Monday, January 31, 2011

"My time. My time. I love my time. My time has something more..."

"...My time's the best there's ever been..."

Hello folks.  Hello folks at world.  Sorry folks, but as the first month of the year winds up, I'm still in thoughts regarding anniversary time of Space Pirate Radio.  Thinking back to that first show of 1974, as I did last week, I noticed during this week remembrances for the Challenger disaster, marking the 25th anniversary.  Ye gods!  Has it been that long?  Remembering the Challenger incident puts me back to the week of the show's 12th anniversary celebration.  (I still remember at the time that there seemed to be a mixture of sadness with celebration.  The Challenger accident happened on January 28th.  During festivities for the show's anniversary, Frank Herbert, the sci-fi author of Dune, passed away on February 11th.)  Anyway...as nice as the 10th anniversary party was for the show when it was on KTYD, the 12th anniversary on Y97 was the most satisfying. 

The poster contest theme continued.  Mike Merenbach, the artist who had started with the 8th anniversary, had come up with a contemplative sci-fi image.  Looking at it now, I am amazed that it sort of predates the kind of image of Coruscant from the Star Wars films yet to come.  Looking backwards now, the Space Pirate Radio ship could easily be docked next to any Republic cruiser.  So I was surprised by the incredible variety of entries submitted using that image. 

I had secured the premises of Zelo (the hip, happening club in Santa Barbara) for the festivities.  The number of entries turned the restaurant/nightclub into an art gallery.  There were a large number of prizes for the most creative entries.  Although there was a grand prize winner, there were a number of other awards for merit to imaginative submissions of the poster design.  I don't think the prizes were as important to the artist as it was to create something unique with the Space Pirate Radio image.  The main winner was a very unique 3D diorama, but other entries included giant stand-ups, sculptures created out of Tiffany-like plastic, and one that was an actual rocket that could be shot off.  It was all quite amazing.  Very surreal.  And hopefully a giggle for everybody. 


Again, for me, I received the most personal satisfaction with this anniversary party for Space Pirate Radio.  It was everything I felt should have happened during the 10 years at KTYD.  Zelo had never done any promotion with a radio station up to this time.  It was a bit of a coup.  And thankfully it was a major success for the club, resulting in even more well attended later engagements.  The party was covered by local media, as evidenced in the photo with KEYT TV reporter, Lance Orozco, doing the interviewing.  Lance was a terrific fellow and had previously brought his camera to an all-night Space Pirate Radio show for a TV feature.  Pardon my gloating, but I was a media whore then.  As an Arts & Entertainment editor as well as a performer, I understand what it's like to be on both sides of the microphone.  I appreciated Lance's work, as well as newsman John Palminteri, who also covered the event.  I have the fondest memories of working with these news professionals. 

On a psychological test I took in high school, I scored with a number zero, determining that I was a complete ambivert: introverted in thought and extroverted in action.  So what the hell does that mean here?  Not sure, but basically although I prefer the introverted creation of Space Pirate Radio in the studio, these extroverted moments of public celebration are a heck of a lot of fun.  And besides, it's good to get out every now and then.

"...My time.  I love my time.  Thank you my time." 

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Because all you of Earth are idiots!"

When Saturday night January 26, 1974 became Sunday morning January 27th, something unusual happened to American commercial radio.  At midnight, the pop rock world of Elton John and Fleetwood Mac faded out and a sci-fi rock soundtrack to a rave on Altair IV began.  Yours truly introduced the excursion with words something to the effect saying, "You are now going to hear the weirdest music you have ever heard in your life."  And the sounds of Hawkwind's "Earth Calling" from the album Space Ritual took over the airwaves of KTYD 99.9 Santa Barbara.  It was a test flight, but Pandora was definitely out of the box.  I knew I was in the deep end, but my crazed enthusiasm to share with the world the exciting new sounds from Europe as well as the eccentric audio delights from my own twisted background made me unaware of the lack of a safety net. 

It was a trip, man.  But the show was just formulating.  In those six hours on that magical Sunday morning, a lot of music was shared, old and new.  I was ecstatic to be the first to play the new Amon Duul II album Viva La Trance, not heard on commercial radio.  The album was due for release on the upcoming Tuesday and it was my first joy of delving through the just arrived promo stack at the station.  We knew, as fans of this little known German band, that the album was coming out and I hoped and prayed that I would find this album in the stack of newly arrived LPs under the music director's desk.  Before starting the show, I scavenged through the treasure trove of vinyl and came upon two copies of the holy grail.  Ah, folks, it was great to be young and feel the charge of playing "Apocalyptic Bore" and "Mozambique."  Monitors full volume, blasting Chris Karrer's space guitar out of the window on the eighth floor of the Granada Theatre building.  It was my tiny fist raised to heaven, banishing the airwaves in the city of the red tiles, exorcising the demon spirit of soft rock, homeboy Mike Love and the "where are my royalties?" current state of commercial rock music.  It was, for me, audio revolution.  There was Something In The Air and we utopians felt it came in the form of progressive music.


In those six hours, I tried to give an example of every musical taste I was into.  Hard rock.  Deep space.  Old and new.  Old songs that sounded new.  The Beatles.  "Astronomy Domine" by Pink Floyd.  Lounge music.  Attempts at comedy.  And trying to break down the cliche of Top 40 radio.  Changing the fourth wall of theatre in the arena of sound.

And like the music I played, the show progressed or evolved as well.  On early shows, I would back announce the titles of record and artist.  By the summer of '74, I would completely abandon the interruption of the mix of sounds by the traditional DJ.  I wanted the program to be a sonic experience.  And although I knew the information regarding work and performer is important to the listener, I felt that the show as an experience should be uninterrupted.  Or that musical themes and experimentation could develop without the old school "and now a word from our sponsor" type of format.  It was obvious that I intended to make the show as uncommercial as one could be on a commercial radio station.  Now there's a challenge, folks.  For the casual listener, this could be frustrating.  But for most of the audience who used the show for their own personal purposes or loved to tape the program, the complete experience was far superior.  Personally, I felt the least comfortable being myself at the beginning of the show, but I would generally give out the information as to what was to be played and other pertinent bits.  The genuine pleasure for me was when I could let my real personalities come out in the various guises throughout the show.  As I had discovered in theatre, it is perhaps easier to place an opinion wrapped in comedy than to blatantly hit you over the head with it.  I prefer a laugh over a scream and find it subversive.  Most bullies don't have a sense of humour.  And you can slip it past them like a truck in the night. 

My intentions were never to screw with the listener.  I felt that if you were tuned in, you were a friend.  And even though I did some extremely over the top things on the air, I never intended to become like the asshole shock jock-types that would later dominate the world of corporate radio.  I didn't force someone to drink too much on an early morning, drive-time show and drown and die just to get a free t-shirt.  That's not what I intended radio to be.  You had freewill.  You could tune in or out, if you liked.  As I said, if you listened and stayed, you were a friend and you were hip as to who the real enemies were.  That was the plan. 

And of course, the whole thing binding it all together was the discovery of new music.  It was meant to be a trip.  Scenic, illuminating and hopefully...with comfortable seating.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Why do you ask, Little Hole in Rubber?"

We now enter the Swinging '60s (entries, that is).  Guaranteed to offend.  The early 1960s were, for some strange reason, the era of the sick joke.  So in that spirit, we step inside the re-Tardis.

With the success of the film The King's Speech, we are happy to see a renaissance of the British film company, Stammer Films.  Who can forget The Cur-Cur-Cur-Cur-Curse Of Fran-Fran-Fran-Fran-Frankenstein or The Hor-Hor-Hor-Hor-Horror Of Dra-Dra-Dra-Dra-Dracula?  How about the Mum-Mum-Mum-Mum-Mum-Mum-Mum-Mum-ME?  I'm excited. 

I was wondering.  If Carmina Burana composer, Carl Orff, and Rolling Stone photographer, Annie Leibovitz had grown up at the same time and had been childhood friends, would they have been known as Little Orff & Annie. 

Question:  Which of the following does not belong:
  1. Lobster
  2. Crab
  3. Octopus
  4. A Korean underneath the wheel of a Toyota truck
Answer:  3.  Octopus.  All of the others are crustaceans.

Guaranteed to offend.

Favourite poem from my childhood:
Ruth rode on my motorbike
Directly back of me.
I hit a bump at sixty-five
And rode on, Ruthlessly.
The photo?  An early picture of me using a cell phone in my car.  It was a trunk call.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"You've a magnificent brain, Moriarty."

The recent passing of Gerry Rafferty has sent me back again to Baker Street, London.  Every time I hear the song, it's summer 1982.  When I returned to the US and would see the video, the street shots were all very familiar, including the comfortable Sherlock Holmes Hotel.  It's been quoted that "when a man is bored with London, he is bored with life."  So is the reverse true?  If a man is bored with life, is he bored with London?  Or going even further: "If a man is bored with his wife, is he bored with Lisbon?  And is she Lizzie Borden?"  Philosophical questions like these keep me up at night.  But I digress.

Legs.  Has it been made apparent that I am a leg man?  Partial to legs, but not to partial legs.  I'm not one of those amputee fetishists.  But I digress, again.  Legs.  They move me.  And those that move with them, as well.  A remaining vision of mine, traveling the Underground from Baker Street station, were the noticeable ads in the tunnels (promoting what I believed to be were safety pins but I guess were stockings), using the power of glistening gams.  You couldn't not notice them during your travels in the tunnels.  London advertising has always been an art form. 


In my business of the film world, discussions on actors are always frequent.  Lately, I have found many friends, acquaintances and clients have asked my opinion of Gary Oldman.  It is known that I am partial to English actors, but in an attempt not to repeat my Michael Caine/Harry Brown moment, I try not to be as excessive in my lack of awe regarding Mr. Oldman's talents.  I quickly try to diffuse the subject by attempting to impress the unfortunate listener into hearing my Gabby Hayes sounding-like, ancient tale that I saw Gary Oldman on the stage in 1982, prior to his film career.  I went to the Lyric Theatre in Shaftesbury to see Glenda Jackson and Georgina Hale in the play Summit Conference.  This little West End truffle put forth the fictitious luncheon between the mistresses of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.  I admired the two actresses tremendously and did not want to miss the opportunity of seeing them in person.  After all, both of them had made early appearances in Ken Russell movies.  My main objective was to meet Georgina Hale whom I had taken a fancy to in The Devils, Mahler and The Boyfriend.  I wanted her to appear in my Space Pirate Video pilot. 


In the production, the third member of the cast and only male actor was an angst-ridden young man who portrayed a Nazi servant to the two ladies.  This was Gary Oldman.  His performance was that of a cipher, always in the background, except for one explosive sequence of philosophical rage.  It was a sort of Marat/Sade theatrical moment.  I had no inkling that this person would become as big of a film star as he did. 

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  I had attended the Wednesday matinee and was invited backstage into Georgina Hale's dressing room.  I was delightfully starstruck.  She wore a colourful dressing gown designed, I believe, by Ken Russell's wife, Shirley.  Very art deco.  She agreed to do my TV show and I scampered off around the corner to the famous Windmill Theatre to continue my explorations.  The Windmill Theatre was the famous strip club and starting ground for Goon Show comedians Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe.  In regards to my other project, the Peter Sellers documentary, the theatre was an archaeological site for me as it had had a plaque with the names of those who had gotten their start on these boards.  Sellers and Secombe (I'm not quite sure about Milligan) were on this plaque, but it had gone missing.  As it turned out, the Windmill Theatre had been bought by the notorious Paul Raymond (the Hugh Hefner of England), whose adult magazines like Men Only had turned into Club magazine in the US.  He was known for creating the Paul Raymond Revue Bars, a place to see beautiful women in various states of undress, and the Windmill Theatre was undergoing a change into the same. It was quite amazing to me--perhaps due to an abundance of confidence and goodwill--that I was given free access to the place while Mr. Raymond and his associates checked the building for renovations.  His assistant manager accompanied me throughout the theatre in a hopeful attempt to find the lost ark: the plaque of the Goons to be. Alas, it was not found by myself, but the attempt was a good one and it was a marvelous experience to be going through such an incredibly historic theatre.  As I left the building, actor Peter Vaughan drove by in his convertible, fresh out of his matinee around the corner.  The air was filled with theatricals.  Such is the magic of Shaftesbury Avenue, the Broadway of London's West End.


I was really pleased at the kind of pastoral way this entry was ending.  Sort of gentle, nostalgic, not manic.  "What do you think, darling?  Good ending?"  "But what about Gary Oldman?"  "Oh."  Well, remember when I said that for every really good Michael Caine film, there were three or more horrible ones?  In retrospect, I think I may have been wrong.  Looking back, there are an awful lot of Michael Caine films I really like.  As much as I hate the Jaws films and the Poseidon Adventure remake and The Bees and all the commercial crap Michael did, there are the films that I am fond of.  And the whole Michael Caine mythos (blond hair, black horn-rimmed glasses), which is similar to the David McCallum mythos.  Images relating to my youth.  But as a body of work, for myself personally, Gary Oldman's odds are much worse than Michael Caine's.  Probably my favourite Oldman performance is as Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK. Except for a few artistic touches, I can't stand his Dracula.  Totally miscast.  I don't know what blood he's been drinking, but it's definitely syphilitic.  His Vlad the Impaler is more Vlad the Inhaler.  Too many of his performances are in the area of coke-fueled lunatic.  It's like somebody has hooked up a battery to his anus.  And he spits on everyone.  Can't actors annunciate words without throwing out tons of spittle?  I'm seriously bored here.  Can anybody take the Book Of Eli seriously?  I couldn't finish Rain Fall.  He strikes the same one note in The Professional as in all of these films.  Shrill.  No subtlety.  I suddenly realise how brilliant George Zucco was.  Villiany should be low-key.  "He may smile and smile and still be a villian."  Like Dick Cheney.  George Zucco.  Moriarty.  And we've come full circle.

Sorry about the loss of the pastoral.

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Time for my perversion?"

Oh god.  Not another photo from the very early years.  I thought that last one was far too much of a flashback.  Here we are even earlier.  A romantic encounter it would seem.  Looks like I'm being stood up again.  My charm is working overtime.  She's (card) bored silly.  This is in fact an example of developing teenage sexual angst and obsession.  The woman pictured is actress Andrea Dromm.  A blonde cutie whose 15 minutes of fame included doing two famous commercials: one for Summer Blonde hair dye and the other for National Airlines.  She was John Phillip Law's love interest in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, and her tagline for National Airlines, "Come Fly With Me," was punned into the Troy Donahue-helmed spy spoof, Come Spy With Me.  Other males discovered her in Star Trek.  But since I wasn't a Trekker, that appearance had no impact on me (though I'm sure I would have appreciated the mini).

Anyway, this segues into my fundamental pursuit of the muse.  Although I was attracted to all types of women, there was something romantic at the time in the belief that you would find someone who looked similar to you.  Blonde on blonde.  This myth had been fortified by the image of David McCallum with wife Jill Ireland, and Brian Jones with lookalike girlfriend Anita Pallenberg.  Although in retrospect, this might come off as sort of an Aryan vision of a lovefest.  Our children would look like the cast of Village Of The Damned.  Midwitch cuckoos, indeed.  Little blonde go-go girls were all the rage anyway.  Patti Boyd and Judy Geeson.  Ewa Aulin in Candy.  That sort of thing. 

Of course, as one gets older, the adage "Gentleman prefer blondes.  Gentleman marry brunettes" seems to apply (the only exception to this rule would be Hugh Hefner, who seems to have peroxide running through his blood). 

Well, I'm glad to say that despite all the changes in my life, I still worship at the altar of the goddess.  Having been watching the Man From U.N.C.L.E. episodes of the mid-60s and fixating on the swinging starlets of the time, I am amazed at the type of woman I find attractive decade by decade.  '60s women, besides the ones already mentioned, include Barbara Steele, Jane Asher and Marianne Faithfull.  '70s women is a whole other volume, as we could say about glamour girls of the '50s, '40s and '30s.  Eighties?  A whole different dimension.  '90s?  I'm not sure I can fathom it.  And the last '00s?  Even more confused.  I mean, really.  Sue Lyon or Selena Gomez?  Now I guess this reveals I've turned into a dirty old man.  But why does it seem to me that Humbert Humbert today would be in a steam cycle watching the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon?  The Olsen Twins and Dakota Fanning?  I mean, really, now.  One minute they're dribbling cereal in front of Bob Saget; the next they're dating Ben "call me Sir" Kingsley in The Wackness.  Fortunately, my wife is understanding.  And although sometimes she thinks I come close to the border of being pervy, she understands the wisdom of it all.  She thinks The Wizards Of Waverly Place is weird.  So just remember this, folks. Walt Disney had a freakout when Mouseketeer Annette Funicello did all those beach party films.  So wouldn't you think that the ice in his cryogenic freezer has puddled out from excessive Hannah Montana?  Just asking. 

Happy New Year.  Let's see what ladies the '10s will deliver.