RSD 2021, Part One: Better Luck in July?

I was unable to get to Santa Cruz’s Streetlight Records today in spite of my best intentions. So, I glanced at Amoeba’s online Record Store Day catalog in the afternoon. Did I enter a bad search, or did most of today’s wares sell out early? Either way, it was probably just as well, since I blew my RSD budget on the surprise release of Sloan’s B-Sides Win, Volume 2 the other day. Sorry, everybody. Next month’s RSD drop should produce a real saga, thanks to a UK-only offering that will add several degrees of difficulty for this Stateside collector. In the meantime, feel free to regale me with tales of your RSD finds in the comments!

May the Force be with you (believe me, you’ll need it!)

As I planned my post for this year’s Star Wars Day, something occurred to me. “Hmm, I’ve never seen The Star Wars Holiday Special.” Over the years, the 1978 CBS presentation has been disavowed by everyone from George Lucas and screenwriter Bruce Vilanch to Princess Leia herself, the late, lamented Carrie Fisher. (She supposedly played the tape when she wanted straggling guests to flee.) Nevertheless, I’ve survived many a pop-culture disaster in my day, and felt it was my duty to watch the show at least once.

The opening credits gave me a warped sense of (a new) hope with its incongruous list of guest stars. (Beatrice Arthur! Art Carney! Diahann Carroll! Jefferson Starship! “R2-D2 as…R2-D2!”) It was a moment so Simpsons-esque,  I half-expected Troy McClure (sigh, we miss you, Phil Hartman!) to appear. Nothing could prepare me for what was to follow, however. Someone made the risky artistic decision to film the first ten minutes in unsubtitled Wookiee. I saw interpretive dance sequences set to a woozy synthesizer score. Harvey Korman’s gleeful cooking-show cameo made me think of his Hedley Lamarr in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, adding a whole other layer of cognitive dissonance to the proceedings. My jaw dropped during the sequence where Carney presents Chewbacca’s father Itchy with…well, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

I can hear the diehard superfans out there crying “Elizabeth, you’ve only described the first half hour of the show!” That’s right, this special runs more than 97 MINUTES without commercials. Rest assured, dear reader, I watched the whole thing (though I resorted to the 1.5x YouTube speed setting halfway through). Since this is the rare case where YouTube viewer comments greatly improve the experience, I’ve decided not to embed the video, instead linking to it here. Good luck, young Padawan!

Patrick Marleau beats the odds (again)!

During the April 19th game against the Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Shark Patrick Marleau played his 1,768th career NHL game, surpassing Gordie Howe for most games played in NHL history. (The 41-year-old had previously passed the likes of Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr, and former teammate Joe Thornton on the list.)

There is an element of chance to such an achievement. The Mercury News pointed out that if Marleau had been born one day later, he would have had to wait for the 1998 NHL draft (and thus lose a season of games). Nevertheless, If it weren’t for two lockouts and two pandemic-shortened seasons, Marleau would be on track for a 1,900-game record. He’s played a minimum of 74 games in each full NHL season. The following Sportsnet segment drives home both the quirkiness and the rarity of Marleau’s accomplishment: 

Best of all, Patrick Marleau is still playing, making the case that he’s not only the ultimate San Jose Shark, but the consummate modern-day NHL player. Congratulations!

Artist Ursula O’Farrell and David Kinch’s Mentone featured in Spring 2021 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

If you visit Santa Cruz gallery Curated By the Sea this month (which I strongly suggest you do!), you will see Compelled Toward Beauty, the new exhibition by acclaimed Corralitos painter Ursula O’Farrell. In “Living Life With Bold Strokes,” my feature in the Spring 2021 edition of Santa Cruz Style, O’Farrell discusses her process, the epiphany that turned her toward the artist’s life forever, and how creativity sustains her in the time of COVID-19. Later in the issue, “Mentone” outlines the evolution of Michelin-starred Chef David Kinch’s newest business venture, Aptos Village Park’s Mentone. General manager Chris Sullivan explains why Aptos is the perfect spot for this homage to the Italian Riviera, reveals hidden delights of Chef Matthew Bowden’s menu, and talks about the realities of opening a restaurant during 2020’s shelter-in-place. In Santa Cruz County, find free print copies here. The online edition is here.

ETA: The O’Farrell exhibition has been extended through May 15th, Thursday through Saturday from 12 to 4 p.m. A socially-distanced First Friday reception for the artist takes place on May 7th from 6 to 8 p.m. Visit Curated By the Sea at 703 Front Street in downtown Santa Cruz, or consult http://www.curatedbythesea.com for more information.

Song In My Head #113: Flight of the Conchords’ “Inner City Pressure”

In 2003, my friend Genevieve bought tickets to Australian comedian Adam Hills’ show in London. We were unnerved by the description of the opening act, a folk-comedy duo from New Zealand. Of course, Flight of the Conchords stole the show with their understated banter and clever songcraft. I’ve been a devoted fan of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement‘s work (together and separately) ever since, and 2007’s “Inner City Pressure” remains a favorite. This Pet Shop Boys homage is good enough to earn the approval of Neil Tennant himself (not to mention my PSB uberfan buddy Jeanette)…

Ideal Bar and Grill feature in Winter 2020 SANTA CRUZ STYLE

Opening as the Ideal Grotto in 1917, the Ideal Bar and Grill has weathered industry ups and downs, inclement weather, the Loma Prieta earthquake, and the COVID-19 crisis to remain an icon of the Santa Cruz Wharf. You can discover why in “Idealizing Santa Cruz,” my feature in the latest edition of Santa Cruz Style. First, Joanne Cecchettini reveals the stories of the Ideal’s 1950s heyday, when her uncle Joe Olivieri owned the restaurant. (Cecchettini, known to many as the founder of beloved Capitola shop The Bridal Veil, is one of the most entertaining interviewees I’ve ever encountered!) Then, current restaurant manager Stacy Levesque explains the Ideal’s blueprint for success, and how the staff has adjusted to meet customers’ needs during the pandemic. In Santa Cruz County, you can find print copies here. The online edition is here.

GoFundMe benefit for Santa Cruz musician Yuji Tojo

You may have seen Santa Cruz songwriter/producer/guitarist Yuji Tojo perform at countless benefit shows, or during his longtime residency at the Crow’s Nest. (If you’re curious, Tojo discusses his colorful career at greater length in Going Coastal’s “The World At Your Ears” chapter.) When the COVID-19 pandemic placed concerts on hold, Tojo continued to write and record in his home studio in Ben Lomond. (As Aaron Carnes revealed in last week’s Good Times cover story, Tojo built his house and studio by hand.) This past summer, Tojo’s home and studio were destroyed in the CZU Lightning wildfires. Fawn Lisa has set up a fundraiser to help the artist rebuild, and has raised nearly $18,000 of the $20,000 goal. For more information or to donate, visit Lisa’s GoFundMe page.

RSD 2020, Part Three: Back To Square One

I just couldn’t drag myself to Santa Cruz for a third time this week, so I’m observing 2020’s final Record Store Day the same way I tried to spend the first: searching for today’s wares online. I still need to hear the Church’s Gold Afternoon Fix, but it doesn’t look like there are bonus tracks on the vinyl. Cheap Trick’s Out To Get You! looks intriguing, but most of the songs appear on other live albums. If anyone has opinions on Jon Brion’s Synecdoche, New York soundtrack or Booker T. and the M.G.s’ McLemore Avenue, please advise! Of course, you can just comment with your RSD picks.

For anyone bemused by the notion of three Record Store Days in one year, the following Art Brut song is for you. Amusingly enough, the band did release something fancy for the UK RSD after all, and the concept is cool.