Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gary Paxton Dead: Monster Mash, Alley Oop - THE TWO DAB MAN

Gary Paxton was a two dab man.

Actually, more than that. While he may be best known for two novelty hits, "Alley Oop" and "Monster Mash," he dabbled in music for over 40 years as a producer, writer and singer, amassing dozens and dozens of credits.

Gary (Larry Wayne Stevens, May 18, 1939 – July 16, 2016) was one of those somewhat obscure guys in the music business. Some seemed to love him, and others were wary. I guess it depended on whether you knew him as a jovial writer-singer or as a producer-business man.

Almost a cliche of the guy smiling on the outside, but hurting on the inside, Paxton dived into the world of "novelty" music, escaping the confusion and misery of real life:

"My mother was 14 and my dad was 15. I was nine pounds when I was born, and when I was one, I was seven pounds, because they didn't have anything apart from ketchup and water to feed me with...Then this old couple who had lost two children heard I was available, so they adopted me. We lived on a farm in Coffeyville, Kansas. We had no electricity, no water, no heating..."

Adopted and name-changed, he grew up in a bleak environment, molested at seven by a neighbor, and suffering from spinal meningitis at eleven. Things improved when, at fourteen, the family moved to Arizona and he began to lose himself in garage bands, mostly playing country music. His past caught up to him when a woman in Arizona looked at him and declared "I am your mother! I've been looking for you for a long time and if you don't believe me, go call your parents." He then learned the truth, that he was adopted by Christians, and his real parents were a mix of Native American, Jewish and Irish blood.

Another surprise was when a demo he recorded with his pal Clyde Battin was released on the tiny Brent label. The label called them "Skip & Flip." Paxton had no idea until he happened to hear the tune on the radio. The song, "It Was I," became a surprise million-seller novelty. They followed it with "Cherry Pie." He ambitiously moved to California and started to produce records, even releasing songs on his own obscure labels. He acquired a "mad genius" reputation, thanks to more novelty classics. "Alley Oop," written by Dallas Frazier, became a hit from "The Hollywood Argyles," with Paxton offering up the narrative opening. Paxton produced his own "answer" to it, "Alley Oop is a Two Dab Man."

In 1962, Paxton had his graveyard smash, "Monster Mash," which was initially released on his own Garpax label. Once again, his skills as a producer made the industry take notice. His production on that single was admirable, from the sound effects to the back-up singers. He also played piano on the session. The tune made an instant star out of Bobby "Boris" Pickett, and Paxton instantly began cranking out sequels, including "Monster Motion" and "Monster Holiday." He also recorded "The Scavenger" as a solo project for his Garpax label, as well as "Two Hump, Dual Bump Camel Named Robert E. Lee," which he co-wrote.

His eccentricity at the time included parading an elephant through the streets, protesting radio stations that had refused to play "Elephant Game," by Renfro & Jackson.

As a producer and engineer, he eventually sought new types of sound, and he left pure comedy behind, guiding "Sweet Pea" (Tommy Roe) and both "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish" (The Association) up the charts. Simultaneously, Gary was hoping for solo success, releasing a variety of singles including "Sweet Senorita Sante Fe" (1964 on Felsted) and "It's My Way of Loving You" and "Goin' Thru the Motions" (Capitol, 1965 and 1966).

He returned to his country roots, writing the hit "Woman, Sensuous Woman" for Don Gibson, "L.O.V.E." for the Blackwood Brothers and "No Shortage" for The Imperials.

By the time I was part of the music business, and hoping to perhaps meet him, or to crack open a fresh novelty single he'd produced, he was in the arms of the Lord. Meaning, he was a Born Again Christian, producing and writing for the new wave of Christian records now on the market. I wrote an article on this phenomenon, which included in addition to the former "Alley Oop" and "Monster Mash" man, a newly optimistic Barry McGuire, a Jesus-freaked B.J. Thomas, and the emphatically NOEL Paul Stookey, putting out overtly Christian music as a sidelight to his work with Peter and Mary.

I didn't get to interview the elusive Paxton, but I did marvel at the album cover that showed a Quaker-esque guy with a big beard and oversized hat. He issued several such records for his "NEWPAX" label, and seemed to have achieved a balance between reverent songs ("He Was There All The Time") and slightly lighter material ("Jesus Is My Lawyer In Heaven"). His songs confronted abortion (against it), cigarettes (against it) and death (unavoidable: "When The Meat Wagon Comes For You"). His label also released material by the infamous Tammy Faye Bakker, and some gossips insisted Gary had an affair with her, which he denied.

He seemed to be headed toward, as Lord Buckley might phrase it "the groovy sands of serenity."

BUT...it seems that Producer Paxton had run afoul of Vern Gosdin who was lethally pissed off at him and wanted out of his contract. Paxton had worked with Gosdin in 1967, and it was Gary who coaxed the irascible thrice-married curmudeon out of retirement for the 1976 album "Till The End." A few years later, and Gosdin wished the end on Paxton.

A few days after his Lord's Birthday, December 29th 1980, Gary was lured outside his home by Darrell Bailey and Darryl Langley. The two Darrels claimed to have car trouble. They attacked him, beat him, and in the scuffle shot him twice in the back. Hitmen couldn't kill the hit man. In a show of Christian charity, he even "forgave" the hired men. Apparently nobody could pin anything on Gosdin himself. Gosdin refused any interviewer when it came to questions about Paxton.

Some insist that the two hitmen were hired by a jealous Jim Bakker. Just why the two Darrels would dare implicate Gosdin, when it would've been easy to simply claim they were hired by an anonymous man they never met face to face, is unclear. What's beyond dispute is that the prosecutor in the case did not pursue a case against either Gosdin or Bakker.

Some armchair detectives wonder if the end of Gary and Tammy's association times well with the attack, and if Paxton, Mr. Christian, would never, ever want to admit to stepping in on another man's wife. Others figure cranky Vern Gosdin wouldn't be beyond asking a few guys to put a beating on somebody, perhaps a fatal one.

Adding insult to injury, Paxton's partner embezzled a half million from him while he recuperated from his near-death experience.

Over the past 30 years, Paxton's "look" changed from Jolly Quaker to mover-and-shaker, to God's Little Acher, to orange-haired faker. Let's say it reflected his varied musical interests and directions, which kept shifting.

Paxton started the 21st Century in Branson, Missouri, the haven for older country and gospel performers. He became friendly with Bill Medley, Andy Williams and others who were able to bring in the tourists. Despite Hepatitis C, he performed sometimes as "Grandpa Rock," wearing a mask, and continued to write and produce songs. For his newest record label, LUPAX (with Jim Lusk) he offered "Vote 'Em Out Boogie" in 2011 and the "AARP Blues" in 2014. Yeah, he still had some kind of sense of humor, despite the death threats, childhood molestation, ups and downs of novelty songs, the Jesus albums, and four marriages. Not totally forgotten, the U.K. re-issue label ACE has discovered a lot of early Paxton productions for their CD compilation "Hollywood Maverick: The Gary S. Paxton Story."

GARY PAXTON ALLEY OOP IS A TWO DAB MAN

A Cheap Trick: Tammy Faye Starlite and a sexual "SURRENDER!"

Anyone remember Nico? Still care about Marianne Faithfull? OK. And you still care. More on them later.

Anyone remember Tammy Faye Bakker Messner? Not so much. And you care even less!

Harry Shearer once said "her only claim to fame/notoriety was to have been the marital partner of a convicted crooked televangelist," which denies her fame and notoriety as a campy TV personality who rode the tabloid roller-coaster like a pro.

In her prime, she was a frightening parody of Christian wholesomeness, with her drag queen make-up, creepy singing, and her championing of hubby Jim, an Evangelist who seemed to be bisexual, crooked, and about as charismatic as Rick Moranis with vertigo.

In a country that still values inane personality over talent (the Kardashians and Jenners), it really is no surprise that a nutjob like Tammy got a foothold into the public's eye (and wallet) and went to her grave kicking and screaming for just a little more of the spotlight. She went to her grave telling the world that she was really going to heaven. America bought her act. Why not? Just before she died she insisted on going on Larry King's show. She weighed just 65 pounds (and 55 of them was probably make-up). She had endured the collapse of a marriage, a second lousy marriage, infamy and scorn, and 10 years struggling with cancer, but was STILL raving about God existing and being merciful.

So in the end, Tammy Faye Bakker was the Lucille Ball of televangelists; charismatic, unique, and possessed of a deep instinct for survival. Both married assholes first, and parasites second. In Tammy's case, a goofy-faced sex fiend who over-sold timeshares, followed by a fame-clutching ex-con who did time for bankruptcy fraud.

At this point, the details of the scandals have faded, replaced by the latest idiocies from Kim and Kanye and Caitlyn and the rest of the clowns. Did Jim Bakker and a friend drug and rape Jessica Hahn? Did Tammy know how he amassed the money for their three luxury homes? Did she think owning gold faucets was Christian humility? Was a Christian theme park garish and un-Godly? Was she closer to the schemes of Falwell and Swaggart than the sincerity of Billy Graham? At this point we have other things to worry about. Like the gruesome leaders of a religion OTHER than Christianity that is causing trouble.

Yes, mercifully perhaps, some eyesores have faded from view, and Tammy Faye is one.

Other ladies, underappreciated in their time, endure, like Nico.

And so it is, that Tammy Faye Starlite, who first came to semi-fame by mocking Tammy Faye Bakker via a Cheap Trick parody, is still with us, and now impersonating Nico and Marianne Faithfull.

A Jew from New Jersey, the re-named Tammy Faye Starlite has come a long way from 2003 when she was doing country song porn parodies. She's been touring for several years with a Nico tribute. She offers up about a dozen songs doing her 90 minute set, ranging from "I'll Be Your Mirror" to Nico-tributes to ex-lovers. Yes, Tammy-as-Nico sings Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" and Jackson Browne's "These Days." "Nico" insists Bob Dylan "was in love with me..." and she hooked up with Jackson when "he was only 16." "Nico" also has some winking remarks about other famous men, like Lou Reed: "He was a usurper of souls, like a cat. He never really liked me because of what my people did to his people. I can't make love to Jews anymore!"

A versatile performer, if you want to book her for both a Friday and Saturday Night, she can do a completely different show each time. "Broken English In Its Entirety," has her performing as Marianne Faithfull. And yes, that does include the entire album.

That is now. Below is then...a twisted Tammy Faye parody of Cheap Trick's "Surrender." You can't go wrong with a song that begins...

""Mother told me, yes she told me, pray to Jesus Christ! I didn't listen, was not a Christian, I led a sinful life...suddenly I heard a voice from somewhere up on high...oh just swallow it..."

Download or listen on line (and may God have mercy on your hole). SURRENDER

George Melly goes cheerfully to THE ELECTRIC CHAIR

What about Liverpool's George Melly?

Well, based on the odd "Send Me to the Electric Chair" below, American listeners might get the idea he was some kind of cross between Lord Buckley and Judy Henske. He obviously was eccentric, and didn't let being white prevent him from enjoying raucous jazz. In fact, the traditional blues in this song might have you tracing it against Henske's "Oh You Engineer" (written by Shel Silverstein) and the barrel house melody from "Low Down Alligator."

Melly, as you might guess from the photo, kept working almost till the end. Van Morrison was a fan (appearing on "The Ultimate Melly," released a year before George died. With encouragement like that, George kept getting up on stage, resisting cancer treatment, continuing to tour, and vowing to have a damn good time to the end. Only a month or so before he died, he was performing with the Digby Fairweather Band.

George Melly died July 5th, 2007 at 80 (He was born August 17, 1926). An eccentric with varied tastes, he was nearly tossed out of the Navy during World War II for distributing "anarchist literature." He haunted art galleries, championed surrealism, and played in jazz bands that favored New Orleans-styled rhythms. Noting that it wasn't a good idea to quit a day job, or to avoid steady payment, Melly temporarily retired from music in the 60's and 70's to become a film and television critic for The Observer. He also wrote for Punch, for the Daily Mail's satirical newspaper strip Flook, and scripted the 1967 film "Smashing Time."

Ultimately realizing that he could show most performers a thing or two, George returned to the stage, performing original material as well as classics from the days of Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton. He put out a bunch of albums, helmed the British Humanist Association, worked to bring recognition to his comedy idol Max Miller, and when new wave became popular in the late 70's, why, there was George, recording "Old Codger," especially written for him by The Stranglers.

He was legend enough to write three autobiographies, which accentuated his musical interests as well as his bisexuality. He was married, but was considered, at least by one friend, "a mighty camp heterosexual." He was a cheerful exhibitionist. At parties he might strip naked and twist his bulky body from man to imitation woman, and then on all fours, a bulldog!

One of the last of the bohemians, in later years his coy garb and eye patch making him look like a butt pirate, Melly could discuss art with an intellectual, or sing dirty songs to a bar maid. Typical of his flamboyance was his appearance at a 1985 exhibit, "Salute to British Surrealism." The paintings weren't the show: "The entire art world had come from London for the opening and there was George wandering around naked."

The track below is delivered with a hip howl:

"Judge yo' honor, hear my plea...I don't want no sympathy, I slit my woman's throat! I found her with another man, I warned her 'bout it before. I took a knife and...the rest you oughta know! Oh judge, judge, good Mister Judge...wanna pay a visit to the devil down below..."

Melly was way too lively to really want to off himself before his time...in fact, it took a sly Ill Folks photo-collage to actually stick him into an electric chair.

Here's an electrifying performance from the Unchained Melly Instant download or listen on line. No waiting, code numbers or porn ads.

Vampish vixen LYS GAUTY - "CREPUSCULE"

Remember the fun of going into a record store and just flipping through a few boxes of assorted bargain records?

Yeah, you'd have to have a LONG memory for THAT.

Sometimes, an unknown artist would suddenly loom into view and stop you in your tracks, thanks to either a great photo, or the genius of the record label's art direction.

When I saw the cover portrait of Lys Gauty on a 2lp set, I had to wonder...did the woman actually look like that??

Turns out, not really. Alas, Madame Gauty in real photos, is not quite so vampish or tarsier-like. Her music, likewise, is fine, but not spooky or sexy. Only a few songs were anything close to suggesting the supernatural, like the pale-eyed visage on the cover.

Below is your sample, "Crepuscule," which, students, translates as "twilight." It's the time of day when crepuscular creatures with huge eyes, such as lemurs and tarsiers, become active.

Music and lyrics by Django Reinhardt and Francis Blanche.

Lys Gauty shares something in common with today's spookiest French import, the great Mylene Farmer. Both were born with the last name Gauthier. Lys (Alice) Gauty (Gauthier) was born in Franc, February 2, 1900, and died there on January 2, 1994. While unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old, Lys was dubbed un "monstre sacre" by no less a celebrity than Colette. Colette is also unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old.

The bi-lingual Jean Cocteau (also unknown now, at least to most anyone who doesn't speak French and isn't old) helpfully dubbed Lys "a vulture of virtuosity." Critic James Kirkup noted she "set the stage afire with her strange personality, her unusual, spellbinding vibrato growl and her heart-breaking songs."

She became famous in the late 20's and 30's, a heroine of the Parisian Music Hall scene. Kurt Weill wrote songs for her, including 'La Complainte de la Seine'. Her song 'Israel va-t-en' expressed support for the French Jews, who were discovering the shock waves of antisemitism coming from Hitler's Germany. Soon enough, the Nazis took over, and Lys ultimately fled to Monaco. She was nearly killed for her views (and for having a Jewish husband), and kept a souvenir of a bullet that barely missed her.

She had fans all over the world. Some were lucky enough to get a post card...

The song below was recorded during the war, 1943. The song is about shadow and substance, of things and ideas; it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge...a dimension of imagination. Your next stop: The Crepuscule Zone.

Instant Listen or Download: LYS GAUTY

DOODLES WEAVER - Give a Horse a Man He Can Ride!

Unlike his brother Pat (president of NBC and father to Sigourney Weaver), Winstead Weaver looked like a "doodlebug" (his own mother's opinion!). He acted like one, being a cornball comic/singer all his life.

The dude gained fame with a manic "William Tell Overture" horse race routine on a Spike Jones novelty single. A sequel, music based on "Dance of the Hours" offered a car race. Doodles also loved spoonerisms, mispronouncing song lyrics in frantic gibberish till he'd clear his mind with a bellowing "OOOOH!" That, along with deliberately awful jokes, made a hit out of "Man on the Flying Trapeze," also while a member of the Spike Jones band. On that single you can hear Spike ask "Are you in voice, Winstead?" at the beginning.

After many years with Spike Jones, Doodles was fired for a lethal combo of alcoholism and natural nutsiness. He had bit parts in movies, notably the 1940 version of "Li'l Abner," and in 1951 prevailed upon brother Pat to help him land a summer TV show on NBC. He turned up on an episode of Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" (photo above, right). After Doodles admitted his profession was a comedian, and that he was looking for work, Groucho sympathetically wished him luck. In 1965 Weaver briefly starred in the goofy "Day with Doodles" each episode just six minutes long, ready to be slotted anywhere in a daytime line-up, or used to give a bathroom break to some local kiddie show host.

Throughout the 60's The Dood took minor roles in sitcoms, from "Dick Van Dyke Show" to "The Monkees" to "Batman" (as "Crier Tuck). His curly hair, tubular head and large eyes helped the comic ambience of any scene, even if his lines were few.

The older he got, the more bitter and disillusioned he became. Friends and fans knew that he was unhappy with his health, and despite of or because of alcohol and pills, be simply couldn't stand to live more than a few weeks into 1983.

Not too many years before his suicide, Doodles went into the studio one last time to make a solo disc. He offered some updated Spooner routines (Dr. Demento enjoyed the somewhat appalling version of "Eleanor Rigby") and he even tried to work his dentures through his classic Feetlebaum routine...which was now more of a trotter than a horse race.

Here's a double dose of Doodles, rare radio transcriptions, including, of course, his Spoonerized "Man on the Flying Trapeze."

All Weaver wanted was to get some laughs, and even if you're not a corn-comedy buff, you'll listen to these things and admit, he Dood it.

TWO RADIO DOODLES!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Single from Baseball Legend Tony Conigliaro

Young and good looking, Boston Red Sox home run slugger Tony Conigliaro (January 7, 1945 – February 24, 1990) had a bright future back in 1965. He led the American league with 32 home runs. It was not a big number compared to what Mantle and Maris hit a few years earlier, but it was good enough for the home run king to get a deal for some pop singles.

“Little Red Scooter” was no competition to “Little Deuce Coupe,” especially not with the anemic chorus of “no more Put-Put!”

His better known single was “Why Don’t They Understand,” which sounds a bit like Fabian coming back to the echo chamber after a funeral. It probably would've suited his image to cover "The Wanderer" or some other urban sass from Dion, than a sad sack track that had gotten minor play back in 1958 for George Hamilton.

The flip, “Playing the Field” was a not-so-clever play on words. The bland vocalizing from Tony didn’t hint at the charisma that was getting him attention from not only Boston babes, but even celebrity party girls like Mamie Van Doren.

Tony’s biggest hit was, unfortunately, a baseball to the eye on August 18, 1967.

Batting against California Angels’ Jack Hamilton, Tony couldn’t get out of the way of a hard pitch tailing in on him. He was smacked on his left cheek, with the powerful shot blurring his vision and dislocating his jaw.

It was one of the most severe injuries any hitter sustained at home plate. It rivaled the notorious smack in the face in 1957 when a line drive from New York Yankees’ Gil McDougald connected to Cleveland Indians pitcher Herb Score’s face.

Herb Score's career ended, mostly because he tore tendon when he made his comeback after so much time off. In trying to make adjustments in his pitching motion to ease the pain and strain, he injured it yet again.

Tony Coniglaro's fate was different To the surprise of some, he returned to even greater success, and belted a career high 36 home runs in 1970. The Red Sox helped his problem eyesight by putting a black tarp over a section of seats in centerfield, so he could more easily pick up the ball as it was leaving the pitcher’s hand. The major leagues, eager to prevent any more injuries like Tony's, encouraged batters to wear a helmet with a protective flap over the ear, leaning partially toward the cheek.

In 1975 Tony C. retired to a broadcasting career. In 1982 he was felled by a heart attack and soon after, a stroke. It left the hard luck baseball hero almost helpless. His family and his brother took care of him until his death, only 45 years old.

TONY CONIGLIARO Playing the Field

TONY CONIGLIARO Why Don’t They Understand?

Dead Dandy Dan Daniels - IS THAT ALL THERE IS

At one time, London and New York City had the most influential disc jockeys in the world, from Murray the K to John Peel. With very few exceptions (Dick Clark on national television and syndicated shows from Wolfman Jack and Casey Kasem) AM and then FM music was changed by New Yorkers like Cousin Bruce Morrow and Scott Muni, and “the night bird” Alison Steele

In the prime years of the 60’s when AM radio ruled, New York City had three stations blasting rock into teen ears. There was WINS, WABC, and way down on the dial, WMCA. WMCA had the least powerful signal, and no superstar DJ. The best known, who died a few days ago, was probably Dan Daniels (December 18, 1934 – June 21, 2016).

Born Vergil Daniel in Texas, “Dandy Dan” worked his way up from a year or so at Houston’s KXYZ to four years at WDGY in Minneapolis, and then in 1961, the big time, WMCA, ending up with the prestigious afternoon “drive time” gig, 4 to 7pm. Some time during his NYC run, “Dan Daniel” turned plural, and became “Dan Daniels.”

The humble Texan said at the time, “A lot of guys west of the Hudson River are good enough to be here in New York. Just the same, many guys have bombed out in major markets, mostly because they thought too highly of themselves. You have to be constantly good, with the insecurity on your back, otherwise you’d get lazy. If deejays had security, as a class, radio would be so dull it would go out of existence. As it is, you have to make your own security by being good…insecurity forces a deejay to diversify, to…become more than a deejay.”

His best known rivals were gravel-voiced hipster Murray The K at WINS, and hyper “Cousin Brucie” at WABC. The Dandy One chose a more natural identity: “A deejay can be excited, use sound effects, voices, whatever. But when you talk to people, you’ve got to relate to them. When you give the time or the weather, anybody can do that, so you do it in your own style…”

Like a number of disc jockeys, Daniels harbored a bit of a dream about becoming another “Big Bopper,” and having a hit record. A problem with that was the suspicions regarding Payola. Another: it’s just very difficult to have a hit record, even if you have personality and even a pretty decent singing voice. In 1968 he discovered an unrecorded oddity from Leiber & Stoller called “Is That All There Is?”

“Dandy Dan” opted to style himself after Sinatra; ring-a-ding with a tongue-in-cheek dash of AM disc jockey cool. The result? Almost a parody of what would become known as a depressing cabaret piece. Obviously a male is not going to be that broken up over not enjoying the circus, or having some twat walk out on him; “Dandy Don” treats these traumas with amused cynicism. And the ultimate fate in life? Death? He may not have snickered quite as horribly as the “Big Bopper,” but he gave it some hearty ha-ha’s!

No wonder Lieber and Stoller didn't want Dan's version to hit the air. Instead, with an arrangement by Randy Newman, and the sophisticated deadpan of Peggy Lee, the song became a sensation.

Two years later, the 70's arrived and AM radio was on the decline. It was longer the time of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, “Monster Mash” or “Purple People Eater” novelties…or “Dandy Dan” and the WMCA “Good Guys.” He moved on to other things.Further up the dial, WINS, where Murray the K had ruled as “The Fifth Beatle,” switched to all-news. FM stereo created a demand for a “serious” style of rock disc jockey, someone who spoke softly and intimately, and played entire sides of albums.

And now there’s Spotify and Pandora and everybody’s their own disc jockey. Almost all the great disc jockeys are either retired or dead. IS THAT ALL THERE IS? It’s your download below.

DAN DANIELS - IS THAT ALL THERE IS??

Sunday, June 19, 2016

HARVEY KORMAN - 25 MINUTES TO GO (temporarily live)

Your typical “miserable” comedian, Harvey Korman tended to fret and complain. While he was brilliantly funny to audiences on “The Carol Burnett Show,” he wasn’t exactly hilarious to her. At one point, she confronted him about it. She said something like, “If you’re not having a good time, maybe you should leave.”

That snapped Harvey out of it. At least, he knew to keep his misgivings and insecurities to himself. Perhaps the closest character to the true Harvey Korman that he played, was Bud Abbott in the ill-fated made-for-tv movie that co-starred Buddy Hackett. He portrayed Abbott as the worrier, the one who carried grim realities with him, which included his own physical failings (epilepsy). While Costello was freewheeling on stage, getting the laughs, Abbott had the responsibility of keeping his partner from ad-libbing too much and milking the laughs.

In TV sketches and also in films, Korman kept an edge of reality to his work, and let Mel Brooks, Tim Conway or other top bananas make the faces and get the big laughs. He got chuckles from his chagrin and his frowns and his inability to make sense of the idiotic world around him. One of the biggest laughs on the Burnett show was when Carol descended a staircase wearing a curtain for a gown, complete with rod. Korman, as Rhett Butler got some laughs by remaining dead serious, and failing to see how ludicrous this outfit was.

I mentioned to him once that I thought he was a fine dramatic actor. At the time, the movie “Shine” was in theaters, and as I watched Armin Mueller-Stahl I kept thinking, “This would’ve been perfect for Korman.”

Harvey often teamed up with Tim Conway for live performance tours, and did find some reasons to be cheerful, sometimes. But he remained a realist. When Viagra became available, Harvey was not that thrilled. As he put it, "It's like putting a new flagpole on a condemned building."

One thing Harvey didn’t do much of, was sing. For some reason, one night the Burnett show cast performed a kind of tribute/parody to C&W and "The Grand Ol' Opry." Each cast member got a solo. Just why they chose the grim Shel Silverstein song “25 Minutes To Go” for Harvey to sing, I have no idea. It was a hit for Johnny Cash, but it doesn't really suit Harvey's style. He doesn't have the outrageous personality that makes such a chilling song wild and over the top. Silverstein's original version of it is hoarse and manic. Cash drawls many a colorful line. But Harvey is a bit more like Hedley in "Blazing Saddles," viewing the proceedings with a certain understandable distaste. Note that the song is chopped from 25 minutes to 15 (and leaves out the anti-social stuff about hating the warden, the sheriff and the governor). It’s quite a curio, though, and was never released as a single.

25 minutes to Go

DAVID GATES produces Jack Bedient - IT’S OVER!! + BOB DYLAN

Yeah, David Gates. The guy produced material for varied tastes, although he’s best known for Bread.

As an arranger, in 1968 he had the chops and nerve to try and top Roy Orbison’s original version of “It’s Over.” While the original had the crescendo ending, Gates decided to START with histrionics, and he sure had the guy to do it, in Jack Bedient.

Jack Bedient (September 12, 1937-June 4, 1998) starts right in, blowing his stopped-up Pitney nostrils with a wail of “IT’S OVER.” Where do you go from there? Isn't it over?? No. With Gates’ arrangement swirling flutes at him, like moths in his face, Jack explains, “your baby doesn’t want you anymore.” Oh. And over the next few minutes, Bedient jacks up the pressure in describing that disobedient bitch who said “there’s someone new, we’re through-ooo-oooo.”

Jack Bedient, from the state of Washington, was a journeyman who first tasted the Top 100 with “The Mystic One,” on the Era label in 1961. He and his trio, The Chessman, played wherever they could, most often in the tourist trap towns of Nevada where the crowds wanted to drink and listen to cover versions of pop and rock hits. One member of the group was Billy Britt, who passed on just a few months ago, February 15, 2016 at the age of 74. While The Chessmen didn’t quite make it to the Las Vegas lounges on a regular basis, the group found steady work in Reno, Carson City and in Lake Tahoe, and sometimes played tourist hotels in Hawaii as well. “Two Sides of Jack Bedient” was his first album, on the Trophy label in 1964.

Jack and his Chessmen managed to sign with Fantasy in 1965, which specialized mostly in jazz and Lenny Bruce. “Double Whammy” scored some minor radio action, and led to their ‘Live at Harvey’s” album, which led back to the minors. Struggling with indie releases on Palomar and Rev, and going through some changes within the group, it seemed doubtful The Chessmen would get another major label chance, but Columbia signed them in 1967. The first 45 was “Love Workshop.”

Three singles were sent out to DJ apathy in 1968: “Pretty One,” “The Pleasure of You” (written by labelmate Gary Puckett, with “It’s Over” on the flip side), and “My Prayer.” In the clubs, patrons could buy souvenir albums on the Chessmen label, including ‘Songs You Requested” and “In Concert,” which was a re-issue of the Fantasy disc.

There’s a minor cult for Jack Bedient and the Chessmen, who managed to turn out some garage band rockers that hold up to stuff by any of their rivals, including The Kingsmen. Jack’s version of Dylan’s “Subterranian Homesick Blues” is a fairly bizarre Paul Rich-as-a-Hillbilly take that somehow works. And through the 70’s, Jack continued to update his song material and work minor clubs in Nevada and California, ultimately retiring from show biz to run a tanning booth business.

But…as Dylan might say, “death is not the end.” It’s not over. Not until you at least hear his take of “It’s Over,” aided and abetted by Mr. Gates. Gates throws out climax after climax, as the tidal wave of emotions ebbs and then lashes back again. All wet? You bet! Roy’s version had the finality of despair. His version has that last primal cry of “It’s OVER.” Bedient? He hits the high note, but there’s a swirl of harp around it. Does that mean he dropped dead and went to heaven?

JACK BEDIENT It’s OVER

JACK BEDIENT SUBTERRANIAN HOMESICK BLUES

EYDIE GORME - MY WORLD KEEPS GETTING SMALLER EVERY DAY

In 1970, Eydie Gorme recorded a big ballad penned by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. “My World Keeps Getting Smaller Every Day” proves that it’s hard to sing BIG when the topic is small. The melody is bombastic and may have done better if the lyrics were more dire. Think, “Anyone Who Had a Heart” or “Delilah.”

The lyrics are actually rather pensive, working better with some sad little “Charade” melody and without trumpets are thudding drums. Poor Eydie, she’s got windmills in her mind, she’s got green icing flowing in her brain, and those were the days my friend:

“In the lonely of the morning when I’m waking up. I find you standing at the bottom of my coffee cup. I see you on the freeway when I’m driving in the car. Downtown when I’m shopping I just turn and there you are…”

And there you are, a song that did sort of follow established big ballad patterns, and literally strike familiar chords that worked well in other songs. Listen to it, and you’ll be thinking, “some of these notes are awfully familiar…some of the effects, like the boom-boom drums that stop the song with fatal punctuation…where have I hear this shit before?”

Which doesn't mean you won't enjoy this thing. Oh, what a gormless Gorme-less world we live in. Unlike your average Viley Virus, Arreola Grande or Taylor Twat piece, THIS song DOES have a melody.

It’s possible that five years earlier, and via Dusty Springfield, this thing could’ve had a chance. By 1970 Eydie was rather long in the tooth for 45 rpm glory, and “the kids” were the ones buying most of the singles, leaving Dusty, Tom Jones, and even Streisand to hope for album sales without the kickstart of an AM radio hit.

Indeed, for Eydie, and her husband Steve Lawrence, and a lot of Vegas acts of the day, the world was getting smaller. No “Ed Sullivan Show” or “Hollywood Palace,” no write-ups about being a fresh new face, and not much interest in a formula that had been flogged practically to death by Mancini and Bacharach all through the 60’s. And saddest of all, no matter how small your world gets, you still might not be able to find a cake left out in the rain.

EYDIE GORME MY WORLD GETS SMALLER EVERY DAY (ps, is Pluto still a planet?)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

"That's The Way It's Gonna Be!" La Lupe Wolfs Down Phil Ochs

"ALLEZ LUPE!" as we say in French.

Let's have some International women today. First up, the loopy Lupe, followed by a Swedish girl named Siw, and a South Korean Joo.

Ill Folks gives you Phil Ochs...via the Latina legend, La Lupe.

"That's The Way It's Gonna Be" is an unusual choice for her, and it's a kind of schizoid song; gloomy minor key clouds keep breaking for a resolute melody line that forces optimism. Phil co-wrote it with Bob Gibson. One wonders who was the McCartney optimist and who was the Lennon pessimist ("got to admit it's getting better...can't get no worse!")

The song darkly acknowledges pessimism, but breaks into a chorus of hope. As for La Lupe, in her bizarre Latin twist, it seems like she relishes the evil aspects, and adds some witchy laughter. You get the idea that she's happy to be dancing on the road to hell and simply enjoying the ride. If she's walking with her "heh hell hi" (head held high) it's just because you can see every gruesome detail that way.

La Lupe usually sang in Spanish, and as the photo shows, she was such a legend that a Spanish Harlem street was eventually named for her. Sizzling to the point of becoming a charred Charo, she somehow creates an interpretation that is both amusing and riveting, kind of funny but also fierce.

That's The Way it's Gonna Be Wait and See.

"Mr Sandman" in Swedish! (Looking for ABBA? Siw Me!)

"The World is Saved," to quote a Stina Nordenstam song. Why? The ABBA bunch re-united at a PRIVATE party. Somehow, this news was greeted with great glee, and a blurry photo posted on their Farcebook page (or was it Twatter or Instagrab) was re-posted all over the Net. No, it's doubtful they will tour (Agnetha being especially phobic), it's doubtful they could write anything as moronic as they did in their youth, and why bother when Swedish meatballs in their own country would make sure it was given away as free downloads?

However, to celebrate this exciting moment, which had me feeling especially tired and sleepy, here's a perky version of "Mr. Sandman" in Swedish. It was probably much appreciated at the time, as Sweden is often dark and gloomy for long stretches of the day, and they breed platinum blonds so that any ray of sun will reflect off their heads and help light the streets.

Siw Malmkvist, now 79, first achieved fame representing Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1960. Adept at German, she later represented West Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1969.

Over the years Siw expanded from pop singer to stage star, appearing in a variety of roles, including "Sugar" (the musical version of "Some Like it Hot") and "Nine" (the musical inspired by "8 1/2"). Just a few years ago, she and Thorsten Flinck (who surely needs no introduction here) had a hit with her Swedish version of "Where the Wild Roses Grow" (originally from Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue).

Siw has recorded hundreds of tunes in Swedish and in German (and a few other languages as well). Once in a while a slab of her vinyl has turned up in America and if the price is right, I'll buy it. So far, I have one of her albums.

Yes, this is an original rip from that vinyl. Enjoy this quickie! Wham, bam, Thank You, Malmkvist!

SIW sings! MR. SANDMAN IN SWEDISH Download or listen on line. No pop-ups or porn ads.

Eun-Ju Lee and the Corrs - Only When I Sweep

It's June...and a remembrance of Eun-Ju Lee.

Like a falling star, Eun-Ju Lee was a bright and beautiful presence for a short time.

She rose to fame via perky roles in comedies, and showed great depth in dramas. The pretty South Korean actress seemed able to deal with each new challenge in her career. From teen romance roles to the more difficult parts of a blind woman, a woman dying of cancer, and a reporter carrying a deadly fetus, she worked at an increasingly hectic pace.

The young actress also found herself with such an adoring fan base that she was wanted for TV commercials, endorsing a variety of beauty products.

In many films her screen character suffered and died, and it seemed tough for this increasingly depressed and weary young woman to go home at night and shake off the day's shoot. She had to keep working, apparently taking on the pressures of family debt.

She appeared in "Tae Guk Gi," which was to South Korea what "Gone With the Wind" is to the U.S.A., and starred in "Phoenix" (aka "Firebird") a huge TV soap opera (a 9 DVD disc set). In "The Scarlet Letter" she played a bisexual nightclub singer in a script rife with nudity, violence and gore. Aside from grotesque scenes in which she was blood-spattered and screaming, and a passionate naked love scene in which she seemed to be writhing in agony more than ecstasy, she also had to be convincing as a singer. The film's highlight had her covering theeerie Corrs song "Only When I Sleep."

She chose to sing it in English, which adds a slight touch of humor, as she has the traditional Asian problem with pronouncing an "L" sound. Not long after the film was made, and only weeks after graduating college, Eun-Ju Lee slit her wrists and hanged herself, leaving an apologetic note to her mother.

Not many of her films have had a DVD release in the UK or USA, but you can find some clips of her on bootleg central, YouTube. You may have to type in alternate spellings, as her first name is sometimes written as Eun-Joo or Oon-Joo, and be aware that in South Korea, last names come first. South Korean uploaders will refer to her as Lee Eun-Ju.

She was talented, beautiful, and for as long as it was possible for her, determined and brave.

Eun-Ju Lee covers ONLY WHEN I SLEEP

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Barry Gordon - SEALED WITH A KISS

Oh, you thought GARY LEWIS was the first guy to cover "Sealed with a Kiss."

Introducing...Barry Gordon.

Actually he needs no introduction, does he? Not to fans of odd novelties.

Barry’s first fame came with the dopey novelty tune “Nuttin’ for Christmas.” This bit of coy bleating sold a million copies in 1955, when Barry was just six. It was quite an irony that the kid was (and still is) Jewish. He didn’t quite duplicate his Yuletide success with his next MGM novelty item, “Rock Around Mother Goose.” And nobody was too thrilled with yet another: “Zoomah, The Santa Claus from Mars.” Or yet another: “How Do We Look to the Monkeys.”

Barry became one of the more ubiquitous of the precocious kid actors in sitcoms, and ten years after his “Nuttin’” success, won the admiration of critics via the Broadway/Film hit “A Thousand Clowns.” In that one, he seemed like a diminutive Woody Allen, with his overly verbal and intelligent comical attitude toward adults (including Jason Robards Jr.)

With his new film success, somebody thought he had the makings of a tween singing star. Brian Hyland's “Sealed with a Kiss” had hit the Top Ten three years earlier in 1962. Now? Maybe it could re-ignite the career of kid-novelty rocker Barry Gordon.

Obviously we know the answer. Still, it's not too dated, and the kid sort of tries for a Pitney approach, which leads to sincere high-pitched howls of puppy love. It's much more fun listening than his other single, "Yes Sir, That’s My Baby.”

Fans of “A Thousand Clowns” will recall that “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” was strummed and sung by Gordon and Jason Robards Jr. way too often in the movie. A few years later, Gary Lewis got the cover version hit. And Barry Gordons days as a kid star were over.

My only contact with Gordon was when he was an adult and the President of the Screen Actors Guild. I asked him to look into the abuses on eBay, where photos of his members were being stolen and not only duped by 8x10 pirates, but used on t-shirts, mousepads, and in the adult section, Photoshopped onto porn bodies. His apathetic but perhaps legal-logical response was that the union was only in place to hassle the studios for more money and better working conditions, and everything else was up to individual actors and actresses. I countered that if he sent around a form for his members to sign, allowing SAG to remove these auctions and be authorized to sell approved photos or signed items, thousands upon thousands of dollars could be raised for the Motion Picture County Hospital (where retired, down-on-their-luck performers spend their final days). To be fair, I later wrote to another Screen Actors Guild president, Melissa "Little House" Gilbert, who shared Barry's lack of vision and utter stupidity.

Gordon ran for Congress as a Democrat, hosted leftist political talk shows on radio and on the Internet, and taught at California State University. "Sealed with a Kiss" is barely a blip on his impressive resume. But this IS the blog for blips!

The song also, on this Memorial Day Weekend, acknowledges the start of the humid season of hellish heat. It's a shitty time of year, and if there was a package to be sent to idiots who don't believe in climate change, I'd send them a pound of hot steaming shit. Sealed with a piss.

Barry Gordon SEALED WITH A KISS

Thursday, May 19, 2016

MARY HOPKIN & THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE THE DEATH OF JANE LITTLE

Ever hear of Jane Little ? Of course not. Her death did get some minor attention as one of those “funny” news-curio items.

She was one of the "blessed" and “lucky” performers to drop dead on stage. It was during a rousing version of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Why it’s as if Irving Berlin was sitting alongside God and said, “Do me a favor…”

“What kind of favor?”

“Jane Little got into the Guinness World Record book for “longest tenure with an orchestra.” Since she’s got cancer anyway, let her go out in style. That’s not much to ask. I’m Irving Berlin, after all.”

“Yes, and your GOD-given talent has made millions of millions happy. You’re the little Jew that wrote 'White Christmas.'" after all.”

“Will you strike down Jane Little while she’s performing my song?”

“I’ve got your back. But that’s nothing, I’ve also got Quasimodo’s too. I’m such a fuckin’ kidder! ZAP!”

Little, who was only five feet tall, played a double bass taller than she was. She joined the “Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra” at age 16. Technically there should be an asterisk (ala Roger Maris) because it later became the “Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.” That means it’s technically two different orchestras that she played for.

She began sawing away on February 4, 1945, and finally crept past Mr. Frances Darger (who played the violin for 70 years with the Utah Symphony) on February 1, 2016. She died on May 15, 2016. Said a fellow musician, “Her bass crashed into my bass, she fell over onto the floor, and as quickly as we could, we dropped our instruments and got her offstage.”

She was taken away in an ambulance, was briefly revived, but she said nothing and a while later was pronounced a door nail.

Another asterisk: she dropped on stage, but didn’t technically drop dead.

What’s it all about, Alfie Wiedersehen? Is it just for the record books we live?

Shouldn’t we celebrate ALL people who care enough to play a large and difficult brown-colored instrument? Where’s BASSISTS LIVES MATTER?

And how about Jane wearing that un-PC Atlanta Braves cap? Native Americans are not happy that the idiotic baseball team plays stereotypical “Indian war” music to rally the players, and fans stand up and do “The Tomahawk Chop.” When will the Braves, Indians and Redskins understand NATIVE AMERICAN DIGNITY MATTERS?

For now, we only celebrate average working musicians if they achieve some feat of longevity (we love “world’s oldest…” news items), or die on stage, which always amuses people.

Dying while at work ONLY is amusing in show business. Nobody's smiling about: "Bus driver dies behind the wheel; dozens injured." Or: “World’s oldest dentist drops dead in the middle of filling a cavity.” Somehow religious fanatic assholes don't say in those cases, “how nice, to go out doing what you love to do most.”

40's actor John Garfield died while fucking. OK, he was probably doing what he loved to do most, but did he finish? And if he did, did she?

As to your download below...

I could’ve very easily found you a rousing “pops” version of that horrible tune and you could listen to it and imagine somewhere in the orchestra, an old bag toppling into a colleague. But I’m much more sadistic.

Let’s go with the creepy version where Mary Pumpkin's kitschy cooing is abetted by that chewy Macca-roon himself, producer Paul McCartney. Paulie had some kind of fetishistic crush on the waifish little blonde from Cardwell. Or Cardiff. Or whatever town had the tree branch she was seen chirping from.

McCartney’s unique idea for “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was to open it as a waltz, and then turn it into a turgid oom-pah march with soggy drums (was he playin’ ‘em again?).

To his credit, Paulie’s style worked on her hit “Those Were The Days.” He managed to take a shitty song that had already been destroyed by many a folk trio in America, and turned it into a nostalgic Music Hall piece. Not bad considering the teen singing it was hardly old enough to be nostalgic over being weaned. Covering “There’s No Business Like Show Business" was also an irony considering the little bitch had only been in show business for a few months.

A one-shot wonder girl who nobody cared about after her first album. An old lady nobody but some pompous Atlanta citizens heard becomes famous for dying. The Lord moves in mysterious ways! You just can’t figure out what the hell the point of it all is. And that goes double for this blog.

MARY NAPKIN There’s No Business Like Show Business

MAY BRITT sings LOLA LOLA

Marilyn Monroe was smart. How smart? She turned down “The Blue Angel,” a remake of the film that starred the legendary Marlene Dietrich. Wave your candle in the wind all you want; she knew she didn’t have the singing chops for the role, or the sense of evil that Dietrich had. It didn’t matter which Dr. Jekyll was going to play opposite her (Spencer Tracy, first choice, Fredric March, second) she hid her creamy white hide.

And so the role went to May (pronounced MY) Britt, the blonde with the cheerfully homicidal look in her eyes. Britt is today best known for her controversial marriage to Black ’n’ Jewish Sammy Davis Jr. Had this film been a hit, she might be a mispronounced legend alongside Anita Eggbert or Ursula Undress. But my oh May, the memory of Dietrich was still strong. The remake was also disappointingly bland; the original had much more of a sado-masochistic overtone to it, and the moody black and white photography suited the agony a lot more than glossy technicolor.

But, as I once mentioned to Ms. Britt, there was NO WAY of overlooking the stills from that film. This was all I saw when I was a mere pubescent twit. (No, that wasn't last week, wiseguy). I didn't know the movie or May existed till I was maybe 14 or so, thumbing through some old magazines. I was pretty damn stunned by her buoyant poses in that black lace whats-it she was wearing. And, looking up, there was the straight blonde hair and the straight-forward confident look in those crescented eyes.

I made a mental note (the thumb tack hurt) that I should try and see this film one day. But that day was several decades off, as the film never seemed to be on TV, VHS or DVD.

I suppose it was wise of the producers not to have May try and cover Marlene's songs. Things were already getting tilted by having a Swede play the role of a decadent German.

What was needed was a HIT song for Lola Lola to sing on stage. It should be as cheerfully raunchy as "Oom Pah Pah" in "Oliver!" or as overtly sexual but cartoonish as "Whatever Lola Wants" in "Damn Yankees."

The chore fell to the team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Yeah, THEM again, the guys who gave the world "Buttons and Bows" and "Que Sera Sera" (to name items that first turned up in movies that needed a tune to help get people into the theaters).

Their attempt at a sexy but sanitary German cabaret tune is pretty silly, and failed to become the film's highlight moment. How misguided IS this bouncy song? When May calls out, “What’s your favorite pastime boys?” A FEMALE chorus squeals “Lola!” Then the gals all sing "Lola Lola lives for love, anywhere she finds it! Any time you want her love, Lola never minds it!"

Oof pah pah!

Even so, you can see (if not hear) that May Britt was the kind of woman who could stun any man, and maybe even an elephant. Oh, the poor professor in the film! He could've explained it this way: "I fell to the floor. I got down on my knees. I looked at her, and she at me...."

EL-OH-EL-A LOLA!

My Ms. Britt, here's to you in the month of May...

MAY BRITT LOLA LOLA

"I Love You Alice B. Toklas" The Blades of GRASS

We're heading into another "Summer of Bummers." We'll be hearing about record heat and humidity. We're already getting record sludge heaped on us by our do-nothing dumbass political leaders. They ignore climate change as they bicker with each rival in attempts to gain or regain power. What power? The power to rule, and make things worse. And yes, "there will be blood."

The traditional summer diversion is going to a beach full of screaming babies, barking dogs, and jackasses blasting boom boxes. Enjoy the stench of barbecued meat, salt water and pollution. It only takes half the day to get there and back, leaving you exhausted, spent, and burnt.

Plan b is hiding inside a nice cool movie theater full of screaming babies, barking mad idiots texting or talking on cellphones, and jackasses talking back to the screen or using laser pointers on any woman's titties. The stench of stale popcorn and the odds of gooey residue on your shoes or on your seat, will add to the joy of spending way too much time to get there and back. You'll leave wondering why you wasted money on that miserable stupid comic book hero movie where everybody does back-flips when they fight, and there's an explosion every 3 minutes.

Summer SUCKS. It always did, but many have nostalgia for, or wish they were alive during... "The Summer of Love." It was a more peaceful time, give or take a motorcycle gang stabbing, police cracking students in the head, and people overdosing on paisley.

A favorite song of the era was "Whiter Shade of Pale," sung by Boko Haram long before they went rogue and began raping and killing people in Nigeria.

Ah, but that was the time for hippie-dippie chicks who were into drugs and free love and looked and/or dressed like Leigh Taylor-Young. You had to just try and find them. At the beach. At the movies. Where the fuck were they? In a dorm room fucking somebody other than you!

There were some heavy movies back then, some anti-hero films, some radical stuff, some experimental things, and...uncomfortable sitcom movies trying to be funny and cool at the same time. "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" is pretty dated, but it did attempt to take a sympathetic look at nerds (young or old) trying to find meaning in life and trying to bang a hippie chick. Oh yeah, and wondering if drugs would be the Great Answer.

The movie can be summed up by its theme song, which is silly psych, more Captain Crunch than Sgt. Pepper. Auteur Paul Mazursky probably handled the minimal lyrics, while Elmer Bernstein did a Bacharach with the melody. And, nudge nudge wink wink, it was performed by The Blades of Grass.

THE LEAVES OF GRASS I LOVE YOU ALICE B. TOKLAS

Monday, May 09, 2016

William Schallert & Patty Duke: Don't Just Stand There --- Say Something Funny

In quite a coincidence, the Grim Reaper swung his scythe back and forth, and knocked off both Patty Duke and her television dad William Schallert.

The hard-luck Patty Duke, who battled a lot of physical and mental problems, was 69 when she died on March 29th, 2016. And now (May 8, 2016) William Schallert has died at the ripe old age of 93.

I was almost going to post on Patty back in March. The excuse would’ve been that as famous as she was (thanks to “The Miracle Worker” as well as her sitcom, her autobiography and her somewhat famous kids) nobody took her singing seriously.

But now that Schallert has passed on, it’s just too hard to resist some kind of homage to both of them. And so I offer the musical advice, titles of two Patty Duke songs, “Don’t Just Stand There…Say Something Funny.”

Patty was pretty funny. She was just a teenager when she took on the very daunting job of playing TWO roles in a demanding sitcom. She played “identical cousins…different as night and say.” The rave-up theme song, which some could probably sing by heart, talked about how cousin Cathy was fairly demure but the other? “Our Patty loves to rock and roll! A hot dog makes her lose control!”

Please, don’t conjure up any smutty images. Thank you.

Yes, for some baby boomers, Patty was the ideal girl you’d want to date. Or be. Depending on who you were. Or what you were. The stand-out in her TV family (which included a tolerable brother and a pleasant enough mother) was her understanding Dad, as played with restraint and wit by William Schallert.

I had a chance to thank the great Mr. Schallert for his many and versatile TV appearances. What a genuinely nice man. One of his first TV sitcom roles was as Mr. Pomfritt, an English teacher trying to deal with Dobie Gillis and Maynard G. Krebs: “You ready, my young barbarians?” No, they generally weren’t.

Fan favorite characters Bill played include “Nilz Baris” in the infamous “Trouble with Tribbles” episode of “Star Trek,” “Carson Drew” in the “Nancy Drew Mysteries” starring Pamela Sue Martin, and the hilariously old and frail Admiral Hargrade on several “Get Smart” episodes.

So often the character actor supporting a big star, Schallert did take the lead as “Filbert,” in 1964. Unfortunately the pilot episode didn’t get picked up for a series. In 1979, Bill took on a completely different type of role: he was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild. The following year, he led a strike, which lasted three months. In a strange twist, he was ousted by Ed Asner, who had complained that Bill wasn’t radical enough. After two terms, Asner stepped aside for somebody new…Patty Duke!

Patty Duke could be the subject of many paragraphs, but lets get back to her brief foray into music. When her sitcom was popular, she was naturally asked to get into the studio and start singing. It was quite a surprise when her first single emerged, the dark “Don’t Just Stand There.” It seemed like something donated by Leslie “You Don’t Own Me” Gore. It wasn’t exactly light-hearted. And neither were most of the other tunes she recorded, even the comically titled “Say Something Funny.”

Let's "Say Something Funny" about these two great entertainers, who worked so well and so often, through TV's golden era and beyond.

Say, many find “The Patty Duke Show” still funny. For many, say "Patty Duke" and there's a smile, with the sitcom being the first memory. As for William Schallert, when he had a good comedy role (he also had a big share of serious ones and even got to be a villain now and then), he made the most of it. He was very, very funny too.

PATTY DUKE Don’t Just Stand There PATTY DUKE SAY SOMETHING FUNNY

The Ivy League Trio - THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM

The last gasp from The Ivy League Trio has turned out to be an enduring death rattle, the lp "Folk Songs from the World of Edgar Allan Poe."

The trio had been signed to Decca's Coral label, and given a chance with two albums and a pair of peculiar singles (disappointing material not on their two fine long-players). A few years later, and with Ronn Langford replacing Bev Galloway as the bass voice, they somehow got a deal with Reprise to record an album of songs based on Poe's stories and poems.

The "Famous Monsters of Filmland" horror craze was still going on (the album was even sold via an ad in the back of that magazine) and folk acts were still popular (including Peter Paul and Mary). Somehow this fine album didn't quite get the attention it deserved.

At least one fan (Greg Kihn) has listed this as a very influential album. He recorded a kind of homage to Edgar A. Poe (as he billed himself, never EDGAR ALLAN POE) via an update of the poem "Annabel Lee." In his semi-retirement from rock, Kihn found an interest in writing horror novels.

As for the Trio, two survive: Langford's had a lucrative career in the world of car racing, and Bob Hider became a skilled photographer.

The Ivy League Trio re-wrote and excellently arranged the original material given them by their new record label. The album ranges from poignant ("Eleanora") to spooky ("House of Usher") to ludicrous ("Tell-Tale Heart" re-written as a Western!) to "The Pit and the Pendulum" which falls in between. It combines lusty folk balladry with over-the-top guignol as one might expect (and even demand).

The "Pit and the Pendulum" is actually well-suited to an under 3-minute treatment. The basic horror is a guy strapped down and looking up at a swinging, ever-lowering, sharpened pendulum. How do you stretch out a short story like that into a feature film? Roger Corman tried (so we include Vincent Price in the photo above) but he had to add a lot of filler. Ironically, one of the better if more obscure versions was "Teat and the Pendulum" from the 80's porn mill TAO. Their ten minute 8mm version featured a very busty and jiggly nude!

"Folk Ballads..." is one of the finest ill folk song albums, and if you like "Pit and the Pendulum" then reward the record dealer who has been waiting for years to unload it on someone, cheap.

IVY LEAGUE TRIO PIT & THE PENDULUM

Carroll O'Connor - REMEMBERING YOU

"It's all over now." I mean, the controversies over "All in the Family," and those charges of promoting bigotry. Today, the show is remembered, if at all, as a "classic." Some episodes are still very funny, even if too many are dated. Even the show's theme was pretty dated. Most listeners had no idea what "Gee our ol' Lasalle ran great" meant, and barely knew the Dodgers once played in New York.

Much of the show's success was due to Carroll O'Connor, but he modestly said his "Archie Bunker" character was merely a cross between Jimmy Cagney and Jackie Gleason.

During the run of "All in the Family," O'Connor was inspired to write lyrics for Roger Kellaway's closing theme song. Kellaway, a jazz pianist more in the Steve Allen mode than Errol Garner, conjured up a pretty nice melody. O'Connor was inspired to add wistful love-lost lyrics. The opening lines: "Gotta feeling it's all over now, all over now, we're through. And tomorrow I'll be lonesome remembering you..."

CARROLL O'CONNOR REMEMBERING YOU

LEE WAAS - AND THE MISTER SOFTEE JINGLE

Lester (“Lee”) Waas (May 18, 1921-April 19, 2016) wrote one of the world’s most annoying jingles. So he's "saluted" here. (You were expecting a sniveling end-of-the-world post on the demise of Prince, the world's greatest entertainer? Or one on David Bowie, whose death had previously been declared the end of the world??)

Routinely called a Pavlovian mind-control stunt, a pernicious earworm, and a pain in the ass, the Mister Softee music (with or without words) is embedded into the brains of many, many people who resent it, and would never EVER buy one of these unhealthy, fatty, sugary desserts even if they were starving.

The TV commercials (featuring happy idiots singing the lyrics) were bad enough, but the jingle itself was absolute torture. It was unavoidable on many a hot summer night as the ice cream truck, parked on the street for an hour, would repeat the music box theme OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER. Easily heard a mile away, the Pied Piper tune instantly had the neighborhood rodents screaming at Mommy for money, and then marching out to ze truck. They lined up, wide-eyed and sweaty, to get their sugar rushes from turd-shaped soft ice cream cones and grotesque plastic platters of banana splits and various blobs of glop.

I vividly remember in the 70’s, living in a cruddy area where there wasn’t a store for several blocks, and none open in the evening. It was just the vulnerable area for a Mister Softee truck. Like a Great White Shark looming out of dark water, the big white truck emerged from the humid, misty darkness, its presence foretold by the LOUD and PERSISTENT melody searing the quiet of the night.

Looming into view very slowwwwly, that jingle was more persistent than a ringing phone, audible over a conversation, music or the TV. From six-story walk-up tenements to dilapidated private houses, ferociously hungry brats, not sated by a fridge full of Breyer's and Sealtest ice cream pints would seethe into the street, chittering and squealing while the tune kept playing AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.

Even if you LIKED that sickening junk food, unless you were under 14 (along with your IQ) you had to resent the intrusion of Mister Softee and that aggravating audio version of a smiley-face coming into your life and staying for an HOUR or more, several times a day. One could get very phobic about when it would ruin your concentration. It was especially tormenting at night; you’re home from work and want to relax and here’s that naggy naggy naggy tune OVER and OVER, AGAIN and AGAIN.

Like telemarketers calling five times a day, this invasion of privacy was considered just fine: “Wuddya complainin’ fer? Dey do a soivice. Ya got hunreds a guysss who’re makin’ a livin’ fer dere fambalees. Quit kickin’.”

Thanks to new technology, Mister Softee trucks were able to pollute the air by amplifying a simple music box. By the 70’s and 80’s, the music boxes were replaced by taped versions which were WORSE. The machines would overheat in the hot, humid air, and the jingle would repeat with a skip, or the last notes would speed up, or the tune would echo with a hoarse whine. It was worse than Chinese water torture with a drippy drain, since this monotony was now fiendishly altered into a disturbing, unnatural cadence. OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

For years, the only revenge was making jokes about a Mister Softee employee’s erectile dysfunction.

Started in Philadelphia in 1956, the trucks annexed more and more cities and states, conquering towns as far south as redneck-loaded meth-addled Florida. Der Softees franchised over 600 trucks during their prime reign of terror in the 60's and 70's. Maybe they were not as big as Good Humor and their old-fashioned ice cream cones (comedian Jack Carson starred in a movie called “The Good Humor Man” in 1950) but this icy bunch became the most notorious hell on wheels.

(Dis-honorable mention goes to Carvel, a soft ice cream chain of stores that offered the worst non-singing commercials in the world. Senile, raspy-voiced marble-mouthed Tom Carvel nattered about “Fudgie the Whale” with all the charm of a child molester tickling a child under its chin.)

What about rules against noise pollution? Sorry, but in most places there were NO ordinances against this torture. After all, politicians didn’t want to pass a law that would hurt THEMSELVES: around election time, many employed a truck that blared a jingle or had a barker use an amplified loudspeaker to tell the citizens to VOTE VOTE VOTE.

Today, urban sprawl means it’s easier to get ice cream and other fixes of sugar and fat via fast food joints and bodegas open all night. Mister Softee trucks, like Fuller Brush sales people going door to door, are almost obsolete except in rural areas, or lousy neighborhoods where store owners risk their lives staying open. In New York City ten years ago, Mayor Bloomberg ordered the trucks to cease and desist with the “music.” Even so, in poor areas of Brooklyn or Queens, the scofflaw trucks keep right on blasting the tune.

To this day, there are plenty of obese morons who smile the minute they hear the jingle, consider it cute, and have coconut skulls so dense they don’t mind if the truck parks and plays that tune OVER and OVER while others, suffering in the smothering humidity, have to shut the window to keep their sanity.

The man who inflicted all this torture? Lee Waas had been a pilot in the Air Force during World War II. After several odd jobs, he decided he could be an ad man, and set up his own agency. If a client wanted snappy copy, he could provide it. A slogan? Sure. A singing commercial? Well, why not! Waas came up with hundreds of jingles for use on radio and TV that nobody remembers. He was proud that the Mister Softee song became iconic, whether sung in TV commercials or used in music box form. You get samples of both, below.

Waas (who married a woman named Wasserman) tried to parlay his Mister Softee fame and fortune by shoe-horning his way into other areas of pop culture. In the mid 60’s he called attention to himself as the President of “The Procrastinators’ Club of America.” In one hilarious stunt, he and his followers marched through the streets of Philadelphia protesting the war…of 1812. Ha ha, they took so long, the war was already over, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, ha ha ha ha. Ho ho ho. Hee hee hee.

MISTER SOFTEE TRUCK JINGLE Try listening to this for a solid fucking hour on a hot humid night

MISTER SOFTEE TV COMMERCIALS What nostalgia. Next, let’s look at movie footage from concentration camps

"HOWDEE! I'M GOOFY GRAPE" and more FUNNY FACE songs

As sales for sugary soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi actually diminish slightly, and wary consumers choose variations on mineral water, "sparkling" drinks and other items that aren't loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners...we harken back once again to an earlier age.

"Funny Face" drinks (along with Kool-Aid and Keen) made kids HYPER. They (drinks and kids) were loaded with sugar. Add a snack to your "Funny Face" drink (a Little Debbie, a Ring Ding, a Sno-Ball, a Mounds bar) and you could run around and play all afternoon. Then what? Then come home and have a tall glass of Bosco or Cocoa-Marsh or Mountain Dew, and a Swanson TV dinner, and you'd be jumping up and down and cartwheeling like you were doin' the Freddie, begging to stay up for "Man from UNCLE" and even "The Tonight Show."

For most kids, the most popular flavor of the "Funny Face" drinks was GRAPE. Among slightly more "normal" or affluent kids, there was Welch's Grape Juice. Most certainly, any peanut butter and jelly sandwich required Welch's Grape Jelly (which you could empty pretty quickly, saving the container as a wonderful juice glass).

As you see from the above, there were plenty of "send away" premiums available on "Goofy Grape," including a kite and a sweatshirt and even a pillow.

Mr. Grape, and the other flavors, were voiced by that era's genius, Solomon Hersh, better known as Paul Frees. Yes, "Goofy Grape" (and the Pillsbury Doughboy, Ludwig von Drake, Boris Badenov, etc. etc.) was Jewish. Mr. Grape sounds a bit like Paul's "Captain Peachfuzz," who was based on comedian Ed Wynn. Paul was a man of a thousand voices, so he had no trouble making Goofy Grape pretty unique (complete with giggle).

Unlike the other Jewish man of a thousand voices, Mel Blanc, Paul Frees could do kid voices and even quasi-female voices. You get a sample of a kid voice via "Freckle Face Strawberry." Somehow the song manages to skirt the issue of how "funny" it is to be a freckle-faced kid by keeping him an actual strawberry, proud of his markings. I don't think there was a female "Funny Face," although "Chinese Cherry" was somewhat of an androgyne.

It's worth mentioning (since it's my blog) that Frees voiced "Daphne" in "Some Like It Hot." It's his most famous female voice. You thought Tony Curtis did a remarkable job changing his voice? Not by half. While Jack Lemmon had no trouble being a zany-voiced woman, Curtis couldn't master a convincing vocal. Paul Frees never revealed the secret that Curtis jealously kept. Finally, when Curtis was in his 80's, and it was common knowledge (thanks to Frees fans and some trivia-minded film buffs) Tony wrote a book on the making of "Some Like It Hot." He dropped a bare one sentence mention that "Daphne" was dubbed by Frees. If you were skimming for more paragraphs on Marilyn Monroe, you might've missed it.

"Here we are, back with you again..." (no, no, that was sung by Kukla Fran and Ollie), here's Goofy Grape, Freckle-Face Strawberry and a chorus...singing about the FUNNY FACE DRINKS.

Goofy Grape (Paul Frees) HOWDEE!

Freckle Face Strawberry (Paul Frees) I GOT 51 FRECKLES

Paul Frees and the Funny Face Choir The Drinking Song

Friday, April 29, 2016

LEFTY LEMON (Paul Frees) Sings for FUNNY FACE DRINKS

Most of you know the derogatory phrase, "go ahead, drink the Kool-Aid." It's a reference to Jim Jones, the religious fanatic-messiah who dosed his followers. Kool-Aid, which is still with us, was hugely popular when it turned up in the late 50's. It was one of the ages new magical powders. Loaded with sugar (which nobody thought was harmful at the time), it could turn a pitcher of water into lemonade. Or better...lots of other flavors, too.

Inevitably, other companies tried to compete. That's the American way. Nestle logically thought that an alternative should be something KEEN...powder in a jar. Just spoon out enough for an individual glass of your favorite poison. Somehow, this didn't catch on.

Pillsbury figured that instead of the boring "smiling, wet pitcher" that was on the front of Kool Aid packets, they'd have a different "funny face" for every flavor they sold. As you see from the above, they created quite a lot of funny faces.

Except...if you were a freckle-faced kid, you already knew you had a "funny face" and were teased about it constantly. NOT FUNNY. And what's so FUNNY about having slanty eyes like "Chinese Cherry?" Oh, go ask Jerry Lewis, or the obscure team of Noonan and Marshall (their film "The Rookie") or Buddy Hackett of "Chinese Waiter" fame. Pillsbury saw plenty of funny people getting away with Asian comedy. No surprise they made the mistake they did. As for "Injun Orange," well, when the company began to get complaints, that one was brought up, too. But maybe Pillsbury simply made a mistake on the color. "Injun Red?" There's STILL the Washington Redskins.

Pillsbury pulled their most objectionable "Funny" faces, and offered new ones, like “Choo Choo Cherry” and “Jolly Olly Orange.” There was “Loudmouth Lime,” “Lefty Lemon,” and “Goofy Grape,” among others.

The company heavily promoted their line, refusing to give up. There were even premiums, like plastic cups to be used with your favorite drink...

Pillsbury’s infamous Doughboy was voiced by the genius Paul Frees, so for the commercials, they called on him to supply all the voices for the different flavors. An irony is that when I spoke to Paul, I was just a kid, and I had no idea he was the voice of the Doughboy. I could recognize most of his voices (Boris Badenov, Ludwig Von Drake, etc.) but that one was a shock. A few weeks later, he sent his fan a little gift. No, not him voicing the Doughboy, instead a promotional 7 inch record called "Paul Frees Sings for Funny Face." Yes, his talent agency and Pillsbury were trying their best to promote this stuff, and him.

Below, Paul is "Lefty Lemon," singing about his favorite sport. (You noticed the handle of the cup is a baseball bat? How clever.")

Today “sugary drinks” are on their way out. People aren’t too thrilled realizing that every can of soda has about eight huge spoonfuls of sugar in it, or that “diet” drinks are worse with fake sweeteners that can cause diarrhea. Few are that nostalgic about the “Funny Face” plastic drinking cups and other promotional items either. And I kinda doubt anyone on eBay would get a lotta money for any of the "Funny Face" promo vinyl, either. But here you are, for your information, for nostalgia, and of course, for free.

LEFTY LEMON (Paul Frees) Why I Left Baseball

Fred Steiner Dennis Farnon - THE FRACTURED FLICKERS THEME

"Fractured Flickers" premiered at a time when Mad magazine flourished and novelty books by Shel Silverstein and Gerald Gardner (among many others) offered “zany” captions to movie stills. There were all kinds of fly-by-night publications, notably “Help,” that made fun of old movies. But to do a half-hour TV show mating insane dialogue and sound effects to actual flickering silent films? That was damn ambitious.

Jay Ward, who produced the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, set his creative staff free. It included wild writers (Allan Burns and Chris Hayward, George Atkins, Bill Scott) and genius voiceover stars (Paul Frees, June Foray and Bill Scott again). They created some very memorable bits of insanity. Probably the most famous was a reworking of “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” in which Lon Chaney’s Quasimodo was re-envisioned as “Dinky Dunstan, Boy Cheerleader,” (with Bill Scott squealing ‘Yeah, team!”). Lon Chaney Jr. raged about this sacrilege, but it did no good for him, or for the show, which disappeared after one season (26 episodes).

The writers went on to other things. Hayward and Burns are best known for writing “The Munsters,” but worked on a variety of kiddie shows (“Crusader Rabbit”) and sitcoms (“He and She,” “Get Smart” etc.) George Atkins worked on various cartoon shows, and vinyl fans might know his name from the topical album “Washington is for the Birds” which was done for Reprise and parodied Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. Bill Scott would be the voice of Bullwinkle for decades.

The series creatively sliced up "flickiz" (as acerbic satiric host Hans Conreid prounced them) for mock commercials and documentaries, as well as fake mini-movies. Conreid opened and closed the show with self-deprecating remarks, and in a brief star interview segment each week, seemed to always have to explain why the star wasn’t being paid, and beg him/her not to walk out. The guests include Allan Sherman, Rod Serling, Diana Dors, Paul Lynde and Ursula Andress, which is another good reason to go buy the re-issue DVD set.

Conreid's hosting held it all together, but so did the wacky glue soundtrack music. Silent films always need effective music and so did the parodies on “Fractured Flickers.” One of the greats who worked on this stuff was Fred Steiner (February 24, 1923 – June 23, 2011). If the name seems familiar, it’s because it was mentioned here a while ago, in connection with the theme song for “Perry Mason.” Originally bearing the slightly salacious title “Park Avenue Beat,” the instrumental was intended to convey the decadent world of sexy nightclubs and cool, confident ladies of the night. Somehow it was acquired as the theme to the lawyer show, and it worked, mostly due to the stabbing violins of the opening chords, which suggested violent crime. The hip-swinging melody that followed somehow became a metaphor for the task of assembling evidence for the defense.

Quite the opposite of Perry Mason's music is Fred’s quirky theme for “Fractured Flickers.” Insanity requires serious dedication and the 60 second tune was methodically stitched up to include a variety of sound effects and squeamy instruments. Dennis Farnon, a composer and arranger worked on “Fractured Flickers,” and his strange sensibilities made every oddball melody in every sequence come alive.

Although fans of demented music revere Steiner for “Fractured Flickers,” most of his credits veer in the “Perry Mason” direction, and his film scores aren't known for being comical or sexual. They include “Man from Del Rio” in the 50’s, “Della,” and “First to Fight” in the 60’s, and “Carters Army” and “Heatwave” in the 70’s. In the 80’s he was nominated for an Oscar for his work on “The Color Purple.” For anyone who is a fan of singer-songwriters, here’s a bit of trivia: Fred’s daughter is Wendy Waldbaum, who has put out many a fine album, and was one fourth of Bryndle, the quartet that included the great Karla Bonoff, the late Kenny Edwards, and Andrew Gold.

Dennis Farnon is still with us at 92. Aside from his memorable work for Jay Ward (which also included the “Hoppity Hooper” series in 1964), Farnon scored the film “Arrivederci, Baby” (1966) which was released in soundtrack form under both that title and “Drop Dead Darling.” He contributed to the BBC’s music library and some of that material has turned up on vinyl via “for the trade” albums like “Sounds Humorous” (oddball music published by Boosey & Hawkes). Farnon and his orchestra backed a peculiar variety of singers, including Gogi Grant and James Jimmy Komack (who sang under that name, but issued a comedy album as James Komack...a sample here on the blog somewhere). Farnon scored a number of Mr. Magoo cartoons (and the “Mr. Magoo in Hi Fi” RCA album). Fans of lounge and space age pop probably have some of his other RCA vinyl treasures, “The Enchanted Woods” and “Caution: Men Swinging!”

And now..."One...two..."

The Original Fractured Flickers Theme

Gina Gershon Gets Caught in the Rinse Cycle "House of Woe"

In case you weren't aware of it, the greatest entertainer in the world died. So, fuck off Madonna, McCartney, Brooose, Viley Virus, KISS and the rest of you pretenders. According to the media, there's no reason to go to concerts anymore. Hardly any reason to live.

What was his name? Rinse?

The media rushed to find anyone and everyone who could say something about the guy. President Obama couldn't even get through a press conference on terrorism and climate change without being asked for a statement on the death of the great Rinse.

One headline was provided by Gina Gershon, who recalled that she was nearly cast in "Purple Rain."

Gina obliged the reporters putting her through the Rinse cycle, and recalled:

"“I had never done a movie before. I was 18 or something . . . I was young. At that time, I wanted to be a quote-unquote serious actress.” Looking back, “I don’t know what I was thinking — I was totally stupid, but that was my thought process. I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want (nudity) to be my first scene.’” Of course Gina waited, and became a sensation in "Bound" (that was when I became entranced) and "Showgirls" (which I still haven't bothered seeing).

Gina was pursued by the intense little freak, who drove her around Minneapolis in a purple limo, dazzled her with his mansion, and tried everything to get her to stay in his lair. When she pointed out she was an NYU student and had to get back to classes, he told her to call up and get an "understudy." As if college was a play.

The magnetic Mr. Purple eventually drove her to the airport and watched her disappear back to New York City. He hired Apollonia to do the nude scene, and we all know that it made Apollonia the huge superstar she is today.

The irony here?

He had an eye for an exotic beauty, and so did I. I was covering a party that featured all kinds of celebs, including Robin Williams. I was taking pictures of everyone I could recognize. But there was a woman hanging around who was smolderingly sexy, with THOSE LIPS. I took pictures of her, and tried to find someone who could tell me who she was. Nobody seemed to know. I thought I overheard someone call her "Tina," so that's what I wrote when I got the chromes back. This was probably four years after she turned down Rinse, and before she began making fetishistic mainstream movies. I was quite amused when, years later, I glanced through the sheets of chromes from the party looking for anything that might have re-sale value, and noticed "Tina" was GINA.

At this point, all I can tell you is that I have Gina's DVD of "Prey for Rock and Roll," an autographed copy of her solso CD, and even bootlegs of her stage performances in revivals of "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Cabaret." I have nothing from Rinse. Not a thing. An irony is that for me, Rinse's best work was sung by others. "Manic Monday" was done by The Bangles. "Nothing Compare 2 U" was sung by Sinead O'Connor. The pop tune and the angst ballad are much more enduring work, I think, than bullshit pop-funk crap like "(party like it's) 1999."

Meanwhile, the ludicrous kneejerk reaction to the guy's death overshadowed the insanity surrounding Bowie's demise. I'm not insensitive (?) and I do understand he was big. But fer Chrissake, who couldn't be a little cynical and disgusted by over-kill headlines of praise like THIS:

FFS People, anyone ever hear of Elvis and his ridiculous suits, or The New York Dolls, or Alice Cooper or Ziggy Stardust or flamboyant Elton or Jagger's make-up days? ALL of it was before RINSE, and NOBODY but THAT guy wore those silly outfits. Want to talk about a "fancy man" who was effeminate but had a moustache? LITTLE RICHARD comes to mind. But this is what happens when Millennials take over the media, along with hype-meisters who don't give a fuck for the truth.

This guy Rinse...somehow, according to media spin, he not only changed the fashion world, invented androgyny, and was a better entertainer and dancer than Michael Jackson, but he was even a better guitarist than Hendrix or Clapton. Clapton called him "a genius," but I wonder if he'd be so generous as to say, "By comparison, he makes me look like a sullen Brooker-faced old white schmuck." Eric was quick to post a tribute declaring that he wrote "Holy Mother" because he was inspired by Rinse: "...he was the light in the darkness."

Speaking of Darkness, Dave Chappelle (remember him?) declared that the death of Rinse was "the black 9/11."

Brooose, the guy who likes swapping spit at a microphone shared with a doo-rag clad overweight version of MASH's Max Klinger, offered a cover of "Purple Rain." Elton John declared he had lost "the Purple warrior." (Or was Elton's "purple warrior" just at half mast after learning David Furnish was unfaithful?). People nobody's heard of for decades (like Billy Gibbons of the "ooh, they got the funny beards" ZZ Top) Tweeted and Facebooked to get attention. Gibbons called Rinse's playing "otherworldly." President Obama couldn't even get through a press conference on terrorism and climate change without being asked for a statement on the death of the great Rinse.

Professional social media whore and racist pest Al Sharpton raced to the media, declaring that through HIM, Rinse donated money to the family of Trayvon Martin. The N.Y. Daily News headlined that Rinse was "the greatest rock star Minnesota produced (Sorry Bob Dylan)." When Justin Bieber dared to Tweet that Rinse was "not the last greatest living performer," why, he got the same response as if he'd spat on fans, pissed in a bucket or cursed Bill Clinton.

My memory is pretty good. I remember recording on VHS Joan Rivers hiply guest-hosting for Carson. She booked Elvis Costello.

She asked him for his opinions of various rock stars of the day. "Grace Jones?" "She once whacked somebody on the head with a clipper board...so it's a good thing she's not here." "Dolly Parton" "She used to sing some great songs. I haven't heard her for ages." "Tina Turner." "Oh, terrific." "Huey Lewis?" "He's a good bloke, he's an old mate." "Van Halen." "A root beer version of Rod Stewart."

Joan was impressed by Costello's candor: "I'm crazy about you, because you tell the truth!"

Oh yes. She did ask him about one other star of the day.

Wasnt he right? Of course he was. The Purple One stole from 'em all. He impersonated 'em all, most especially Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan. He borrowed a lot of Bob's imposing attitude and cool arrogance. The puppy of late night, Jimmy Fallon, recalled how Rinse once told him to come to a designated place in 15 minutes. For what? A game of ping pong. Rinse said "Let's do it," like it was a gunfight. Fallon went along, and passing through bodyguards and down flights of stairs, made his way to a curtained area. Behind it: Rinse and a ping pong table. "Lets do this," said the Purple One, in his best Dylan sneer. Fallon was "mesmerized" by Rinse's big "doe-like eyes."

Like a parody of Bob, doing a parody of Brando, Rinse made a few desultory cracks as he won the game. Rinse smashed the ball on the last winning shot, and when Fallon went to pick it up...Rinse was gone.

Yep, he simply disappeared without saying goodbye. It makes for good copy. It was Dylanesque. Or James Dean-esque or whatever. It added to his legend. But come on, "bit of an imposter," right?

And aren't we all a bit sick of people who are SO fucking FULL of themselves they figure they only need ONE name? It's usually a name that was worn by somebody else. Mary was a previous Madonna and Jesus was a previous Prince. No? Adele was a cow in a previous life.

One thing about these clowns is that with the exception of Ke$sha, it's usually impossible to pronounce a one-word name more than one way.

When, in any fit of masturbatory homage, you purr Gina Gershon's name, she pronounces it GEE-nah, grrrr-SHON. First name accent on first syllable, second name accent on second syllable. Now listen...

...to Gina's "House of Woe" which could be a certain mansion in Minneapolis. Or any home where people are moping and saying "Now I know why doves cry."

HOUSE OF WOE, and WOE to fans of RINSE. I feel your pain. Not a lot.