Monday, December 12, 2011
What do you get for the man who has everything? A box to put it all in. Or...
A home vasectomy kit, which doubles as an office stapler.
A nouvelle vague Eastern Smoking Accessories Set. Also known as New Wave Hookahs.
Retro gifts from Fashion State, including the Elite Gonad Reducer ("If you've GOT IT, GET RID OF IT!"). Vintage sets include Electric Wrist Clamp with Automatic Limper.
A weekend retreat at Ma & Kettle's Spa on the Farm. Yak sperm facials and monkey knee injections highly recommended. Feel truly cleansed with the Bo Tox Derek High Powered Colonic Infusion. Located North of San Diego in Cognito, California.
Holiday music? How about a download or just unloading some from GuyTunes? The premiere music service, long before Crapple, features the best of the festive season. Bing Crosby singing "You're Beginning to Feel a Belt on Christmas." Inebriated holiday party goers think this song is an ode to a full octane egg nog, but abused children know better.
Or always my favourite: "Chet's Nuts Roasting by an Open Fire" ("...Jack Frost's nipple in your ear..."). This Classic Christmas song from the early fifties is the only recorded noel for nudists. Speculation over the Naturist's identity, warming his nutsack in front of the hearth, have included Chet Atkins, Chet Baker and Chet Huntley.
The literary minded? How about something special for the connoisseur? If you're buying for Dick Cheney, forget it. He already has the Babylon Scrolls. But how about a copy of Vladamir Nabokov's little known script for Sesame Street? Briefly pitched as Elmo Reads Lolita, this text features Humbert Humbert and Ernie.
Perhaps even rarer is the manuscript for Tarzan and the Naked Lunch by Edgar Rice William S. Burroughs, Siamese twin authors, separated at the wallet.
Sample text: "I've GOT a MONKEY on my back!" Tarzan screamed. "And it's NOT CHEETAH!"
I can hear the hum...BUG!
"And are there two G's in Bugger Off!?"
Happy Christmas from the Pagan Scientist.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Surprise and sadness to see that this person who had influenced my antenna was gone. My last blog, "Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3," had included him in the Fantastic Five: Fellini, Bunuel, Antonioni, himself and Roeg--now the only remaining name on the fungfmeisters.
Russell and Roeg were major early influences on my Seventies mindset, and even earlier with Ken. I saw his BBC Isadora Duncan biography on PBS on initial airing, probably before I saw Cammel and Roeg's Performance. Billion Dollar Brain, the third Michael Caine Harry Palmer espionage film, I saw in a Westwood theatre. I dug Women in Love and The Music Lovers, but The Devils blew me away. For over a decade I thought The Devils and Performance were the two best films I had seen. I would debate with film students from UCSB that Russell and Roeg were in the calibre of Fellini and Bunuel. They snickered at me as if I had said Russ Meyer was as good as Eisenstein.
I loved Ken Russell because he embraced being both intelligent and outrageous. Like the Goons (he had done a BBC piece on Spike Milligan, Portrait of a Goon, which I still haven't seen), Ken was smart, silly and surreal. And sexy.
Russell popped up in my stuff all the time. My short play, Void in Wisconsin, seems like Russell meets Kovacs with Zappa's 200 Motels. On Space Pirate Radio, Ken Russell and Federico Fellini wrestled in a pre-Monty Python bit for the title of Most Surrealist Director. And in the play Casanova's Lips, a pre-Amadeus Mozart shows up at a seance, worried only that Ken Russell might film his life story.
I never met Ken Russell but I met a lot of people who had worked with him. Georgina Hale and Glenda Jackson in London. Amanda Donohoe in Santa Barbara. My wife has met Kenneth Colley in her Star Wars universe. Most of these actors have worked with Russell and Roeg, and often.
When Space Pirate Radio co-promoted a Rick Wakeman concert in Ventura, the wife and I plus friends had a lovely chat with the man post-show. Wakeman's involvement with the man in Lizstomania was a first question, having done double duty as actor and composer.
Ironically, I purchased not far back, the Ken Russell BBC Collection, released only in the States. I rewatched the Isadora Duncan one and saw for the first time, the Debussy biopic with Oliver Reed. Rossetti, Delius, Elgar and Rousseau still call out. And not too long ago, I bought the Warners Archive release of Savage Messiah. Like Orson Welles, he's not long out of radar.
And did I say Ken Russell's films are sexy? Very sexy. And scandalous. Pan-Sexual. He got Richard Chamberlain out of the closet with the Music Lovers and a smashing performance. He brought Oscar Wilde back to film. Louis XIII says in The Devils, "Women. Some men love them." And oh, how we loved those women.
Talking to Georgina Hale in her dressing room (her wearing an amazing dressing gown that I'm sure was designed by Ken's wife, costumer Shirley Russell), did I ever go into Third Person and realize this was that outrageously daring, powderfaced nymphet from The Devils, the woman who danced naked with a classic phonograph player, fondled by SS Gestapo men on Gustav Mahler's coffin? Or Amanda Donohoe (pictured) being the vampiric snake woman, biting into the intimate bits of a young boy scout in Lair of the White Worm? She would rejoin Ken again in his version of D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow.
Glenda Jackson, Labour Member of Parliament, writhing nude on a train to a horrified Tchaikovsky? Helen Mirren as Nude Descending Staircase in Savage Messiah? Twiggy in The Boyfriend? Twiggy and her boyfriend in The Devils? The Devil and her boyfriend in Twiggy? Sorry, seized by a moment of Russellmania. How about Ann Margaret in an orgy of baked beans, a flood of fecal fiber in Tommy?
Rest in Peace, Ken Russell. I would have loved to thank you in person for all the passion, philosophy, photography and pinching at the petticoats of the petite bourgeoisie. Much appreciated.
And I'm sure you hated it all. How a great work by Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudon, that JFK conspiracy of 17th Century France, and the play adapted from it, which was the basis of your most important film...
That from all of this would come the genre known as Nunsploitation. From the solitude of my monastic cell, I salute you.
Bye, Bye Blackbird.
"For his sake, I hope he lives forever."
Friday, November 25, 2011
Mad Magazine 1956-1959.
Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Incantations by Mike Oldfield.
Harry Secombe's laugh.
Legs and Mini-skirts.
Local Hero and Comfort and Joy.
Body Love by Klaus Schulze (both albums).
The Cosmic Giggle and repeatedly Getting Away With It.
Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, John Neville, Christopher Plummer and Jeremy Brett, making one feel at Holmes.
The ladies I have had the pleasure of knowing: Ex-lovers, a number; Ex-friends, some; Ex-wives, none.
Danse Sacree et Profane by Claude Debussy.
Barbara Steele in Black Sunday.
An oscilloscope, Mack the Knife and Ernie Kovacs.
Bel Air by Can.
Altair-4, for outside appearances can be deceiving.
Klaatu and Eros...same purpose, different methods (Klaatu had Gort, but Eros had Tana).
Turhan Bey's voice.
Orson Welles selling peas.
Atem by Tangerine Dream.
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir.
The humble potato in any form...baked, mashed, hashed, fried and totted.
WINE...the WINE, oh the WINE (and all the GOOD results that come from it).
Chaplin, Keaton and Groucho.
The music of Basil Kirchin.
The Doctor's Companions.
Shag haircuts...in fact all haircuts, especially long ones, but short ones work too, girls preferred, but yes...hair it if you got it.
Echoes by Pink Floyd.
Mr. Lucky by Henry Mancini.
Jane Asher and Marianne Faithfull.
Nederlander Dance Theatre.
Is My Face on Straight? by Premiata Forneria Marconi.
Chef Bruno Languini.
Emmanuelle 2, The Joys of a Woman.
Spike Milligna, the famous typing error.
Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ken Russell & Nicolas Roeg--The Fantastic Five!
Roger Moore as The Saint.
All creatures great and small.
Judy Geeson, Sally Geeson and Eva Aulin.
When the pain is gone, like now.
The steamy stuff.
"What, Me Worry?"
Raccoons that will eat out of your hand.
Inventions for Electric Guitar by Ash Ra Tempel.
The art of Will Elder.
Peter Sellers in The Battle of the Sexes.
Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
Olivia Hussey in Romeo and Juliet.
Yoda in exile, Trotsky in exile.
In Den Garten Pharoas by Popol Vuh.
The Isle of Everywhere by Gong.
The Uninvited, 1944.
Go-Go Girls, from Shindig and Hullaballoo to Musikladen.
Happy to be me, appreciating you, glad we are not one of them.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
On Space Pirate Radio, I am proud (humbly) to have introduced German imported experimental music to commercial radio. The German hipsters, inspired by Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane and all things electronic, ethnic, eastern and eclectic. When this peculiar, non-American rock began to be noticed by Westerners, the uninspired needed a label for it.
I am pleased that in my entire history of broadcasting, I NEVER ONCE called this genre KRAUTROCK. The term, then and now, makes me sick to my stomach. This hideous description was created by the clueless cretins who had NO IDEA what the German Experimental Music Scene was all about. Just a lump all name for something that inarticulate xenophobes used to brand music that didn't have English lyrics some of the time, and was performed by possible Aryan types from the Deutsche Republic.
Progressive? As progressive as calling Blues and Jazz, Post Modern Minstrel Music. That's N-tertainment, in a Word. Arschloches!
And while we're at it, how about Italian progressive? Banco del Mutuo Soccorso and Premiata Forneria Marconi. Shouldn't we put a sticker on their LPs? WOPMUSIC. "Wop, wop, wop muzik! Everybody talking about...Wop Muzik!"
Granada and Triana from Spain? SPICROCK?
Sadistic Mika Band and Yellow Magic Orchestra? NIPROCK, of course.
Ange, Atoll, Heldon and Malicorne from France? FROGROCK? How about FROGRESSIVE MUSIC? Magma would have to be FROGFUSION. ("What we got here is a Ball of Frogfusion.")
I admit I'm going off on a rant here ("A FINE ride for the cranky"), but I feel focused and justified. I HATE LABELS. They are the cliff notes of the uninspired. When you are in the realm of something new, it doesn't have to be indexed immediately. Only LATECOMERS to the party need a description, and then ALMOST ALWAYS for marketing purposes only. "I don't know what you've got here Boy, but HERE'S how we'll sell it."
Anyway... KRAUTROCK, the term offends me. And don't even GET me started on the label New Age Music! Excitement over something new can be quickly neutered by a dull description--a philosophical ethnic slur. People who cry "MURDER!" can be dismissed as "conspiracy BUFFS." Rebels become Patriots. Allies become Terrorists. How quickly a feeling can be changed by a turn of phrase. Or a belief altered in a brand name.
So to all of the German artists I introduced on Space Pirate Radio, including...Amon Duul (1 AND 2), Tangerine Dream, Can, Ash Ra Tempel, Kraftwerk, Popul Vuh, Faust, Cluster with a C and Kluster with a K, Neu, Harmonia, La Dusseldorf, Guru Guru, Floh de Cologne, Eloy, Jane, Embryo, Niagara, Klaus Schulze, Scorpions, Novalis, Deuter, Al Gromer Khan, 18 Karat Gold, SFF, Michael Hoenig, Nina Hagen, Gina X Performance, Eroc, Grobschnitt, Sweet Smoke, Eberhard Schoener (with a pre-Police Sting and Andy Summers), Cosmic Jokers, Walter Wegmuller, Peter Michael Hamel, Propaganda, Thomas Fehlmann, Einsturzende Neubauten, Mouse On Mars, etc., etc., my apologies. For the shortsighted, unenlightened Westerners, clueless, tuneless and full of fear, when the space for knowledge is empty, but the tummy must feel full.
Did any German folks buy American music filed under YANKROCK? How about WANKROCK?
Zen Question: "What is the sound of one hand wanking?"
Yoda Guy sez: "I will just go back to the music. The sounds are always individual and open to interpretation. They're filed under... "
Friday, November 18, 2011
Flashback...! (Is it Chris Karrer's voice or Lothar Meid saying that?)
As I said in the previous entry, a lot of straight looking people were dropping acid courtesy of the medical profession during the early Sixties. They didn't look like the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers or Syd Barrett's Madcap yet. A book could be written about the slick Vaseline hair groomed Madison Avenue types who were Madder than they appeared. The ties hadn't come off to be replaced by Nehru jackets and love beads. Wait a while kittens. Sammy Davis Jr. will be the first Rat Packer to change his wardrobe.
1968 and it's like the Pep Boys meets your high school gym coach: "Turn on, tune up and drop for ten!"
This seems like an ongoing series in the psychedelic experience. Southern California and this NEW STUFF is floating around Orange County. Tab acid. Made in someone's tub in Huntington Beach. Orange Wedge. What the...? "Cut with strychnine." "Too much Speed." Double What the? Kilo What the? Kids in Pomona and Covina weren't as Experienced yet. They were taking mini-whites with Old English 800 and heading to the drive-in. Spirits of the Dead with Terence Stamp and Jane Fonda, or Two Gentlemen Sharing with Judy Geeson. Always movies from American International.
So let us slow down and ponder this awakening to the new colour vibe. This better living through chemistry? Cube, tab, pyramid, blotter. Liquid or Salvo, like you used to put in your washing machine? Being an innocent bystander, I never saw most of this. Tab may have been in the fridge. And there were Pyramids on the wall. But cubes and blotter, never.
If I HAD been like Doctor Hoffman, hypo-thetically speaking of course. AND ONE FELT COMPELLED to consult with the ly-surgeons, it would seem ESSENTIAL to have the PERFECT environment to conduct such experiments into higher consciousness.
These could include:
a) an all-nighter before going in for your military draft physical.
b) driving on a freeway in Anaheim, seeing an orange glow in the fog, initially thinking it's a fire, calmly reassuring yourself that it's only the light from the neon sign, only to drive by and see a residential home on fire, being first on the scene 'cause it's after 3 AM.
c) in bed, pillows, curtains, candles, incense, naked girlfriend, feeling you died and this must be heaven.
d) in bed, pillows, curtains, candles, incense, naked girlfriend, seeing orange glow outside window, thinking it's only the light from neon sign, realizing there IS NO neon sign outside, seeing van on fire in driveway.
e) watching appropriately spiritual/sensitive movie in Hollywood like Raw Meat with Donald Pleasence and Christopher Lee dealing with tormented survivor zombies in London Tube.
f) listening to cool imported space music on Sunday night/Monday morning radio.
g) actually playing cool imported space music on Sunday night/Monday morning radio.
Epilogue that is really a prologue:
In retrospect, Mercury in Libra kicking in folks, I think my generation could be considered quite insane to have experimented with something born of the straight world, controlled by the military, created in effect to control human behaviour. What were we thinking? At the beginning, much less than would be acquired. We were reacting, much more. Reacting against the social controls. Breaking the bonds FELT GOOD. It DID feel good. "What's so bad about feeling good?" The question for me is, did we take those feelings and transform them into collective freedoms? Overall, I think not. I think at least 80 per cent of us can still identify with those wire implanted mice, questioning whether they want to cross the electrified grill and hit that switch to give them the brain pain reliever. The other 20 per cent own stock in the electric company.
Memories of an orange wedge that came from Orange County which later became an orange glow, from the orange glass that held the candle, while playing Wendy Carlos A Clockwork Orange or Pink Floyd Apples and Oranges.
I hate the electric company, but orange you glad that the power's still on?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I recently bought Skidoo, the infamous psychedelic filmic disaster from director Otto Preminger. Featuring the last film appearance of Groucho and a gallery of Hollywood greats caught up in a 1968 car crash of Catskill meets capsule humour. Infamous for a time because of the conflicting tones of Ed Sullivan presents Hair, this cult item was long kept in the vaults. Watching Jackie Gleeson trip out on acid, as well as three villains from the old Batman TV series: Burgess Meredith, Caesar Romero and Frank Gorshin. Plus Mickey Rooney and fellow birthday boy Frankie Avalon being seduced by a nymphomaniac Carol Channing. Mondo bizarre.
Anyway, Groucho plays a character named God. And supposedly he dropped acid to be in tune with the kids. Not that LSD was sole property of the Now Generation. It seems it was used rather extensively by the Then Generation. Cary Grant. Gig Young. More pretty leading men than Middle America would have cared to known were taking the stuff "by Doctor's Authorization." I watch actors from the late Fifties and especially the early Sixties and see window pane eyes in those method performances. Hollywood High is not just a school.
But back to Groucho...
Very trippy in the film. Seeing him with a beautiful, half naked, African-American, super tall, runway model type, dressed in a total back to butt cleavage exposed gown. Far out. And further out as a yogi type, smoking a joint on a peace/love bedecked sailboat. From Margaret Dumont to Marilyn Monroe to Carmen Miranda to Jayne Mansfield. And now this. Baggy pants, indeed.
There were 5 Marx Brothers, later 4. And then there were 3. Like the Goons, first 4 and known as 3. Thank Krishna the Beatles were 4. Many claimed to be number 5. "Who is number 1?" You ARE...number 6!"
But back to Groucho...
Supposedly after Richard Nixon lost the Governor's race in California, he moved to a home on Groucho's street in Hollywood. "Isn't it terrible?" a neighbour asked Groucho, about their new arrival. "Well, better here than in Washington," was his reported reply.
I once interviewed Bud Cort, half the star of Harold and Maude. He lived in Groucho's home for a time. That seems pretty surreal to me. Like Kato Kaelin living on O.J. Simpson's property. Or Truman Capote living with Johnny Carson's ex-wife. I asked Bud more about his friendship with another psychedelisized leading actor, Peter Sellers. But high times seemed a constant with both comedians.
The closest I came to Groucho was in 1975. I was in Westwood Village with my girlfriend at the time, seeing an early show of the just released Woody Allen film, Love and Death. Staying after the credits ended, house lights up, we lingered discussing the merits of the film. It sort of dawned on me that people were not entering the theatre for the next showing. This was odd because at that time, intermissions between showings were very short. It was then that we discovered that the theatre managers had held back the next audience in order to escort Groucho Marx and his lady companion to the row behind us. "Oh my God, it's Groucho!" Wearing his checkered tami or beret or cap, we smiled, nodded a silent greeting and left the theatre.
Outside, the patrons were queued up to be let in. Strangely, and this is true...there were young men dressed up as Groucho waiting to get in. Like a pre-Star Wars thing, I was never sure if they were fans, groupies or just a coincidence.
Or maybe it was the acid. I wasn't tripping, but I can't vouch for the rest of the cast.
Monday, November 14, 2011
The steam madness of KTYD radio was a place where business as Unusual was the modus operandi. How cool is that? You turned your jokes into art, and art became commerce. Simply because people bought what you were selling if...you GAVE it away first! And most of all...if they actually could tell that you loved and believed what you were doing. You can feel this LOVE VIBE at Verizon, Chevron, B of A and News Corporation today, can't you Children of the Revolution? Especially at Fox. Those brown shirts smell Downey fresh!
So for a brief time, the work ethic was Labours of Love. If you thought it was good, do something with it. That would creep in with the creeps later, but I am really trying to hold back my kitchen cynic mode and accentuate the positive.
And that Cosmic Giggle.
The station was always involved in local artistic endeavours: concerts, film shows, plays and art events. We still thought of Santa Barbara as a community. Not just the playground of the wealthy, or a place where bodies from the San Fernando Valley or Orange County could be conveniently dumped over the Mesa Cliffs. No sir. A real community of multi-talented artists. That's what made freeform KTYD the place EVERYONE tuned into. Rock? Every variety. Jazz. Man, the station was a hipster's paradise! Blues? The BLUEST! Folk? You bet. American or British? Joan Baez or Fairport Convention? Space Pirate Radio was there, bringing Gentle Giant to the Arlington Theatre, Renaissance to UCSB, Alan Stivell to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The station's list of musical guests is amazing. Almost endless, really.
Santa Barbara in the Seventies was a movie lover's paradise. One local promoter would do triple bills of eclectic offerings at the Arlington Theatre. In an age when seeing a film was not yet a convenient home viewing experience, the film lover was desperate for a sympathetic venue. If there was a film I hadn't seen or wished to view a lost favourite, we simply booked it into a local theatre. Pink Floyd films, like in Pompeii or More or La Vallee or Stamping Ground or Zabriskie Point...these would show up at a Midnight Double bill with Yes in Concert at the Airport Drive-In (pictured in a previous entry). But more likely in Isla Vista at the Magic Lantern Theatre. This WAS the cool theatre. Two theatres actually, with the mini left wing smaller cavern on the opposite side of the snack bar. Called Midnight Flicks, flyers were printed for each weekend's offering. We snickered when the artist would put the L and the I rather close and the Kinkos copies would blend. Suddenly a different event was being advertised.
It's movie night at the Chateau.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Older people are like out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Tiny midgets of mirth trapped in barely walking corpses of curve. But in true English tradition, we Carry On, Regardless. The youngins laugh. Pathetic geezers. Quite clueless. Logan's Run. "Your hand crystal has changed colour." This is why people over 40 don't commit mass suicide. And why I don't own a cellphone.
But first, your local weather...
Cloddy. Partially cloddy. Obscured by Clods. Clods in way. Can you see me now? Highs tonight...hopefully. Otherwise, more of the same with a chance of something. Early morning stuff, but that should change later. And now a word from our sponsor:
Bongos (when one bongo is not enough).
When you're young and stupid enough to think you're an actor, playing OLD seems a lark. Twentysomethings love to pretend to be sixty. Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten in Citizen Kane. Peter Sellers in The Smallest Show on Earth or better yet, in The Battle of the Sexes. I played a fat old man of the cloth in Abelard and Heloise in college (pictured). People said, "Oh look, they got an older adult to play with these college students." Should I be flattered or seriously depressed? Probably both. Actually, at the time on stage, I was more concerned with the silver goblets we were drinking from. The tech crew had painted them with a silver spray and the paint floated ominously in the water we were drinking. Anyway, all of this could have been avoided if the phone company had given me a job.
I haven't bored you yet with this story? Prepare to look in the Medusa's eye and be taken for granite.
When I was looking for work in the late Sixties, I thought my radio voice would work well as an operator for the telephone company. I went for an interview and test somewhere in the hellhole of the San Gabriel Valley. It took all day. I was the only male applying for the job amongst a small group of women. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE women and was happy to be in their company. I'm a suffragette. I read Mary Wollstonecraft and Germaine Greer. More likely than the woman who was doing the interviews. In the skill tests, I scored higher than the group. Zowie! This is in the bag . But then came the FINAL SOLUTION, the psychological profile. Some faceless female asked me about my previous job. That job was (if you've noted in a previous entry. POP QUIZ!) working for the Los Angeles Times soliciting new subscriptions. I was really good at it.
But I failed to realize that honesty is NOT the best policy when trying to get a job with a monolithic company like Pacific Telephone or Bell or whatever it was, post coffee cans and string.
Like a patient talking to his shrink (which I have never done, so this is a hypothetical Romantic device I am using simply for a lyrical/symbolic ironic metaphor, shaded in satirical symbolism), I confide to Ilsa, the She-Wolf of the S.S., that I FELT GUILTY calling people at home and convincing them that they should subscribe to the daily paper. Big mistake. Red lights went on.
The creature looked down at me and said, "It's my job to feel whether or not there is a fit with the applicant and the company, and in YOUR CASE, I feel there is no fit." So even though I scored higher than her fellow Amazons, I was out because of an ethical consideration note on invading one's privacy. She even sarcastically said, "Well, you're not out anything...except spending your entire day here."
Would Gloria Allred have taken this as a sexual discrimination case? Probably not. This was still the Sixties and SOME women still had issues.
So, despite my cynicism, I still like women more than men. But whoever you were Madam...things probably changed for you. If they were good, well terrific. But if they went bad, consider the small details. Every turn, even the tiniest, makes a difference.
Trust me. I've given this a lot of thought. I used to put baby powder in my hair to look older (helps you buy beer when you're under age).
No one asks for ID now (only if I need help with the oxygen tank to the car).
Monday, October 31, 2011
Shall we party like it's 1939 instead? Yes! Let's! Why not? Certainly the station was sixty years behind the time.
This is your Obedient Servant, Orson Welles, and we are here to make contact with the departed spirit of Harry Houdini. Everyone seated round the table? Good. Fingers on the wine glass. Ouija board yet? Letters begin.
"You don't want me to leave Windwood house, do you Mother?"
Halloween and Space Pirate Radio were always a wonderful time for musical mayhem and sonic spookiness. Of course, for some listeners familiar or not with the program, it seemed like every show was Halloween. There were fine lines between Harmony, Humour and Horror. I dubbed these early experiments Audio Alchemy, and this fourth sabbat of the year was a perfect time to reach for the Philosophers Stoned.
Every Space Pirate Radio show enjoyed voyaging to the Outer Limits. On Halloween, we could get a little darker, but still be safe. Musical choices from Europe could be a tad more horrific (wasn't Tad Moore Horrific that good looking blonde kid in A Summer Place?). Nothing could be more extreme than Brainticket's Cottonwood Hill. Or White Noise and An Electric Storm in Hell. Lighten things up? Bonzo Dog Band with Monster Mash or Look Out, There's a Monster Coming. Back to the literate with Alan Parsons and Edgar Allan Poe or Prelude with the Seven Deadly Sins. How many Halloween shows had Christopher Lee telling the story of Dracula, only to be interrupted every three minutes, in true local LA TV style, by Oscar B. Chow. Hoping that you are enjoying "your...Golden Morning Movie."
Ah, yes Dracula. You had to be a vampire to listen to the show. Bed ridden with Nocturnal Transmissions. The illustrious Steam Count, wearing the famous crest of his family, is shown above. Giving Salute to the Radio Managers. So much for subtlety. It impales by comparison. But more on the one who never drinks wine in a moment.
All Hallow's was also a festive time at the Green Neon Motel, located in the heart, or rather, bladder of the San Industrial Valley. Year after year, front desk man Grungie Steinberg would be amazed by the arrival at the door of the latest costume design by longtime guest Chef Bruno Languini. It is my opinion that his tomato & cheese omelette was his crowning achievement. "Wow, Chef! When you bend over, I can see the melting cheese."
Or how many variations were there of that classic 1941 Unilateral film The Wolf Guy? Lon Chairs, Jr. so touching as the cursed Larry Tallbutt (so named after a family deformity). How many times did we quote the Old Gypsy Lady saying, "Though the path you walk is thorny. Through no fault of your own." "What the Hell does THAT mean?" Lonny would ask in pure torment. "Even a man who's pure of heart. And says his prayers at night. May become a wolf, when the wolfbane blooms. And his trousers are too tight." Pure magic.
Obviously, to the long time listener, three horror films have been a constant mantra in the Space Pirate Radio mix. From 1974 till the end, 1931's Dracula began the show after my introductions. "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make." That to me was the start of showtime. When I left Santa Barbara and went El Norte, the 1931 Mexican version of the same lines became the appropriate opening. I know I have played Klaus Kinski doing his low key version of the lines from Nosferatu, both in English and in German. These were giggles and not long term. The other two films are, of course, 1944's The Uninvited and 1956's Plan 9 From Outer Space. Like the resurgence in Lounge Music, I am intensely proud that Space Pirate Radio brought these unpopular works of art back into the current culture of ultra-chic. For those who didn't get it the first time round, I can cheerfully say, "Kiss my Capri pants enveloped derriere."
So stiletto heels off, zipper down, back to front. " Does it come every night? "
Just when you begin to think you've dreamt it...
Sunday, September 18, 2011
But I digress...
Six Hundred & 20 Candles. Boy, is that a John Hughes film from Hell? (I believe Molly Ringwald was a companion around 1985-1986.) 620. Pretty antique. People say, "You don't look look a day over 500," but I know their lying through their non-false teeth. Bastards! Carbon-based lifeforms of undetermined parentage! Don't you realize how you break both of my hearts? (Time Lairds actually don't have twin hearts, only twin bladders. How do you think we make those long trips from one end of the universe to Croydon?)
But enough of this sentimentality. It's my party and I can cry if I want to. Billy Barty can have pie if he wants to.
Quick, Jo! Let's step into re-Tardis and head out to desert and Burning Midget Festival. So created in honour of great little artist, Billy Barty, who, sadly committed suicide. He jump off curb!
But wait! I have oddly different idea. Let's set Wayback Machine to 1968. (Mr. Peabody and Boy Sherman, not that different from Colin Baker and male companion who look like lead singer from Prodigy. Or was it Peter Davison? Not sure. Loss of memory. Too many re-degenerations.)
Why 1968? Because it is the year that the Beatles will personally wish me a birthday greeting in song for my 577th natal or 190th Earth year.
How is this, Dr. Wu-hu?
The Beatles are recording their double album, which will later be referred to as The White Album. Most songs take several days to record. But on September 18th, 1968, after watching Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It on British telly, the boys return to Abbey Road studios to record what is basically Paul's idea, "Birthday." Supposedly, it is one out of only two songs on the album that features both Paul and John on lead vocals, as well as Yoko Ono singing back-up. George Martin was not in the studio. It is the only song done on one day, September 18th.
As a Time Laird, I would love to be gracious and perhaps share the song with Beach Blanket Bongomeister, Frankie Avalon. Or the "What do I care for your orders. You can't frighten me, " double GG companion, Greta Garbo. But in my double heart and double bladder...I know the song....belongs to me! Thank you Fabs.
Now quick, Jo. Let's head into re-Tardis and set course for Ming Dynasty and get quick takeaway of Szechuan food. So hot and spicy, it will Szechuan fire!
Thursday, September 8, 2011
So as we hit September 8th, the twin birthdays of Peter Sellers and Sir Harry Secombe, I feel that modern rhythm Min!
Those with nothing better to do have seen in previous pages my meager encounters with the Goons in varying degrees. Peter Sellers was always a big influence. I have spoken before of my involvement with the Sellers Estate, especially with his widow, Lynne Frederick. Her initial blessing on the Sellers documentary I had put together, "Life is a State of Mind: The Life and Work of Peter Sellers," pretty much capped my obsession.
Earlier, I was proud to get Spike Milligan's consent to do a cameo in my "Space Pirate Video" pilot. He turned down a video project with Rolling Stones member Bill Wyman, but agreed to mine. No offense Bill, but there was a slight glow in the Space Pirate's intestinal system. Spike's secretary, Norma Farnes, treated me very kindly in Spike's office off Hyde Park in Orme Court (having introduced the Italian band Le Orme to U.S. audiences on Space Pirate Radio, I was always fond of the street name). I'm sorry the event did not come together, but I am pleased that Norma continues to carry on all artistic matters Milligna (the famous typing error).
Never met Neddy. Probably the sanest of the three (or four if we count original member Michael Bentine). Bentine or Milligan. Which one is Syd?
Didn't connect with Sir Harry, or his daughter, whose phone number and address was always on the desk, but I never felt like intruding. Son Andy, yes...see previous Star Wars entry.
Ray Ellington...Ellinga or Rage Ellington as Sellers called him in one hopped up episode. No. Nor his son, who portrayed his father in that HBO Sellers film. Wally Stott or the transformed Angela Morley? No.
But that great harmonica player, the butt of Jewish jokes and the Great Conk? Max Geldray. Yes. He was cool. And harmonicas are cool
Quick, into the re-Tardis. But first, a Time Laird Gnote...
Sellers was born in 1925. Secombe was born in 1921. Milligan was born in 1918.
Sellers died first. Secombe died second. And Milligan died last.
It's all in the mind, you know.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
My darling wife quite often occupies the Star Wars Universe. I am old enough to have entered same space from Day One, yet in Rebel spirit (Galactic, not Confederate), I have retained a Jed Guy attitude of hermiticism. Obi in the desert. Yoda in the swamp. Like Space Pirate Radio, I am the Sputnik spinning around the Death Star. KTYD, Y-97, KCBX. They were all, at one time or another, Death Stars. But I digress...
How does the anarchistic BBC radio show of the Fifties and very early Sixties--launching pad for Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe--connect with the intergalactic world of George Lucas? In many ways. There are not Six Degrees of Separation. I've got it down to Three. Tee-hee! Thinks....
I've mentioned before my earlier encounters with Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness, and the mementos I hold from those days. Now Sir Alec was obviously the most important influence on Peter Sellers. A book could be written on it. But what is the Star Wars connection? Sellers lived to see the first film, but died in the year Empire Strikes Back came out (1980) and obviously never saw Return of the Jedi (1983).
Now let us jump into the re-Tardis and flash forward (or flash backward...as time can be rewritten) to Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.
Having shared the experience of being in the queue for midnight showings of the reworked episodes and later the Holy Trinity, the little lady and I are kindred souls in the Happening. The new films give as much a thrill as the earlier encounters. And in contrast to many cynics, I find myself liking the new characters that seem to irritate the hoi polloi. I like Jar Jar Binks, 'cause I get the joke. He's the Robert Crumb Keep on Truckin' dude. It's San Francisco, Lucas Land, not Orange County. And Watto. Dig the subtext. He's Middle Eastern. Jewish or Arab. Isn't the nose a Nostrilferatu image? And remember, Christ-like Liam Neeson can't talk him out of the Deal with those Jedi Mind Tricks. I've worked for a money-minded Muslim from Pakistan who could become Watto in a nanosecond. "I'm sorry Annie, I sell your Mother. But I got GOOD PRICE."
Watto. Just a small businessman. Has a gambling problem, but would join the Elks or the Rotary Club if only they would let him in.
Okay, so it's Watto that holds the key here. My wife goes to the big Star Wars Celebration to meet as many people who may have stumbled into frame as possible (triple price if you have an action figure of yourself). She completes the Seth: Seth Green, Seth MacFarlane, Seth Rogen, Pink Floyd's Seth the Controls for the Heart of the Sun...Revenge of the Seth. And for ME...the voice of Watto...Andy Secombe....who--wait for it--my lovely wife DOESN'T realize is the son of Neddy Seagoon, Harry Secombe! TAA-DAAH!!! ("Waits for audience applause...not a sausage.")
I love this woman. She's my Minnie Bannister, companion to a decepit Henry Crun and lust object to a gas filled Major Bloodnok. And we like the same movies and go to the same concerts. Got tickets for the CANtina Band. Actually, to bear out how much of a Star Wars lover my little lady is, she just came back from Star Wars in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl. She saw Saturday's show (having already seen an earlier presentation in the past years), and was happy to see special guest, composer John Williams. "Stop that modern sinfull saxophone playing!"
And there's more where that came from....
Monday, May 23, 2011
"Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers at night. May become a wolf, when the wolfbane blooms. And his trousers are too tight."
How I have never forgotten those classic words from looney Hungarian actress Maria Ouspenkayak in the classic 1941 Unilateral Film, The Wolf Guy. Playing the eccentric gypsy lady, telling the fortune of actor Lon Chairs, Jr. (portraying the character Larry Tallbutt, so named after a family deformity). "I see you live alone," she sez, reading the lines in his hand. "How do you know that?" Tallbutt responds. "Because your palm is so hairy." Classic.
Back to the show. Are the best concerts performed on Full Moon or nearly Full Moon days? I remember Pink Floyd performing Dark Side of the Moon at the LA Sports Arena on a Full Moon. When the show was over, they had the spotlights (the old fashioned theatre premiere arclights) trained up into the sky, circling the full moon.
So here we are at the Moodies. Days of Future Passed was one of my most favourite albums in my youth and definitely inspired me to go into radio. When I did, the band always appeared on my broadcasts. I remember at KTYD the week that all the solo albums came out, like which Moody is your favourite? Of course, this happened with Yes member albums and Floyd to a degree as well.
But back to the show...with all my concert going, I have never actually seen the Moody Blues perform in concert. At KTYD in the nineties, we sponsored a show with Justin Hayward at the Coach House, which me and the wife saw, but only my wife had been to an actual Moody Blues show. I sort of dropped out from the whole thing, thinking they had gone Elvis...too Las Vegas. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to see the circle come full turned; that the psychedelic enthusiasm had returned and that the craftsmanship of the performers was in full bloom
Of course, a show like that can make you feel antique. Or optimistic. Original member Graeme Edge comes on and tells the audience he just celebrated his 70th birthday (in March). He dances on stage with the young girls who have been added to the band (and talented they are, covering flute, guitar and keyboard passages that early members Pinder and Thomas would have filled), before going back to his drum kit. I think that this must look like me, trying to be young and cool, but really pathetic and more than a foot in the grave. But wait. Hope springs eternal. And delusion is only an illusion with a passing grade of D.
It's ironic that I discard bands like the Moodies for decades and then come back when the unfashionable comes back in fashion (at least to me). Maybe it takes that long for the drugs to kick in. Or it could be because I can't travel down to LA to see the Yellow Magic Orchestra in June (Space Pirate Radio played them first on commercial radio). Sad, really. Trieste.
Lunacy, maybe. I would just hate to think that as a progressive rock n' roller, I've entered the Hallmark Channel phase of music. It's Peter Fonda for the Time/Life collection "Flour Power"...blanched while, a whiter shade of pale, more days than nights in white satin, stronger than white...white power...mucho blanco.
Let me check...no, I think everything is okay. It was good to see the three key members of classic Moodies, reinspired and reinvigorated with the enthusiasm of the dream state--that which was 1967. Parts of the show had the power and space of a Pink Floyd concert, the lyricism of a Yes concert and the raw energy of a Yardbirds show. Nice. I understand that Edge is the only cat from day one Moodies, and the boys kept referring to Days of Future Passed as their first album. But to us oldster Anglophiles, Moody Blues #1 (The Magnificent Moodies) was the first album. It's as almost pathetic as David Gilmour considering the first Pink Floyd album to be Saucerful of Secrets, 'cause hey, that's when Jesus was born. Get over it. Even Steve Howe plays on "Owner of a Lonely Heart" now. And in the past he'd rather cut his wrists with a conductor's punch than touch that riff.
"Go Now" would make an appropiate final song. Otherwise...it was a great show.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Monday, May 16, 2011
Sorry, went off on a Tangent there (wasn't that the small Italian motorbike Gregory Peck whisked Audrey Hepburn off in Roman Holiday?).
Oh, yeah, the '80s...second to petroleum was peroxide. Why were we all nuts to highlight our hair? I'm a natural blonde. Why did I need to be more blonde? A case of Aryan identity? Did we all think we were members of The Police? Police state, more likely.
So during these mythical times of Big Hair and thin ties and electronic drums, yours truly subsidized his extreme artistic covert projects by appearing to be commercial friendly with RADIO PROMOTIONS. Like Jekyll and Hyde, my late night persona was counterbalanced by a sort of slightly capitalistic friendly, but subtly irreverent host to promotional events of on air salesmanship. Think Casey Kasem on mescaline. The actor in me could do the total professional bit, while trying to sneak in hipster code to those who might catch on.
For awhile at KTYD, I became quite good at this. It started with a live broadcast at a new Radio Shack in Carpinteria. Giving away free pizza at a new Domino's on Milpas in Santa Barbara. Opening a new blues club called BJs on State Street. If it was NEW, I was there. So the NEW had spread to Robinsons department store...and the hip NEW boutique, the Red Bag. Can we turn it into the Red Brigade, while Pappa's got a Brand New Red Bag? I'm there.
Robinsons department store in the La Cumbre Plaza. I'm invited by management to host the radio premiere event of the Red Bag--a hip, youth oriented boutique located in the fashion department of the store. I remember being driven by ultra-paranoid General Manager to meet the LADY director of promotions for the chain, to co-ordinate the opening affair. This is the cat who hated me, but tolerated moi because it meant big bucks for the station, and I was the one they had requested to host this on air affair. The lady was smart and well prepared and I clearly remember the visible agitation from el presidente swine-o being dictated to by a woman. I loved it and wished the radio sales staff could see the blustering god of the mountain so easily emasculated. Tee-hee!
The Event is planned. Yours truly will host the radio broadcast from mighty department store. There will be entertainment from a break dance group. But the special guest will be an instore appearance by fitness expert to the stars, Jake Steinfeld, author of Body By Jake. This is just before his TV fitness show of the same name became highly recognized.
Showtime. KTYD's regular programming of Quality Rock (and a side of Roll) is interspersed or interrupted by breaks from yours truly, telling you that the air of excitement is SO THICK you can cut it with a garden trowel. I have concert tickets to give away...The Go-Go's at the County Bowl. This IS the place to be.
A couple of footnotes, anklenotes and a kneenote here...before my mega-successful career as a radio icon, I had actually worked at Robinsons.
First in shipping and receiving, and later as a mobile idiot who went from department to department, delivering items and sending stock to other stores throughout California. When I did the latter, my in corpus appearance required the application of a cheap hair apparatus, this due to my Jesus length of spiritual (but not yet high dilated) blonde locks. Wouldn't want to shock the Watergate wives of Hope Ranch who might be shopping for over-priced, nonessential goods. The wig was some awful thing, possibly bought in a porno shop in Chatsworth, very brown and looking like a cross between Alfalfa's hair and Fess Parker's coonskin cap. I'm sure it was made of missing cats in Thousand Oaks and not Peta friendly. I remember some cat (the salesman variety) in Men's Apparel, wearing on his head what looked like Marilyn Chambers' quasi-blonde beaver, calling out to me while I'm hustling some coat from the Women's Department on the mobile rack, "Where did you get YOUR wig from?" Who knows what he looked like without it. Fast forward to event:
Although I am here to promote this new cool boutique...I am wearing the glacier styled fashions of the Eighties from Gary Paul, the tres chi-chi clothiers on Middle State Street, a loogies distance from the old KTYD studios in the Granola Building. Dig all that grey, man. Only in the Eighties was it cool to look like Edward G. Robinson in a Thirties gangster film like Bullets or Ballots.
Okay. So the choreographed street dancers do their thing. Next, Jake is going to show slightly aged ladies how they can stay in shape by gyrating with a broom. Seriously. While all this is going on, I am phoning in heated on air reports to the mothership. Of course, no one in the store is hearing this. So on air, I tell the listeners, "You really got to come down here and see this Jake Steinfeld. He IS INCREDIBLE! He's built like a concrete bunker. He's like two separate gorillas. This man is AMAZING! Now listen folks, I have a pair of tickets to see The Go-Go's this weekend at the County Bowl. If you have the GUTS to come up to Body By Jake and SAY something RUDE to him, I WILL GIVE you these pair of tickets." :)
The show progresses. It is going well. Lady promotion director is pleased with the success of the turnout. Breakdancers are doing their thing again. We are off to a side of the store. Jake comes back. "How did that work for you?" she asks Jake. "Fine," he says, "except there were a bunch of people who kept saying rude things to me. Someone said I was big poo-poo. Or 'are those muscles real?'" I feigned shock and amazement that people could be so RUDE.
Years later, Jake Steinfeld and I would appear in the motion picture, Into the Night, but not in the same scenes. I would have told him. The truth, I mean. Seriously. I would have. I really liked him. If we had been in the same scenes. But we weren't. So I couldn't tell him. But I would have.
The poo-poo people won the tickets.
Monday, May 9, 2011
ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS HORROR PICTURE SHOW:
This is the grand daddy of them all. A favorite of the weekend midnight movie set. This film brings out audience members dressed as their favorite Jay Ward animated character. Though most imitate the lead character of Bullwinkle J. Moose, as well as countless femme fatales posing as Natasha, quite often a Dudley Do-Right, Mr. Peabody or Wrongway Peachfuzz appears at these gatherings. This reviewer was complimented on his Sherman costume. I was wasn't wearing any.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD FROM OUTER SPACE:
Many consider this film the worst ever made, but I profess a secret love for the movie. Directed in 1956 by furniture transvestite Edward D. Drapes (who often appeared on the set decked out as a Danish modern coffee table), this is the last film to ever feature famed vampire actor Bela Lumbago. Lumbago died during the making of the film, or so everyone thought. Actually, he ran off to Tustin with his secretary Mona, in an attempt to cure himself from his fromage fix, a deadly addiction to cheese aged long enough to smell like gym towels. Scenes with Lumbago early in the film do not match with later ones, partially because director Drapes curiously replaced the actor with a standing three-way lamp fixture, a move never explained to this day.
The plot of this film deals with outer space beings attempting to take over the world by raising dead condoms. Not a pretty sight. The film is intercut with quack fortune teller Kitschkin intoning doomlike lines such as "Who can say for sure that beings from another world may not attempt a world takeover bid by controlling douchefoam?" My favorite line in the film, however, is when space guy, Mister I.U.D. says to the captured earthmen, "All you of earth are seriously bogus!" Truly of what a cult film should be made.
MY LUNCH WITH MARVIN:
This three-hour film takes place entirely at a lunch time restaurant. The famed frog director Louis Air Maille attempts a random film made up of chowtime banter. The longest scene in the film is when each of the men slowly pulls out his respective wallet waiting to see if the other will pick up the tab.
This is truly a curiosity. A Chinese film attempting to imitate the English Mod movement. Bands of rivalling Mods and Rockers in Shanghai are simply called Woks, who meet in China's first four-level shopping mall. Music is supplied by Wokband, the Wu, lead by riveting guitarist, Pete Taoism (who earlier had written the first Wok Opera about a blind Sushi cook called Tatami, featuring the famous lyric, "Sashi me! Touch me! Heal me!"). Many classic Wu songs appear in Quadrapateria, including the lost sales slip anthem, "I Can't Exchange." Truly, there has never been another film to better depict the rise of youthful Mandarin angst.
As I look over the flyers for many revival theatres, I am amazed at the quantity and variety of films that become the so-called cult film. Old time musicals like Meet Me In El Monte. Foreign films like Federico Fettucine's 6 & 7/8. And hardcore X rated A-Dult entertainment like Grunting Squatties. It warms my heart, and sometimes other body parts, to see this truly international, ageless, and philosophically unfettered array of cinematic offerings. To heck, I say, with the Hollywood hype of wide run motion pictures. Give me the cult film, the revival festival. Now what should I see next? Harlan Elementary's sci-fi classic A Boy and His Slug? A Matt Dullard brainless youth film festival? A French farce like Pierre Regurge in The Tall Blond Man With One Bland Sandwich? A psycho slasher film like I Was Beau Bridges. Or maybe a classic Hollywood adventure film like Tarzan and His Common Law Wife? Ah! So many films and so little time.
[First published May 9, 1984.]
Thursday, May 5, 2011
In the early '70s, I thought I had BIG IDEAS for what radio could become. And I was test driving; trying every Mad Scientist experiment one could do in terms of audio alchemy on my living wireless lab, Space Pirate Radio. The audacity of youth. I believed anything was possible. And this included the idea of a community of artists. Although raised on Top 40 radio, inspired by the British and European (and even Mexican) so-called Pirate Radio stations and then charged up by Freeform FM stations, I wanted to take it further. Old '30s, '40s & '50s radio drama, coupled with the international hook-up of shortwave, added to the immediacy of ham broadcasting...it was hi-fi/sci-fi time. "I have a dream...actually I have a whole bunch of them!" Meet me on the glowing cathode.
Visual Aural. Sounds like high tech porno from Prague. Well...maybe a bit. But really, it's Rotwang's early answer to Clear Channel, only with the Soul remaining intact.
KTYD in Santa Barbara in the '70s was a great place for all of us On Air loons to do our Own Thing. I'm sure if you tapped on the glass enclosed case of the breathing apparatus that houses the few remaining semi-conscious members of the airstaff, held up a large written piece of paper, scrawled in big letters with black or red ink...something simple, like..."DID YOU HAVE FREEDOM TO PLAY WHAT YOU WANTED ON THE RADIO?" they might gasp through the airtube a gargle, that the Berlitz School of Language would interpret...as "Yes."
So I had heard Frank Zappa say in an interview that there was NO FREEDOM on commercial radio. The commercial radio stations wouldn't play his music, no diversity, etc. Well here we were, in Santa Barbara, definitely a commercial radio station (we had commercials and some of them were the most outrageous commercials you could possibly have on the air, but that's another topic later). Zounds! Methinks I will invite Frank to come on Space Pirate Radio. He can play ANYTHING he wants to play, SAY anything he wants to say...and he will witness the true freedom of our Utopian radio station. Progressive radio! Progress in action!
So I call Herb Cohen, his manager at Reprise Records, and see if we can make magic happen. Frank and the Mothers of Invention are coming to play the Big Avocado...UCSB's own Metropolitan Opera House...the Robertson Gym!
This will be great! Frank will come aboard the Space Pirate Radio airship, have the freedom to play what ever he wants, say what ever he feels. What liberation! What a joy! He will share the communal ecstasy of kindred spirits. It's all placed in motion. A new age begins with a tiny step in radio freedom. Except...
Now let me say here, I was a fan of Zappa, but not as in awe as others might be. I did buy Freak Out when it first came out...I am that old. I loved Peaches in Regalia from Hot Rats and admired 200 Motels as a film and album (I used Mystery Roach as a song in my X-Rated play at Santa Barbara City College, Void in Wisconsin).
But I have to admit my interest in Frank and the Mothers was more in how they had inspired the psychedelic, experimental bands of Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Amon Duul 2, which was first played on commercial radio with Space Pirate Radio, saw the Mothers of Invention as a major influence, as well as Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. However, much was lost in translation. Guru Guru was another. The problem with these bands in Europe was that they were inspired by the freakiness of these Kalifornia bands, but not aware of how diametrically opposed their philosophies were. The German bands were utopian. Frank, despite the long hair and Donovan like psychedelic photo shoots, was definitely dystopian. An East L.A. lowrider, Mad Maximillian dystopian. And wait for it...an ultra conservative. The mind explodes!
This will all come out in the wash later.
So there are major differences between the Mothers and their European inspired counterparts. Politics for one. Sensuality and Eroticism for the other. The Euro bands had a more Romantic core to their work. Frank saw women in a much more crass way. After all, this was the man who wrote music inspired by the actual Enema Bandit. The Germans enjoyed free love. Frank had the GTO's. Communal as opposed to dictatorial. I'm not aware of all this contradiction at the time. I just want to get him to play radio.
So, it's all set. Till...the last minute. Cohen tells me, Frank doesn't want to do the radio show. But he consents to an interview after the show. Rat turds. Hot Rat turds. The concept, the euphoria, the freedom is gone. It's now Dick Clark with Syd Barrett. If I had been smarter, I should have said no. But it's Frank Zappa...let's improvise. When I was Entertainment Editor for KTMS, I had no problem with those kind of on the run, Access Hollywood, Showbiz Tonight, toady catch as catch can backstage, soundbite type glamour interviews. But this was meant to be different. It's all new and there is no net here. We will learn from our falls, as long as our spine is not broken.
Now it's different. Instead of getting Frank in a comfortable environment, I will have to try and create some sort of artistic rapport backstage, surrounded by others, after an intense performance. Like smoking on the Hindenberg. Safe.
Actually, it started out pretty cool. I was invited to the soundcheck and this was quite special. I recorded it and it is hidden in the SPR archives. Frank was not the aggressive persona he liked to play. He played beautiful guitar solos that never appeared in the actual show. I'm in the bleachers, taping away. He's doing a wonderful piece of guitar work, stops and yells out to me..."Is that too loud? Does that hurt you?" Not at all. It's sublime. This feels good. I am optimistic that some of the spark that I had hoped would happen in the studio can be generated in the field.
Showtime. Concert goes on but with none of the softer, sensual moments of the soundcheck. It's like a different persona comes on for the crowd. Hmmm. Aftershow, backstage, the interview...I'm not sure this is going to translate Space Pirate Radio style. Is there a style? Well, it's new...and we are still experimenting here. Now realize, this is before Howard Stern and all those idiotic morning zoo type of jocks. It's late night, freeform with all my influences: Mad Magazine, Ernie Kovacs, the Goon Show, Firesign. Music and humour. Both avant-garde and progressive. Can this alchemy work? Lead or gold? Maybe, yes. Maybe, no.
I meet Frank Zappa with microphone and this Frank is different from Frank I met in soundcheck. He has his entourage with him, wife Gail I assume (no introductions), a bit of a harem (Sheik Yerbooti?). I start the interview tongue definitely in cheek. Conceptual artist, try new concepts. "So, Frank," I ask..."What do you think of the new revolution?" "What revolution?" Frank replies. "The one that will happen when President Ford is assassinated in Lincoln Theatre." (Now I think this pun is super high concept...surely the Zappmeister will be dazzled by this unique take on the traditional interview. Light years ahead of the Colbert Report.)
"You're full of shit," Frank responds to my creativity. We're friends immediately. I knew I could set the right tone. "No one has the guts to play my music," Frank implies. But Frank, it is pointed out...We (KTYD AM & FM) played your song Billy the Mountain at 3.p.m.today, a song with the F word quite pronounced. Even manager Herb Cohen in the room sez, "It's true Frank. I heard it driving up." Frank's response: "Well the F.C.C. will throw your butts in jail." It was at this point I realized that with Frank Zappa, if you loved his music...you were an asshole. If you hated his music...you were an asshole. It was a no win situation. There was only one spotlight and it was on Frank. No wonder so many talented musicians and artists came and went through the doors. Again, I noticed that after the tape recorders were turned off, he became more human. It seemed like it was a role he had to play. Frank vs. the world. To the outside world he was a freak, but his family mindset was ultra conservative, atomic bunker type. Very strange. When he got sick later in his life, he moved to the left, or so it seemed, but it was too late.
But it changed how later Space Pirate Radio interviews would be held. No more compromises. I really only wanted to talk to the artists I truly liked or wished to get to know on a creative level. And it had to be friendly. Like with Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band, with his wife Janet...we went out to dinner first, got to know each other, felt comfortable before going in front of the microphone. The chat was perfect, easy going, spontaneous and sincere. And it was fun. No bullshit. This pattern continued in all my later interviews: Bryan Ferry, Bill Bruford, Edgar Froese, Steve Hackett, Pete Bardens, Thomas Dolby, Richard Butler, Mike Oldfield as well as my non-music guests (the film & literary types).
Just friends, hoping for a bit of Utopia.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Having a cold is no fun, except for one thing: it changes my voice and I can sound like obscure character actors. Suddenly Orson Welles is easy. Or John Houston or Sidney Greenstreet. David Suchet...a breeze. A touch of bronchitis or throat cancer and it sounds like a lifetime of cigars and Johnnie Walker Red. Is that George Zucco on the phone telling former fascist-mafiosa boss to stick fist up rectal plumbing? Who can be sure? It's just a fever dream.
So is this topic my love of mimicry? Not sure. I do truly understand the Peter Sellers approach to acting: the voice came first. It's a radio thing. The Ear is just slightly ahead of the Eye. Working in tandem, but it is a trade off. For myself, this is a delight but more likely a pain in the ass for all of my friends. Going to the movies with me is no fun (besides my inability to not comment during the film regarding some trivial criticism or useless piece of esoterica); the worst bit is the after-effect. The mimic's curse. If we have watched a Michael Caine film, I will be unable to not stop sounding like him (I am actually writing these words in Sir Michael's broken cockney style...thank God you can't hear it. If I attempted to write it out, the previous sentences would have been filled with pauses, hyphens and a ton of dots...), for at least a half an hour after the viewing. This is the usual problem with most British films. Peter O'Toole, David Warner, the Pythons. Lately I bore my friends with my Jason Statham ("Don't touch the f..king car"). I don't need pneumonia to do that one.
While British are the easiest for me (as noted earlier, I got my first job in radio pretending to be English), other Europeans can possess my soul like a bad Benny Hinn Revival ("Did someone touch me?"). Germans are a curse. I know. I am one. I am sure my wife is tired of my Armin Mueller-Stahl impressions. This Munchen actor from the Fassbinder school always seems to end every sentence with the question, "yes?" "So Kafka, they followed you, yes?" Since my wife loves the band Yes, I can torment her in the wee hours of the morning by asking in the Armin-ean tones, "So, Kafka, you like the band Yes, yes?" This might be considered a union of vaudeville and waterboarding, but to me it is a form of art that may have amused Torquemada.
Just as Sellers and Milligan could easily become Hindu Abbott and Costellos on the Goon Show, I find myself absorbing all the inflections of the films I watch. I live in a heavily populated area of Mexican-Americans, yet seem to keep my parody level low. Except for occasional bursts of Telemundo, telenovela announcer-type proclamations or bad Sabado Gigante buffoonery, my mimicry is more subdued and in awe to the "mucho fuego" quality of the steamy Salma Hayek or Paz Vega.
I miss watching Animal Nocturno on Friday nights from Mexico City. Ricardo Rocha and (hubba-hubba!) Patricia Llaca were the closest to a pure, multi-cultural, Hispanic program I have ever seen. Like Jack Paar with Frida Kahlo. My wife even became a believer when old Space Pirate Radio friend Tony Levin appeared on the show, unexpectedly, with his band and did more songs live than would have ever been seen on U.S. television. Late night Mexican TV at its best, rather than Escandalo TV (you have to be kidding) or El Gordo y Flaca. If I was less hetero, it would be re-runs of Viviana a la Media Noche. But I see I've gone off the tracks here once more. "Hola, las Pulgas!"
So what have we learned here? Not much, really. Chevy Chase, on his ill-fated late night talk show, was criticized for making a reference to Senor Wences. Don't make references to something your audience is probably too young to know. Keep it current. Don't be smart. This MAY be less fashionable, but f..k that noise. Hip is cool. And young is very cool. I wish I had your energy. But stupid sucks...so play that game their way and you will be used and abused. Which is what they want. Dumb it down. We can USE you. We understand. Au contraire, mes amis. Keep it oblique as long as it is still true to what you believe. If they don't get the reference, that's their problem.
So having made reference to Senor Wences, I cancel my own show ("All right?"). Now there was an artist. A Central European imitating a Spanish surrealist with a Portuguese head in a box. You wouldn't have The Muppets or Star Wars or Yoda without him, mixing it up first. But that's another topic. Except I've cancelled my show...So,
Germans are fun to do. I've mentioned this. A glass or 2 of Moselle wine and I will do BOTH Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski ("Kinski vas a mad-man, a luna tick" ). Herzog murdered Kinski. Perry Mason could prove this. "Dees leeves from the Columbian rainforest...Cook dem for tree minoots, a delicacy. Cook dem for tree minoots and ten seconds...a lethal poison...your live functions seas in a total state of shock." Lots of laughs. I played a crazed German doctor in Arsenic & Old Lace. One word would get me in character: "gerschitzen."
That's right, folks. Single words or small phrases can set you off in multi-personality dementia. "Yumpin yart fanoot" is the Manchurian Candidate code for instant Swedish. "Tony" or "Tone E" brings on an instant Charles Boyer. "Torture" or "Tor Chure" will manifest into spontaneous Bela Lugosi.
(Speaking of multi-personalities...although I've never seen a single episode of The United States of Tara, I am happy to see that the writer dated the same girl I used to know. Even down to the name. A slight Vowel Movement.)
So what about that picture? It's an exclusive shot of the new Doctor Who ("Bowties are cool."). Oops, sorry, no, it's not. And he wouldn't have made that sartorial comment if he had seen Matt Drudge. Actually, pictured above is disturbed Ruskie poet Sergei Suitenpanz, companion of modern dance icon Isadora Duncan. I'd love to tell you more, but I've been cancelled. If I could, I would pour another glass of Rasputin, the Mad Wodka and begin my story as follows...
Sunday, April 17, 2011
(Speaking of bi-polar...I had a twit of a friend once write to someone, "you know I think Guden is bi-polar." I wrote back, "How dare you? I have never had a homosexual relationship with an eskimo." Watch out my friend,...to those who re-write your history. Suggest they invest in Fecal Wash, the eyewash for those with Cabeza del Bunghol.) :)
Cats...I love them. It's the BASTard in me. Tee-hee!
I love all creatures great and small. Many animals in the Guden household. But with only one dog that I can recall dearly, a lovely brown chihuahua that my sister had, I seem to remember the family as mainly a household of cats.
Our first cat was brought into the household by my sister Kay, now Katherine. She had an interest in all things French (went to France before any of us left Orange County). I think it was a white kitten. Named it Pousoi. A later kitten was named Pousette. So a French thing started here.
After that, when we left Fullerton for Diamond Bar...cats were named Clouseau, Toulouse and Shadeau (or Shadoux, as this was a Franco-hallucinatory play on the Mad Magazine parody of The Shadow with the character called Lamont Shadowskiddeeboomboom....or so I remember).
Be careful what you name your animals. Our cat Toulouse, named after the famous tiny French poster painter with the damaged legs, slept in the garage. Accidentally, my father driving his car in, ran over the cat's legs, rendering him crippled like his namesake. My wife and I had a cat named Nico, after the singer. Though not killed in a bicycle accident in Spain or a heroin overdose, poor Nico was hit by a car and dragged himself onto the driveway to die. We were watching Veggietales when this happened. Can't stomach them anymore. Bob the Tomato is now in my BLT, minus the B. (Recently joined PETA.) Loved the Cheeseburger song, but we can get past this. Back to my Pagan roots...it's only a song. One of the key members of Strawberry Alarm Clock ("incense & peppermint"...all those cool paisley psychedelic shirts...fuzz guitar, drone E organ) became a real estate mogul, redeveloping the vistas of Santa Barbara for high-end condos and businesses. "Let US pave your paradise." But I digress...
The photo of past is yours truly with Fu (after Fu Manchu), the white Siamese and I believe, the yet to be ill-fated Toulouse. It might be Shadoux or Shadeau. I'm not sure. I'm turning into Reagan: "I'm sorry... I can't recall. Too many micro-waves from the G.E. All-Electric Home. Plus radio. I don't recall signing the contra orders. I was under anaesthesia and my V.P. was in charge. Hey, do you remember Death Valley Days and the 20 Mule team? Boraxo soap sponsored that show and sometimes the team only had 17 Mules. What do you think was in the soap? We learned a lot from the Germans. I'm sorry...I'm getting sleepy now, Mommy. Bedtime for Bonzo."
When I got married and moved into a house...well the cat commune really begins. I am the L. Ron Hubbard of cat cults. Care to be mEow E-Metered? Claro, el Gato? Tee-hee!
Seriously, though. My wife and her family were cat lovers. There were several cats when I arrived, but sadly all of them have passed on. You may have already seen the posted foto of Emma in my rant on radio General Managers. The children of Malcolm and Nico and Glenda and sister Kinski (they were a VERY CLOSE family and aptly named) are still here but one, thank the Gods of old. I quietly call them the Brothers Karamazov, but Grime and Punishment could also fit for literary punsters. Six cats in all, and two outsiders who visit, have a meal and carry on their journey.
But wait, I haven't told you about our Easter Bunny that arrived near All Hallow's Eve. And the colourful parrots that out-sing Carmen Miranda. And the ancient, all knowing turtles, smaller cousins of those on Ascension Island. And the generations of possums, related to our dear Pogo. And the soulful raccoons, almost the size of small kangaroos, who will eat out of your hand. And...
But first, let's watch our favourite pet quiz show, "What's My feLine?" Brought to you by CAT, a tonic. The healthy drink that leaves you refreshed AND stationary. Now let's introduce you to the paw-nel...I mean, kennel. "That star of stage and screen and litter box..."
Friday, April 1, 2011
Tiny entry here. I think I have spoken before on how, on April 1, we loved to giggle up. On KTYD we turned the station into a screaming Top 40 station--the antithesis of the freeform FM we had become. I was the Real Don Robot, my parody of old LA based KHJ radio, "Boss Radio."
In print, the Santa Barbara News & Review became a parody of the local daily rag, "Not the News-Press." I remember telling the Editor of Night Light that I wanted to print my article on my visit to the The Man From U.N.C.L.E. set, and we should do an April Fools parody of the paper. He nixed both ideas. So I went to the alternate paper. They did the parody AND placed my U.N.C.L.E. story as the cover article...sorry, but as Cal Worthington used to say, "just let me have first chance at the deal."
The best April Fools party was at Zelos. The Space Pirate Radio 12th Anniversary poster party was a huge success for the club. So, I proposed an April Fools Party which was, fortunately, even more successful. Those were lucky moments. The Space Pirate Radio Poster Event was a huge success, but you could get in. For some unexplained reason, the April Fools celebration was packed beyond legal capacity. A big success for the club and a pride-filled moment for yours truly...that being Foolish in a business world could maybe work.
(Wasn't The Blog the 1958 sci-fi debut of Steve McQueen?) Despite the feelings of some, if I have to chose ONLY ONE job description on my South American passport over all others (writer, actor, disc jockey, artist, director, pornographer, fungus), I would choose satirist.
A Foolish First of April to you all.