While the Gnome visits his British Columbian cousins this week, guest columnist Alan Alda offers his incisive commentary on Seattle's music scene.
Y' know, it's hard being a man in the '80s. If you don't look like one of Martin Sheen's kids (what I wouldn't give for Charlie's head of hair!) you've got to have something else on the ball. Appearing in a Woody Allen movie always gets you some points, but I prefer playing a doctor. You get to save lives and be all sympathetic to people on—actually, I seem to recall that I am a physician—somehow I got that gig again. . . . But my old pal Trapper John isn't around anymore, and I miss him, I really miss him. . . .
Sorry, I had to take a break there and find my hankie. Y'know, I used to have monogrammed ones, but then my dry cleaner sent them to Alan Arkin's house by mistake one week, and I figured it's probably better not to be so ostentatious. I think Sam Coomes would agree with me. He plays in Quasi, and he has some issues with making money, which I discovered when I listened—I mean really listened—to the lyrics on his band's records.
It thrilled little ol' gray-haired me to see the huge crowd at the Breakroom when Quasi played there Friday, the last show of their nationwide tour. I tried to see them in Los Angeles, but my personal assistant kept driving me to an NBC sound stage then disappearing. I did feel a bit sorry for the opening musician, a charming Chicagoan with a WASP-y name (Cooper Hewitt? Awadagin Pratt? B.J. Honeycutt? No, it was something like Archibald . . . Archer Prewitt!), because you could barely hear him above all the enthusiastic discussions going on. At least people were connecting with each other. That's very important. Anyway, I think this Coomes has quite a future ahead of him.
During my Seattle stay, I attended another crowded show when Luna performed at the Crocodile. I was chatting with some of the band members' parents, keeping my fingers crossed that they would sing their cover of "Sweet Child o' Mine" (so much better than Sheryl Crow's version). Alas, I was disappointed. But behind this sensitive, sweet exterior lies a gnomish, iron will. I'll get over it.
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