Meet the Howells

10Jan07

What better way to start the new year than to recap one of the biggest social events of the last year — the marriage of Daedalus Howell and April Frederick. I suppose it’s taken me so long to get around to writing about this wedding (which took place in September) because I’m still recovering from the shock of seeing the self-proclaimed “Last of the Great Bachelors” tie the knot. In fact, I’ve been friends with Daedalus for as long as I can remember, or at least since he and Gabe Faurebrac terrorized Petaluma while they were still in jr. high school by posting samizdat flyers all over town announcing the coming of “Le Roi Poisson” and signing off with a bombastic “Fuckez Vous!” Daedalus, Jon Legare, and I ended up publishing a small poetry journal together (Deluge Six), which has miraculously made it into the SF Public Library Little Maga/Zine Collection. In fact, they might have the only surviving copy of issue #2, which was the final issue since our fancy-pants idea to make a two-tone cover basically killed the magazine because we couldn’t get off of our lazy post-adolescent asses for long enough to actually perform the labor of silk-screening the second cover. Daedalus went on to publish several issues of the now infamous Scam Magazine and was a founding member of several organizations including the Raunchy Raunchy Arthur clothing line, the PHSLO (Petaluma High School Liberation Organization), and Mighty Corporate Pirates World Enterprises. In addition to co-authoring the neo-Dada 10 to 9, Howell is the author of The Late Projectionist, a very fine roman à clef in which a MUCH ALTERED version of myself makes an appearance as Trout Monroe, a nickname that followed me around high school. Daedalus was also a member of Petaluma’s venerable neo-skiffle outfit The Lids, as well as being a current member of The Arms and Legs.

I guess it should come as no surprise that the other members of the Groom’s Party should also be musicians: Orion Letizi and Abe Levy are both members of The Arms and Legs (Orion on vocals and lead guitar, Abe on drums), and Shannon plays guitar for Longwave. In addition to drumming for The Arms and Legs, Abe has a day job as a film director. His last movie, The Aviary, follows the secret life of flight attendants, and his latest film, One of Our Own, features the ever brilliant Matthew Lillard.

When Orion isn’t playing guitar or singing, he bends space with his mind.

The ceremony itself took place in the back yard of a classic old downtown Sonoma building that has been converted into a dance studio. It was a low-key ceremony that involved a wedding song performed by Shannon and Orion and a speech about love and the cosmos that was given by a Dutch minister with an inexplicable Spanish accent. In their best homage to the Pepper-era Beatles, the groomsmen all wore banks of medals on their chests denoting their rank and accomplishments within the scattered hierarchy of diasporic Petaluma culturati.

When the bride arrived, however, all the gleam and glitter of all the culture medals granted to all the groomsmen in the world dimmed and paled in comparison to the beautiful A. Frederick. (One is supposed to say such things, you know.) Like Daedalus, I’ve also known April for an eon or so, ever since she used to go out with an old roommate of mine. April and I became fast friends, and I even ended up sleeping on her and her housemates’ couch for a week or so back in the early broke days of my graduate student life when I was living out of the trunk of my car. Anyhow, April is totally the greatest, and perhaps even now the greatestest since she’s working in the wine industry (which is what one wants to do if one lives in Sonoma) and that means that there’s always wine around, and drinking wine produces much good feelings of greatestestness.

The man pictured on the left is Howell’s sometime screenwriting partner Jerry Rapp. Jerry is an old friend of my brother, from way back in the Kansas City High days, and he’s a great guy. I think I had the best sleep of my life ever when I shared his couch in New York with his dalmation, Lucy. Jerry is a scriptwriter and producer and has worked on several movies and television shows. His latest film (co-producer, co-writer), Mojave Phone Booth, is premiering on Saturday, February 10th, at the San Francisco Indie Fest.  You can view a fine Rapp and Howell collaboration — Is It Time to Swap? — on YouTube.  And don’t forget Hold Me With Your Robot Hand, Howell’s epic “mini-doc” featuring his brother Shannon (on the right in the photo above) as a one-armed bass-playing prodigy (the short also features Jon Legare on drums).

Chris Sawyer and Chris Sparks came wearing Nixon re-election pendants that they found in one of their aunt’s attics. Who knew that Tricky Dick used Summer of Love stylings like this in ’72? These may have helped get him re-elected, but even talismans like this couldn’t save him from Watergate. Sawyer, who was elected “all around good guy” in ’97, ’98, and ’99, writes for Wine X magazine when he’s not busy with Vine & Barrel, the retail wine shop he opened with his wife Simone at 143 Kentucky St. in Petaluma. Sawyer definitely knows his wines and whenever I’m back in Petaluma I always make it a point to stop by Sawyer’s Secret Stash, the underground cellar where Sawyer keeps his private collection of wine, a record player, and a healthy dose of punk rock and new wave vinyl. Simone’s father, Gerald Haslam, was one of my professors in the English Department at Sonoma State University, where I received my undergraduate degree — without his guidance, I still wouldn’t know an interdental fricative from a glottal stop.

Here’s another photo of Orion, this time looking very dandy sporting his not-quite-a-pork-pie-hat hat. Orion grew up in a dome house in the Sonoma Mountains, which probably explains many things about him.

One of the things that seems to be rapidly changing in the world around me is that all of my friends from high school are having kids. Conversely, all of my friends from graduate school (about the same age) are not yet having kids. Dan waited until finishing graduate school (in electrical engineering — he can make chips and things) to have kids, and now he has two sons, Aidan and Justin. That’s Justin above, functioning in the place of a proper necktie. You can see a picture of Aidan and Justin with Julie, their mom, here.

My old friend Pam Neitenbach also brought her son Augustus with her (I kept wanting to call him Augustine), and Pam’s sister Annee (who works at the Charles Schultz Museum) and her husband Greg had their daughter Madeleine in tow throughout the weekend. Kids, kids, kids! However, back in the old days when Pam, Daedalus, and I were roommates, there certainly were no kids. And no furniture either, really. We had an enormous living room with only a short tea table surrounded by cushions in the middle of the room. Later there were folding chairs so that Pam could play her cello properly. Pam went on to get a degree in music from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and capped that off with a degree in cooking from Hawaii. She’s currently living in Ohio with her husband AJ where she’s involved with the organics community. I think it had been a good ten years or so since I’d last seen Pam (back in Colorado at her wedding) and it was really good to see her again.

It was also good to spend some time catching up with E. Gustave Jensen and his girlfriend Maureen. Eric, who wrote a lovely Foucauldian comedy called “The History of Sloth” at university, spends his spare time delighting in Catullus — especially the dirty bits. I think he’s been working on his own translations of Catullus’s poems, which are probably better than this, but in the meantime, here’s Catullus’s “Carmen 47,” translated by Audrey Rose:

Porcus and Socratonius, the two left hands
of Piso, the scab and hunger of the universe,
did that prick place you before
my little Veranius and Fabulous?
You have dinner parties sumptuously and lavishly
from early day, and [yet] my buddies
are seeking invitations on street corners?

Roger Tschann, Petaluma’s very own bad-boy music producer and recording engineer, flashes some kind of drunk signs outside of the wedding. I’m not quite sure how to interpret his finger flashings, but for the time being I’m going to assume that he’s making reference to Porcus and Socratonius. Either that, or Roger is making some sort of oblique reference to Grizzly Studios, where he’s recorded albums by the Rum Diary, Conspiracy, Skitzo, Cropduster, Inkwell, and (RIP) Lungbutter. And maybe by The Lids as well?

A large group of my friends did the only sane thing that you can do after attending a wedding in wine country — they rented a house for the weekend so they could get drunk as skunks and not have to drive home. My old roommate Bethany (did I live with EVERYONE in Petaluma?) and her husband Jake were instrumental in this, as well as friends Petra, Jennifer, Alan, and Andrea. My friend Hiya and I were staying at Daedalus and April’s place with Shannon and Ellen (who I managed to get no good pictures of — sorry Ellen!), but we decided to drop by the party house for an afterparty afterparty. And it’s a lucky thing we did, because Jake was doing his best impression of Roger Tschann. Or was it Brian Jostmeyer? Well, impossible to tell, and now I’m getting snarky, which means I’ve been writing for too long and should stop. Sorry Brian! Sorry Roger!

And finally, I’ll leave you with this late-night tongue good-bye from Petra. Petra’s tongue may be magnificent, but her paintings are even better. They show up fairly decently on her website, but reproductions don’t really do justice to the density of layering and subtlety of color work that goes on in her canvases, a bit like a cross between de Kooning’s better non-representational canvases and Mark Rothko.



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