Here’s the Pixies song that’s sorta about him:
Tuesday, November 15, 2016The Pixies‘ album “Bossanova” came out when I was at UCSB. At the time I was the entertainment editor of the world famous Daily Nexus so I assigned myself an interview with Pixies bassist Kim Deal. She was the sweetest, funniest, most open person I ever interviewed (next to Mojo Nixon – but he was kind of a cartoon). Kim was right there with me. AKA hyper and down for whatever.Among many many things, I asked her about the barely one-minute long song “Allison” from the new record.I told her I loved the music but I had zero idea what the lyrics meant. Who was this Allison? And what maniac writes a pop song about a girl named Allison after Elvis Costello pretty much wrote the greatest tune ever about a girl named Allison.And Kim was all, “yes he did. But ah-ha! Ours is not about a girl. Ours is sorta about this jazz pianist Mose Allison.” I was like Kim Deal you’re blowing my damn mind. She said, you’re welcome.Today Mose Allison died.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
because the world is bizarre, about once a year i end up speaking to large groups.
my favorite place to speak is the daily nexus. and yet i still get nervous.
i worry im going to be boring
i worry they wont think im “cool”
i worry im gonna waste their time.
as i drove to work today i thought about a rough outline in my mind
- when you are in your teens and 20s you are bubbling with creativity. based on almost every other writer and musician in history (and of course there are exceptions) the best stuff you will make is before youre 30. so write it all down now. the more you write now the better off you’ll be after youre 30.
- kiss all the girls
- i know facebook and the twitter arent cool, but use them anyway, every day, because the jobs you will get out of college will be web production and social media and they will expect you to be experts. the good news is the college grads you will be competing with wouldnt have heard this advice and will suck at the twitter and the facebook and you will be amazing.
- read all the books
- when it’s light out study, when its dark out party.
- ask questions like you know they are dying for you ask them. and follow up like you cant believe the bullshit they just answered you with.
- have courage. if you get nervous, fake your courage.
- get some damn breaking news going via periscope and/or facebook live
- read the bible
- put something from every paycheck you get into your retirement fund and never touch it.
And then I’m going to pass out a copy of my favorite opinion column from my college days and tell them that anything is possible at the Nexus. It is your job to push the envelope, not retract it.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
a mysterious stranger at ask lana asks this mysterious question.
Are you proud of TONY? Notice, I didn’t ask: are you proud of your ACCOMPLISHMENTS, but asked if you’re proud of YOU! Mothers and gods aside; I’m not asking if you are WORTHY of someone’s respect or love or admiration; I’m asking if what you think and feel and believe and how you behave and shit makes YOU proud. Pride doesn’t just come from actions; a lot of it comes from how we THINK; our attitudes, not just our personalities. You can have a great PERSONALITY because you have restraint and know enough not to step on any toes or ruffle any feathers; but!!!!! Attitude is that feeling you have about shit on the INSIDE! Are you proud of THAT? Why or why not?
pride, like jealousy, is foreign to me and always has been. probably since school when i would write or do something that i thought was spectacular and the teacher would say “meh”. at that point i learned whatever alleged “pride” i had didn’t matter in the formula.
also theres this: the few times i have achieved great success it was always a team effort. thus the feeling i had was Fortunate, not Pride. i was lucky to have been on the lake park high school marching band drum line. i was sooooo lucky to write at the daily nexus. and likewise i was so lucky to get hired and then get to run LAist with all the great people i got to work with. all of those so called individual awards or stories or poems or actions were learned from my surroundings or inspired by the spirit. my input was minimal other than staying out of the way of imminent greatness.
when i went to the Times and we were hugely successful, that was a variety of things: an interesting math theory regarding (frequency of posts By talented reporters Plus SEO plus great editing plus timing multiplied by Digg/Reddit). but none of it would have happened if i was not allowed the green light to try it on all of the desks at the paper (luck times patience). the theories derived not from my head but from the total feedback from the Technorati Top 100: boingboing did it, so lets try it. it had little to do with me.
even when i blog something good on this blog or think about this blog as a whole, pride does not factor in because this is merely an evolution of keeping a diary in school in a wired notebook to creating a web site to then using blogger and now wordpress.
is the farmer proud when the seed and water and dirt makes a fruit? no, he thanks God and moves on.
of course there are exceptions. this is the only one i can think of.
while at UCSB, at the Nexus, i was given an internal award from my peers. they voted me the best arts and entertainment writer of the paper my junior year. i was proud because there were probably 10 other people who could have won that. our paper was stacked. we’d win best in state for that section that next year and the next couple of years.
so to be voted positively by the people i respected the most meant more to me than when i won state the next year for the whole section.
because duh we were better than everyone else, but how were we viewed internally: that always fascinated me.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Of the Murderers Row at the Daily Nexus in the late 80s, early 90s, our secret weapon was the Art Desk. Led by your boy Todd Francis, no fewer than a dozen artists could be seen in the award winning college newspaper’s pages during any given week. Any one of them would have been stars on their own on any other paper, but at the Nexus they were just another great reason to smile.
Drew Martin was tall, quiet, sensitive, insightful, with a spirituality of an Indian shaman mixed with the calm of a 747 pilot.
While his peers donned thrift store chic and mismatched socks, Drew was impeccably dapper, with ironed shirts and GQ style. He was clearly a cop.
But his cartoons were out of this world.
The one I remember most was a series about a tall skinny young man who had many questions for the universe.
Obviously autobiographical, but not at all narcissistic, in one episode the hero strips down nude and climbs the Career Resource Building on campus at night and stares into the stars and eventually falls asleep, fragile, innocent, and open to answers.
I believe some watercolors were involved, lots of lines, and some backwards lettering. Not at all the type of juvenile frat boy / sorority chick nonsense you’d see in papers around the country, this was deep, inspiring shit.
And like I said before, it was just one of the long line of illustrative genius within the pages that many took for granted from the Nexus because it came at you every damn day. Each day beefier than the next. Each page more fascinating. Each week a cacophony of creativity.
Because Drew was sent from another planet to keep an eye on our friends, he accepted Matt Welch and Ben Sullivan’s invitation to join English language newspaper in Prague they’d started after we were all done at UCSB. Beers were fifty cents and rent was $50 and instead of being another forgotten intern at some dusty weekly, these revolutionaries got to continue to blaze new journalistic paths on their own terms with the spirit of the world’s greatest college rag as their compass.
While many of the staff dressed and looked like this:
Drew looked like this:
photos by Karen Broome
I only remember working personally with Drew one time at the Daily Nexus. (A nod to the saying about Woodstock: if you remember it, you weren’t there) I was putting together Friday Magazine which had always been a comedy publication but because I didn’t think I could pull of 8 pages of yucks, I turned it into a druggie thing called Fryday Magazine in hopes of quickly being relieved of my duties. My wish was to edit something I felt confident about: the arts and music section.
So the plan was to fill every page with different ways to do drugs on campus and in neighboring Isla Vista. And who better to exploit than our huge stable of artists. Instead of page numbers I had the talented Moish draw a variety of mushrooms. So on page two there would be two mushrooms, page three would have three… On the cover was a drawing of a student reading the issue they were holding in their hand while his mind was exploding with all sorts of psychedelia and clip art. Inside there was a map with tips on where to do what and where not to do the other.
Of course I wanted Drew to contribute and I’m not sure if he did or not but I do remember one moment of clarity. After I explained the theme, Drew said a friend of his was going to try LSD for the first time and he asked if I had any advice. That question inspired me to ask a different artist to create some art that we would put in squares on the paper and deem “do it yourself blotter: just add acid” so the readers could literally get high off their school’s newspaper.
I looked Drew right in the eye and very slowly said, “before one takes any hallucinogens, one should clean one’s room.”
Yesterday, a million years after we ruled the world beneath Storke Tower, Drew asked for and received an interview with me and I was very honored to participate. You can read it here on his long running blog The Museum of Peripheral Art.
Saturday, January 30, 2016
i was recently told that things are different for the kids today who get to put out the news at what once was the greatest party school in america.
and it’s true things are different than when i was there.
first of all there was no internet.
imagine that. imagine having to communicate, research, write, record, and arrange
pretty much by hand
with the help of some very slow and expensive computers and photography equipment.
the phones were landlines and i dont recall there even being an answering machine in the office.
all the lines you see on that page were pasted up by hand. each one has a size.
we used rulers and pens and pencils and paper and we always got the paper out.
on time. the photographers used film that they had to develop and then print, and yet if there was a large gathering on DP after a big basketball game, where couches were lit on fire and the fire was lit on fire, the story was reported, edited, and published, and the photos were too.
you bet your ass things are different today.
today, if they worked together, the college community along with the paper could take the pictures and report and opine and review and video and sneak over some tips and share it on facebook and and and
but just like the 100th monkey said, you gotta lead by example
if i was back in IV writing for the paper, id set up IV Hall Monitors. a few people on each block whose “job” it was to do simple things like take pictures of the block each week, and be available when and if anything went down of note. id have them all share a group twitter account. you wouldnt have to pay these kind souls.
if you love IV it should be an honor to simply report back on your magical block.
id also be all over periscope in a huge way.
not to mention snapchat.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
if you recall, a couple of weeks ago i got upset that the kids of UCSB and the staff at the Daily Nexus were ruining their lives because they are neither fighting for their right to party, nor are they properly partying.
the Nexus was kind enough to repost my screed and once it was up there some of the kids replied and called me names. i fought back, as i normally do. but after awhile i got it.
these youngsters were doomed.
they have been raised all wrong, they don’t understand rock music, courage, or life without cell phones: how could they understand Isla Vista?
in my day when a man in I.V. broke up with a woman that he had dated for 2 years, we’d throw a party and invite our three favorite bands (pictured, above). how could they relate to that? they arent even allowed to have one band at their break up party.
and theyre ok with that.
whatever it is that they see when they see us they dont want. and i can understand that. they dont know why we are happy. they dont know how we got here. they dont know how many paths are available to them, and because their role models are former Disney stars and EDM DJs, they rightfully think life is a bunch of baloney.
omg swipe left, bruh!
they say things skip a generation. maybe thats the case for IV too. maybe these kids really do want to study, but they dont want to learn. we wanted to learn. we wanted to live. we wanted to date a different girl every day for a week. we wanted to ingest one different thing a night every day for a month. we wanted to see Janes Addiction and then be them. We wanted to see the Grateful Dead and then be hippies.
we wanted to start newspapers and make poetry books and fight anyone and everyone and dance and kiss and dance and kiss and dance.
these kids want to graduate.
i cannot judge. even though im full of judgement.
they are living in a world we could have never imagined when we were there.
and we lived in one that they dont believe.
we should have a break up party.
Monday, September 28, 2015
several eras of the daily nexus ate pizza, drank, and chatted with each other. some of us gave advice.
my advice to the kids: stop going to classes, break up with your boyfriends and girlfriends, quit your jobs and devote the rest of your college life to the Nexus. they laughed, but i wasnt kidding.
barb and elspeth were there with hugs for me to give to jeanine which was very nice. barb let us know that the desks that were still in the office were rejects from AS from the 70s.
current EIC Emile, former EIC Amy and Barb posed while Todd Francis did his best Grumpy Cat
the Babes of the Nexus posed in front of all of the bound editions that told our whole story
the UCen was open and had some weird propaganda poster AS IF the kids dont know where the bookstore is
Michelle and Doug hadn’t seen each other in decades someone told me, but that cant be true, but maybe it can be since Dougie has been in Prague since the 90s and Michelle has been in Mexico, FLA, Minnesota and now back in Cali.
i told the current Nexus editors that i wasnt kidding: quit everything, dedicate your life to rock n roll and you too can wind up a bald man with clashing plaids and the greatest friends in the world. i also told them they need to be Periscoping the F outta DP and UCSB and that little bit of advice i have a feeling they might actually accept.
in summary, even though it was delightful turnout, dont you think Nexus reunions should be about 50x more people? am i the only one who was touched forever by this amazing newspaper? if this was a football school we would have shown up for the dumb football team, but it’s a newspaper school. the best in all the land. yes it was fantastic that my era showed up in big numbers but what about all the other eras? have they all forgotten about where they came from? it’s a mystery to me.
afterwards i went to the bookstore to get some ucsb swag and i got a text that joe kovach was on the phone at the office and wanted to talk to me. so i dropped everything and ran back across Storke Plaza and wow, i hadnt talked to him in a verrrry long time. he told me kudos for this and that and i told him kudos right back joe. i feel like we should buy a coke machine that dispenses little 10 oz bottles so he can keep it stocked. seeing him do that back in the day was one of my favorite memories.
later the kids told me about some of the party games that they play now and it made me very happy.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
in the middle of the greatest school in the world is the greatest college paper in the world
and yesterday i was invited to speak to them after their first year being primarily digital
i took the train because the thesis of the hour was do shit differently
and id never taken the train to ucsb before
when it was all over, they cracked up a special bottle of scotch, we drank for a little while
and then i was sped off to the train station by the beautiful outgoing EIC and her personal driver
then i took the train home as the sun set over the pacific
and i wondered if i hit all the themes i wanted to hit
i told them to work twice as hard as they did last year for the next four years.
i told them the truth, which is, most of the people they are peers with are easily beat if they did one thing:
produce twice as much stuff, master social media, and if you can’t do that: just use social media, omg.
somehow the details as to how i got fired and banned from the daily nexus were divulged
which provided some nice comic relief
but the main point i had was just work your ass off for the years youre in college
and the first couple years out of college and you’ll be shot out of a cannon.
i think that sunk in.
it was very nice to be in that magical office again
and strangely, super nice to hang out downtown santa barbara for an hour.
might have to do it again sometime.
Monday, February 16, 2015
at first i thought chuck e cheese, but i realized her boys are big now (both in high school) and seana was a hair metal rock fan back in school
so i suggested the Rainbow on the fabulous Sunset Strip
it was surprisingly empty so we got the best table in the joint right next to the fireplace
which was slightly unnecessary since it was 75 degrees outside
but we ate pizza and pasta, drank beers, talked about Napa and Isla Vista and how her boys dont watch tv or sports
and they listen to EDM instead of classic rock
we all said a little prayer that they will grow out of it
and generally had a spectacular time in a little slice of rock n roll history.
from now on this is where i will eat pizza with people when they say they wanna buy me some beers.
for those of you who dont know Seana, she is the one on with her arms around me on the far right of this pic.
for some reason i thought she and i took a road trip from santa barbara to hollywood back in college
for a Rolling Stones press announcement, in which no Stones attended
but we didnt care: road trip to Hollywood.
anyhow, Seana hasnt changed a bit. she’s still super fun and her family is awesome.
Monday, December 29, 2014
normally im against such things, but i never get to hang with chris and ben
i was at CJ’s soul food at 9am on the dot, the fellas were too.
we sat in a booth in the back and discussed all the good things three bachelors would:
motorboats, journalism, jeff solomon.
as i drove home i realized that even though we chatted for two hours, we never talked about sports
even though we all love sports.
for some reason i considered that a backhanded success.