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POP/ROCK : RICHER THAN VELVET : Don't Worry About John Cale Eating Regularly; He's Got Plenty on His Plate

September 29, 1994|MIKE BOEHM | Mike Boehm covers pop music for The Times Orange County Edition.

"I wrote it about 'Sunset Blvd.' (imagining) Gloria Swanson. The guys who wrote the film thought more about Edie Sedgwick. But I won't argue that point. I have fond memories of Edie." Cale said he appears in the film as himself in a musical performance scene.

His opera-in-progress, "Mata Hari: The Lure of the Vertical," takes as its heroine the nude dancer and femme fatale who spied for the Germans during World War I before she was caught and executed by a French firing squad. She was granted one of her last wishes: to be allowed to die wearing her trademark black silk stockings.

Cale also is proceeding with a theatrical work called "Life Underwater" that received a preliminary staging at St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn, a haven for avant-garde artists that also has housed productions of "Songs for Drella" and "Last Day on Earth."

"It's kind of the 'Reservoir Dogs' version of (the Greek myth of) Orpheus. It's pretty violent," Cale said, detailing a scene played in the dark in which Orpheus, the heavy of the piece, tries to force an abortion on his wife, Eurydice. Cale plays Orpheus's good brother, Benno. "The story is about transformation, how water is the main transforming element in Benno's life," Cale said. "The piece is incomplete; it needs another half hour of songs. I'm meeting with some people next week about presenting it on CD ROM. I don't know how it's going to work out. Am I going to be designing a game show, or a Nintendo piece, or what?"

Given some of the extreme subject matter he has broached with his music, one wonders whether Cale was giving a self-assessment in the opening sequence of "Last Day on Earth," when his character, described only as "A Tourist," muses: "I drank from a paranoid glass/I come from a paranoid base."

"I would say it's ironic," he demurred.

Another line in the piece asks the aesthetic question: "Who will avoid the undertow of sentimental drift?"

Cale, whose love ballads are as memorable as his outbreaks of paranoia, trusts himself to be sentimental without drifting, a quality essential to his musical diverseness.

"I don't have any qualms about that. There are different kinds of sentimentality. Some that are fairly spontaneous, and some that are not. I like them spontaneous. I'm Welsh, so I have to allow for it."

* What: John Cale.

* When: Monday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m.

* Where: The Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano.

* Whereabouts: Take the San Diego (5) Freeway to the San Juan Creek Road exit and turn left onto Camino Capistrano. The Coach House is in the Esplanade Plaza.

* Wherewithal: $15.

* Where to call: (714) 496-8930.

MORE POP /ROCK

IN SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO: CHRIS GAFFNEY

Gaffney and his band, the Cold Hard Facts, are one of the hardest rocking honky tonk outfits in Southern California. Thursday and Friday, Sept. 29 and 30 from about 9 till last call, they'll be at the Swallows Inn--one of Southern California's hardest rocking honky-tonks. (714) 493-3188.

IN CERRITOS: SMOKEY ROBINSON

As the leader of the Miracles and on his own, Robinson has crafted some of the sweetest, smoothest, most shimmering and memorable pop songs of the last thirty years. He'll be at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. (800) 300-4345.

IN IRVINE: JIMMY BUFFETT

One of pop's most consistent ticket sellers, he enjoys a loyal following as leader of the Parrot Heads, those party animals who make concerts something of a moveable Margaritaville. He, and they, will be at Irvine Meadows on Friday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 1. (714) 740-2000 (Ticketmaster).

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