Ava Gardner + New Orleans Rap

I blame buyee.jp for my lack of updates over the past couple of weeks. It gives those outside Japan access to Yahoo Auctions, a goldmine for rare Japanese vinyl. When I left Tokyo in 2004, I mourned the end of my love affair with Yahoo Auctions, beloved provider of my most cherished ’60s Japanese girl-pop 45s. It’s been two weeks since discovering buyee.jp and the thrill is not even close to wearing off. I’ve been given the keys back to the kingdom, and I am thankful every single friggin’ day. One of my recent scores will be appearing on the second volume of Nippon Girls, which Ace Records are clearing right this minute! Speaking of Ace, I’ve reviewed a couple of their latest compilations—Dusty Heard Them Here First, featuring the original versions of Dusty’s covers, and the 8th volume of the Where the Girls Are series—which you can read by clicking on the links.

January got off to a hot n’ sunny start in Palm Springs, CA, where I hung by the poolside at the Del Marcos Hotel devouring Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations by Peter Evans and Ava Gardner. I developed an Ava Gardner addiction in 2006 when I attended the New Yorker magazine festival and sat in the audience as film critic Anthony Lane very eloquently aired his infatuation with the feisty actress. But it’s not even her films that fascinate—most of them were fairly average (well, aside from The Killers). It’s that rebellious twinkle in her gorgeous eyes, the jaw-dropping beauty, her fearlessness in being sexual, provocative, foul-mouthed, and domineering. She had her way with countless men—Hollywood bigwigs like Mickey Rooney and Howard Hughes, jazz musician Artie Shaw, Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguin, and her most famous beau of all, Frank Sinatra. Some possessed violent tempers and used physical force to wrestle control of Ava. The Secret Conversations was released last summer, just after co-author Peter Evans passed away (Ava Gardner died in 1990). These were conversations far too personal and revealing for Ava to green light whilst she was alive, and when she eventually grew frustrated with Peter Evans’ pursuit of the truth, she dumped him as her biographer and employed the services of Lee Server, who turned out a well-written yet ultra-sanitized, Hollywood-scripted version of her life story. The Secret Conversations, however, is the real Ava, almost shocking in its honesty and sass, yet careful not to fall into the trappings of typical celebrity dirt-digging.

For my next book I’ve chosen Nik Cohn’s Triksta: Life and Death and New Orleans Rap because 1) his Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock is one of the greatest paeans to ’50s + ’60s rock n’ roll, 2) I love New Orleans, and 3) I know absolutely nothing about current rap and like the idea of entering completely foreign territory. I’m only on page 13, and there’s already a lot of death. 

In non-book news, I’ve acquired quite a few heavy soul/ freakbeat 45s after a month long eBay binge, which I’ll be whipping into some sort of mix for y’all. Until then, here are a few pics from the Yé-Yé Girls of ’60s French Pop book release party, where I shared the decks with the brilliant DJ Mikey IQ Jones of Other Music and modern Yé-Yé girl, April March. 


Yé-Yé fans get cozy at Molasses Books, Brooklyn.

DJ Mikey IQ Jones + April March on the decks.

A glass of red + Monique Thubert’s “Avec Les Oreilles.”

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