). The

band could really use better material, but the singer...wow.

And unsigned, I think.


Funny mistake by somebody the other day. He was absolutely

sure that the character played by Zero Mostel was the

person running the front in the movie "The Front."

Pretty funny! The guy being blacklisted throughout

the industry would be the one to bring forth the

material of others. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

But I digress. Paul



for October 26, 2013

Anyone know when the post office scene in "Bad Grandpa"

was shot? I would guess -- and I bet I'm right -- in either

May, June or early July of 2013.

Let's see: I came up with "I Accidentally Mailed My Son in

the Christmas Rush" on March 31, 2013. Recorded a version

in April 2013. Highly original concept. Nobody in a movie

or a song or anywhere else had ever come up with the idea

of a father (or grandpa) mailing his son off through the

U.S. postal service. Funny sui generis idea. Straight

from one of my dreams. And I bet it leaked out and -- guess

who used in a big money movie? Just a theory. Maybe I'm wrong.

Anybody know exactly when that post office scene was shot? As

I said, I'd bet money it was filmed late in the production,

May/June/July 2013. Maybe I'm wrong. (I'd be a lot less

angry if I were wrong.)

If my intuition is right, then this is what I've been

talking about for years. The small entrepreneur (me)

comes up with the original ideas that are then ripped

off by big money slobs. (I'm not sure it's true in

this case, but it sure has been true in the past.)

All you lefties who wanna storm the barricades -- well,

where's your outrage when big biz steals the ideas

of the little guy?

TThank heavens my song was released and copyrighted

long before the film's release otherwise I'd have

to endure the ignorant snickering of dopes who'd

think my song is derivative of the film (instead of

vice versa). (Btw, don't you ever fucking say that the

riches go to the person who builds the better mousetrap.

How stupid do you have to be to believe that? The

better mousetrap is too often built by a poor guy who

has his idea ripped off by the wealthy, who profit

from it.)



for October 21, 2013

“Oh my god, I think I sent my son Priority First Class!”

Here’s my new song “I Think I Accidentally Mailed My

Son in the Christmas Rush.”

I Think I Accidentally Mailed My Son in the Christmas Rush.

Those following my Facebook page may remember that I

mentioned having a dream a few months ago about writing

a novelty Christmas song. This is the song that came

from that dream.

The track was composed, performed, arranged, originated

and produced by me. I recorded it at my home studio in

Berkeley (Calif.) earlier this month. Registered copyright

Paul Iorio 2013 (the song is included on my upcoming

album “Flashers in Flashcoats." (Not autobiographical,

btw. I don't have any kids.)


Notice to all Bull Connor wannabes out there: Do not

have your big angry dog run in my path on the sidewalk

nipping at me. Do not do that.

Last night I nearly threw my leg out because some

jerk wasn’t controlling his mutt on a public sidewalk.

Oh, he got lip from me, he sure did. And he would’ve

gotten much worse than that had he not followed my

“request” to get his fucking dog out of my way.

But I digress. Paul



for October 16, 2013

I’ve just seen 3 new flicks (“Gravity,” “Captain Phillips”

and “Machete Kills”) and here’s what I think:

Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity”:

This is a plot-driven (as opposed to character driven) work,

which puts it immediately in the second drawer. And it feels

storyboarded to within an inch of its life.

Don’t get me wrong, the celestial scenery is gorgeous (as is

Sandra Bullock, when she peels off her spacesuit), but then

again so is almost any documentary space station footage.

We never get a sense of who the two main characters are.

(And it’s also slight, coming in at under 90 minutes.)


Paul Greengrass’ “Captain Phillips”:

The Somali actors are, without a doubt, the best thing

about this flick. Raw, real, believable, authentic. And

the lead pirate – Barkhad Abdi -- should be nominated for

a best supporting actor Oscar come January.

But there’s more commotion than tension here. And it’s

overly earnest.

As for the main character: I’m a huge admirer of Tom Hanks,

have even met him -- and a more cordial guy you’ll never meet.

(And, I confess, I even wept watching “Philadelphia” in

a theater.)

But this is not his peak work. Frankly, his accent is disconcerting;

after a few minutes, one longs to hear him speak in his

natural voice.

Also, Hanks should have played Clooney’s astronaut in

“Gravity” – and Clooney should’ve played Captain Phillips.


Robert Rodriguez’s "Machete Kills"

A Grindhouse highball. Feels illegal. Not approved by the

powers-that-be. Makes you feel like you’re at a drive-in

theater. Fresh and unpredictable – at least for the first hour

(until Gibson, looking out of place here, appears). Still, well

worth seeing.


All told, the two best films of 2013 are still Woody Allen’s

“Blue Jasmine” and Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.”


Last Weekend's John Fogerty Concert
Fogerty performing in Berkeley a few days ago.
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

"Do you know that half a million people went up there to

Woodstock and not one person brought an umbrella?," John

Fogerty said to the crowd before doing "Who'll Stop the

Rain" at his (excellent) concert last weekend in Berkeley.

Loved the show. So thrilling to hear those iconic CCR riffs

come alive in the hills.

Highlights: a very amazing “Ramble Tamble,” “I Heard It Through

the Grapevine,” “Looking Out My Back Door,” "Down on the

Corner,” “Ooby Dooby.” (I know it's unfashionable to say it,

but Fogerty's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is

infinitely better than Marvin Gaye's cover version of

the song. Fogerty nails the beat the way Gaye never did.)

Part of the kick was that he performed the entire “Cosmos

Factory” album. And it was also sort of a homecoming show

for him in that he comes from the East Bay, so he talked

a lot about growing up in the area.

Great night, from opener “Traveling Band” to closer

“Proud Mary.” (Above, a photo I shot of Fogerty near

set’s end.)

P.S. -- Advice to anyone going to see Fogerty: get there

on time. He starts promptly and there's no opening act.

And the first hour is the very best part (particularly

if he's playing "Cosmos Factory" (instead of "Bayou

Country") in its entirety).

But I digress. Paul



for October 10, 2013

Don’t you just hate this new spate of stories in the press,

in the wake of the government shutdown, showing private

citizens taking up the slack and doing what the government

should be doing?

A sort of “It’s a Wonderful Life” view of reality. “Hey, I’ve

got a five,” says one fella. “And I’ve got a twenty,” says

another. And pretty soon the Smithsonian is back up

and running!

Oh, such stories are designed to warm your cockles. (Not

sure what a cockle is.) Me, I want to vomit.

As “heartwarming” as those tales of self-reliance are – What’s

next? Boehner’s daughter mowing the White House lawn? – that

doesn’t do the job.

The government, with its tax-collecting authority, can do with ease

what private charities can’t do with ‘round the clock fundraising.

Privatizing the government – which is the upshot of these

“heartwarming” stories – is inefficient (a nice word for it) and

unreliable compared to government action.

It reminds me of Reagan, always citing the freakishly lucky lottery

winner as an example of how we can all be millionaires, too, if

only we bought enough tickets.

But I digress. Paul



for October 7, 2013

Hardly Strictly was a lot more fun when it was a secret.

In the old days, up until a few years ago, you could wander

up to the stage on a Friday afternoon and snap shots of

major artists like Jeff Tweedy and Robert Plant from a

few feet away.

Now it’s a zoo. Or a herd. Or something. Crowded.

And I miss Warren.

In previous years, there was an overambundance of A-listers

playing simultaneously on the Friday night stages.

Last Friday, there was Bonnie Raitt for the over 40s and

Conor Oberst for the under 40s. (And Calexico for the bison!)

Don’t get me wrong, Bonnie was great. I’m just not a fan of being

bumped into by drunks, pawed by mean dogs and being treated

with hostility by people who think they’ve acquired private

ownership of a particular plot of Golden Gate Park because

they've put their Pabst there!

Re: Bonnie. As enjoyable as her set was, she, frankly,

has not translated to the new generations who seem to

take Raitt’s feminism – very progressive at the

time – as a given.

To a generation raised on Lilith Fair and Ani DiFranco, Raitt

seems…a bit quaint. To young women brought up in a feminist

universe, radicalism lies in taking a break from the tough

chick thing (“take off your kid gloves”) in order to show

vulnerability (see: Adele’s “Someone Like You”).

It has nothing to do with her age. Nothing.

Witness the crowd at the recent show by Bob Weir and Phil

Lesh at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. The two

septuagenarians drew a crowd that was largely teens

and twentysomethings so passionate about their music

that they follow them from show to show.

By contrast, I did not see one college-age (or younger)

attendee at Raitt’s show at the Greek last year. Not one.

And the show took place on a college campus!

Which is so telling. Even college students several yards

away from the show didn’t want to catch Raitt (or even

hear a freebie in the hills). But Weir and Lesh, older

than Raitt, attracted so many very young people that

police had to be called to disperse them.

The Grateful Dead’s music is older than hers, but it speaks

to a new generation. Raitt’s stuff is likely to die out

with her age group.


As I note on my websites, my photos are never photoshopped.

(I've never even used photoshop.)

Cropping is the only adjustment I make. (Though I did once

use a still from a video I shot. One pic on my site -- of Peter

Rowan performing at Hardly Strictly -- is a still of a video

I shot. So it's fair game for stilling -- because I shot

the video.)



for October 5, 2013

Raitt Dominates Hardly Strictly’s Opening Night
Raitt takes the stage for a sundown show at the San Francisco fest. [photo by Paul Iorio]

Bonnie Raitt turned Golden Gate Park into a dance floor Friday

night, performing an energetic opening night set at the 13th

annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.

“It’s starting to smell mighty good up here,” she said to the smoking

crowd. “My nose does not mistake me and it’s a San Francisco gig!”

Fans cheered wildly.

She then tested her guitar, sliding her fingers on the strings to

hint at one of her iconic riffs.

“We booked our whole tour around this festival,” she said. “…I’ll give

you a little something to talk about.”

And she and her band performed a playful “Something to Talk About,”

one of the show’s highlights.

For over an hour Raitt gave the people what they came for: a rocking

“Thing Called Love,” a reggaeish “Have a Heart,” a cover of Bob

Dylan’s “Million Miles” that has been a stand-out at her recent

shows –- and a few ballads and recent tracks.

She also referenced Paul McCartney’s “When I’m 64” in talking

about the fact that she is about to reach that milestone age

next month.

“I’ll tell you what, your sixties and seventies sure seem

different than when we were kids,” Raitt said.

If she drew a mostly over-forty crowd, the under-fortysomethings

were at a nearby stage at the same hour listening to Conor Oberst.

Opening for Oberst was the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit, which

performed, among other things, a moving cover of Paul Simon’s

“America.” (Meanwhile, Raitt’s opening act was The Peter Rowan

Bluegrass Band, which did a rousing “Midnight Moonlight.”)

On yet another stage at the same time was Calexico, whose set is

now available for streaming via the Hardly Strictly website

(www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com). (Unfortunately, Raitt’s set

is not available for streaming.)

The festival continues through Sunday night with acts ranging

from Nick Lowe and Loudon Wainwright III to Natalie Maines and

Steve Martin.

Raitt playing slide guitar. [photo by Paul Iorio]


Klara Soderberg of the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit -- seen here singing Paul Simon's "America." [photo by Paul Iorio]


The crowd listening to Raitt as the sun set. [photo by Paul Iorio]


Raitt, framed by a fan's applauding hands! [photo by Paul Iorio]


Raitt takes a seat for a change of pace. [photo by Paul Iorio]


By mid-afternoon on Friday, the fest was already packed. [photo by Paul Iorio]


And here are a few other photos I shot of Raitt:


The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band playing "Midnight Moonlight" before Raitt's set. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for October 1, 2013

If I were Harry Reid, I'd say:

Look, Cruz, we won affordable health care fair and square.

We fought for it at the judicial, executive and legislative

levels and won each time. And when the public voted last

November, they voted for the guy -- Obama -- who invented

Obamacare. The public's on board, too.

So go ahead, shut down the government. We won't blink.

No. bill. gets. passed. without. Obamacare. funding. Period.

Because we've already compromised. We wanted single-payer,

but had to settle for the public option, which would've

passed had it not been for one spiteful voter, Joe Lieberman.

We've already been pushed far enough from our goal. Any

further compromises have to come from your end.

P.S. -- Don't be surprised if you and your Tea Partyers

become ex-members of Congress through a recall campaign

in the next span.



for September 30, 2013

A Furthur fan outside the Greek yesterday in Berkeley. [photo by Paul Iorio]

The third (and final!) day of Furthur in Berkeley yesterday.

Afternoon concert on the UC campus at the Greek. Highlights:

a soulful "Sugaree," encore "U.S. Blues" and "Uncle John's

Band" segueing nicely into "St. Stephen." Above, a photo

I shot of the hoopla outside.



for September 28, 2013

Last Night's Furthur Show in Berkeley

A fan with a home-made Furthur poster in the hills above the Greek Theater in Berkeley last night.

Heard Furthur in Berkeley last night. Excellent show. Highlights were

"Jack Straw," "Unbroken Chain" and "Scarlet Begonias." Here’s an

annotated setlist:

--Set One
China Cat Sunflower
The Wheel
So Many Roads
Jack Straw (one of the highlights of the night)

Weir then said he had to take care of something urgent and the band played an improvised version of “Funiculi Funicula .”

Eyes of the World
Throwing Stones

--Set Two
Terrapin Station (sounded very prog!)
Unbroken Chain (fan-fucking-tastic!)
The Other One
Mountains of the Moon
Scarlet Begonias (always great)
Fire on the Mountain
I Know You Rider
Touch of Grey (the only song of the night I missed -- damn! -- had
to get home)

Last night's show shows that the Dead phenomenon is a spinning top

that just keeps spinning -- in its sixth decade! There is -- still -- an

insatiable demand for GD or GD-like music out there. The hills of

Berkeley were swarming with tie-dye! (Even the deer were wearing

paisley, I think.) They could've played 365 consecutive dates

at the Greek and sold out every night. Astonishing cultural anomie.

People born in '95 remind me of how I was when I was their age. Sort

of like the smoking area at my junior high in '72; we were

alienated rock n roll kids and didn't fit anywhere else. Society

doesn't absorb the creative people who the plutocracy doesn't

allow to be agented. (And why should the rich give you an agent

when they can just steal your idea for free? But I digress.)

And so you have this phenom of the unabsorbed.

Anyway -- listening to my video of "Jack Straw"; the GD never

did a better version, I bet.

The crowd listening to Furthur last night. [photo by Paul Iorio]



for September 26, 2013

An ad campaign you will not see!



for September 22, 2013

Emmy notes

Cunnilingus survivor Michael Douglas accepts...love that

Soderbergh!...love Spacey...They give as much time on the

Emmy death reel to numerous unknowns as to Klugman and

Ebert...that's not fair...So lemme guess: Oprah is shown

(comically) shoving people onstage at the Emmys in order

to cover for the fact that she shoved one of her

employees in an imperious hissy fit...


Luc Besson once told me that the key to the success of some

of his films is in not explaining things. Just let it

unfold. People will figure it out.

“When you describe Nikita at the beginning [of ‘La Femme Nikita”],

when she’s a junkie, you buy it," Besson told me. "You don’t need

to have someone explain. People are not stupid.”

And that’s part of the magic of his new picture, “The Family,”

starring Robert De Niro.

Go see it but don’t read about it beforehand and it’ll knock

you out all the more, with more twists and turns than Lombard

Street. All I’ll say is that it’s sort of like the Sopranos in

France – but it’s much more than that. Terrific flick; I saw

it last night.



for September 21, 2013

You can take away my Obamacare when you pry it from my

cold dead hands.


I wouldn't be surprised if Occupy activists started thinking this way:

Who are the physicians and dentists who treat Boehner,

his colleagues and their families. Blockade their offices.

Boehner's doctor wakes up, finds a padlock on his office door.

McConnell's dentist goes to work, finds his doors chained.

Deny rich Republicans healthcare if they're so intent on

denying it to everyone else.

That's how they might start thinking.

After all, the legislative, judicial and executive branches of

government all agreed on Obamacare. But a new branch of

government -- the Tea Party -- has decided to overrule

everyone else.



for September 18, 2013

Oh, yeah, Americans everywhere are just caught up obsessively

in the issue of Naval Shipyard security. After all, there have

been 7, 8 shootings/massacres at supposedly secure shipyards

just in the past year. A chronic problem. Right?

Yes, PBS NewsHour and other media folks, if we reduce

yesterday's bloodbath to a simple issue of security badges,

it suddenly becomes smaller, more manageable.

Never mind that Alexis could've opened fire at a mall,

where there are no security checks. Never mind that he

could've pulled the trigger on a crowded public street.

The issue is security clearance. There. (Everyone calm now?)

(It's also a good way to ignore the big shark out there: the

insane proliferation of assault weapons in the U.S.)


The D.C. shooter story is being reported as if it were the

WikiLeaks story (e.g., how did Aaron Alexis get the security

clearance to get access to restricted areas).

Uh, that's not the story. The story is...we have a firearms

problem in America.

But the NRA will screw with you if you report that. Besides,

many millionaire broadcasters are gun enthusiasts.

And on the left, some of the more lunatic Occupy types also

oppose gun control (because they fear too much government

regulation). (Which explains PBS' awful coverage of

this story.)

Also, because of the Alexis case, this week's pack journalism

tendency is to focus suspiciously on people who have been

disparaged by their bosses.

Bad tendency. Need I remind everyone of Richard Jewell, who

was maliciously bad-mouthed by a disgruntled former

employer to such an extent that he became the main suspect

in a hideous crime in which his role was actually hero.

It goes without saying that Alexis is no Jewell. But it's

also true that employee evaluations are sometimes

criminally fraudulent. (Just ask Jewell (if you could).)

P.S. -- Haven't seen one segment on gun control on the

morning news shows. Look how the NRA has scared journalists

away from that issue.

P.S. -- The more I think about it, the more I realize how

idiotic the "how did he get access" angle of this story is.

Because Alexis could've shot up any public place and the

body count would've been the same. I'd like to believe

people aren't so easily distracted from the real

issue here. I'm not.


I just saw Leslie Greif's "Ten Rules for Sleeping Around."

Not a very good flick -- and it doesn't have a release date

in the U.S. yet -- but there is a somewhat funny bit by

Michael McKean, playing a mogul promoting his tell-all

memoir, "I F*cked Everyone"!


I'm reminded that Roman Polanski turned 80 -- 80! -- last month.

And he began shooting his masterwork, "Chinatown," 40 years

ago this month. So...the distance between the making of

"Chinatown" and now is the same distance between his

birth and "Chinatown."

Life is a fast trip. But a great film like that will

last centuries, probably.

There are only around half a dozen living directors

who are capable of making a film that great. And I'm

so proud that I was one of the few journalists to whom

he granted an interview in the 1990s.

Having been victimized by both the Mansons and the Nazis,

Polanski knew all about the bottomless pit of evil that's

out there. And it shows in the film's finale.

end of "Chinatown"



for September 17, 2013

Now it emerges that some of those who died in yesterday's

D.C. shooting were armed.

Which, of course, really helped them (he said ironically).

When are you NRAers gonna get the point? Take it from me, someone

who has been the victim of a violent gunman: such a crime happens

way too quickly for any victim to pull out a defensive weapon! (In

fact, it happens too quickly to know what's going on. Except in

the movies, of course

Yesterday's gunman in D.C. was not fully armed until he took

guns from the people he shot.

A teachable moment for those who (ludicrously) want to

arm teachers in classrooms.

Predictions: Tonight's news is gonna be full of people

talking about "mental health." But that's a red herring.

Why? Because it's not ONLY the mentally ill who should be

barred from firearm ownership. We must also keep guns from

terrorists, drunks, drug users and those with a track record

of bad judgment. And none of those categories of people

is (necessarily) mentally ill.


No longer will I express sympathy for victims of gun

violence who are also opponents of the assault weapons ban.

My condolences to the victims of yesterday's massacre are

limited only to those who have been supporting the assault

weapons ban and background checks for gun owners.

The rest of y'all helped to create the climate for this

latest bloodbath.


I'm not saying Assad did well on "Sixty Minutes," but he's just

been seen stumping in Iowa.

But I digress. Paul



for September 12, 2013

I am so in love with "House of Cards," having finished the final

episode of the first season the other night. There are so many ways

the plot can twist in season two.

1) Did Underwood's wife record the verbal encounter she had

with the partner she dismissed? If so, it goes from a major legal

settlement in favor of the partner to a lucrative counter-suit

in a flash.

2) Did forensic detectives examine the car that murdered Russo?

If a Columbo had checked for fingerprints on the driver side door

handle, and found them wiped clean, that would be such a red flag.

But if the car went back into use, all forensic evidence and prints

would've been lost, though Underwood could still be nailed on

circumstantial evidence and if he talks too loosely at the confessional

(or if his chief of staff turns).

Tantalizing plot possibilities for season two!

P.S. -- Thanks to my friend Jeff Tamarkin for telling me about the

existence of the show some months ago! 13 episodes later, I'm hooked!



for September 11, 2013

This day always makes me so damn sad. And, frankly, it doesn't

feel any better with the years. My heart goes out to the families

of those who died 12 years ago (especially to my friends

Roger, Vera, Gil).

In addition to mourning those who died, I also mourn the loss

of my former workplace neighborhood. I worked in those towers

and then across the street at One Liberty Plaza for years.

I dined and dated and partied and worked all-nighters and got

promoted in those towers and in the shadow of them. There is

no substitute for the experience of having lived/worked in

that neighborhood when the World Trade Center stood. Unlike

many Manhattanites who saw that district only as a remote skyline,

I actually used and loved that part of town then.

Back then, the trade center plaza was best on early Sunday

mornings, the only time when absolutely no one was around.

On one Sunday morning stroll, it reminded me of the Acropolis

and, as I stared up at the towers, I thought – and I really

did think this -- Manhattan may be gone in 500 years but

those towers are forever. I really did think that.

Let this anniversary remind us: The 9/11 attack was an act

of homicidal bigotry by religious totalitarians who must

be fought and defeated, on stages small and large, where

ever they surface.

Here’s a picture of me in my cubicle at work (several

yards from the south tower) in early 1985.



for September 10, 2013

THIS JUST IN: I'm happy to see that The Huffington Post

just published around 15 photos that I recently shot of

San Francisco museums. Check out the pics here! (And many

thanks to HuffPo!)

15 photos I recently shot for the Huffington Post!



for September 9, 2013

In Florence, I once showed a woman I was dating a great

bottle of aged Chianti from a vintage year. She said,

that's too old -- let's drink something newer. (Last date. )


Some of you are going to enjoy this video I shot last

night of fun. Performing “We Are Young” in Berkeley. I

shot it from an angle nobody else had, so you can see

Nate Ruess at his most exuberant and the front row

fans at their most enthusiastic. Check it out!

fun. performing "we are young" last night.

P.S. -- It's good after the first 20 seconds...


Charlie Rose wasn't gassed with Sarin during his interview

in Syria, but he did catch a whiff of Assad's cologne.

(Now THAT'S war!)


It was great seeing Placido Domingo last Saturday

but really hated the fact that some dude decided to

position himself and his noisy young son right next

to me (when there were plenty of other spots available

for viewing the concert). At the very least the guy

coulda put his son on the other side of himself instead

of next to me. (Sorry, dude, don't wanna share

child-raising responsibilities while I'm listening

to Verdi. But so sweet of you to think of me.) Anyway,

I got a good photo of Domingo out of the night (see below).


Worth repeating: the guy who funded an album of mine

in '05, Bill Epps, has his own separate history of

doing music (just as I have my own separate history of

doing music). And if you want to check out his own albums,

go to CD Baby or Google his name.

There seems to be some curiosity about

who-is this-guy-who funded-my-early-sessions, so go go go!

Go to his websites to find his stuff, don't come to mine!

We don't write together. Never have.

There're 2 or 3 people who seem stuck on this issue, so

I have to keep repeating myself. Let me talk you down

from your fantasy by applying facts.

OK, I've written and released over 200 copyrighted songs. Name

one part of one of those songs that you imagine that Bill

influenced or shaped. Name one. (Answer: there is not one.)

I'm also hearing a false rumor that he "directed" the

"About Myself" sessions of '05.

Directed?!! Are you joking? I direct me musically. Period.

This isn't a goddamned movie. These are songs I wrote alone

in a room and recorded in a studio the way I wrote them.

Yes, he taught me the tech stuff about analog to digital and

all that. But in terms of songwriting, I taught HIM stuff

he hadn't learned in decades of writing his own material.

And how many times have I said the following (and it still

doesn't sink in for some folks): yes, he made 3 or 4

suggestions (all told) in '05, but I did not use his

3 or 4 suggestions!

Look at the video of the '05 sessions! Watch Bill make a

suggestion. Then listen to the final copyrighted version

of the song. Does it incorporate that suggestion? No.

Not in one case. The evidence speaks for itself!

And people who're being counter-factual on this are also

being highly insulting to me. Could one of you come forward

and explain what your basis of mistaken belief is? Is it

stupidity, ignorance or bias?



for September 8, 2013

Strolled by fun.'s second show in Berkeley tonight. Much

more punched up and better than Friday's gig, replacing

"You Can't Always Get What You Want," which really wasn't

meant for them, with Bruce's "Born to Run," which sounded

surprisingly fantastic. "But early Yes is their true ancestor,

it seems. Great stuff.

Here's a photo I snapped of Nate Ruess of fun. singing

"We Are Young" about an hour ago in Berkeley.



for September 7, 2013

Placido Domingo, Live in Berkeley
photo of Placido Domingo by Paul Iorio.

Just saw Placido Domingo perform with the Berkeley Symphony

on the UC campus. Excellent show. They started with some Wagner,

moved into Verdi and the 72-year-old tenor-turned-baritone was in

fine voice, largely undiminished by age.



for September 7, 2013

I'm back from hearing fun. at the Greek in Berkeley. I'm wowed.

Can't praise the band enough. "Tonight We Are Young" crashes

down like a masterpiece. "Some Nights" electrified the crowd,

which was wild about 'em. "Carry On" -- the best song Yes

never created. "Why Am I the One" -- beyond tuneful. Their 4 or 5 best

tracks have the resonance of all-time rock classics. It sagged

only during the half dozen tunes from the first album that

aren't as good as the ones on "Some Nights."

"This is war/What are we waiting for/Let's break the rules

already" (from the title track) took on a new meaning tonight

as we near a possible war in Syria. And people were actually

singing fun. songs in the streets for blocks as they left

the show. Which says it all.


This chorus came roaring out of my head the week before Halloween

2009 -- fully formed and charged! I woke with this line and melody

running through my head: "There's probably something in the sky/what

it is, I don't know why." A cappella.

I wrote it up quick and on December 28 it was first aired on the

radio -- by the great DJ Marshall Stax who played it on The Next

Big Thing on KALX (it was the last song aired on his show in 2009,

according to my notes).

Btw, one thing I like about the band fun. is that we've both landed

on some of the same aesthetic ideas. "Something in the Sky" preceded

"Some Nights" by a few years, but it does sorta sound fun.-ish

now, doesn't it?

"Something in the Sky," by Paul Iorio.

But I digress. Paul



for September 6, 2013

If Perino is so unassimilated into American secular

values and is such a backward theocrat, then why doesn't

she move to a theocracy like Iran, the Vatican or Saudi Arabia?

In those places, "god" is endorsed by the state. She'd feel

much more at home in a place that doesn't separate church

and state (and she can find moving companies on Yelp).

If she doesn't like the Establishment Clause, she doesn't

have to live here! She sounds sooo un-American, so Iranian...

perino, sounding so iranian


It seems to be the season of Salinger -- J.D. Salinger -- once

again, what with a new docu out today and a biography coming up.

(A new edition of the brilliant "At Home in the World" by Facebook

friend Joyce Maynard has also been released.) So what a better time

than now to release my own original reportage on Salinger that

takes a narrow focus: what did his neighbors think of him.

I wrote and reported it in 2004 but it was never published for reasons

that were petty and personal. I'm going to be frank: Highly paid

editors just hate it when a lowly freelance reporter like myself

upstages them. And I did. So it was blocked from publication by

the pack mentality that happens in the media world every now and then.

Let's get real: when an editor pays a staff reporter six figures

and that reporter doesn't uncover nearly as much information

about Salinger as a freelance reporter named Paul Iorio who is

working on almost no budget, that editor tends to get spiteful,

pissed. That editor tends to use his connections to quash my

story, which is what happened

In '04 there was no Facebook -- and not many blogs. Today, however,

there are. And now I can release this story, uncensored, whether

the media powers-that-be like it or not. Here it is:

Here’s What J.D. Salinger’s Neighbors Told Me About Him.

By Paul Iorio

Reclusive novelist J.D. Salinger – the subject of an upcoming

biography and documentary film -- lived for 57 years in the

tiny town of Cornish Flat, New Hampshire. By all accounts, he led

an unusually private life from the moment he moved to

town -- on January 1, 1953 – to the day he died in 2010.

Salinger arrived there around 17 months after the release

of his first and only full-length novel, “The Catcher in the

Rye,” at a time when he was “tremendously relieved that the

season for success of ‘The Catcher in The Rye’ is over,”

as he told the Saturday Review magazine in 1952. Little did

he know the season was just getting started.

The townspeople of the Cornish Flat area grew accustomed to

him, leaving him alone to live his life with his wife, a quilt and

tapestry designer around half his age, in a house

near a covered bridge that leads to Vermont. (He moved down the

road to his current Cornish house after divorcing

his previous wife in 1967.)

Most people in the area do not talk about him, but some

do -- and did in exclusive interviews conducted by this reporter

in 2004.

"People know who he is, yet he acts like nobody

knows who he is," said Lynn Caple, who runs the

nearby Plainfield General Store, where Salinger

and his wife used to stop in to buy the

New York Times and other items.

"Very straight-faced guy," said Caple. "I've only seen

him smile once. I've been here four years."

Other neighbors, like Jerry Burt of Plainfield, have

actually been to his house, which he said is at the

end of a long driveway and atop a hill on hundreds

of acres owned by the author. "We would

go over to watch movies in his living room and have

dinner with him," said Burt, who claims he hasn't

seen the author since 1983.

"He's got a big living room with a deck that looks out

over the hills of Vermont, way up high, very private,"

he said in my 2004 interview.

Burt recalled one dinner party at Salinger's house

twenty-some years ago at which Salinger, who is said

to have enjoyed health food, served meatloaf. "No Julia

Child," he said of Salinger's cuisine. And

the conversation was rarely literary. "He talked

about movies and the gardens and his children," he said.

The books Salinger usually talked about were not novels

but non-fiction works related to “health, being your own

health provider -- and gardening."

Of course, none of the guests dared to mention


"You'd never even think to do that if you were around

him," he said. "He'd just give you a look. He's a

very tall man and stern looking. You just know not

to do that. He'd probably show you the door and

say, 'Don't come in.'"

“He never talked about his work except to say he wrote

every morning faithfully,” said Burt. “And he said if I was

ever going to be a writer, I would have to do that.”

He also said Salinger has a big safe -- like a "bank

safe" -- where he keeps his unpublished manuscripts. "I've

seen the safe, I've looked in it. And he told me that he kept

his unpublished [work] there....It's huge," said Burt. "You

could have a party in there."

At one get-together in the 1980s, Salinger screened Frank

Capra's 1937 film "Lost Horizon," about a group of people

who find a paradise called Shangrila tucked in a remote

corner of the Himalayans. "He liked all those old things,

those old silents, Charlie Chaplin," he said, describing a

scene that echoed the 1950 movie “Sunset Boulevard.”

Another neighbor, this one in Cornish, was much more

circumspect about what she said about Salinger and

takes great pains to defend him. “He has been a wonderful

neighbor,” said Joan Littlefield, who lives close to

him. “The minute we moved into the neighborhood, he

called and gave us his unlisted number and said,

‘We’re neighbors now.’”

Littlefield spontaneously defended the author against

some of the allegations in the memoir by Salinger’s

daughter Margaret A. Salinger, “Dream Catcher: A Memoir”

(2000). That book claimed, among other things, that

Salinger was involved in offbeat health and spiritual

practices, such as drinking urine and Scientology.

“This thing about telling him to drink his own urine

or something that I heard that somebody wrote about,”

said Littlefield. “...I think that if any of these

reporters did some research into Ayurvedic medicine

or the medicine of China or the Far East, they would

probably find out that the medicine people over

there recommend this sort of thing.” (Ayurvedic

medicine provides alternative health treatments -- including

urine drinking -- that have origins in ancient


Littlefield defended Salinger on smaller issues, too.

“Absolutely ridiculous things have been written about

him, like that they had two Doberman attack dogs,”

she said. “For Pete’s sake, they had two little

Italian hounds of some kind that looked like Dobermans,

and they were skinny and tiny as toothpicks!”

(My request for an interview with Salinger in 2004 went

unanswered. The author was, of course, famous for not granting

interviews and had given only around six interviews,

some of them brief and grudging, to reporters since

the release of “Catcher.")

Most other people in the area saw Salinger only when

He was out in public, if at all. “He’s great looking for his

age,” said photographer and area resident Medora Hebert,

who had spotted him twice. “He’s dapper, very trim.”

“It was a long time before I could actually recognize him

because he looked so ordinary,” said Ann Stebbens Cioffi,

the daughter of the late owner of the Dartmouth Bookstore,

Phoebe Storrs Stebbens.

But Salinger himself once said that he thought others didn’t

see him as ordinary. "I'm known as a strange, aloof kind

of man," Salinger told the New York Times in 1974. And

some agree with him: "He's a very strange dude," said

Hanover resident Harry Nelson. Burt agrees: “He had a

weird sense of humor,” he said.

What emerges as much as anything is that Salinger was a

serious book lover and serial browser who shopped at places

ranging from Borders Books to the Dartmouth Bookstore. “He

was uninterrupted during his hour or two of browsing for

books,” said a person answering the phone at Encore! Books

in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, describing his own Salinger


“He does come in reasonably frequently,” said someone

who answered the phone at the Dartmouth Bookstore in

Hanover, New Hampshire, around 20 miles north of Cornish.

“He’s a pretty good customer here but doesn’t really

say anything to us.”

"He frequented the Dartmouth bookstore," said an

employee of Borders Books Music & Cafe in West Lebanon.

"I talked to people who worked over there one time;

they say he wasn't very nice, wasn't the most cordial

person. So I kind of keep my eye out for him

here, go my own way."

Added Medora Hebert, "One of my daughter's friends

was a cashier at the Dartmouth Bookstore. And they warned

him, 'If J.D. Salinger comes in, don't talk to him,

don't acknowledge him.'"

And there have been many reports of Salinger

browsing the stacks at the Dartmouth College

library. “I’ve talked with people who have met

him in the stacks and whatnot,” said Thomas

Sleigh, an English professor at Dartmouth College.

Salinger is also said to have enjoyed the annual Five-Colleges

Book Sale at the Hanover High School gym, a springtime

sale of used and antiquarian books that raises money

for scholarships.

In Hanover, as in Cornish, he kept to himself. "My

wife [says] Salinger always said hello to Phoebe

and no one else," said Nelson, referring to Phoebe

Storrs Stebbens, who was a year older than

Salinger (and incidentally shares the same first

name as a major character in “Catcher”).

And area booksellers said in ’04 that Salinger’s books were

displayed just as prominently as they would have been

had he not been a local.

Then again, Salinger never had many books to

display, since he published only three besides

“Catcher,” all compilations of short stories or

novellas that had been previously published, mostly

in The New Yorker magazine. His last book,

“Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and

Seymour, An Introduction,” was released in

January 1963. His previous books were the bestsellers

“Franny and Zooey” (1961) and “Nine Stories” (1953).

(Incidentally, The New Yorker magazine actually

rejected "The Catcher in the Rye" when Salinger

submitted it as a short story/novella that was

substantially similar to the novel, according to

Paul Alexander's book "Salinger: A Biography.")

In 1997, he had planned to publish a fifth book,

essentially a re-release of his last published

work, “Hapworth 16, 1924,” which appeared in The

New Yorker in June 1965. The book’s publication

was ultimately scuttled.

But “Catcher” eclipses everything else he’s

done -- by many miles. It’s one of the most

influential 20th century American novels, a

coming-of-age odyssey about high school student

Holden Caulfield, who wanders around New York

after being kicked out of prep school. And

it's arguably the first novel to convincingly capture

the voice of the modern, alienated, American


"Catcher" was successful in its initial run but not

nearly as successful as it would become by the end

of the 1950s, when it started to turn into a

freakish cult phenomenon. To date, it has

sold more than 60 million copies worldwide and

continues to sell hundreds of thousands more each year.

Over the decades, the book has appealed to a wide

range of readers that even includes certified

wackos (John Lennon’s killer had a copy on him

when he was captured). So it’s not surprising that

Salinger has had to fend off obsessive

fans even at his private Shangrila of Cornish

Flat, which has a population of under 2,000.

“People approach him a lot,” said Burt. “And they

stole clothes off his clothesline. They stole his

socks, underwear, t-shirts. And they’d come up on

his deck. It’s a huge picture window that

goes across the front of the house looking out to

Vermont...And he said he’d get up and open the

drapes and people would be standing there looking in.

It really pissed him off.”

And there was also a much publicized scuffle outside the

Purity Supreme grocery store (which he used to jokingly

call “the Puberty Supreme,” according to two biographies)

in 1988, in which Salinger reportedly mixed it up with

a couple photographers who tried to take his picture.

But for the most part, people in the area don’t bother


“People in Cornish are quite protective of him,” said

Cioffi. “I can’t think of anyone who will tell you

a word about Salinger,” said a woman who answered

the phone at the Hannaford Supermarket in Claremont.

Apparently, Cornish is the perfect place to go if you

vant to be alone. “This is also a part of the country

where [writer Aleksandr] Solzhenitsyn lived in his

enclave -- and his kids went to public schools,” said

Bob Grey of the Northshire Bookstore in faraway

Manchester Center, Vermont, referring to the Nobel

laureate’s former home in Cavendish,

Vermont, which is around 20 miles from Cornish.

“It’s the kind of place where, if you’re going to move

to be left alone, it’s not a bad place to be.”



for September 3, 2013

Mixed metaphor alert -- from tomorrow's column by Maureen Dowd:

"Many around the president are making the case that if he
doesn’t stand firm on his line in the sand, having
gotten so far out on a limb..."

Lemme try to picture this. Obama's up on a limb AND in the sand.

Quite a sense of imagery she has!

And she's off on another point, too. Obama was never anti-war. He

was anti-Iraq war. He was always very much for the Afghanistan war,

as was I. (Btw, Barbara Lee, you're my rep and I agree with you

90% of the time but I think your worst vote was the one you cast

AGAINST taking bin Laden's proxy out of power in Kabul. That vote

does not look any better a dozen years later. And you're about to

vote the wrong way again.)

Here's Dowd's column:

tomorrow's column by dowd

Incidentally, it's heartening to see everyone from Boehner to Pelosi

united on Syria. The only ones not on board are the Libertarian-right

and the Cindy Sheehan-left.


Me, today, in front of Edward Hopper's "Portrait of Orleans":

But I digress, Paul



for September 1, 2013

I just saw “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and here’s what I think.

It’s sort of the “Forrest Gump” of the Tens, highly effective

film making that’s epic and sometimes moving – but also flawed.

It does a nice job covering the period between Eisenhower and

Johnson, with particularly spot-on and funny portrayals of LBJ

and Vice President Nixon.

But it virtually leaves out Carter, the two Bushes and Clinton

in a mad rush to show Obama, unfictionalized and seen only in

real newsreel footage, which gives the flick an unbecoming

partisan element.

The movie is also inexplicably favorable toward the Reagans, who

were never racially progressive, and inexplicably nasty toward

Jacqueline Kennedy.

It’s almost as if Oprah Winfrey had parts written for her so that

she could vent jealousy about the sort of elegant and refined woman

that Orpah could never be, even in her own dreams.

Also, the first half-hour of the film doesn’t show a single

white character who isn’t pure evil.

And that’s propaganda (or Oprah-ganda!). Such bias is inaccurate

(in that liberation never would’ve been achieved had it not been

for brave white civil rights activists who, in many cases, had to

go against the interests of their friends, neighbors and colleagues

to side with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.).

And that element of the film is socially irresponsible, because

it stokes incidents like the recent one in Oklahoma where a white

jogger was killed by racist black teens (in a mixed group) and the

murder of a white WWII vet by an African-American kid. We don’t need

to encourage racism in reverse by demonizing white folks.

That said, Forest Whitaker is terrific and likely to be nominated

for a best actor Oscar in January – if only for the poignant moment

when he tells his son, who has just mocked his profession, that

he’ll be giving no more “butler money” to him. Moving. (On the

other hand, Winfrey has only one speed of acting: Oprah,


Still, Whitaker’s character wasn’t exactly a saint, wasn’t

principled enough to quit his job because of Nixon’s illegal

behavior. (And, with the White House on his resume, he

could’ve gotten a job almost anywhere else.)

And structurally the film has a split focus – it’s really

“The Butler and the Butler’s Son” – though Daniels negotiates

the dual perspectives as well as possible.

Despite those flaws, the film is well worth seeing and is one of

the best films – though not the best film – of the year.

But I digress. Paul



for August, 28, 2013

The only way to stop the chemical weapon slaughter of Syrians

is to bomb Assad’s military delivery installations. If we do

not do that, Assad will continue to gas his people, perhaps

hundreds of thousands of them.

Can we stand by and watch that happen? If we do nothing, we’re

complicit in what Kerry calls a “moral obscenity.”

It’s like knowing in ’38 that Hitler was gassing the Jews.

There’d have been a moral imperative to act, no matter the


And the consequences this time may be awesome.

If we attack Damascus, Tehran will attack Tel Aviv. If we attack

Tehran, Hamas will attack Tel Aviv from southern Lebanon. If we

strike targets in southern Lebanon, we’re suddenly engaged in

a multi-front war.

Part of me says, maybe that needs to happen. Perhaps this

is our chance to aid the progressives in the region against the

fascists in Hamas and Tehran (and Damascus).

Another part of me says: there are a lot of red lines in the

world. The nuclear red line in Iran. The missile tests in

North Korea.

What if Kim Jong-un, seeing us mired in a major war in the

middle east, decided that now was his chance to “unify” the

Korean peninsula. How could we effectively respond to an

attack on Seoul if our troops were scattered in Syria, Lebanon,

Iran and Israel?

Nonetheless, if I were president, I’d be leaning toward striking

Assad’s delivery systems. Because if we don’t do that, he will

gas his people once again – and we can’t let that happen.

There are no good choices, but that’s the best one.

Remember: One doesn’t negotiate with a Charles Manson; one

punishes a Charles Manson and makes sure he never does anything

like that again.

Ditto with Assad. He’s using a criminal form of warfare and

should be stopped from doing so again. That’s why Obama should

bomb the two Syrian Scud bases that are known to deliver chem

weapons: al-Safira and Hama.

If we don’t, Assad will see there’s no penalty for his actions

and kill thousands more. When do we step in? When 100,000 have

been killed chemically? 200,000? And by then, everyone will be

saying, Why didn’t we intercede when the death toll was merely

in the hundreds. Remember Rwanda.

But I digress. Paul



for August 26, 2013

Yo Yo Ma, Live in Berkeley!

Yo Yo Ma last weekend. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

I heard Yo Yo Ma perform perform in Berkeley last Saturday. He played

with the same band with which he recorded the bluegrass/classical

album "The Goat Rodeo Sessions." Much of it was enjoyable. Ma is

such a natural that he makes the fusion work, even if it

sometimes winds up sounding a bit like Nickel Creek.


With all the tributes to Elliott Smith going on, let me add my own.

The first time I saw Smith perform was on May 6, 1997, at

a record store in my neighborhood called No Life Records, in

east West Hollywood, where I lived for years.

That spring the word was he was about to break through. And

there was also buzz about an upcoming movie that Smith’s songs

were going to be featured in called “Good Will Hunting,” still

seven months from release.

No Life – which went out of business exactly one year later -- was

a few blocks from my apartment, in a great pocket of the L.A. area.

The Formosa restaurant (featured in “L.A. Confidential”) and the

old Warner Bros. studio were to the south, A&M Records was

to the east, Kurt Cobain's old apartment in the Fairfax area

was to the west, Russian and Ukrainean restaurants were

all around.

Smith himself lived a couple miles to the east, near Echo Park, if

I’m not mistaken.

No Life, to the west, was packed that afternoon, people spilling

out onto Santa Monica Blvd. I got inside but couldn’t hear

or see everything, though loved what I heard.

Within 10 months, Smith was performing “Miss Misery” at the

Oscars – to a televised audience that was considerably bigger

than the one at No Life! After that, he was everybody’s.

It goes without saying he passed too soon; if he were alive,

he’d have celebrated his 44th birthday a couple weeks ago.

Here's a picture I shot of the Shrine Auditorium on the eve

of the 70th Academy Awards in '98, at which Smith performed.

photo of the Shrine Auditorium, March '98, by Paul Iorio.


Even in their first run, The Replacements went through a

few configurations. Their most commercially successful

period was without Bob and Chris, though their very best

work was done with the classic line-up of Paul, Bob, Tommy and Chris.

I’m glad I got to see (and review) the classic line-up of

PaulBobTommyChris before Bob got 86’d, because they gave

thrilling shows that rode the inspiration of the moment, damn

the torpedoes. Those gigs felt somehow illegal.

I also saw the later Slim edition and the Foley edition and was

not as impressed. Competency had replaced inspiration by that point.

After ’88, it had become glaringly obvious that Bob had been

crucial to the band’s sound and was sorely missed on stage

and on recordings.

The newly reunited Mats feature as many original members as

the final version of the band that I saw in the early Nineties:

two (Paul and Tommy).

When I heard the group in its prime, they were called post-punk.

Today, they’re categorized as pre-grunge – and they truly did set

the stage for “Nevermind” and the Nirvana nation!.

My view is that as long as Paul is onboard and playing the best Mats

stuff, I’m there. And the setlist does look juicy. Here’s a great

one they played in Toronto the other night:

The Replacements' "Little Mascara."

But I digress. Paul



for August 21, 2013

I finally saw “Fruitvale Station” and here’s my opinion.

First, let say that any fair examination of the evidence in the

Oscar Grant case shows it was a case of criminal homicide, no doubt.

This was no Trayvon Martin incident, for which there were considerable

grounds for wide disagreement. Unlike Martin, Grant was handcuffed

when he was shot by a cop – not by a civilian -- who had no reason

to tase, much less shoot, him.

But “Fruitvale Station” is hagiography, an idealized portrait of a young guy

who was notable only for having been shot by a cop. (And if you’ve ever

been on BART when there’re partying teens, you know that this is not

even close to realism.)

While watching the flick, I found myself wishing the subject of

such terrific film making was, say, a visionary like Tupac Shakur,

or a cult figure like Biggie Smalls. But the subject is Grant who,

alas, was never given a chance to fulfill whatever potential he had.

Sidenote: Let it be noted that the misguided folks who advocated

a boycott of the entire state of Florida after the Martin verdict

were not advocating a similar boycott of the San Francisco Bay

Area after the murder of Grant – even though what happened

to Grant was infinitely less defensible than what happened

to Martin.

And to those of you stupidly stuck on outdated stereotypes about

the southeast, allow me to remind you: the Grant murder happened

in the shadow of San Francisco, the bluest part of the nation.

But I digress. Paul



for August 20, 2013

Nidal Hasan has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars

since he shot up dozens of people at Ft. Hood – and he

continues to receive his weekly paychecks from the U.S.

military! Yet vets can’t get afford adequate health care.

(What’s wrong with this picture?)

Other examples of income injustice in America:

O.J. Simpson: earns $20K a MONTH from his NFL pension.

Amanda Knox: paid three million by HarperCollins (while the Kercher family
got nothing).

Nidal Hasan: Has earned a quarter mil since the Ft. Hood massacre.

Ray Lewis: has been paid uncountable millions after his involvement
in a double murder.

And let's not even start on the crooked politicians. (Bob Filner

could resign tomorrow and still live the good life via multiple

public pensions that the taxpayers pay for!)

This list could be as long as a phonebook! We are clearly rewarding

the wrong people in the U.S. In the face of the facts, how can

we believe false clichés about how talent will out, how the best

rise to the top, that hard smart work and honesty matter, etc.

Those clichés are absolutely, demonstrably NOT true.


Creationists and Intelligent Designers remind me of the

person who looks up at the cumulus sky, sees a cloud in

the shape of Jesus’ face and says, That couldn’t possibly

be random.

Hey, humans superimpose an order on the universe that is,

to a significant degree, a projection of their own minds.

Other creatures don’t always perceive the same reality.

We’re human-centric, with a species provincialism.

Remember: molecular structure would not seem complex to a

human with an I.Q. of 3000. Conversely, the concept of

molecular structure does not even exist to a poodle.

(And human perception is not necessarily superior to

that of the poodle, who, for example, can hear sounds

that we can’t hear.)

And the idea of inherent meaning is, frankly, corny, quaint

and discredited every time a natural disaster wipes out

good people.

Creationists and Intelligent Designers try to support the

concept of objective reality by saying something like, If

you put a blind man in front of a Rembrandt, the Rembrandt

still exists as an objective entity even though the blind man

can’t see it.

And my response is: Does it really? To a person with color

blindness, the Rembrandt looks very different. To a human who

is a mile tall, it looks like a speck of dust. To a human who

is an inch tall, it looks like an architectural structure.

To a right-side stroke victim, the painting looks disorganized.

If you put a blue light on the Rembrandt, it looks blue. If you

put a harsh white light on it, the painting’s brushstrokes

are too visible. To a being that can see ultraviolet light,

the Rembrandt is a whole other experience. And if you see the

Rembrandt on L.S.D., it’s psychedelic!

So, the “objective reality” of that Rembrandt painting (or of

anything else) becomes not so objective on close examination

But I digress. Paul



for August 15, 2013

Oprah’s new cause: the persecution of entitled billionaires! Let’s

all join hands in the street and sing, “We shall overeat.”

If I were a low-paid worker in a retail shop and had to put up with the

bossy imperious behavior of a customer like Oprah, I too might be slightly

less than cooperative. Retail people do that all the time; if a customer

is being rude or abusive, they'll refuse to serve them. (In fact, allow

me to apologize to the poor retail clerk in Switzerland, who probably

doesn't even make 38K a YEAR; rest assured, we're not all ugly Americans

But I digress. Paul



for August 11, 2013

I interviewed David Fincher back in the nineties and remember

him explaining how he created such an unforgettable portrait

of San Francisco in one of his movies.

Now, as everyone knows, he's been creating an on screen D.C.

that's realer than the real thing. I know, I'm six months behind

on "House of Cards," but I'm gobbling down the first season

now. Truly awesome stuff.



for August 10, 2013

I heard Paul McCartney perform in Golden Gate Park last night and I'm

still definitely amazed and jazzed this morning! Highlights included

a brilliant "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "Lovely Rita," a

marvelous "Another Day," a jammin' "Paperback Writer" and the tour

premiere of "Magical Mystery Tour." Every song performed to perfection.

And he sang "Another Day" (which is a wayy better song than "How Do You

Sleep," btw!)in a way that made me hear the Orbison in it for

the first time.

Show was sold out so I listened from the park. Everybody was in a

celebratory mood -- except this one mentally ill woman who decided

to stand right next to me (there were plenty of spaces elsewhere)

and talk on her cellphone at mid-set. It was like she wanted to pose

for a picture with me or something. Watta nut! I just ignored her,

which was easy to do, as the music was riveting.

Other than that, great show, wonderful night! Here's a (blurry)

picture I took of McCartney.

But I digress. Paul



for August 7, 2013

If Nidal Hasan’s offense is not a hate crime, then the

federal hate crime law is meaningless (or, at best,

inconsistently enforced).

Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar" before killing people he perceived

as “infidels,” which is exactly like a homophobe shouting

"viva heterosexuals" before shooting up a gay bar.

Eric Holder should explain his thinking on this.



for August 6, 2013

Brian Wilson is an entertainer/artist and A-Rod is an

entertainer/athlete. Wilson took a banned substance -- LSD -- to

create much of "Pet Sounds." A-Rod took a banned substance to

win some baseball games. Same thing.

All musical composers write music using a part of their body

called the brain, specifically the right part of the brain.

Brian Wilson took a banned substance that helped his brain

create "Pet Sounds." A-Rod took a banned substance to enhance

another part of his body -- his arms -- so he could hit

home runs.


Did fans boo "double murderer" Ray Lewis when he took

the field for Super Bowl 2013?

Lemme get this straight. Double murder? People are cool about

it. Guy pops a pill? People freak out. Yeah, fans have their

priorities right.


But I digress. Paul



for August 2, 2013

Paul Iorio on "Blue Jasmine," Woody Allen's best film since
"Bullets Over Broadway"

Woody Allen once said to me that Mia Farrow’s character

in “The Purple Rose of Cairo” could have chosen fantasy

in the end – “but that way lies madness!”

In his new film, “Blue Jasmine,” his best in at least twenty

years, Cate Blanchett plays a character who does ultimately

choose fantasy – and madness. Or rather, it chooses her.

Blanchett, who should win the best actress Oscar in March for

her performance here, plays Jasmine in the tradition of

classic mentally-unstable female characters from Barbara Jean

(Ronee Blakley) in “Nashville” to Gena Rowland’s character

in “Woman Under the Influence” to Faye Dunaway’s Evelyn

Mulwray in “Chinatown.”

Allen plugs every plot hole in the premise so that smartasses

like me can’t say, aw she could’ve averted poverty by selling

her jewelry, or she could have teamed up with someone from

her social circle. (Both not feasible.)

The only possible plot problem is that Blanchett is so stunningly

gorgeous that it’s hard to believe she’d have any problem

finding a decent guy, or at least a provisional boyfriend.

Women like Jasmine who end up talking to themselves on park

benches generally tend to lose their looks before that

happens. Hate to sound cynical, but it’s true. Have you

ever seen a gorgeous homeless woman (who isn't an undercover

vice cop)? To be sure, in the last scene, you can see the

beginnings of physical unattractiveness in Jasmine,

quite a feat for Blanchett to have pulled off!

The movie also shows how porous the border is between rich and

poor. A rich person, after all, is only one lawsuit away from

poverty; a poor person is only one stroke of luck from wealth.

(Though both are infrequent occurrences.)

Keep in mind that her downscale sister Ginger and her husband (played

marvelously by Andrew Dice Clay) would have been affluent San Francisco

residents – had it not been for the catastrophic judgment of her

wealthy in-laws. (Also, one wonders how great the genes of a

woman are when she makes such terrible decisions.)

The movie also demonstrates that someone can be of a higher

class than a person who has more money. (Jasmine is newly poor,

but she’s more upper class than her nominally more affluent


The novelist Harry Crews always used to say to me, Putting characters

together is like putting chemicals together: sometimes they fizz

and explode, sometimes they turn blue and foam, sometimes

nothing happens.

In this flick, Allen’s characters combust spectacularly and the fireworks a

re truly memorable. And it’s funny how the characters tossed

together on low-rent Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco suddenly start

resembling each other. (The funniest example is when Ginger’s macho

boyfriend confronts her at a supermarket and starts sounding

delicately unstable in the manner of Jasmine having a breakdown!)

As I wrote in The Huffington Post last year, there seems to be a

lot of movies lately in which characters talk to themselves

(“The King’s Speech,” “Casino Jack,” etc,). Hell, even Hillary

Clinton admitted to doing so. (And it is a good way to organize

your mind.)

But in Jasmine’s case, it’s a symptom of an underlying sickness

and a result of having no one to talk with.

The scene in which she pretends to be busy on the phone before

taking a call from her new lover – and then bursts into tears

after the call – is as heartbreaking as anything that’s likely

to turn up on screen this year. If this isn’t the best film of

2013, well – let’s just say it is.

I shot this pic of a Bay Area theater showing regional pride on its marquee, subtitling the film: "When Woody and Cate Visited San Francisco"!


Regarding the BART strike in the bay Area:


The new exhibition of Yang Fudong's photography isn't opening

at the Berkeley Art Museum until August 21, but I got a

"sneak preview" the other day (by shooting photos of his works

that were leaning against walls in a blocked off area of the museum).

Here's a taste:

But I digress. Paul



for July 29 (the day Marie Provost did not look her best!), 2013

I saw a couple movies over the weekend. Here's what I think:

JEFF NICHOLS’ “MUD”: Well-acted but the script is too Manichean,
the moral targets way too obvious. Badly paced and tedious. Editing is
slack where it needs to be taut. The two kids at the center of the flick
could have easily been played by twentysomethings without any loss of
meaning or effect. And this movie is the only universe of which I know
where someone can throw a punch without eliciting a violent response.
Not recommended.

that’s this resourceful, but almost none of this flick rings true. As
two-character diy films go, this ain’t no “Open Water,” a far superior
movie. It does keep you watching but not because it’s a good film, but
because you want to to see it ever gets good, which it never does.
Terrific cinematography in an otherwise awful picture


by paul iorio

But I digress. Paul



for July 23, 2013

To recap the year's monomaniacal fixations so far: first we

were obsessed with Kim Jong Un and his daily threats; then the

Tsarnaev brothers made us completely forget about Kim; then

gay marriage was all anybody talked about; then we got obsessed

about the night George met Trayvon (I hear it didn't go well); and

now there's 24/7 coverage of the royal baby.

Things that seemed huge but have already been forgotten: the sequester,

the Mayan calendar, the Supermoon, the asteroid that almost hit

us, the "red line" in Syria.



for July 21 - 22, 2013

the ultimate get...


I actually interviewed Al Sharpton -- in late 1985, before he became

Al Sharpton.

At the time, he was posing as a concert promoter for an anti-crack

show, but (unbeknownst to me) he was actually an undercover FBI agent.

And, me, I was a brand new hiree at Cash Box magazine, a writer

reporter in his first season there.

Sharpton was very unknown at the time. But he made an impression on

me, a very bad impression.

The interview I conducted was brief and non-investigatory, but Sharpton

would have nothing to do with basic friendliness. As easy as I tried to

make the interview for him, he would just shout belligerently no matter

how nice I was. I ended the Q&A, hung up the phone and thought, that

guy’s a real jerk.

And then, years later, I found that during that year he had actually

been working as an undercover FBI agent, as I noted. Which made my

opinion of him even lower. (And he couldn’t have been digging around

about me; I’d just been hired and was also so impeccably honest and

ethical that I was poorer than everyone I knew!)

Of course, five years later he really hit the spotlight with the

Tawana Brawley affair – which should have discredited him forever,

drummed him off the stage for good.

If I had done what Sharpton did in the Brawley years, I’d have

never worked another day. So tell me why he still does.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- The setting of my interview: Sharpton called me and I took

the call at my office in Manhattan, late 1985. I remember magazine

execs were nervous about me recording the interview, though they never

cared a bit about the fact that I recorded all my other interviews.

So they knew who he really was. It was sort of like...give him the clean

new hiree, rather than a more senior writer. Throw the new guy to the

FBI sharks. At the time, I guess he was informing on his fellow

civil rights activists as he himself posed as one. How does he explain

that part of his career? Maybe today he's doing the same thing:

feeding the FBI info about Trayvon supporters while pretending to

be one. Or is that duplicity past him now?



for July 19, 2013

I just heard Obama's remarks on the Zimmerman case, which

were not as even-handed as they should have been.

He talks about the context of the African-American experience

as if that's the only context that should be taken into account.

What about the context of the crime victim in America, of whatever

race, or those who have real fears of being a crime victim? We're

always looking over our shoulders thinking, why is this

neighborhood so unsafe?

Obama, commenting from the luxury boxes, shows real bias and

obliviousness when he doesn't address the healthy fear of crime

that was the true main factor in the Zimmerman case.

Obama should have put more Bill Cosby into his remarks (and less

bullshit). (Listen to how Cosby asks the black community of 2013 -- many

decades removed from the racism of the Jim Crow era -- to look in the

mirror to solve its problems.)

Anyway, I'm off to run some errands in the great outdoor world!

(And in the back of my mind, I think: I hope I don't get robbed

at gunpoint like in '05, or assaulted by a jihadist as I almost

was in '10! Can't help seeing things in the context of my

own experiences.)

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- For the record, I live in a nice neighborhood in the

'burbs, but the places where I shop are elsewhere.


Oh, by the way, I hear Sharpton is trying to promote this

amendment to the U.S. Constitution:


What sort of country are we becoming where you can’t beat somebody

up without the risk of being blown away?

That's, evidently, the clueless question being asked by (only)

one-third of Americans, according to Rasmussen.

Rasmussen poll on Zimmerman verdict.



for July 18, 2013

deep thoughts...



for July 16, 2013

Rolling Stone has just released the following faux-statement:

“Our Tsarnaev cover is insurance against being bombed by jihadists,
who we fear. We don’t want to be the next Charlie Hebdo, burned
to the ground, so we’re kissing fundamentalist ass with the photo.
Yes, if we were really brave, we’d have long ago featured Salman
Rushdie or Theo van Gogh on our cover. But we're not courageous
and hide that fact under a cloak of supposed controversy. So try
to enjoy our Tsarnaev feature anyway!”


Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, in happier days...



for July 16, 2013

Those of you who are trying to read way too much into the

Zimmerman thing should remember that another Zimmerman -- Robert

Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan), who is not black -- was wearing a hoodie,

walking in the rain in an unfamiliar neighborhood in Jersey a

couple years ago and was profiled as suspicious by a neighbor

who called the cops, who actually put him in a squad car till

he could be identified. True story. Neighborhoods everywhere are

jittery about crime

Regarding the Zimmerman verdict, everyone notes the fact that the

911 operator told him "we don't need you to do that."

But the cops had no legal authority to tell Zimmerman to keep away

from Martin. Their advice was merely…advisory. However unwise

Zimmerman’s decision was, he did have a right to keep an eye on

Martin if he wanted to. On the other hand, Martin did not have

the right to lose his temper and beat him up.

Saying that Zimmerman “provoked” Martin (by doing legally-protected

activity) is like saying that a woman in a short skirt provoked a

rape, which would be an outrageous thing to say. (Imagine if a cop

had told such a woman, “We don’t need you to walk out there in

your short skirt right now; it might provoke an assault”). It goes

without saying that a woman has every right to wear a short

skirt (just as Zimmerman had every right to be suspicious of

Martin, get out of his car, etc.). It's incumbent upon others

to exercise self-control when they encounter legally-protected behavior

that they subjectively deem to be "provocative."



I just saw the best documentary of 2013, Alex Gibney’s

“We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.” It should be a

lock for this year’s best documentary Oscar. A telling,

revealing portrait of Julian Assange and his Mark Felt, Bradley

Manning, from inside the tornado.

Assange comes off almost like a fashion model wannabe, blinking

heavy make-up out of his eyes in TV appearances, deeply

concerned about his look. Manning is portrayed as a tortured

individual even before his luck turned awful (who I bet will

end up a suicide in the final round).

And even Assange expresses ambivalence about his leaking – an

ambivalence confirmed by the fact that he ultimately redacted

lots of his findings.

(Nobody really backs total transparency. Imagine a WikiLeaks in

’43 revealing the names of underground resistance fighters

against the Vichy government in France. Or a Wiki cable exposing

the upcoming plans for some sort of ground assault from Normandy

Beach in June ’44. (Or, more to the point, a post that would

have scotched the Abbottabad raid.)

Still, leakers – from Felt to Ellsberg to Manning to Snowden – largely

serve to confirm horrors we’ve long suspected.

Interesting that the biggest national security secrets of this

era have been revealed by a private (Manning) and an IT guy


And ironic that, as WikiLeaks got on in years, Assange required

his employees to sign confidentiality agreements.

But I digress, Paul



for July 11, 2013


I usually agree with Charles Blow, but not on the Martin case.

He says, among other absurdities, that it’s possible that the

person winning the fight and on top (Martin) was the one yelling

for help.

Mull that over for a moment. Imagine the ridiculousness of such

a scenario. And then think of what definitively proves Blow wrong:

if the guy on top was yelling for help, then the guy on the bottom

would surely have been yelling for help, too. But we hear only one

and that’s obviously the guy being beaten up.

But U digress. Paul



for July 10, 2013

I really like this video I just made and hope you do, too. It’s for

my ska song “I’m an Infidel,” which I wrote in January 2013.

I shot the video yesterday in front of the Saints Peter and Paul Church

in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. (The church where

Joe DiMaggio married his first wife, btw!) Anyway, it’s a blasphemous

highball and includes me crossing myself rhythmically. Viddy here!




for July 7, 2013

I went on a blockbuster jag yesterday and saw “World War Z” and

“Man of Steel.” Here’s what I think:

“WORLD WAR Z”: Exciting film making in the service of an unpersuasive
premise. I just can’t willingly suspend disbelief when it comes
to zombies and the undead. Ultimately, about as good as “District 9.”

“MAN OF STEEL”: This is Superman for the Iron Man and post-newspaper
industry eras. And no Lex Luther! Just a Krypton hardliner named Zod.
Awwww! The best Superman flick is still…“Superman 2,” which was
imaginative and resourceful without breaking a sweat. (Remember how
the villains simply exhaled to blow away adversaries? No such smarts
this time.)


Great Robert Plant show last week in Berkeley at the Greek,

his best Bay Area concert since that GG Park gig in '08, which

is high praise. He even pulled out a surprise, "What Is and

What Should Never Be" with all the kick of the Zep version.

Like a personal youthful memory, amplifed and public. And "Friends":

you've got to hear what he does with "Friends." Out of this world.

The idea this time was to play some of the LZ classics

faithfully -- what a concept! Definitely catch the tour -- he'

s in rare form this time!

But I digress. Paul



for July 5, 2013

I've never seen anything like this in the five years I've been

releasing my songs online. My song "Republican Women" -- which I

released in 2011 -- has just now entered the alternative chart

at soundclick.com at #9.

And stats say hundreds of people have been playing the track

in the past several hours. Seriously, I put that song to bed

two years ago, haven't sent it to anyone in at least a year.

(During its initial release in 2011, it went to #1 on the

same chart, before I accidentally deleted it.) I don't know

what's going on, but here's the song:




for the Fourth of July 2013

Happy 4th! Here's the most fun song about the 4th that I know of:

"Darlington County":

darlington county


This time, Egyptian voters, do not split the secular vote among

three candidates. Unite behind one and put your internecine divisions

aside -- unless you want another fundamentalist throwback prez.

When the will of the people coincides with the will of the military,

it’s hard to call it a coup d'état. In Egypt, the keys to the kingdom

have always been held by the military. Keep in mind that even Mubarak

was deposed not by the protesters in the street, but because the generals

said, ok, we agree with the protesters in the street


Hey, I'm a union man, but this BART strike is making a mess of the

Bay Area. They need to get back to work right now. (I saw the salary

of the average BART worker and it's substantially more than the top

salary for a staff writer/reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle

when I was there. They're walking the picket lines with their

pot-bellies like a bunch of spoiled brats.)

But I digress. Paul



for June 28, 2013

Brand new on YouTube: a video I shot this morning for my new song

"I'm So Alive Today," in which you can see me pouring faux wine and beer

over my head in celebration of...being alive! (I think bystanders

thought I wsa actually guzzling Rolling rock at 7 a.m. Nope, just water!)




for June 24, 2013

Many thanks to Marshall Stax who just
aired a couple of my brand new songs a few minutes ago on
KALX Radio!

Here're the new tracks:

Paul Iorio's New Songs Streaming Free Here!



for June 18, 2013

When you’re a twentysomething writer reporter for a magazine,

as I was, and you’ve just written a cover story on Paul McCartney,

as I had, it’s quite satisfying to get this note, as I did, from

the magazine’s London bureau!

Happy birthday, Paul McCartney, the world’s greatest living composer!



for June 11, 2013

Snowden, with his GED, earned 200K a year at Booz. Which

is nothing compared to what his next employer, probably

HarperCollins, will pay him for his ghostwritten book:

probably 3.3 mil, give or take. (I bet that sort of money

goes far in Rejkjavik.)

Snowden is not some east village invesigative reporter with

a thirst for the truth who's barely making ends meet. He's a

spoiled rich dude on a beach whose info is questionable when

it's not something we've pretty much known all along. Ain't no

Assange, ain't no Ellsberg. (True, the latter endorses Snowden,

but Ellsberg is -- how to put this -- not nearly as great as he

was in his prime.)

Frankly, this morning I'm far more enraged about what the

Snowden affair reveals about economic unfairness than

about whether Obama was trying to see who was phoning

bin Laden.



for June 10, 2013

The Anthem of the Istanbul Protests

Looks like the de facto anthem of the protests in Turkey is

Cem Karaca’s “Ceviz Ağacı” (“Walnut Tree”), based on the poem

by Nazim Hikmet.

Karaca’s music was highly illegal to buy and sell in Turkey

for years. He was eventually exiled, jailed and otherwise

persecuted by the government.

I bought a copy of Karaca’s “Nem Kaldi” at outdoor market

in Istanbul in 1976 and the seller was so nervous. It felt

like I was buying opium.

Make no mistake: Tayyip Erdogan, ardently anti-left in college,

was among the crowd that targeted Karaca back in the Seventies.

In recent years, he has praised the musician, but only because

it’s politically advantageous for him to do so.

Great to see the protesters reclaim Karaca as their own!

But I digress. Paul



for June 2, 2013

The xx Performs in Berkeley, Calif.
These hills were alive with the music of The xx
last night! [photo by Paul Iorio]

I heard The xx perform last night at the Greek in Berkeley. And this

morning I’m really enjoying the playback of the recording I made

of the gig! Great stuff.

Their sound recalls “Kid A” and Portishead, but also very early U2

and even the Jefferson Airplane (in the way Oliver Sim and Romy Madley

Croft trade vocals – check out “Heart Skipped a Beat”).

Simultaneously effortless and insanely intense, minimal and gigantic.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the xx becomes as huge as U2 by the end

of the Tens.

Opening was a highly original band from Gainesville,

Florida – the Berkeley of the southeast! – called Hundred Waters.

Dreamy, evocative, unusual.

And opening the whole thing was rapper Choosey (who even led

a chant about The xx from the stage!).

Above, a pic I shot from the hills above the theater (where

I heard the concert).


I finally got to see “The Great Gatsby” yesterday. Not a

terrible film, but, yes, it is overdone, overdressed. Sort of

like a Rembrandt portrait touched up with neon paint and glitter.

I also saw “The Hangover, Part 3.” Parts of it are very funny,

but it doesn’t measure up to the first two.

But I digress. Paul



for May 30, 2013

Mumford & Sons at the Greek
The Greek Theater, Berkeley, last night, Mumford & Sons
performing. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

Enjoyable Mumford & Sons show last night. I think roots music for teens

is now "Funeral." ("OK Computer," of course, is where it all began.)

Who knew the song "Intervention" would have so much influence; you can draw a

through-line from it to the Mumfords to the Lumineers. Mumford is

wayyy better than the Lumineers, but not as great as Arcade Fire.

Arcade Fire is almost the father of a musical sensibility at this

point, of something heroic and grand in a post-9/11 way. The opposite

of austere, but not exactly baroque either.

But I digress. Paul



for May 28, 2013

Jim Romenesko wrote about this on his website today. And I agree:

Noah's story does not seem true at all.

possibly fabricated article in the New York Times by Noah

Here’s another recent Times piece that strongly appears to have

fabricated elements. (E.g., As she was being “mugged,” she paused

and had a heart to heart with her mugger in an area where people

could have passed by. Sounds more like she was being aggressively

panhandled. Take it from me, the victim of an actual mugging:

her story does not ring true at all.

another Times piece that appears to have fabricated elements.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Wow! These New York Times stories have taught me how

to write like both Noah Gallagher Shannon and Roxana Saberi!

Here’s a graf inspired by Noah Gallagher Shannon, who, believe

it or not, actually has book deal even though he writes

like this:

And then the plane began to crash! Oh, how it gave me a start!
I could feel the beads of sweat on my brow. Shards of memories
flooded my brain as if my life was flashing before my eyes.
[stay tuned for the suspenseful ending later.]

And I’ve also have learned to write like Roxana Saberi; here’s

a sample:

And as I was being held at gunpoint, with people walking by us
saying “excuse me,” the mugger and I engaged in a discussion
about the inequality of class and I admonished the man harshly.


Inside baseball for a bit. I negotiated my title of writer/reporter

at Cash Box with upper management in L.A. in August 1985 when I

was hired. My title and duties were not determined by Jeske,

who wrote separately from me and never edited my work.

Likewise, my title at the San Francisco Chronicle – staff

writer/reporter – was determined by the features AME, not by

Wiegand, who has been adversarial since I exposed him as a

plagiarist in February 1999, which is when he should have been

fired. (Do you think for a moment I would say that unless

I could back that statement up 20 different ways?) Be wary

of what you hear from him

Plagiarism was actually the least of Wiegand’s problems.

Example: He’d sign my timesheets that showed that I either

came in early (sometimes very early) or on time each

workday – but then when it came time for the quarterly

evaluation, he’d say, I came in late. I never missed a

day of work (time sheets that he signed show that) yet

he said I missed days. (Hey, new management at the Chronicle;

you could prove or disprove what I’m saying just by looking

at archival records at the Chronicle -- though that would

require you to be fair.) Wiegand is a fraud who should’ve been

fired years ago.



for May 25, 2012

Just published: My latest article for The Huffington Post,

a previously unpublished interview I conducted with the late

Ray Manzarek and John Densmore. Just click the red link to read it!




for May 21, 2013


Did Disciples of Awlaki Bury the Boston Bomber? (No Way, Says a Group Representative.)

By Paul Iorio

For sale, as recently as 2007: al-Awlaki's works, on sale for
$36 from a bookstore associated with the organization that arranged
the burial of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

The Islamic group that arranged the burial of Boston Marathon

bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev once sold the works of terrorist

Anwar al-Awlaki through an associated bookstore.

A store that shared the same name, web address and contact

information as the organization – the Islamic Society of Greater

Richmond (ISGR) – sold Awlaki’s “The Hereafter,” a multiple-CD

set of the militant imam’s lectures, as recently as 2007, when he

was imprisoned for terrorism and was known to have backed al-

Qaeda causes. The group charged $36 for the seven-tape set

and album.

Awlaki would later found the jihadist magazine Inspire, which

is where the Tsarnaev brothers learned how to make the

pressure cooker bombs that killed three people and injured

hundreds on April 15 in Boston. Awlaki also preached regularly

at a mosque in northern Virginia.

This reporter called the ISGR for comment and received a

return call from someone who would not give his name but

described himself as a “manager” of the group. He contended,

somewhat unconvincingly, that even though the bookstore was

physically adjacent to the ISGR and shared the same web

address, it was a separate operation. And he emphatically

dismissed any link between Awalki and his organization.

It's worth noting that I reached that ISGR representative

via the contact information on the bookstore's page. The store’s

online form, through which customers can buy the books, lists

the ISGR’s phone number and address as its own phone number

and address.

And the ISGR rep dismissed any suggestion that their sale of

Awlaki’s works created the appearance that a loyal soldier of

Awlaki was buried by his disciples of Awlaki. Further, he

denounced Tsarnaev’s terrorist acts.

The work that was sold was Awlaki’s “The Hereafter,” from

Al-Basheer Productions; a website specializing in Islamic

books said the work described “the events that occur just

before death and the events that come after it.” And it

has sequences about the supposedly hellish fate of those

who don’t believe in Islam.

The ISGR was reportedly the only Islamic group in the Virginia

area that would aid in the burial. The cemetery that it

landed for Tsarnev is The Al-Barzakh Islamic Cemetery located

on Route 725 in Doswell in the state of Virginia. The burial

ground was established by the Islamic Funeral Services of

Virginia, which describes itself as a religious organization that

is exempt from paying U.S. federal income taxes because of

its 501(c)(3) status.

Its tax exempt status may be one reason why burial plots

were initially being offered “at [a] low introductory

price of $750 each,” according to the cemetery's antecedent

website, when the graveyard was being developed in 2006.

It is not known whether Tsarnaev’s burial plot was sold for

that sum. This reporter's phone call to the answering

machine of the president of the cemetery brought no comment.

The first page of the website selling Awlaki's works.


Awlaki's "The Hereafter," as advertised online.
[from the Al-Huda online bookstore.]


The egregiously misspelled website of the cemetery that
buried Tsarnaev. (Circa 2009.)


Initially, the tax-exempt cemetery was offering burial plots
for $750.

But I digress. Paul



for May 20, 2013

Shocked, saddened to hear about the death of Ray Manzarek.

I was lucky to have interviewed him in person a couple decades

ago -- in a room with just me, him, John Densmore and my tape recorder.

I conducted the audiotaped interview at Elektra Records in

Manhattan in May 1987. At the time I was a staff writer/reporter

for Cash Box magazine's New York bureau.

Here’s a transcript of the Q&A:


JOHN DENSMORE: Where Jim whipped it out and tripped [laughs].

RAY MANZAREK: He fell on it. Well, he could. The tool was long
enough. It was difficult. He had to shove it down his pants leg.

DENSMORE: He had to fold it over, didn't he? [laughs]

MANZAREK: Sometimes he did and sometimes he just let it hang there. See, Miami was a religious hallucination. The exposure, to my knowledge, never actually took place, but he told the audience he was going to do it and he baited the audience and kept telling them he was going to expose himself. And he held his shirt in front of his crotch and kept using it as a bullfighter's cape, pulling it off to the side. And then he'd quickly cover himself,. And he said, "I'm going to show it, I'm going to show it , watch, watch, watch."

And then he pulled his shirt aside and pulled it back. That's what I remember. I never remembered him actually doing it. I thought, He's pulling a number on the audience. But the southern audience, his home state of Florida, they saw the snake, they saw snakes, lizards.

The Doors came as the kings of acid rock, the kings of orgasmic rock, all those funny titles. I think he hypnotized 15,000 people into believing he did it.

DENSMORE: Certainly these psychedelic Christians that attended the trial and stood outside and accosted us saying, "He did it!".

MANZAREK: Yeah, I'll never forget that


MANZAREK: Boy, we were right there, man. We didn't see it. I didn't see it. Maybe he did. If he did, it sure was quick.

DENSMORE: He certainly didn't simulate oral copulation on the guitar player and lavishly display his penis, as they charged him with.

* * * *


DENSMORE: We thought about it and we actually jammed with a few guys and then we thought , Gee, replacing Jim, what a burden for whoever it is. So Ray [Manzarek] had sang blues occasionally and so we decided to continue with Ray singing and Robbie [Krieger] singing a little bit. And after two albums of that, we kind of musically were going in different directions and lamenting the
[death of Morrison], so we closed the doors,

* * * *


DENSMORE: ...Doom I could feel the last few years.


MANZAREK: Well, there was an awareness of death. Morrison was aware of -- and I think we all should be aware of -- our own mortality. Anything could happen to us at any moment...I almost got hit by a taxi crossing the street, the guy was hauling ass. You're dead,
you're gone, man. You live, you die.

DENSMORE: And death not ends it.

MANZAREK And death doesn't end it either.


MANZAREK: [laughs] There's still footage in the Doors archives....

* * * *


MANZAREK: I was in Los Angeles at my breakfast table. A phone call came in from our manager at the time, who said, Jim Morrison is dead in Paris. I said, "Bullshit." At the time, Paul [McCartney] is dead rumors were going around. Lots of people were sort of dying,
or [there were] rumors of their deaths. I didn't believe it at the time. I had heard four or five other rumors of his death, so this was just another rumor of Jim's death. So it didn't really upset me in any way at the time.

And the guy said. "I think this is serious." And I said, well, I'm not about to fly to Paris to check out some rumor, I don't believe it, anyway. He said, "I've got a twelve o'clock flight to Paris," he flew to Paris. Fine, go ahead, check it out. Call me back. About
two days, three days later, he said, "We buried a coffin, and Jim Morrison was in that coffin, and he's now buried and dead...." I said to the guy, "He's dead, you buried him?" He said, "Yes."
I said, "How did he die?" He said, "Well, it 's all in French, I can't read it. Something about his heart stopped." "Well, how did he look?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "What do you mean
you don't know?" He said, "I never saw the body....it was a sealed coffin." I said, "You mean you put a sealed coffin in the ground?" He said, "Yeah but Jim was in there." I said, "Are you sure Jim was in there." "Yeah." "Well, how do you know?" "I know he was in there?" "Did you see him?" "I didn't see him." And that's the story from my perspective.


MANZAREK: It's possible, it's possible. I doubt it. French death
certificate, pay off an Algerian doctor a couple thousand dollars
to sign it, put a hundred and fifty pounds of sand or bricks in
a coffin and put it in the ground. It's possible. I don't think
so. But it's sure is strange. And there were a lot of strange
circumstances around his death. And the whole thing with never
seeing his body. I never saw Jim Morrsion dead. Last time I saw
Jim Morrison was in March in Los Angeles, and he said, "I'm
going to Paris," and I said, "Great, God bless, go, have a
good time, write, relax, take it easy, take as much time as you
want...and call the muse back, get back to being a poet again."
And that's what he was going to do. And that's the last I ever
saw of Jim Morrison.


DENSMORE: I think it was at our office. This was several days
after [their former manager] had gone to Paris and called
Ray back., So I remember I came up the stairs and Robbie
[Krieger] said, "Jim is dead." And I sat down and sort of
[groans]... .I don't know, the last few years, [Morrison]
was pretty tortured. I was kind of relieved for him in a



My last first-hand memory of Ray Manzarek is of him playing

air organ to "Mendocino" in order to show me how the Sir Douglas

Quintet was an influence on his kebd playing. Of course,

"Mendocino" came AFTER the Doors had been around for awhile,

but the Quintet itself (and its sound) preceded them.

One Doors classic in which Manzarek varied his style dramatically

was the great "Love Me Two Times," which featured him on harpsichord.

Great touch, but if you'd like to hear how it sounds with organ,

here's a live version.

The Doors performing "Love Me Two Times."



for May 13, 2013

Inside the (Tax-Exempt) Cemetery That Buried the Boston Bomber

Is It Fair That a Religious Cemetery, Riding Its 501(c)(3) Status,
Can Offer a Deep Discount to Tsarnaev for Burial? If It Did, Doesn't
That Amount to a Publicly-Financed Subsidy for Tsarnaev's Funeral?

By Paul Iorio

The egregiously misspelled website of the cemetery that buried one of the Boston Marathon bombers. (Circa 2009.)

What is known about the cemetery that finally accepted the body of Tamerlan

Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, for burial?

That it was apparently able to give the mass murderer a deeply

discounted burial due to its tax-exempt status -- or at least it appears

that way based on the cemetery's price list of several years ago.

The question nobody is asking is: if that is true, doesn't that amount

to a publicly financed subsidy for Tsarnaev's funeral?

First, the website itself.

Predictably, the cemetery's current site has been wiped clean of much

information -- though past editions of the site, uncovered by this reporter

through the Wayback Machine archive, offer a glimpse.

The cemetery -- Al-Barzakh Islamic Cemetery located on Route 725 in

Doswell, Virginia -- was established by the Islamic Funeral Services of

Virginia, which describes itself as a religious organization that doesn’t

have to pay federal income taxes.

Its 501(c)(3) status is probably one reason why burial plots were initially

being offered “at [a] low introductory price of $750 each,” according to

the cemetery's antecedent website,  when the graveyard was being developed

in 2006.   The plan was for Al-Barzakh to include 35 graves on three-quarters

of an acre north of Richmond, according to the Islamic Society of Richmond

website of May 29, 2006.

If that price list is still anywhere near in effect in 2013, then the

Tsarnaev family paid a mere fraction of the standard cost for burial.

And one could argue that U.S. taxpayers helped to subsidize the

funeral, as everyone else had to pay the taxes that the cemetery did


Other info about the burial ground: Al-Barzakh’s 2009 website says the cemetery

(which it prominently misspelled as “cemetary”) is “completely managed by

the representative Muslims from local [mosques].” It is also affiliated with

the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia; the only official who turns up in

online search results is treasurer Bilal Yasin El-Amin, whose LinkedIn page

claims he’s a businessman who once served at Ft. Hood.

And the cemetery’s website included this prayerful bit in ’09:   “O Allah! Whoever

among us is kept alive by You, keep him alive on Islam, and whoever You

give death, let him die on Imaan [faith].”

By the way, Tsarnaev’s burial would not make him the only prominent jihadist associated

with Virginia. The notorious militant Anwar al-Awlaki used to regularly

preach at a Virginia mosque – and his magazine Inspire is where the

Tsarnaev brothers found instructions to build the pressure cooker bombs

that killed three and wounded hundreds at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

This reporter's phone call to the answering machine of the president of the

cemetery for comment was not returned.

A photo of the cemetery where Tamarlan Tsarnaev is buried.
(From the cemetery's 2009 website.)


Initially, the tax-exempt cemetery was offering burial plots
for $750.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- If you want to visit the cemetery to protest the decision

to bury Tamalan at a deep discount, here's how to get there. (Their

website took this info down (they're shy!), but I did a screen

capture.) And don't worry about disturbing anyone; the cemetery is

almost inactive.



for May 11, 2013

Why does Benghazi resonate on the right and left?

Because Obama, so brilliant on other issues, does not have

adequate respect for freedom of speech.

Let’s step back to the day of the Benghazi attack. Some Obamians,

particularly Susan Rice, were initially hyping the narrative

that the Benghazi assault was the result of a blasphemous video

that didn’t have enough respect for Islam.

That narrative, of course, feeds the backward Islamists at the

U.N. who have been pushing for fascistic anti-blasphemy laws

and resolutions for years. (Watch your back, Copernicus!)

You see, if you describe Benghazi as terrorism, that exposes

the militants as irrational 9/11ists. But if you re-write

the narrative to make it look like the rioters were provoked

into their rampage by an insulting video, then the Benghazi

thugs look somewhat (but not much) more reasonable – and the

right-wing anti-blasphemy laws can gain some traction.

For all his virtues, Obama doesn’t seem to fully appreciate

the fact that, in the U.S., citizens have the constitutional

right to burn “Mein Kampf” or “The Koran” or “The Torah” or

“The Merchant of Venice.” Conversely, fanatics do not

have the right to get violent in response.

In his own response to Benghazi, we saw echoes of that

disrespect for free speech.

But I digress. Paul



for May 9, 2013

“The Great Gatsby” in 3-D and with hip hop? Sounds like a mess.

One could not invent three audiences that are less interested

in each other! I smell a flop.


Made the rounds in San Francisco yesterday afternoon and

walked into an outdoor concert by Pete Sears' new band Moonalice

in Union Square. Couldn't stay long but heard 'em do a fun

version of "Hey, Mr. Spaceman" by the Byrds.

Pete Sears performing yesterday in San Francisco.
[photo by Paul Iorio.]

But I digress. Paul



for May 4, 2013

Congratulations to Vinnie Zummo for landing a song in the

new mega-blockbuster “Iron Man 3” (which is on track to

become nearly as a huge as “The Avengers”!).

Five minutes into the flick – which I just saw this

afternoon – Robert Downey Jr. grooves on Zummo’s very

fun re-imagining of “Jingle Bells” as a jazzy dance tune.

Very catchy (almost campy) rendition of the xmas classic!

The film itself is an entertaining, sometimes funny popcorn

flick. Of all the Marvel films, the Iron Man flicks have

always been the wittiest of the bunch – if only because

of Downey, who sort of sends up the genre and was one

of the main reasons “Avengers” did so well. (“Avengers”

was essentially “Iron Man & friends” for most of it.)

The new one doesn’t quite top the first one, but it

surely will at the box office.



for May 3, 2013

In honor of those who died in the Kent State massacre 43 years ago

tomorrow, Obama should not only note the anniversary, but

establish some sort of official Veterans of Protest Day, or Peace Day,

to remember the brave veterans of anti-war protests who died at Kent

and Jackson State, or were injured by cops in protests in Chicago,

D.C. and elsewhere during the Vietnam era, or courageously left it

all behind to evade the draft in Canada.

Also, Obama should remind us that president Nixon and attorney general

Mitchell were part of a criminal regime that conducted all sorts of

illegal acts against political opponents from January 1969 to August 1974.

Therefore, some activists targeted for prosecution for major crimes

by the federal government during that period should have their

cases re-examined with an eye toward mitigating the penalty, vacating

the conviction or, in some rare cases, expunging the record of

conviction altogether. In some instances, executive amnesty or a

presidential pardon might be in order.

After all, many (though not all) leftist protesters (and even

militants) from ’69 to ‘74ish were, arguably, fighting within

a revolutionary context against a genuinely criminal government.

At that time, it was far from certain that the totalitarianism manqué

of Nixon could be defeated through the system. Remember, peaceful

protest was being met with government bullets at the time, so revolution

was not an unreasonable course of action then. And the formal

record should reflect that.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Btw, it makes all the difference when time proves

you were on the right side of history. The Nixon administration was

proved to be criminal. The overwhelming consensus about the Vietnam

War is that it was a mistake. And the Civil Rights struggles have

been vindicated. So Obama should recognize the shock troops of that

movement (and not just the Johnny-come-latelys who backed justice when

it was no longer risky to do so).



for April 30, 2013

Glad lots of people are enjoying my new album "The Best of Paul Iorio"!

For those interested, here's a discography of my own recordings,

consisting of 193 songs composed, performed, arranged, produced

and originated solely by me.

Here goes:

-- “The Best of Paul Iorio”: 2013

-- “'I’m an Infidel' (and other songs)": 2013
(copyrighted as “Ain’t That All (and 18 Other Songs).”

-- "'Three-Legged Chair' (and 18 others)": 2012

-- “'Zip Code of the Moon' (and 28 others)”: 2011

-- “130 songs (Parts 1 to 6)”: 2010

Prior to 2010, I released some of my songs on cassette tape

in walkman-produced sessions (or in inadequately performed

sessions for compact disc).

Hence, the following recordings have been scuttled and no longer

circulate publicly. They are:

-- “12 Song Demo”: Released in mid-1998 on cassette tape, all
these songs were later re-recorded for “130 Songs.”

-- “Ten Years Ago:” CD single, 2001. My first try at a
compact disc recording. Recorded at Rodent Studios, S.F.,
with engineer Elton Cuniffe handling the recording of my performance.

-- “About Myself (Parts 1 and 2)”: 2004. A double cassette-tape
package, my first real serious attempt at gathering many of the
songs I’d written over the decades. All 52 tracks were later
re-recorded for “130 Songs (Parts 1 to 6).”

-- “About Myself (Parts 1 and 2)”: 2005. The CD version. All
the same songs but this time recorded digitally – at Paramount
Studio in L.A., with my old schoolchum William Epps co-producing.
Unfortunately, everything was done in one or two takes, so I
scuttled this. Again, all these tracks can now be found, in
re-recorded form, on “130 Songs.”

-- “Lime Green Celery”: 2007. My first attempt at recording at
my home studio. Didn’t work out. All this stuff was later
re-recorded for “130 Songs.”

Between ’07 and early ’13, I also released numerous 4 and 6 song
CDs, and numerous singles, but those tracks have since been put on
one of my main albums.

There's the info!

But6t I digress. Paul



for April 23, 2013

The PBS NewsHour is on. Lead story: a debate about whether the

cops who shot Tsarnaev should be charged with a hate crime

against a devout Muslim. Also, a newsmaker interview with the

president of the Council on American Islamic Relations, who

thinks it was indeed a bias crime. (And CAIR's attorneys

are all ready for their 30% of the settlement!)

And then I woke up -- and realized that the real NewsHour was

only slightly less propagandistic.

Absurdly, some in the U.S. media seem to think that the fact

that the Tsarnaevs came from a region with hard-to-pronounce names

confers on the brothers a complexity they absolutely do not have.


The Steve Jobs biopic has been delayed and retitled “Jobs,” while

a parody biopic called “iSteve” is making the rounds.

In any event, neither is first. Anybody remember “The Pirates of

Silicon Valley,” a movie about Jobs from 1999?

I covered it for the San Francisco Chronicle and did an enormous

amount of research and reporting on the early days of Apple and

Microsoft. And I sure hope the new biopic doesn’t sanitize the…admirable

madness of Jobs’ corporate style.

I mean, Jobs used to come into the office at three in the

morning – that’s three in the morning – acting as if it were

high noon, berating anyone who was snoozing or even looked tired

until the whole place was pumping with adrenaline.

Some may call that abusive – but look at the results.

Just look at the results.

In Jobs’ case, and only the case of geniuses, I’m willing to

make an exception. I know: every tech exec thinks he’s the new

Jobs, but none is. Many in the new crop of techies have Jobs’

stern demeanor -- but not his brilliantly usable ideas.

Like most geniuses, Jobs made the complicated simple. (Anybody

can make the complicated complicated.) Here’s hoping he’s portrayed

accurately on screen.

Here's a story I wrote about Jobs for the San Francisco Chroncile

way back in the 20th century:

But I digress. Paul



for April 20, 2013

Just saw the new Tom Cruise movie, "Oblivion." A sci-fi actioner.

This year's "Looper." Or is it this year's "The Vow"? Whatever

the case, Morgan Freeman adds welcome style to the mix.


I feel sad I didn’t get to see Steve Forbert perform his

“Alive on Arrival” album last night. That CD is one of my

all-time favorites and was the soundtrack of my life when

I moved to Manhattan in 1979.

I was looking forward to his gig at Freight & Salvage but saw a

posting online saying it was sold out, so I went to hear the

Lumineers at the Greek instead. Later I found it wasn’t sold

out. Damn!

The Lumineers show was packed, even in the hills above the theater

where I heard it. The band’s popularity has spiked dramatically

in the past year and the crowd was unusually enthusiastic, at least

at first.

But then during “Ho Hey,” singer Wesley Schultz stopped the song

dead and said to the audience:

“Hold on one second. Would you mind putting away your camera phones

and cameras right now?”

Then he continued, to less enthusiasm.

The band doesn’t yet seem accustomed to crowds this big and doesn’t

really have enough material to fill out a headlining gig. (This show

clocked in at under an hour and fifteen minutes.) And some of their

stuff is too obviously derivative (“Stubborn Love” has echoes of an

Arcade Fire tune, for starters).

And after “Stubborn Love,” forty five minutes into the concert, people

starting leaving in a steady stream.

The band didn’t quite click with me and I’m quite surprised they’re

popular with thirtysomethings, as their sound seems somewhat old

fashioned, sort of like some of the rootsy stuff I listened to in

the Seventies when I was in college.

If I had been an A&R guy getting their demo tape, I seriously

doubt I’d have seen its commercial potential at all.

But I did enjoy their almost Appalachian rendition of Dylan’s

“Subterranean Homesick Blues.” The highlight of the night.

Still, I wish I’d seen Forbert!

But I digress, Paul



for April 19, 2013

Sorta funny. If the Boston bombers had been revealed to be white

supremacists, certain people would be posting the most vengeful

tirades against them. Instead it's like: "Oh, they're jihadists?

You know, there's a new video store in town that's so cool!"

And now the spin in some quarters is, “Let’s try to angle the Boston

bombers as PTSD cases – traumatized by the brutal war in Grozny.

And we’ll just ignore all the parts of their websites where

they praise jihad.”

Hey, Tim McVeigh was a war vet, too, and saw heads being blown off

(literally) -- and I don’t see some people framing his actions in

a PTSD way.

There are certain people who want to recategorize almost every

religious-motivated hate crime committed by a jihadist, as if

to say, “There’s no threat from that quarter, and therefore

we don’t need to surveil a subgroup of a constituency that

was behind us in the last election.”

On tonight’s nightly news broadcasts, I bet you that, 1) The word

jihad is not used (though it’s on the bombers’ sites); 2) The

bombers are directly or indirectly characterized as victims

of the horrors of the Chechnyan war.

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Breaking news regarding Tamerlan Tsarnaev's practice

of praying five times a day. He's gonna have to cut back on

that schedule a bit.



for April 18, 2013


The style of the Boston attack was very al Qaeda: a first explosion

followed by a second -- and among civilians.

The newly-released photos and videos don't dissuade me from the theory

that two Islamic militants did the deed.

These guys don’t look like the superwhite skin types that tend to

populate Aryan white supremacist groups.

Looks like we're dealing with an alpha, in the dark cap, around 23 years

old, leading a junior partner, in the white cap, around 20.

The two are likely local residents of the greater Boston area.

(Few elsewhere even knew the Marathon was taking place.) But

almost certainly living in a non-urban area of Boston, where

they could test their explosives. Authorities might want

to first focus on the small Islamic population in the Boston


But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- I know, I know. There're gonna be a lot of Separated at Birth

style funny photos showing the guys in the video resembling Imelda

Marcos or Southside Johnny's bassist. (Funny!) Or another pic of an

Aryan Brotherhood guy who's black. (Whoaa! You got me there!) But the

truth is, we've got to catch these guys and have to think in terms

of LIKELY theories. (Also, can you name one Islamic terrorist that

didn't look at least a bit like the stereotype of an Islamic

terrorist? Besides Jihad Jane.



for April 17, 2013

Green Day gave a big open-air concert at the Greek Theater

last night in the place where it all began for them: the campus

of the University of California at Berkeley, a short walk from

the radio station (KALX) where the band got its first radio

airplay (thanks to DJ Marshall Stax).

For this homecoming gig, the band veered from its usual

setlist just a bit, at mid-set taking requests from the crowd

and playing some pre-“Dookie” stuff (“2000 Light Years Away,"

“Welcome to Paradise,” "Christie Road" and "Going to Pasalacqua").

But it was the “Dookie” and “American Idiot” material, comprising

around a third of the set, that caused the crowd to shriek.

“Jesus of Suburbia,” an encore here, has emerged as, arguably,

the band’s very best song.

This was the “¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré!” tour, so there were more

than half dozen tracks from the three albums. The top new

ones live were the surprisingly magical “Stop When the Red

Lights Flash,” from “¡Dos!,” and “Oh, Love,” from ““¡Uno!”

Opening was Best Coast, billed as a surf band but sounding

more like new waveish pop of the late Seventies. They have

a great sense of melody.

I heard the whole gig in the hills above the Greek, where I

also recorded it (and I’m enjoying the playback over coffee

this morning!)

But I digress. Paul



for April 15, 2013

Here's what I want to say to the Boston Marathon terrorist.

Let me quote Bob Dylan:

"And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead."


Hate to say it, but I bet this is how many Americans are going
to see today’s unspeakable tragedy later this week. Inevitable.
(Thankfully, the Saudi ambassador is condemning the attack
unequivocally and offering to help. My guess is it involves
just one stray fanatic.)

Montage concept by Paul Iorio (me!). Based on the official

logo of the Boston Marathon and the drawing by artist Kurt

Westergaard. (Interesting that those who object to this

montage had no problem inviting Psy to the White House

to croon.)

But I digress. Paul



for April 9, 2013

Wow! I just found out a couple days ago that the great DJ Eric J. Lawrence

played one of my songs, “Life’s Just a Single Blast,” on his show on KCRW

the Sunday before last. Many thanks for that!

KCRW is, truly, one of the greatest radio stations on planet Earth

and I’m so glad they aired one of my songs.

And I'm so glad people are connecting with my latest album,

"The Best of Paul Iorio."

And many thanks to all the radio people who have been playing

songs from it (or from the originally released albums), including

KCRW (which played a track last week), KALX (which played two songs

last month and has led the way in airing many in the years before

that), WFMU, Hollow Earth Radio, Cosmic American Radio, String Theory

Radio, Rockhouse Radio in Germany, and all the others! Listen to

the online edition here!


And an extra-special thanks to Marshall Stax of KALX, who has been the

first to air my new songs over the years...


To those mystified by the enduring hostility to the Thatcher/Reagan

austerity-era, just talk to someone of my age group who had to hit

the job market in London or NYC in the Eighties without family

connections or independent wealth.

Those who played by the rules, graduated from college, got a

job and worked 80-hour weeks were also given no choice but to live

among the rats and landlord snakes. The corporations for whom we

made money never gave us a fair cut of the profits.

Under Thatcher/Reagan, the income of the wealthy for whom we slaved

wasn't resdistributed adequately. And that created a living hell for

lots of people in their twenties in that era. Many remain angry.

Me, I was no fan of Thatcher's, who caused a lot of pain for a lot

of people.

Remember: decisiveness is no virtue if you make bad decisions.


The chess game in North Korea would play out this way: Kim Kong-un,

hard-wired from birth to hate South Korea and responding to the

slightest of perceived provocations, bombs Seoul with a nuclear bomb.

The U.S., without hesitation, begins bombing multiple sites in

North Korea, particularly government buildings in Pyongyang, the

nuclear center at Yongbyon and missile silos throughout the country.

One wonders how Kim pictures a bombing scenario that doesn’t end in

national suicide and defeat.

Unless he has secret assurances that China will come to the aid of the

DPRK in the event of an American attack. And then the chess game

would become infintely more complicated.

If that were the case, we would then be involved in a proxy war on

the peninsula that we could conceivably lose. It would also open the

mainland U.S. to nuclear attack.

But it’s hard to imagine that Kim has any such private backing

from China. If that were the case, the PRC would’ve voted in

support of the DPRK in the Security Council in recent months.

Still, it’s equally hard to imagine that China would sit still,

uninvolved, if the U.S. were to bomb near its border. (How would

we feel if China, for whatever reason, was lobbing bombs at Baja?)

If the PRC interceded on behalf of its sometime ally, it might

truly be the end of the world as we know it.

Also, knocking out the government would not be as easy it it seems,

as much of Pyongyang’s infrastructure is built way underground, the

result of a culture heavily into paranoia and mining. Its subway

system is said to be the deepest of any major metro area in the world.

Conceivably, we could rain bombs on Pyongyang without even interrupting

subway service.

But I digress. Paul



for April 5, 2013

As actioners go, Antoine Fuqua’s “Olympus Has Fallen” is…not bad,

sort of like an extreme “In the Line of Fire” with hints of the

plot of “Dr. Strangelove.” And some of the sequences are quite


Btw, this flick officially inaugurates the beginning of a new era in

celluloid villains: the North Korean terrorist (rather than the

Islamic militant) plotting against the U.S. (Below, a scene from

“Olympus Has Fallen.”)

A scene from the new movie "Olympus Has Fallen," about a
North Korean plot against the U.S.


I did copious research and reporting on North Korea four years

ago and wrote this piece, which almost landed at Playboy.com,

but the magazine got cold feet at the last minute. (Perhaps

my editor was concerned I'd unearthed too much confidential

info that might cause a problem? He seemed to be nervously

fishing for a reason not to do it. In any event, the Playboy

editor who scuttled it has since been replaced.).

Anyway, the Seoul Times ran it but the piece cannot be found

today through any sort of web or archive search. Fortunately,

I saved the link and here tis:

Paul Iorio on North Korea (published in The Seoul Times).


In doing my research, I discovered numerous classified (or formerly classified)

maps of North Korea at an obscure library at UC Berkeley and elsewhere.

Here are a few:

Annotated map of North Korea's nuclear center at Yongbyon.

A rare detailed map of the Yongbyon area, which is in the Myohyang
Mountains on the Kuryong River. (U.S. Army map, 1945).

Some think this is the mansion where Kim Jong-il
used to stay when he visited Yongbyon, which would
likely mean it's still one of the family homes Kim
Jong-un has inherited. (This appeared on the
freekorea.us website in '09.)

A rare detailed map of the area west of the Yongbyon nuclear
facility, which is marked with a red x. The region is known for
its rich store of uranium mines in the mountains. [U.S. Army map, 1945.]

A confidential U.S. government map of the greater
Pyongyang area that shows details that aren't on other
maps of the area (like that huge reservoir to the
southeast of the city). Pyongyang, built on flatlands and
low hills after 1953 (for the most part), is about as big as


But I digress. Paul



for April 2, 2013

Kissing feet is all well and good, but it doesn’t heal or feed anybody.

It’s a fetishist’s gesture that is often more about the gratification

of the person doing the kissing than of the kissee.

But if that’s his habit, Borgoglio might want to try kissing the feet of

those tortured by the Argentine regime that he so cravenly backed in

the 1970s.

Better yet. How about paying reparations? I’m sure cash would be more

welcome and useful than a smooch to those disabled by state torture.


I hear the DOJ is considering new categories of people who should

be protected against hate crimes. How about atheists, unbelievers,

so-called “infidels,” who have been victims of more hate crime murders

in the past decade than any other group? (And they’re explicitly

threatened in all the major religious texts, yet (somehow) that’s

not considered “hate speech.”) I guess they’re too unpopular to

call out for legal remedy. Their demographic isn’t in fashion this year.


New to me: Bob Byington’s 2008 film “Registered Sex Offender.” It’s

like a combination Michael Moore docu and Richard Linklater film, a

mock-docu that feels a lot like a very real docu much of the time. One

of the best flicks of ’08. (And really ballsy for Byington to have

approached such a taboo subject.)

But I digress. Paul



for March 30, 2013


I was hiking at dawn through the lower Berkeley hills last Sunday when I

caught the light of the sunrise in the hills. I grabbed my camera, zoomed

in as far as a could and then cropped the result! Here's my photo (click it

to enlarge it):


The death threats from the DPRK have been so repetitive for so

many years that one starts to feel like that character in

“Reservoir Dogs”: “Are you going to bark all day, little doggy,

or are you going to bite?”

North Korea’s threats just drone on and on about how Americans will

die in a sea of fire and very soon too and these aren’t just words

and no we ain’t bluffin’. Which is what they said in ’09, and in

’06, and in…

Granted, the new Kim has stepped up the violent talk, adding in

specific targets, most recently Guam, which seems quite anxious this week,

judging by its newspapers’ banner heds.

But without the backing of the PRC, the DPRK likely won’t do anything

(and the former just voted against the latter in the Security Council).

But I digress. Paul



for March 25, 2013

I spent a few hours this afternoon watching Sacha Gervasi’s

“Hitchcock” twice -- and came away wondering why it wasn’t

nominated for a best picture Oscar.

Then again, Hitchcock himself never won a best director Oscar, a travesty

that reminds us talent doesn’t always out.

“Hitchcock” is better than all but three or four of 2012’s best

film nominees. It’s quite excellent, focusing on the director’s

undisputed peak (“North by Northwest”/”Psycho”) and the making of

“Psycho,” which should have been a gimme given “North by Northwest”’s

success -- but Paramount wouldn’t fund it. Even when it was nearly

finished, “Psycho” was seen as a flop that might be re-purposed as a

two-parter for Hitch’s TV series.

Thank god we’ve got ‘Cinderfella’ for the holidays,” says a Paramount

exec. “['Psycho']'s about a queer killing people in his mother’s dress,”

says another bizzer.

The “Hitchcock” screenplay is full of great one-liners: “Style is merely

self-plagiarism”; “Everyone in Hollywood resents me; I made them millions of

dollars”; “My murders are the model of taste and discretion,” he tells

censors; and, of course, Scarlett Johansson, playing Janet Leigh, turns

down cake, saying, “No, thanks, I’m watching my figure” (to which Hitch’s

wife says, “You’re not the only one”).

Great stuff. The story of an iconic director who didn’t make a good film

till he was pushing forty and didn’t make his great ones till he was

in his fifties and sixties. Highly recommended.

But I digress. Paul



for March 18, 2013

It doesn’t surprise me that a culture that won’t help people

when they’re sick and in pain spawns a generation that won’t

help a girl being abused when she’s passed out at a party.

It doesn’t surprise me that a culture that says

bleed-to-death-if-you can’t-afford-medicine spawns a generation

that wants to rape, not help, a girl who may be dying on the couch.

We’re shocked at the callousness of Steubenville’s behavior -- because

we just looked in the mirror and saw our own wanton disregard for the

welfare of others. We’re singular among Western nations in not

providing something as basic as health care to citizens who are

suffering – and then we wonder where the kids learned how to be so callous.


Why wasn't Yaron Zilberman's "A Late Quartet" nominated for Oscars?

I just saw it and was really wowed; it's one of the best flicks of 2012.

At first, I didn't like it, didn't think the ensemble seemed like

authentic classical musicians. But within an hour I was wrapped

up in all the interlocking relationships of the string quartet

players and their social circle.

It has the impact of a Woody Allen picture, though it's not a comedy.

Well worth seeing


“Oz The Great and Powerful” is…not bad at all! It starts in b&w,

but -- 22 minutes in -- explodes in a stunning color sequence that’s

more “Up” than “Avatar.” And the story’s kind of clever, too (it’s

mostly about the plot to kill the Wicked Witch of the West).

Sometimes funny, visually amazing – though it’s also amazing that

the original “Wizard of Oz,” created with ancient film technology,

had imagery that was infinitely more magical and resonant. (Tech,

technique and money always matter less than pure imagination.)

But I digress. Paul



for March 11, 2013

There's a real possibility Pyongyang might attack Seoul.

I know, North Korea has been lobbing nuclear threats for quite

some time. But the new crop of threats is way past previous ones.

Even scarier, Kim doesn't seem to care if he alienates China,

its main ally, which just voted against the DPRK in the Security

Council. Kim is all full of Juche, that self-reliance thing that

says, if we have nukes, no one can pick on us.

Kim's immature, a real frat boy easily manipulated by his dad's

war-hungry pals in the military. All those generals have been

chomping at the bit to bomb Seoul, but Kim's dad was smart

enough, or at least experienced enough, to know that would

mean suicide.

The new Kim is like a kid, thinks like an action movie, doesn't

see consequences, takes the word of the crazies in the military.

And the violent rhetoric posted just today on the DPRK's official

English-language site is off the charts.

But I digress. Paul



for March 10, 2013

Should we work from home or work from the office?

Let’s see how I came up with my own best ideas and scoops as a

journalist over the decades. Did I do them alone at home, or

at the office as part of a team? Here's the scorecard:

SCOOP: Interviewing Trey Anastasio in what stands as his first-ever
audiotaped interview – and telling him (thankfully, on tape, otherwise
no one would believe me) about the existence of Widespread Panic,
with whom Phish would later collaborate and define the Jam Band movement.

HOW I CAME UP WITH THIS SCOOP: All alone. Without consulting a single
editor or anyone else anywhere. A fishing expedition of my own
initiative in Burlington, VT.


SCOOP: Landing a (then rare) interview with film director Roman Polanski.

HOW I CAME UP WITH THIS SCOOP: Very solo. I impressed a friend of
Polanski’s with how much I knew about “Chinatown” and he said, “Would
you like to talk with Roman?” And that’s how I got the interview.
(If I had been working as a “team” with other editors, they would
have insisted I go through “channels” and get the interview through
his agent. And I’d still be waiting for the Q&A today!)


SCOOP: Spotting Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche hugging in Beverly Hills,
reporting that fact and conducting Heche’s first-ever interview about

HOW I CAME UP WITH THE SCOOP: I was waiting alone for transportation
in the Four Seasons driveway when I spotted Ellen and Anne. The next
day, in a one-on-one interview, I asked Heche about what I’d seen,
causing her to open up about Ellen on tape.


SCOOP: Solving the Kevin Hughes murder case.

HOW I GOT THIS SCOOP: I solved it around a dozen years before the
cops did by old-fashioned shoe leather reporting that was guided by
no editor anywhere.


SCOOP: Reviewing an unsigned duo named They Might Be Giants in what
would be their first-ever coverage in a magazine, a review that led
directly to their recording contract.

HOW I CAME UP WITH THIS STORY: All alone. The band invited me to
one of their shows, which I attended and wrote a rave review about.


SCOOP: Writing up unsigned band The Smithereens in articles that
led directly to their signing by Enigma.

HOW I CAME UP WITH THIS STORY: I stopped by a bar on Bleecker on
my way to another show and was wowed by the band on stage. I wrote
them up without consulting with any editor.


SCOOP: Interview with Lawrence Ferlinghetti that shed new light on
a pivotal moment in Beat history.

HOW I CAME UP WITH THIS STORY: Solo. Originated, written, reported
and researched by me. (I think only two words were changed in the
published version, so I edited it, too!) What’s more, my main editor
didn’t even want to do the article – and it was published only
because he was on vacation in Rome at the time! And it turned
into the biggest story the newspaper had done that year. (So much
for “teamwork”! Sometimes, all that gets accomplished in an office
is petty rivalry.)


P.S. -- Ah, office politics, journalistic rivals! Sometimes those

rivals are the ones writing those coveted Wikipedia entries! And

those Wikipedia volunteers don't do it for the pure love of knowledge.

They sometimes do it so they can control how people and events are

perceived, so they can shape reality. I would not mind it if the

reality of what I've accomplished is reflected there.

A lot of people who get Wikipedia pages are undistinguished

careerists or corporate shills. Someone who has been an editor

at, say, Redbook for thirty years hasn’t had half the major

scoops I’ve had in far fewer years at major publications.

(Hey, the great Lester Bangs wrote for only around a dozen years,

but has had far greater impact than many who have written for

fifty. It ain’t how many years you write, but what you write.)

* * * *

On another subject, it’s fascinating that the very week in January 1989

when I was interviewing a then-unknown Trey Anastasio, Kurt Cobain was

fronting an early version of Nirvana right across the street at Maxwell’s

in Hoboken.

So…in that week, on that block, the shape of the 1990s was being defined – and

absolutely nobody knew it at the time.

But I digress. Paul



for March 8 - 9, 2013

An incredible jukebox stocked with 99 silent songs!
On display at the Berkeley Art Museum. [photo by Paul Iorio.]

I'm still jazzed about the exhibits at the Berkeley Art Museum

I saw yesterday! Loved (among other things) the working jukebox

stocked with CDs of silence, different forms of silence (e.g.,

three minutes of silence following the announcement of a "moment

of stocked with CDs of silence, different forms of silence (e.g., three

minutes of silence following the announcement of a "moment of silence"

at a memorial service, a couple minutes of silence outdoors, etc.).

Which puts an entirely new light on John Cage's 4'33". For the first

time in my life I've realized that there cannot possibly be two

performances or recordings of 4'33" that sound exactly the same.

Because in every concert hall or recording studio, there will be

a different set of ambient noises that will be a part of it.

A performance of 4'33" at, say, Carngie Hall might include a spontaneous

cough from someone in the audience. A recording of it at a home studio

might include the faint buzz of the recorder.

It's funny, there are no two identical silences. Nothingness is

different every time.

But I digress. Paul



for March 7, 2013

Seth Gordon’s “Identity Thief” is the biggest film of 2013 so far, so

I decided to see it. My thoughts?

As mainstream commercial movies go, it’s quite good. If you suspend disbelief,

it’s a fun ride, a buddy movie (or un-buddy movie) for a post-recession,

post-“Someone Like You” era.

Not quite as great as “Bridesmaids” or “The Hangover,” but about as

funny as “The Wedding Crashers.” And Melissa McCarthy is terrific at

physical comedy -- a Rosie O’Donnell without the unfunny hostility.

Enjoyable popcorn flick!

But I digress. Paul



for March 5, 2013

Here's a photo from North Korea's official website showing Dennis Rodman
and his Globetrotters watching in awe as Korean players dunk the ball.

Dear Dennis Rodman,

I betcha didn't know Kim is making you look like his fool.

Check out North Korea's official website. There are pictures of

The Globetrotters having their clocks cleaned by mere regional

Korean players from The Korea University of Physical Education.

(See photo below.) Multiple photos of the Globetrotters watching

in awe as the (apparently) superior Korean players dunk the ball.

And the game ended in a draw, the site says. Then, the website says,

Kim "allowed" you to sit next to him. Are you gonna put up with that,


Sincerely, Paul



for March 4, 2013

I think the relationship between Katie Couric and her (late) sister Emily

Couric, who was on her way to becoming Lt. Gov of Virginia around the

time of her death, should stand as the prototype of how to operate in

a family that is half media and half politics. Keep all activities separate.

One does not speak for the other.



for February 24, 2013

Would Michelle Obama have been the announcer of the best picture

award if the award had gone to something irreverent like "Django"?

Of course not. They wouldn't have brought her up there, and she wouldn't

have agreed to appear, had she been required to say, "And the best

picture is 'Django Unchained.'"

What that inadvertently reveals is that she had advance knowledge that

it was the more government-approved film "Argo." Which makes a mockery

of the idea that the results are not known before the announcement

from the stage

And why Michelle? She's never worked in the film biz. Al Franken

would've been a better choice. Salman Rushdie, persecuted by the

Islamic right, would've been a brilliant choice to deliver the Oscar

for "Argo," a film partly about the Islamic right.

Awful unwise decision to have Michelle announce the winner.

A virtual member of the government doing the honors for a movie that is

globally considered to be anti-Iranian? Good luck, U.S. government,

explaining to foreigners there's a big difference between government policy

and individual private enterprise.

Also, what is Michelle's relation to the film biz again? Someone remind me.

Hey, I love Nicholson, though. But someone didn't think through that Obama

decision. At a time when we're trying to convince Islam that private

individuals in America do not necessarily represent the views of the


Can you imagine Lady Bird Johnson at the '69 Oscars saying the winner is

"Midnight Cowboy"? It would've taken the edge off the whole thing.

It also reads as a spiteful rebuke (a sort of hahahaha) to the people

behind "Zero Dark Thirty," a film perceived as being anti-Obama.

The decision to put Michelle up there was wrong on so many levels that

the person who made that call should be fired.

Btw, don't mention Ronald Reagan as a precedent for this. It's

not comparable. Reagan (whose policies I abhorred, btw) was a former

president of SAG. Like it or not, he had a professional link to the

industry. Michelle's relation to the biz is...fan? (I'd feel very

different about Michelle;s appearance if, say, a Vaclav Havel were

in the WH.)


Imagine if an Iranian film maker had made an anti-U.S. film

that was highly offensive to Americans. And Ahmadinejad then

assures the world that the movie was created by a private Iranian

citizen who has no connection to the government whatsoever. Further,

Ahmadinejad says, the film maker does not speak for the government.

But then on awards night in Tehran, the film wins best picture and

the award is delivered on stage and on Iranian TV by Ahmadinejad's

wife. How would that look in the U.S.?

But I digress. Paul



for February 18, 2013

The best film of 2013 so far that almost nobody has seen is

Bill Guttentag’s (badly titled) “Knife Fight,” about the dirty

tricks and foul play of political strategists. I saw it last night

and enjoyed it a lot. The best political flick since the underrated

“Ides of March.” But the movie was only briefly released in just a

few theaters and is mostly available via the Independent Film Channel.

It’s almost as if the movie is being suppressed for telling

insiderish secrets.

By the way: Elizabeth Wenger, movie star? We in the Bay Area

knew it all along!


I saw a few other movies over the weekend and here’s what I think:

Spike Lee’s “Red Hook Summer”: It starts as American neo-realism
but then turns into a vigilante flick that doesn’t fully relate
to the first half. A bit of a mess, though not bad; the characters
do resonate. (But it ain’t no “Django…”!)

Martin Barnewitz’s “Room 205”: Lots of creepy tension and suspense
in this Danish film. If you’re into paranormal horror, you’ll probably
like it.

Ruben Fleischer ‘s “Gangster Squad”; Sort of like a Cagney movie or a
De Palma film of the Eighties, but very post-“L.A. Confidential.”
Fleischer directs with a style like Michael Mann’s. I have friends
whose opinions I respect who dislike it, but I thought it was an
enjoyable gangster film.

Fisher Stevens' "Stand Up Guys": It's entertaining, and Pacino
is quite good, but it cribs too much from "Reservoir Dogs."
Distractingly derivative. Almost "Reservoir Codgers."

But I digress. Paul



for February 15, 2013

Jonah Lehrer is paid $20K for a single speech.

Infuriating. (Do. not. pretend. this. is. a. meritocracy.)

jonah lehrer paid $20K


When will HarperCollins offer Oscar Pistorius a cool seven figures to

write a book? (As we all know, Pistorius is such a literary lion -- and

this is a meritocracy!)

Amanda Knox Gets Four Million Dollar Book Deal


The greatest melodies of the post-Beatles era have been written by Radiohead.

Period. Just listen to “Street Spirit.” (Comma!) That track will change your

pulse, brainwaves, breathing. It captures all the poignancy of the best

Fall season you’ve ever had.

And that’s what I was thinking last night as I watched an old DVD,

“Radiohead: The Astoria, London, Live.”

Problem with the video is it captures the band way too early in its career,

in ’94, before most of its defining works were created.

This is Radiohead before the pivotal “OK Computer,” which is roots music to lots of


Just check out concerts by Foster the People or Massive Attack or Portishead,

whose concerts all, to some degree, sound strikingly similar to Radiohead gigs.

(And check out all the Radiohead sheet music that's popular with

classically trained young folks! )

People my age or older generally don’t get Radiohead. They’re like I used to

be – before I heard two shows by the band on their brief ’06 tour

(which I recorded and listened to for months afterwards), Before I

heard those shows, all I really knew was “Creep,” the least of their

major songs, and a couple others.

They flowered dramatically after that, with “Kid A” and “OK Computer,”

arguably the best music of the turn of the century.

As I discovered, no two Radiohead shows are alike. If you catch a gig that

includes “Paranoid Android” (especially “Paranoid Android”), “Street Spirit,”

“Four Minute Warning” (the best of “In Rainbows”), “Fake Plastic

Trees,” “There There,” “Everything in Its Right Place” and “Lucky,”

you’ll be converted forever.


Let's face facts: all but a few print publications should be (and will

be) turned into online-only sites by the end of the Tens. That's the

inevitable direction.

Carr's piece is good; it recalls the heyday of New York pre-digital

publishing. (There are a few people on my FB friends list who

remember my huge Manhattan office at Cash Box magazine, where I

was a writer/reporter in the 1980s; it was literally bigger than

my apartment uptown! Those days, for all editors and writers,

are almost over.)

Btw, there were good reasons why my office was bigger than

those of the other two guys at the magazine's NY bureau. First reason:

I wrote about the Smithereens when they were dead in the industry,

unsigned and playing to empty chairs at clubs; and I wrote about

their upcoming album, which would eventually go gold, six months

before it was released. Second reason: I wrote about They Might

Be Giants when they were unsigned (and my articles led directly

to their recording contract).

And that was just in the first three months of my two years at

the magazine!

New York Times on End of Publishing Heyday



for February 5, 2013

Update, 2/6/13: "I'M AN INFIDEL" has just jumped 50 points to #15 onthe alternative chart at soundclick.com!

Many thanks to Marshall Stax and KALX radio for playing a couple of

my brand new songs -- "If You Hear a Symphony" and "I'm an Infidel" -- last

night on The Next Big Thing!

Plus, this morning "I'm an Infidel" came in at #64 on the alternative chart at


Hear "I'm an Infidel" here!




for February 1, 2013

Somebody heard my new album “If You Hear a Symphony” and said it

sort of reminded her of “Pearl.” Well, I’m flattered that anyone

would consider it even close to that classic, but I have to disagree.

After all, I’m a songwriter, I’m not much of a singer. Joplin was a

singer and not much of a songwriter. Every single song I’ve ever

released (except a couple jokey ones) was written by me. In any

event, I’m not nearly in Joplin’s league at all! But thanks anyway.

By the way, the couple of "jokey" songs I'm referring to are parodies

of "The Monster Mash" and "Surfin' USA" that I recorded and released

a few years ago.



for January 27, 2013

Just listen to the first five seconds and see if you can stop

listening….Here it is, the debut of my brand new song

“If You Hear a Symphony.”

Just click here:


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2013

If I had a dime for every song that Waxwing sang at my window
I’d buy a ticket to where you are right now

And I’d sing this song outside your window
Knowing you’d just shut the shade on me
I blew my last chance years ago

But if you hear a symphony
You’ll know it was written by me
You’re the reason for’melody

It’s about you (only)
You’re the reason (for melody)

Guess I’ll just get out of the way
Guess you don’t want me to stay

I hear you got your feet so dirty
with my tongue
Look what I’ve become
I used to have more pride than I have now

I guess I can’t try to persuade you
And trying hard will only dissuade you
If it don’t happen naturally, I’m gone

If you hear a symphony
You’ll know just what inspired me
You’ll know it’s autobiography

It’s about you (only)
You’re the reason (for melody)

If you hear a symphony
You’ll know that you got to me
You’re the reason for’melody

Guess I’ll just walk (away)
You don’t want me (to stay)



for January 26, 2013

I just nailed down the copyrights to my brand new songs -- "All

songs composed, performed, produced, arranged, originated by

Paul Iorio" -- so I'm now ready to roll out my new album,

"'If You Hear a Symphony' (and 6 others)." Very proud of this one!

Excited, too

"If you hear a symphony/you'll know it's autobiography/you're
the reason for melody..."

-- from "If You Hear a Symphony," my brand new song, which I'll

be posting online, perhaps as early as this weekend.

[Registered copyright 2013. (The copyright has gone through, but
(as is always the case) it takes a while to show up in the listings.
It's part of the "'Aint That All' (and 18 Other Songs)'" collection.]

But I digress. Paul


for January 25, 2013

I saw David Chase’s “Not Fade Away” last night. The truth

about it is it’s not nearly as good as any “Sopranos” episode

you can name. Chase gets the period details right -- there’re

some great PSAs and archival TV footage from the Sixties – but, sorry,

honey, he forgot the dramatic tension.

And it’s becoming increasingly obvious that James Galdonfini

has only one speed of acting: Tony Soprano. This and his

miscast appearance in “Zero Dark Thirty” show that he can’t

play much else – and it’s hard to see him apart from his

former HBO role.

Get the soundtrack instead.

But U digress. Paul



for January 22, 2013

A bit of wisdom from "Silver Linings Playbook":

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Wow! It's a wonder no one ever thought of that before!

I've got another one for you: "The Lemons Into Lemonade Playbook."

And the idea behind it: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

I don't think anyone's ever said that before! (I've got a million of

'em; you can have that one!)

What do I think of "Silver Linings Playbook"? It's a well-crafted

mess. It starts off sort of like "Greenberg" meets "Benny & Joon,"

then turns into a sports betting drama before ending up as an

episode of "So You Think You Can Dance." No focus. (And no


But I digress. Paul



for January 17, 2013

Uh, let's get this straight. Te'o's "girlfriend" is injured

in a car accident and he doesn't even visit her in the hospital.

Te'o's "girlfriend" suddenly "dies" of "leukemia," which generally

takes a while to kill someone, and he's not even at her bedside

as she gasps, with imaginary tubes up her nose, "Teo! Please save

me!"; he's also not even aware that she has so much as the sniffles.

Yet, Te'o is somehow all busted up emotionally about the fact

that his quoteunquote girlfriend has died. In other words, he was so

close to this woman -- though, of course, not close enough for him

to visit her in the ICU or to console her after a traffic

accident -- that he was considered to have been deeply in grief by

such esteemed publications as Sports Illustrated and the

Los Angeles Times, publications that are still, stupidly, asking

whether Te'o was the duped or the duper.

Do you have even have to ask?

The real scandal here is that major newspapers, magazines and

websites took Te'o's word for it and ran with his story without

checking it out at a basic level. Even now, common sense and basic

logic fails many top editors on this.

Can't wait for the likely news story that reports Te'o has been

offered 7 figures by HarperCollins to tell his tale.


P.S. -- Right about now, at the close of the news cycle

in the east, the millionaire coaches at Notre Dame, desperate

to protect the brand name of Te'o, are on the phone to

millionaire publishers, suggesting story angles like, "How do

you know who you're really dealing with online?," or "How you

can avoid being a victim of online identity deception."

And the millionaire publishers then go to their editors and

say, let's do an online fraud story pegged to the Te'o thing.

And the public is then misled by this millionaires club into

thinking the Te'o tale is anything but the story of an athlete

who lied to get sympathy, which it likely is

But I digress. Paul



for January 14, 2013

"Great insights and funny moments," says a top editor at a major

publishing book house about my new book, "This Book Might Cause

Riots," in a private email. Other publishers and agents have echoed

that praise, but, alas, it looks like no one's going to publish it

(for obvious reasons -- it might cause riots!). Still, people are

praising it faster than they can reject it or echo some of its ideas!

Thanks to modern technology, the book -- a collection of my most

irreverent and probing pieces on religion, religious militants and

religious terrorism -- can be published anyway!

Here's the online edition of a book no one in '13 dares to put out:

"This Book Might Cause Riots: Blasphemy, Idolatry and Other Kicks

(With All Due Respect)." Just click here:




Melancholy overload! [photo by David Belisle from the book "Hello R.E.M."]

But I digress. Paul



for January 5 and 6, 2013

I saw "Zero Dark Thirty" again and liked it better the second time.

Maybe I was a bit too harsh in my initial review. It has a few

sequences that are absolute classics (e.g., the bombing of the

Islamabad Marriott, the suicide bombing at the Afghanistan border).

I'm ready to say it's the third best movie of 2012 (after

"Django Unchained" and "Lincoln").


So what do I think of "Zero Dark Thirty"?

I think that telling the story of the killing of bin Laden from

the angle of mid-level operatives and grunts is like telling the

story of the Cuban Missile Crisis from the angle of those who carried

out the blockade rather than from the POV of the people who set the

brilliant strategy in motion.

The real-life suspense in the story of the Abbottabad raid was

in President Obama greenlighting a hit on someone without knowing

for certain who was being hit. And the edge-of-the-seatness of

sending U.S. helicopters deep into Pakistan was in not notifying

Zardari – one of the wisest and ballsiest U.S. foreign policy

decisions ever made. None of that is hinted at on screen.

Remember, the decision to put the emphasis on catching bin Laden

was Barack Obama’s (not Maya’s, for crissakes). W. and Romney and

McCain were saying, oh, killing Osama won’t make much difference,

we should aim our guns elsewhere. It was Obama, in debates in

2008, who said, controversially, that if he were president and knew

the location of bin Laden, he’d give a kill order. And when he became

president, he did just that.

Kathryn Bigelow shows a brief clip of Obama condemning torture, but

the clip she should have shown was of Obama saying he’d kill Osama

if he knew where he was. That’s what reset the priorities so that

people like Maya could get their marching orders.

Instead “Zero Dark Thirty” becomes, at least partly, the story of

Maya, a derivative character seemingly based on the marvelously

spunky hospital worker played by Julianne Moore in “The Fugitive.”

(Remember the scene where she confronts Harrison Ford at the

hospital?) But we’ve seen that sort of schtick before -- and it

was far fresher in 1993.

I’m not impressed with Maya. She doesn’t seem especially smart or wise.

At one point, she asks whether bin Laden trusts the Pakistanis –

and the question is framed as something very knowing.

But even I know (and knew) better than that. The Pakistanis are not

monolithic and there are factions in the Pak military who glowingly

remember bin Laden as a heroic mujahideen fighter in the war again

the “godless Soviets.” As it turns out, they gave him Abbottabad

as a sort of military pension.

Visually, the film’s imagery seems borrowed from the Coen Bros.,

Cimino, “The Silence of the Lambs” (oh, that night vision!),

“West Wing” and “United 93.”

It’s surprisingly suspenseless, not taut, relying too much on title

cards to give it shape.

And the actors, particularly Chastain (and even a miscast James

Gandolfini), sometimes sound like they’re reading lines from a

teleprompter. This is, at times, a glaringly under-rehearsed movie.

All told, it’s a good film, not a very good film, not a great film,

and certainly not the best of the year, but the third best (after

“Django Unchained” and “Lincoln”).

But I digress. Paul



for January 4, 2013


What the Facebook Page of "Ryan Lanza" Reveals

The now-deactivated Facebook page of "Ryan Lanza." [photo by Paul Iorip]

Minutes after the announcement of the name – the wrong name -- of the

Newtown mass murderer was released, this reporter went immediately to

the Facebook page of someone named Ryan Lanza. The personal

information listed there matched specific details about him that weren’t

released until hours later,

His profile said he lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, for example, and was

from Newtown, Connecticut, and was associated with Quinnipiac

University. This was clearly the same guy.

Knowing from experience that the websites of the nouveau notorious are

almost always taken down from public view shortly after the announcement

of the person’s name, I immediately preserved three pages of his

Facebook site.

I did this by going to the page, choosing "select all," copying the page

and then pasting it into an email that I then mailed to myself. And lucky

that I did copy them, because, as expected, Ryan Lanza’s page was taken

down minutes later. (I subsequently shot photos of the web pages, which

I've posted on this website.)

What does the site reveal?

Ryan Lanza, painted in most news reports as free and clear of the

gun-obsessed household in which he grew up, was -- if this Facebook

page is any indication -- actually a fan of violent video games of the

interactive shooter variety and was not above posing trenchcoat mafia

style. He also shared some likes with the Columbine and Virginia Tech

shooters. For example, "Lanza" posted a visual with the title “The

World Ends in 2012” over a picture of the band Guns ‘n’ Roses – a group

that was, incidentally, a big influence on the Virginia Tech shooter

Seung-Hui Cho. (The band, needless to say, has many non-violent fans,

as well!)

And the Facebook "Ryan Lanza" had a taste for the interactive shooter

game Mass Effect, which he listed as one of his likes, and for the

music of electronic band Freezepop, whose music is featured in video games.

More disturbingly, it shows a Facebook entry in which "Lanza" changed his

picture; a friend of his, Jonathan Russell, commented on the change of

photo on December 8th, saying: “Kind of like if Solid Snake was wearing a

Neo-trenchcoat. This can only turn out awesome.”

Solid Snake is a reference to a character In a violent video game. The

word “trenchcoat,” given this context, arguably has associations with

the Columbine shooters and the so-called trenchcoat mafia. “This can

only turn out awesome” clearly refers to some unspecified future event,

prompting the speculative (and perhaps unrelated) question: did

Adam Lanza plan the massacre days in advance and did anyone have

foreknowledge of it?

The Facebook "Lanza" also showed an interest in the theatre,

particularly the Broadway production of “The 39 Steps,” whose

storyline opens with a shooting at a theater. Also among his

likes was a group called the Quinnipiac Theater for Community and

food delivery service Seamless.

On Facebook, "Lanza" had 116 friends – which means the website could not have

been posted in the minutes after the announcement of his name as a faux

site. As everyone on Facebook knows, it take some time to amass 116

friends and to have them respond with acceptance of the friend requests.

Which is a long way of saying that there is almost no way that the site

could have just sprung up as a hoax minutes after the public announcement

of his name.

It should be noted that a few news organizations jumped the gun

on the day of the massacre by wrongly writing about this FB page

as if it were the page of the actual gunman. The mistake they made

was in mislabeling the site as the murderer’s rather than as the

murderer’s brother’s. They failed to see it as a legitimate news

story in its own right (and they apparently also didn’t preserve

the page before it was taken down).

Attempts to reach Ryan Lanza for comment were unsuccessful. (Any

comment by him or by a representative is welcome on this page via the

comments section or by contacting this reporter by email

at pliorio@aol.com.)

Below, photos of "Ryan Lanza"'s now-deactivated Facebook page (click to


Ryan Lanza's friends list and info about him.

A mysterious comment from a friend about Ryan's change of photo.

The comment about his change of photo in a wide shot.

Ryan Lanza's main FB picture.

But I digress. Paul



for New Year's Eve 2012

Many thanks to the radio DJs and MDs -- particularly Marshall Stax

and KALX -- who aired my music in 2012! I think a half dozen songs

I wrote in '12 got some airplay. I'm writing plenty of new stuff

for 2013! Stay tuned.

But I digress. {aul



for Christmas Day 2012

OK, how good is "Django Unchained"? It's Tarantino's best since

"Reservoir Dogs." Even better than "Pulp Fiction." An instant

classic that had the house rockin' in Berkeley.

As I said earlier, it's the best movie of 2012 (though I still haven't

seen "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Les Mis.") It should win multiple

Oscars -- for picture, screenplay, direction, Foxx's performance,

Waltz's performance, cinematography (Wyoming looks breathtaking),

music (I can't remember the last time songs were used so magically in

a film), though AMPAS has too many stodgy voters who will never

vote for something this refreshingly audacious.

And the scene showing the inept tailoring skills of the Ku Klux Klan,

who can't see through their sheets, is unbelievably brilliant and funny.

Also, the choreography of the shoot-'em-ups is novel and fresh at

every turn -- and there's a sly anti-gun message in the flick (as it

shows how easily guns are wrested from people and used on them).

And the imagery is magnificent and original: blood on white cotton

in the fields, Jamie Foxx up against a backdrop of mossy trees (looks

like a Twombly painting), a graceless white southern belle who has

to try too hard to be graceful -- and I'll never look at "whitecake"

the same way.

I have too much to say about this film but I'll leave it at this:

go see it now! This is the Tarantino film you've been waiting for!

Bur I digress. Paul



for December 17, 2012

Adam Lanza's mom, described by some as mentally ill herself,

had a dozen guns around the house, took Adam to firing ranges and

taught him to shoot when he was 9 years old.

Nine years old. What a pervert she was. And now we're surprised her

son shot at nine year olds?

Nancy Lanza helped to create this bloodbath. She made her bed and now

she is in it.

But I digress. Paul



for December 15, 2012

If twenty schoolchildren had been molested instead of murdered,

you'd have demonstrations, community action, off-the-charts anger,

an insistence on new laws to stop predators. Why aren't we similarly

motivated to action when kids are killed? And why isn't there a Megan's

Law that tells us which of our neighbors has been convicted of a

firearms offense (or which ones own assault/automatic weapons)?

But I digress. Paul



for December 8, 2012

I just saw Walter Salles’ “On the Road.” One of the five

best flicks of the year. Recalls classics like “Band of Outsiders,”

“Nashville” and “Easy Rider,” while not being quite as great as

those three.

The highway sequences really capture a uniquely American brand

of intoxicating freedom, that expansive post-war rumble to

the coast.

Among the film’s thrills: ecstatically distracted driving; lots of

freeway speed (“That Hudson goes!”); broken taboos; the off-kilter

people with peculiar joie de vivre who pick up hitchhikers and share

unsettling stories; driving through cactus in Mexico; people who sing

along to records better than the singer on the records; and, of course,

Kristen Stewart, hot and awesome in all the right ways. Highly


But I digress. Paul



for November 28, 2012

As my Facebook friend Tess reminds me, today is William Blake's

255th birthday! Here's one of Blake's more controversial works,

a watercolor of the Muslim prophet Muhammad opening his chest

(he's the one with the beard). Modern even by today's standards.

But I digress. Paul



for Novemver 25, 2012

"Lincoln" in 3-D IMAX. It could happen.

Also, a sequel: "Lincoln 2: Ulysses S. Grant"

And how about a prequel: "Lincoln: the Passage of the 12th Amendment"

For the indie circuit: "Lincoln and Ulysses (at Finnegans Wake)"

Or, a doc about that silent l: "Lincoln and the Colnmen of the Colnfederacy"

Just a few of the ideas probably bubbling up at Dreamworks at this hour!


As someone who voted for Obama, I thought his lowest moment

was when he condemned "religious denigration." He should have

known better than to make a stupid statement like that. He

should have known that, in their days, Copernicus and Galileo

were accused of, essentially, religious denigration.

And how do you define religious denigration anyway? Anything

that contradicts religious texts?

Hey, if the writings of Copernicus and Darwin and Rushdie

constitute "religious denigatration," then put me in with

the blasphemers! Viva sacrilege! I'm all for it!


But I digress. Paul



for November 17, 2012

I just saw Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” Was wowed by Daniel Day-Lewis’

portrayal of the president, which instantly makes him the front-runner

for this year’s best actor Oscar. Day-Lewis plays Lincoln with

a quiet charisma, as sort of James Taylor with the edge of

Kris Kristofferson (which, I bet, is sort of how Abe

actually was!).

And the film’s a contender for best picture, though it’s really

the best HBO mini-series of the year, about as good as

“John Adams,” maybe a little better, owing to Day-Lewis’


The problem with the film can be summed up in three words:

Doris Kearns Goodwin. (The screenplay is partly based on one of

her books.)

I sort of despise Goodwin's air-brushed vision of history, which

is dishonest, high school teacherish. Her brand of apocryphal

anecdote is generally designed to hide bad behavior in plain sight

(e.g., “then the distinguished Senator preceded to take out an

ashwood champion bat, swinging for the fences and [chuckle, chuckle]

for the cranium of the poor man, who then complained loudly when

he arrived bleeding at the emergency room [chuckle chuckle]”).

Robert Caro she ain’t!

And I much prefer films that are more morally ambivalent and

unvarnished and truthful in a tough-minded way – like “Platoon”

and “Serpico” and "Raging Bull."

In “Lincoln,” Spielberg imagines a world that is far nicer than

the real thing. And he shows a world that is more vicious than

it actually is, but vicious in a touched-up way.

For example, in reality, debates between lawmakers during the

Civil War didn’t just get spirited and verbally abusive; guns

were actually drawn during congressional debates! It went beyond

sparring; it was literally lethal.

Further, in the film, almost everyone is too literate for an era

in which there was far less literacy than there is today. And the

behavior of lawmakers on screen is way too dainty for an era more

rural than our own. (Also, Hal Holbrook looks way too much like

Barbara Bush – not a pretty sight! But I digress.)

The faux aristocratic manner of speech is such a tiresome

cliché. It implies that people in previous centuries and

millennia were better educated and wiser than we are today, which

is simply not true. Film makers should follow the example of

Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” and have characters

from past centuries talk naturally in a conversational manner

equivalent to today’s everyday speech.

Also, “Lincoln” can be seen on the small screen without

missing much. Wait for the DVD.

Sorry, Mr. Spielberg. Your best flicks are still “Schindler’s List”

and “Jaws.”

But I digress. Paul



for November 15, 2012

Wanna hear the great Fela Kuti as you've never heard

him before? Listen to an MP3 of my one-on-one interview

with Fela, which I conducted on June 17, 1986. My

conversation with Fela lasted around a half-hour; you can

listen to five minutes of it here:

Paul Iorio's Interview with Fela Kuti.

* * * *

Newsflash! Noted idiot David Duke now hates Jews more than he

hates blacks! And he has lots of praise for fellow Ph.D. Mahmoud

Ahmedinejad on his website (which I'm not going to link to here)!

I'm not joking.

By the way, when are these ridiculous white supremacists going to

realize that there never has been an original American? Even

so-called Native Americans are actually Russian immigrants

(who then battled for turf with successive waves of Siberian

immigrants before European newcomers joined the fray for

territory, too!).

What these folks don't get is this. If three million Cambodian

refugees flooded Delaware tomorrow, Delaware would become a

predominantly Cambodian-American state.

There is no fixed identity for a nation or a state or a

province (or a person, for that matter). A nation is what its

people make it.

Remember the old truth: existence precedes essence. Existence

always precedes essence.

But I digress. Paul



for November 14, 2012

Remember when USA Today was an upstart newspaper that few

thought would last? Well, it just turned 30 several weeks

ago! I remember when the newspaper was four years old and

interviewed me for an article about the Grammys in 1986

(and again in '87). Here's the piece (below).

By the way, for the record, I was a staff writer/reporter at

Cash Box magazine between late August 1985 and late August 1987.

There were only two editorial staffers in the New York bureau at

the time: me and a guy named Lee Jeske. I wrote and reported

about rock/pop music, Lee wrote and reported about jazz.

(Lee had the nominal title of bureau chief, but there was

really no bureau to be the chief of. A more accurate title

for him would have been writer/reporter on jazz.) Anyway,

the weekly paycheck was on the low side, but the great thing

was that no editor ever touched a word I wrote in the two years

I was at Cash Box!

But I digress. Paul



for November 13, 2012

Let's see. Petraeus kills thousands of people in a completely

unnecessary war in Iraq -- and almost nobody raises an eyebrow.

But he has sex with one woman outside his marriage and the whole

nation's in an uproar.

* * * *

The questionable thing about the whole Petraeus affair is what

set off the fishing expedition by the FBI in the first place.

Broadwell, anonymously (yes, that's creepy but not necessarily

actionable), sent Kelley several "hey, you think you're so hot

walking around the base" type emails. So Kelley says I'll fix

your whistle and proceeds to contact a local agent at the FBI

who once sent Kelley a pic of himself shirtless. Which tells

you everything you need to know about the objectivity of the

agent who initiated the investigation.

A major aspect of this story that nobody's really mentioned yet (but

everybody probably will be talking about soon) is: who was

responsible for suppressing the story about the Petraeus affair

until after the election? The timing is sooo telling. The timing

is too telling and very suggestive.

It was revealed the day after the election, the traditional dumping

ground for unpopular decisions and scandalous disclosures. And we're

supposed to believe that the info wasn't ready for public release

weeks ago? Who was the person in charge who said, hold it till

after the election? (And how long before Republican opportunists

in the House start making something out of nothing, saying, What

did Obama know and when did he know it?)

* * * *

So...Paula Broadwell is the Wicked Witch of the West ("I'll

get you, my pretty!") tormenting Jill Kelley, the good Witch of

the North. And Petraeus is the great and powerful Oz, behind the

curtain and now exposed as being as weak as the rest of us when

it comes to sex.

* * * * *

This Jill Kelley must be some kind of babe! Turns out a top general,

John Allen, was also writing emails to her -- thousands of pages of

emails. (Were they collaborating on "War and Peace"?) Hey, it takes

a lot of time to write thousands of pages of emails. I thought Allen

was supposed to be busy making sure Kandahar didn't blow up. And she

was just an unpaid social liaison (whatever that is) at an airforce

base. If I were Kelley, I'd ask for a raise!

* * * * *

Regarding the election: Poetic justice would have been: Romney

losing the electoral vote but winning the popular vote 53% to

(you guessed it!) 47%!

* * * * *

A rare photo of Petraeus and Broadwell...

But I digress. Paul



for November 12, 2012

I'll get around to the new Spielberg and James Bond flicks soon,

but first, lemme weigh in on the new Zemeckis, Eastwood and Taken


The Zemeckis is "Flight," though I would’ve called it “Drunk Pilot,”

which is what it’s about. The first half-hour takes you inside the

terror of a commercial airline crash like almost no other film.

But then it has an odd relationship with the central character,

played by Denzel Washington, by turns making him out to be heroic

and persecuted -- and then criminally irresponsible, which he actually

is. The uneven approach sinks the flick.

I also saw the new Clint Eastwood movie “The Trouble With the Curve,”

a film clearly from Eastwood’s get-off-my-lawn phase. At a basic level,

he really can’t handle the acting anymore; he has very little lung

power to put lines across, so everything is delivered in a low growl

that makes him sound like a once-great singer whose voice is now shot.

The flick sometimes feels like one of those late-Seventies movies along

the lines of “The Strike-Out Bears Meet the Beantown All-Stars.” Also

feels like a film from the ethnic white minority in America.

If nothing else, the movie stands as a reminder that Justin Timberlake

is an absolute natural as an actor. If the whole movie were as gripping

as the last fifteen minutes (minus the reconciliation), it would

be worth seeing.

Also saw the two “Taken” flicks. All I can say is: If you’ve ever

spent time with film director Luc Besson, the dean of Cinema du Look,

you’ll know his personal energy courses through the first “Taken,”

which I did not dislike the way many critics did. As vigilante

thrillers go, on a scale of 1 to 10 – with “Taxi Driver” at the high

end, the Bronson films at the low end –“ Taken” is around a 7. (Still,

the best example of Cinema du Look is Besson’s own (underrated)

“The Fifth Element.”)

If you think of “Taken” as a sort of revenge-sploitation film,

it’s enjoyable in the same way a Blaxploitation or a Grindhouse

movie is. A guilty pleasure.

Unfortunately, Besson’s voice is sorely missing in “Taken 2,”

whose cinematic thrills were better done in the first film (which

he co-wrote).

But I digress. Paul



for November 11, 2012

So David Petraeus got laid.

Oh, call out the Puritan Militia and National Guard!

Truth is, if his wife is OK with it, then who cares?

The only ethical infraction I can see is Paula Broadwell's.

You shouldn't be fucking someone who you're writing about

as a (supposedly) objective journalist/author.

Let's face it: there are lots of very desirable and magnificent

women who I would find virtually impossible to resist. In fact,

I wouldn't want to resist them! Having sex with fine women is

a blast (and I should be so lucky -- and have been, thankfully)!

They say, well, an affair makes a CIA director vulnerable to

blackmail. But not if you reveal the affair!

If I were Obama, I would have dismissed Petraeus for another reason.

He's past his prime -- and is a Republican and Obama, a Democrat,

wants someone who is consonant with his own values. That's the

president's prerogative.

Adultery is no reason to resign from any governmental post.

But I digress. Paul



for November 10, 2012

But I digress. Paul



for November 9, 2012

[by Paul Iorio, based on the "Born to Run" album cover.]

But I digress. Paul



for November 8, 2012

Everyone's talking about the twilight of the white in America.

But we've known that for a long time on the Pacific rim.

I mean, San Francisco has been something like 50% Asian

for a long time. Obviously, the U.S. is no longer like it was

in the fifties and sixties when there was a quaint black/white

demographic split. Much more factional, complicated, diverse now.

There will be 15-year olds at the end of Obama’s second term who

will have never known a U.S. without a black president. They’ll

go to college a year or two later and be taught by baby boomer

profs about the previous century’s civil rights movement, which

will seem as distant and archival to most students as Prussia.

* * * *

Since he met Springsteen, Christie is suddenly talking like

BruceLyrics a bit. "Locusts and pestilence" is Christie's

phrase today. (Of course, he's probably hoping, privately,

that Bruce will call him and say, Chris, I wanna use your

phrase 'locusts and pestilence' for my next album. Maybe we

could get together and jam on the phrase at my place."

It could happen, Chris. Don't give up hope.

* * * *

Nine months ago, it was the debt ceiling. Now it's the fiscal cliff.

(Oh, wait: the countdown to the fiscal cliff.) With a new news

vacuum, everyone’s ginning up the suspense of this non-story.

(Spoiler alert: in 2013, there’ll be a “fiscal apocalypse,” which

Fox will dub a “fiscapocalypse.”)

But I digress. Paul



for November 7, 2012

Those who followed my live Facebook NewsFeed last night

know that I called the election for the president at

5:42 (Pacific time), around two and a half hours before

almost everyone else figured it out.

For me, it was an easy calculation. As soon as I saw

the raw totals for counties like Hillsborough

(of the I-4 corridor) and Hamilton in Ohio, I knew

Romney couldn't possibly win it. I called the results

hours before lots of overpaid pundits did (so maybe

I should have their job)!

But I digress. Paul



for November 6, 2012 (Election Day in the U.S.!)

This was the line at my polling place in Berkeley, California,

at 7:10 this morning. The line was much, much longer four years


[photo by Paul Iorio.]

But I digress. Paul

P.S. -- Vote while you still have the CHOICE!



for November 4, 2012

(my owm variation on the Lampoon joke!)

& & & &

OK, I'm ready to make my predictions about Tuesday.

Obama wins with 274 votes.

Democrats retain control of the Senate -- but barely! I just

crunched the numbers on my own after analyzing the Senate map.

The worst the Democrats can do on Tuesday in the Senate races is:

the Senate remains 51 Dem, 47 Rep, 2 indies who caucus with the

Dems. Best case scenario for the Dems on Tuesday: 53 Dem,

45 rep, 2 indies who caucus with the Dems.

Race by race, here're my predictions:

The Democratic pick-ups will be in Massacusetts, Maine and

Indiana. The Republican pick-ups will be in Nebraska

(bye, bye Bob Kerrey), Montana and North Dakota.

McCaskill and Donnelly will win becuase of avoidable

errors by their opponents. Bob Casey and Sherrod Brown will

prevail in Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively. Arizona will

stay Republican, despite a good try by Carmona. The Nevada

and Wisconsin seats will likely remain Republican and Democratic,

respectively. All the other Senate contests are sure things

for the frontrunners.

We'll see in 38 hours or so! (But I digress! Paul)

P.S. -- I just saw “Cloud Atlas.” The knock is that it’s too

long, but it’s actually too disorganized and inconsistent.

If the whole flick were as riveting as its first 20 minutes, it

would be one of the best of the year. Instead it’s only sporadically

great. Like “John Carter” and “Cowboys and Aliens,” it shifts genres

awkwardly, unsatisfyingly throughout, looking like “Castaway,”

then “Star Wars,” then “Amistad,” then “Mutiny on the Bounty,”

then “Cliffhanger,” then “Reservoir Dogs” and “Titanic.”

It’s well-made and not nearly as bad as some critics have made it

out to be, but it’s too jumbled, like a film that fell apart in

the editing.



for Halloween 2012

This time next week, the polls in every state will be closed

and we'll know the election results in....around a month or so,

after the recounts, the lawsuits, the bitter recriminations

from whoever won the popular vote but lost the electoral this


I still stand by my count of 274 for Obama. And if Romney

comes up short but wins the popular tally... well, he can

go have a misery beer with former president Gore.

* * * *

Tonight I'd dress for Halloween as Romney, but I can't

decide which one.

But I digress. Paul



for October 30, 2012

Many thanks to Marshall Stax and KALX radio for airing a couple of

my new songs -- "Smoke in the Whiskey Jar" and "Marin in the

Morning" -- last night on The Next Big Thing!

Here's part of the KALX playlist from last night! (Go to

soundclick.com/pauliorio to hear the new tracks!)

But I digress. Paul



for October 29, 2012

While you're riding out Sandy, tune in to KALX radio at 6 p.m.

(Pacific time) this evening (9 p.m. eastern time) because

DJ Marshall Stax is planning to air some music from my brand

new album "Smoke in the Whiskey Jar." (Thanks, Marshall!) If

you're not in the Bay Area, listen online at this link:


Check out "SMOKE IN THE WHISKEY JAR" at wwwe.pauliorio.blogspot.com.

But I digress. Paul



for October 27, 2012

So what do I think about Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master”

after having just seen it? That it may be “The Conformist” of

the Tens. That Anderson emulates both the brilliance AND the

flaws of Bertolucci’s classic, which truly did have its flaws

(e.g., an almost fatal lack of focus, flabby editing, a central

character who was not really a conformist at all, etc.).

People tend to assume that because something is a classic that all

its elements are perfect and worthy of emulation. It’s like an

architect admiring the campanile in Pisa as a pre-Renaissance

gem and designing something similar that imitates its flaw

(e.g., the leaning of the tower).

Anderson’s film making here is so magnificent, the acting so

brilliant that you wish he had a good story to go with them!

Which is the same way I felt about “Heaven’s Gate,” though this

is closer to “Last Tango in Paris” and the underrated

“Eyes Wide Shut” -- and far closer to “Magnolia” than to

superior Anderson films like “Boogie Nights” and “Hard Eight.”

But I digress. Paul



for October 26, 2012

I saw Rian Johnson’s “Looper” last night. It’s sort of like this

year’s “Inception” or “Source Code,” though without the latter’s

clean lines, but comes to resemble “12 Monkeys” and “The Road to

Perdition” before ending as brilliantly and unexpectedly as

“The Sixth Sense.”

The concept is the movie’s strength and its weakness. Of course,

everybody loves the fact that Bruce Willis’s character sits down

for breakfast with his younger self, though the scene scans as

something far more ordinary, namely a conversation between a

father and son who don’t know they’re father and son.

But there’s a real problem in the concept, which is that organized

crime can’t off its enemies in 2074 because body disposal is

impossible due to new technology.

So we’re supposed to believe that abduction, too, isn’t impossible

in 2074?

In other words, the film’s premise says, it’s easier for the mob to

abduct someone and send him back in time (to be murdered in an era

when you could get away with it) than to merely dispose of a body

in the present day.

Wouldn’t it be easier in 2074 to, say, take the victim via a helicopter

to a completely desolate and frozen part of the Rocky Mountains

and leave him there alive, knowing he’d be dead within a week?

After all, they wouldn’t be disposing of a dead body, because the

victim would be abandoned alive.

The film is both imaginative and not imaginative enough. It doesn’t

fully plumb the possibilities of time travel. I mean, why not send a

victim back to the year 1347 so he could be wiped out by the bubonic

plague? Or send someone back to the Cretaceous period so he can

become extinct with the rest of the dinosaurs. Or send him back 4 billion

years so he could be burned up in the formation of the earth.

The way I would have written it is to have each victim killed via time

travel in a unique and novel way (e.g., bubonic plague, stomped by

dinosaurs, etc.).

All told, not a bad film. Could’ve been better.

But I digress. Paul



for October 15, 2012

But I digress. Paul

* * * *


for October 13, 2012

I just saw "Argo." It's a B+ flick, about as good as

"Syriana" -- anyone recall "Syriana"? -- and will be about

as well-remembered. Ben Affleck overplays the underplaying,

Alan Arkin seems to be doing a Dustin Hoffman imitation,

John Goodman resembles Morty Seinfeld, and the screenplay

sounds like attempted Sorkin when it's not sounding like

attempted Puzo.

That said, the opening and the ending are riveting, even

suspenseful -- and the timing of the subject matter -- in

the wake of Benghazi -- makes the intro look like it

was shot yesterday.

The first ten minutes do crackle, but then it sort of turns into

"The West Wing," before awkwardly shifting tone into something

antic and somewhat madcap. And then back to serious. Not quite

as bad with tone as "Casino Jack," mind you, but not ideal.

But I digress. Paul



for October 9, 2012

OK, for all you radio people and critics (and everyone else),

here're the lyrics of my new e.p. "SMOKE IN THE WHISKEY JAR."

There have been some questions asked about the lyrics of

the title track in particular, so let me clear up

any confusion. I am singing "FUNKTOWN O.D." and

"Blow me away."

Anyway, lyrics are posted here:

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2012

“Hey, you’re doin’ better?”
“Better than who?”
“Hey, how’s the weather?”
“Better than you.”

“Hey, what’s your secret?”
“I’m out of my mind, too!”

And there's smoke in the whiskey jar, yeah
And there’s smoke in the whiskey jar, yeah

Funktown O.D.
You owe me
Funktown O.D.
You owe me
Funktown O.D.
You blow me away

“Who you think you are?”
“How do I have to be?”
“You won’t get too far.”
“How come you’re not further than me?”

“When’s the last straw?”
“The last straw was last week.”

And there's smoke in the whiskey jar, yeah
And there’s smoke in the whiskey jar, yeah

Funktown O.D.
You owe me
Funktown O.D.
You owe me
Funktown O.D.
You blpw me away

Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2012

The best thing since the invention of women
The best thing since the invention of women
The best thing since the invention of women
Invention of women got it beat, yeah
Invention of women got it beat

I could ride from Mercury to Venus
On a slide of water from the sea

But no in-ven-tion tops you!

The best thing since the invention of women
The best thing since the invention of women
Invention of women got it beat

I could end the old romantic structures
Create a world so love will reign supreme

But no invention tops you

I was caught ‘tween Scylla and Charybdis
Fly to the sun like Daedalus of Greece

But no invention tops you

Ride the skies in a chariot pulled by angels
Connect the Internet to Centauri and in between

But no invention tops you

There she goes
Invention of women

There she goes
Invention of women

There she goes
Invention of women
Invention of women got it beat, yeah
Invention of women got it beat


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2012

"If you were a carpenter and you were a lady,"
Goes the first line of that song
I don't dislike you because you are a mason
But because you're dim and dull

Go away, carpenter girl
Go away, carpenter girl
Go away, carpenter girl
Go away, carpenter girl

If you were a carpenter and had imagination
I might make you mine right now
You keep talking, how Jesus was the same thing
But you ain't much like him, no how

Go away, carpenter girl
Go away, carpenter girl

Jesus Christ was only part-time labor
It was just the family biz
If you were carpenter and you were a lady
I think I'd take a pass on it

Go away, carpenter girl
Go away, carpenter girl
Go away, carpenter girl
Go away, carpenter girl


Music and lyrics by Paul Iorio
Copyright 2012

Moonlight beige
Marin in the morning,
It comes

Moonlight beige
Raven black
Morning green
Twilight dew

Reddish sun
Rhubarb sky
Often green
Mountain stream

Moonlight beige
Marin in the morning,
It comes
Moonlight beige
Marin in the morning,
it comes
Marin in the morning,
it comes

See the dawn
Paint it plaid
Night is dead

Purple sky
Crimson stars
Banjo playin'
For one and all

Moonlight beige
Marin in the morning,
It comes
Moonlight beige
Marin in the morning,
It comes
Marin in the morning,
it comes
Marin in the morning,
it comes



for September 16, 2012

As I wrote on my Facebook page, there's a lot of bad info

circulating about my coverage of O.J. Simpson in 1997.

Scroll down to the word Heisman to read the real story.

And my sincere apologies to Sheila Weller, a first-class

writer and reporter and author whose work on the Simpson case

I had been previously unaware of. I really am only beginning

to pay attention to Sheila's excellent oeuvre and suggest others

do the same.

But I digress. Paul



for September 16, 2012

Loved last night's My Morning Jacket show in Berkeley. I'm

listening to a tape I made of it. What a knock out! They

played the Greek after a 3-night stand at the Wiltern. I

particularly love "Mahgeetah" and Jim James' wild guitar

riffing at the end. Best show I've heard all year since the

Beach Boys. I'm amazed, to coin a phrase. EVen better than

the "Evil Urges" gig I heard back when. They blew the Greek apart.

Also heard Bonnie Raitt perform in Berkeley.

Very entertaining. The highlight was "Thing Called Love," which

seriously rocked, and her cover of Dylan's "Million Miles,"

which had terrific atmosphere. Obscurity "Marriage Made in

Hollywood" was unexpectedly engaging. And "I Can't Make You

Love Me" now sounds like an Adele song! And she chatted a lot,

mostly about family, but also about the Americana fest,

Dylan's new Rolling Stone cover story, Berkeley, etc.

Opening was the legendary Mavis Staples, 73 and forever young

and still in fine voice, particularly on the Staple Singers'

"I'll Take You There." She also talked about first meeting

John Raitt and told inspiring tales of the civil rights movement

of the last century. Amazing.

Interestingly, even though it was on the UC campus, the concert

didn't attract much of a student-aged crowd (even in the hills

above the open-air theater, where I heard the gig).


September 7, 2012

OK, summer's over, so the Daily Digression is back! 

And to kick things off, here's my very first music video ever, for

my song "Republican Women," which I wrote and released last year

(and it actually went to number on the alternative chart at

Soundclick.com!).   Here it is:


But I digress.  Paul



for June 30, 2012

I'm on a high after hearing Foster the People

perform last night in Berkeley. I don't think

I've ever seen anything exactly like what I saw

at the end of the show: as soon as the band began

"Pumped Up Kicks," the final encore, dozens and

dozens of smiling fans streamed down from the hills

above the open-air Greek theater (where I heard the

concert) and started dancing wildly and joyously in

the street below. Beautiful sight and sound. And

it's one of the most irresistible songs of the Tens, too.

The concert was even better than "Torches"; songs

that were painstakingly recorded got a bit looser

live, with the highlights being a knock-out "Don't

Stop (Color on the Walls)," Waste" and "Pumped Up


Opening the show was a really strong Mayer Hawthorne,

who sounded sort of like The Rascals meets Smokey

Robinson meets the Average White Band. Check him out!

And opening the whole gig was a promising group I don't

know the name of; their beats sometimes recalled the

Jackson Five. (I'll try to find out who that was.)

But I digress. Paul



for June 19, 2012

If I had to guess who Romney will choose as his running

mate, I'd say...it's Paul Ryan. Why? Because Wisconsin,

usually a blue state, is actually (incredibly) in play this

year -- and Mitt thinks he can flip it with Ryan.

Why not Rubio? Because, as of right now, it looks like

Obama couldn't win Florida on a rigged bet, so why waste

resources on a sure thing? (Plus, the Hispanic vote is

already lost to Obama -- Rubio wouldn't help much with that.)

As for Rob Portman: zero name recognition outside Ohio, zero c

harisma. Plus, Ryan would shore up the Tea Partyers and do well

in debates. And Mitt has an evident comfort-level with Ryan.

So you heard it here first: it's Romney/Ryan, I bet.

But I digress. Paul



for June 16, 2012

Well, a week that begins with two of my new songs being aired

on KALX radio and ends with a dozen of my new photographs

being published by the Huffington Post is a pretty good week!

Thanks to The Huffington Post for publishing my latest article

a few days ago. It includes around a dozen photos I shot last

week in San Francisco (and another few photos of mine from

'05 and '00). The piece is about Jack Kerouac's history in

the Bay Area. Read it here:


* * * *

And thanks to the great Marshall Stax for playing a

couple of my new songs on KALX last Monday. He opened his

show with "So Soignée" and "(I'm) Depraved," two songs I

wrote in the early spring of 2012 and recorded a couple

weeks ago at my home studio. "So Soignée" is streaming here:

Here's the MP3 of "So Soignee":


And here's the MP3 of "(I'm) Depraved":

* * * *

But I digress. Paul



for May 5, 2012

Working on a story that's partly about the new crop of

comic book movies, so I saw "The Avengers" this afternoon.

What do I think? As superhero flicks go -- and it's not my

favorite genre -- this one is as good as it gets. It's sort

of like "Iron Man 3 (with special guests Capt. America, Thor

and others!)," but not really. Or like "Thor's Brother is Such

a Drag," but not really.

The concept is this: the Avengers are a confederacy of Marvel

superheroes who come together to fight an extraterrestrial

threat (namely, Thor's bro and his allies). Samuel L. Jackson

keeps it interesting -- and Robert Downey Jr. gets off a

few choice quips. If you like this sort of thing, you'll

definitely love it.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Well, by tomorrow afternoon (Pacific Time) we may know who

the next president of France will be. It looks like Hollande, b

ut may be Sarkozy, if only because Le Pen's supporters have

nowhere else to go.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Since Netflix now has all of Antonioni's films on DVD, I can

finally see the few I haven't. Weeks ago I saw his first

feature, "Cronaca di un amore," which ranks a bit above

Kubrick's first, but...it can't be dismissed as easily.

Its imagery starts ricocheting in your head days later.

His shot of the huge liquor bottles on the sides of a deserted

country road sticks with me as much as anything he's done.

But I digress. Paul



for April 21, 2012

I've rarely received more glowing reviews from editors

than I've gotten from publishers rejecting my

"Fascist-o-Matic" interactive piece.

Very-funny-but-too-controversial has been the general

gist from editors.

Well, since editors won't touch it -- even as they

admit they enjoy it -- here it is for all to see on Facebook!

Anyone can play the Fascist-o-Matic. It works this way. I've

listed fifteen restrictions on individual liberties by

autocrats ranging from Kim Jong-Un to Adolf Hitler and

have divided them into three columns that can be mixed

and matched to create your own totalitarian law.

Just take one clause from Column A and mix it at random

with another clause from columns B and C. (Ex.:

"Hindus must...have a sun tan...under penalty of a forced


Of course, each line, read straight across, describes

an actual regulation imposed by an autocratic state or

group. (See my website fascistomatic.blogspot.com for

more back-up info on each real-life totalitarian regulation!)

So have some tasteless fun! (and click to enlarge.

Or heck it out at www.fascistomatic/blogspot.com.

But I digress. Paul



for April 19, 2012

The thing about guys like Dick Clark and Ed Sullivan is that

it really wasn't about them. Kids didn't tune in to their

shows for them; they tuned in for the musical guests who

appeared on their shows.

Proof of that is that Sullivan's highest ratings in the

1950s came when he had a substitute host, Charles Laughton,

for the episode in which Presley first appeared. And nobody

bemoaned the fact that Ed wasn't there to introduce Elvis.

Anyone could have hosted that show that night and it

would've been a blockbuster.

Nobody I knew -- and I mean, nobody -- was ever a fan of

Dick Clark per se, Dick Clark the person. But a lot of people

were fans of the fact that his TV show, whoever was hosting it,

showcased some of the greatest pop artists of the past half


You can't say the same thing about Dick Cavett or Johnny Carson.

Those two were hosts whose hosting was performance in itself -- and

Cavett and Carson were the main reasons to tune in every night.

Clark was never the reason to tune in.

By the way, it's telling that the Beatles never appeared on

Bandstand. I mean, can you imagine the Beatles -- or The

Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan -- appearing on such a square

show? (To be fair, a number of epochal geniuses did appear on

AB (e.g., David Bowie, Chuck Berry, etc.), so there are

exceptions.) Give it to Sullivan; he had the sense to have

his musical guests perform live.

Also, Bandstand had a flat affect visually. The dancing was

unimaginative -- it looked like forced, self-conscious

dancing (unlike, say, what you saw on "Soul Train").

Clark was no gatekeeper or starmaker when it came to artists

of the stature of the Stones or the Beatles. It was the other

way around; major acts like that were the starmakers for

Clark and Sullivan.

But I digress. Paul

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