Friday, May 3, 2013

Stone Temple Pilots -- "Lady Picture Show" (1996)

Lady picture girl
I think them boys don't like your show

(Good grammar isn't everything.)

Poor San Diego.  It's the second-largest city in California, but trails far behind Los Angeles (the largest) and San Francisco (number four after not only San Diego but also San Jose) in fame and its impact on American culture and the popular imagination.

I could list musicians associated with Los Angeles and San Francisco until the cows come home.  (Los Angeles has the Beach Boys and Doors and many more.  And San Francisco has the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane and so many others.)  But what bands of real stature are associated in the public's mind with San Diego?

The Stone Temple Pilots
Well, there's one-hit-wonder Iron Butterfly -- they started out in San Diego although they quickly relocated to Los Angeles.

There's Stone Temple Pilots -- who also got their start in San Diego but quickly relocated to Los Angeles.

And then there's . . . hmmmmm.

The Stone Temple Pilots came together when Scott Weiland met New Jersey-born bass player Robert DeLeo at a Black Flag concert in Long Beach, California, in 1986.  

The two men, who both lived in San Diego's Point Loma community, figured out that they were dating the same woman.  But rather than fight for her hand (or her hey-nonny-nonny), they decided to form a band and ended up living together in the woman’s San Diego apartment after she moved to Texas.

Downtown San Diego from Point Loma
The band (which also included DeLeo’s guitarist brother Dean and drummer Eric Kretz) originally called themselves Mighty Joe Young, which was the title of a 1949 movie about an African gorilla who becomes a California night-club entertainer.

The movie was remade (badly) in 1998:

After a couple of years of playing clubs in San Diego and Los Angeles, the band signed a record contract.  But while they were recording their first album, a record company lawyer told them that an elderly blues singer who already called himself Mighty Joe Young.  

The group decided to record under the name Stone Temple Pilots.  That name didn't mean anything -- it seems to have been inspired by the old STP motor oil logo.  (One theory is that the group chose the name because they could get STP stickers for free at gas stations and use them as promotional giveaways.)

The band's first album, Core, was released in 1992 and went multiplatinum, thanks in part to the popularity of singles like "Wicked Garden" and "Plush."  

Today, there's an STP tribute band in San Diego that goes by the name Core.  Think about that, boys and girls -- a Stone Temple Pilots tribute band.

STP tribute band Core
STP was hardly the Beatles, or Led Zeppelin.  In a 1994 Rolling Stone poll, STP was voted "Worst New Band" by critics.  But it was also voted "Best New Band" by readers.  That same year, STP’s song “Plush” won the “Best Hard Rock Performance” Grammy.  

All five of the band’s studio albums have earned either gold or platinum certification, so maybe forming a tribute band wasn't such a crazy idea after all.   

After my recent San Francisco vacation with my family, I headed on to San Diego on business.  I visit San Diego each spring to attend a trade show with several other lawyers from my firm.

One of the highlights of this year's show was the keynote speaker, famous basketball coach Bob Knight: 

Knight is known for speaking his mind.  Actually, he's known for speaking his mind while choking players and throwing chairs on to the court during games.

The most memorable part of Knight's speech came when he advised his audience not to be too quick to say "yes" when asked for something by a child or employee.  "It's a lot easier to go from saying 'no' to saying 'yes' than it is to go from 'yes' to 'no'," he opined.  "Some of you ladies know what I'm talking about."

It's remarkable how creative modern trade-show promoters are when it comes to selling sponsorships and advertising -- no stone is left unturned when it comes to making money.  Here's a picture of the inner doors of one of the elevators at the hotel where the trade show was being held.  As you see, even that space had been sold to one of the exhibitors:

The trade show is at a big hotel that's located on right on San Diego Bay.  There's a nice paved hiker-biker path that runs north past the San Diego convention center, a couple of other huge hotels, and Seaport Village, a restaurant/shopping area that attracts a lot of tourists.  

Here's a sign that was posted all around the outdoor eating area in Seaport Village:

Why are the Seaport Village pigeons being singled out for carrying and transmitting diseases?  Couldn't you say the same about most of the people there? 

You can see one of the two towers of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in the background of this photo of a bottlebrush shrub (genus callistemon).  The Hyatt's two big-ass towers are 33 and 40 stories tall, and have a total of 1625 guest rooms.

The trail also runs past a marina with a lot of very pricey boats, the Maritime Museum of San Diego (whose collection includes the official California tall ship, a couple of 19th-century ships, and a couple of submarines), and the USS Midway, a World War II-vintage aircraft carrier that opened as a museum in 2004. 

One evening when I was out for my daily constitutional, I saw this rather unusual sight:

If you just can't live without a Colt .45 barbecue grill, click here.  It's available on Etsy for a mere $7950 (plus $750 shipping and handling).

Another iconic feature of the San Diego Bay waterfront is "Unconditional Surrender," a 25-foot-tall statue that's often referred to as the "Kissing Statue."  

Most people think the sculpture is based on the famous Alfred Eisenstadt photograph, "V-J Day in Times Square":

But it is actually based on a photograph of the same scene taken at about the same time by a Navy photojournalist, Lt. Victor Jorgensen:

"Lady Picture Show" was the second single released from the Stone Temple Pilots' 1996 album, Tiny Music . . . Songs From The Vatican Giftshop.  It sounds quite different from most of STP's songs, which tend to sound more like Alice in Chains and Nirvana and Soundgarden and the other Seattle grunge bands whose music was so popular in the early nineties.  "Lady Picture Show" is almost Beatle-ish.

Here's the album cover:

And here's the official music video for "Lady Picture Show," which is a hoot -- it's as incoherent as the song's lyrics, but that doesn't mean it's not a lot of fun:

Click below to order "Lady Picture Show" from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. San Diego may not be a vibrant center of musical innovation, but for those of us who follow the railway industry as well as the music scene, it gets a gold star and five clangs of the streetcar gong as the home of the first new trolley system in the US since some time back in the 1920s. The San Diego transit system accomplished this in record time and at much lower cost than some subsequent light rail projects, and sparked a renaissance in rail transit that's still seeing new construction. It's gotten to the point that new lines are opening faster than I can go ride them--a far cry from the dismal days of the 1950s and 60s, when abandonments were the news of the day.