30 December 2006

Dance with Me: Updated!

There are some fabulous shows hitting the ATL in the coming months. Who wants to go with me?

12: Glenn Tilbrook (The 5 Spot)
13: Mission of Burma (The Earl)
17: Camera Obscura (The Earl)
20: Ron Sexsmith (Smith’s Olde Bar)
25: Scott Miller (Eddie’s Attic)
27: Songwriters Tour: Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, John Hiatt (Tabernacle)
29: Jeff Tweedy (Tabernacle)
30: The Bottle Rockets (The Earl)

3: Yo La Tengo (Variety Playhouse)
4: Midlake (The Earl)
17 + 18: Jonathan Richman (The Earl)
20: Akron Family (The Earl)
24: Of Montreal (Variety Playhouse)
26: Chris Difford (Smith’s Olde Bar)

2: Kris Kristofferson (Symphony Hall)
3: Madeline Peyroux (Symphony Hall)
14: Badly Drawn Boy (The Loft)
20: Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 (Smith’s Olde Bar)

13: TV on the Radio (Variety Playhouse)

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28 December 2006

Give the Man His Burritos!

Nobody loves Moe’s more than Str8jacket’s Jeremy. He's even made a film declaring his love of that big ol' burrito. View it. Vote for it. Keep the man in burritos.
After a week's hiatus, I’m finally back. Hope y’all had a lovely Christmas. I miss the Christmas songs and lights, but I'm (nearly) ready to get back to regular life.
And I plan to catch up with your blogs this weekend.

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21 December 2006

Christmas Time Is Here

That moment I wait for every Christmas season … the reason I eagerly rush to my mailbox each evening, with the excited glow of a kid approaching Santa’s lap … finally came last night: my R.E.M. fan club Christmas package.

It was late arriving this year, so there was a bit of nervous nailbiting this week. Had they forgotten me? Did they not love me anymore? No, the boys in Athens were just as late as I was in getting out their Christmas packages.

The 2007 calendar is fab, but I was hoping for a rarity on the CD. It’s still quite good: two live performances — “So. Central Rain” and “Begin the Begin” from the 40 Watt show just before the Georgia Music Hall of Fame show — and two Athens bands covering R.E.M. tunes.

Happy Christmas. My boys still love me.

Today’s Christmas Playlist

R.E.M.: Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Guster: Donde Esta Santa Claus?
R.E.M.: Ghost Reindeers in the Sky
My Morning Jacket: Santa Claus Is Back in Town
R.E.M.: Silver Bells
Labrea Stompers: You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
R.E.M.: Christmas Time Is Here
eels: Christmas Is Going to the Dogs
R.E.M.: Toyland
Flaming Lips: White Christmas

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19 December 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I hope you had a lovely weekend, whether or not you’re celebrating the Christmas season. I had a joyous, family-filled weekend.

I spent Friday evening with my mother. We went to the historic Marietta square (home of Joanne Woodward and Bugsy’s Virginia Hill), where we wandered through the shops and enjoyed an Italian dinner. The weather hovered in the low seventies, so it was nice to stroll along the square, white lights luminating our way.

The rest of the weekend was spent with my sister. We left her husband at home to go out for a Mexican dinner and margarita pitchers, then shopped at a nice outdoor, upscale shopping center near her place. The place was filled with white lights and Christmas songs, and we spent and sang and sashayed our holiday spirit up and down The Avenue. When we got back, we had a great spend-the-night party, curling up on the bed with the dog and cat to watch a movie. And the best part: She always gets up to make me breakfast the next morning.

I don’t write about my sister much on the blog, and that’s just plain wrong. She’s one of my very favorite people in the world. For some reason, when I’m with her I’m more the person I wish I were all the time — kinder, laid back, relaxed, funny. Don’t get me wrong — I’m still snarky and sarcastic and catty when we’re together, just in a kinder, gentler way. But when we argue … well, it ain’t pretty.

We’re just eighteen months apart, so we’re as much friends as we are sisters. We’re nothing alike and we’re very much alike. She loves sports and yardwork, I love concerts and hitting the town. We're both funny and outgoing and loud and full of energy. She’s the most fun person to spend time with, and I’m glad I spent the weekend with her.

Today’s Christmas Playlist

Ella Fitzgerald: Santa Claus Got Caught in My Chimney
Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping
The Pretenders: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Rilo Kiley: Xmas Cake
Sheryl Crow: Blue Christmas
Mariah Carey: All I Want for Christmas Is You
The Ronettes: Sleigh Ride
Kelly Hogan: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Whitney Houston: Do You Hear What I Hear?
Aimee Mann: You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Michael Stipe: We’re Not so Bad

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15 December 2006

Finest Worksong

I’m spending the morning writing the final paragraphs of my last big project for 2006. Then I get to relax, enjoy the Christmas cookies by the mailboxes, and skate through my last seven working days of 2006. Sweet!

I have literally worked my ass off the last few months. A misuse of “literally,” maybe? Not at all. I’ve dropped two sizes since September, without really trying. It was a much-needed loss, too, since I chocolate-croissanted my way through the year I grieved for my dad.

The Christmas social season kicks off for me tonight. I’m thrilled to have plans every night through Christmas. Let’s just hope I don’t put that heavy workload back on my ass.

Happy Christmas, dear readers!

Today’s Christmas Playlist

Elvis Presley: Merry Christmas Baby
Jackson 5: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
R.E.M.: Good King Wenceslas
Pete Yorn: Do They Know It’s Christmas?
The Ramones: Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)
El Vez: Feliz Navidad
The Singing Dogs: Jingle Bells
Vince Guaraldi: Christmas Time Is Here
Kenny Loggins: Celebrate Me Home
The Eagles: Please Come Home for Christmas

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14 December 2006

You Better Watch Out

Be careful what you wish for, kids. I was hoping for a bit of excitement in this work-filled, deadlined week — and excitement found me while I was running errands at lunch.

I was in the bank during a robbery.

I was at the service desk endorsing my check when I noticed a guy walk in. My first thought was, “Gee, he looks like a bank robber,” as he was wearing a big, baggy jacket (it was 65 degrees; no need for a jacket), dark sunglasses, a hat, doorag. I admonished myself for making snap judgments and finished my signature. He walked away from the teller as I walked up … and she mouthed “He robbed me.”

The bank folks jumped into action — locking doors, calling the police, shutting down. I ran with the teller to the door through which he escaped, in the hopes we’d recognize him in the parking lot. He was *poof* gone.

No hostage situations. No guns (although his note stated he had one). No Clive Owen or Denzel Washington.

The first policeman arrived within minutes, and the bank was soon swarmed by eight cops and four detectives. I was detained to write my statement and be interviewed by one of the detectives (it’s so NYPD Blue, isn’t it?). Since I really only saw the back of him, I probably won’t be called in for a line-up (dammit!) — but I’d recognize that doorag anywhere.

Oh, they cashed my check before I left.

Today’s Christmas Playlist

King Missile: Jesus Was Way Cool
Run-DMC: Christmas in Hollis
R.E.M.: Christmas Griping
Dread Zeppelin: All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
Hüsker Dü: We Wish You a Merry Christmas
The Woggles: Santa Claus
Keith Richards: Run Rudolph Run
Dwight Yoakum: Santa Claus Is Back in Town
U2: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Oasis: Merry Christmas Everybody

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13 December 2006

Count Your Blessings

Monday's whine was a bit boring. Actually, things aren't all that bad. In fact, I've had several Christmas blessings in the last few days.

Christmas Blessing #1
We had our department Christmas dinner on Friday, which is always a grand time. I work with very cool, creative, groovy folks, so a gathering is always fun. The dinner was scrumptious. But my boss made it even better with my Christmas gift: the Amy Sedaris entertaining book! Does he know me or what?

Christmas Blessing #2
Cat Power’s Chan Marshall’s cover of Cat Stevens’ “How Can I Tell You” in this year’s DeBeers’ “A Diamond is Forever” commercial. I stop and watch the commercial every time, just to hear her voice. And that necklace is to die for!

Christmas Blessing #3
I awoke Saturday drained of all energy and personality. It was cold outside, so I curled up with the cats on the sofa and watched Christmas in Connecticut (Barbara Stanwick is so damn cool) — then stumbled across a That Girl marathon! I love and identify with Ann Marie … and her wardrobe. In fact, a lot of my love for my single life can be traced back to That Girl.

Christmas Blessing #4
If you’re lazing away an afternoon watching chick TV, you need a brownie. Believe it or not, I found a forgotten brownie — a bakery brownie, with thick fudge frosting — in my freezer. Santa loves me.

Christmas Blessing #5
How the Grinch Stole Christmas was on last night. And I watched it for the fortieth straight year. Recited large chunks of narration and sang all the songs. Loudly and happily and full of spirit, my beloved M be damned.

Welcome Christmas, as we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.

Today’s Christmas Playlist

Clarence Carter: Back Door Santa
Ru Paul: Santa Baby
Mel Tormé: The Christmas Song
Dean Martin: The Christmas Blues
R.E.M.: Deck the Halls
Young Fresh Fellows: O Little Town of Bethlehem
Darlene Love: Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home), live on Letterman, 2004
Carpenters: Merry Christmas Darling
Alabama: Christmas in Dixie
Arthur Fiedler: Sleigh Ride

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11 December 2006


It’s been a rough couple of weeks as several major projects enter the final stretch. I’ve been too busy to even read my favorite blogs. Don’t you hate it when your job gets in the way of your life? But don't worry; I haven’t forgotten you.

Anyway, the light has been spotted at the end of the tunnel, so I hope to return to my life as an active blogger and blog reader later this week. Right now, though, I’m drained. Completely and utterly empty of any creative thoughts that don’t pertain to the job. Ugh.

In the meantime, I’m off to scream and pound pillows. And drink lots of wine. While listening to my favorite Christmas tunes, of course.

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08 December 2006

Capitol Records: Merry Christmas to You!

I love the Christmas season —the excitement and anticipation, the lights and sounds swirling around you, that feeling of pure joy. I’ve been a nut about Christmas all my life; I'm quite the geek, actually. But how could I not be in love with this magical season, with this imagination? My mother loves Christmas, too, so Christmas spirit filled our house from Thanksgiving evening through Christmas night. She made Santa come alive, and I believed as long as I could.

How did I find out about Santa? My third grade teacher asked those of us who believed in Santa to raise our hands. Four of us did. She then told us we were old enough to know the truth and spilled the evil beans. Broke my heart. Coal-hearted b*tch.

Putting up the Christmas tree kicked off the season. Mama, my sister and brother, and I would gather in the living room to decorate the tree — a rare treat, as the living room was off-limits unless company came over — and Mama would put on this Christmas album, her favorite holiday hits from her teens. We’d sing and hang ornaments and talk about what Santa might bring. When we finished, OM would come in to give the tree his blessing. Yes, it sounds hokey and wholesome, as if Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed were playing our parents … but that’s the way it went at the Coffey house.

And those memories are why Capitol’s Merry Christmas to You! (released around 1955) is my favorite Christmas album. And as it says on the cover, it’s a high fidelity recording.

The collection of songs is awesome. Okay, some are silly and a bit Dr. Demento — but they’re fabulous when you’re a kid. This album introduced me to Nat King Cole’s “A Christmas Song,” still one of the most sublime holiday songs ever recorded.

It has taken me years, more than a decade, to track down most of the songs on CD — an Eddie Bauer collection here, a Christmas cocktails album there — but I got the last of my favorites two seasons ago, thanks to the Elf soundtrack.

So here, dear readers, are my Capitol Christmas classics:

Upload music at Bolt.

Dean Martin: “Christmas Blues”

Dino at his Dinoest. This is one of the first five Christmas songs I listen to when I pull out the collection Thanksgiving night. Those brightly packaged, tinsel-covered Christmas blues. I wanna grab a martini glass and swirl and swig in front of a fireplace with every listen.

Frank Sinatra: “The Christmas Waltz”
The best Frank holiday song evah. I listen to this right after the first “Christmas Blues” spin. It’s that time of year when the world falls in love / Every song you hear seems to say / Merry Christmas, may your New dreams come true / And this song of mine, in three-quarter time / Wishes you and yours the same thing, too.

Johnny Mercer: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”
Nobody has ever bested my fellow Georgian on making “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” swing better — no, not even Bruce Springsteen, so don’t even go there with me. Just listen. And swing.

Billy May & His Orchestra: “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Mambo”
Speaking of swinging, did you know that Rudolph is better with a little mambo thrown in? ‘Tis so. Get up and dance around your desk right now, and get that party started.

Les Baxter: “Santa Claus’ Party”
I love the movie Elf, and the soundtrack is fab — plus, it includes this song, the one I’ve been missing since I packed up my turntable for another day. It’s goofy, it’s happy — just the kind of song a freckled-faced, bespectacled kid wanted to hear while putting her favorite Uncle Bob decorations on the branches. A Christmas tree so high / It pokes right through the sky / And Santa will be there to call / Merry Christmas to you all!

Track Listing

Side One:
1. Frank Sinatra: White Christmas
2. Les Paul & Mary Ford: Jingle Bells
3. Frank Sinatra: The Christmas Waltz
4. Yogi Yorgesson: I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas
5. Margaret Whiting & Jimmy Wakely: Silver Bells
6. Mel Blanc: Christmas Tree
7. Johnny Mercer: Winter Wonderland
8. Les Baxter: Santa Claus’ Party

Side Two:
1. Nat “King” Cole: The Christmas Song
2. Billy May: Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Mambo
3. Les Paul & Mary Ford: Silent Night
4. Louis Castellucci: Sleigh Ride
5. Dean Martin: The Christmas Blues
6. Johnny Mercer: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
7. Margaret Whiting: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
8. Nat “King” Cole: (All I Want for Christmas Is) My Two Front Teeth

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07 December 2006

Life and How to Live It

Happy birthday, Renae!

This must be the week Miles Davis was thinking about when he came up with Birth of the Cool. Peter Buck’s birthday was yesterday, and today’s the birthday of my oldest and dearest. Keep the toasts hoisted, kids.

I first met Renae toward the end of first grade. Our new home in Vinings was nearly complete, and we were there checking on its progress. Renae’s family lived one street over, and her mom (who went to high school with my mother) brought Renae over to meet me. And we’ve been friends since that spring day in 1966 — forty years of friendship. A fun, lovely, giggly, special friendship.

Not only did our moms go to high school together, but Renae’s maternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather grew up together, too. We were destined for friendship.

Our days as kids were filled with imagination and silliness and walking ‘round and ‘round and ‘round the block. Renae’s house was as unstructured as mine was structured, so we had two different environments for playing (usually her house). We spent one summer obsessed with Sgt. Pepper's. Ah, good times.

My eighth birthday party. That’s Renae in the blue plaid dress.

Let’s face it: We were geeks. We stayed kids as long as we could. And I’m glad we were able to grow up that way.

One Easter season, I guess when we were around ten or eleven, Renae and I were obsessed with the movie The Ten Commandments. We’d act it out in her backyard. The bridge over the creek was the perfect spot for our dancing girls segment (I’d wear my cork-heeled clogs for that number; the cork sounded cool on the wooden bridge). And then there was the “Moses! Moses” Moses!” kiss; we’d pull our arms up and rub elbows as we relived Yvonne de Carlo’s declarations of love and lust for Charlton Heston. We still do the “Moses! Moses! Moses!” kiss when we see each other.

Holly came on board when her family moved to Vinings in the fourth grade. We’ve been a pretty good threesome for a very long time … and they’re lucky that I adore their husbands.

Holly and Renae, in my Little Five Points apartment (Dec. 1986)

As with all long friendships, there were times when we were inseparable and times when we didn’t hang out that much. We ran with different crowds in high school and drifted apart in college, only to come back together with a bang in 1983. Renae had been working and supporting herself for a couple of years, and decided to go back and finish her degree at the University of Georgia. We spent nearly every evening together the summer before she moved to Athens — a summer of great music, great love (it was the summer I fell in love with R.E.M. ), great friendships (I met Simeon through Renae, and Shawn hung out with us a lot that summer, too). And gallons of jug wine.

Holly, Renae, and me (Athens, Dec. 7, 1983)

Renae’s move to Athens was the best thing for me. (Oh, yeah, and she finished her degree and went on to earn a master’s degree at Wisconsin. But enough about her. It’s her birthday, but it’s my memories.) This was the era of a young R.E.M., Art in the Dark, Pylon, this little band called 10,000 Maniacs (a totally different sound back then; you could dance to it!), and other great local bands playing every week. I spent many weekends in Athens, and would even go up for the night to see a show. My flirting with young lads at free R.E.M. shows got us in trouble a couple of times, but it made the story better. And I was glad to be there (literally, there) when things kicked off between Renae and Ron.

Because we’ve been friends for so long, I have a confidence around Renae that I don’t with every person. With Renae, I’ll do just about anything to make her laugh. Well, okay, as I’ve grown older I have that confidence nearly all the time, but it grew thanks to my friendship with Renae.

New Year's Eve 1999

I went with Renae to help her find an apartment in Madison during the summer of 1987. There was a piano bar downtown where you could ing with the piano player — a lovely, older woman who could play 1,001 songs. This was my chance! I went up and sang “Feelings,” dedicating it to Renae and her Athens-based beau at the time. Yes, of course I performed it with a bit o’ the lounge, but I was also serious. The woman loved my performance, so she suggested — and I quickly agreed on — “The Rose.” Fabulous! I was in heaven — all eyes on me, singing my heart out, Renae turning beet-red from laughter. When I returned to the table (chased away by some blond summer-stock reject), Renae noted how sad it was that I’m so at home, alive on stage … and yet I didn’t have a lick of singing talent. True words to be uttered only by someone who loves you.

I was the first in our crowd to meet Greg, back in their grad school days, and he’s still one of my very favorite boys. I love going to visit them, especially the days where we stay in our pajamas until 3 p.m., just talking and laughing and drinking tea.

My first moments with Greg

My first moments with Bopper

Renae and I have been as close as two friends can be since that summer of 1983. Sadly, we haven’t lived in the same state — not even the same damn region — since 1987. One of these days, I’m going to move to the Northeast so that we can hang out all the time like we did that last great summer.

New Year’s Eve 1997

Renae introduced me to and taught me about art. I introduced her to music (pre-Greg) and many wonderful bands. She’s the first one I call about a new beau or a break-up, the one who gets to hear me whine or cheer myself on.

Fun with lights

Renae has become my role model. She’s a professor in Connecticut, and her photography career is now taking off. In fact, she had pieces in shows for a solid year, up until the last month or so — and she has a one-woman show soon in Vermont. Oh, and she ran in the New York Marathon last month.

Renae’s first show (November 2005)

Renae is the best. And I’m glad she’s my best. Happy birthday, Renae!


06 December 2006

Happy 50th, Peter!

Gawd, can it really be true? My paragon of cool — R.E.M.’s Peter Buck — is fifty today? Yes, it’s true. I guess fifty really is the new thirty. Or so I’ll keep telling myself as that milestone looms closer.

Peter is cool, cute, and cool. (Yes, I meant to use “cool” twice; he’s that groovy.) Did I mention that, after the Robyn Hitchcock show in Baltimore, Peter helped pack up the equipment and load the van? This famous guitarist, working as his own roadie. That’s so cool. And he didn’t even mock me over the passport signature ... at least not to my face.

Y’all be sure to yell “Happy birthday, Peter!” at some point today. And drink a glass of red wine in his honor. He’d like that.

And wave a blog goodbye to him for a while. Someone recently landed on my blog via a Peter Buck Technorati search … and, um … 24 of the first 25 hits were posts on this blog. I don’t want to appear obsessed or anything …

Photo credit: A friend sent this cute picture to me; I think he said he found it on Murmurs.com, where it looks like one of the Übers posted a magazine shot.


04 December 2006

Speaking of New ‘dos

The devastatingly handsome (well, darn cute) ex is getting ready to go back on the market, and I’ve been encouraging him to make some tresses and facial hair changes. So, Dan has posted a collage of his different looks and is putting the hair choice to a vote. Not that I want to influence your vote or anything, but I like #6 and #8 (and I took both photos). Although the mullet in #1 is damn impressive …

Do your part and vote today!

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03 December 2006

Feeling Gravity's Pull

I’m letting my hair grow out, and it’s at that awkward stage. My bangs are too long and the sides are scraggly, so I sometimes use headbands to keep the wild tresses tamed. Today I went vintage, pulling the bangs and sides on top of my head, fastened with a stylish tortoise-shell barrette. And what I saw made my heart stop: a huge streak of gray hair curling behind my left ear. Not just a few strands, but a wide swath of salt and pepper, my youth draining from my curls.

I look pretty good, but I’m just back-dated, yeah.

I’ve always seen myself as the type who will grow old gracefully and naturally. I’ve had a few shoots of gray here and there, but I’ve been happily surprised that my hair has naturally stayed Ronnie Reagan black for so long. I planned on going all Emmylou, embracing my gray and coming out with a lovely head of white flowing locks. I’ve earned those grays and I thought I’d celebrate the new stage.

Every silver lining's got a touch of grey.

And yet … I feel old every time I look at that streak. It isn’t cool like Elsa Lanchester’s in “Bride of Frankenstein.” It looks dowdy, past its prime. I’ve found myself wondering if it’s Clairol time. The women in my family miraculously turn blonde when they hit the gray stage. But I don’t think I can rock a blonde ‘do like they do.

How young are you? How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes.

So, do I give in to vanity and ageism … or do I suck it up and learn to love the gray? And if I give in, which flavor am I? The saucy redhead? A demure brunette, with a few streaks of blonde? Dying it the same shade of black is out since that color rarely replicates well out of a bottle. Violet would be fun ...

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02 December 2006

Personality Crisis

Kathy and I saw the New York Dolls Wednesday night, and … daaaaaaaamn … they put on a great show. Thrilling, really. I’d never seen the Dolls before (their last show here was in 1981, opening for Pat Benatar), and I’m so glad I went. The Northwest Doppelganger saw them in her neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and told me it was a must show, so I squealed when Kathy told me she had two tickets.

The concert was a double treat for me because I rarely get to see Kathy, and she’s one of my favorite people. Just damn cool. She spent some formative years in Manhattan (others in London and Paris, lucky girl), and has some great stories of those days. But those are Kathy’s stories to tell, not mine. However, I’m impressed by them, so you can be impressed via moi.

The show was part of Little Steven’s Underground Garage Tour. Four bands performed before the Dolls hit the stage. The Chesterfield Kings were great … The Charms were okay … Supersucker super sucked (they try too hard to be party boys; gets boring) … and we missed the first band.

Kathy and I got close to the stage, about six or seven deep from the stage. And thank God we did. David Johansen strutted and commanded the stage in full rocker glory — black leggings, tons of sparkly baubles, a vision in glam. But, damn, he’s frighteningly tiny; I want to feed him lots of grits and biscuits. He knows how to work a stage, though, and that’s why I was there. Sylvain Sylvain lives in Atlanta these days, which was news to me. He was adorable on stage, talking about how he loves his hometown (which is funny to hear in that Noo Yawk accent). Johansen and Sylvain are still the height of cool.

Yeah, so they’re missing Johnny Thunders and Arthur “Killer” Kane. I sneered about this tour — and the new album, which I plan to pick up after I get out of the office today (yes, it’s Saturday; it’s been that kind of week, kids) — but they did a good job replacing those irreplaceables on this tour.

Sleep deprivation prevents me from remembering the entire setlist, but we heard “Pills” and “Trash” and “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.” They closed the night with “Personality Crisis”:

We’re off to Johansen’s left.

This was a crowd pleasing to those of us who love watching crowds. One of the most interesting mixes I’ve seen in a long time. You had rockabillies and punks, former fratboys on a night out from the ‘burbs, rednecks and scenesters, folks who enjoyed the Dolls the first go-round and kids who were born years after that glorious moment in time. Our fave was the tall guy in a suit, leopard fez, and spats. Some folks around us tried to get a mosh going, but they ended up just crashing into each other.

God, I love live music …

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