“Making It’ try Crisco
My former clients Stew, also known as Stew and Heidi, Mark “Stew” Stewart and Heidi Rodewald, , and or Stew and The Negro Problem (as compared to Stew OR The Negro Problem, circa 2000-2010 – they were distinct projects, from each other, if not, except in the minds of a few influential o.g. tastemakers – your Adam Duritzes, your Dan Bernses, your Bob Dylans, your Brandon Kesslers, your Bill Bragins and your yours trulies – from the masses of bands that nobody hears that we swear are way better than those that everybody hears) released today a new baby, a cd, of eleven original songs, called “Making It”, a self-release (fitting term, that, as opposed to merely burning for nine years on his own stake) on TNP, which now means not (not) The Negro Problem but (a) Tight Natural Production (of Venice, — California, that is, swimming pools and movie stars not included, unless there is a deluxe edition beyond what I rate).
The cd does feature: Stew, Heidi, longtime stick-kitter Marty Beller (but not the one who makes music for HBO “In Treatment” – I don’t think – although he is or was down with TMBG and his wife is or was a top literary agent), five other musicians, production by my fellow 650 and Dartmouth product Britt Myers (dba Great City Productions – his dad is o.g. venture capitalist and philanthropist Gib Myers of Atherton, U.S. – if not “swimming pools and movie stars” then possibly horse corrals and Ty Cobb once lived nearby) and incredible tuba sounds by the quite versatile boychik he-so-horny Jacob Garchik – son of Chronicle gossip columnist Leah Garchik and someone I have a rather one-sided dialogue going on about Lee Konitz and Palo Alto (or “Palo Alto”) especially on track #11 “Treat Right.”
Disclosure – as if I could try to conceal or cover this up – I am Stew’s former manager; which reminds me: Mazel tov to my successor, a Dan Perloff, distant relative perhaps of Another Planet’s Gregg Perloff (who use to stalk me, according to his former a.a.) and Cary Perloff, with whom I discussed “Passing Strange” – and Madigan Shive and Tracy Chapman– during “Bloodlines’” overlap regionally here (415 minus 510 is only 55 minutes away!) good omen that, if apocryphal. A Perloff is a Perloff, even if he is not one of THE Perloffs. Which reminds me:
My name’s Stew (I wrote this, a parody, to his “Ken” melody)
And I like Jews;
A Nearenberg or a Weiss
I’ve used them once or twice
And the good folks at (insert name of current Broadway or off-Broadway Theatre Stew works with and or the firm that produced “Passing Strange) treat me quite nice…
I actually sang that into the answering machine of a good half dozen people – I recall Alexis Harte and Leah Garchik most notably, during PS’s Berkeley run. I also recall Bonnie Simmons being too busy with Pacifica infighting to bother to see it, at least with me, that is. (And, of course, The Negro Problem supported Cake in Palo Alto during Bonnie’s term schlepping Sacto-East Bay style for McCrea et al).
Of the 11 new songs – the first cd cd since 2002’s “Something Deeper Than These Changes” (Image Entertainment) – at least three were written during my term, i.e. they pre-date “Passing Strange”. Which in a parallel world at least and maybe someday in this one or now or next week – the check’s in the mail – I receive, depending which version of our contract is the “execution” (great word) version, or the “enforceable” version – or which version of my “golden parachute” – or “green parachute” – green as in money – did I save that actual one dollar bill? – the kill bill, so to speak – and oddly, as I revise this, “Kill Bill” is working its way through body after bloody body, in the background hum, on SPIKE, and in fact, come to think of it, there was a sister at Spike who was in that original wave of people feeling Stew — we refer to, or prefer to leave it unmentionable, I get for which post term income (PTI) “sunset clause” publishing rights The three songs I recall Stew working on, way back in 2002, include Track #3 “Black Men Ski”, Track #7 which was called “Bill Beholden” or “Bill Be Hold ‘Em” and now goes by “Suzy Wong” (but I like to refer to it as “Maria Sousa –Wong”), and Track #8 “Tomorrow Gone” which I didn’t realize was a tribute to Queen’s “Death on Two Legs” – it was about me.
Actually, I just searched first Thomson and then Halliwell to find that, despite giving “The World of Suzy Wong” featuring William Holden zero stars, it claims that someone or something called MFB (for Mother Fuckin’ Brits?) said that “Suzy Wong” would make a good musical someday. Listening, guys?
Also, upon further reflection I think Stew is like “Sundance” in that he can only shoot straight when he moves. As in, ask him for a dozen songs about George Washington Carver that you need in Iowa by February – next week – and he nails it, but give him ten years between cds proper and he might as well be a slacker Hilo pig farmer who moonlights on ukelele and keeps pidgins to boot.
Speaking of pigeons, it is absolutely true that I once sat next to Forrest Whitaker and his lady friend — a local — here in Palo Alto, at Douce France, and he was wearing a Sundance black fleece jacket and I rehearsed in my mind but lacked the nerve to actually say “I got a friend who says that black men get mistaken for people they don’t resemble in the least, and he, like you, has a Sundance jacket, and rolls with Spike and Redford.” Then, after that, I would call Eric Fanali’s radio show and give the “Forrest Whitaker Report”: I’m at Douce France, no sign of Jefferson, et cetera. For weeks, I did that. Very 2009.
I had the eerie experience today, on my way back from Bruce Beasley and Sweet Brown Sugar Kitchen of really checking “Suzy Wong” as I tried to traverse The Bay Bridge (westbound) running, like Jackson Browne, on empty – – I had the song on repeat and tried to not think about either Calder Spanier or Andrew Dubus – hint, if you ever break down or (like an American idiot, almost like me today) run out of gas on a bridge or freeway keep driving if you can or at the very least leave your vehicle and place your body at least 40 yards past your car /bollard/obstacle/death trap.
If “Naked Dutch Painter” is the presage of “Passing Strange” then “Black Men Ski” despite the craftsmanship is a coda or self-parody. Come to think of it, wasn’t I – a 1986 artes baccaulures in English from Dartmouth College, reading Henry David Thoreau “On Walden Pond” the night, in October, 2002, in Chicago, at a little club called Martyr’s no less, — it was October 6, to be exact, my dad’s 78th birthday – he flew out to the show, which caused me to miss the load in, and get scolded by Mr. Boss Man – meet the new boss, same as the old boss – and the Cubbies had a playoff game, near by. My dad and I between sound check and hit, parked outside of Wrigley and listened through open rental windows to Harry Carey leading the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” – I thought our timing was perfect, despite the load-in flub – although actually I was calling on Red Ryder Eric Selz apropos we were Desparately Seeking a Seth Malasky, a new paradigm, if you dig him when I became awol. I was reading Thoreau the night that Stew added the clever line about baptism in Walden Pond when “Black Men Ski” was just about skiing. And not to be like a Weather Man taking credit for calling a Black Panther, or a Deerhoof, or even a deef and dumb oaf. (thank you, Budd Sculberg, RIP, like Warren Kolodny but not Gary Stewart of Rhino and how old is your Harley, Richard Foos?) I may be the only guy to ride an elevator with Spike Lee at NYU and with Budd Schulberg at The Hanover Inn within two years of each other if at all. My recollection is that Stew spit out the first few bits of “Black Men Ski” as a goof on Bernstein’s song about an extraterrestrial fucking a monkey to produce Tiger Woods.
So What Makes Stew Run?
1) He loves his daughter, Bibi, who took the cover photo, at St. Ann’s in the green room.
2) Although he is stuck in this post PS syndrome rut – is he actually, while I sit here deliriously tapping my wirelessless MacBook keys at Caffe Centro in South Park
, SF, trying to write something very very very very clever about Peanut Butter and Des Moines, yuck!!! – it’s sort of like saying “Sometimes a Great Nation” is not “Cuckoos Nest” or so what else did Ellison write after “Invisible Man” or just the boxing scene for that matter.
The other thing I should probably not go too far too deep, something deeper than these manic word salad train that train of linguistically signifying Monkey One and Monkey Two my Rob Syrett super duper burger – Rob Burger on keys and Carla Kihlstedt on something called Nickelharpa are the highlights for me of the recent Tracy Chapman since you or I mentioned it – is that like all the people who worked for Ronald Reagan and were not allowed to reveal that yes he dyed his hair – the hair that dyed for our sins – and like Rock Hudson being gay or Fats Domino – Antoine to me, based on by 504 hours cumulatively spent working on behalf of a famous NOLA musician – wearing a wig, — how he got in my wig I will never know — Stew has a secret that a small group of us are still amazingly almost ten years now still for whatever reason not actually talking about. Again, just now, I typed in the terms that should point to this unspoken fact and nothing comes up, null set. And I do recall sitting in Hans Wendl’s office and he told me that Norah Jones (who I, at least here, appropriately, thought was black) is whisper-whisper-whisper, or like Dr. J’s daughter in that first round upset at Wimledon – it’s more like that than like Rock Hudson being gay and someone outing him. Or Ian Mackaye or something (rhymes with “guy” not “gay”, I am just saying, for no reason whatsoever). I am not saying Stew is gay either, although I am taking credit for getting my dear friend and famous expert on “the down low” (black men having sex with black men but pretending to play Poker, In The Rear – its just cards – or as Eugene S. Robinson would say, again, another complicated and brilliant ex-client who just happens to be black would say or does say in his book, or should I just paraphrase: it’s only gay if you make eye contact) Keith Boykin – I encouraged Keith to see “Passing Strange’ or actually I am making that up – we talked briefly about it, at least on the internet, but he read Eugene on my urgings, so to speak.
I think “Making It” is a cd that everyone should buy or download or go see live, ok.
I just think Stew is gonna be stuck in this rut – not the worst place to be, it’s like Derek Jeter batting “only .250” – until he gets therapy – maybe as part of a Reality Show –
no, that would be stupid, very what’s that little guy from Public Enemy, wth the giant watch on a chain, oy yeah Flavor Flav (as opposed to K.Flay, who would eat his lunch, or wouldn’t bother; she likes Burger King). So I am predicting that some day Stew goes public or is outed on something – or maybe I am making this up – making it up that is and then Stew, as is his wont – will make it up, the thing that I am pretending to exist – maybe it does not actually exist and it is just a gratuitous ingredient to my big bowl of thought and experiences and ideas regarding some dude I kinda used to know and am Strangely obsessed by, surpassing strangely, at Othello might say – speaking of misunderstood brothers from another mother of all playrights – and then he can write a concept album about that thing and it will be even better than “Passing Strange”. My mouth to God’s, um, something something. (deeper than these, um clichés, tropes, turns of phrases – no disrespect to Stew or Heidi and them but I also happenened before I think I went to my box and found the package from Stew I grabbed from Library endcap “Bass Cathedral” by of Santa Cruz Nathaiel Mackey; check this, p132, chosen at random: when the applause and laughter subsided I heard the sound of water, trickling water, deep inside my ear, the sound of a babbling brook almost, an nsansic, mbiric, thumb-pianistic sense of ongoingness or flow, ictic insistence to the nth unremitting degree.
A little more mbira, please!
Or, and you would have had to, like Bill Bragin, Kay Kostopolous, Harry Elam, Margrit Eichler, Aleta Hayes and me, have to have seen “Passing Strange” work-shtupped at Shtanfort to get this little inside or big inside funny ha ha, what A Tight Natural Production needs, to be more like say, WHAT’S HER NAME from “The Help” and “THE WHITE TRASH CHICK, 30 MILES FROM JACKSON’ (NB, which means “nota bena” and not “n-word-beater”, I will add her name later, edit to add. OCTAVIA SPENCER. OCTAVIA SPENCER. OCTAVIA SPENCER) and like the original funnier less commercial version of what became a Spike Lee Joint, in the scene where they are at a press conference in Europe and he is fielding two questions at once:
I didn’t even get to the part where Stew and I areout for dinner at Tamarine in Palo Alto – this was January 28, 2009, my birthday this time – and Time Man of the Year Andrew Grove comes in, with his daughter Robbie and a crew of her friends and I thought about what a great photo op it would be – the Toast of Broadway and Time Man of the Year but Stew pulls rank or something and I say, fuck it, what he doesn’t know won’t help him. They were within five feet of each other – a slam-dunk or layup in terms of a schmoozer’s playbook or skillset, but I let it go. Although Robbie came to the table and I’m not sure if or if not I told him who she actually is. Or do I even know her, Roberta?
Ok, to sum it up, as Aleph approaches the Zeta landscape, there is making it, and making it up, there is truth and fiction, there is reality hunger, there is 23 and Me and 40 Acres and a Mule, there are Sunset Clauses and PTI, PS and PMS, and PNH, sadly; it’s not too late to have a happy childhood (at Tom Robbins insists, even to Hal Riney, to take credit for), there are self-made-men, test-tube babies, there’s Bibi, Henry Bibby, fathers and sons, of varying stripes and shades, we are a product of both our environment and mastering by both Dave Schultz AND Bill Inglot, we can be both master of our own domains and merely pulling someone or our own’s chain, but I like what my classmate Jessica Yu and her client or subject or victim Mark O’Brian – great name – said: and I’m paraphrasing, we are a combination of what a higher power and a new MacBook can do: we are co-creators of the universe, even if we are waiting Richard Nixon to send us home, and will I am holding my own. We are making it. Making it R Us. Sho nuff, ya dig?
edit to add: a source embedded in Tight Natural Productions tells me that Stew’s safe word is “kreplach”.
And, honestly I didn’t realize how true this was when I started, this cult of Suzie Wong, but damn if Stew doesn’t once again have his finger on the sheistkike:
and as of 6:45 p.m. on the release date, there are 6 likes but you can be the first to review this product:
http://www.amazon.com/Making-Stew-Negro-Problem/dp/B006JSY314Six years and three months laterI am editing to add to hear that Terry and I Friday night saw the preview of rock of ages at Palo Alto players at Lucie Stern that show started in 2005 in Los Angeles and became the top 20 all time grossing Broadway shows tied with a man of LaMantia stew had already started passing strange by 2003
Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote, learns to cook, like William Cook.
i would have to look this up but I will bet a Chief Myers baseball card — no check that, it was purloined with the Gehrig, ok, a George Blanda, work with me — that Gib Myers, who actually lives in Atherton actually lives within a mile of the old Ty Cobb place, just a hunch.
i just looked it up and he links to it but wow or wah hoo wow britt myers has 63 credits according to All Music.
brandon kessler, that is. sorry dude.
whitaker was wearing a fleece jacket
“Making It” is on Tight Natural Productions (TNP), an artist owned label but it is distributed by RedEye, out of Haw River, North Carolina, which is about 25 miles up 54 West from Crooks Corner, Carrboro.
and Perloff Dan is better known as Peter Himmelman’s manager which speaks to my point about “My name’s Stew and I like Jews”.
MFB was Monthly Film Bulletin and included a writer or editor named Penelope Houston
fact-checking i should note that bernstein’s aliens did not produce Tiger Woods merely associate produced
i looked that up and jeter is batting .270 and .297 — or about .280 combined — over the last two seasons so not sure my analogy works; but this is far better than the stuff from The Mendoza Line.
i also flashed to something about Crisco and Christgau, not sure what yet.
Mark O’Brien, subject of Academy Award winning film by JessYu:
i think i mean the german word for the thing that octavia spencer’s character added to her making it: scheisse. i am playing on zeitgeist, imbiss. but sheist almost works, as in scheister, who steals.
What Does Noel Murray of A.V. Club Know About Rock and Roll? He pans stew — i like me stew in a bowl. He give’s it a c for “crisco” — a little too tight, too forced. He has 4,000 followers and has posted on AV or commented 7,000 times. Meanwhile, Carrie Brownstein has 20,000 followers as does someone named Julie Klausner.
they also panned the new Ani DiFranco
i played beth custer “suzie wong” and she really loved it. I had to lend her my cd. at first she guessed “richard thompson”. i think there are some dynamic overlaps between stew and beth; maybe they could do some shows together. she liked the melodica and flute, but we could not hear any trombone.
“Blood Knot” rather. Which Colman Domingo starred in, but not at ACT. I unfortunately made this same mistake — mis-identifying the Athol Fugard play — when I met Tracy Chapman. She hadn’t seen “Passing Strange” but said she had heard about it and would see the film version.
Meanwhile, like yesterday, I also left an anonymous voice mail for Leah Garchik suggesting she check out “Wild With Happy” starring Colman Domingo in Palo Alto this month but otherwise will probably let that whole deal slip on by.
The secret I refer to is only that I can think of a pretty obvious sequel to “Passing Strange”…