Monday, January 23, 2012

10 Years After: Kyle Van Horne (and Happy Tết)

Note for my next life:
Meet Kyle sooner, and keep a closer eye on him. Keep him close.
My very dear friend and soul brother, Kyle Van Horne, died ten years ago at... 32? Way too young. Leaving behind a giant hole that hasn't gotten smaller, but has stopped hurting.
Mallard and Kyle - no doubt singing "Southern Cross"  ; )
I want to write about him, but my thoughts and memories of him could fill a book, and if I don't just post this rough draft of thoughts now, it will turn into weeks and probably never, so I'm letting 'er rip. This is going to be long and rambling and very stream of consciousness, and very much from my own perspective. I don't have the photos I'd like to include, but I'll add the ones I can find just now.

Michael (Zamboni, my boyfriend) has written a script loosely based on what might have been Kyle's life, had he not passed away when he did. It's pretty awesome and I love picturing Kyle in the world Michael created for him. With any luck, we'll be producing it sometime soon and bring him back to life, in a way.
I can't include everything or everyone in this small space, and a lot of the things I bring up will also apply to Chicken or Jen Stills or someone else, and I love all of you, but for tonight I'm focusing on Kyle. I'll make a Facebook page for Kyle we can all share in a few days.
Chicken, me and Kyle
I think Jay Ostrowski took this pic at Fareholm
Jen and I first met Kyle when we knocked on his door introducing ourselves when I'd just moved into Fareholm (a rare and wonderful apartment building in Laurel Canyon) upstairs from him. A couple days later, Jen and I were singing on my porch and he came barreling up the stairs shouting, 'THAT ISN'T YOU!!!??' Jen has a gorgeous voice. (See my previous post.) The love/hate Jen/Kyle relationship was born. They were either going to get married or kill each other. We were never sure which.
My little porch where Kyle first heard Jen sing
I've created a Grooveshark playlist of 20+ songs I could find that remind me of Kyle. Songs he used to sing, or that we'd sing together. Music that was such a huge part of that time and place. Play it while and after you read this post, and it might help you get Kyle and our special little world a little bit.
The last song is Iris DeMent singing "Our Town." Kyle used to call me after he moved from Hollywood back to OC and ask me to sing him that song over the phone. It would make him tear up. It was also the song that played over the final montage of our favorite TV series at the time, Northern Exposure. Oh, hell, I'll just put the video here if you want to watch it. If someone how missed the whole series, it's worth watching on Hula or something.
The first time I sang with Kyle, he taught me "The Burning Down" by Kings X to sing in four part harmony with him, Gertner and Chicken. We sounded wonderful. I was so happy. I can only find it on youTube - the song with a photo of the album, and the quality isn't great - but damn, did we sound good when we sang it. Here's a link to the Kings X version:
Dave Gertner at home in Costa Rica
Formerly Kyle's roommate & my downstairs neighbor
Then he taught me what we ended up calling "Foot Trouble," a combination of Pearl Jam's "Footsteps" and Temple of the Dog's "Times of Trouble," and that, "Sullivan Street" and "Comes A Time" were the songs people asked Kyle and I to sing together the most.

I'm including Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Funny story about that... I loved that song, before Jeff recorded it, and had written the lyrics down on a piece of paper so I could learn it. The next time I saw Kyle and Chicken they were in awe of me. They'd found the paper, in my writing, and thought that it was a song or poem that *I'd* written! For 24 hours, I'd inadvertently completely blown their minds. I sang them the song and they still loved it, but not quite as much as if I'd written it.  ; )
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
as much as I'd like to have written it
Kyle made his own music, but he also made all those great 90's songs his own when he played and sang them. Soulfully. Beautifully. I loved that he always wanted me to sing with him, and afterwards would say things like, "Wow.... Good goodness..."
From the top: Mike Benton aka Chicken Boy, Jen Stills,
Kyle Van Horne and me at Fareholm in Laurel Canyon
Chicken moved in when Dave moved out.
Here is some of Kyle's music, and one of his "Mother Nature Jams," which I recorded in his living room on Fareholm - Me (just at the beginning - I was too shy, having just met them, to fully participate in this kind of jam), Kyle, Dave Gertner and Chicken. I had my tape recorder going all the time in those days. I need to find all those old tapes. And something to play them on...

He had so many friends. He'd have people over every day, until he was spent, then his alter-ego "Lyle" would put a "GO AWAY AND THAT MEANS YOU" note on his front door. But that never meant me. He would always let me in.
Kyle holding court at El Compadre on Sunset Blvd.
Michael Zamboni, me, Kyle, Claude, Chicken and..
Sorry, I can't remember the last guy's name
He made me feel special, and smart. He called me "Knowledger," because I always had an answer for everything. (Either I knew, just because I was older than everyone there, or I'd make an educated guess.) He and Chicken also called me "Mother Superior" and "School Girl Legs," or just "Legs." I wish I still had a copy of the School Girl Legs song they recorded for me for my birthday (I think it was my 35th). I was sort of the den mother of our clan, and I had great legs (at the time) and spent a lot of time in a short hippie skirt. (One of those long gauzy Indian fabric panel skirts, ripped off at the second panel - it just ripped, so  I tore it all the way and kept wearing it. I loved that skirt.)
My 37 yr old school girl legs ; )
Couldn't find one with the skirt 
Every year I remember the Christmas Kyle and I were alone together in our respective (haunted, but that's for another post) apartments and he asked me - through the heating unit - to come down and open presents with him, and share the coffee cake his mother had sent him - which turned out to be exactly like what Danish grandmother used to make, and the taste of it made me cry.
Kyle, me & my brother Mike at Fareholm  12/26/93
We were 23, 35 and 40, respectively
I have so many memories of Kyle - I can only write a few of them here. The rest will go on the Facebook page.
~The magical red tide phosphorescent hieroglyphics we saw in the ocean from the dock with Michael.
~His philosophy that we were all a reincarnated native American tribe coming back together.  ; ) Kyle, Dave, Chicken, Mallard, Jen, Jamie, Jay, Tom, Red Jeff and his Jesus mural made out of Bible pages, Kurt, Cliff, Zane... We hung out every day, every night. It spread out in rings from there. Like that gigantic ring around the moon the night of his wake at that bar in OC. That will always be Kyle's moon to me.
~Making the peace sign and "We Buy Used Ducks" sign we put the window that all the Laurel Canyon commuters had to ponder during rush hour (and the occasional anonymous used duck offerings on Kyle's doorstep).
Fareholm Apts., Laurel Canyon
That upper window was my living room.
Kyle's window is now obscured by the bush that's bigger than the bldg.
~BBQing on the sidewalk.
~Drawing pictures in the wet concrete out front (my Kokopelli), once they'd FINALLY finished ripping up the street to fix the storm drains. Twice. They covered over our artwork. It's not there now.
~Meeting Danno and Lisa from Australia at my brother's gig at the Coconut Teaszer, bringing them home, and suggesting that Kyle invite them to stay with him... One of my better ideas. ; )
~Recording Jen Stills' demo at Ocean Way Studios, and Kyle's rock star arm in the air flourish at the end of "The Walk," which I picture each time I hear that song. I don't have a link to The Walk just now, but here's a link to Jen's "Watch Over Me" from that session (also featured in my last post), with Kyle playing acoustic guitar, Rami from The Wallflowers on keys, Ethan Johns producing, and me singing backups.
~Trips with Kyle's pickup full of deadheads to shows in Vegas and Mountain View - and that crazy night what's his name had the crazy bad acid trip in the hotel, that I - and then Chicken helped him get through. And getting pulled over for - I don't even remember what, but the officer let us go - when we were all on mushrooms on the way home from San Francisco.
~Camping on Memorial Day in Big Bear with Kyle, Kirk and twenty Marines. They let me shoot a flare gun several times in the forest (doesn't seem like such a great idea now) and I was nearly wounded or worse when one of the bullets they'd been tossing into the campfire earlier that day finally decided to explode just as I was standing by the fire. Oh, those wacky Marines. One of them sent us postcards from overseas for a while after.
~El Compadre's mariachis, flaming margaritas (and more) and Kyle's Gardner apartment across the parking lot with the view of the Guitar Center and awesome rooftop parties.
~Low budget indie cult film, "Killer Flick." Kyle played a musician in the movie and did the soundtrack with Michael and Kyle's band, The Pits. Here's a short bad trailer with a teeny piece of  Michael's music over it. LOL.
Kyle's not in this poster
~Kyle loved The Lion King and named his cat Mufasa. He loved my cat, Cokie, too.
~The time he dosed Mallard with who knows what and when he woke up they were in Mexico eating lobster.
~Kyle and I dancing in the tunnel under the Rose Bowl because Security wouldn't let us dance in our seats at the Pink Floyd concert.
~Watching OJ in the white Bronco in Kyle's living room wondering if he'd drive by our window.
~The Raiders!
The Raiders sticker Kyle put on my guitar
~Hanging out all day snuggled up together on the couch without Michael getting jealous, because he loved Kyle, too. Smoking. Drinking. Taco Tuesdays. Fort Dix.

We have the big bamboo walking stick in our living room that Kyle gave Michael to use for hiking Runyan Canyon. Every time I see it, or a photo of Kyle (I have a couple on my shelves), or hear any of the music we used play or listen to, or hike Runyan, I feel him next to me. Like when I feel my long gone cat jump on my bed.
The walking stick Kyle gave Michael to hike Runyan Canyon
Thank you making it to the end and sharing in my reminiscing about one of my favorite people in the world. I don't think he had any idea how loved he was. Isn't that always the way it is?

I'll let you know when I get his Facebook page up; Meanwhile, feel free to comment or leave links below, whether you knew Kyle or not.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Congress: Don’t censor the Web

My blog has been taken down in protest of SOPA. Join the global blackout & support a free and open Internet.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Gift Of Music

Revised 12/25/11 10:50pm:
I wrote about Jen Stills (among other things) in this post, and meant to tell you where you could buy or listen to her music, which is sort of the point of why I want to introduce you to my musician friends. The music business is tougher even than most other businesses these days. I want to turn you on to some wonderful, new (to you) music, and give you the opportunity to enjoy, appreciate, support and encourage these artists. Please scroll down to the bottom to find links to where you can buy or listen to Jen's music.

(Original Post)

One thing you should know about me is that music has run all through my life. My grandfather played Dixieland saxophone into his 90's. My Dad is a pianist, and was a jazz pianist in the 50s and 60s - playing with all the cool L.A. jazz guys, and in Lenny Bruce's band. During the day, he worked for NBC, as censor on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where he also wrote and arranged music for the Tonight Show Band... but that's another story. He's still writing and producing music.

My mom bought all the cool jazz and rock and R&B records and would write down the words so I could learn the songs and sing them with my dad. Sometimes, when I was 8-9-10 years old, she'd wake me up, saying "Come on, you're going to go sing with Daddy." We'd go in the back door of some jazz club and I'd sing a few songs with the band, then go back home and to bed.

Dad always came home late at night, after gigs, and played jazz piano. I'd wake up and hear it, then drift back to sleep. To this day, jazz piano music makes me sleepy. ; ) Maybe I should play that instead of taking Ambien? I should actually try that.

My older brother plays guitar and bass and has been in many bands, my younger brother never really applied himself, but plays the few guitar songs he learned in college really well. My boyfriend of eighteen years. Michael, is also a musician. He plays piano, guitar, mandolin and a few other instruments, and orchestrates beautiful music on the computer.

I still have and play the Yamaha classical acoustic guitar my parents gave me on my twelfth birthday. I'm still not very good, but I love it. I took a few lessons, learned some Dylan songs, and my brother's friend (and my teenage lifeline) Allegra taught me Leonard Cohen. Since then I've been listening to music , writing down the lyrics, figuring out the chords and playing them on the guitar, mostly by myself. This was my favorite thing to do - alone - for twenty years (My first boyfriend wasn't a musician.)

Then I met Jennifer Stills. She was/is a singer songwriter, and we became quick close friends. I sang harmonies with her and after a while she started calling me up on stage to sing with her. Singing with Jen is one of my favorite things in the world. She has a beautiful rich voice. People say she sounds like Bonnie Raitt, Roberta Flack, Adele...

This was recorded recently, a cover of her dad's (Stephen Stills') "Haven't We Lost Enough?"

You can hear her sing Stephen's "Love the One You're With," and Jackson Browne's
"These Days" here.

There are four songs on her MySpace page here(I'm singing backups on the last one.)

And finally, this exact time last year, Jennifer, Michael and I were in a hotel room in L.A. on Christmas eve. She moved to Portland a few years ago. I asked her to play one of her old songs, and this is a video I took with my point and shoot camera of Jen singing "Lover," the first time in about ten years.

She's rusty, Michael picks up a guitar and tries to play along, and I'm singing harmonies WAY too loud because my mouth is right next to the camera microphone. I'm trying to sing really quietly which only makes me off key half the time. LOL. It's sloppy, but I love it.

I miss you, Jen. Merry Christmas.
Jen Stills ~ Christmas Eve 2010

Where to find Jen Stills' music:
  • "These Days" at here or on iTunes. You can listen to it for free at here.
  • "Love the One You're With" at here or on iTunes. You can listen to it for free at here.
  • Jen sings "Good Intentions" on "The Prince & Me" soundtrack (Track 6) at here. It's also on here, where you can listen to it for free.
  • Jen sings harmonies on the title track of the Crosby, Stills & Nash album, "After the Storm" (Track 11) at here or on iTunes. You can listen to it for free at here.
  • She also sings harmonies on Ray Lamontagne's "Trouble" album, on the song, "Narrow Escape," which you can listen to on free here. Or you could buy it on here, or on iTunes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice - Bring on the Light!

If ever there was a time to light a candle, it's now.
Leave behind the darkness and set your intentions for the coming year.

Happy Solstice!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Alright, well...
I just spent an hour writing a post about this morning's full lunar eclipse, getting all philosophical and spiritual about it, then my blog froze and for the first time ever NONE of it was auto-saved. I've been spoiled.

I just don't have it in me to rewrite it, especially since I'm setting my alarm to get up at 4:45am PT for the beginning of the eclipse. It will be full on at 6:32am PT.

It should also be a pretty awesome big low red full moon, best seen in Hawaii and the far western U.S. Right now, it's a big, bright white spotlight of a full moon.

Red Moon During Lunar Eclipse
Wikimedia Commons

(Great. It's auto-saved this three times in three minutes.)

Here's a lovely article from MOONCIRCLES to replace the one I tried to write: Beyond Words by astrologer April Elliott Kent.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dig Stuff

My friend in Progressivism, Bing.

Yes, I'm home from Austin, but more on that later...

My friend, Bing, posted a Louie Schwartzberg"Gratitude" film, embedded below, on his Facebook page today. I ended up going to Louie's "Moving Art" YouTube page and watching all 40 of his short films. 

Schwartzberg, who went to UCLA Film School, is an American director, producer, and award-winning cinematographer, specializing in time lapse and aerial photography, among other things. Some of Louie's footage appeared in Koyaanisqatsi and many of his short - and longer films - have that same vibe of love for the planet and its inhabitants.

Louie Schwartzberg
This all speaks very directly to me and I think it will to you too. If you want to see more or learn more about Schwartzberg and his work, check out his main page at his main page is at, which is gorgeous.

Then, try to do what Jeff Mallard frequently reminds me I taught him when we lived in Laurel Canyon... "It's a beautiful day. Let's just go out and dig stuff."
Jeff Mallard
So much to dig, so little time...

As you can see,  Jeff's still taking my advice to heart all these years later. Here is is, quite obviously, just diggin' stuff.
Anyway, I'm trying to get you to watch these videos! 
I hope you like them. Let me know.

This is one more, just to whet your appetite... If you like it, go check him out at


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Morning LAX!

Picture me here at 4:30am Wednesday.

Michael and I had Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and dad last night, as I'll be in Texas with my brother's family on Thursday. Michael and Cokie will be back home in Hollywood lying on the couch in their underwear, eating leftovers, watching football on Thanksgiving.

The boys. Soon to be home alone.
They'll be fine.