Wanted: Old West Enthusiasts

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Grab your saddle and trusty horse pod’ners and get ready to discover the Old West. I’m not talking about visiting a museum either. I’m talking about the fully-operational Pioneertown in Southern California.

Yes, you read correctly, Pioneertown. The place where all your Western dreams come true. If you’re a fan of the Old West films and television shows, this unincorporated community village is your slice of heaven. Nestled in the high desert in the Morongo Basin region of Southern California, Pioneertown came to fruition in 1946.

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The town’s purpose (other than being so totally cool) started in the 1940s and it was to serve as a live-in Old  West motion picture set to the Hollywood stars. Makes sense, considering Los Angeles is only a couple of hours away and the surrounding land is perfect for a western film set. The entire set was designed to look just like an 1800s western town but with live-in capabilities to accommodate the stars while they filmed. Many films were shot here during the 1940s and 1950s. Roy Rogers and Gene Autry are among the famous that were responsible for this Old West Town. Roy Rogers was one of the original investors of Pioneertown.

As you walk down the “main street,” you completely get the feel of a western town. Complete with saloon, bathhouse, undertaker business and livery, just a name a few of the buildings. You’ll be humming the Marty Robbins tune, “El Paso” as your spurs kick up the dirt underneath your feet.

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If you get the chance to visit this place, don’t feel like you’re too far off the beaten path if you need to rest your weary bones. On the property there is the Pioneertown Motel that will give you a place to rest your head. You won’t be sleeping in a tent either. This small yet charming western motel offers rooms with a bed, bathroom, kitchen sink, and microwave to travelers. However, I must heed a warning: be ready to live up to Pioneertown’s way of life. You’ve heard of no shirt, no shoes, no service. Well, be ready for no t.v., no radio, no service, as in internet service. My husband and I did have the pleasure of staying here and I must say, it was quite refreshing to unplug for a while. So if you’re okay to forgo the electronic entertainment we’re all use to, bunker down for a night’s stay in this unique place. Just make sure you bring a book or companion to keep you company. And just remember, you’ll be “sleeping” with the stars as this is where they lived and worked.

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Don’t be imagining you’ll be counting tumbleweeds blowing by as your only source of entertainment. On the property is a live music venue called Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. And if you’re hungry, they’ve got you covered with their full menu. The venue has changed hands a few times since it’s inception in 1972. But the current owners have kept the 1982 owners’ names on the bill and have brought in musicians such as Robert Plant and Vampire Weekend.

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One cool fact among many about Pioneertown is the bowling alley on  the property. I mean, the famous stars had to have activities while they worked, right? Apparently, the bowling alley is one of the oldest in continuous use in California.

So if you’re passing through these parts, I highly recommend  you take a gander at this western wonder. Be sure to soak up the entertainment, stay for a spell and imagine you’ve been transported back into the historic American Western frontier.

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20 years later and still dreaming: 20th Anniversary of The Smashing Pumpkins album, Siamese Dream

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Today, July 27th, 2013, marks the 20th anniversary of The Smashing Pumpkins album release, Siamese Dream. I’m a Pumpkins fan and this happens to be my favorite SP album, so it’s only natural I write about it. This album literally shaped my teen youth identity. I made my own Smashing Pumpkins album covers t-shirts out of t-shirt paint and beads (the Gish one was pretty cool). I collected posters like they were ancient pieces of art from a hundred years ago. And you better believe I can pick up .00009th second of a SP tune and know exactly what song it is.  Even the Smashing Pumpkins were present at our wedding…..well, their music was.

The album consists of 13 songs, all masterpieces of music on their own. It was co-produced by the King of music production, Butch Vig. The first song, “Cherub Rock”, is a teenage anthem and one that gets me pumped up and feeling I can do about anything. The video, directed by 90s music video prince, Kevin Kerslake, epitomizes early 90s grunge (hello, destructive techniques turned into art). “Quiet” comes roaring in as second on the album and is anything like the title. It definitely is a good bridge between “Cherub Rock” and the next song that comes in third, “Today.” “Today,” well, where shall I begin? This was the song that really got people’s attention with the lyrics and music video. Rumor is that lead singer, Billy Corgan, wrote this after overcoming writer’s block. Which, in a way, makes sense because if I was overcoming writer’s block as a song writer, I’d think it would be one of the greatest days I’ve ever known too. “Hummer” follows after “Today” and is a trippy, melodic song that literally makes me feel like I’m floating on clouds when I listen to it. The opening lyrics stand alone and are the type of lyrics that you read and feel like they mean something (“Faith lies in, the ways of sin. I chased the charmed, but I don’t want them anymore.”) Number five is “Rocket.” The guitars, bass and drums very much match the title. The music just sounds like a rocket, if that makes any sense. The iconic Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, husband and wife music video directors, were the brains behind the music video for “Rocket.” They also later directed the Pumpkins’ music video “Tonight, Tonight.”  They are definitely some of the most creative people that have walked the earth and have made music video history with their imaginations.

“Disarm” is the anchor of the album. It is a hauntingly beautiful song and has definitely made music history. It’s heavy but sweet at the same time. The music video is simple and perfect for this song. One of the all-time best songs to play and hear on the acoustic guitar. Following “Disarm” is “Soma.” As a teen I had no idea what “soma” meant and I didn’t care, still don’t to this day. But whatever it is, it pairs nicely with this somber yet abrupt song. The song begins very softly and then about half-way through, with the strike of a few chords, this song catapults you into a mesh of electric guitars, loud bass and sharp drums. “Geek U.S.A.” comes marching in next. The song title reminds me of an awkward teen that doesn’t know they’ll grow up to be the coolest person ever. “Cherub Rock” is the song that gets your heart pumped and this is the song that revives it half-way through to make sure you’re still breathing. This song is also the only song that has lyrics that somewhat hints to the title of the album, “In a dream we are connected. Siamese twins.” Up next is “Mayonaise.” And no, the title is not spelled wrong, at least as a song title and not the condiment. Of course as a teen, I thought how cool are they to name a song after a condiment! That’s so alternative. But this song almost seems like the heart of the album. Whatever was the inspiration behind this song, it makes you connect with it. This is like one of those ponder life songs. One that makes you reflect on the past, present and the unknown future.

“Spaceboy” is the second acoustic song on the album and uses a Mellotron. A Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard and whoever thought to use this instrument gets a gold star. “Spaceboy” is the type of song you’d hear playing as you’re laying in the cool green grass, staring up to the starry night. As sweet as the title of “Spaceboy” is, the following song smears the sweetness and doesn’t excuse itself for any vulgar. “Silverfuck” really does sound like it doesn’t give a you-know-what-look-at-the-title-of-the-song. This song was sadly censored on a few albums that were sold in “wholesome” retailers. Appearing as “Silvercrank (really??) or Silverf***.” I refused to buy that one because I had to have the one that was the original song title! This song is also the last of the three heart-racing, fist-pumping melodies before the album kisses you goodnight. If you felt dirty after listening to this song, “Sweet, Sweet” comes in to clean you up.  This is a poppy little heartland song that seemed to be one of those songs Billy created out of thin air and having a happy high.  It may be short but it’s just as strong as it’s friends. Polishing off the album is “Luna.” Wow, what can I say, bravo to the Pumpkins for this little creation. This song was very close to being the song I walked down the aisle to at our wedding (I walked down to “To Sheila” for anyone that was wondering.) This song really sounds like it could be a couple’s “song.” You know, the one that reminds you of your significant other anytime you hear it. The one, that when it comes on, you look at him or her and say, “Aw, it’s our song.” This song really is the perfect nightcap, song long, until we meet again song. One that you can hit repeat on the player and listen to about 75 times before getting tired of it.

Siamese Dream is definitely a landmark album of the 1990s. It showcased this band’s creativity and talent and is an alternative music gem. As grungy as the era it emerged from, this album shines bright among its peers.